5 Reasons You NEED a Real Estate Professional

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it can be quite an adventurous journey; you need an experienced real estate professional to lead you to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that tfiverr_5_reasons_graphichey can For Sale by Owner or FSBO.

The 5 Reasons You NEED a Real Estate Professional in your corner haven’t changed, but rather have been strengthened, due to the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to pick up steam. Think twice about these 5 things before you trust your home sale to an inexperienced person (like yourself, perhaps!)…

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

The state of Texas has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional like me can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality. Another reason to make sure the paperwork is right is for your protection. From the seller side, would you know what you would have to disclose to buyers about the home, what has happened in the home, what is happening around the home, etc.?  From the buyer side, what rights to you have to specific information before and after the sale?  These are very important, and potentially very costly, issues!

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

According to the Orlando Regional REALTOR Association, there are over 230 possible actions that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has guided people through those steps numerous times before, someone who knows what these actions are and can explain them in a clear and concise way, to make sure that you acquire your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent like me to help you sell your home because the market is just so hot. However, after looking at the list of parties that you need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll realize the value in selecting a good realtor. From the buyer – who wants the best deal possible and likely has an agent who you most likely will be responsible for paying – to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, to the title company, there are at least 11 different people that you will have to be knowledgeable with and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

For sellers, it is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. Also, contrary to way may be popular belief, sellers make more money when they hire a realtor…according to the National Association of REALTORS, “the typical FSBO home sold for $185,000 compared to $245,000 among agent-assisted home sales.”  For buyers, you don’t want to pay more for a home than it’s really worth, which is a big cause for concern in a hot market like this, and you need an agent to help you run the numbers and determine that.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

Just like you probably have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the industry in which you work, a good realtor like me knows what’s going on in real estate.  There is so much information – and misinformation – out there on the news, the internet, and these home shows on networks like TLC. Home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s really going on and how the market works specifically in the Dallas area? Do you want to trust your own limited knowledge about real estate to buy or sell the biggest asset you’ll probably every buy or sell, or should you call an expert like me to help?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent will make your buying or selling experience an educated one, and you can be more assured that you will be making decisions based on real knowledge that will lead to success.

Bottom Line

You wouldn’t replace the engine in your car without a trusted mechanic, you wouldn’t perform your own surgery, and you wouldn’t build your own house brick-by-brick without being qualified in one of those fields.  Why would you make one of the most important financial decisions of your life without hiring an expert in the field of buying and selling real estate?  Considering a move, get in touch with me and let’s talk!

5 Thoughts on Owning a Home & Being Thankful

November ushers in the start of the holiday season with one of my favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. I think it’s important to stop anowning_a_home_thanks-1d take stock of what we’re grateful for more than once a year, but Thanksgiving is a wonderful excuse to pair it with a delicious meal.

 Owning a home is often included in the list of things people are thankful for each year at their Thanksgiving dinner, but I started to think about how many different areas of life owning a home touches and affects in a positive way.

1. Homes – at their most basic – offer shelter from the elements, warmth, and safety.

Having a warm, safe place to put your head at night is crucial to having good mental heath and a happy outlook on life. Homes often become a shelter from the rest of the world, a place where you can most truly be the person you are.

2. Homes contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Homes have kitchens, which gives homeowners the ability to cook fresh, delicious food, which in turns offers energy, strength, and can positively affect your mental health. It’s an easy, taken-for-granted thing that can be overlooked here in the United States, but having a kitchen isn’t a given around the world. Most homes in Thailand, for example, usually forgo a kitchen in favor of eating out from street vendors.

3. Homes offer the space to host friends and family.

There’s nothing more wonderful than the joy of hosting the people you love in your own space, whether that’s for dinner or for a weeklong stay. Homes are generally much larger than apartments and this means that hosting is much easier and more comfortable for everyone…just don’t make things too comfortable or the guests might become permanent fixtures in your home!

4. A home can be your own personal sanctuary.

Few people, it seems, bother to decorate or truly personalize an apartment because apartments are transitory and who wants to pay that deposit fee? But with homes, you’re the queen or king of your own castle and that means you can make improvements, changes, and invest in décor that speaks to you and makes you feel happy and safe.

