North Texas Real Estate Blog

Nov. 29, 2017

Itchin' For A New Kitchen?

RECONSIDER THESE CHOICES WHEN YOU'RE DESIGNING YOUR KITCHEN

The kitchen is one of the areas of a home that sees the most wear and tear. All the water, heat, and food spills add up quickly, so it’s important to focus on quality and lasting appeal if you’re choosing materials for a kitchen remodel. Here are a few things you should avoid:

Cheap laminate counters: The bottom rung of laminate is extremely susceptible to wear and tear. It can melt if you forget to place a hot pad under a pan that’s fresh off the stove, and the edges can chip off from repeated exposure to moisture and heat.

Flat paint: A flat or matte finish is great in rooms with lower traffic, but it’s a bad idea in the kitchen, where the walls are regularly exposed to splatters and spills. You need paint that can withstand an occasional heavy scrubbing, so opt for eggshell or semi-gloss finishes.

Trendy backsplash: If you watch any home remodeling shows, you’ve certainly seen kitchens with expensive, elaborate backsplash designs and materials. Those trends can be pricey to pursue, yet can look dated in a hurry. Subway tile is a cheaper, classic option that you’ll never regret—and you’ll have more room in your budget for quality materials elsewhere.

Cheap flooring: Just like the countertops, your kitchen floor needs to be strong enough to take some abuse. Cheap flooring easily scuffs and peels (especially from moisture). Quality flooring is worth the investment.

Ask a Pro!

If you are about to take the plunge get a second opinion. Get help from a designer and even ask a seasoned real estate professional about potential resale consequences of the choices you make. Avoid trends on the permanent items such as tile and flooring. Pick up trends in your paint colors, light fixtures, and other items that are easy to replace. 

 

Nov. 9, 2017

Beating The Inspection - Pt. 2

Where The Sidewalk Ends And Trouble Begins...

Today, I continue my series on beating the inspection and getting your home to closing. If you missed the previous article, click here to read about outdoor lighting. I am working my way from the outside in. Let's look at your front sidewalk. It is where the buyer takes the first step towards reviewing and considering your home. 

Sidewalks are wonderful and useful and highly desired in a neighborhood. It sure makes for a pleasant visual when buyers visit an area in search of that ideal home. However, with the shifting soils in Texas, they often detract from a home's curb appeal if they go into a state of disrepair. 

A cracked sidewalk can also be the subject of a lawsuit. I asked my friend, Dean Hansen with Farmer's Insurance, if he could tell me about the cracked sidewalk issue from his perspective. This is his response:

A neighbor slips on my sidewalk and threatens to take me to court for damages. Does my homeowner policy protect me?

Yes. Homeowners insurance will pay for damages, if the accident is the result of your negligence. It will also pay for the legal costs of defending you against a claim. Also, the medical payments part of your Homeowners policy will cover medical expenses arising from an injury to a neighbor or guest. Your local agent can periodically review your policy limits with you when you are making coverage decisions and adjustments.
 

He even said that insurance companies may require the repair be made in order to provide insurance coverage. If you plan on selling your home, it is important to know this and take care of these sort of issues. It could cause a contract to fall out because the home can't be insured. 

Who Fixes What?

In many communities in North Texas, the city maintains the street sidewalk. Each community will have their own policy on maintenance of them. It can take a while to get resolved and the cost is set by the city. I live in Allen and recently went through this process. The city of Allen will pay up to half the cost and the owner pays the other half. They assess the walk and determine which sections of the walk are to be repaired. Check with your city to find out how you can get help.

The city did all the repairs - I just wrote a check for my portion. It was fun to watch. 

Word of Warning......

Be aware of this caveat when the city repairs your sidewalk: They are only responsible for the street sidewalks. They are not responsible for the sidewalk that leads to your home. They are not responsible for any damage that occurs to your sidewalk during the process of making the repairs to the street sidewalk. 

I learned this lesson! There was a sink hole beneath the center section of the sidewalk that connected to my personal walkway. When they removed that center section, my personal walkway sunk into the hole. The result was about a 6 inch drop off from the repaired sidewalk to my sidewalk. Eeeek!!

My beautiful sidewalk.......

