Helping Buyers and Sellers with North Texas Real-Estate

Posts tagged “economy

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 – http://www.djlyons-realtor.com/.


What Lies Ahead for North Texas Real Estate in 2014

thCAK4BIB3The presents are gone, the tree is down, and the ornaments placed away. Christmas is over and we are inching our way to 2014. Hard to believe an entire year has passed. Before we move to what lies ahead we must take a quick look back at 2013 to what brought us to this point in Real Estate. Unemployment remained high especially for those who have been without a job for more than two years and are off the official employment count. The launching of the Affordable Care Act, NAS phone tapping scandal and the government shut down all created unease in the market. Nonetheless the economy inched upward and so did home mortgage rates. In December 2012, the rates were at 3.5% now they sit at 4.65%, home prices in the DFW market have also increased by 10.3%. Texas is fortunate with our pro-business environment and low taxes. While other states experienced an exodus of workers Texas saw a huge influx of Buyers. In North Texas, low inventory was the norm. The market was good in the spring and early summer however, as homes sold listings dwindled, and Buyers became frustrated. New construction abodes skyrocketed as builders took advantage of the lack of existing houses on the market.

In 2014, we start the year much the same. Potential Sellers are sitting on their abodes waiting for prices to increase. This is no surprise; houses in Dallas are 12% below actual value while in the Fort Worth region are 20% below actual value according to Forbes magazine. Forbes also predicts home prices will rise 29% in the next three years. We are sure to see home prices on the upswing this year and as prices increase beyond owed mortgages, Sellers will get off the fence and list, especially those who are under water and finally seeing some relief. New construction will also continue strong at least until there is an equilibrium of existing and new houses on the market.

Rising prices are good for the Seller but no so much for the Buyer. The days of 3% interest are gone unless some unforeseen disaster occurs. The predictions I read show mortgage rates climbing to 5.5%-6.0% in 2014 of course this is an educated guess. Again many things can influence rates, however if trends continue this appears accurate. Higher rates mean less purchasing power for Buyers. A Buyer qualifying for a $200,000 home could only qualify for an $180,000 home by the end of 2014.

New lending requirements are also occurring in 2014. In January the Qualified Mortgage, QM rules go into effect. This means lenders will require borrowers to prove their ability to repay a loan. It also limits the debt-to-payment ratio to 43%. This rate is standard for many loans today however lenders will not allow compensating circumstances such as large down payments or large monetary reserves. Loans will also be harder for self-employed individuals to obtain. On the flip side, fees for originating a loan is capped at 3% of the loan. This is especially good for those purchasing lower priced houses. The new rules shall limit some potential Buyers and will have an impact on the 2014 Real Estate market.

All in all the market appears it should be stronger than 2013. The U.S. economy is strong and the ship is slowly righting itself if government will stay out of the way. For Buyers purchasing a home sooner is better than later however if you are a Seller it is tempting to wait for the prices to increase. 2014 should be an adventure, midterm elections are on the horizon, and who knows what will happen internationally. We are in this adventure together and it promises to be a good year house hunting in North Texas. See ya down the road! http://www.djlyons-realtor.com


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:  http://www.djlyons-realtor.com/

Join me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/djlyonstxrealtor

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 djlyonstx@verizon.net or visit my website at   http://www.djlyons-realtor.com .


Leasing a Home is Challenging in Today’s Market…

imagesYes, there is a buying and selling frenzy currently in the real estate market. However, did you know there is also a flurry of folks who are searching for the perfect rental property? There are many reasons people are looking for lease homes.  The current economy and job situation is one factor. Tougher loan requirements and credit scores are another as well as those who are seeking a temporary place to live because of job or other reasons. Leasing a home gives you all the benefits of owning one without the hassle of repairs or up keep. You can have all the advantages of living in an apartment without the worry of your next-door neighbor falling asleep on the couch with a lit cigarette and burning your apartment down.  In addition, with more room for a family than an apartment, leasing seems like a bargain and for many it is.