5. Homes contribute to financial health.

I love the word “wealth”, don’t you??  And this is something else that might be obvious, but the financial benefits to owning a home can have a deep impact on the rest of your life. Homes offer savings on taxes, by deducting mortgage interest, property taxes, and private mortgage insurance. Homes save money in the long term over paying rent for someone else’s property and offer you increased wealth and equity in return. As home prices continue to trend up, this offers homeowners increased value for their investments and builds wealth.

Final Thoughts on Thankfulness

This season, I am not only thankful for the privilege of owning my own personal home, but also so thankful that I can help others see – through the home buying process – how this positively impacts physical and mental health, social life, and financial wealth as well. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and a very fruitful year ahead!

5 Dynamite Reasons to Sell Your House This Fall

Ah, the crisp smell of fall is in the air, the leaves are bursting into brilliant color, kids are back in school, and it might be the right time for your to considering selling your house. Conventional wisdom says to list your home in the spring, but is that the right choice this year? Here are a few facts to consider that might sway you to sell during the autumn season.

1. There’s less competition in the market.

The traditional time to list a family house is in the spring when the flowers are beginning to bloom and families are looking to move before summer vacation takes hold, but the mild temperature of autumn, beautiful orange and gold leaves, and less competition on the real estate market can make it easier to make a home an enticing find to prospective buyers.

2. Demand is still strong.

According to the Realtor’s Confidence Index, demand throughout the country is still high and it’s a good time to take advantage of it now before…

3. Inventory increases.

The negative equity situation in previous years has trapped many families in their homes and caused them to stay put, but since real estate prices have been climbing in recent years, there’s a renewed desire for many homeowners to sell. This means means that many homes will be coming to the market in the spring and summer months. Additionally, now that builders have more confidence in the market, new single-family homes will be coming on the market so the choices buyers have will continue to increase.

4. Buyers can take advantage of tax breaks.

Property tax and mortgage interest are both deductions you can tax on your taxes for the whole year, even a buyer closes on a property in December. This is worth thinking about and just sweetens the deal for prospective buyers. Another tax advantage is for buyers who can close on a house before January 1st – that is that they’re able to file for homestead exemption. So, not only is this good for sellers as an advertisement for buyers who might want to buy their home before the new year, it is equally good for sellers who are also buying a home!

5. And it’s a GREAT time for you to upgrade.

Home prices will continue to rise and if you’re planning on moving into a bigger house, now is the time to do so before prices appreciate. Rates are forecasted to increase in 2017, AND house prices are projected to go up a whopping 5.3% over the next year. Lower rates and lower prices give you more buying power.  Selling your home now will put you in perfect place to upgrade to a newer, larger home before these increases.

If you think that selling your home this fall might be the right choice for you and your family, get in touch with me today. I’d love to take you for a nice fall-flavored pumpkin spice latte and give you a free home estimate as we have our coffee talk!

Can Rates Stay This Low??

Of course there are a lot of factors to consider when trying to decide whether to make a move – job security, location, savings, etc.  But the interest rate you pay on your home mortgage has a direct impact on your monthly payment…the higher the rate, the greater your payment will be. That is why it is important to look at where the experts believe rates are headed when you’re deciding to buy now or wait until next year.

Where Rates Have Been & Where They’re Headed

I keep saying to people who ask that these rates can’t stay low forever – they eventually have to go up.  I actually thought they would this past summer, but with the Euro issue in Europe and the election here in the U.S., I think the powers-that-be decided that they couldn’t raise rates.  The 30-year fixed mortgage rate has actually fallen half a percentage point since the beginning of the year and has remained at or below 3.5% for the last 11 weeks, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

The chart below shows how far rates have fallen this year (on the left in blue), and uses an average of the projections from Freddie Mac,Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and National Association of Realtors (on the right in orange). As you can see, interest rates are projected to increase steadily over the course of the next 12 months.

Interest Rates Remain at Historic Lows... But for How Long? | MyKCM

How Will This Impact Your Mortgage Payment?

