North Texas Real Estate Blog

Dec. 13, 2018

Does it hurt your credit to shop mortgage rates?

It's OK to shop around!

I encounter many buyers that are nervous about talking to a lender. Many get defensive at the suggestion that they get pre-approved. Dig a little deeper into the objection, and I usually discover that the buyers are more concerned about protecting their credit score than the actual approval. 

I asked one of my lenders for some input on how I can help my clients understand the process and take the fear out of loan approval. Jason Mallett with American Mortgage provided some great resources for us. 

What happens to your credit score when you make an inquiry?

The initial inquiry into your credit from a loan application will take a few points off your credit score.  This initial dip is inevitable if you need to take out a loan for your new home. Any subsequent inquiries, within a brief time window, into your credit by any other lender will not be reflected in your score. 

This holds true in the area of mortgage loans, auto loans, and student loans. It is not the same as applying for a credit card or a line of credit at a department store. Applying for a mortgage is not the same as applying for 10 credit cards. The credit agencies recognize the difference and adjust the scores accordingly.

Buffers and Deduplication...

Credit agencies recognize the differences between credit lines and understand when a consumer is shopping around for the best mortgage product. They have designed a process that allows multiple inquiries without penalty. 

Buffers

Lenders perform one last credit check on any loan they are about to close. As long as that check is done within 30 days of the previous inquiry, FICO ignores it.

Deduplication

Deduplication is the elimination of duplicate data. When a consumer shops for a mortgage loan, the initial inquiry takes a small hit to the credit score. As long as the additional inquiries are of the same nature, and within 45 days of the initial inquiry, they are considered duplicates and will not have any adverse effects on the credit score. 

I found a great article on this...click to read more.

Where to shop?  

Now that you understand it doesn't adversely affect you to shop within that 45-day window - SHOP!!!  I have a great place for you to start your shopping - my lender-resource page.  It provides you with my favorite lenders. I can't imagine any better solution than what you will find with the lenders on my list. 

After you have shopped - then shop!

Now that you have confidence that you have the best loan product for your needs, the fun begins! Take a look at one of my most popular home searches or create your own search custom-made for your budget. 

When you are ready to take that next step, give me a call

 

Nov. 21, 2018

3 Window Options For Seniors

As a Senior Residential Specialist, I often find myself drawn to articles relating to this demographic. As an approaching senior myself, I often find myself checking my surroundings to see how my new home fits the bill for aging in place. 

I recently downsized and plan to stay in my home for the duration. It is quite an adventure but I am loving my new smaller home. 

REALTOR® Magazine published an article this month on windows suitable for seniors. I had never given windows much thought as it pertains to getting older. We will be replacing our windows in this new(old) home in the next few years and I will definitely take some of these suggestions. It does not always make sense to have a sliding window - especially as large as they can get. I will, however, make sure that the windows I get are low maintenance and easy to operate. 

Check out the article here

If you know anyone needing help in the area of senior housing, head over to my sister website I am developing just for the purpose of helping seniors. 

 

Nov. 14, 2018

A Walk In The Park

Three of my favorite Allen parks and trails

Fall can by tricky in North Texas. It can be hot; it can be dry; it can be cold; it can be wet. All in the same day even. So when we get that one day - that perfect day - you've got to go for a walk. There are so many beautiful parks in the area, you are guaranteed to have a magical walk minutes from wherever you are.

We had one of those perfect days recently, and I decided to take a walk. The problem was deciding where to take the perfect walk. Just like a kid with too many dessert choices (I'll take one of everything please), I took a walk in 3 parks.

First, was my old stand-by - Dayspring Nature Preserve. This is a beautiful place and it is walking distance to my house. I had to get that in. Next I drove to The Old Stone Dam to walk along this trail. I had not been there yet but have been meaning to take a look. Finally I went and checked out the newest park in Allen, Spirit Park. This is not so much a place to walk as it is a place to play. And take pictures. You can get some great pictures here. 

