Helping Buyers and Sellers with North Texas Real-Estate

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Why Are So Many Folks Moving To Texas?

Texas is about the same size as the country of France and is the only state in the Union, which at one point was a nation of her own. She gained her independence from Mexico after the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836 becoming the Republic of Texas, with its own flag and president. In 1845, Texas entered the Union as the 28th state of the UTexasnited States of America. Texans have always had an independent and sometimes fiery spirit. From the Alamo to Quanah Parker to the Texas Rangers, and Bonnie and Clyde, Texas and Texans have always bucked the system and gone their own way. This attitude exists today and might be one reason for the flood of people. The top ten cities in the nation with the greatest population increase between 2011 and 2012 include, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth according to the U.S Census Bureau. Granted one reason is due to more births than deaths, however, a larger portion is an influx from other states and nations. What makes this red state so attractive to others?

Jobs of coourse are the biggest reason for the population surge. Texas did not suffer the same economic impact as other states during the 2008 recession. The oil and gas boom is one reason however; growth is also strong in technology and business services. Many criticize the jobs are due to cheap labor and poor regulations yet Texas has plenty of jobs for high wage earners, blue-collar and college degree required work. Four of the top ten job growth metropolitan areas in the nation are located in Texas according to the New Geography website. The large military presence in the state also contributed to the increase in jobs, many who retired from service find Texas the perfect place to call home.

Texas is not as expensive as other states. Housing prices are reasonable and that is not true for many other areas. Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Austin are among the top ten in affordable metropolitan areas to live in the United States according to New Geography. The rating based on consumer prices, transportation costs, utilities and the most important, home prices, contrast greatly with cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In those cities, a majority of folks cannot afford to purchase a home and find themselves renting. Texas is the place for home ownership. Low taxes are another cause for the flood of new occupants. Texas is one of seven states with no state income tax. True property taxes in Texas are relatively high and many folks rightfully are fighting this trend. However, for overall taxes, Texas ranks among the top five for the lowest taxation according to the Tax Foundation website. Lower taxes and tax incentive for business attract corporations to this state in record numbers.

A choice of cities; six of twenty of the largest cities in the country are in Texas. If you want a metropolitan area move to Dallas, if you want an industrial city, Houston might be the best place, want a hip town try Austin, flavor of the old west Fort Worth, Spanish influence San Antonio or El Paso. No other state can boast the number of different regional flavors. Illinois for example only has one large city, Chicago, people who want to live in a large city in Illinois only have one option, and other states such as Pennsylvania contain more than one city yet are very similar.

Texas is family friendly. Low housing costs and the quality of living are huge factors contributing to the growth of the state. Many great small towns such as Grapevine dot the area and each one is a unique experience. Schools are generally good, some need improvement, but the perception of poor schools in Texas is not correct. For example, 8th grade Texans scored better in math than the national average and outscored those in California, New York, and Florida. There are plethora of churches in every denomination to choose from as well as family style restaurants and entertainment.

Fewer rules and regulations enhance business growth in the state. We do not strangle the average citizen with stupid laws such as soda bans. In one sense, Texas is the classic liberal state. Its laissez-faire attitude for both personal and business freedom is a hallmark of the culture. Some businesses who find themselves ostracized by state politics find a friendly business atmosphere in this state.

Texas contains 1.42 million acres of protected land and thirteen national parks ranging from Big Bend in west Texas to the Big Thicket National Preserves in east Texas. Fishing and hunting are big in the state with an abundance of wildlife including the Texas Horned Toad, Roadrunners, Rattlesnakes, Mountain Lions, Antelope and white tailed deer. For campers there is a wide variety of ecosystems to explore and for history buffs everything from battlefields to early Spanish missions.