Homes for lease however can be hard to find.  Many owners who would lease are finding it more advantages to sell in the current market.  Those that make it onto the market are, snatched up fast, gone within a couple of days. Many folks try to find lease homes on the internet however many discover that the ones they do find have already been leased.  The data can be old and unreliable.  Add in the fact Realtors usually only make on average 25% of the first month of rent and that is split between the agent and the broker. Some Realtors refuse to work with lease clients. The Realtors who will work with them are usually the new Realtors with little experience and not many clients. This means that some prospective renters can be on their own when searching and unfortunately they do not have access to the MLS making their search that much harder.

My advice to renters is to find a rookie agent and have him/her set you up on the MLS so that you receive lease homes as they appear on the market.  Research the homes the best you can. Study the photos, drive by the property, and make sure you are ready to jump on the home if the showing goes well. In Texas, you must have a credit check and complete an application for the lease. The credit check can take a couple of days to process. Every landlord is different and will have different requirements for the lease.  What one landlord will reject another may accept. There is a credit check fee and when the lease is signed a deposit typically equaling the monthly rent and if you have pets, additional deposit money is required.

I have read many real estate articles predicting lease properties are the wave of the future. That one day there shall be only a few owners and the rest will lease. This is one prediction I hope and pray does not happen. This would not only hurt the business of real estate but also kill one of America’s most inspiring passions, owning a home.  Owning your own slice of land is a cornerstone of the United States.  Lease homes are important because they give tenants an opportunity to experience what owning a home is like, while saving up for their very own. The goal for every tenant should be to own a home and if the lease is a stepping-stone to the goal, more power to you – http:www.djlyons-realtor.com/ See ya down the road.


Beyond the Numbers…

please_ignore_the_man_behind_the_curtainSo, what is going on in the Real Estate market, why all the hubbub of not enough listings and buyers pulling their hair out trying to find a home to purchase? To explain this new phenomenon let us examine February’s numbers generated by the MLS about year to date closing on single-family homes in North Texas. To be more specific I will examine the numbers of three different local markets, Northeast Fort Worth, Keller and Trophy Club.

Northeast Fort Worth is an attractive area for first time buyers and young families. With Alliance Airport and the surrounding industries and business to the excellent school districts including Northwest ISD and Keller ISD, Northeast Fort Worth for many is the place to be. Last month 88 homes in this area sold. This is a 22% change from last year at this date. The average price is $83,985, a 6% increase bringing the average price per square feet to $47. Now if we look at how many new listings this area has, the number is 116. That is down from last year by -26%. Monthly inventory is for 3.7 months down by -33% from last year. With an increase of 22% sold homes and decrease of -26% listings, the picture becomes clearer.

Keller Texas is another very desirable area. With older established homes, larger yards and great schools, Keller is an excellent location for families. Like Northeast Fort Worth, Keller had 88 homes sold last month, a 16% increase from last year. Home price average at $316,263 and a price per square foot of $103, Keller had 208 new listings which is actually an increase of 16% from last year however the monthly inventory is at 3 months, a -46% from last year. That is a very low number meaning there is virtually nothing replacing the current inventory. When you hear Realtors screaming, now is the time to sell, it is no joke. This situation may not last forever. With 88 new sales, Buyers are out shopping.

Trophy Club, north of HWY 114 saw its major growth in the 90’s and early 2000’s. A golf club type community Trophy Club is close to new industrial and business parks. Near DFW airport and within the highly acclaimed Northwest School district makes Trophy Club an excellent place for new families, established families and retired folks to call home. Last month only 34 homes sold an actual decrease of 6%, the average price $348,640 a -41% drop and a price per square foot of $108. Trophy Club only has 72 new listings, a decrease of 8% from last year with inventory for 3.7 months a drop of -45% from last year. The very low number of listings contributed to the poor number of sales last month. If there is no inventory to buy then of course sales will be down, nothing to sell, nothing to buy.

We are in this strange market. Some say this type of market is here to stay for a while, maybe. All I know is for Buyers home shopping has become a blood sport trying to find a home and then placing an offer. Buyers are finding multiple offers, listings going for full price and some going for more than full price. We are in a Seller’s market, the Buyers are in a frenzy and there appears to be no change in the near future. See ya down the road. http://www.djlyons-realtor.com/


Why So Many Buyers?