Dayspring Nature Preserve

I am just giddy that my house is steps to the Watters Creek Trail and this leads right to the Preserve. When the weather is nice you can find groups of teens hanging in their hammocks from the trees. This time of year, you have very high chances of walking up on families taking their greeting card photos. Many weekends you can witness family gatherings at the covered pavilion. I just love this place. 

   

 

You Can Live By Dayspring!

If you would like to live walking distance to this park - check out these homes for sale close by:
CLICK HERE

The Old Stone Dam

I have been meaning to go walk this trail since its grand opening. It did not disappoint. The trail is beautiful and there are educational markers along the way to inform the guests about the history of this site. This 5-minute video gives you a great overview of the site:

 

   

I parked at Allen Station Park ball fields. The trail head is right at the parking lot. The dam and old rail bridge is a short walk in.

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The graffiti bridge is a favorite local spot for high school senior photos. Every year someone puts up the new graduation year. 

You Can Live By Old Stone Dam!

If you would like to live walking distance to this park - check out these homes for sale close by:
CLICK HERE

Spirit Park

Spirit Park is the newest installment to the Allen Parks offering. It is not necessarily a "walking" park but you can easily reach it from the north end Watters Creek Trail or Waterford Parks Trail. It is an adult baseball/softball complex, nature garden, and huge playground. Here is a great article on the purpose of this unique park.

   

 

 

You Can Live By Spirit Park!

If you would like to live walking distance to this park - check out these homes for sale close by:
CLICK HERE

 

Posted in Around Town
Oct. 23, 2018

The Shifting Market - What you need to know...

Absorption Rate

It is a great indicator about the market. Let's take a look at this statistic and see how it is being used to determine the state of the market. 

 

Oct. 10, 2018

Foundation Issues Got You Down?

We have a saying in real estate when it comes to home foundations - “In Texas, it is not a matter of IF but a matter of WHEN your home will need foundation repairs.”

Don't Be Afraid Of Foundation Problems

My experience with homeowners from other states is that they tend to be leery of foundation issues. However, a seasoned Texan, sees foundation repair as routine maintenance. In fact, some homeowners prefer that the repairs are already complete on a home so that they don't have to bother.

In the past, I have written about steps you can take to prevent foundation issues.

After living in 5 homes over the past 20 years in the North Texas area, I finally had my turn at living through a foundation repair on my own home. The exterior pier installation was pretty painless. I wanted to take some time to share my experience and hopefully help alleviate the stress of the dreaded foundation repair.

Two Types of Foundation Repairs

I should start out by defining the two types of foundation repair for slab foundations.

  • External Piers - placed along the perimeter of the home. A hole is dug outside along the foundation. The piers are laid and are used to lift the foundation. The soil is replaced. If a pier is needed where an existing driveway or patio is present then these slabs will be cut in order to add the piers.
  • Interior Piers - placed under the slab from inside the home. This is a more invasive procedure that requires access to the home, removal of flooring, breaking the slab, adding the piers and repairing the slab and flooring.

My painless experience was with the exterior piers. I don't think I would describe interior foundation repair as painless. It is akin to taking on a renovation. It can disrupt the household for a week or more.

How Did This Happen?

Earlier this year, my husband and I moved from our big-family home to our empty-nester home. It was a great adventure. The home we bought had previous foundation repair but showed no signs of needing more. However, as the hot summer came to an end, we started to see the signs – cracks in the walls and ceilings, doors that don't latch close. As I was gearing up to do one of our first renovation projects on our home, I decided to have the foundation checked before we started.

I didn't want to start a remodeling project with foundation issues. Especially since my first project was to replace an exterior door. Sure enough, the home needed some additional piers. I was grateful that they were exterior piers and that none of them would pierce any existing porches or driveway.

How the Foundation Got Fixed

Being in the business, I can tell you there are some really great companies you can trust to do your foundation work. I typically will give my clients 3 suggestions. You can also ask around on social applications like Facebook or Nextdoor for great companies that your neighbors use. For this project, I chose Stratum. They are a local company, have a great book of business, and have been around a long time.

