buyers

Insider Tips: 5 Benefits of Choosing a Suburban Life Over City Living

suburban vs cityChoosing the right house for you and your family can be a very daunting process. One thing to note, however, is that the type, style and square footage of your abode are all secondary to location. Location is the one property feature that homeowners can never alter. You can redecorate, upgrade, and add on to a home, but its location will always remain fixed. As you decide whether or not you and your loved ones want to be city dwellers or suburbanites, you should consider these five benefits that can be gained from a commitment to suburban living.

1. Get More Square Footage for Your Money
When compared to the average city home, a house in the suburbs will usually provide far more square footage for the money. People living in rural areas enjoy large tracts of land that are sufficient in size for accommodating back, front, and even side yards. Moreover, many suburbs have only recently evolved from areas that were once heavily wooded, which means that they’re often still surrounded by active wildlife and plenty of trees.

2. Less Noise and Less Pollution
Suburban ParkFor some people, there’s nothing like falling asleep to the sound of trains, freeway traffic, and outside conversations. For these individuals, a short jaunt to visit family in the country can be downright maddening. They find it harder to drift off to the sounds of chirping crickets, or even deep and heavy silence. The suburbs are ideal for couples and families who enjoy quiet nights, fresher, cleaner air, and far less nighttime foot traffic near their abodes.

3. Top-Rated Schools
schools-HebronHighSchool_LISDWhether or not you have or intend to have kids, it’s important to look for property in neighborhoods with top-rated schools. Not only will this provide better educational opportunities for minor residents living in your household, but it will also increase the marketability of your property and its resale value. For instance, some of the very best places to live in Minnesota are suburban areas with nationally ranked schools. Comparatively, schools in the suburbs are far higher in quality than inner city schools. They also tend to have better standardized test scores and a lesser likelihood of overcrowding.

4. Enjoy Living in a Tight-Knit Community
Cities often provide a much broader range of housing options than most suburbs. City residents can live in apartments, condos, family homes, townhouses, and more. There’s also a much higher number of renters in cities than there are in suburban areas. This means that both units and neighborhoods tend to have higher turnover rates, and that residents have much less opportunity to forge long-lasting bonds and establish a strong sense of community. This is hardly the case in the suburbs. Historically, suburban children have the chance grow up together given that many suburban homeowners retain their properties throughout most or all of their lifetimes.

5. Take an Active Role in Community and Government
politicsIf you love democracy and want to start taking a more active role in the development and maintenance of your community, the suburbs are probably perfect for you. With fewer people living in the region, it’s much easier for residents to assume roles within local government, and to voice their opinions and be heard. This benefit additionally gives property owners a greater ability to take part in decision-making processes for issues that could positively or negatively impact their property values.

While the suburbs lack the high energy and excitement of a bustling metropolis, they do have a number of important amenities for ensuring optimally high qualities of life. Residents can find a wonderful array of restaurants, grocery stores and entertainment venues, right within their own neighborhoods. Best of all, they can enjoy these things while still managing to escape the noise, pollution, and ongoing stresses of living in a densely populated area.

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs!

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7 Best Things About Buying a Home in the Fall

landscape - leavesFor the first time in recent history, October surpassed June as the most popular month to get married. And these autumn-loving brides may be on to something: Although the spring months are notoriously the best time to buy real estate (as well as have a wedding), fall may be the new ideal season to buy a home.

Hear us out: One obvious reason is that it’s easier to get from open house to open house without questioning if you’ll need an AC repair ASAP upon moving into that home for sale in Phoenix, AZ. Also, families on a mission to move into a new home before school starts are out of the picture. Besides these two more obvious reasons, here are seven expert insights on why you should consider a fall real estate purchase.

Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. But there are still homes for sale — and in some cases, there’s just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer. “[Fall] means new inventory and repositioned old inventory that did not sell in the prime season,” says Wesley Stanton, a New York, NY, agent with The Stanton Hoch Team.

This puts you in a great position to negotiate. “Fall homebuyers should consider [making] lowball offers, followed by more aggressive negotiation,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and director of education at Spark Rental. Davis points out that many sellers are very motivated to sell before the holidays. If possible, buyers should let these sellers know that they can close before Thanksgiving or before the school winter break.