The unexpected expense of having to repair my own sidewalk was not welcome. However, I love the result. I got a few quotes to get the sunken portion repaired but was told that the new section would never match the old section. I also got estimates on replacing the entire walk. There were some other cracks in the walk so a replacement was in order. I learned that for a little bit more, I could get the stamped concrete sidewalk so I bit the bullet. I got it replaced and got the stamped and stained walk. It looks awesome and is a bit more updated that the previous use of the aggregate walk. I love it. I hired Caraway Concrete to do the work. I think they did an awesome job. What do you think? 

 

 

 

Oct. 16, 2017

Beating The Inspection - Pt. 1

Eliminate Inspection Obstacles - Exterior Lighting

I wrote recently about a troubled transaction I had this summer. The homeowner's had a difficult time selling the home because the inspection report scared off several buyers. It was a tough time for them. Hitting stumbling blocks like this after getting your home under contract can be frustrating. 

An inspector is going to find something. The key is to have as few issues as possible. Many little things will begin to stack up. As the buyer reviews the report with the inspector, and the report gets longer and longer, the buyer's mind begins to see the home as being neglected.

I am beginning a series over the next months on some of the common items and issues found in an inspection report that can be easily remedied. This session focuses on exterior and landscape lighting. 

Steps to make sure your exterior lighting is up to par....

Maintenance. Replace bulbs - Replace fixtures.

It sounds like a no brainer but go through all of your exterior lighting fixtures and make sure that the light bulbs are working. Replace the bulbs. Now, if any fixtures remain that are not working, have them repaired or replaced. 

Consider updating your exterior flood lights with motion sensors and security cameras.

Experts recommend that you maintain your landscape lighting once a year. Here is a handy checklist:

  • Cut back any shrubs or plants encroaching on the lighting
  • Remove debris such as dirt, mulch, insects, and leaves from fixtures.
  • Check for damage such as exposed wiring or corroded casings
  • Replace bulbs
  • Clean casing, replace caulking or sealer
  • Check and adjust fixture positions

My story.

I am in the process of getting my home ready to sell. I started on the exterior of the home. My landscape lights had stopped working a few years ago. I thought this would be a simple DIY project but I was wrong. The light fixtures were so damaged and corroded I had to call in my favorite handy man with all the tools. 

It was still a pretty inexpensive update and now my home looks great - day or night! 

BEFORE:

AFTER:

Looking for more tips on landscape lighting?

I've got a great article here on the latest lighting trends for 2017

Let me know how you have improved your exterior lighting. Good luck!

 

Oct. 13, 2017

Tour These Homes on Sunday

What Do You Do When The Cowboys Don't Play?

You go tour homes. 

I've set up the perfect open house tour for you to go see these homes in Allen on Sunday. View them between 2:00 and 4:00. Click on each pin in the map below for home details and directions. You can also see the home photos and more by clicking here. 

 

Oct. 2, 2017

Allen's 3rd Quarter Market Condition Report

 

The Numbers Are In ...

The latest numbers for Allen are in and they show exactly what we've been saying for weeks now. The market is shifting. The most eye-opening number from this quarter's results is the number of failed listings - homes that canceled or expired without being sold. 

It is not all gloom and doom!

Don't let this keep you from making the move. If you were looking to downsize, it is a great time. Competition for the smaller, lower priced homes is softening. That means you will have an easier time getting a great home than you have had in the past few years. Also, just because the market favors the buyer, there are still plenty of them shopping for homes. The way to win when selling in this market, is to be the best one out there. I've talked about it here and here

Don't forget to get hyper local!

This market report is great for a general feel of the area. It is not a replacement for getting super honed in to your neighborhood for the true state of the market. For instance, I just ran the same report for the Waterford Parks neighborhood. The average days on market for that neighborhood is 99 days. That is a stark contrast from the general data for all of Allen at 36 days. Knowledge is another key factor in getting your home sold.

Contact me if you have any questions about your neighborhood.

Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Data taken from NTREIS on Oct 1, 2017

Sept. 20, 2017

Is Your Debt Keeping You From Buying A Home?

Are You Drowning In Debt?

I just read a great article about ways to get out of debt. I love Dave Ramsey and he's got a great plan to get you on track with your finances. 

In my experience there are 4 categories of buyers:

  • Buyers that have no debt and pay cash for a home
  • Buyers that have little or no debt, have a sizable downpayment and take out a manageable mortgage for a home
  • Buyers that have the maximum debt allowed, barely have enough for a down payment and take out a mortgage for a home
  • Buyers that think they can take out a loan for a home but soon realize their debt ratio is too high for a mortgage

If you fall into any of the mortgage/debt categories, you should have a strategy to free yourself from debt. The less debt you have, the more money you can apply towards a new home. 

