Helping Buyers and Sellers with North Texas Real-Estate

Posts tagged “sale

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 1 – Preparing for the Hunt

thCAL5TVILMaybe you outgrew your current home or you need to down size. For some it could be time for a first home, for others a relocation is the reason to start the hunt. The process of finding and purchasing a home can be daunting. This series of BLOGS will focus on buying homes. What a house hunter needs to do to find the perfect abode, what to do when you find one, what documents you need to sign and what the buyer needs to do while waiting for the contract to close.

The first thing any diligent house hunter needs to do is to find a lender. I can hear everyone already…find a lender. I have not even started to look for a home yet and you want me to find a lender? Yes, find a lender! With a lender, you can determine how much you can spend on your new castle. At the very least, you need a pre-qualification letter to submit with any offer you make. Stronger yet is a pre-approval letter. What is the difference between the two? A pre-qualifying is the first step and is usually free. The lender will require info such as income, debt, and assets. With this info, he will determine how much home you may be able to buy depending on final credit checks and verification. The letter is submitted with the offer, however, you are not in a strong position. It is much better to obtain a pre-approval letter. A pre-approval is the next step; you must fill out an actual application for a loan, pay an application fee, and submit other documents verifying employment and income. A credit check occurs and you will receive a letter stating the actual amount you can borrow. All things considered equal if a Seller receives an offer with a pre-approval letter and another for the exact amount and terms with a pre-qualification letter the Seller will choose the Buyer with the pre-approval letter every time.

Knowing how much home you can afford is an important first step and will save you from wasting time and the disappointment of finding and falling in love with a house that is not affordable. Being aware of your price limits will also streamline the search. In addition, many Realtors will not even show homes without at least a pre-qualification letter and the way the market is now, it is much better to have one in hand to submit an offer right away then to wait to obtain a letter. To be a good hunter the hunter must be prepared and it is no different with house hunting, find some more info on my website:  See ya down the road.

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!

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!

Parents, Do Your Homework Before You Purchase That Home!

imagesCAASBR6MBuyers with children have many things to consider when purchasing a home. Everything from proper-gated barriers around swimming pools, working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and the location of a master bedroom compared to the child’s bedroom are all-important concerns for parents when searching for a perfect abode. Unfortunately, these days there are outside dangers a parent must be aware of when choosing a new home. As of May 24, 2013, 503 registered sexual offenders live in Fort Worth neighborhoods and many more in adjacent counties. This is not a new phenomenon, these monsters have always been with us, with 24-hour newscasts and Amber alerts we hear of abductions much too frequently. Now we have the tools to track them and this knowledge is truly valuable for any parent. A Realtor cannot find this information for you; it is up to the Buyer to do the research. A good website to get this info is This is the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website and it provides all the data of offenders in different neighborhoods. The Buyer must look at the number and location of offenders as compared to the location of the new home. The site also provides outline information of the crimes so the Buyer can determine the extent of the threat.  You will also discover that some neighborhoods have more offenders than others. Parents need to educate themselves of all the potential dangers a new home and neighborhood might have. Do your homework! 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 .

Spring Weather In North Texas And what Home Owners And Buyers Need To Know!

Trees are turning green and the grass is getting taller. Winter is gone as the gradual warming of spring arrives. Moisture travels up from the Gulf of Mexico and from the northwest a strong Pacific cold front or low-pressure system guided by the Rocky Mountains comes rolling in creating a bubbly froth in the heavens and unleashing hell on us below.  This is when north Texans experiences the most severe weather of the year. From floods to hail and tornados, we have it all. What is a homeowner or homebuyer to do?ht_tornado_parrish_lancaster_texas_ss_thg_120404_ssh