2. Sellers are worn-out

Sign Compliance (1)Some sellers who put their homes on the market during the prime selling times of spring and summer might have been a tad overconfident by listing their homes for more than buyers were willing to spend. After months of no action, these sellers are often ready to make a deal. “Sellers who were unrealistic earlier in the year about price will now be more willing to reduce the price come fall,” says Thomas Miller, a Washington, DC, real estate agent. “Because there [are fewer buyers] and because the sellers are now eager to sell, they are more inclined to take the low offer than wait another six months for spring to come around.”

3. Sellers are serious

Not all homes on the market in fall are summer leftovers. Some people need to sell in the fall because the timing is right. Maybe they were having a home built, and it’s now ready. Maybe they need to move because of a job. “The sellers with houses on the market in the fall tend to be serious,” says Sam Heskel, president of Nadlan Valuation, an appraisal management company in Brooklyn, NY. “That means sellers could be more open to negotiating and accepting a lower offer.”

4. You can take advantage of tax breaks

First-time homebuyers, take note: Although you can’t escape paying income tax, you can make a dent in what you owe when you become a homeowner. “Property tax and mortgage interest are both deductions you can take for your whole year’s worth of income, even if you closed on your home in December,” says David Hryck, a New York, NY tax adviser, lawyer, and personal finance expert. “Any payments that are made prior to the closing of the loan are tax-deductible. This can make a serious difference in the amount you owe the government at the end of the year.”

5. Fall is a safer time of year

Did you know that burglars have peak seasons? They do, says Sarah Brown, a home safety expert for SafeWise.com. “July and August are prime months for burglaries to take place,” she says. “Waiting until the fall [to buy] gives you an advantage when learning about a home and the neighborhood.” You’ll be settled in your home and can take precautions — like setting up that new alarm system — before the next burglary season rolls around.

6. You’re the center of attention

Realtor 01Because spring and summer are ideal times to buy a home, real estate agents are usually busier then. And that could mean you might not always get the attention you want. This is also true for other professionals you’re working with to buy a house. “Service providers, such as mortgage lenders and title companies, are moving out of the summertime sales swamp and can often respond more quickly,” says John Lazenby, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association in Orlando, FL.

The same goes for movers. “Because summer is peak moving season, people often experience more delays and service issues, such as moving companies reaching capacity and running out of trucks to pick up shipments,” says Jack Griffin, president and chief operating officer of Atlas World Group. “The probability of experiencing a delay goes way down in the fall season.”

7. You can take advantage of end-of-year sales to outfit your homeSale2

There are bound to be improvements you’ll want to make after buying a house. You’ll also probably need to buy items to maintain your home, and if appliances weren’t part of the deal, you’ll need those too. Wouldn’t it be great to coordinate your home purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, the calendar determines when it’s a good time to buy all sorts of consumer goods. In particular, September is a great time for buying carpet and paint. October means lawn mowers go on sale, and appliances and cookware are cheaper in November.

 

Article courtesy of Trulia.com

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your Fall home buying. 

Inventory on Longest Downward Stretch in Two Decades

Arrow downHousing inventory is officially on its longest downward stretch in two decades, with 11 percent fewer homes on the market year-over-year in June, according to the latest data preview from realtor.com®. Prices in June were 9 percent higher than those one year ago, with the national median at $275,000 and the national median age of inventory at 60 days.

“We have now gone 24 months in a row seeing the number of homes drop on a year-over-year basis, the longest streak in more than two decades,” says Javier Vivas, manager of Economic Research at realtor.com. “More markets than ever are struggling with inventory problems; in 80 percent of markets, there are fewer homes for sale currently than this time last year.

shutterstock_232969765“It’s good to see that more homes are coming onto the market, but the bulk of those homes are too pricey for the largest, most desperate group of buyers. With no clear indication that newly-built homes will be able to provide short-term relief soon, there appears to be no end in sight for the inventory shortage. The market will likely remain very challenging for would-be buyers throughout the summer.”

The housing markets ranking in realtor.com’s Hotness Index for June:

1. Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 31 days

2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 29 days

3. Kennewick-Richland, Wash.
Median Age of Inventory: 34 days

4. Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 34 days

5. Columbus, Ohio
Median Age of Inventory: 37 days

6. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich.
Median Age of Inventory: 37 days

7. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.
Median Age of Inventory: 37 days

8. Colorado Springs, Colo.
Median Age of Inventory: 33 days

9. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 27 days

10. San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.
Median Age of Inventory: 37 days

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs!

