I know you’ve seen them…all the posts about how the real estate market is “coming back”. All the posts about how we are now in a “sellers’ market”. What you may not have seen, is the why? How does one determine this? Asked on the spot for a professional opinion a realtor might say, “Because I have “x” number of buyers that I am working with and no homes to show them.” We search the Multiple Listing Service and the few homes that are on the market and not under contract already, end up getting multiple offers and we have to fight for them. It seems we have to be the first one there now for our buyer to even have a chance at it. The fact of the matter is there are certain numbers used to prove the market is coming back.
First, you have the new construction market which is up, according to the government census, which tracks building permits. The report shows evidence that the new build permits are just over one-third of the way back to the “pre-bubble normal”.
Second, you have the existing home market, also up. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales are over two-thirds of the way back to normal. NAR also states that foreclosures and short sales have decreased, not consuming as much of the total existing homes sales as they once had.
Lastly, the final piece of the data we look at is the foreclosure rate and delinquent mortgage rate. In the LPS studies (Lender Processing Service, Inc.), it is shown that the foreclosure and delinquent mortgages numbers are at their lowest in 4 years and are almost half way to the pre-crisis levels.
When we take these new numbers and compare them to the numbers in each category at their worst we can determine that we are now over the 50% mark towards recovery towards pre-bubble numbers. Another important thing to consider it the fact that these numbers are national, many states, such as Texas are seeing better numbers that these national statistics.
Good news for Texas sellers, if you were ever on the fence about selling your home, now is the time to consider it. Contact a real estate professional and have them do a comparable market analysis on your home. This is not all together bad news for buyers either; a buyer might think they have missed the opportunity to get a great price on a home, next week’s article will cover buyer concerns.Post date: Sunday, March 10, 2013 - 5:34pm
Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties you might purchase.
For more information, try the virtual home inspection at www.ASHI.org, the Web site of the American Society of Home Inspectors.
Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected.
Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.
- Doors and windows
- Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
- Attached porches, decks, and balconies
Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.
Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.
Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room.
Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.
Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.
Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:
- Walls, ceilings and floors
- Steps, stairways, and railings
- Countertops and cabinets
- Garage doors and garage door systems
Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.
Fireplaces: They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.
Source: American Society of Home Inspectors (www.AHSI.org)
Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine ( www.REALTOR.org/realtormag ) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.Post date: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - 6:42pm
|Beautiful Standard Pacific built home, better than model. Owner pride shows through out Quality updates inside, quartz counter tops, faux finishes, wood floors. 5 large bedrooms, 4 full baths plus study. Custom pool with spa, large covered patio. Separate fenced pet area. Fresh exterior paint fall 2011 and extensive landscaping.|
Post date: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 10:36pm
Buying a home should be fun, not stressful. As you look for your dream home, keep in mind these tips for making the home buying process as peaceful as possible.
Find a real estate agent who you connect with. Home buying is not only a big financial commitment, but also an emotional one. It’s critical that the REALTOR® you chose is both highly skilled and a good fit with your personality.
Remember, there’s no “right” time to buy, just as there’s no perfect time to sell. If you find a home now, don’t try to second-guess interest rates or the housing market by waiting longer — you risk losing out on the home of your dreams. The housing market usually doesn’t change fast enough to make that much difference in price, and a good home won’t stay on the market long.
Don’t ask for too many opinions. It’s natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas from too many people will make it much harder to make a decision. Focus on the wants and needs of your immediate family — the people who will be living in the home.
Accept that no house is ever perfect. If it’s in the right location, the yard may be a bit smaller than you had hoped. The kitchen may be perfect, but the roof needs repair. Make a list of your top priorities and focus in on things that are most important to you. Let the minor ones go.
Don’t try to be a killer negotiator. Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price or by refusing to budge on your offer may cost you the home you love. Negotiation is give and take.
Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself — room size, kitchen, etc. — that you forget about important issues as noise level, location to amenities, and other aspects that also have a big impact on your quality of life.
Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate home insurance, and consider a schedule for moving. Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your bid much less attractive to sellers.
Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-home buying budget. Even if you buy a new home, there will be costs. Don’t leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.
Accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will probably pass. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big financial commitment. But it also yields big benefits. Don’t lose sight of why you wanted to buy a home and what made you fall in love with the property you purchased.
Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation. While U.S. homes have appreciated an average of 5.4 percent annually over from 1998 to 2002, a home’s most important role is to serve as a comfortable, safe place to live.
Remember, buying a home should be fun, not stressful and I am here to help you every step of the way.
Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.Post date: Monday, March 12, 2012 - 9:34pm
10 Questions to Ask Home Inspector
Before you make your final buying or selling decision, you should have the home inspected by a professional. An inspection can alert you to potential problems with a property and allow you to make an informed decision. Ask these questions to prospective home inspectors:
1. Will your inspection meet recognized standards? Ask whether the inspection and the inspection report will meet all state requirements and comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics, such as the one adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors. Customers can view each group’s standards of practice and code of ethics online at www.ashi.org or www.nahi.org. ASHI’s Web site also provides a database of state regulations.
2. Do you belong to a professional home inspector association? There are many state and national associations for home inspectors, including the two groups mentioned in No. 1. Unfortunately, some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Insist on members of reputable, nonprofit trade organizations; request to see a membership ID.
3. How experienced are you? Ask how long inspectors have been in the profession and how many inspections they’ve completed. They should provide customer referrals on request. New inspectors also may be highly qualified, but they should describe their training and let you know whether they plan to work with a more experienced partner.
4. How do you keep your expertise up to date? Inspectors’ commitment to continuing education is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important in cases in which a home is older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.
5. Do you focus on residential inspection? Make sure the inspector has training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection, which is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site. If your customers are buying a unique property, such as a historic home, they may want to ask whether the inspector has experience with that type of property in particular.
6. Will you offer to do repairs or improvements? Some state laws and trade associations allow the inspector to provide repair work on problems uncovered during the inspection. However, other states and associations forbid it as a conflict of interest. Contact your local ASHI chapter to learn about the rules in your state.
7. How long will the inspection take? On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything significantly less may not be thorough. If your customers are purchasing an especially large property, they may want to ask whether additional inspectors will be brought in.
8. What’s the cost? Costs can vary dramatically, depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. The national average for single-family homes is about $320, but customers with large homes can expect to pay more. Customers should be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.
9. What type of inspection report do you provide? Ask to see samples to determine whether you will understand the inspector's reporting style. Also, most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.
10. Will I be able to attend the inspection? The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer. An inspector's refusal to let the buyer attend should raise a red flag.
Source: Rob Paterkiewicz, executive director, American Society of Home Inspectors, Des Plaines, Ill., www.ashi.org.
Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.Post date: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 7:37am
Moving Checklist for Sellers
Moving can be a hectic time so it can be helpful to have a moving checklist on hand to help keep things organized.
- Provide the post office with your forwarding address two to four weeks ahead of the move.
- Notify your credit card companies, magazine subscriptions, and bank of your change of address.
- Create a list of friends, relatives, and business colleagues who need to be notified about your move.
- Arrange to disconnect utilities and have them connected at your new home.
- Cancel the newspaper, or change the address so it will arrive at your new home.
- Check insurance coverage for the items you’re moving. Usually movers only cover what they pack.
- Clean out appliances and prepare them for moving, if applicable.
- Note the weight of the goods you’ll have moved, since long-distance moves are usually billed according to weight. Watch for movers that use excessive padding to add weight.
- Check with your condo or co-op about any restrictions on using the elevator or particular exits for moving.
- Have a “first open” box with the things you’ll need most, such as toilet paper, soap, trash bags, scissors,hammer, screwdriver, pencils and paper, cups and plates, water, snacks, and toothpaste.
If you’re moving out of town, be sure to:
Get copies of medical and dental records and prescriptions for your family and your pets.
- Get copies of children’s school records for transfer.
- Ask friends for introductions to anyone they know in your new neighborhood.
- Consider special car needs for pets when traveling.
- Let a friend or relative know your route.
- Empty your safety deposit box.
- Put plants in boxes with holes for air circulation if you’re moving in cold weather.
Plus, What to Have on Hand for the New Owners
- Owner’s manuals and warranties for appliances left in the house.
- Garage door opener.
- Extra sets of house keys.
- A list of local service providers — the best dry cleaner, yard service, plumber, etc.
- Code to the security alarm and phone number of the monitoring service if not discontinued.
- As a courtesy, you could provide numbers to the local utility companies.
- If it’s a condo, leave information on how to contact the condo board.
Keep this moving checklist handy and stay on top of the craziness!
Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.Post date: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 9:35am
8 Reasons Why You Should Work With a REALTOR®
Wondering why you should work with a realtor? You may not realize it but not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here are eight reasons why it pays to work with a REALTOR®.
1. Navigate a complicated process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multipage settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
2. Information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
3. Help finding the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR® to find all available properties.
4. Negotiating skills. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
5. Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. A REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
6. Someone who speaks the language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.
7. Experience. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. Even if you have done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.
8. Objective voice. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, home buying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll every make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.
Working with a realtor member of the National Association of Realtors provides a tremendous advantage when making one of the most important decisions you will make in your lifetime.
Time to File for the Homestead Exemption
At closing I always talk to my clients about the homestead exemption, some know all about it and some do not, especially those moving into the area from another. Basically a homestead exemption is a type of legal protection of your primary residence from creditors and such, due to circumstances caused by hardship. It also reduces your property taxes by a decent amount. In some states the homestead exemption is given automatically but in Texas it has to be filed by the homeowner and must be done by January 31st to get the exemption for this year. You must also have occupied the property on January 1st of that year in order to be eligible for the exemption as well.
Also there was a rule change effective September 1st, 2011 They are now requiring that all three of the following items -- (residence address, driver license / ID card and vehicle registration) have the same address on them. So if you haven’t had a chance to do this yet here are some helps to get it done quickly on line.
If you need to change your address on your driver’s license it can be done online at https://txapps.texas.gov/tolapp/txdl they will give you a receipt with the new address on it. Or for your convenience here are a few locations around here to go in person:
- 400 Power House St, McKinney 75071 214.733.5350
- 2109 W Parker Rd, Suite 224, Plano 75023 972.867.4221
If you need to change your vehicle registration address it can also be done online at https://rts.texasonline.state.tx.us/NASApp/txdotrts/AddressChangeServlet you will also get a receipt with the new address on it as well. Or for your convenience here are a few locations around here to go in person:
- 2300 Bloomdale Rd, Suite 2302, McKinney 75071 972.547.5014
- 920 E Park Blvd, Suite 100, Plano 75074 972.881.3014
- 6101 Frisco Square Blvd, Suite 2000, Frisco 75034 469.362.5800 (I have always had luck with short lines at the Frisco location.)
The form for Collin County homeowners can be found at: http://www.collincad.org/forms/CCAD-114_hs_exempt_app_collin.pdf
The form for Denton County homeowners can be found at: http://www.dentoncad.com/docs/forms/2010/homestead.pdf
That should be everything you need help to get the homestead exemption filed on time, good luck!Post date: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 4:37pm
Understanding Capital Gains in Real Estate
If you sold a home this year, this may help you to understand how capital gains in real estate works. Just like when you sell a stock, you owe taxes on your gain — the difference between what you paid for the stock and what you sold it for. The same holds true when selling a home (or a second home), but there are some special considerations.
How to Calculate Gain
In real estate, capital gains are based not on what you paid for the home, but on its adjusted cost basis. To calculate, follow these steps:
1. Purchase price: _______________________
The purchase price of the home is the sale price, not the amount of money you actually contributed at closing.
2. Total adjustments: _______________________
To calculate this, add the following:
- Cost of the purchase — including transfer fees, attorney fees, and inspections, but not points you paid on your mortgage.
- Cost of sale — including inspections, attorney fees, real estate commission, and money you spent to fix up your home just prior to sale.
- Cost of improvements — including room additions, deck, etc. Note here that improvements do not include repairing or replacing something already there, such as putting on a new roof or buying a new furnace.
3. Your home’s adjusted cost basis: _______________________
The total of your purchase price and adjustments is the adjusted cost basis of your home.
4. Your capital gain: _______________________
Subtract the adjusted cost basis from the amount your home sells for to get your capital gain.
