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This Blog marks the first in our weekly series: "365 days of special things to do and places to go" in Las Cruces, Dona Ana County and the surrounding areas of Southern New Mexico".

 Spring is here and the Festival Season is starting out with a bang. Next weekend April 24th-26th, there is something for everyone. There are festivals, fiestas, art shows, and annual events that ring in the summer in the Southwest. You can listen to some of the hottest country acts in music at the Las Cruces Country Music Festival. Visit the Farmer’s Market and be amazed as artists create paintings using Main Street as their canvas. You can spend a relaxing weekend tasting wines from right here in Southern New Mexico at the La Vina Wine Festival. Whatever suits your taste, there is something for you to do this coming weekend.

 Let’s start with this coming weekend.

Las Cruces Country Music Festival: Las Cruces is proud to once again bring visitors some of the hottest and most popular names in country music April 24-26, 2015! The Las Cruces Country Music Festival is a three day celebration of country music in downtown Las Cruces.


4th Annual Avenue Art: When: Sat, April 25, 6am – 3pm, Where: Main St, Las Cruces, NM. AVENUE ART NEW MEXICO is a one-day community festival where art happens before your eyes as artists of all ages create paintings on the street. The canvas is Main Street in Downtown Las Cruces, New Mexico. Juried artists compete for cash prizes and awards. There is also a special area set aside for our very young “ASPIRING ARTISTS” to play and create (so bring your kids!) See more details at


La Viña Winery 2015 Spring Wine Festival: Saturday April 25 and Sunday April 26 from noon to 7 p.m. Over 20 wines will be available for tasting and purchase. Adult admission to the festival is $20 and includes a souvenir glass and a choice of 9 wines or a glass of wine.

Keep watching our blog weekly for what to do and where to go.


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6  Mortgage Mistakes You Can Make

Getting an affordable property at a great rate can make you feel as if life couldn't be any sweeter. But ask anyone who bought a house with a mortgage they didn't understand and couldn't afford, and they will likely tell you their house has brought them nothing but frustration and tears. Here are the top 6 mistakes buyers make when purchasing a home.

1: Not reviewing your credit first

Before you go to your first open house, you need to get a credit check. You can find free credit report services online, some of the major ones are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You're entitled to one free credit report from each agency each year, make use of these tools to be familiar with your credit background and score. You'll need your credit score to be in tiptop shape if you want the best rates. According to the Federal Trade Commissions' in 2013 they found 5 percent of consumers had errors on their report that could result in less favorable loan terms. If you're among that 5 percent, you want to the find the error and correct it before applying. If your credit score simply stinks, you can try these tips for raising it fast.

2: Failing to get pre-approved

The next mistake you can make when applying for a mortgage is failing to get pre-approved. Getting pre-approved by a bank is one way to avoid the heartbreak that comes from falling in love with a house you can never buy. It may also give you an edge if there are multiple offers for the same property. A seller may feel more confident selecting a bid from someone with a mortgage pre-approval rather than a person who hasn't even begun the process.
However, don't get carried away by whatever pre-approval amount you receive from the bank. Remember, what the bank thinks you can afford and what you can actually afford may be two different things. A lot of people lost their homes in the Great Recession because they were given loans they couldn't pay back. Don't make the same mistake.

3: Not shopping around for the best rate

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau states nearly half of mortgage borrowers don't shop around and that's a big mistake. Even seasoned comparison shoppers may search for the best deals on their soap, their furniture and their car, but then don't look for a better mortgage rate. It may be convenient to use your primary bank for a mortgage, but that could also be expensive if its rates aren't competitive. According to Bank of America, for every 0.25 percent you can reduce your loan on a $200,000 mortgage, you'll save $30.55 per month. Over a 30 year period that can add up to a lot of extra cash.

4: Ignoring mortgage fees

While you're investigating rates, check out the fees on available mortgages, too. Most mortgages come packed with fees of all kinds, and while some, such as your county recording fee, are likely fixed, others are completely negotiable.