3 Tips for a Higher Home Appraisal

homeinspection4It may seem that home buyers and sellers don’t agree on much, but they share one important concern: that the transaction is successful. This comradery is never more evident than during the appraisal process. It’s only natural, since the results of the appraisal can send the deal spiraling out of control.

Appraisers take into account many factors when determining the worth of a home. While some of these, such as location, can’t be helped, there are things a homeowner can do to ensure that the home is appraised for maximum value.

1. Information is King 

Appraisers don’t spend a lot of time in the home. In fact, Brian Coester, chief executive of appraisal firm CoesterVMS, tells CNBC that the interior inspection typically takes 30 minutes or less.

“After inspecting thousands of homes, it does become quite easy to quickly assess the amenities in a home,” reiterates Ryan Lundquist on Sacramento Appraisal Blog. That isn’t much time to make a good first impression, so line up those ducks in advance of the appraiser’s visit. The first one should be a packet of information that you can hand the appraiser as he or she speeds out the door after the inspection. This packet should contain not only the basics about your home but anything that will help back up the buyer’s offer.

Include a fact sheet about the home with the address, the year the home was built, the square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the size of the lot. Also include a listing of recent sales in the area, especially if you know of any for-sale-by-owner homes that have sold or homes that sold for less than they should have for any reason. For example, a home may have been sold to a relative, or the owners may have sold quickly to take a job out of town. Yes, the appraiser has access to recent home sales, but there’s always a chance he or she may miss something.

Create a list of any improvements you’ve made to the home. List them by date and include contact information for the contractor who did the work.

2. If It’s Broken, Fix It 

home improvement - 1The appraiser will assign the home with what is known in the business as an “effective age.”

It’s largely based on the condition of the home and how well it has been maintained. This age may be older or younger than its actual age. “Say you have a cracked window, thread-bare carpet, some tiles falling off the shower surround, vinyl torn in the laundry room, and the dog ate the corner of the fireplace hearth, these items could still add up to an overall average condition rating as the home is still habitable, however your effective age will be higher resulting in comparables being utilized which will have the same effective age and resulting lower value,” Doreen Zimmerman, an appraiser in Paradise, California, tells the Wall Street Journal.

Fix anything that will age the home in the eyes of the appraiser.

3. Give the Home a Quick Cleaning

Most appraisers will tell you that it doesn’t matter if your home is clean or dirty – it has no bearing on its value. We, on the other hand, know how illusions can sell, and if a cleaning - 4clean house gives the illusion that the home has been well-maintained, what harm can it do to clean it before the appraiser’s arrival? I don’t know about you, but before I trade in a car at the dealership, I give it a good cleaning.

“Things like overgrown landscaping, soiled carpeting, marks on walls – those do affect value and are part of the property’s overall condition rating,” Dean Zibas, of Zibas Appraisal in San Clemente, California, tells the Wall Street Journal.

While some things impact a home’s value more than others, the bottom line is that the process can vary by appraiser. Anything you can do in the three areas listed above has the potential to streamline the appraisal process and increase the value of your home. Plus, going through these steps prior to listing your home will only help increase the number of potential buyers. And ultimately, selling your home is what it’s all about.

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs!

Home Inspections – Items That Aren’t Deal-Breakers

Contract 01After making an offer on a home, you’ll enter into a contract. Part of that contract should always include getting a home inspection. It is recommended that any homebuyer make an offer to purchase contingent upon a home inspection. This allows you to withdraw your offer if there are any major issues discovered during an inspection.

More than likely, the home inspector will find problems that need to be fixed before closing. Major foundation issues and significant water damage are at the top of the list of signs to walk away from.

On the other hand, there are some home defects found during an inspection that don’t have to be deal-breakers. Many of them can be fixed, and they can be used to negotiate with the seller for a lower price point or additional help with the closing costs.

homeinspection2Lead-Based Paint
Lead-based paint was banned in 1978, but it’s still possible that you could purchase a home that contains it if it was built before the ban. The sellers should disclose this, but the home inspector may find it, as well.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide how comfortable you are with purchasing a home that has lead-based paint, but it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. You can hire a contractor who is certified to remove lead-based paint, and the home will be completely safe.