A Special Real Estate Exemption for Capital Gains
Since 1997, up to $250,000 in capital gains ($500,000 for a married couple) on the sale of a home is exempt from taxation if you meet the following criteria:
- You have lived in the home as your principal residence for two out of the last five years.
- You have not sold or exchanged another home during the two years preceding the sale.
- You meet what the IRS calls “unforeseen circumstances,” such as job loss, divorce, or family medical emergency.
I am not an accountant or CPA, it is always wise to consult your tax professional for any information specific to your needs or situation but since tax time is approaching I hope you have found this article helpful in understanding capital gains in real estate.
Thinking of Remodeling Your Home?
Think your remodeling project through from start to finish. Careful planning of your home improvement projects will enable you to update your home, increase the value of your investment and customize your living space; all for a lot less than the cost of a new home.
Look over your property carefully. What repairs are needed? What improvements would you like to make? Think ahead and determine your future needs. Professional remodeling contractors can help you in your planning by outlining options and discussing the improvements you can make within your budget.
Design and function should be foremost in your mind if you’re thinking of adding a room or converting an existing room. Give thought to details such as: where you want electrical outlets, telephone jacks and cable hook-ups located; the type of lighting required; your current and future storage needs; and whether you want to include luxury items. These details will enable your remodel to better suit your needs and lifestyle. A professional remodeler should be consulted about design and function of any remodeling project. He or she can also help you with time and money-saving hints.
Lastly, be sure to review your homeowner’s insurance policy and make adjustments for the added value of the work being done.
12 Tips for Hiring a Remodeling Contractor
1. Get at least three written estimates.
2. Check references. If possible, view earlier jobs the contractor completed.
3. Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau for complaints.
4. Be sure the contract states exactly what is to be done and how change orders will be handled.
5. Make as small of a down payment as possible so you won’t lose a lot if the contractor fails to complete the job.
6. Be sure that the contractor has the necessary permits, licenses, and insurance.
7. Check that the contract states when the work will be completed and what recourse you have if it isn’t. Also, remember that in many instances you can cancel a contract within three business days of signing it.
8. Ask if the contractor’s workers will do the entire job or whether subcontractors will be involved too.
9. Get the contractor to indemnify you if work does not meet any local building codes or regulations.
10. Be sure that the contract specifies the contractor will clean up after the job and be responsible for any damage.
11. Guarantee that the materials that will be used meet your specifications.
12. Don’t make the final payment until you’re satisfied with the work.
A good place to start your search for a contractor is to ask friends or colleagues if they have experienced working with one and get recommendations. Interview them, and get customer references before deciding which contractor to help you in remodeling your home. Your agent may also have some quality referrals for remodeling.
Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine (REALTOR.org/realtormag) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.Post date: Monday, January 16, 2012 - 11:30pm
How Do I Determine Whether Moving Up Makes Sense?
These questions will help you decide whether moving up makes sense and you’re ready for a home that’s larger or in a more desirable location. If you answer yes to most of the questions, it’s a sign that you may be ready to move.
1. Have you built substantial equity in your current home? Look at your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out. Usually, you don’t build up much equity in the first few years of your mortgage, as monthly payments are mostly interest, but if you’ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant, unrealized gains.
2. Has your income or financial situation improved? If you’re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and cover the costs of moving.
3. Have you outgrown your neighborhood? The neighborhood you pick for your first home might not be the same neighborhood you want to settle down in for good. For example, you may have realized that you’d like to be closer to your job or live in a better school district.
4. Are there reasons why you can’t remodel or add on? Sometimes you can create a bigger home by adding a new room or building up. But if your property isn’t large enough, your municipality doesn’t allow it, or you’re simply not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best option. To help make this decision consult with a professional remodeling company to also find out which improvements or additions have the best return on your investment in regards to resale. There are also some great resources online, but be careful this can vary depending on what region you live in.
5. Are you comfortable moving in the current housing market? If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but the home you buy also will be more expensive. If your market is slow, finding a buyer may take longer, but you’ll have more selection and better pricing as you seek your new home.
6. Are interest rates attractive? A low rate not only helps you buy a larger home, but also makes it easier to find a buyer.
These are the important questions to ask when trying to determine whether moving up makes sense, for additional questions you might have consult your local real estate professional.
Post date: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 7:56pm
7 Reasons to Own A Home
From money in your pocket to freedom to choose there are several reasons to own a home, here are just a few.
1. Tax breaks. The U.S. Tax Code lets you deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage, your property taxes, as well as some of the costs involved in buying your home.
The tax deductions you’re eligible to take for mortgage interest and property taxes greatly increase the financial benefits of homeownership. Here’s how it works.
$9,877 = Mortgage interest paid (a loan of $150,000 for 30 years, at 7 percent, using year-five interest)
$2,700 = Property taxes (at 1.5 percent on $180,000 assessed value)
$12,577 = Total deduction
Then, multiply your total deduction by your tax rate.
For example, at a 28 percent tax rate: 12,577 x 0.28 = $3,521.56
$3,521.56 = Amount you have lowered your federal income tax (at 28 percent tax rate)
Note: Mortgage interest may not be deductible on loans over $1.1 million. In addition, deductions are decreased when total income reaches a certain level.
2. Appreciation. Real estate has long-term, stable growth in value. While year-to-year fluctuations are normal, median existing-home sale prices have increased on average 6.5 percent each year from 1972 through 2005, and increased 88.5 percent over the last 10 years, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. In addition, the number of U.S. households is expected to rise 15 percent over the next decade, creating continued high demand for housing.
3. Equity. Money paid for rent is money that you’ll never see again, but mortgage payments let you build equity ownership interest in your home.
4. Savings. Building equity in your home is a ready-made savings plan. And when you sell, you can generally take up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) as gain without owing any federal income tax.
5. Predictability. Unlike rent, your fixed-mortgage payments don’t rise over the years so your housing costs may actually decline as you own the home longer. However, keep in mind that property taxes and insurance costs will increase.
6. Freedom. The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and benefit from your investment for as long as you own the home.
7. Stability. Remaining in one neighborhood for several years gives you a chance to participate in community activities, lets you and your family establish lasting friendships, and offers your children the benefit of educational continuity.
Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine ( REALTOR.org/realtormag ) with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Post date: Monday, January 9, 2012 - 10:54am
How to Dispose of A Christmas Tree
Now that the holidays a lot of us find ourselves wondering how to dispose of a Christmas Tree we purchased. No worries, I did the research for you. The information listed is straight from the city websites of Plano, Frisco, Allen, Prosper, McKinney and Little Elm, links and contact information included. Better hurry some of the opportunities end this weekend!
In Plano - For Questions call (972) 769-4150
Plano's Sustainability & Environmental Services Department will collect and recycle Christmas trees from residents beginning January 3, 2012. Prior to placing your tree out for collection, please remove the tree stand, lights and all ornaments and place the "raw" tree on the ground at your collection point. Please do NOT bag the tree.
Plano residents who live in apartments may recycle their Christmas trees between December 26, 2011 and January 9, 2012 at one of the following drop-off locations:
In Frisco - For Questions Call CDW at 972-392-9300
* Remove supports, electrical wiring, ornaments, nails and tinsel.
* Place tree at least three feet away from your trash and recycling carts on your regularly scheduled collection day.
* Trees must be 5 feet and/or 60 lbs. or smaller. If the tree is over 5 feet or 60 lbs., it must be cut into sections less than 5 feet or less than 60 lbs.
* Do not cover trees with a plastic bag, as this will prevent pick up.
* Flocked trees (trees with the white snow spray material) are not acceptable in this program. These flocked trees can be collected for a $10 charge by arranging pickup directly through C.W.D. at 972-392-9300.
* Do-It-Yourself disposal is also available for all trees at the Custer Road Transfer Station.
In Allen - For questions call 972-392-9300, select option 2
Beginning the day after Christmas for two weeks CWD will collect clean, natural Christmas trees from resident’s collection point for composting. Please remove stands and ALL ornaments including tinseled decor. Set at collection point allowing 2 feet of clearance from all obstacles including poly carts. Trees taller than 6 ft in height MUST be trimmed in 2 sections.
D-I-Y Christmas Tree Compost/Disposal Option: Clean & natural trees can be transported to Custer Transfer Station (Wood Grinding Facility) located at 9901 Custer Rd, ph# 214.495.7389 for composting. Residents MUST present current water bill & DL (Name on both documents MUST match).
Flocked trees cannot be composted these MUST be transported to the Custer Road Transfer Station located at 9901 Custer Rd, ph# 972.727.6341 for disposal. Residents MUST present current water bill & DL (Name on both documents MUST match).
In Prosper - For questions call 972-346-2640
Beginning on Monday, December 26th through January 13th, the Town of Prosper will have a Christmas tree disposal area behind Town Hall (located on Broadway). Look for the designated drop off point. The trees cannot be flocked and all decorations and nails must be removed.
In McKinney - For questions call 972-547-7385
Please remove lights and ornaments from tree. Trees with flocking not allowed. Homeowners may place your tree next to the trash bin on the regularly scheduled trash day for pick up by IESI from January 2nd through January 13th. (Not available for commercial locations.) You can also Drop off your tree starting December 26th at either of these drop-off locations:
Al Ruschhaupt Soccer Complex: 1986 Park View Avenue
McKinney Water Tower: Southwest corner of Eldorado Parkway & Alma Road
In Little Elm - For questions call 972-377-5565
Christmas tree recycling program available through Sunday, Jan. 8
The Town of Little Elm Christmas Tree recycling program for 2011-2012 will be located at the Courtesy Bulk Site located on Brenda Lane just west of the Preston on the Lakes intersection. Christmas trees will be received at the courtesy bulk site through January 8th. Hours will be Friday from 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until full. Christmas Trees must have lights, ornaments and stands removed prior to dropping at site. Site attendant will be on duty during hours of operation to answer any questions you have on how to dispose of a Christmas tree.
5 Things to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market
A few things to consider before putting your home on the market.
1. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.
2. Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.
3. Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn out or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.
4. Find your warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.
5. Spruce up the curb appeal. Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments?
In Addition, Some Low-Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home’s Exterior
Make your home more appealing for yourself and potential buyers with these quick and easy tips:
1. Trim bushes so they don’t block windows or architectural details.
2. Mow your lawn, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before the showing to make the lawn sparkle.
3. Put a pot of bright flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch.
4. Install new doorknobs on your front door.
5. Repair any cracks in the driveway.
6. Edge the grass around walkways and trees.
7. Keep your garden tools and hoses out of sight.
8. Clear toys from the lawn.
9. Buy a new mailbox.
10. Upgrade your outside lighting.
11. Buy a new doormat for the outside of your front door.
12. Clean your windows, inside and outside.
13. Polish or replace your house numbers.
14. Place a seasonal wreath on your door.
It always helps to consider these things before putting your home on the market.
Green up in the Kitchen
A lot of people are choosing to live a greener, healthier lifestyles so it is no surprise that a good place to go green is in the kitchen. Some experts say the kitchen is the biggest energy and resource consumption area in our homes.
Ranging from our natural gas and electricity using appliances to the water used in our dish washers and sinks, our refrigerators full of with foods that are not locally-grown along with the non-recyclable packaging thereof, most of us have room for improvement in the way we live and the choices we make that effect our environment. So to help out here are a few ways to green up in the kitchen
Reuse and Recycle – more than half of what we throw out is said to be either recyclable or reusable. Personal consumption can be greatly reduced by reusing what you already have and recycling what you can’t use.
Try bringing your own reusable grocery bags when you go to the grocery instead of bringing home all those plastic store bags. Try refilling and reusing your plastic water bottle all day and the recycle it at the end of the day. The same can work for those plastic storage bags and to-go containers after only one use, try rinsing them out to use at least one more time.
Eat locally-grown foods – Eating fresh, organic and locally-grown food is known to be healthier and keeps chemicals from running off into our oceans and streams from non-organic farms. Most local grocery stores have organic produce; however local farmers markets are a good source of locally grown organic foods. Collin County has several:
315 S. Chestnut St.
McKinney, Tx 75069
6048 Coleman Boulevard
Frisco, TX 75034
916 East 15th Street
Plano, TX 75074-5808
Historic McKinney Farmers Market at Adriatica
Stonebridge and Virginia
McKinney, Tx 75070
Make your own Compost – Instead of throwing out those coffee grounds, eggshells and banana peels why not make your own rich potting soil, sounds crazy but start small you may find you really enjoy it. A way to start small is to grow your own herbs, you can get some decorative kitchen compost crocks that look nice and will help you get your garden off to a good start
Use natural cleaning products – Go with natural, environmentally friendly cleaning products instead of ordinary products that are noxious and full of industrial compounds, pollutants and harmful chemicals.