Are you looking for ideas on how to get your credit in shape? Need a plan to tame your debt so that you can buy a new home? Talk to one of my lending professionals today. They will analyze your situation, get you on track, and together we will get you into a new home in no time. 

Sept. 13, 2017

Paint The Town Red!

Keller Williams is set for Allen's Open House Extravaganza!

Put on your comfy shoes and get ready to tour some homes. This Saturday (Sept 16th) the KW office in Allen is set to paint the town red. Over 17 properties are on the open house tour throughout the day from 11:00 until 4:00. Tour at least 10 of these homes to be entered into a drawing for prizes. 

It is a great market for buyers and this is a fantastic way to see what is out there.

Click here for the list of homes on tour. 

The map below will lead you to the homes and contains the times that the home is available. Click on each pin to see the times that the home is open. 

 

I will be at 603 Rockcrossing - Stop by to say "Hi"

 

Sept. 2, 2017

Want To Live With The Best?

Top 5 elementary schools in texas

4 Of The Top 5 Elementary Schools In Texas Are In Allen!

Wow. That is an amazing statistic. What a boon for the Allen Independent School District. Not only did it make top marks overall - ranking 6th in the state by district. It also nabbed 4 of the top 5 spots in the elementary school category. 

Want to live within one of these schools boundaries? 

It is very common for families with school-aged children to desire to provide the best for their kids. Starting them out at a high-achieving elementary school is one way to do that. I have the top schools listed here. Click on each link to see the homes available in each school area. 

Kerr Elementary Ranked #1 in Texas. (click to see homes for sale)

You an find a variety of home styles and prices in this school boundary. Typical home prices begin in the mid $200's and go up to close to $800,000. Kerr is located in the Glendover Park neighborhood and is walking distance to many of the homes in the area. 

Evans Elementary Ranked #2 in Texas. (click to see homes for sale)

Evans is a great school and surrounded by some of the newer homes in the Allen area. You can find a few homes around here available in the upper $200's but most homes in this school boundary average in the upper $400's and peak as high as $2 million.

Bolin Elementary Ranked #4 in Texas. (click to see homes for sale) 

Bolin Elementary serves the south east Allen area. You can find a great mix of homes in this boundary ranging in price from the mid $200's to over $1 million. You can also experience a great variety of homes from suburban to country acreage. 

Boon Elementary Ranked #5 in Texas. (click to see homes for sale)

Boon Elementary is located in Twin Creeks and the housing market is great. You will find some wonderful homes with great value. Prices range from the mid $200's to the $800's. The median value will be around $450,000. Next to Boon is an amazing nature preserve and the school uses it as an environmental learning lab.

Ready to see the ones you love?

Give me a call. I'd be happy to work with you. I've got the best tools in the business and have a lot of success getting my buyer clients a great deal. If you would like my free buyer's guide - request it here.

 

Aug. 19, 2017

Don't Be Like That

Why won't you buy my house

Why won't anyone buy our house?

When a perfect plan falls apart...

This has been a great year for me and for the area real estate. I love this business and I love what I do. However, it is not all butterflies and rainbows. There are times when transactions fall apart. I've written previously about some of the things that can kill a deal

I have recently encountered a troubled listing and want to open up about it, so that potential seller's can benefit. These sellers encountered a series of unfortunate events. One could write a book about as long as the original one with that title about issues that crop up when selling a home. Sadly, most of the problems on this particular home sale could have been prevented.

Root Cause Analysis...

There is a method of problem-solving in software development called root cause analysis. It is where the team examines the errors in a program to determine how they originated and how to prevent the problems from repeating. This same method can be applied to a home sale.

Examining this particular troubled listing, shows that it fell apart because of negligence - plain and simple negligence. The owners did not routinely maintain the home. Inspections repeatedly showed issues from simple and basic, to complex and costly. Buyers, having seen the lengthy inspection report, got worried and moved on to a different home.

A Tarnished Reputation...

Once a listing goes under contract, then goes back on the market, then goes under contract, then back on the market, and on and on, it begins to develop a reputation. Many buyers get anxious and leery about it. A buyer begins to wonder why no one else wanted the home time and time again. They are more apt to back out at the slightest hint of a problem – even if it is solvable.

