North Texas Real Estate Blog

Jan. 27, 2018

Beating the Inspection - Pt. 3

Banned Freon Air Conditioner

Will you be able to sell your home when the air conditioner becomes illegal?

Decades ago, the EPA began the phase-out of R22 refrigerant, also known as freon. We are inching closer and closer to the deadline for the substance to be completely banned. We've got less than 2 years to take action.  January 1, 2020, is the date that these systems become obsolete and can no longer be repaired when the repair requires refrigerant.

 

I've seen many of the homes in my area, and I can tell you that there will be plenty of households affected by this. I am already finding it hard to sell a home with an R22 equipped system. Freon costs alone are skyrocketing. This week I saw an estimate for over $400 for a small amount of freon. Ouch!

Want to know if your air conditioner is one of these doomed units? Read this article here for instructions on how to check it and what you can do ahead of the complete ban.

Beating the Inspection 

As I continue my series on Beating the Inspection, I address this looming threat to home sales. You can read my previous article on sidewalk repair here

What does it mean if you are planning on selling your home?

It can have a tremendous impact on the sale of your home. The system will be inspected at time of sale. The inspector will report to the buyer the age of the system and the use of R22. What buyer would purchase a home with an AC unit that cannot be serviced? 

What should a seller to do? 

I believe that you have 3 options. 

  • Your best option for a smooth transaction is to replace your R22 systems in the next year or so. Your maintenance cost on the old system is going to continue to rise. Bite the bullet and do what is necessary. If you have one of these obsolete units, it is likely over 10 years old.
  • The second option you have is to stipulate in your sales agreement that you will rebate a portion or all of the cost to the buyer so that the buyer can replace the system. This is the easy way out, but you have to get the buyer to agree to it. If you are tight on cash and have enough equity in your home, it might be the only option you have. 
  • The last option is the riskiest. You just hope that the buyer doesn't care and wants your home so much that they will take on the burden of replacing the system.  You need to have a super desirable house for this option to work.  

Planning On Selling Soon?

What else do you need to consider before selling your home? Give me a call. I will visit your home and give you a punch list as well as a market analysis of your home's value. This is a no-obligation service that I provide for free. I want to earn your business – let me show you why.

 

 

Jan. 6, 2018

Biggest real estate concern for 2018 isn't the new tax code – it's the …

Real estate changes in 2018

... mortgage interest rates

I just read this very thorough review of housing affordability by the Texas A&M Real Estate Center. It discusses the new tax code and how it impacts the real estate market in Texas. Truth is, very few households are affected by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Less that 2.8% of Texas homes have a mortgage amount over $750,000. The majority of homeowners and potential homeowners will not face the cap on the deductions.

You can read this article in its entirety here.

The most concerning situation that could impact the 2018 real estate market is the mortgage interest rate. This same article shows what an increase in the interest rates will mean to the affordability of real estate. That is the real shocker. Most experts are predicting rates to rise to nearly 5%. Here are a few predictions on the interest rates for 2018

This table shows how mortgage interest rates, combined with income, affect the affordability of a home.

We focused at the end of 2017 on the fact that our local market was beginning to stabilize or shift in favor of buyers. I think the looming presage of rate increases will make for another swift market in 2018 as both buyers and sellers scramble to lock in a deal before the rates rise.

Are you ready to make a move? The sooner the better is what I say. Give me a call today and let's make a plan for your success in real estate in 2018.

 

 

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.