Choose Energy Star –Energy Star rated appliances can reduce power and water usage by as much as 50% compared to standard, non-Energy Star rated appliances. Look for the energy star symbol when purchasing new appliances.
Use the dishwasher – Surprisingly, it actually takes less water to wash dishes in the dishwasher than it does to wash them by hand, fill your dishwasher to full capacity before you run it because it takes the same amount of energy to run half a load as it does to run a full one.
Choose energy-efficient Lighting – Compact fluorescent lights last up to 10 times longer than standard luminescent bulbs and use a quarter of the amount of energy. Each high-use bulb you replace in the kitchen with a fluorescent bulb will save up to $10 per year.
Living green and healthy at home can start in our kitchen. It’s all about awareness and making smarter choices in the way we live!Post date: Friday, December 30, 2011 - 11:21am
SMART Goal Setting for the New Year
This last week of the year between Christmas and New Year’s is one of my most favorite times of the year. I don’t think I am alone; it is a time for reflection and a time for renewal. Everyone loves the idea of a fresh start and a new beginning. The calendar brings us many opportunities for fresh starts such as the 1st of the month and the proverbial “Monday”, but there is just none like the 1st of a brand new year!
This time is used by many to reflect on the past year, goal setting and of course making the ever so important New Year resolutions. Many snicker when they see those around making new resolutions and goals, but the fact is that goal setting has been proven to affect the outcome of your life. Years ago, Harvard University did a study on goal-setting. They took the graduating class of 1953 and asked them to set some goals for their careers, only 3% chose to do so. They discovered that twenty years after graduation, the 3% of that class who wrote down their career goals had a higher net worth than the 97% who did not write down goals. In fact, it is said that those who openly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals, so why do people scoff? It may be that for many it is easier to remember failure than success and many quit after one failure. It is said that 20% of the resolutions made are broken in the first week and by the end of the year 80% have been broken.
What can we do to help increase our chances for success? To give ourselves a better chance at achieving goals, we should break our goals into smaller steps with rewards for accomplishments and most importantly don’t give up when we fail once. It is not a race; take several small steps that will get you to where you want to go. There is a known acronym for helping to set goals – make them S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time centered).
Lastly, find an accountability partner and help each other out, chances for success increase by 50% when we partner up for accountability. Consider any “setbacks” as minor and avoid the “all or none” mentality. Achieve what you can and don’t give up on everything over a few failures; after all there are 52 “Mondays” and 11 other “1st of the month’s” in a year to help us with another fresh start on our goal setting.
Post date: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 - 8:00am
Holiday Light Displays
All over the DFW area there are amazing displays of Holiday Lights for you and your family to experience.
Kessler Park Neighborhood
This is a wonderful neighborhood to view holiday lights this season. To get there from downtown Dallas: take I-30W. Exit Sylvan, turn left on Sylvan. Travel about a half a mile to Colorado and turn right on Colorado. Travel another half mile to the intersection of Colorado and Lausanne.
Highland Park Neighborhood
This has been a DFW favorite for years. The entrance is located at Armstrong Parkway and Preston Rd. The area consists of a 21 block area of beautifully decorated homes.
Christmas in the Square
The largest choreographed holiday lights and music show in Texas returns for their 6th year full of established favorites and new surprises, too. Bring the family and enjoy the lights and events in downtown Frisco
Deerfield Holiday Lighting
The Deerfield neighborhood in Plano has a very extravagant display of Christmas lights for everyone will enjoy. Each year, Deerfield is recognized as one of the premier communities for viewing holiday lights. Deerfield is located in Northwest Plano between Preston Rd. and Coit Rd. Enter from Legacy on Colonnade and Archgate.
Prairie Lights Holiday Display
This drive-through event is located in Lynn Creek Park at 5700 Lake Ridge Parkway, by Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie. More than 3 million twinkling lights in scenic displays are set along two miles of winding roads.
Lake Interlochen Lights Display
Interlochen Christmas Lights Displays comes to life when more than 200 Interlochen homeowners dress up their homes and lawns with Christmas lights and an assortment of holiday-themed displays. The entrance is at the intersection of Randol Mill Rd and Westwood Dr. The lights tour officially kicks off Friday, Dec. 16. On Dec. 16-18 and Dec. 21-22 the hours are from 7-10 p.m.; and from Dec. 23-25, they’re from 7-11 p.m.
Farmers Branch Tour of Lights
The 2011 edition of the “Tour,” featuring 300,000 twinkling lights, is open from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. each evening. The driving tour starts at I-35E at Valley View and follows the Candy Cane signs down William Dodson Parkway and around to the Farmers Branch Historical Park.
Pharr’s Christmas Extravaganza!
With 275,000 holiday lights choreographed to various holiday music the Pharr family house is one of the most popular houses to visit in the DFW area. Tune your radio to 95.9 to hear the music. Located at 14535 Southern Pines Cove, Farmers Branch, TX 75234.
Six Flags Holiday In The Park
Join in the festive holiday spirit as the park is transformed into a winter wonderland with thousands of lights, music of choirs and carolers and a snow hill for sledding. Visitors can also take in one of many special holiday-themed shows, or do some shopping at the holiday arts and crafts booths throughout the park. Kids, don’t forget to have your picture taken with Santa Claus! Located at 2201 Road to Six Flags, Arlington, TX 76011. Located near I-30 and Highway 360. Holiday in the Park runs November 25, 2011 through January 2, 2012. This is more than a holiday lighting display so there’s an admission charge. At the Main Gate Adult: $54.99, Children: $34.99, Online $29.69.
ICE! at Gaylord Texan - Grapevine
Imagine a 14,000 square foot structure, kept at 9 degrees, filled with two million pounds of hand-carved ICE! The ice will be carved into magical life-sized holiday monuments and sculptures by artisans from Harbin China. 1501 Gaylord Trail
Click here below to access and interactive map to show you all the holiday lights in the DFW Area.
Post date: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 - 8:00am
Home Sweet Home? How to Determine How Well a Property has been Maintained.
Once you've found the perfect home, you'll want to try to assess how well the property has been maintained over time, carefully review all property disclosure documents and do a more thorough examination of the property for any hidden surprises. Hiring a home inspector who has extensive credentials is generally considered a wise move.
A home inspection should include a thorough review of:
- Structural elements: construction of walls, ceilings, floors, roof, foundations
- Exterior evaluation: elevation, drainage, driveways, fences, sidewalks, fascia, trim, doors, windows, lights, and exterior receptacles
- Roof/Attic: framing, ventilation, type of roof construction, flashing, and gutters
- Plumbing: identify pipe materials for potable, drain, waste and vent pipes as well as condition of toilets, showers, sinks, faucets, and traps
- Systems and components: water heaters, furnaces, air conditioning, duct work, chimney, fireplace and sprinklers
- Electrical: main panel, circuit breakers, types of wiring, grounding, exhaust fans, receptacles, ceiling fans and light fixtures
- Appliances: dishwasher, range/oven, built-in microwaves, garbage disposal and smoke detectors
- Garage: slab, wall, ceiling, vents, entry, firewall, garage door, openers, lights receptacles, exterior, windows and roof
You'll also want to know what isn't included in the home inspection. Some areas frequently not included in the inspection, or included only at a cursory level are:
- Radon, methane, radiation, formaldehyde
- Wood-destroying organisms
- Mold, mildew, fungi
- Rodent presence
Many home buyers have found talking to prospective neighbors quite enlightening. Not only can you learn more about the neighborhood and get a feel for who may be your future neighbors, but sometimes these interactions can provide valuable information including why the house is on the market, prior issues with the house (flooding/leaks, repeated pest infestations, illegal drug use/production) as well as general information about the neighborhood such as whether there are problems with vandalism and theft, high homeownership turnover, high level of rental properties, or local issues that may impact your interest (plans for a new road or shopping center, etc.).
Another frequently overlooked source of information may be your insurance company. For instance, if you are looking in an area that is prone to earthquakes or flooding, they should be able to tell you if the specific area has a higher than average level of claims which may impact your insurance premium and whether special insurance riders would be required for coverage. They may also be able to tell you if your premiums would be impacted by a higher incidence of claims due to theft and vandalism. These are key things to help determine how well a property has been maintained.
Post date: Monday, December 19, 2011 - 9:41am
Simple Tips for Better Home Showings
It isn’t unusual for home showings to slow down this time of year, but here are a few tips to help maximize the showings that do occur.
1. Remove clutter and clear off counters. Throw out stacks of newspapers and magazines and stow away most of your small decorative items. Put excess furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season clothing items that are cramping closet space. Don’t forget to clean out the garage, too.
2. Wash your windows and screens. This will help get more light into the interior of the home.
3. Keep everything extra clean. A clean house will make a strong first impression and send a message to buyers that the home has been well-cared for. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, mop and wax floors, and clean the stove and refrigerator. Polish your doorknobs and address numbers. It’s worth hiring a cleaning service if you can afford it.
4. Get rid of smells. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows to air out the house. Potpourri or scented candles will help.
5. Brighten your rooms. Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Replace any burned-out bulbs in closets. Clean the walls, or better yet, brush on a fresh coat of neutral color paint.
6. Don’t disregard minor repairs. Small problems such as sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well-maintained.
7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters. For added curb appeal, place a pot of bright flowers near the entryway.
8. Patch holes. Repair any holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.
9. Add a touch of color in the living room. A colored afghan or throw on the couch will jazz up a dull room. Buy new accent pillows for the sofa.
10. Buy a flowering plant and put it near a window you pass by frequently.
11. Make centerpieces for your tables. Use brightly colored fruit or flowers.
12. Set the scene. Set the table with fancy dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture living there. For example, in the basement you might display a chess game in progress.
13. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light. Show off the view if you have one.
14. Accentuate the fireplace. Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or put a basket of flowers there if it’s not in use.
15. Make the bathrooms feel luxurious. Put away those old towels and toothbrushes. When buyers enter your bathroom, they should feel pampered. Add a new shower curtain, new towels, and fancy guest soaps. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight.
16. Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside. If that’s not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (ideally in the basement), and let the real estate practitioner know where they’ll be to eliminate surprises.
17. Lock up valuables, jewelry, and money. While a real estate salesperson will be on site during the showing or open house, it’s impossible to watch everyone all the time.
18. Leave the home. It’s usually best if the sellers are not at home. It’s awkward for prospective buyers to look in your closets and express their opinions of your home with you there.
These simple tips should help for better home showings.
Post date: Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 8:00am
Cooler Weather Brings Rodents and Pests Inside
When it gets winter comes and it gets colder outside us humans tend to want to say inside, so it stands to reason that cooler weather also brings rodents and other pests inside too. This time of year, pests start to look for a place to nest and typically move indoors where it is warmer and there is protection from the elements and predators. Specifically, rodents tend to be more of a nuisance this time of the year and they start to become more obvious in homes and commercial buildings.
Rodents can pass through openings as small as a quarter and often damage property on either the roof or the ground by gnawing on the material. Rats actually like to share nearby spaces with people, which can possibly be harmful when in homes and commercial businesses because of the potential for food contamination not to mention the spread of communicable diseases.
Rodent elimination can be performed by a licensed pest management company in order to keep them from continually coming to cohabitate with humans in their homes. They can be hard to control on your own so it is important to seek out the knowledge of a trained professional to make sure certain methods are executed before rodent infestation gets out of control. They are part of nature, they cannot be eliminated but they can be controlled when treated as required.
It you have a rodent problem, you don't just want them caught, you want them gone. The openings that rodents and pests seek out are hard to see with the untrained eye, but there are many licensed companies out there that offer elimination services. When looking for a service, find one that has a full elimination program. At a minimum the service should include: identifying the type of rodent, locating any damage they may have already caused, they should look for and find conditions in the home that are potential attractions to rodents, seal and close off any entry and exit points and install appropriate rodent traps. The service should also include a return visit to remove, reset and or replace any traps and should come with some sort of warranty on the work. If you have small children in the home, talk with them about any potential hazards. Many companies offer non-toxic options.