Texans have a cohesion to one another, more so than any other state. People are neighborly and friendly, willing to give helping hands when needed, volunteer, or give generously. We are down to earth not pretentious. We are what we are. Many natural-born Texans stay put, The Pew Research Center confirms more than three-quarters of the adult population in Texas will never move to another state and those who come here find it hard to leave. If you are looking to relocate to the DFW area or considering selling your home, give me a call at 817-903-9425 or join me on Facebook. See ya down the road –


House Hunting Part 11 – Closing


The day has come. The weeks of searching and gathering info, credit checks, inspections, and completing paper work finally ended. The last walk through appeared good and the house-hunter is cruising to closing.  Days before the fateful date the Buyer and his house-hunting guide receive a HUD-1 to review.  HUD is an acronym for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the HUD-1 is a settling statement used by the closing agent to itemize all of the expenditures for both the Buyer and the Seller.  The Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act commonly called RESPA requires this form for all Real Estate transaction involving federal related mortgage loans in the United States.  This document has two columns; the first column is for the Buyer and the second is for the Seller.  The settlement has several pages, the first shows the amount due by the borrower, including down payment, property taxes, survey fees, as well as other closing costs and it also subtracts earnest money and the option fee from the amount. The total amount the Buyer must bring to the table is on the bottom left hand of the page as well as the proceeds the Seller will make from the sale on the bottom right. The second and third pages are detailed breakdowns of all the expenses for both parties and additional disclosures about title insurance and other miscellanies fees and finally a signature page.  Fees are paid with a cashier’s check written to the title company. The Buyer must also bring his/her driver’s license to prove whom they say they are when purchasing the home.  A copy of all the documents should be stored in a safe location. The survey is a handy document that could come in useful if the Purchaser sells the abode or decides to do an addition.

Typically, closings occur at the title company, sometimes closings happen at remote locations such as the Realtor’s brokerage or the house-hunter’s own office or home.  Closings also take place when one party is out-of-state, or even out of country. Most title companies can arrange for such closings.

At the title company, the closing agent takes control. He/she leads the house-hunter to a table and then presents the closing documentation. The stack can look like a telephone book and seem intimidating. A good closer will go over each document explaining the purpose of each, and sometimes the documents are repetitive.  The documents include mortgage terms and information, insurance, home warranty, survey and other required documentation. Closing documents vary depending how the Buyer purchases the home and/or type of home loan.  After closing, the tittle company submits the signed loan documents for funding and when the loan funds, the title company distributes the money to both Realtors in the deal, the payoff of the seller’s loan and to the seller.  After funding the house hunter gets the keys to a successful hunt.  A good house-hunting guide visits the house hunter about a week or so after move in to ensure everything is fine. Every real estate transaction is different and there is always special issues that need addressing. However, with patience, a clear head, and a good house-hunting guide these obstacles are easily overcome. See ya down the road.

House Hunting Part 10 – Home Stretch

The anticipation of receiving the keys and walking into the new abode is a powerful feeling.  The diligent house hunter found a home, placed an offer that became a contract and did all the necessary requirements for obtaining a loan…now what?  The Seller scrambles to arrange movers and have the house ready to hand over and to start their new life. The Buyer also plans for the move however; they remain anxious and ready to inhabit the new abode. During this phase many important things occur. The Title company verifies the survey and if needed orders a new one. They research the title to ensure no liens or other obstacles exist, they prepare the insurance commitment for the title policy and verify the property taxes.  The bank schedules an appraisal and the house-hunting guide prepares for the final walk through.  Meanwhile the Buyer plans the utility turn on date.  For some, time flies fast at this stage for others it drags on.1th

The survey shows all boundaries and improvements on a piece of property.  It solidifies the limits of the borderline the house hunter purchases. In some circumstances, the Seller will have a copy of an acceptable survey. This can happen with newer homes. However, if any changes to the building footprint or some permanent structure to the property occur such as a pool or additional walkway a new survey is required. The survey becomes part of the contract, and when a survey does not exist, the Buyer or the Seller can negotiate to pay for the new one; the title company hires surveyors.

The title company during this time researches the title abstract. The title abstract shows the history and the ownership of the property, they search for any liens or claims filed on the property so the Buyer has a clean marketable title. Title companies also issue title insurance policies to both the lender and the owner. Title insurance protects the Buyer from any unforeseen claims, hidden risks, or fraud against the property.  The insurance policy provides protection from financial loss as well as payment of legal costs necessary to clear such claims.  Title companies also examine property taxes to determine how much the Seller owes; the Buyer pays a prorate amount as shown on the HUD document given to both parties prior to closing.

