Blog Posts

Three Things Home Buyers Should Never Do
Talk to a home buyer who just lost out in yet another bidding war and you'll hear genuine disappointment and frustration. Listen to a buyer who found the perfect starter home, then asked probing questions only to discover undisclosed deal-breaker problems like UFFI, a significant foundation crack or both. You'll learn how anger and discouragement can go hand in hand. You'll never hear me respond to these buyers with platitudes like "It wasn't meant to be." I encourage buyers to understand exactly why things didn't work out in their favor. Buyers determined to act in their own best interest must understand what's going on so they can make confident decisions. Misunderstandings, problems, or shortcomings in the buying process many need correction to end negative results. This is not about blame, but learning how to proceed constructively: Buyers who begin homeownership out of their financial depth are not on the path to success or happiness. Sticking to your budget is not losing out, but progressing sanely. Research-savvy buyers, who ask questions and uncover deal-breaker property weaknesses will not end up as extremely-disappointed property owners faced with expensive problems to correct or law suits to fight.   Home buyers will be rewarded by remembering that there are three things never to forget when buying real estate: #1: Never quit: Real estate values continue to rise — rarely getting cheaper. Give up and you end up with nothing. If you quit, you'll join the ranks of those who spend the rest of their lives talking about the real estate that got away. I've heard so many stories about properties that people almost bought or always wanted to buy. When I ask what happened, they usually don't know. Many say they just gave up. "I guess it was not meant to be" is a common answer. Don't let this be you. If you're losing out on offers, find out exactly why. Most sellers care about who buys their home and will make new memories there. Personalize your offer with a video or unique offer. One enterprising chef offered to come and cook dinner for the owners once the offer was accepted. A couple's short, punchy video showed what they had gone through to find that house and what they dreamed about doing there... all with magazine pictures cut out by their kids. You may not be creative, but be sincere with a letter or short video (less than a minute or two) that your real estate professional can use to introduce you and your offer to purchase. The real estate market may change as you continue shopping. If prices rise, you may end up in the wrong price range. Explore other locations and types of housing. Buying a two- or three-unit income property may give you the financial leverage you need for the area you prefer. Your relationship with your real estate professional may not be working to your advantage. What's missing? Is it time to quit that relationship, not the buying project?   #2: Never rely on verbals.: Verbal assurances from sellers, home inspectors, or real estate professionals are worth the paper they are printed on! In real estate, it's what's on paper that counts[&mdash]what you can rove indisputably in a disagreement or in court. Sellers may say they'll leave all the appliances, playground equipment, or anything else. If you really want something, include it in the offer with a description that precludes substitution with lesser models. The real estate professional may assure you about many things the sellers will do or not do before closing. If something matters to you, make sure it is written into the offer, so there is no doubt what will be done, to what standards, when, and at who's cost. Repairing the roof, finishing the bathroom renovation, cutting deadwood out of tall trees…all in writing in the offer. If there's something of specific value to you on the property, make sure it will remain intact. For instance, a stand of trees was assumed by one buyer to be a permanent fixture. The sellers thought that, since they'd grown the trees, they could harvest the trees as firewood as part of packing to move. What did the offer say on the subject? The builder's sales staff want to expedite your new home sale, but they may not have the power to make binding promises, warranties, or guarantees. Be sure you get the home you expect, by having details that matter to you written into the offer. Read the entire offer[—]yes all the small print. If you can't follow the clauses, ask your real estate professional. Translating legalese for clients is a prime function for these professionals. Check important issues and clauses with your real estate lawyer. If you only want the house if it has a three-car garage, not a two-car, it's vital to get that commitment from the builder into the offer in the correct way to overcome any sidestepping made allowable by the small print.   #3: Never think the work is over once the offer is accepted: Having your offer to purchase accepted is terrific! Hurrah! However, until closing, the house belongs to the seller and a lot can happen. The seller is responsible for insuring the property and keeping it in good repair until closing. Will the lender have all the mortgage funds ready for you on closing? Both sides of the transaction need their lawyers tidying up loose ends. You'll be busy with movers and perhaps school transfers. Things can go wrong. I'm not trying to stress you out, but keep in touch with your real estate professional to be sure they are in touch with those finalizing the many details that must be resolved before closing. That's not calling everyday in a panic. Clarify what details must be taken care of before closing. Then check off that list with your real estate professional, so nothing is left to the last minute. Once you get the keys and move in there may be carryover issues. Remain calm. Document the issues. Never quit until issues are completely resolved. Never rely on verbal assurances. Insist on written sign-offs, warranties, and receipts.   Source
Two New Projects Are Giving North Texas Residents More Housing Optio
Two new projects are giving North Texas residents more housing options. Just south of Dallas in Waxahachie, developers are breaking ground today on a community with 28 cottages that will house adults with intellectual and developmental delays. The Daymark Living development will include a movie theater, clubhouse and pool, a fitness room, volleyball courts, computer labs, classrooms and private study lounges. The project is a 10-minute walk from downtown Waxahachie and is being built with Aspen Heights Partners and Montgomery Street Partners. "There are 700,000 people in Texas with intellectual and development delays, and only a handful of places exists where they can live a quality life — and, those are full," John Poston, president of Daymark Living, said in a statement. "Our vision for Daymark Living is to provide adults with IDD a safe community where they can engage in an active, healthy lifestyle among their friends and neighbors." It would cost about $3,500 a month for an adult with intellectual or development delays to live at Daymark Living, according to the company's website. In the northeast Dallas suburb of Sachse, Dallas-based Mustang Creek Estates is building a 42,000-square-foot, $7.5 million assisted-living and memory care community.   Mustang Creek Estates of Sachse will have six homes that will each house up to 16 seniors. The homes will face a green space and walking path. "The town of Sachse is growing fast, and we look forward to being a resource for local families and organizations," Renee Ramsey, CEO of Mustang Creek Estates, said in a statement. "There is a real need for our affordable, residential-style assisted-living and memory care community in Sachse." The community will be built on about seven acres at 3900 Ranch Road in Sachse, across the street from Whitt Elementary School and near Firewheel Town Center. Source
Outdoor Trends You Need To Know
  It's time to get outdoors. But if your outdoor area isn't looking its best, it's time to fix it up. We've got the trends you'll want to focus on to give you the best yard on the block. Indoor/outdoor living Outdoor living isn't just about being outside. Today, it's about bringing all the comfort of the indoors out. "The number one trend this year is a seamless transition from your home to your outdoor space using outdoor rugs, ottomans and side tables, and layered blankets and throw pillows," said Country Living. "The backyard/porch has truly become an extension of your indoor space," Melissa Simon, Public Relations Manager at Pier 1 Imports, told them. "One of our new favorite trends this season is decorating with furniture and décor that looks like it was created for the indoors." Patio covers Patio covers that are an extension of the house are more popular than ever. These spaces allow you to incorporate similar architectural details to what you already have on your home and also add features like heating and fans or misters. With the indoor-outdoor trend showing no signs of slowing, having a covered area for lounging or dining can be a valuable addition to your home. But if you can't afford the many thousands of dollars for this item, you can get a similar feeling with a pergola or gazebo. A sunsail or umbrella offers even less expensive options. Look for an umbrella with enough coverage and a cantilever so you can move it around as the sun moves around. Lighting "According to a report from the National Hardware Show, lighting is becoming an important feature of outdoor spaces," said Enlightenment Magazine. "Whether it's illuminating key architectural or landscaping accents, adding a level of security or safety, or providing ambience for entertaining areas, outdoor lighting is now high on the list for many consumers." Among the most current lighting trends for outdoors, eco-friendly options top the list. "According to a survey of 4,500 users, 7 in 10 homeowners are illuminating their hardscaping," they said. "The survey also found that the majority are making eco-friendly choices for their yards, noting, ‘Of the two-thirds of homeowners who are updating the lighting in their yard (65 percent), a majority is going green with LED (58 