Since it’s that time of year and cooler weather brings rodents and pests inside, it’s a good time to call a professional and have a quick inspection of your exterior and attic spaces.Post date: Monday, December 12, 2011 - 11:23am
Home in Great Carrollton Neighborhood
Post date: Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 4:35pm
In Home Emergency Planning
It is always a good idea to establish a home emergency plan and supply kit, we should also take time to review it occasionally with the family so everyone is aware it is there and what it is for. Some emergency situations in our area that can occur are tornados, floods, even winter type storms. We don’t like to think it but there can also be terrorist emergencies and with recent happenings even earthquake emergency planning. It has never been proven that it wasn’t a good thing to be prepared. Below are some tips on being prepared for in home emergency situations:
Emergency supply kits should be kept in an easily accessible location and contain:
- Non-perishable food
- Pet food
- First Aid kit
- Candles and matches/lighter
- Battery-operated radio
- Important phone numbers - relatives, utilities
- Fuel for any back-up heat sources
- Supplies for existing medical conditions
- For homes with infants, an adequate supply of diapers and infant related items
Emergency plans, outside of the kit, should include:
- Designated out-of-area contact as a centralized point person - often in emergencies it is easier to reach an out-of-area contact than a local one to relay information about impacted family members
- Back-up meeting place
- Back-up child care and pet care arrangements
- Accommodations for any special needs (non-ambulatory or disabled family members, family members using oxygen tanks, etc.)
This article has been focused on home emergency planning, but there are other areas we should consider and be prepared for emergencies and keep survival kits such as your car because we are often in our vehicles as much as we are at home, especially during the holidays when we tend to take road trips. Under these circumstances you will need to gain immediate access to emergency supplies should an emergency situation arise. We should also not put out of mind that situation may arise at school or even the office. To help with your planning there are some great resources on line to help you not only with Home Emergency Planning but care, school and office emergency planning as well.Post date: Monday, December 5, 2011 - 8:00am
Planking – What’s the big deal?
Not sure if you have noticed, but I guess over the last few months I have been seeing a lot of pictures that friends are posting on facebook in sort of this “face down” pose. Like I said I may be a little slow but after I seeing about the 5 of these type posts in a week I decided to see what all the fuss was about. What would we do without Google!
Apparently it has a name; originally started out as a game called The Lying Down Game then later Australians coined the term “Planking” to this fad. Sounds really intriguing and complicated, I know, but the game itself is actually very simple. You must lie down face down in a strange or unusual location, straight as a board with both hands touching your side, then have a picture taken and it must be posted to the internet. The competition lies in finding the most unusual place or object to “plank” on. You can choose to lie completely across an object or just having portions of your body supported by and object or objects.
Wikipedia reports that several celebrities claim to have invented the game, but in all the research I did there is nothing conclusive as to when or where the fad originated. I also found it interesting that as simple as the game seems I guess there are always those who would take it to the extreme. I found several reports about accidents and even deaths due to playing the game.
To sum it up and in all fairness to the game, I could not write this blog without seeing what all the hoopla was about and giving it a try myself, so thanks to the help of my hubby and daughter we came up with a pose and snapped a quick shot for all to see. Reluctantly I decided to post it above. It was actually fun (for about 10 minutes) and definitely a core workout by the time I found a place and object that worked for the pose. So how about you, are you thinking of having some fun with this fad? I say go for it, have some fun, I think most of us can figure which places are considered dangerous and which ones are considered safe – so have some fun planking be safe and be sure and friend me on so I can see the fun!Post date: Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 8:00am
Preparing for Winter – Outside Your Home
As winter gets closer, there are things that you should begin to consider for both the inside and outside of your home to not only protect it but also to maintain your safety, and give you comfort through the colder winter months. Here are a few tips to help you prepare outside your home.
Start with a walk around your home with and keep an eye out for cracks in the foundation or bricks, and caulking or weather stripping that has begun to weaken. Some other things you may want to look for are: evidence of rodents or birds living or nesting in unsafe or unwanted locations, exposed wood that might a fresh protective treatment applied, and items that are too close to heat sources that could become fire hazards. In addition to this, here is a list of other important items to consider:
Hoses/hose bibs – in Texas we don’t get freezes to often but it is still important to disconnect and drain your hoses and either wrap the hose bibs or cover them with insulating covers to prevent freezing of the pipes. Also check for other unprotected pipes that may need insulating this will prevent the nuisance of dealing with broken pipes later.
Sprinkler systems – in Texas we typically do not have to drain our sprinkler systems to protect them, however it is a good idea to make sure the automatic timers are turned off to prevent water from an unplanned interval to freeze and damage expensive landscaping.
Roof – we get enough wind and hail in our area to make it necessary to inspect your roof for loose, missing, worn or damaged shingles, tiles or other roofing material and have any needed repairs made to prevent water damage from the winter rain and snow.
Gutters - after leaves and other debris has fallen and collected in your gutters from the fall, it is important to clean the gutters and downspouts to prevent water from backing up and causing water damage to the fascia board around your home.
Fertilize – don’t neglect your lawn it doesn’t die it just hibernates. Applying winter fertilizer to your lawns will stimulate stronger roots and help produce a healthier lawn in the spring.
- Plants - look at your landscaping and determine which plants, if any, that may be sensitive to cooler weather and need to be protected. Some plants may just need to be trimmed, while others could require additional composting materials around their roots to protect them from freezing temperatures, and others may need to be place in sheltered environment. This is also a good time to remove bulbs that won't survive the colder temperatures like dahlias and go ahead and plant your spring bulbs like tulips and daffodils.
You'll find that staging tips can also be useful in organizing your home as well. There are lots of good tips on online for preparing your landscaping for winter as well. Hope these tips prove helpful to you in preparing for winter on the outside of your home.
Post date: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 8:00am
Preparing for Winter – Inside Your Home
As winter gets closer, there are things that you should begin to consider for both the inside and outside of your home to not only protect it but also to maintain your safety, and give you comfort through the colder winter months. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for winter on the inside your home.
Keeping it Warm
The first things we think about as winter gets closer is usually has to do with keeping it warm. A couple of preventative things that we can do to ensure both warmth and safety indoors are to assess our furnaces, fireplaces, windows/doors and smoke detectors:
Furnaces - annual furnace inspections will help keep your furnace in good repair and help it to last longer. Cleaning or replacing furnace filters on a regular basis during the operating months will also keep your furnace operating efficiently and reduce your heating costs. The standard filters that are 1 inch thick should be replaced every three months, while the 4 inch thick filters can be replaced every 6 months.
Fireplaces - annual cleanings should be performed by a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote buildup to prevent chimney fires. As winter approaches it is also a good time to make sure that woodpiles are sufficiently stocked for the winter months with well-seasoned dry wood. It is obvious that woodpiles should be placed in a dry location, but also should not be placed up against your house or outbuilding because this creates a conducive environment for the nesting of wood-eating insects, such as termites.
Window and Doors – inspect windows and replace cracked windows, check for and seal air leaks around doors and windows. This will not only make the winter months more comfortable, but will lower the heating costs of your home as well. A quick and relatively easy method of sealing leaks around windows is by using a removable caulking product which can be for easily removed to restore the functionality of windows with when warm weather returns in the spring.
- Smoke Detectors – this always seems like the hardest to remember, a good way to remember is to change the batteries at either of the daylight savings time changes, you can use this time to change them in your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors as well as check the expire dates on your in home fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers generally have a lifespan of about 10 years, whereas smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors have a lifespan generally ranging from 2 to 5 years.
The Texas Drought - It's not Over!
I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that after a record setting heat wave and months with no rain in the Dallas Area, local cities like Frisco, Prosper, Allen and McKinney were required to move to Stage 3 Drought Restrictions as of November 1st . However, it’s more serious than most of us think. On September 28th, 2011 the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) issued a press release with the details. These cities mainly depend on water from Lake Lavon, Lake Texoma and Lake Cooper. In addition to the heat wave and lack of rain, NTMWD still cannot pump water from Lake Texoma due to the presence of aggressive zebra mussels . Lake Texoma normally provides almost a quarter of NTMWD’s raw water supply this inability is causing extra dependence on Lake Lavon., and under worst case scenarios, the NTMWD reports Lavon Lake could be dry by fall 2012.
Which brings up back to the necessity of Stage 3 Restrictions, experts say there is really no reason to water your landscapes in the fall and winter. Our most common grasses, St. Augustine and Bermuda go dormant in the fall and winter, allowing us the opportunity to do what we can to conserve on our water usage and protect our water supply.
Check with your cities Stage 3 Drought Restriction policy, but for the most part it means watering only once every 2 weeks, using a hand held hose to water your trees for a limited amount of time per day and using soaker hoses for a limited amount of time per day to water your foundations. Helpful resources to stay up to date on the drought conditions, along with tips on water conservation can be found at these sites www.wateriq.org , www.ntmwd.com and http://www.lcra.org/water/drought/index.html .Post date: Thursday, November 17, 2011 - 9:50am
Back to School - Happy New School Year!
If your like me you look forward to the end of the school year, yet equally as summer ends and the new school year approaches, I look forward to the start of the new school year as well. It is sort of like Happy New (School) Year, and we get to make some mid-year resolutions.
Summer brings a lot of spontaneous activities and the start up of school sort of forces me back into a normal routine and set of habits. I start to focus more on organizing things again like being more consistent about getting dinner on the table at a decent time, and as a real estate professional a more purposeful cut off time for ending the business day and beginning family time and getting everyone to bed earlier.
By now you have probably eased your kiddos back into their school bedtime and wake up routines, so here are some organizing tips to help calm the school year chaos:
Keep a central calendar.
A one-stop shop for family time management will help get you started to a more organized school year. A paper calendar with large squares lets you enter information easily or better a pre-printed white board calendar make revisions easy when necessary. As an added tip color-coding entries by family member helps keep things straight by family member.
Minimize morning madness.
Think ahead about things you can do to make the morning go smoother, some ideas: 1) Lay out your kids clothing the night before. 2) Set backpacks by the “exit” door while checking them for missing homework, projects or library books. 3) Make sure musical instruments or sports bags are packed and ready to go. A dedicated bin for each family member is a great way to keep things organized, this way each person has their own place to grab and go on the way out. Extra tip: keep the color of the bin consistent with that family members color on the activity calendar. Don’t forget one for mom to help keep your purse, car keys, return videos, dry cleaning and other common errand items handy.
Organize your household systems.
Create a menu plan so you don’t have to spend a lot of time wondering “what’s for dinner”, try cooking double batches of freezer friendly meals to have meals handy for those soccer game evenings. Also, set up a basic home filing system to track school paperwork, volunteer activities and household planning.
Try these tips and swing into a new school year--from an organized home!Post date: Monday, August 22, 2011 - 8:35am
Beef Up Your Home Security
Crime prevention is defined as the anticipation, recognition and assessment of crime risk and the initiation of some sort of action to remove or reduce it. You can have a significant effect upon the security of your residence by taking a few moments to assess its weaknesses and a few more moments to take simple actions (many of which cost nothing but your time or a bit of physical energy) to remove or strengthen the weaknesses.
General Good Practice
Experience has proven three basic concepts repeatedly.
1. Just the appearance that a resident is present and is looking after the property is, in itself, a warning to most potential criminals.
2. The actual security equipment is totally useless unless it is actually used and used correctly.
3. The element in any security system that is most likely to fail is the human one.
4. Keep your home neat and clean, in good repair and looking like it is being occupied is an important step toward thwarting crime. Be a good neighbor and get to know your neighbors. Call the police when you notice something that seems suspicious.
Assessing your home’s susceptibility is critical when trying to “think like a thief”! Consider how a criminal might see your home and remove as many of the opportunities or weak points as you can and always keep valuables in a different and secure location.Post date: Friday, August 19, 2011 - 3:48pm
Tips for Lowering your Homeowner's Insurance Costs
We all like to save money, here are some tips to help you save on your homeowner's insurance.
1. Review the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report on the property you’re interested in buying. CLUE reports detail the property’s claims history for the most recent five years, which insurers may use to deny coverage. Make the sale contingent on a home inspection to ensure that problems identified in the CLUE report have been repaired.
2. Seek insurance coverage as soon as your offer is approved. You must obtain insurance to buy. And you don’t want to be told at closing that the insurer has denied your coverage.