During this time up until closing, if the house hunter is applying for a loan, the bank will conduct an appraisal. The appraisal confirms the collateral for the loan. For instance if the Buyer is purchasing a home for $150,000 and placed 10% down, $15,000 then the appraisal amount must be over or equal to $135,000. If the appraisal comes in below that price either the Buyer or the Seller must make up the difference. In the above example, if the listing appraised at $130,000 the Seller must lower his price by $5,000 or the Buyer must come up with the extra cash. Larger down payments and skillful negotiations lessen the chance of a low appraisal. Appraisals can make FHA and VA loans difficult because of low down payment requirements. A FHA loan only requires a 3.5% down payment while VA loans are as little as 0% down. Appraisals are also different depending on the type of loan. FHA and VA demand the house to be in a livable condition and could require certain repairs.  Structural issues and wood rot is big for FHA loans while air-conditioning and heating equipment must function as intended with VA loans. The house hunter must pay attention to home inspections and confer with his/her loan officer the requirements for the mortgage. If the Seller is notified about the repairs to satisfy the loan, the Seller may be more willing to fix the items.

As closing approaches, it is wise to conduct one final walk through, this is a courtesy provided by most Realtors. The final walk through gives the Buyer a peace of mind about the purchase and ensures nothing happened to the home prior to closing.  Most closings occur four weeks or more after the executed contract, anything can happen within that period.  Unforeseen circumstances such as a fire or broken water pipe can occur or Seller’s mischief, and if something needs correcting, there is time to figure the best course of action before the abode is closed.  Once the house belongs to the Buyer addressing those repairs becomes much more difficult and the Buyer may need to hire a lawyer or go into mediation.

At this point, the house hunter has nearly crossed the finish line.  This is a good time to schedule all of the utilities such as electric, water, gas, telephone etc. Plan to have these items turned on the day of closing so when you get the keys and go into the new abode you do not need a flash light. Also, be sure to purchase homeowner’s insurance, most lending terms require homeowner’s insurance and if the Buyer does not purchase it, the bank will and this route is very expensive. See ya down the road.

House Hunting Part 9 – Loans

5d489cfe-bbce-354dThe option period passed, the house hunter is now cruising to the closing date. Prior to searching for the new abode, the buyer requested a pre-qualification letter. During this stage, the lender discussed what loan options were available.  Choosing the right home mortgage loan can be a daunting process. So many different types and different conditions, does the Buyer want a fixed or adjustable rate loan. Then the house hunter must determine what kind of mortgage, the most common for Buyers are conventional, FHA and VA loans, some of the less common loans include USDA and Texas Veteran’s Home loans.

Fixed rate loans have the same interest rates year after year for the term of the loans. The Buyer’s monthly payment stays the same during the duration. This is true for whatever length of the loan from a fifteen year to a thirty-year. This is the best choice when interest rates are low. The House Hunter can lock in a good rate without fear of what will happen in the housing market.

Adjustable rate loans known as ARMS in the real estate world, the rate remains fixed for a pre-determined amount of time and then changes to reflect current interest rates. For instance the Buyer can get a 5/1 ARM loan, the first five years are fixed and then the remaining years adjust on a yearly basis. These types of loans are desirable when mortgage rates are high and indications exist the rates may fall in the future. When they do fall, the Buyer can refinance the loan to a fixed rate locking in the lower interest.

The next choice for the Buyer is what type of loan. The federal government does not insure conventional loans and they can be conforming to the rules and regulations of Freddie-Mac or Fannie-Mae or they can be non-conforming. They have less requirements than federally insured loans. The down payment is higher and if less than 20% the Buyer will need to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insured loans managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Federal Government insures the loan from default. Low down payments make this type of loan a great option for Buyers with little cash. The down payment is as little as 3.5% however, mortgage insurance is a requirement, increasing monthly payments.

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) offers a loan program for returning soldiers and their families. These loans are federally insured. They offer loans with no down payments and are a great option for our veterans. Paperwork is stringent however can be worth the trouble.

The USDA offers a loan through the Rural Housing Service and is a good option for house-hunters searching for a home in a rural town. Texas Veteran Loans created by Veteran Housing Program to help Texas Soldiers purchase a home with low-interest rates and no down payments.

During the contract phase of purchasing an abode the Buyer must take care not to make any other big expenditure. Do not buy a car or run up your credit cards during this period. Doing so could damage the Buyer’s chances of obtaining a loan and closing on the new castle.  See ya down the road.