Before your closing, you should be provided with a good faith estimate of the fees. Ask your lender to review what they are for and then see if you can negotiate a lower price. These are a few of the fees likely to have the most wiggle room:
    •Loan origination fee
    •Application fee
    •Broker fee
    •Underwriting fee

5: Not having cash for a down payment

Not having a down payment can be a mistake for two reasons. The first is that it can sink your prospects of getting a mortgage. After being bitten by the housing market crash, traditional lenders shy away from giving mortgages to those bringing nothing to the table. But even if you can find a program that will allow you to get a mortgage with little or no money down, you could still be making a mistake. Remember how the housing market crashed from 2007-2009? Property values plunged and suddenly homeowners found themselves owing more than their homes were worth. When those owners then lost their jobs or otherwise couldn't keep up on their payments, they often found themselves without a prayer of refinancing or selling their property As a result, many ended up on the receiving end of a foreclosure notice. While nothing is guaranteed, putting 10-20 percent down on your house can reduce your chance of ending up in the same position.

6: Not understanding your mortgage terms

Underwater mortgages weren't the only problem facing homeowners during the Great Recession. An untold number of people also lost their houses simply because they signed on the dotted line without understanding what the heck their mortgage entailed.For example, people thought they'd hit the jackpot with interest-only loans that let them buy houses beyond their wildest dreams. However, they apparently didn't understand or overlooked the fact that their monthly payment would hit the stratosphere five years later. What's more, those five years of payments wouldn't give them a bit of equity in their home.
Adjustable rate mortgages, known as ARMs, operate under a similar structure. Homeowners were fine for the first few years when their mortgage rate was fixed and low. Then it reset to the current market rate and that affordable monthly payment suddenly didn't seem so affordable anymore. A 2008 report from the Federal Reserve Board found more than 75 percent of the subprime loans issued from 2003-2007 were "short-term hybrids" that work like ARMs. By 2008, more than 21 percent of these subprime loans were seriously delinquent.
The moral of the story is to always understand what you're signing up for. It's not enough to know what your monthly payment is today. You also need to ask if the interest rate can change and if so, when and by how much will it increase. If you're not comfortable with the loan terms or don't understand them, it's better to walk away than make an expensive and potentially life-altering mistake.


Bonus: Choose a Realtor who can help you!

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We think every first time home buyer could use this information to make sure they succeed in buying a home. However, not every first time home buyer is the same so if these steps aren't for you, visit our first time home buying website for more information.


1. Keep detailed records for your spending

Keep track of every single purchase you make. Then take this list and create general categories like food, transportation, rent and utilities, etc. Once you have this list you can find ways to improve and ways to save, and the more you save, the sooner you'll be able to buy your new home.

Financial Planning2. Develop of financial plan

As you move forward in this process it is just as important that you develop a financial plan as it is to work with a budget. The difference is that your financial plan will have a savings goal. When you are ready to buy your first home, banks will want you to put down about 20% for a down payment. There are programs that will help you and allow you to put less than this down, but a rule of thumb should be to try and find a way to save 20% of the price of home you hope to buy.

3. Establish a relationship with a real estate agent

This may sound self-serving, but it really isn't. Find a good Realtor that specializes in working with first time home buyers. Shop around to find a buyers agent that you feel comfortable with. Your Realtor will be your link to all the real estate in your area that is currently for sale, and provide you with a vast amount of information on the entire buying and selling process.

These three things will help ensure that your first time home buying experience is a success. Stay tuned for more blogs on buying your first home or visit our website devoted to first time home buyers in Las Cruces.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us!

The Homebuyers Toolkit

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Clean Bathroom
Photo Credit: NickNguyen/Creative Commons

Every once in a while we all find ourselves in a situation when we need to quickly clean the bathroom! Last minute guests that need a place to stay? You’re such a nice person for letting them stay at your place! You would prefer to completely clean out the bathroom but you don’t have the time! No worries! Here are a few hints that I’ve collected over the years that will save you time and still get the job done!