3. Maintain good credit. Insurers often use credit-based insurance scores to determine premiums.
4. Buy your home owners and auto policies from the same company and you’ll usually qualify for savings. But make sure the discount really yields the lowest price.
5. Raise your deductible. If you can afford to pay more toward a loss that occurs, your premiums will be lower. Avoid making claims under $1,000.
6. Ask about other discounts. For example, retirees who tend to be home more than full-time workers may qualify for a discount on theft insurance. You also may be able to obtain discounts for having smoke detectors, a burglar alarm, or dead-bolt locks.
7. Seek group discounts. If you belong to any groups, such as associations or alumni organizations, they may have deals on insurance coverage.
8. Review your policy limits and the value of your home and possessions annually. Some items depreciate and may not need as much coverage.
9. Investigate a government-backed insurance plan. In some high-risk areas, federal or state government may back plans to lower rates. Ask your agent.
10. Be sure you insure your house for the correct amount. Remember, you’re covering replacement cost, not market value.
www.tourfactory.com This home is located in Little Elm, TX. Contact Robyn Heathcock for more information. IRG Real Estate 972-837-0651 Beautiful Stone and Brick elevation on nearly 1/3 acre corner lot! Enter to hand scraped hardwood floors throughout 1st story. Open kitchen with breakfast bar, island and stainless steel appliances. 8x6 tiled bonus room off kitchen, great for crafts or pets! Hardwoods continue into Master and Study both located downstairs. Upstairs 2 bedrooms with jack and jill bath plus guest room with separate bath. Large gameroom wired for sound and built in study center. Quiet location with wide open views, property is directly facing core of engineers land, feels like country!Post date: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 - 9:21am
Save Your Foundation From the Drought
This week’s blog is a continuation of last weeks, it this article you will find the how to’s of giving your foundation a little TLC. I again refer to someone more knowledgeable regarding foundation care, I hope you find it just as helpful as I did.
Save your Foundation from the Drought!
Source: Yellow Hat Inspections
During periods of severe drought, as has been the case for the past few weeks in North Texas, the clay soils shrink and decreases in size. As the soil dries and shrinks, gaps develop along the side of the foundation and giant cracks develop in the lawn. In this blog I will explain how you can prevent this from happening or reverse the process. I will refer to an article by Dr. William Johnson, (Ref 2) a horticulturist, published in The Galveston Daily County News (Ref 1). Johnson starts his paper by stressing that the practice of just watering the front yard to keep it lush (for the neighbors and homeowner association enforcement folks) while letting the backyard go dry, should be avoided. This results in portions of the foundation being wet and expanded while other parts are dry and contracted. This can lead to cracking of the exterior brick veneer and to doors of rooms, closets, or cabinets coming out of alignment and becoming difficult to open or close.
Cracks might also develop in drywall and in tile floors. You can protect the foundation by keeping the soil adjacent to the foundation at a fairly consistent moisture level throughout the year. To do this, water the soil evenly and frequently around the entire foundation during extended dry periods. This should prevent a gap from opening between the soil and foundation edge. If you have a sprinkler system in the landscape beds around the perimeter of your home, use it on a daily basis at night. The goal is to get the soil moist so that it is damp to the touch and you can mold it into a ball. If you don’t have a sprinkler system around the perimeter of your home, place a soaker hose or series of connected soaker hoses around the entire foundation. Lay the soaker hose 6-8 inches away from the foundation. Do not turn the faucet handle to the fully open position when watering by soaker hose — the goal is to apply only enough water so that the soil can absorb the water without runoff or puddling. Do not be tempted to run water from a hose directly into gaps and cracks along the foundation as the heavy flow of water can travel along the cracks for several feet in all directions washing the soil away from the foundation.
In addition this can cause sudden expansion of the clay soil which will lead to foundation movement. You may be wondering how often you should apply water along the foundation. The key is to maintain a slow flow of water. This might require watering every day to start and perhaps every two to three days when soil moisture levels have been stabilized or the drought has ended. You should apply no more than a 1/4” of water per hour. If you have a sprinkler system around your foundation take a saucer and place it about 18” from one of the sprinkler heads. Run the sprinkler and time how long it takes to get a ¼” of water in the saucer. That will be the run time for each watering session. Set your sprinkler to run for that time and then wait at least an hour before you run it again. Repeat this once or twice a night until the soils around the foundation are damp. Also, if you have landscape beds around your foundation, apply a 3 to 4-inch layer of mulch over the top soil. Mulch not only keeps the weeds down, it also helps prevent dramatic loss of moisture through evaporation.
Do not apply mulch above the slab grade wall on to the brick line or exterior siding as you will be inviting trouble from insects such as termites and ants. Also, moisture from the mulch can migrate through to the wall cavity. Even though gaps along the foundation become most noticeable during extreme droughts, homeowners should monitor their foundations throughout the year to keep constant moisture levels around the foundation. Finally, if you are thinking of buying a house and you see the conditions discussed here and in my last blog do not freak out! The vast majority of these conditions can be cured by applying water and if there are cracks they will stop getting worse and in most cases close back up again.
Reference: 1: The Galveston County Daily News, August 3, Online edition http://galvestondailynews.com/story/246654
2: Dr. William Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension Service, The Texas A&M System. Visit his Web site at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston
3. Water Efficiency advice for home owners http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/res.html
4. Outdoor Summer Watering Schedule http://www.friscotexas.gov/departments/publicworks/water/Pages/default.aspxPost date: Monday, August 8, 2011 - 4:12pm
Give Your Foundation a Little TLC
I went outside the other evening and was noticing some sun scorched spots in my yard. It looked like the sprinklers, that I run 3 times a week were not reaching those areas – so I got the water hose to wet them down and noticed a gap between my foundation and the soil that is supposed to butt up next to the foundation. As soon as I saw it I realized my three times a week watering schedule, which has been adequate for many years is no longer enough, at least for my foundation. I couldn’t help but wonder how many out there haven’t noticed the condition of the soil around their foundations like me. Since it has been “record breaking” hot and dry this summer I thought an article to help protect your foundation would really benefit you. This article was written by a colleague of mine, who definitely knows more about foundations than me. Enjoy!
Foundation alert -- the drought is affecting home foundations!
Source: Yellow Hat Inspections
The July 27th issue of The Star-Telegram reports that an “...unusually hot summer, even by North Texas standards, is draining the area's water supplies faster than normal, prompting the likely implementation of stringent water restrictions across much of the region within weeks.” The paper goes on to say that “the Tarrant Regional Water District's supply has dropped to about 80 percent of capacity, according to spokesman Chad Lorance last Wednesday. Under the district's drought plan, when the water supply drops to 75 percent of capacity, communities must enforce the first stage of mandatory restrictions, which call for customers to water landscapes only twice a week.”
Most people think water restrictions are the worst thing that can happen during a drought. However, the risk of foundation settlement is a far greater threat to a home owner or buyer than losing a few plants due to lack of water. A foundation affected by drought condition could cost you thousands and is far more difficult to fix than replacing a few plants in the yard. According to Bloomberg this is the worst drought in North Texas for 44 years and it is affecting many homes. As I write, your house (or the house you are about to buy) may be affected already. It is vital that you take action now if you own a property or, if you are buying, ask your home inspector to identify the costly conditions.
Soils in North Texas contain highly active clays which exhibit a high degree of expansion when wet and shrinkage when dry. (When its dry all houses in the DFW area go down, when it is wet they all rise.) This situation can result in severe vertical and/or lateral displacement of supported structures. Repeated variations in soil moisture content cause differential movement and undue stress to structural elements of a building, resulting in broken and unlevel floors, masonry cracks and misalignment of doors and windows. Consistent soil moisture content is the key to controlling these problems. In this blog I will first tell you how to determine whether a property has the symptoms of foundation settlement before cracks in the walls, ceilings, and floors appear.
Whenever soil cracking occurs or you notice that soil is pulling away from the foundation, it is a signal that soil moisture levels are too low. Look carefully at the following two photographs of a house I inspected recently. The property is pier and beam and the first photo shows that the grade has pulled nearly an inch away from the foundation.
The second picture shows a steel rule lowered into the gap that has opened up and you can see it goes down close to 10 inches. This means that a large portion of the grade beam is not supported!
These photographs illustrate the problem in detail. Now you can go and make your own observations around your own property or the property you are considering buying. If you follow my instructions you will be able to expertly identify if the house has a potential problem.
Start on the south facing side of the property and look to see if there is a gap between the foundation and the grade. Look carefully at the area along the grade walls. Do you see a gap? If so, can you get your fingers into the gap?
The sketch above illustrates how to make a positive identification of the grade pulling away from the foundation. (This simple test is the same for slab or pier and beam.)
If the property has this condition, go into the house and look at the doors, floors, walls and ceilings. Do you see cracks in the sheet rock? Are any of the doors sticking? Are there cracks in the floor tiles or are the floor boards moving apart? If you have a gap between the grade and the foundation you have a potential problem. If you have cracks, too then you definitely have a problem!Post date: Monday, August 1, 2011 - 11:46pm
For Your Homes True Value . . . . Just Say No to AVM's
If you really want to know what the true market value of your Frisco, Prosper or surrounding areas home is, it is important to know the differences between an AVM (Automatic Evaluation Model) and an RVM (Realtor Evaluation Model). Many sellers use websites that follow an AVM, such as Zillow or Trulia, which are out of date and often gather subjective figures based on zip codes not presenting a home’s true value. Texas is a non-disclosure state, meaning that home owners are not required disclose what they paid for their homes. AVM sites have to rely upon readily accessible data that may not be up to date.
Today’s marketplace can’t rely upon data that is even 72 hours old, which is why the better option is the RVM. The RVM appeals to many sellers because it takes into consideration things that an AVM doesn’t, such as upgrades to the house that didn’t require a permit and other factors which are not reflected in public records. An RVM gets the agent involved in the evaluation process allowing for current market trends as well as a real outlook on a home’s true value. This is especially true since the agent utilizes the MLS for the sales data and they are the local experts and stay up to date on buyers expectations and what they are looking for.
In today’s market, not all real estate agents want to focus on sellers. The crash of the housing and lending markets have put many homeowners in a position where they can’t even pay a commission on the sale because their home has been so devalued in today’s market. It helps home sellers to have an accurate assessment of their property value before they can even begin to seek professional help.
On my website I offer a free home evaluation using the RVM approach, stop anytime for yours, you will just need to answer a few questions about your home and we will get it right out to you.Post date: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 10:53pm
www.tourfactory.com This home is located in Little Elm, TX. Contact Robyn Heathcock for more information. IRG Real Estate 972-837-0651 Walk Unknown Objectto Lake!! Absolutely stunning custom built home on more than a quarter of an acre. This 3 bedroom 2 bath home with study makes you feel at home the minute you drive up with its beautiful landscaping to it well appointed custom features inside including wood floors, custom cabinetry and 2.5 car garage with builtins. Plenty of room to add RV or boat pad. Home has view of the lake and neighborhood is walking distance to dock and schools.Post date: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 2:32pm
Tips for A Healthy Lawn
A healthy green lawn is definitely true asset to any home. If you think about lawn care as a preventive health care program, then it can be easy to create conditions for your grass to flourish. It is a lot easier to prevent lawn care problems, such as weeds, insect attacks and diseases from happening than to try and treat them later.
If your real energetic and out to win the your Frisco neighborhood yard of the month you can develop healthy soil by combining a mixture of clay, silt and sand. Then test it occasionally to see if it needs organic material or the PH level needs adjusting (have fun with that).
Some home owners around the Frisco, Prosper and McKinney areas are fortunate enough to have mature trees in their yards so be sure to choose a grass type that is conducive not only to the climate but the sun, or lack thereof. It is important to understand each type of grass’s tolerance to watering, pest controls, shade and also degree of wear or play traffic.
When mowing your lawn, make sure the lawn is high, the frequency is often and the blades are sharp. It sounds strange, but water slowly and not too often, of course in our area, the frequency definitely varies according to the time of year. The rule of thumb is, only water a lawn when it really needs it and then water deeply and slowly. Trickle irrigation or soaker hoses used in the early morning hours are the best options, if you have a sprinkler system you can mimic the trickle effect by watering two short cycles instead of one longer cycle.