House Hunting Part 8 – The Option Period

The negotiations went on for what seems like forever when the day everyone waited for finally arrives. The hunter gets the call from his house-hunting guide the offer is accepted.  Soon the Buyer has a copy of the signed and executed contract, victory!  The hunt is over…yes, but now the real work begins, time to reel in the catch. The earnest money and option fee is collected, earnest money goes to the Title Company, and the option money goes to the Seller. The typical stretch to close a contraOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAct is twenty days; this stage varies depending on many things such as time needed by Lender or the Seller’s requirements. The Lender, Title Company and Buyer have quite a bit of work to do before the deal is closed. The first thing that occurs is the Buyer’s option period begins immediately after the executed contract and lasts usually ten days.  The house-hunter paid a nominal fee for this option and it allows the Buyer to terminate the contract for any reason without losing the Buyer’s earnest money. This provides the house-hunter with ample time to hire home and termite inspectors to find any damage not readily obvious. Inspectors are meticulous, going over nearly every reachable item, which is part of the home. Sometimes it is wise for the Buyer to hire specialty inspectors; if you suspect foundation problems, a structural engineer might be required or if buying an older home an electrical engineer will make the perspective owner comfortable about the wiring.

When the inspection is over, he/she issues a report. The report contains each deficiency in the home and used to negotiate repairs. Health and safety are the first concern and the Seller should be willing to make or compensate for the required renovations, if not the Buyer should walk. Other items such as cosmetic or code upgrades are also negotiable however; each item the Seller pays for will lessen the Seller’s final sales amount. Code upgrade items can be hard to request because they could have been within code when the home was build but are now not, and if the item is working as intended then the Seller may not agree. Never hurts to ask. Depending on how much the Buyer’s Realtor beat down the sale’s price will affect the amount of negotiation room the Seller has for repairs. The option period gives the Buyer leverage during this stage because the Seller knows the Buyer can walk away from the deal with no penalty.

This is also the moment for the Buyer to contact their lender to start the loan process. Talk to your Lender, present them the signed and executed contract, and begin collecting the necessary documentation. The Lender will ask for two consecutive years of income tax returns, sometimes three depending on the situation. They will also ask for proof of income, W2 forms, or pay stubs will work. Bank statements for the past 30-90 days for each account, including savings and brokerage accounts is required. The loan officer will also request proof of paying your rent on time for a year as well as credit account information, a paper trail for money gifted, address history, and divorce decrees. If the Buyer is self-employed then add in copies of checks from clients, credit card statements and a profit and loss statement for the current year. It is much better to get this information to your Lender fast to close your home on the scheduled closing date.

Yes, the house-hunter’s work is far from done when the home goes under contract. Your Realtor can help you with these steps.  See ya down the road.

House Hunting Part 5 – The Hunt

3ed91851102c1cb5535e8528df1ee8adYour heart flutters; maybe you breathe a little faster, an excited energy takes over, you are ready. You did your search, compiled a list of potential abodes, and found a good hunting guide to help with your hunt.  A pre-qualification or better yet pre-approval letter in hand, you are prepared to start the expedition in earnest. Your Realtor will contact either CSS (Centralized Showing Systems) or call the Seller’s representative to schedule showings. Some brokerages have their own scheduling process however most use CSS. There are three types showing confirmations, “Go” sometimes called “Go and Show” is typically a designation for vacant properties. It means the listing is approved and ready to show. “Courtesy Call” is also an approved viewing; however, CSS contacts the Seller to alert them. “Appointment Required” CSS calls the Seller to schedule a showing. Occupied dwellings typically require a one hour advanced notification prior to the actual visit. The house hunter must be aware of these factors when scheduling homes.

Your house-hunting guide gave you the address for the first walk through. You meet your Realtor at the first house. On the door handle, you observe a device. Those are key locks; they house the keys to the front door so the Realtor can gain entry.  They are either a combination lock or a SUPRA lock box. The combination locks are older types of key storage and usually found on lower end or vacant abodes. The SUPRA Lock box is blue and requires a battery operated key card to open. The Realtor punches in a code and the box opens with the key. With this device, CSS tracks who is in the home and automatically shuts down access after 9 PM.