Depending on the amount of the loan that you secure, a half of a percent (.5%) increase in interest rate can increase your monthly mortgage payment significantly.

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, national home prices have appreciated 6.0% over the last year and are predicted to be 5.4% higher next year.

If both the predictions of home prices and interest rate increases become a reality, families will wind up paying considerably more for their next home.

Bottom Line

Even a small increase in interest rate can impact your ability to buy the home you want. With rates being what they are today, you have a lot of buying power to get the home you really want!  If you have any interest in buying a home, let’s talk, because now might be the perfect time.

How Much Money Does It Take to Buy a House?

I get this question a lot from my buyers, and my short answer is that it’s a long answer! Seriously though, there are a lot of variables to consider when addressing with this question, and the best resource for it is a mortgage professional. One of my go-to mortgage people – Kristy Osborn with Service First Mortgage – sent me an interesting email on this subject that I thought would be great to share. It helps explain the ins and outs of determining how much you’ll need to bring to the table to buy your next dream home!

Basically, there are three factors that make up a borrower’s out-of-pocket expenses at closing:  1) Downpayment, 2) Closing Costs and 3) Prepaids.

1. Downpayment –  Each Mortgage Type has their own standard requirement for down payment:

  • FHA– 3.5% down payment required
  • VA– No down payment required
  • USDA– No down payment required (this type of loan is restricted to certain zip codes)
  • Conventional– Minimum 5% down payment required (there are also 3% down programs with very restrictive guidelines)

2. Closing Costs –  Closing costs are comprised of the 10+ companies that are involved in the transaction. These include Appraisal, Survey (typically the sellers’ survey can be used if they have an existing one), Tax Certifications, Underwriting, Processing, Wire Transfer Fees, Title Fees, Recording Fees, Credit Check Fees, Recording Fees, Closing Attorney, Closing Docs Attorney (who draws your closing documents), etc, etc.

3. Pre-Paids –  This amount of money is dedicated to setting up your escrow account with your mortgage company, so that your mortgage company can pay your taxes and insurance as part of your monthly payment.  Typically this consists of 1 year of homeowners insurance +3 months in reserve in insurance + 3 months of reserve in taxes.  You don’t have to have an escrow account with your mortgage company if you’re putting 20% down on your new home.

For a quick calculation of the amount you’ll need – please note this is not exact and will can vary widely – the following ballpark figures can be applied for you to know the amount that you might need.

  • $100,000 sales price- use (for closing cost and prepaids) $6,000.
  • For each $1000 up or down add or subtract $30 ($101,000 would be $6,030; $99,000 would be $5,970).
  • Add the down payment required/ requested (see above)

So, if you’re purchasing a $200,000 home with an FHA loan, then you can estimate $6,000 + $3,000 + $7,000 Downpayment = $16,000 needed.

Another consideration to this amount is that buyers can ask sellers to cover some of their closing costs.  Different types of loans allow for different amounts. It is important for me to say, however, that in this competitive sellers market that we’re currently in here in North Texas, seller contributions are becoming increasingly rare…this is especially true when there are multiple offers on a home, so don’t count on this!  In a normal market though, this is how much sellers can contribute as part of negotiations of the contract to purchase their home:

  • FHA -The seller is allowed to pay any or all of the closing cost and prepaids up to 6% of the sales price provided the buyer has at least 3.5% into the loan.
  • VA – The seller is allowed to pay any or all of the closing cost and prepaids up to 4% of the sales price plus the VA non-allowables (costs that VA does not allow a buyer to pay so the seller has to agree to them as part of the negotiations).
  • USDA -The seller is allowed to pay any or all of the closing cost and prepaids up to 6% of the sales price.
  • Conventional–  The seller is allowed to pay up to 3% of the sales price toward the closing cost and prepaids, but cannot pay any of the downpayment.  If the buyer is putting 10% or more down, the seller is allowed to pay up to 6% of the sales price toward the closing cost and prepaids, but cannot pay any of the downpayment.  For an investment property, the seller is maxed at 2% of the sales price toward buyer’s closing cost and prepaids.