Concrete Floor Cracks
Cracks in a concrete basement floor may seem like a structural problem, but this is natural and not indicative of significant damage. Small cracks occur in concrete because it’s a porous substance. These cracks can be fixed at a relatively low cost, and shouldn’t be a reason for you to back out of a contract.

What is something that’s cause for concern are cracks in concrete walls, as these may or may not be associated with the structure. If the wall has moved or if the cracks have a large opening, then these would be deal-breakers.

Mold
Mold is something that no one ever wants to see in a home you put an offer on, but a little bit of mold by the shower doesn’t mean you need to back out of your offer – at least not immediately.

If mold is found during the home inspection, have a qualified mold inspector take a look. Not all molds are toxic, but the safest way to determine if this is a deal-breaker is by hiring a mold professional.

pestcontrol1Bug Infestations
Bug infestations can cause significant damage to the home’s structure if they aren’t exterminated quickly and efficiently. A home inspector may find signs of an infestation during an inspection, but how do you tell if it’s truly a deal-breaker?

The best way to know if there is pest damage to the home’s structure or foundation is to ask a qualified pest expert to do an additional inspection of the home. Someone who is a specialist will be able to tell you if the home just has a few bugs, or if you need to rescind your offer.

When problems arise during home inspections, it doesn’t always mean you have to back out of your contract. Home inspectors will often find problems outside of their scope of expertise, so always get a second opinion from a specialist before making a final decision. In many instances, these problems are opportunities to negotiate with the seller. You can request that the seller do the repairs, or ask for money to put towards repairs.

homeinspection3You can also ask the seller to include a home warranty on the home in the contract of sale, but it won’t repair the problems found in a home inspection contract. A home warranty is there to protect you from aging systems and appliances after you buy. Think of getting car insurance on a car that was just wrecked and then opening a claim – it wouldn’t work, because the insurance was put on after the damage happened. The same goes for a home warranty.

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs!

5 Tips to find the right Realtor

Realtor 02Once you’ve decided to sell your home, you need a trusted guide by your side: Realtor, of course! Your realtor will be a trusted partner in this most important of all transaction. Here are 5 ways to find a Realtor who’s right for you.

Gather referrals, but take them with a grain of salt

There are a lot of agents out there. So how do you choose? Go ahead and ask your pals for referrals, but don’t fall into the trap of picking an agent purely because of rave reviews. The old mantra of location, location, location applies to real estate agents as much as homes.

“You want a Realtor who is very familiar with your area—and not just what he can pull up online,” says Wendy Flynn, a Realtor in College Station, TX. The reason is simple: If they’ve spent time in the area, they’ll know how to market your house there.

So a better question to ask your friends than “Know any real estate agents?” is, “Know a real estate agent who’s sold any properties in my area in the past few years?”

Test their communication skills

Once you have your list of potential agents, email them or call their office, then sit back and wait. This is your first test of a key component: how responsive will your agent be? Ideally, she should get back to you that same day.

“If it takes longer than four business hours without a decent explanation, I would be cautious,” says Chandler Crouch, broker for Chandler Crouch Realtors in Fort Worth, TX. Imagine if you’ve got competing offers on the table, or if some problem comes up with the home inspection. You don’t want to wonder where your agent is and whether you’ll hear back from her!

Probe their experience

Your initial conversation with a prospective listing agent should be like any job interview: Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions right off the bat. A good agent should know his stats, and any dancing around these numbers could mean he’s hiding something. According to Crouch, you should ask the following:

  • How long have you been in business? Aim for Realtors with at least two years of experience, enough time to learn the ropes and finesse their marketing and selling plans. Time (on the job) is money (in your pocket).
  • How many houses did you sell last year? Look for agents with double-digit sales. “I wouldn’t consider an agent unless they had 20 or more sells a year,” Crouch says.
  • What percentage of your listings do you sell? Ideally you want an agent who has sold an average of 60% to 80%.
  • What is the average list price to actual sell price ratio for your listings? This can fluctuate by market, but you should still look for high numbers. “I would set a low bar of 95% to be acceptable for even the worst market conditions,” Crouch says.

