North Texas Real Estate Blog

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?

June 4, 2018

Area 4th of July Celebrations

Area 4th of July Celebrations:

Click on the links below for all the information you need.

Posted in Around Town
May 21, 2018

4 Priority Moving Tasks

Important Considerations For Your Move-In

Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. Before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first.

Change the locks

Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money.

Steam clean the carpets

It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have them available.

Call an exterminator

Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home.

Clean out the kitchen

If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances.

Don't forget to ask for help!

I've got great referrals to help you with all your needs as you move. Contact me today for help.

Posted in Buying a Home
April 29, 2018

Feeling All The Feels Of Downsizing

 

In all my time as a REALTOR®, I have had clients on all ends of the spectrum of home ownership.  I have precious first-time home buyers, fantastic folks expanding their family and expanding their homes, retiring couples downsizing to the perfect single story. It is always an emotional journey no matter what phase of life one is in. This month, I find myself not only the REALTOR® but the client in my very own adventure in downsizing.

Downsizing is the act of moving from a larger home to a smaller one. I believe it is the most difficult home buying experience to go through financially, physically and mentally. I do think it is worth it in the end. The best way to go through the experience is to be well-prepared. 

Financial aspects

In most real estate markets, smaller single-story homes sell for more money per square foot than the larger homes. This is the biggest objection I hear from my clients that downsize. “We would love to sell our big house but we don't know where we would go. We can't afford the smaller homes.”  The true way to look at this is that you may pay relatively more than you want for the smaller home, you will see the savings in reduced taxes, reduced utilities, reduced home maintenance, and upkeep. My best advice is to focus on the end-game which is getting into a more manageable space.

Physical aspects

I am going through the downsize activities right now. I am not “old” but I sure am not as physically capable as I was 20 years ago. I spent a few hours going up and down a ladder re-staining my stair banister and could barely get out of bed the next morning. It can be frustrating. My best advice is to give yourself more time than you think is necessary to get your home ready to sell and to hire professionals where possible. 

Mental aspects

This one is the toughest. As we are going through our home, I am packing away the memories. I found a stack of all the drawings my daughter did in elementary school. I just broke down and cried! That sweet little girl who used to draw her pretend mermaid family and give them all names is now headed out the door to college. Another task I have to complete next week is painting my garage wall where I marked the kid's heights as they grew. Sniff sniff. My best advice is to let it go – let go of the feelings, let go of the tears. A good cry is quite cathartic. Then after a good cry, let go of the “stuff” that has no place to settle in the new home. The gauge I use for packing up is this: 

  • Does it bring me joy?
  • Is it something I want my kids to have to sift through when I am gone?
  • Is there a place for it in the new home? 

If I can't answer yes to any of these questions then I have to let it go. Donating items will bless others. Selling items will buy my dinner. Trashing items will bring a release of the materialism I've held on to all these years. 

Where to go for help? 

If you have been toying with the idea of downsizing, give me a call. I will put my project management skills to good use by creating a details plan on what all you need to do to get ready to make the move. 

If you are curious to see what type of housing is out there for you, check out my sister website I have designed just for people looking into smaller housing or housing for the 55 and over. 

 

 

 

March 28, 2018

The Trend in Multi-Gen

Multi-generational homes

What is multi-generational housing?

Multi-generation housing is built to accommodate different generations living under the same roof. This can be accomplished simply by building bedrooms with private bathrooms or splitting the bedrooms to different sides of the home. It can also be accomplished by building a suite within the home that includes a private entrance, kitchenette, living space as well as bedroom and bathroom. Forbes recently put out a great article on the subject.

What are possible uses for a multi-generational house? 

There are many uses for this type of living situation: taking care of aging parents; housing an older child in college or just starting out; taking care of older special needs family members; providing housing for a nanny, missionaries, etc.

Looking for a multi-generational home? 

I have seen many newer developments incorporate these homes into their offerings in a neighborhood. Darling Homes Cornerstone Collection 7490 Plan can be found in several locations around the metroplex. I have toured them in Lawler Park and Estates of Shaddock Park. Lennar is also building these homes. They have jumped into this trend and put it in the spotlight in their marketing materials. I can help you find a home to fit your needs. Contact me for information on how to get started.  

My interview with a homeowner of one of these homes...

Several weeks ago, I had lunch with my good friend, Stacy from Texas Pioneer Title. She invited me to come and tour the home that she and her husband built for their family and for her parents. They live in a Darling home in Frisco. The home is incredible and the suite for her parents is so practical and comfortable. Here are three things I learned from them during my visit. 

Overcoming Objections

When Stacy and her parents began talking about the idea of building a home where they can live together, it was difficult for the parents. They were reluctant to live together. Truth is, both sides were hesitant to give up their independence. Everyone was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. Once they established habits, they overcame the awkward situations of whether or not to say goodnight, or tell each other where they are going, or inviting the other party to dinner. 

Assigning Expenses

Figuring out costs was another challenge they had to work out. Since a multi-generational home is technically a single-family residence, there is only one property tax bill, one set of utilities, and a single entity to insure.  Stacy and her family decided to split the costs by a percentage of total square footage. Her parents pay a proportional amount of the global expenses. They all agree that it comes out much more cost effective for her parents to live there than any apartment or retirement community. 

Managing Households

Keeping up with two households under one roof was another aspect of life that posed a challenge. Stacy's family quickly figured out that a shared Google calendar made life much easier. Everyone inputs their appointments and events. If anyone needs help from another family member for a ride they are invited to the calendar event. They all feel like this has enabled them to function quite well. 

The elephant-in-the-room question

There really isn't a good way to approach this, but the thought that came to my mind when I first started investigating these style of homes. I asked my friend what the plan was for the space when her parents were no longer able to live there. She had definitely considered that situation. Her hope is that it be used as guest quarters for when her adult children and grandchildren visit. They are also huge supporters of missionaries. They plan to use the space to host missionary families that come home to Texas for brief visits. Finally, they hope to one day transfer the home to one of their children and then move into the parent's suite. 

Is This The Home For You?

If you are considering one of these types of homes, give me a call. I can scour the MLS to find these homes when they go on sale. 

Posted in Buying a Home