The home is now open for your review. Provided the Seller’s Realtor has coached the Seller well, he/she will not be in the house during the showing. Nothing is worse than having the owner over your shoulder while you look. Not only is the situation awkward but it also lessons the chance of you buying the place. When investigating the house pay specific attention to the walls, areas around door and window openings, and try the doors. If you notice cracks above window and door openings and/or if a door sticks while trying to open or close then the abode could have foundation problems. North Texas soils contain large deposits of clay. Clay expands when wet and contracts when dry. The soils dry in the summer heat and swell during autumn rains. The uneven lift can cause damage to concrete slabs. This is one reason why so many foundation repair ads are in the DFW area. Cracks in the ceiling are typically not a big issue. Gypsum board and joint compound are brittle products and with large span ceilings, even walking in the attic or the wind can cause cracks. Also, pay attention to the kitchens and restrooms. Make sure they function and the appliances and fixtures are in serviceable condition.

Try to picture yourself, your family, and friends in the abode. Make a mental plan how your furniture will fit in the spaces. Properly staged homes will make your job easier. Personal photos on the walls, the old worn comfortable chair, or other knickknacks can make the hunter feel like a visitor and not a potential owner. Investigate storage space; a house can never have too much storage. Do not worry about paint color or carpet because those are easy, cheap fixes, and sometimes corrected during the negotiation phase. Check the backyard, is it fenced, is it big enough, does it include a pool?

House hunting is fun; however, certain things should be avoided. Do not use the bathroom; remember the home is not yours. Do not bring food or drinks inside. Also, do not discus negotiations or finances inside the house. If you need to talk about those items, wait until you are outside. Sometimes Sellers will plant recording devices in the rooms in hopes to catch those types of conversations to strengthen their bargaining hand. A good Realtor will give you a MLS (Multiple Listings Services) info sheet about the abode. Take notes and try not to schedule too many showings in one outing. Houses can blend and a feature you thought you remembered in one home could actually belong to another. Relax and enjoy the search and remember that each abode you cross off the list brings you closer to the one you will pull the trigger on. See ya down the road.

The diffent styles of north Texas homes.

There are so many homes to choose from in north Texas it can be confusing for Buyers. Typically, when a Realtor shows a house they give their client a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Agent Report. This sheet contains all kinds of information including everything from price to square footage, number of bedrooms and baths to school districts and taxes. One additional bit of info it provides is style of house. The Buyer may not realize north Texas has a plethora of different style homes to choose from making house hunting a real adventure.

The most common style in our area is the Traditional style. The Traditional style is what most builders construct today. They are one or 4 squaretwo-story homes with brick, stone, stucco, or wood siding. They have simple floor plans and efficient layouts and reflect the historical style and requirements of a particular region. A Traditional home in north Texas will appear very different from a Traditional home in New Jersey or Arizona. Newer designs also include energy-efficient designs.

Ranch style homes are the next popular. They harken back to the time when North Texas was still a part of the frontier. Low to the ground and spread out the Ranch style home first came about in the 1920’s. In Texas, the popularity of this type of house blossomed in the late 1960’s through the late 1980’s. They are clad in brick, stucco, wood, and glass. They have attached garages as well as sliding glass doors leading to a concrete patio. The floor plans are open, non-symmetrical and the interiors are rustic, wood panel walls are common. The eaves are deep and overhanging, with cross-gabled or side gabled or hip low-rise roofs.

Spanish style homes are also popular in this region. They also overlap the Traditional style. They have open floor plans, stucco siding and terra-cotta tile roofs, a unique style with roots to the old world.

The Contemporary style started in 2000 includes post modernism, modernism, and pop architecture. Usually this style is custom designed by an architect.

In some of the older sections of Tarrant and Dallas counties, you can find all kinds of historic styles. American Craftsman Bungalows is a style originating from the American Arts and Crafts movement in the turn of the 19th century. These homes are brick or stucco with large overhanging eaves, low-pitched hip roofs, exposed rafters, and decorative brackets. The Sears Company and the Aladdin Company furnished kits to construct these homes back in the day, truly a classic American design. Prairie is another style in north Texas. Originated by Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 19th century, the style incorporates horizontal lines, flat or hipped roofs and horizontal bands of windows.  American Four-square is a classical style found in this region. This style was popular in the 1890’s to the 1930’s and like the Bungalow ordered through a catalog. The typical price was $5,000 but the low-end was under a $1,000. It combined both the American Craftsman style and the Prairie style. Designed in a box shape, two and a half stories with four rooms per story, it has a large front porch with wide stairs.