While most teens hate mowing the yard, I like to think of it as accidental exercise, lawn care can be a fun and appreciated family activity, especially when it concludes with a backyard cook-out! After all, isn’t that what summer is all about!Post date: Friday, July 22, 2011 - 4:05pm
Help Your Garden Beat the Heat
The temperatures have been soaring in the Frisco and Prosper area. For many Texas home owners the landscape that surrounds your home could likely be one of the biggest investments made to improve its curb appeal, especially if done by a professional. There is a lot you can do to protect that investment from the scorching sun and sky-high temperatures that we have been experiencing.
First, make sure to choose plants that work best in the Texas climate. Most local nurseries stock plants that are work well in our climate, but you can also refer to a climate zone map to find out which trees, flowers and shrubs work best and to seek out more variety. A climate zone map divides the country into several zones, linking areas with similar climates generally the Little Elm, Frisco, Prosper, McKinney area is located within zones 7 and 8. This way you can be sure to choose only those varieties that grow best in your area and remember to take into consideration the sun and shade exposure of your property.
While some plants have a natural ability to tolerate the heat, even mature landscapes with hardy plants can suffer without proper care and maintenance. Watching for warning signs, like wilting, dull or curling leaves or flowers and shriveling buds, can save a plant from surrendering to the elements.
If you notice plants beginning to wilt regularly in hot weather, create shade in your garden by planting trees or shrubs or by adding yard ornaments that offer coverage. Also, add organic material such as compost, manure or grass clippings to soil, especially in dry shade areas, to help retain moisture. Water plants thoroughly in the morning hours to reduce evaporation and since plants under stress use fertilizer less frequently, limit the amount of fertilizer, I like the slow-release granular type.Post date: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 - 11:23pm
www.tourfactory.com This home is located in Little Elm, TX. Contact Robyn Heathcock for more information. IRG Real Estate 972-837-0651 Nicely Unknown Objectmaintained 4-2-2+study home in Frisco Ranch. This home boasts and Open entry, french doors on study, stainless steel appliances, tile flooring, 4 bedroom, brushed nickel fixtures, fresh landscaping and more. Community has private lake, soccer and volleyball areas, community pool and walking paths on a tree lined greenbelt. Come see this home first, you wont be dissappointed.Post date: Saturday, July 16, 2011 - 5:03pm
Post date: Thursday, July 14, 2011 - 1:30pm
Staging: Does it really help? Part 3 The Exterior
(read Staging: Part 2 Interior Repairs)
We are making progress! The interior is done, let’s move outside – we’ve all heard the term curb appeal, this is what makes a buyer want to make an appointment to see the inside. Many times I have pulled up to a house with a client and they did not even care to get out of the car because of the lack of yard maintenance. In my final article I wanted to share a few tips for exterior staging that will help keep that from happening with your home. A buyer’s first impression is based on their view of the house from the car. Take a good look at your house from across the street through a buyer's eyes; see how it compares to others on your street. Nothing says welcome like good curb appeal.
Your landscaping needs to be at least average for the neighborhood. If it's not, buy some flowers and plant them. Don't worry about trees, but rather bushes, flowers and mulch. These should be mature bushes and blooming flowers, not seeds because they take time to grow, the change should be instant. Your lawn should be cut, edged, watered, and have no brown spots. The lawn should be looked at and fixed before working on the inside of your home, because it will need time to "heal."
To paint or not to paint, that is the question. If it looks tired and faded, the answer is likely yes. It is usually a very good investment and really makes a difference in the appearance of a house, and can add dollars to offers from potential buyers. Another thing, if you know your house has a leaky roof, replace it. You have to disclose the condition of your roof to the buyer anyway and often times their inspection will reveal it. In some cases, their new insurance carrier will request and inspection and accept or decline coverage based on its condition.
The Back Yard
The back yard is a big deciding factor for buyers, it should be tidy. If you have a pool or spa, make sure it is freshly maintained and cleaned at all times. When showing houses 8 out of 10 houses have done nothing to the back yard, give your home an edge over your competition and take time to plant flowers and do some minimal landscaping. If you have dogs, be sure to keep the area clear of "debris."
The Front Door & Entryway
The front door is an important first impression and should be in great condition it is the entryway to the home. Polish the door fixture so it is shiny and new looking. If the door needs refinishing or repainting, make sure to do that right away. Remove anything that personalizes it, like a plaque with your family name on it the also applies to the mailbox. You should get a new door mat, too. Remember you can take it with you when you move. Make sure the lock works smoothly and the key fits properly. Agents use the key from the lock box to unlock the door. If there is trouble working the lock it is very noticeable while everyone else stands around waiting to enter the home, this can most definitely be a negative first impression to prospective buyers.
What can I get Robyn for her birthday, you say?
How about a contract on one of the great listings!
|506 Bluebonnet Dr, Allen - $139,900|
|1945 Marble Falls Dr, Little Elm - $150,000|
|818 Bowie Drive, Lavon - $139,900|
|6962 Thistlewood, Frisco - $425,000|
|1217 Shell Beach, Little Elm - $180,000 (short sale)|
Post date: Friday, July 8, 2011 - 2:57pm
Staging: Does it really help? Part 2 Interior Repairs
Now that we have resolved our clutter issues, obvious repairs should also be considered. As much as a clean well-kept and uncluttered room feels good to a buyer so does the feeling that a home has been taken care of and that it won’t be a maintenance nightmare for the buyer. No one wants a 40 item honey do list the day they move in. Here are some tips on things to look for and consider repairing before you put your home on the market.
Plumbing and Fixtures
A simple thing to do is to make sure sink fixtures look shiny and new. If they don't look new after a cleaning, buy new ones. You don't have to buy something fancy, just something simple can be purchased inexpensively and they are pretty easy to install yourself. Just make sure the knobs are easy to turn and the faucets do not leak. If they leak, replace the washers it also pretty simple. Another thing is to make sure your water pressure is good and there are no stains on any of the sink basins.
Ceilings, Walls and Painting
Check your ceilings for water stains, sometimes older leaks leave stains even after the leak has been repaired. If you have a leak, you will need to get it repaired as well, whether it is a plumbing problem or a roof leak. Do the same for the walls, look for not only stains, but also places where dirt has built up and you just haven't noticed. Updating to current colors schemes can be your best investment when trying to sell your home. It's not very expensive and often you can do it yourself. Don't choose colors based on your own taste, but based on what would appeal to the buyers. Your agent can help you with this as well.
Carpet and Flooring
Most of the time carpet just needs a good cleaning. If it appears old and worn, or it is an outdated style or color you should probably replace it, if you do replace it you should do it so with something inexpensive in a pretty neutral color. Make sure to repair or replace broken floor tiles, you don't need to spend a lot of money since you are not fixing up the place for yourself. Remember you are just simply trying to have as few negative impressions on a prospective buyer as possible.
Windows and Doors
Check your windows, make sure they open and close easily. If not, sometimes a spray of WD40 can help. Make sure there are no cracked or broken windowpanes, if there are, it's best to replace them before you begin showing your home. The same thing applies to doors – make sure they open and close as they should and with no creaking. Again, WD40 on the hinges usually takes the creak out. Be sure the doorknobs turn easily, and that they are shiny and new looking. It's all about creating a good impression.
If you smoke, you need to minimize smoking indoors while your home is on the market. Traditional air fresheners just mask the odor, but you can purchase an ozone spray that helps to remove odors without masking it. Pets create odors that you have likely become used to, but are immediately noticeable to buyer with sensitive noses. If you have cats, be sure to empty kitty litter boxes daily and sprinkle with a product in the litter that helps to control odor. If you have larger dogs, keep the dog outdoors as much as possible and whether you have large or small dogs, sprinkle a carpet freshener on the carpet periodically.
Costs of Repairs
Don't do anything expensive, like remodeling. Try to use savings to pay for any repairs and improvements – try not to charge up credit cards or get loans to get your home ready, remember that part of selling is also preparing to buy your next home so you don't want to do anything that will affect your credit scores or hinder you from qualifying for your next mortgage.
Staging: Does it really help? Interior Clutter Part 1
The answer is a resounding YES! Just ask the buyers I showed last weekend. We had a good laugh together after viewing several homes that were cluttered and even had untidy bedrooms. This same buyer is also my seller and they jokingly let me know that they did not realize the beds did not have to be made for showings! It definitely gave the homes a more “lived in” feeling, but unfortunately gave my buyer a “this is not the home for us” feeling as well. Hopefully your agent has worked hard to give you home great web appeal like using virtual tours and posting it viral out on the world wide web. Equally as important as that is the presentation your home makes when buyers walk through your house. Your real estate agent can help but here are a few staging tips from my website, remember you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
Removing clutter is hard because we like our stuff, after all we put those items there for a reason. After several years of living in the same house, most of the time we don't even see the clutter, so let take a look at your home from a buyers point of view and let your agent help you see the clutter that has collected on shelves, counter tops, drawers, closets, garages, attics, and basements and try not to be defensive about it.
The best place to start is your kitchen, first, get everything off the counters, even the toaster. Find a place where you can store the appliances and daily used items in cabinets and drawers. Then, just for the time your home is on the market make a habit of getting them out and putting them away as you use them. This may mean you need to pack a few things out of your cabinets that you don't use very often to make room. Buyers will open your cabinets and drawers, especially in the kitchen. They need to know if things will fit, if your cabinets are full and crowded then it tell them their things won't fit either. You want it to look like there is plenty of storage space and the best way to do that it to pack it up as much as possible. Go through every cabinet, drawer especially your pantry, put up items rarely used to create open space. Don't forget under the sink, this is also very important.
Closets are famous for collecting clutter, sometimes we don't see it but those extra clothes and shoes stack up and you rarely wear them. Put these items in a box and pack them away, because they can make your closets look crammed full.
Furniture can be clutter too, sometimes we have too much furniture in a room, you may use the furniture but it can give a buyer the impression that there is not enough room in the space for their own furniture. Your agent can also help you with deciding what should stay and what should go.
Storage Area Clutter
The biggest areas collection clutter are often garages, attics, and sheds. They are also good for collecting junk. These areas need to be as empty as possible so that buyers can see all the space they have available for their "junk", you should remove anything that is not needed regularly and take it to a storage facility with the rest of your "clutter." Better yet, have a garage sale.
I love it when the fourth of July gives us a 3 day weekend, here are some 4th of July Festivities and firework shows happening around the metroplex, compliments of my friend and colleague Bill Chesnutt at Commerce Title – Frisco!
Hope you enjoy this weekend with your family!
Post date: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 6:25pm
www.tourfactory.com This home is located in Frisco, TX. Contact Robyn Heathcock for more information. IRG Real Estate 972-837-0651 Beautiful former
Sotherby model! Upgrades throughout include scraped hardwood floors, beamed ceilings in kitchen and master, gameroom with wetbar-kitchenette, media room with granite counter top bar seating, loft study, hardwoods up stair well, bead board paneling is several rooms, grade 5 carpeting. Tiered patio with stone lined pool and grassy side yard - community boasts pool, trails and parks. Call today for your private viewing!Post date: Sunday, June 26, 2011 - 7:07pm
www.tourfactory.com This home is located in Lavon, TX. Contact Robyn Heathcock for more information. IRG Real Estate 972-837-0651 Shows better than new, very well maintained, open and bright! Generous sized bedrooms are split from Master, large eat in kitchen overlooks family room. You will love living in this master planned community as much as the home! Walking Distance to Full fitness center, kiddie pool with splash center and crazy slide, lifeguards, clubhouse, swim and lap pools,grilling stations and more.Post date: Sunday, June 26, 2011 - 7:02pm
www.tourfactory.com This home is located in Little Elm, TX. Contact Robyn Heathcock for more information. IRG Real Estate 972-837-0651 Beautifully
Updated! To much to name - laminate through out all living dining kitchen and bedrooms. Tile in bathrooms, granite counter tops in kitchen and guest bath, builtins, stand up shower with body jets in master bath. Great stained wood deck in backyard over looks a lushly landscaped backyard. You will loving living here!Post date: Sunday, June 26, 2011 - 6:56pm
www.tourfactory.com This home is located in Allen, TX. Contact Robyn Heathcock for more information. IRG Real Estate 972-837-0651 Well maintained
3 bedroom 2 bath home in Greengate. Family room looks out to well shaded yard. Kitchen and breakfast area are tiled, home has separate formal dining room with bay window. Mature trees engulf the property with plenty of shade. Wood deck in back great for entertaining space. Storage building is ready for electricity, great for gardening supplies or play house.Post date: Sunday, June 26, 2011 - 6:53pm
BuildFax Report - What is it and how can it delay a closing?