As soon as I booked the repair, I was given a great set of instructions and a video that showed how the process worked. Keep in mind that if you schedule your foundation work in the heart of the summer you will have to wait in line. Take a look at the video that shows how they do what they do. It fascinates me how it works.

The professionals showed up on time and went right to work. They removed some landscaping that was in the way and started digging. All the work took place right outside my home office window. They were quick and got all 9 piers installed in one day. I could feel my house move while they were working. It was weird.

The replaced the dirt and landscaping and so far it is still alive. There is no guarantee that the shrubs will survive. They tell you that you should have a professional do the transplanting if you want to be sure it will thrive. For us, the shrubs are overgrown and about at end-of-life so we took our chances. All the excess dirt was spread around the house and yard in low areas.

By the time they left, I did not see any trace that they were there. They were so neat and efficient. They even cleaned up areas in the brick mortar that were cracked.

You can read all about the repair process here.

Careful Attention

The foundation company made careful measurements before, during and after the installation. They tested the sprinklers before they started digging and after they were done. They performed a leak test to be sure that there are no plumbing issues as a result of the damage/repair.

They protected the grass and sidewalk and left the place as good or better than they found it. I am very impressed with the process.

How can I help you?

Do you think you may be headed to some foundation repairs soon? Take heart, it is probably not as bad as you imagine. I've got some great referrals for you from the large company to the small. Let me know what you need.

Posted in Home Improvement
Sept. 23, 2018

Making Your Dream Home Affordable

Working With A Keller Williams Agent Has Perks!

I am so excited about all the new technology and great perks that come with being a Keller Williams agent. One way that we have brought value to the table - the closing table - is the ZeroPlus mortgage from Keller Mortgage. Find out more about this zero origination fee, zero lender fee, low interest rate, plus $1,000 credit at the closing program here

Click to begin your home search today...

As you start to narrow down your home search, you may begin to wonder what buying a home is going to cost you in the end. Many buyers are surprised that there are more expenses in buying a home than just the downpayment. Keller Mortgage offers exclusive benefits to my clients.

If you're thinking about buying, let's talk about where to start and if this program may be right for you.

Certain officers, directors, and owners of Keller Williams Realty, Inc. have ownership interests in Keller Mortgage. You are not required to use Keller Mortgage. Please read our Affiliated Business Arrangement Disclosure HERE.

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 10, 2018

Twin Creeks Stunner!

Welcome Home to 1206 Rio Grande Ct.

I have said in the past that the best home to buy is that of a REALTOR®. That is because we tend to know a thing or two about how to maintain a home and how to stage a home for sale. However, after touring my latest listing, I am beginning to think the best home to buy is that of an ENGINEER! 

I call my clients magical. Everything just seems to happen magically with them. I asked them one time where the landscaping lights were located and if I could turn them on. Before I could turn around - they were on! And my clients were out of town! 

Thanks to their cleverness, hard work, and tenacious attention to detail, they have turned their home into a stunning smart-home masterpiece. 

The swimming pool was constructed in 2014. It is a saltwater system that can be controlled from your smart device. You can control the pump, spa, cleaner, and water features from the app. You can check the salt level from there as well. The LED lighting changes color to suit your mood or can be set to a pre-programmed theme, or it can be synched to your music. 

The thermostats are also programmable. The Ecobee system on the main level is Apple Homekit compatible. There are controllers added to both the main system and the upstairs system to allow for temperature control from multiple locations. 

The owner installed Wemo light switches and outlets. These programmable switches can be controlled from your smart device and programmed for your needs. As you enter the home from the front or the garage, simply press and hold the Wemo switch at the door and turn on all the connected lights. They can also be programmed to sense when your phone is in range and turn on when you pull up to the house. 