I hope this has been helpful and informative!  Of course it costs money to buy your new home, but considering the great investment that it is and will be for you for years to come, that money is well worth it. As always, I’m here for any questions you might have, so please don’t ever hesitate to get in touch!

Top Tips For Buying or Selling in Today’s Market

Homes selling above asking price, numerous offers for the same property – it’s no secret that the North Texas housing market is booming. To help you navigate these unprecedented waters, I’ve come up with some top tips for both buyers and sellers.

Buyer’s Tips

* Be Qualified. Pre-plan financing with a mortgage lender and receive a pre-approval letter…this is REQUIRED in today’s market to submit an offer. For a frustration-free experience with a good lender, ask your favorite realtor (me, of course) for some great mortgage contacts.

* Act Quickly. In a hot market, acting slowly or “sleeping on it” may cost you the opportunity to buy the home of your dreams. If you’ve found a home you’d be thrilled with, don’t wait to submit an offer; other buyers will likely be doing the same.

* Offer a Compelling Price. Sellers should be pricing their homes based on historical sold data, and in a strong market where prices are rising rapidly, homes are very often selling for the listing price or higher. Study the sold comps, but also compare the house you want to other homes currently on the market, and ask yourself, “What price am I willing to pay, and at what price am I willing to lose this house?”

Seller’s Tips

* Market Effectively. You have the best chance of selling your home for the highest price by marketing it in a way that will appeal to the largest number of potential buyers. When you list your home with me, you get FREE professional staging and professional photography, which makes your home look it’s absolute best it’s ever going to look and will help keep it show-ready for buyers who come to see it in person.  Also, my broker, Ebby Halliday, provides you with worldwide exposure on ebby.com, which receives approximately 21,000 visits per day, far outpacing our competition.

* Respond Quickly. There is an old adage that time kills deals. A buyer’s interest is at a peak level at the time he or she submits an offer, so keep the momentum going, choose the best offer, and respond promptly in writing. Many sellers want to wait over the weekend to see if multiple offers come in, and that may be a good strategy…when you sell your home with me, we’ll look at that as an option and decide what’s best for your house price and area.

* Don’t Be Greedy. If a buyer offers an acceptable price and terms, sign the offer and be a team player by working in a positive way with your buyer. Remember that most likely, you’ll be on the buying side too getting into your next home, so it’s always best to go with the Golden Rule and treat buyers as you’d like to be treated…this will ensure a win-win for everyone involved by getting the house sold!

 

Interested in looking more into the buying or selling process?  Let me know and let’s get together soon!

When Should I Sell My House?

I’m asked all the time by potential home sellers what the best time of year is to sell a house.  What people generally mean by that is that they want to get the highest price they can while selling their home as quickly as possible.  Picture2Although I can certainly (and honestly) make the argument that any time of year is a good time to sell for various reasons, I just saw that Zillow came out with some great data to support what has always been conventional wisdom…that is, that the late Spring – which is basically here now! – is the best time to sell.

In a new housing report, Zillow states that:  Backed by eight years of data, Zillow economists have identified early May, nationally, as the “magic window”to get 15 percent more agent contacts [i.e., showings and inquiries], and yield a sale 18.5 days faster and for nearly 1 percent more than national averages.

This window is varies in different areas across the country, but all fall within the April to June timeframe.  The map below shows that for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the first half of May is optimal for selling in our market.  Zillow states that homes listed in their market’s magic window sell faster and for more than the average median home.

So the time to list in our area is NOW. Listing now gives us time to set a good market price, and get the house decluttered, staged, and photographed before it’s put up for sale at the best time of the year, which is just a couple weeks away.  Want to know more?  I’m always here to answer any questions or just to chat about the market in general, so get in touch!

Want A Big, Beautiful Like-New Home With 2 Master Suites?

Well, you have found it here!  This home was just bu1302-wildflower-ln-wylie-tx-High-Res-1ilt in 2013 and it has 3,987 square feet filled with 5 gorgeous bedrooms, a kitchen with granite counter-tops and stainless steel appliances, living room down and gameroom up, and two large master suites – one downstairs and one upstairs.