Any committed real estate professional should be always listening and learning. Especially in today’s market, while we are not mortgage or insurance professionals we should stay informed and updated on issues that are going on in these industries because they often “crossover” into our area of expertise. The knowledge of other industry related issues can then be added to our knowledge base allowing us to be better fiduciaries to our clients. I recently learned of a partnership relationship in the casualty insurance industry that will allow me to do just that going forward with my clients and I wanted to share it with my colleagues.
We have all heard of Equifax, well they have now partnered with a company most of us real estate professionals did not know existed called BuildFax. BuildFax is a company that has permit information on 60% of all commercial and residential properties and they provide this information to casualty insurance providers aka homeowner’s insurance. This is a good thing for home buyers because if utilized it forces disclosure on whether or not the proper permits were obtained on property improvements on a property the buyer has a purchase contract on. Much like the insurance report most of us are familiar with called the CLUE report which discloses insurance claims filed and paid on homes. How this can hurt us in a buyer client relationship and where our fiduciary responsibility comes in is the fact that most home buyers wait until a few days before closing to obtain their insurance quotes and make a decision on their casualty insurance, at that time the insurance company will pull the BuildFax report and if there are permits on known home improvements all is good to go, however, if there are known home improvements which would have required permits but permits were not obtained, it would allow the homeowner’s insurance company to place a condition on the closing that would require a “retro permit” to be obtained before the buyer and seller can close on the property. Obviously this could delay closing for an unknown amount of time and potentially place an additional cost on the home seller that they are not prepared for.
As a real estate professional with knowledge of this potential set back we should now “move up” on our buyer file checklists advising our buyers to make their home owner’s insurance choices early in the process. Not to mention it requires us pay a little more attention to how we watch the sellers’ disclosures for property improvements. Whether for our buyers or our sellers, it could give us the “heads up” on making sure any permit issues are taken care of before a home goes under contract.Post date: Sunday, June 26, 2011 - 4:54pm
Qualifying for a Short Sale
In a previous blog, I answered the question, What IS a short sale? Now the question I am being asked is, How do I know if I qualify for a short sale? There are a few questions you can ask yourself to help determine whether you qualify, in fact if you can answer yes to all 3 of these questions; chances are you will qualify for a short sale.
Have you experienced a hardship?
In order for the bank to consider you for a short sale you must have a reason for the request. Examples would range from the obvious like a job loss or relocation, a divorce, a death of a spouse, but some reasons may not be so obvious such as payment increase due to an ARM not, a business failure, illness or military service. In any case, the seller must submit a letter of hardship that includes why they have not been able to or will no longer be able to continue to make the monthly payments.
In the past, lenders would not consider a short sale if the payments were current, but this is no longer the case. Lenders are now realizing that other issues can lend to a potential default and many lenders are actually willing to consider short sale before the seller goes into default. So you do not have to be late on your payments but you must be able to satisfy them with your hardship letter that you will soon become delinquent with your payments.
Has the Market Value of your home fallen?
Firm comparable sales will be used to validate that the home is worth less than the balance owed the lender. The lender uses either a BPO (Broker Price Opinion) or an appraisal, sometimes both, to help determine this. The real estate professional you choose should have experience on preparing a detailed BPO and should prepare one for you to in help you determine the market value of your home.
Are you currently in default on your loan or will you be delinquent in the near future?
A lot of homeowners can answer yes to these questions right now and not all situations will qualify for a short sale, but if you are in a hardship situation, need relief and can answer yes to these questions it will be worth your time to consult with a professional to help you take the next step.Post date: Monday, June 20, 2011 - 8:19pm
If the Price is Right
In today’s real estate market price is everything, it is important to hire an experienced real estate professional who is seasoned enough to not only intelligently help you determine what your home is worth but also brave enough to be straight forward and honest with you about the value of your home. Let’s face it most of you, before you call an agent probably have a pretty good idea of what you think your home might be worth and being the savvy home seller you are, you may call a few agents that you either got advertisements from or perhaps you got a referral from a friend. Each of the agents you speak with prepares a "Competitive Market Analysis" that suggests a specific sales price. In reviewing them you may be surprised at some of them because possibly one of them may be lower than you expected. Even though they back up their suggested price with recent sales data of similar homes, you remain convinced your house is worth more, so you choose the agent with the price that is closer to what you think your home is worth. Most people are inclined to pick the one that gives them the highest estimated sales price. After all, it seems like they care about putting the most money in your pocket. They are willing to start out at your price and use the philosophy that you can drop the price later, this seems to make sense right? The truth is that, most likely, they are quite doubtful that your home will actually sell at that price and the intention from the beginning is to eventually talk you into lowering the price. This way they get the listing first, then worry about price later.
This can be a deadly mistake; you see the truth is, if you start out too high on your home, you've probably succeeded in adding to your stress level . . . not good. There are a lot of things behind the scenes that take place while trying to sell your home; you don't want to add any more to it that you have to. The listing agent isn't typically the one to sell your home to a buyer. They primarily market and promote your home to all the local agents who have buyers. These agents also do market comparables for their buyers and as it turns out if you've overpriced your home, fewer agents will bring their buyers to view it. It is an agent’s job to know the local market and home values. If your house is priced high above market, they won't want to waste their time. Their time is better spent showing homes that are priced realistically. When you decide to drop your price later, your house is "old news" and you can't recapture that flurry of initial activity you would have had with a realistic price, causing your house to take longer to sell and potentially for a much lower price than if priced correctly in the first place.
So let's say you do get a buyer to make and offer and contract on your house. They will need a mortgage, and the lender requires an appraisal. If comparable sales over the last six months to a year don't support the contracted price, the house won’t appraise and your deal falls apart. You can always attempt to renegotiate the price, but only if the buyer is willing too as well, if they don’t, your house will likely end up back on the market. This presents another stigma because once a home has been off the market and put back on again, it is harder to get a good offer. It causes potential buyers to think you could be getting desperate, so they make lower offers. By overpricing your home in the beginning, you could actually end up settling for a lower price than you would have normally received. In today’s market there are other obstacles that cause a home to stay on the market longer, such as, the price point your neighborhood is in, and the fact that lenders are being more cautious, so pricing it right from the beginning is more critical than ever. Find an agent that you feel is experienced and uses more than just a standard market analysis in helping you determine your home’s value. Thinking of selling? Feel free to visit my seller’s page and fill out a market analysis form, we will be glad to review your pricing and selling options.Post date: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - 11:27pm
Post date: Monday, June 13, 2011 - 5:27pm
Homeowner's Associations, Help or Hurt?
The majority of neighborhoods in areas of Collin County, such as Frisco, Plano, Prosper, McKinney and Little Elm are individually governed by homeowners’ associations (HOA’s). Originally designed to protect homeowner’s HOA’s now seem to hurt them. Some Frisco neighborhood residents are complaining that HOA’s are getting out of control. So much so that state leaders are saying they are regularly hearing stories of unrestrained HOA’s, not only in our local areas of Little Elm and Plano, but state wide and it has gotten their attention. So much so that homeowners' associations were the target of some of the lawmakers in the latest Texas State legislative session. In this most recent session, Texas State representatives filed multiple bills that would limit the HOA's authority, including a measure that restricts their right to foreclose on homes. Currently in Texas, an HOA can foreclose on a home owner when the home owner becomes delinquent with their association dues; this is because Texas is currently a non-judicial state when it comes to foreclosures. Over the years we have heard stories of HOA’s purposefully aiming their foreclosure rights on homes that are free of mortgages in order to turn around and sell them for a nice profit. One of the stories that made national headlines a few years back was of and HOA foreclosing on a military family while the husband was serving in Iraq, because his wife got behind on the dues.
Relief has finally come for home owner’s in Texas’ last Legislative session, several of the bills that were proposed have been passed and HOA’s will now find their power’s regarding foreclosure for failure to pay their association dues more limited. In fact Texas passed 18 HOA reform bills; this is a huge win for home owners and very timely considering the Texas Legislature only meets every 2 years. One of the bills that passed will now require an HOA to obtain a court order to foreclose on homes. However, it will take some time for these to be amended into the Texas property code and any “tweaking” that needs to be done will not be able to be addressed until the next session in 2013. Until the property code is amended if you have any questions or curiosity about what changes were approved you can visit Texas Legislature Online and browse through them.Post date: Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:28pm
Post date: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 11:47pm
Frisco Gets a New Zip Code
A few weeks ago, I shared with you about Frisco and the excitement that comes with its growth. I was fortunate to be a part of Frisco when we were a one zip code town (75034 was the original zip code). I remember like it was yesterday when they announced that it Frisco was getting a new zip code and Preston Road was the boundary, west side remained 75034 and east side go the new 75035 zip code. It’s happening again, starting July 1st, Frisco is getting yet another zip code, it will be 75033. The boundary for this new zip code is everything north of Main Street, west of Preston Road, east of FM423 and south of U.S. Highway 380. For those of us with addresses on Main Street (which is the boundary of the new zip code, need to realize that those on the south side of Main Street stay 75034 and the north side takes the new code. Another way to keep it straight is, the odd numbered addresses on Main Street, in that area, will keep the existing zip code 75034, but all the even numbered addresses on Main Street will use the new 75033 zip Code. Frisco addresses on FM423 between Main Street and Eldorado Parkway will also use ZIP Code 75033.
The necessity for the change stems from the recent 2010 US Census. It confirms Frisco was the fastest growing city in America from the years 2000 to 2009. They are predicting more growth with in the current 75034 boundary to the point that they will run out of the “Plus 4” digits, therefore the new zip code is needed.
As are resident of Frisco, the neighborhoods affected by the change are: Meadow Hill Estates, Preston Highland, Preston Highland North, Frisco Original Donation, Newman Village, Cobb Hill, Grayhawk, Eldorado Fairways, Country Club Ridge at the Trails, The Knolls of Frisco, The Traditions of Frisco, Northridge Estates, Christie Ranch, Griffin Parc, The Fairways at the Trails, The Trails of West Frisco, Shaddock Creek Estates, Kings Garden, Meadow Creek, Heather Ridge Estates.
If your address is included in the change the United States Postal Service (USPS) will likely notify you via mail. As with the previous change, there will be a one year “grace period” to allow you to use up your current supplies of address labels, stationery etc., but going forward remember to print the new zip code on any new orders.
You can always contact the Main Post Office in Frisco at 972-335-7453 if you have additional questions.Post date: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 3:54pm
www.tourfactory.com This home is located in Dallas, TX. Contact Robyn Heathcock for more information. IRG Real Estate 972-837-0651 Exterior renovated
with hardie board siding, 2 in. tile in kitch, brkfst, entry and util, washer,dryer,refrigerator,yard fenced. newer water heater and air unit for heating-cooling. Homeowner's fees pay for all repairs of all exterior roof, fence, security, landscaping, sprinklers, security lighting, pools, community center and total causality insurance. Home located on a landscaped plaza, no noisy street frontage. Covered, lighted carports.Post date: Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 4:36pm
National Open House Weekend
This weekend, June 4th and 5th, are the days that the 2011 Nationwide Open House event will be held. This event is sponsored by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It is one weekend a year set aside when sellers across the country are encouraged to hold open houses in their area. It has been advertised by NAR and the local realtor associations via traditional media as well as social media, the goal is to attract buyers’ interest to homes for sale in the area.
The Nationwide Open House Weekend offers buyers a stress-free way to visit homes for sale in different neighborhoods where they might want to live. For sellers, the weekend provides a high-visibility effort to promote traffic and drive home sales. The agent are encouraged to advertise the open house in the local MLS and mark the homes that are being held open with the blue “open house” balloons they can pick up at their local associations.
If you are interested in a tour of these homes in Frisco, Prosper, Plano, Little Elm, McKinney or Allen contact me and I will be glad to print you a map of homes that will be open in the area you are interested in.