What is going on with the current Real Estate Market? As you may know, listings are scarce. They are drying up yet Buyers are out hunting for homes in droves. Why is this? There are some changes in the wind concerning home mortgages, which are prompting Buyers to purchase now.  Some things are moving towards The Sellers favor while others concern mortgage rates and new increases for FHA lenders.imagesCA8YX2J7

With a lack of inventory, home prices are steadily inching upward. Home inventory dropped 20.4% from last year, coupled with a modest increase of .6% in new listings is driving up prices and creating a highly competitive market for Buyers. In north Texas, home values have gained 8.6% from last year. Most of the growth has come from the lower end homes $99.000 and below. For instance, in Tarrant County the lower tier homes increase 3.9% while the high-end homes $224,900 and above had a minor drop of .3%, however on average home prices have risen and forecasted to continue rising.

Mortgage rates are another factor. The rates are currently very good. 30 year fixed rates are at 3.625% FHA/VA loans between 3.25% – 3.5%, 15 year fixed rates at 2.875% – 3% and five-year arms at 2.625% – 3%. These rates are up a bit from last year however, they are still very good making purchasing attractive to Buyers. Nevertheless, these rates will not last and shoppers understand this. We are currently in a “rising rate environment”. I would not be surprised for rates increasing somewhere in the 4% range by the end of the year. Many people are taking advantage of the rates before the upturn.

There is an added incentive to buy now if you plan on financing with a FHA loan. A FHA loan is a Federal Housing Administration mortgage insured loan. The loan originates by the bank but guaranteed by the federal government.  With a FHA loan, you can purchase a home up to $271,000. They are attractive to buyers because of the low down payment requirements, 3.5%.   On April 9, the MPI rate will increase from 1.15% to 1.25%. Since FHA loans allow down payments of less than 20% mortgage insurance is required.  The MIP is Mortgage Insurance Premiums for the insurance.  This premium paid monthly on top of your mortgage payment. To avoid this, Buyers must purchase a home prior to April 1, 2013. The MPI increase is not the big change however. MPI typically charged on the first 78% of the loan balance. On June 3, this will change to apply to the TOTAL BALANCE. That is a substantial increase. Many FHA Buyers are out shopping now to avoid these rate increases.

Homes are still out there http://www.djlyons-realtor.com/ but the good ones are going fast. This is really starting to turn into a Seller’s market.  No wonder the listings are short with all of these Buyers. Those sitting on the fence about selling their home really should consider listing their homes now while the going is good. See ya down the road.


So, You Want to Make an Offer?

You toured house after house. Searching for that perfect abode, eliminating the homes which do not meet your stringent criteria and you find the right one. Like a majestic castle sitting on some far away green hill not a house but a home. Now is the time to make the offer. So many things to consider and do, the prospect can seem daunting. Making an offeEdinburgh_Castler really is not hard if you are prepared.

An offer on a home is a contract only signed by the Buyer. In Texas we use the “One to Four Family Residential Contract” created by the Texas Real Estate Commission for either new or resale properties. This contract can be used for single family homes up to a quadruplex.  Anything larger needs a different agreement.  This document contains the identification of the subject property, including the legal description as well as the Seller and the Buyer. All the exclusions are also included. Exclusions are the objects in the home that may appear to stay but the Seller takes with them as they vacate the home. This is all done upfront so there is no mistake what the Buyer is buying.

The offered price for the home is written on section 3 “Sales Price”.  After a thorough review of a market analysis (comp) of the subject property and consideration of how much the Buyer can afford an initial offer price is determined.  This offer price is broken into two parts, if you are financing the home, the down payment  and the financed portion.  How you plan to finance is also shown. It is very important to have your financing planned out prior to showings. When you are ready to buy you do not want the delay before making the offer.