percent) and solar-powered lights (56 percent). Homeowners in rural neighborhoods are most likely to choose solar-powered lighting.'" Low-maintenance plantings If you're getting ready to plant, keep in mind that, "Low-maintenance gardens, drought-tolerant plants and less turf grass have become the norm in landscape design," said HGTV. "Homeowners now assume sustainable design will be a major part of the plan - both for economic and environmental reasons." Edible gardens Another hot trend in today's gardens: farm-to-table. "Edible gardens may have been overlooked and forgotten over the past couple of years, but they are making a comeback to the landscaping scene," said Evergreen Gene's. "Use this trend to help your healthy eating resolution for the new year if you have one. Fresh fruit and vegetable gardens are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they provide healthy food options that you and your family can enjoy. An edible garden will also help maintain or jumpstart a vegetarian diet."   Urban gardens Suburban homes haven't cornered the market on outdoor enjoyment. Some of today's city dwellers are increasingly going to great lengths to create inviting and show-stopping spaces. Have a condo with a small outdoor space? You'll appreciate urban outdoor trends including container gardens to make your patio shine. Outdoor kitchens It's time to look beyond the "typical" outdoor kitchen. That doesn't mean giving up your grill. But maybe you add something new this year. "Wood-fired or hearth-baked pizzas are no longer just a restaurant order," said Turf Magazine. "Homeowners who want this unique, artisan flavor on their pizzas are purchasing stand-alone outdoor pizza ovens, as well as portable units that utilize grills for their heat source, which means they also make nice tailgating accessories." Smart tech Smart tech isn't just for indoors. Integrating your outdoor living area can make your life easier. "Your smart phone has the capability to manage many pieces of your daily routine and outdoor living is no exception; great technology doesn't have to stop at the door," said Masterplan Landscape Design. "Integrating Wi-Fi controls to your outdoor audio-video packages lets you enjoy your party without having to leave to control the volume or channel! There are also specific outdoor lighting systems, fire feature, irrigation and water features that can be controlled by a smart phone with the opening of an app. While most needs can be taken care of with timers, you can go one step further and have the controls at your fingertips from anywhere in the world."   Water features Water features continue to be a top trend for outdoors. But that doesn't mean you have to build a pool. Add a fountain, which not only looks great but also adds a peaceful element to your outdoor space that can help lower stress. Aquascape has some great ideas for small-space water features. Prefer to go the pond route, which is also popular? Check out Family Handyman for some DIY ideas.
Your Earnest Money Contract: 3 Things You Must Triple-Check
When making an offer on a home, you will show the sellers you mean business with two things: 1) a chunk of cash called an earnest money deposit, and 2) a piece of paperwork known as an earnest money contract. Odds are you’re focused on the first. The earnest money deposit, after all, is a large sum of money you put down on a house that demonstrates your good faith in this transaction—and as such, it’s safely held in an independent third-party account until this home officially becomes yours. Meanwhile, the earnest money contract is just a few flimsy pieces of paper. Can’t you just eyeball this fine print and move on? No, you can’t! Or shouldn’t. The earnest money contract is one of the most important documents to understand before you sign on the dotted line, because it outlines exactly what will happen to that cash depending on how this deal unfolds (or doesn’t). In other words, if the home sale falls through, you might be able to take your earnest money with you—or you might have to forfeit it to the sellers. The contract will tell the tale. So grab those reading glasses—here are some salient points to scrutinize on your earnest money contract so you end up on the better end of this deal. The deposit amount First things first: This contract must include the amount you plan to offer as your deposit. Bruce Ailion of Re/Max Town and Country reminds buyers to consider this number carefully before submitting an offer. “Many buyers want to make the smallest deposit possible to limit their risk of loss,” he says. “But, it’s important to consider how the seller will react to their decision. Sellers view this amount of money as security and a measure of the buyer’s commitment to close on the property.” So how much is considered reasonable? That depends. Often earnest money deposits are between 1% and 2% of the full purchase price. However, Ailion cautions motivated buyers not to limit themselves to that range since a higher deposit amount may impress the seller and make that offer stand out. Contingencies As a buyer, another important consideration