History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Most believe it was a concept started by the widows and mothers of fallen soldiers coming together on a specific day to decorate the grave of their soldier husbands and sons, dating back to the Civil War days. There was actually a tune written and dedicated to these ladies “Kneel Where our Loved Ones are Sleeping”. (I tried to find in on YouTube so I could share it with you but only found sheet music for it) Before long towns and villages were decorating the graves of their fallen war heroes which in turn coined the name “Decoration Day”, soon after it became an official day, first observed on May 30th of 1868. The south, however, refused to acknowledge the day observing their fallen on different days until after World War I when the holiday changed from acknowledging only those having died during the Civil War to acknowledging all who have died in any war, thus being called Memorial Day. To allow for a 3 day weekend of a Federal Holiday it is now observed on the last Monday in May. There is much more information on the history of Memorial Day, I just wanted to attempt to bring some of the history to our memories of what this holiday really means to us.
Let’s try to remember to put the memorial back into Memorial Day and instead of thinking of it as another day off of work, or a long awaited 3 day weekend, take a minute to remember the sacrifices this day was intended to remind us of and honor those who have fallen allowing us to have the freedom and luxuries of a holiday to enjoy.Post date: Monday, May 30, 2011 - 3:59pm
Buying a Home - Still a Good Investment
Buying a home is still a good investment. By in large and in our area, homes appreciate about three percent a year. Some years more, some less. It can even vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Two percent may not seem like that much at first.
But take a second look…
Presumably, if you bought a $250,000 house, and you didn't pay all cash for the it, then you got a mortgage. Let's say you put 20%down – that would be an investment of $50,000.
At an appreciation of 3% a year, a $250,000 home would increase in value $7,500 during the first year. That means you earned $7,500 with an investment of $50,000. Your annual "return on investment" would be over 6%.
You can also consider the fact that if for some reason we don't get the appreciation that is typical, there is always inflation, that averages about 2.5% each year so either way the "return on investment is there.
Realize, you are making mortgage payments and paying property taxes, and some other miscellaneous costs. Remember, the interest on your mortgage and your property taxes are also both tax deductible, therefore the government is effectively subsidizing your home purchase.
All this considered, this means your rate of return when buying a home is higher than many other investments you could make right now.
Click It or Ticket
Since it is unlawful to flash your lights to signal upcoming traffic that than is an officer in waiting ahead, I thought the next best thing would be to remind everyone that yesterday was the kick off for the national “Click it or Ticket” Campaign. It will run from May 22nd, 2011 to June 5th, 2011. As a mom with a teenager that has recently taken drivers education, I was actually able to learn something too. Did you know that ALL passengers in the car have to wear a seat belt? Well I didn’t, I always thought it was just the front seat passengers and children under 14 in the back seat only. The fact is that it is now a law that every passenger, no matter the location or age is required to wear a seat belt, because of this, Texas is cracking down not only on drivers but passengers as well. I asked the clerk at the TDPS about it, she said, “ignorance of the new laws is not an excuse; the public is responsible for keeping up with new laws.” They actually have a “new laws” page on their website you may want to bookmark and check it out every now and then. Bottom-line, wearing your seat belt will not only save you a $250 fine, but will likely save your life! Buckle Up Texas! VIDEO CLIPPost date: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - 2:13pm
Gas Prices and Real Estate Choices!
We are all bummed about the high gas prices right now. I know personally my car went from $45 a tank to $63 overnight it seems. Strangely enough, I read an article today about gas prices today and got a little tickled by the end of it because I realized that this article about rising gas prices, somehow found a way to include four of the hottest national topics and attribute them to the cause. You may be able to guess what they were but I was amused the topics: the unemployment rate, oil prices, terrorist activity and believe it or not, the housing market! I just thought it was interesting because it seems, to me anyway, that only two of those topics relate to rising gas prices - oil prices and terrorism - the later of which I am not 100% convinced about, but really, the housing market? I know I have some clients that want to live closer to where they work, but I am not seeing it as the majority. I also realize we have to take into account that this type of news is national, and we are in a more stable area than most, so I am just not seeing how its related, at least in the Dallas metro area but who am I, the fact is I am a real estate expert, not an oil and gas expert, so I guess I’ll just stick to real estate. Maybe one of you are more of an expert in oil and gas, feel free to comment and educate me, I’m thinking it’s more a of political issue, and I know better than to go there . I want any of you to feel free to leave your thoughts below and in the meantime here’s a handy little website that you can use to find the lowest gas prices nearest to you http://www.dallasgasprices.com/ - they also have an app you can add to your smartphone for when you’re on the road!Post date: Saturday, May 21, 2011 - 12:36am
Post date: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - 10:27pm
If you are facing foreclosure and are in need of immediate help, please contact us now! email@example.com
Know your options - Fight Foreclosure!! Get a free eBook on stopping foreclosure at www.letushelp.net
What is a short sale?
A short sale is a sales transaction in which the seller mortgage lender agrees to accept a payoff of less than the balance due on the loan. Many times this is due to the current market value of the home being much less that the seller's payoff. You have choices, there are several programs available to help stop foreclosure.
This can be a great alternative to foreclosure for sellers. The impact on your credit file can be greatly minimized through a short sale allowing the seller to recover quicker and give the ability for the seller to purchase a home again in the future sooner than with a foreclosure.
As in a traditional sale the parties involved are the seller and the buyer, however, with a short sale the bank and a loan servicer (in some cases) are included in the process.
To determine your short sale eligibility:
1. Let your agent determine what the market value of your home is.
2. Gather the financial information around your property and the cost of selling it:
Estimated Amount to Pay off Loan
Estimate of Title Closing Fees (your agent can help with this)
Real Estate Fees
3. Add those items up and subtract them from the market value of your home. If the number is negative that is how much you would have to pay to clear the loan upon sale. If that is not a possibility then you need to talk with your agent about a short sale.
Highlight of the short sale process:
Step 1 in the process is to get your home listed as soon as possible, the banks like to see your home marketed at a price that will clear your loan for at least 60 days before they will consider a short sale.
Step 2 the price is reduced to the actual market value in order to obtain an offer as quickly as possible, which starts the short sale approval process with the bank.
Step 3 your agent works directly with your bank to make sure they have everything they need to make a decision on the sale as quickly as possible.
Step 4 the bank will typically order a BPO or an appraisal to confirm the value of the property in its current conditions. This is what is used as a basis for them to determine what they will take for the property.
Step 5 any conditions or barriers that come up as a result of this appraisal are either met or negotiated and resolved between all parties
Step 6 once the bank approves the sale the contract continues through the title and closing process just as it would if it were a traditional sale.
Step 7 final documents are sent to the bank for closing approval, if everything is in order the way they previously approved it the sale closes.
There is not a set timeline for this process since banks and servicers have different ways of handling this process, therefore it can take anywhere from 2 months to more than 9 months to complete. When you work with an experienced short sale agent, they are trained to facilitate the process and it makes a world of difference in how quickly it is completed.
Short sales are a great option for buyers that are looking for a "good deal" more so than in a foreclosure situation. The foreclosure process has gotten so expensive and involved for the banks that they are often listing the properties that they take back for very close to market value so they can recoup as much of the cost as possible. With a short sale the banks are aware that there can be a significant savings if the costs if foreclosure is never started.
In short sales the banks are prepared to take a certain percentage lower than the appraised value in order to close the deal and forego the foreclosure process. It is important that the buyer work with an experienced real estate agent to ensure the value of the property is no inflated.
Many investors use short sales to take advantage of what is being said to be the best upcoming investment real estate market we have experienced in decades.
Pre-foreclosures (short sales) are the best investment opportunity out there. It is much easier to work through and experienced real estate agent than through a lawyer like you would have to on a foreclosed property. Another advantage is that you have more time to do the research on a property, do inspections and the home is often occupied therefore typically in better condition.Post date: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 5:10pm
In and Out Burger
The recent excitement about In and Out Burger opening got me to thinking. One of the things I love about living in a growing area is all the excitement when a sign is put up on a vacant piece of commercial land that says “Coming Soon” . . . . I have been coming to Frisco since I was 10 years old, I think the old brothel houses were still on Hwy 121 back then and the only grocery store was “David’s” – who remembers that? My husband and I finally realized that Frisco wasn’t “too far out” to live, so in 1998 we moved into the community, and quickly fell in love with it, everything about it, the planning and zoning, the school system, the home town community feel, the leadership – everything . . . except the lack of conveniences, we had to drive 15 miles to get to Taco Bueno, Target, Kroger or any kind of mall. However, shortly after we moved here the Preston Road construction began as well as the planning for Stonebriar Mall, we grew from one bank to two, and needless to say everything boomed from there. Then we started asking questions like, Why we do we have 3 Wendy’s before a Whataburger or Why in the world do we not have a Braum’s yet? Then the day came, I saw the, oh so familiar logo I could not see the words but I saw the logo, there it was on a plain white billboard sign
(who says branding doesn’t work) -- I believe the first phone call I made when I saw the sign was to my oldest daughter who is equally in love with Bueno.
Still, today 8 years later, I love the excitement for a couple of reasons, the first being, I love the convenience and trying new places, the second, it is a sign of a growing local economy which means real estate is on the move again! When retailers and restaurants show confidence by placing their businesses in our community it affects our local real estate economy as well.
So come on In and Out Burger, Cane’s and Walmart, we’re ready for you!!Post date: Friday, May 13, 2011 - 12:14am
New Power Saver Program
New Power Saver Program = Energy Efficient Renovations
Have you heard of the Power Saver loan program? It is a new loan program implemented by HUD to offer low cost loans for homeowners to make energy efficient improvements to their home. Under this program credit worthy homeowners can borrow up to $25,000 to make energy efficient improvements to their homes. The program is backed by the FHA (Federal Housing Administration).
The program was designed with a twofold purpose;
1. Offer low cost loan opportunities for homeowners that want to borrow money for energy efficient improvements knowing they will realize a savings over time.
2. Provide job opportunities in the fields of home retrofitting, such as installers and contractors.
Of course there is also the “green” benefit of energy savings. HUD opened the opportunity up to a limited number of lenders and has a list of these approved lenders on their website. To find out more information on this program you can visit the article directly on their site here.Post date: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 7:46pm
Did you get the letter?
I had a few past clients mention to me that they received a letter in the mail that states. “You overpaid your property taxes” and for $55 they offer to help you file for the refund. What this letter typically means in that the homestead exemption in not on your account. Texas is a homestead state with actually gives you a bit of a discount on your taxes. If you got the letter you have two options:
1. Pay the $55 and let them help you file for the exemption
2. Do it yourself, it’s very simple
Collin County gives you the ability to file it directly online, but either way all you need to do is go to your county appraisers website (Collin – Denton) go to the “Forms” page and look for the Homestead Exemption Form. Then answer a few questions about your property and mail it in. It is important to know that you can only file it beginning the year that you actually occupy the property on January 1st so if you bought the home on January 15th of 2010, then you have to wait until 2011 to realize the exemption. Another thing to note is if you forgot to file it the year you earned it, you can request it to be granted for a prior year, but no further back than one year prior. This is where the refund comes in, if you file for a prior year you can receive a refund of the difference. Also, if your taxes are held in escrow by your mortgage company you are likely to have an escrow overage the next year and possibly receive a refund from that later as well.
You can always call a real estate professional to help you if you have any questions.Post date: Friday, May 6, 2011 - 2:23am
Property Tax Appraisal Disputes
The dead line to dispute your tax appraisal is drawing near . . .
You have probably gotten your 2011 tax bill from your county’s appraisal district by now, if you haven’t you may want to give them a call. Take a close look at it you may see that it stayed the same as the prior year and you may even notice a slight increase. Most of us don’t like to see the increases because it means a higher amount due, it may even take you by surprise because on most of the media venues we hear so much negativity about the market being down. It is important to know that these venues often report on a broad scale due to their audience coverage areas. If you think your tax appraisal is higher than it should be it is best to contact a local real estate professional and get some input on the market in your area.
In Texas you have the right to dispute your tax appraisal if you think it is high, this however, should not be based solely on your opinion, you will need to have facts to support it. The appraisal review board for your county will have specific requirements for this dispute. In Collin and Denton counties they begin with a form, located on their websites that you must fill out, attach the supporting information and mail to them. They will then review the information and in some cases grant or deny the dispute based on what you sent in. If it is denied you can ask for a hearing and go before the board to further explain your cause.
It is important to get accurate data to support your claim we can help you get that data together and explain the market in your neighborhood and consult with you to see if it would benefit you to dispute your tax appraisal. Feel free to give us a call or we have a form on our website to help get the process started.
IRG Real Estate, LLC.
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Copyright 2011 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®