Floods claim the most lives in north Texas and can be disastrous for homeowners. There are two types of flooding in our portion of the state, rapid-onset floods and flash floods. Rapid-onset floods occur on rivers, ponds, and lakes while flash floods occur in low elevation areas. Heavy rains create both conditions, the slow steady rains that last for several days drain into rivers, ponds and lakes swelling the water above the banks because the outflow cannot keep up with the inflow while fast-moving heavy rains can overwhelm our dry clay soils creating massive run offs (flash flooding). When you are searching for a home be aware of its position to rivers, lakes and ponds. If you are in doubt about its locale, call the city engineering department. Most municipals keep topographic maps and can tell you if the house or property is located on a flood plain. If it is and you are willing to take the risk, purchase flood insurance, it is not cheap but it can save you a bundle in the future.  The most common flooding problem in north Texas is from flash floods, pay attention to the grading of the yard, is one side of the yard a higher elevation than the other?  Do you notice the signs of water run-off paths? Bare dirt with current patterns is a good sign as well as water line marks on a wood fence. Is the home sitting within the path of water run-off? Does the landscape carry the storm water across a swimming pool?   A home inspector can find areas that may cause problems. Minor flash flooding (runoff) may not take a life but can cause homeowner problems and can become expensive. If water enters your home, it can ruin carpeting and furniture. In pools, run-off dirties the water and causes havoc with the filtration system.  Sometimes re-grading the soil around your home or pool to divert the run-off will solve the problem. Sometimes a system using French drains may be required to move water away from low areas.  If the buyer is aware of the problem before making an offer then they can include the fix in the offer. If the inspector discovers the run-off problem then you can negotiate and complete the work during the option period. Always do a visual inspection of the yard before purchasing. It pays to know where the flow of water occurs in your yard.

Did you know Tarrant County is the hail capital of Texas per the Texas Insurance Council?  Since 1955, Tarrant County spotters reported 800 hail events.  Hail is formed when rain droplets freeze and are carried upward by a cyclonic wind (imagine a tornado on its side) accumulating water and then lifted up again to freeze and returning below repeating the process and  building layers of ice until the frozen ball becomes too heavy for the wind to lift and plunges to the earth below. Hail can be as small as pin heads or as large as bowling balls (8.25 inches in diameter).  Hail, over .75 inches is large enough to damage objects. If you drive around this area, it is common to spot vehicles resembling golf balls. 1.6 billion dollars in property damage occurred during the Mayfest hailstorm alone, hail is a big deal in north Texas and the number of roofing companies in the area proves it. Hail creates dimples and tears on asphalt roof tiles sometimes allowing water to penetrate the outer covering. Hail can create unsightly dents on metal roofs. Unfortunately, the only thing a homeowner can do to protect his home is to purchase homeowner insurance with hail coverage. Buyers should have the home inspected during the option period. The inspector will crawl on the roof and look for signs of hail damage. Most likely, a roof in this area will experience some hail damage. If the damage is minor then replacement may not be necessary. However if the damage is extensive, negotiations with the seller is needed. Good news for the seller is if he has insurance then all the seller will need to pay is the deductible. Replacing a roof is a common experience in north Texas. I replaced the roof of my house twice already because of hail, be prepared.


Tornados are perhaps the most frightening weather phenomenon in north Texas.  A vortex drops from the boiling clouds above sometimes like a snake other times like a giant funnel. The violent winds can rake across fields, homes and cities and can occur anywhere in the north Texas area. Tornados range from a F1 (73-112 MPH) to F5 with speeds up to 318 MPH and strike anytime during the year however springtime is the season we see the most.  F1 twisters will rip tiles from roofs while F5’s can strip a house to its foundation and tear asphalt from roads. F5’s are true monsters.  Homeowners have few choices to deal with twisters such as building reinforced safe closets or in ground storm shelters. Those options are expensive yet offer the most protection. A safe closet may not protect you from a F5 yet will protect you from less severe tornados. Storm shelters will most likely protect you from all categories but are far more expensive especially in this area with our abundance of clay soils. For most of us, the only option is to find a safe location in the center of your home, away from windows and flying glass. The best place is in a bathroom lying low in the bathtub. Pipes in the walls offer extra protection and the tub can protect you from flying debris.  Pay attention to weather reports. A tornado watch means the conditions are right for the formation of a tornado. If the area is under a tornado watch, keep your radio or TV turned on for weather reports to monitor the situation. A tornado warning indicates an actual tornado spotted on radar or on the ground. If approaching, seek cover immediately, most towns have sirens to warn of eminent twisters. Purchase a weather radio. They can had for as little as thirty dollars and provide an alarm system to alert you if a tornado approaches. A weather radio is particularly helpful during overnight storms when your family is asleep. There were many nights spent in the middle bathroom and the radio on in our household. This is life in north Texas. We are fortunate not to experience major earthquakes, tsunamis, or hurricanes yet we do get tornados. Do not panic just stay safe. See ya down the road.

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 – See ya down the road.