Now, with a tarnished reputation, the home sells for less than it should.

Lessons Learned...

Another tool I learned from my project management experience is to take a step back at the end of a project and record the lessons learned. This is done for the benefit of the next project and published for other teams so they can prevent mistakes. In that same way, I want to publish my client's experience so that other homeowners can benefit from it.

If you are thinking about selling your home, you will focus a lot on the presentation of what a buyer initially sees. That is extremely important to do, but it is only the cover of the book. The judging comes later. Buyers are going to have the home inspected. You won't be able to hide the condition of your home behind a curtain or rug.

Make sure that you keep your reputation clean from start to finish. Perform routine maintenance on your home. Make repairs and updates as necessary. Don't wait until it is too late.

Help is Here...

I have mentioned my software background a few time in this article. It is fitting that I end it with some software tools that help you get the job done. There are some great websites and smartphone apps out there that can assist you in successful home ownership. Check them out – and then use them. You will have a better living experience both now while you are living in the place, and later when you are ready to sell.

Bright Nest Bright Nest is a nifty app for your smart phone. You install it, set up a few items and let the app do the rest. It brings you tips and how-to information, gives you a schedule of when to do certain things. My current item is to clean out my refrigerator. That is why I am here writing this blog post - it is called avoidance. Yeah, they are not fun tasks. That is why they are called "tasks" and not "delights". It is necessary though. Trust me, when you are ready to sell your home, you will be glad you followed a plan.

Download this app either for apple or android.

 

If smartphone apps are not your thing, then look at some of these articles on home maintenance. This one from Texas A&M offers some great advice on home repair and lists out how long you should expect household items to last. It will help you budget for the inevitable. 

I also found this awesome calendar checklist. It gives you a maintenance schedule that you should follow on a monthly basis. The company is based in Michigan so ignore the basement talk. 

Finally, Homespot takes it a step further by getting you signed up on the web and sending you regular reminders on home maintenance. This is great for busy homeowners who won't always remember to check the app or a checklist on their own. It puts the request right in your inbox! 

Ready To Sell...

When you are ready to sell contact me. I can give you a professional assessment of your home's value in today's market. Together we will work to make your home sale a complete success!

 

Posted in Selling a Home
July 9, 2017

Do you think that credit score app is legit?

Should you rely on a credit score app when you are ready to buy a home?

I am not writing this to denounce the online credit apps out there. Rather, I want to set expectations about your credit score and your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. You see, those nifty apps you can get on your phone, Quizzle, CreditKarma, CreditSesame, etc. are excellent indicators of your credit. However, the scoring models that they use are not the same models that lenders use. When you are ready to buy a house - you want to rely on the same models that banks use. 

What is the difference between the credit models?

The online credit tracking services use a scoring model called Vantage. The majority of mortgage lenders use the FICO scoring model. Both methods will give you very similar results/scores. The difference is the means that they use to get there. There will be varying differences between the models and the scores that they produce. It is pretty safe to say that a person with poor credit will reflect poor scores with both models. Similarly, a person with excellent credit will shine on both systems. 

The difference comes down to what do you want to do with the information. If you just want to track your score, protect yourself from identity thieves, and quickly catch errors, then you may want to consider using one of these apps. If you are ready to buy a home, then you need to talk to a lender. A lender will look at your FICO score and make recommendations on how to improve it to qualify for the best loan products. It is important that your actions to improve your credit will reflect most favorably on the FICO model. 

Do you know the best way to improve your credit score? 

Your mortgage broker does. This is why I always suggest my buyer clients begin talking to a lender several months ahead of buying a home. When mortgage lenders make inquiries on your credit, they have very little if any impact on the credit score. However, the plan that they give you to improve your score will have a tremendous impact. 

Paying off credit cards may sound like a great plan. However, your lender may have other suggestions. They may propose getting your credit balances to a more favorable percentage across the board. They know all the ins and outs of achieving optimal credit worthiness.

 Are you ready to buy a home?

Start with a plan. Do you need a plan? I've got one

I often write about buying a home. It is my passion and I love helping others reach the goal of home ownership, whether that be buying for the first time, upsizing, or downsizing. I've covered it all and will make sure that you have a great experience. 

One of the first things I will tell you if you will be taking out a mortgage, is to find out about your credit. The best way to do that is to talk to a lending expert. Now that you know what you can afford, check out the homes that suit your needs right here