Some other miscellaneous styles in our region include, log homes, A-frames and mobile homes. Log homes of course constructed with treated logs, appear straight from the frontier however have all the modern amenities. A-frame homes started in the 50’s and lasted through the 70’s with tall roofs shaped in the letter A and mobile homes an affordable alternative to standard homes.

House hunting in north Texas is an adventure and the Buyer needs a good Realtor to guide them. Just know that if you are in search for the perfect abode and you are open to different styles, your home is out there…happy hunting. See ya down the road.

Dog Days of Summer!

The dog days of summer, the Romans associated the seasonal heat with the star Sirius also known as the “dog star” the brightest in the heavens during this time of the year. Here in North Texas, a mid-summer rain spell has cooled us off, however this will not last forever and the temperature will rise. Prices on homes are also increasing yet volume of available homes on the market is low. Buyers are out shopping but not as numerous as this past spring and early summer. What is going on in the housing market this summer?

The Feds until recently have been keeping the mortgage interest rates at historic low levels, hoping to revive the sluggish economy. They did this by purchasing 85 billion dollars of mortgage-backed securities and treasury bonds. This allowed lenders to sell loans at very low rates and recoup their money fast with high profits. The Feds recently cut back on buying those bonds and securities leaving the market to private buyers thus raising the interest rates. The market was especially hot this spring and early summer. Buyers bought and the price of homes began to increase. The Feds read this as a strengthening economy and it was however, they might have been too hasty in pulling the trigger.

Within 52 days, the rates increased from 3.29% to 4.5%. Four and a half percent is still an incredibly low-interest rate and rates are not expected to go over 5.5%, 2003 levels.  However, the strength the market had shown in the first quarter was a result of the low-interest rates and yes; rising home values, the combination spurred the market. In my opinion, the Feds should have held back and let the market and home prices continue to grow. With higher home prices, those who could not afford to sell could finally see relief and the low rates spurred the Buyers to buy.  This trend would have continued yet the rising rates have now sparked some doubt with Buyers. The housing market has slowed. The Feds hope Buyers will adjust to the higher rates and they will. Buyers will not be able to afford as much of a home and the rise in prices may begin to slow down. Why rock the boat just yet? I believe the market might have been too fragile to pull the plug. The Fed should have seen at least a year of strong growth before making this change.

The rise in the mortgage rate is a double-edged sword.  Buyers will pay more for a home although lenders will be making more money and decrease restrictions on who can qualify for a loan, opening the market to more Buyers. We will see how all of this works. In the meantime, Buyers are still out there and if you are considering listing, your home now is the time to do it before interest rates go higher. If you would like to see what is available in the North Texas market please visit my website at:

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See ya down the road!

Must an Owner Upgrade his Home in Order to Sell?

The home built in 1984 is very nice and in good shape. The problem is it is outdated. The ceiling has a popcorn finish, the walls in the living room consist of natural stained wood panels, the kitchen includes laminated countertops, stained wood cabinets and when you peek at the bathroom, you find carpeted flooring, old plumbing and lightp1000950ing fixtures as well as original vanities and plumbing fixtures. The walls papered with trendy 80’s style patterns and the bubbled skylights hark back to when Reagan was in office and when U2 released the album “War”. The Seller wants to sell his home however; he or she is on a limited budget. What must a Seller do to sell this listing?

With today’s economy, this is a common problem. A client with an older home who retains some equity however not enough cash for upgrades. My advice is to do the items that provide the most bang for the buck. For instance replacing carpet, removing wallpaper and painting are relatively inexpensive and can brighten up a dingy abode. Kitchens and bathrooms are the biggest attractions for Buyers. Granite countertops are a big plus, yet are expensive. There are cheaper alternatives such as ceramic tiles, quartz and recycled counter tops. Painting wood stained cabinets is also the current trend and is an inexpensive upgrade. In the bathroom, replacing old plumbing and lighting fixtures are not wallet busters. Painting wood paneling in the living room helps to brighten up a space. The more expensive upgrades include scraping the popcorn texture from the ceiling to create a smooth finish. Replacing fogged windows, removing carpet and adding tile to bathrooms help sell a home as well as renovating a shower.