when drawing up the earnest money contract is which contingencies to include, which give you the right to terminate the deal if certain requirements aren’t met. Exactly which contingencies are included in an offer will vary, but here are a few of the most common: Home inspection: This is where you hire a home inspector to assess the condition of the property and point out necessary repairs. If problems are unearthed, you can negotiate a lower offer or walk away from the deal—with your earnest money intact. Sale of your current home: Many buyers will need to sell their current home in order to buy a new one, so this contingency gives you a time frame in which to make that happen. If you can’t sell your home, you can renegotiate the deadline or cancel the deal and keep your cash. Securing financing: A financing contingency gives buyers a specified amount of time to be approved for a mortgage in order to buy the property. If you can’t secure financing, this clause allows you to back out of the deal and take your earnest money with you. Appraisal contingency: Many lenders require that an appraiser makes sure the house is worth the price you’re paying (it’s their money on the line, after all). If the home isn’t appraised for what you’re paying, you have a right to renegotiate your offer—or walk away, leaving no money behind. Deadlines Whatever contingencies are included in an offer, each comes with a clause indicating how many days a buyer or seller has to satisfy them. If buyers discover something they don’t like within that period, they can exit the contract without penalty, says Adriana Mollica, a real estate agent with Teles Properties. While the exact time frame will vary, these are some typical ranges to keep in mind: Settlement period: The length of time needed to close on a house is usually between 30 and 90 days after the contract has been signed. Home inspection: The buyers will typically have 10 days to complete an inspection and then additional days to ask the seller for any repairs. Financing contingency: Buyers should apply for a mortgage within the first five days after the agreement of sale has been executed. They will then work with a lender to verify their finances and should receive a firm mortgage commitment within seven business days of the settlement date. Appraisal contingency: Since lenders often size up the house before they’ve even approved the borrower, the appraisal must customarily be done within 30 days after executing the agreement of sale. Home sale contingency: This will generally fall between 30 and 60 days. While it is possible to extend the contingency time frames if needed, there’s no guarantee the sellers will agree. If the sellers aren’t willing to budge, they are within their rights to dissolve the sale and walk away with your deposit money, so extensions should be used as a last resort.
Tired Of White Everything In Your House? Paint It Black!
WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI   White is crisp and cool. But if it's all starting to feel a little clinical, you might be ready for a change. Bring some drama and sophistication to your space, not to mention a chic counterpoint to all that white, with the unexpected addition of black. Afraid to take that plunge into the deep, dark abyss? It's easier than you think. Black walls in an entry hall? All that glass, an eye-popping floor and ceiling, and glam details make this foyer a showstopper. The black floors and fireplace in actress Cameron Diaz's Manhattan apartment look sleek, especially with the light tones in the rest of the space, and the mirrored fireplace wall, which bounces light around the room. Who would have thought black walls in the bedroom would be so chic? Keep the other furnishings light and finish it off with a sparkly chandelier for maximum glam. You don't have to cover almost every inch of your black walls with art... but it sure looks cool if you do. You also don't have to paint every wall black. Look at how the black feature wall in this New York living room designed by Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent helps center the eye on the view out the dual windows. A stellar black coffee table and duo of chairs continue the color play. Soapstone is a great way to introduce the color into your kitchen because it's a softer black that has some white veining. But if you really want to make a statement in the kitchen, deck it out in black from the cabinets to the integrated appliances to the countertops to the beams above. Keeping the island counter white gives you all the contrast you need for an exceptional space. Talk about glamour. If you're thinking about black in the bathroom, take a cue from this chic space. Black, large-format subway tile and a black countertop work when you weave in some shiny chrome (and the big window streaming light into the space doesn't hurt!). If you don't want to make such a large or (semi-) permanent change, think about transforming a piece of furniture. A tired dresser gets a whole new life with a coat of black paint. This piece started out pretty ragged and outdated in light and mid-tone brown.