1302-wildflower-ln-wylie-tx-High-Res-7This is the perfect floorplan for having family members living under one roof or having long-term guest. What else does this home offer? How about a 3-car garage and it backs up to a green1302-wildflower-ln-wylie-tx-High-Res-13belt area?!

There is so much to love in this home. PLUS, it is offered for $330,000, which is a great price for a beautiful home in sought-after Bozman Farms in Wylie. You cannot 1302-wildflower-ln-wylie-tx-High-Res-15buy a new home in this neighborhood for anywhere near this price!   And this home is currently ONLY available for private showings, and is it NOT yet in MLS, so hurry – get in touch with me or with
your realtor of choice and see it today!

To see more images of this beautiful homeclick on this link.

Lake-Front Home in Dallas County

My latest listing was featured on this blog – how great is that? Another example of how I market the homes I sell in many different ways, to get them as much exposure to the buying public as possible!

North Texas Lake-Front Homes

This week’s featured lake-front home in Dallas County is a beautiful old-world style home. This beauty has all of the right masculine features combined with feminine features in all of the right places.  This spacious SIX-bedroom home listed by Heather Sims of Ebby Halliday sprawls 6096 SF on over half an acre!  With a sparkling pool and lake views from nearly every window in the home, what’s not to love?!

View More of 4218 Running Brook Drive

RunningBrook.Exterior.2

Built in 1996, this home has a lot of character, updated with love and today’s accents and interior touches!   This charming lake-front in Pecan Harbor Estates will leave you as the envy of the neighborhood.  4218 Running Brook Drive in Rowlett also has another sought-after feature…a tandem-style four-car garage!

RunningBrook.Foyer

Gleaming hardwoods and strong accents capture your attention from the moment you walk in.

RunningBrook.Stairwell

RunningBrook.Bar

Great for entertaining, this mahogany-wood bar just off of…

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Which Celebrity Would You Want To Be Your Neighbor?

There are celebrity lists of all kinds, from People’s Sexiest Man Alive to Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, to Forbes World’s Billionaire List. But have you ever thought which famous people you’d be ok with having as a neighbor?  For me, the Ozzy Osborn family would be at the absolute bottom of that list, although I would not mind living in their house! Top of my list would probably me my favorite musician, Alanis Morrisette – she’s not the angry feminist that people make her out to be, and if I lived next to her I might get to hear her sing and pick her brain about life once in awhile.

Who would most Americans say they’d love to have live next door? Zillow.com decided to find out… in their survey, Zillow asked 1,000 Americans which celebrities they would most like to have as their neighbor as well as those they wouldn’t dare share a fence with.  Turns out, the Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is America’s favorite neighbor. Swift was voted as the top neighbor with 12 percent of the votes.  She was in the top 3 last year when Zillow conducted the same survey, but she was able to nab the top spot after a third-place finish last year.  Actress Jennifer Lawrence was a very close second with 11 percent, and comedian Amy Schumer rounded out the top three, with 9 percent of the votes.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump topped this year’s list for worst neighbor at a whopping 24 percent (makes me wonder about that 7 percent who said he’d be the best neighbor!). Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are also not desirable as neighbors, with 22 percent responding that they would not want to live next door to the self-described power couple.

Here’s a look at how the celebrities stacked up on this year’s survey.

Most Desirable Neighbors of 2015:

  • Taylor Swift: 12%
  • Jennifer Lawrence: 11%
  • Amy Schumer: 9%
  • Donald Trump: 7%
  • Mark Zuckerberg & Priscilla Chan: 6%
  • Jennifer Anniston & Justin Theroux: 6%
  • Hillary Clinton: 5%
  • None of the Above: 34%

Worst Neighbors of 2015

  • Donald Trump: 24%
  • Kim Kardashian & Kanye West: 22%
  • Justin Bieber: 18%
  • Hillary Clinton: 11%
  • Miley Cyrus: 10%
  • Taylor Swift: 2%
  • Tom Brady: 2%
  • None of the above: 11%

Looking to have new neighbors in 2016? I can’t guarantee they’d be celebrities but I can guarantee great real estate services in finding your new neighbors and neighborhood, just give me a shout and we’ll start our search!

Source: DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2015
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