  1. Bleach and Water – This one is a bit obvious. Equal parts bleach and water in a spray bottle is as easy as it gets. Spray the mixture on any grout and grime and then let it set for 20 minutes while you move on to the rest of the bathroom. After the time is up just rinse away!
  2. Baby Wipes – I’ve used baby wipes to polish bathroom surfaces. Remember to use a dry cloth to finish the job once you’ve wiped everything down.
  3. Ammonia – You can kiss soap scum goodbye with just a tablespoon of ammonia in one gallon of warm water. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly when finished!
  4. Spray BottleLaundry Detergent – The secret to keeping mildew off your shower curtain is laundry detergent! Just wash your shower curtain and towels together. Add ½ cup of detergent and ½ cup of baking soda to your warm wash. If you are feeling extra spunky add a cup of white vinegar to the first rinse cycle. Take the shower curtain out before the spin cycle and hang up to dry!
  5. White Vinegar – Two cups of vinegar in your toilet bowl will keep it sparkling and smelling clean. Just let it sit overnight and bam! Clean toilet. I recommend doing this at least once a week!
  6. Wax – Wax paper is used as a shield against the onslaught of water and soap scum. Rub your fixtures with the wax paper to create an extremely thin barrier to help keep water and soap scum from sticking!
  7. Eucalyptus Oil – your bathroom tiles could use a few drops of eucalyptus oil! Mix a few drops with vinegar and a gallon of water. Soak some cleaning towels or rags in the mixture and cover the floor. Let them sit for 30 minutes and then pick them up.
  8. Those are my cleaning tips! Do you have any that you would like to add?

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How to Conquer Home Buyer Fears

I get a few people who contact me from time to time questioning whether or not they should get a house. Their questioning is usually based on the unknown, or fear that they aren’t the right kind of person to buy a home, or that perhaps the market still isn’t stable enough to buy now. Everybody is the right kind of person; it just takes some fine-tuning to really determine what’s really right for the buyer. Here are some of the most common buyer fears that I hear most frequently.

Do I have enough money to buy a home?

Before worrying too much about this, the best thing to do is get pre-qualified for a mortgage. This doesn’t mean that you are signing on any dotted lines that are going to lock you into something; it simply means that the bank is going to let you know what you are qualified to spend on a home. Also, take a step back and look at your finances. Ideally, you should have around 20 percent of the purchase price to put down, but anything is better than nothing. You should also have less than a 36 percent debt to income ratio. Be sure to include all of your monthly obligations in that equation, including student loans, child support payments, alimony, car payments, credit cards, etc. Once you've looked at your savings, make sure that apart from your down payment, you'll have enough left over to pay closing costs. You also need to have money left as a cushion. What if unexpected repairs, either to your house or car, come up? What if you or a family member needs medical attention? Be sure that you have enough money left over after the purchase to keep your life running smoothly.

Will I regret buying my house?

There is no such thing as the perfect house, so you should prepare yourself for some mild feelings of "what if". You may have to give up a few "wants" to get a few "needs" when you buy your next home. Or if this is your first purchase, you may have to buy something a little short of your dream house, and build equity in order to move up at a later date. Try not to lose sight of the big picture. This is a home that you own. You now get the benefits of tax breaks. You are building equity as you pay off the loan. And, hopefully, your home will appreciate in value over the coming years. I remember my husband and I buying a little tiny house after we got married. It wasn’t our dream home, but we sure did fix it up the best we could and then sold it some years down the road to move into something a little nicer.

How can an unhandy owner handle repairs?

Before you swear off doing some of your own projects or repairs, know that everyone starts somewhere. Take a class at your local home improvement store, invest is a handyman's guide, or ask a friend that has already tiled their bathroom or fixed a leaky sink to come and give you some pointers. Just remember, before the YouTube videos and full-color guides you find at the bookstore, people learned by getting your hands a little dirty. Be prepared for repairs, maintenance, and updates. Even with a new home, there will be projects. Plan accordingly financially. And if all else fails, hire a professional.

Still have questions or concerns? Email me at or download our free in-depth home buyers guide!

Home Buyer's Guide - Bruder Real Estate Team of Las Cruces

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