All the above may help sell an abode. The problem for many Sellers is many of these upgrades will not increase the final net proceeds of the sale. The number one thing to sell any home is the price. If the Seller does not have the funds to upgrade yet the establishment is in good shape hope is not lost. The number one goal is to find market value of your home. For example, your neighbor listed his dwelling for $200,000. He has all the upgrades. Smooth ceilings, granite kitchen counter tops new plumbing fixtures yet yours is still in the 80’s. In order to compete something must differentiate your house from your competitor. When everything else is the same, square footage, year built, construction type and location what will attract the Buyer to your listing? Both priced at $200,000, why would the Buyer choose a home with no upgrades over one with upgrades. The Seller to compete must lower the price. If the Seller offers $180,000 then he or she is creating the difference and attracting Buyers who cannot afford a $200,000 but can afford a $180,000 to get into the neighborhood. Every home will sell provided the price is right. See ya down the road.

House Hunting Tips for Todays Crazy Real Estate Market!

 Wow, what a crazy and desperate time for Buyers who are house hunting. Listed homes in north Texas are as scarce as horned toads. House hunters must learn the terrain and their prey before they venture out on the hunt. This holds true no matter what the market is doing however, it is especially important in our current market. Nothing is more frustrating than searching for the perfect abode and finally finding one just listed on the MLS, begging your Realtor to show you the home right away, placing the offer only to discover you are number four on the list of offers received. What do you do?

No fooling this is the current market. Many Sellers are getting offers for full price, a growing number are receiving higher than listed offers, and homes are disappearing fast. In fact, average days on market are down 22.4% from last year. House hunters must be prepared. The first thing they need to do is to get a Pre-approval letter from their lender. In today’s market, the Buyer must be ready to pounce on the home they desire. When viewing the home, the house hunter must remember even if you think you toured the home first, chances are, you are wrong. When walking through a nice home, be assured, an offer is already in the works. The Buyer must be ready to pull the trigger and not have to wait around for a Pre-approval letter. The Buyer must also be aware of his obligations concerning escrow money and option period money. Escrow money guarantees the Buyer will show up to closing and usually runs $1,000 per $100,000 of offered price. The option money gives the Buyer a seven to ten-day option period, granting the Buyer freedom to bow out of the contract for any reason what so ever. After the option period then only a problem obtaining the loan or an act of God will allow you to opt out of the contract and obtain your escrow money. If you truly want to buy a home, be equipped for the hunt.

Prepare for multiple offer situations. What I mean is to be mentally ready for the possibility of missing the offer. Unfortunately, this is the market; you cannot get depressed or get in the dumps because you lost that perfect abode. It only means the hunt will last longer but do not despair, the right home is out there for you. This is also not the time to think you will be able to negotiate for a lower price. Negotiations are out the window. Think at the very best you could receive is list price. More than likely, you must offer above list price if you want to beat out the competition, especially for a very nice home. If you are searching for a home with the maximum price of $200,000 than look at homes in the $180,000 to $185,000 range to give you cushion to make an offer better than list price.

How much more must you go over list price? That is a loaded question. The Seller’s Realtor in the state of Texas cannot disclose the price of the highest offer to a Buyer’s Realtor. The only answer you will receive from the Seller’s Realtor “Is that your best offer?” What is a house hunter supposed to do? The sky is the limit to what you could offer however, it all depends on how you plan to purchase the home. If you are paying with cash no problem. If you are financing then you could have a problem with submitting high offers. With conventional loans, the Buyer must at a minimum place 5% down on the home. Those seeking a FHA loan are required to put a minimum of 3% down while those obtaining a VA loan are sometimes not required to place any money down for a down payment. If you find a home and are aggressive with the offer, you risk pushing the price higher than appraised value. The bank will take the appraisal plus the Buyer’s down payment. Add those two prices together and if the Buyer’s offer is higher than the final appraised price than the house hunter is in trouble. They will need either to cough up the additional funds or renegotiate with the Seller to accept a lower price for the home to meet the loan amount the bank will approve.

Homes are available, yet it is not as easy as it was only a year ago. Folks are hanging on to their homes as others are moving in to the area. Your Realtor must be persistent and knowledgeable with the market and north Texas neighborhoods. Purchasing a home in this market is a blood sport, be prepared!  If you want more info, please do not hesitate to contact me at or visit my website at .