If security is your concern, take comfort in knowing that this home is 360 degree completely monitored by security cameras. The data is stored on a server and available to you to view from anywhere. You can even check to make sure you closed the garage from your smart device. 

Ready to see this up close and personal? 

Contact me today for a showing. You don't want to miss this!

Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 5, 2018

Smart Ideas For Smart Homes

Considerations For Smart-Home Tech

In the rapid-paced industry of smart home technology, homeowners are bombarded with options many of us never dreamed possible. Owners now have the ability to automate anything from locks to lights to air conditioning and more. With all of the options out there, it’s hard to stay up to date on the smart-home trend.

If you are considering installing smart-home technology in your home or looking to buy a home that is equipped with some of those devices, you want to ensure you do your research so you can make educated decisions. Consider these factors when taking the plunge into the newest home tech trends.

Three Smart-Home Factors to Consider

  • Security - Because a large percentage of smart-home devices rely on Wi-Fi, they are vulnerable to being hacked. Although this may not be much of a concern for devices controlling your lighting or sprinkler system, it may be for automated locks or garage openers.
  • Cost vs. Value Add. - The initial setup costs for some smart-home technology can be daunting for homeowners, so it’s important to thoroughly map out the upfront cost versus your savings and its value to you over time. Many of these can help you be more energy efficient, reduce monthly bills, and save you time and stress. Plus, if and when you are ready to sell, smart-home technology can help improve your home’s resale value.
  • Compatibility - With so many companies throwing their hats into the smart-home ring, it is can be difficult to select the right devices for your home. If you are considering automating various features in your home, you may want to take a look at the big picture and try to choose devices that are compatible with one another or that can be controlled by a singular hub.

How can you find a smart home?

I have a specialized search set up to view smart homes for sale in Collin County.  You can see these smart homes here. Simply email me to request a tour of any of these amazingly smart properties. 

Aug. 16, 2018

The State of the Market

Real estate market news

Recapping the first half of the 2018 real estate market

The real estate market in North Texas is undergoing a shift. For a few years, the market has favored sellers. We experienced an influx of corporate headquarters relocations and saw prices climb further. This was great for sellers. It was even a great market for buyers as there was enough inventory for most buyers and mortgage interest rates were extremely low. However, going back to the summer of 2017, we started seeing a shift or a stabilization in the market. Home prices settled, active buyers tapered off, and mortgage interest rates began to creep upwards.

This summer, the saga continues for home sellers. Collin County Association of Realtors has noted that the current inventory of “active” homes on the market is the highest it has seen in years. Pair that with increasing mortgage rates, and you've got yourself a flat market. Homes are taking longer to sell. Buyers are picky and not in any hurry to make an offer. Sellers are frustrated. It is a function of the market and happens regularly.

The great news for our area is that our shifts in the market tend to make smaller corrections than other parts of the country. While we may see a downturn in home sales and home prices, they likely won't go down too far.

Buyers Should Take Action

If you have been sitting on the sidelines, considering purchasing a home, NOW is the time to take action. Interest rates are expected to climb one or two more times this year. Get your interest rate locked-in before that happens. With the overabundance of homes on the market, you can get a great property at a great price. Make sure you work with a seasoned agent that knows how to negotiate on your behalf. It doesn't mean that you can bully the seller – it means that you can get some very favorable terms and a great value.

Sellers Should Take Note

If you need to sell your home, take heart. Homes are selling, however, the ones that are the most successful in this market are the ones that are well-prepared. You need to know what is selling in your neighborhood and what is not. Make sure that you are ready to prepare your home to beat out the competition. You do this with price, preparation, and promotion. A good agent will comb through the data and let you know what it will take to get it done.