Earnest money is also shown. This money is held by the title company and guarantees the Seller that the Buyer will show up to close on the home. If the Buyer does not fulfill his contractual obligation the Buyer looses that money to the Seller. If the contract is closed then the earnest money is given back to the Buyer. Usually the title company applies the funds to the purchase of the home. Earnest money typically runs $1,000 for every $100,000 of sale’s cost.

Negotiations are not limited to sale’s price. Title policy and surveys must also be worked into the equation. Usually the Seller pays for the title policy however the survey is 50/50 on who pays for that. Sometimes the Seller has a good copy of the survey showing current conditions of the property.  A good survey can be used in lieu of ordering a new one. However if not, a new survey is required and is negotiable on who pays for the survey. A survey can cost around $400 depending on the surveyor.

Property condition is also a major factor. Repairs and upgrades are negotiable. Remember the cost for repairs and upgrades come off of the Seller’s bottom line. If you are buying a home for $100,000 and request $20,000 in upgrades, the Seller is only making $80,000 on the sale. Upgrades and repairs must be considered as a part of the sale’s price.

The closing date must give time for both the loan institution to process the loan as well as the title company to order all the legal documents required for the sale. At the very least a month should be given between the initial offer and the closing date. If the loan is through a large bank such as Chase or Bank of America more time may be needed to secure the loan.

Closing costs are another factor to consider. Along with sale’s price and renovations and upgrades closing costs are negotiable and also diminishes the Seller’s bottom line. Closings costs can be as much as 3% of the sale’s cost and depending on the loan there are limitations on how much closing costs the Seller is allowed to pay.

The final aspect is the option fee. The option fee usually runs $150 for ten days. The option period starts at the time the offer becomes an executed contract and runs for 10 continuous days including weekends. The option period gives the Buyer the opportunity to cancel out of the contract for any reason what-so-ever and have the earnest money returned. During the period the Buyer should hire a home inspection and have the house inspected. If anything major is discovered than the Buyer has the right to re-negotiate the contract with the option of canceling if the Seller is not willing to cover the cost of the repairs. Of course you can cancel the contract for absolutely any reason during the option period and get your earnest money back. Once the period expires, not meeting lender’s requirements is the only way to cancel the contract and get your earnest money returned. As soon as the option of the option period is used the $150 check is given to the Seller. If it is not used then option money is given back to the Buyer.

A good realtor will go over all of these points with you.  Other things you are required to submit, a pre-approval letter from your lender if you are financing or a proof of funds letter from your bank if you are paying cash. The reason why this is important is because you are showing the Seller you are a serious Buyer. The Seller does not want to waste time negotiating with someone who may not be able to afford the home. Why should he waste his time? The Seller will simply reject the offer. You will also have to submit a copy of the check for the earnest money and the option fee. When the offer becomes a contract then the earnest money check must be given to the title company and the option money goes to the Seller.

The process seems harder than it really is. A good Realtor can help you through all the stages of the transaction. I hope this bit of info helps you with your future purchases. See ya down the road.


Protect those Pipes!

Believe it or not, we are still in winter. It may not feel like winter, however February lies ahead and February is the time we get our worst weather in the north Texas area. Freezing temperatures can play havoc on a home if not prepared. Do not let our warm days fool you. You need to be ready at least until April to insure you are protected. Busted water pipes are a nightmare. Not only must you deal with the busted plumbing you need to repair the damage the water caused. Below are some tips to help getting you through this time of year and to help prevent costly damage.20061220-1icestorm

Cover those outdoor faucets. Buy Styrofoam nozzle covers from Home Depot or Ace or any hardware type store. They are easy to install. Cover all exterior faucets. They will trap the indoor heat and keep the nozzles from freezing. Freezing water expands and splits piping. As the ice thaws then you have a mess. Nozzle covers are cheap insurance and well worth the money.

Drip your faucets. This applies to indoor faucets installed on exterior walls of your home. You do not need flowing water just a steady drip will work. Like a stream, water does not freeze on a moving current. Be sure to remember when the temperature rises above 32 degrees to turn those faucets off else you may be stuck with a large utility bill.