A closer look at Twin Creeks in Allen

How will you know what to do to get your home sold? Let's take a look at the latest data for the Twin Creeks neighborhood. (This data was taken from the MLS system on July 31st)

Year-to-date 2018 statistics for Twin Creeks:

  • 100 HOMES SOLD
  • 33 FAILED (CANCELLED or EXPIRED)
  • 53 ACTIVE
  • 16 UNDER CONTRACT

Of the 16 homes under contract 9 of them have pools. There is definitely a demand for swimming pools in Twin Creeks. I have read that the white kitchens are important to buyers. I did my own research. Of the 25 homes that sold the quickest in Twin Creeks, only 9 had white cabinets. I don't think white cabinets are a “must have” for buyers in this particular neighborhood. I do believe, however, that an updated home is important. Buyers in Twin Creeks expect wood floors, granite or quartz countertops, and stainless steel appliances. Those are the factors that get your home sold quick and what the fastest-selling homes have in common. While there are homes that sell in a matter of days in this neighborhood, the median days on market is 46. That means that over half the homes on the market are taking longer than that to get a contract.

Patience is key. Well, patience, and pricing the home to beat out the competition. Replace your carpet, paint the home in neutral tones, update your appliances, and meet with a pro to get a complete punch list on everything you should do to get your home ready to sell.

Check your home's value for free right here...

 

July 9, 2018

Tips for Seniors on Downsizing Your Home

Tips for Seniors on Downsizing Your Home

I've got a great guest post on my blog. Mike Longsdon from Elder Freedom has some great tips for downsizing.

 

These are not called the golden years for nothing. Retirement is your time to live your life to its fullest. For many, it only makes sense to downsize to a smaller home. Before you take the plunge, here are some tips and pieces of advice on downsizing your forever home.

Why Downsize?

One of the biggest reasons to downsize is financial. A smaller home usually means a smaller mortgage, or no mortgage at all. After all, the average listing price for a home in Allen, Texas, is $418,000. You may make a tidy profit from selling a larger property. Freeing up your funds will allow you to live a more fulfilling retirement. You may be able to afford more frequent or luxurious vacations, or to expand in hobbies you want to invest your time in. You may also save on your energy bill. Heating and cooling a smaller space costs less than a home that can fit an extended family. With a smaller home, you may be able to afford the location of your choosing. If you have always wanted to live in a specific city or state, this may be the time and way to achieve this dream.

How to Find the Right House

The first step to finding the perfect new house is to research homes in your area. This website will help you see what is listed. It can give you an idea of what prices you can expect, as well as give you an insight into what open homes might be nice to visit. It’s also important to know what you want. Make a few lists outlining what features are mandatory, what would be nice, and what is negotiable. Think about the community you want to live in. If you are looking beyond your city, make sure the area you’re moving to is what you’re looking for, such as being close to your favorite amenities and having low crime rates.

Don’t Pack It All

It is hard to let go of memories. However, with downsizing comes less space. You may rent a storage unit, but those costs add up over time. It’s best to give away and donate what you can. If you have clothing that no longer fits or is a style you no longer wear, offer it to your children or donate it. Any appliances you don’t use, or at least don’t use often, you may want to give away too. Do you have any expired medicines, cosmetics or the like? Dispose of such items safely. Foodstuffs are something else you should get rid of. In the weeks leading up to your move, try to cook and eat as much of your food as possible. If you have alcohol, it might be wise to finish the bottles or give them to friends. Glass is notoriously difficult to safely transport.

Tips for Moving

Start planning as far in advance as you can. If you’re hiring a moving company to help, especially if the journey is long, make sure that your chosen time isn’t during summer, as it may be more expensive. However, it’s also smart to check what kind of weather you can expect during your moving month. Document your items, especially your valuables and breakables, before you pack. This way, you have a record of your items for the moving company. It’s standard to have an overnight box packed and clearly labeled. This should include everything you will need for the first night and following day, including sheets and toiletries. Be sure that not only have you cancelled your current utilities, but that you have them set up at your new address. After a long day of moving, you will probably want a hot shower. It may seem like a good deal of work, but it will hopefully pay off. You’ll spend less time cleaning and managing upkeep, and more time enjoying life. Isn’t that what our golden years should be about?