Do not turn off the heat. This may sound obvious. Nevertheless if you are selling your home and have moved out or you are going on an extended trip during the winter months it is not uncommon for the owner to turn off the utilities to save some cash. The plumbing in most north Texas homes runs across the attic. Heat rises and the warmth from the living spaces below keep the attic space above freezing. When the heat is turned off nothing is left to keep those pipes warm and they freeze. After you come back and turn everything on, ouch! A flooded home. I have heard horror stories of this happening before. You can turn down the heat but by all means do not turn the heat off.

Wrap pipes located at the eaves. If your plumbing is located near the eaves of the roof you may consider buying heated wraps. This is a good idea even if the heat is turned on. At the edge of the roof is space that is exposed to the outdoor temperature and heat from the home has a hard time reaching those areas.

If the weather is freezing it is always better to safe than sorry. Busted water pipes are no fun and can be very expensive. Keep your home protected. See ya down the road.


The Current Pulse of the North Texas Real Estate Market

The Real Estate market is forecast to be very strong in 2013. That may be true however what are the current conditions? If you are looking to sell your current home or buy a new home, why should you do it now? It is important to keep a pulse on what is occurring right now. In doing so you can extrapolate what might happen in the future barring major economic changes. However in this day and age anything is possible. Let’s take a peek at some of the current market indicators to determine what is happening in the North Tenormal rdial pulsexas Real Estate market.

Median home prices:

In the North Texas area we are fortunate to see a slow yet steady increase in home prices. From last year at this time prices rose 8.8%.  The United States average is 8.5%. However if you look at where we stand from three years ago 2009 our home prices rose 10% compared to the U.S. average of 3%.  Rising prices are the start of a strong market. Inventory (listings) is drying up in Tarrant, Dallas and the surrounding counties helping to drive up value. However the rise has been tempered by the growth of new construction, I will get to that later, however even so home prices are rising.

Local economic factors:

The current unemployment rate has decreased from 7.8% in 2011 to 6.3% in 2012. That is a 1.6% increase in jobs. What are not factored in are those who do not have a job and are off unemployment benefits. Those folks are not counted and unfortunately in today’s economy it is a reality. Nevertheless 1.6% growth is nothing to sneeze at.  20.6% of the new jobs are in the trade/transportation/utilities industries, 15.7% from the business community and 12.6% from the health industry. These are the major growth areas.  This would indicate a high demand for lower and mid-priced homes and a slightly less demand for higher priced homes.

New home construction:

In North Texas 16,307 building permits for new home construction were issued. This is an 18% increase from last year. Builders are confident Buyers are out and about and that is true. Not all will desire brand new homes however. Like every choice there are positives and negatives to buying new as compared to buying existing homes. For instance new homes with all the latest amenities however with an older home you can determine how the foundation has performed to the different climate conditions in north Texas.

Foreclosures:

Sub-prime loans are defined as a type of loan offered at a rate above prime to individuals who do not qualify for prime rate loans. Quite often, sub-prime borrowers are often turned away from traditional lenders because of their low credit ratings or other factors suggest they may be a reasonable chance of defaulting on the debt repayment. Foreclosures on those types of loans dropped from 7.24% in 2011 to 6.88%. The 90 day delinquency is at 10.4%. This means the foreclosure rate for sub-prime loans should stay around 6.88%. Foreclosures on prime loans increased from 1.5% to 1.11% however the 90 day delinquency is only at 3.55%. This means the prime lending foreclosures should decrease this year. This is important because fewer foreclosures mean a better sales price for Sellers and this is a good thing.

Affordability:

This factor shows what the mortgage rate is compared to actual income. Basically are the people purchasing these homes able to afford them? This is an important factor because it can forecast the number of future foreclosures as well as future short sells. North Texas is at a rate of 8.1%. This is very good. This number has stayed consistent from last year.

North Texas has been fortunate, we were not hit nearly as hard with this economic down turn as compared with the rest of the country. Why is this? Partially from our vast reserves of oil and natural gas and partially from the pro-business laws in place, this is the reason so many are moving to our area from out of state. It is particularly interesting a majority of these relocations are coming from states like California which is not known for their business friendly attitudes. North Texas is the place to be for Real Estate. See ya down the road.