Assess their marketing skills

Everyone knows that to sell a house quickly (and get the big bucks) you need to reach as many eyeballs as you can. And the way to suss out an agent’s ability to do that is to ask these questions:

  • How will you market my home? A Realtor should use at least a good brokerage website to showcase your listing, national listing portals such as realtor.com®, and an email subscription list.
  • How will you use social media? They should use at least Facebook and Twitter to market listings; they get bonus points if they post photos on Instagram.
  • What offline materials do you use? While most marketing is done online now, your Realtor should still make use of tried-and-true methods such as fliers, yard signs, and brochures, especially at an open house.
  • How much do you spend on advertising? “Don’t stop asking until you get a solid dollar figure,” Crouch says. Advertising costs vary widely by area, but Realtors should consistently spend a portion of their business expenses on advertising. By asking for a set amount, you’ll know if they’re doing that or not.

Don’t shoot for cheap

Finally, don’t assume the most inexpensive agent is the one for you. While agents work at different price points and some may take a lower commission, they should be confident enough in their abilities to stand by their prices, according to Crouch. So when you’re talking terms, he recommends asking agents if they’ll work on a discount. If they jump at the chance early on in the conversation, that might be a red flag.

“Think about this: If the agent can’t even negotiate to protect their own money, how likely do you think it will be for them to go to bat to protect your money?” Crouch says. “It’ll be a test of confidence in their own services at least.”

by Angela Colley, real estate writer for Realtor.com 

 

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified agents ready to assist you with your real estate needs!

Summer in North Texas – Fun Fun Fun!

Summer Heat? … Pshaw!! North Texas has it all when it comes to fun summertime outdoor activities. So many things to see and do under our beautiful Texas blue skies. So grab a Texas sweet tea and explore all North Texas has to offer!

Bartonville Farmers Market
Bartonville Town Center, 2652 FM-407 Bartonville TX 76226
Every Wednesday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to sell-out

Lakeside Music Series
The Shops at Lakeside DFW, 2314 Lakeside Parkway
Every Friday from 7:30 to 9 p.m. through the second week of November.

Dallas by Chocolate Foodie Tours
chocolate tourA fun way to learn more about our area, these luxury bus and walking tours take groups and individuals on Corporate Team Building, Taco & Margarita, BBQ, Bishop Arts, Best of Everything, Hidden Dallas, Italian, Bacon, Wine, Scavenger Hunt, Best of Everything and Chocolate Tours. Named “One Of The Ten Best Things To Do In Dallas” by USA Today.

Walking Friends and Fun Meet-up group
Nature hikes, urban hikes, park walking, leisure bike riding and the company and friendship of nice people – the motto of this group is “Get off the Couch!” The group is not about extreme exercise but they do enjoy getting out and being active.  Everyone is welcome!

Evenings on Oak Street Concert Series
Austin Street Plaza, 221 N. Oak Street, Roanoke. 7 – 8 p.m.
Next concert scheduled for August 10 – continues through September 21. Check website for exact datesfireworks.jpg

Friday Fireworks in Grapevine
A 12-minute show every Friday night over Lake Grapevine at 9:30 p.m.
Fridays, May 26 – September 4, 2017

Yoga in the Plaza
Wayne Ferguson Plaza, 150 W. Church Street, Lewisville
Every Wednesday until September 20, 6 p.m. Bring your yoga mat or towel/blanket, water, and your family & friends!

Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA) Nature Preserve
offers a variety of outdoor experiences for all ages. Kayaking, hiking, stargazing, bird walk, nature hike, tours of Minor-Porter Log House. LLELA is 2,000 acres of prairies, forests, and wetlands managed as a wildlife preserve by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, University of North Texas, City of Lewisville, and Lewisville ISD.

Denton County Farmers’ Market
Corner of Mulberry Street and Carroll Boulevard, Denton TX
Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to sell-out, through September

Highland Village Concerts in the Park
Doubletree Ranch Park, 7:00 p.m.
Through September 23Events - Balloon Festival

Highland Village Lions Club 30th Annual Balloon Festival
Friday, August 18-Sunday, August 20, 2017
HV Unity Park, located near intersection of Briarhill Blvd and FM-407

Glow in the Dark Nerf Wars!
The Battlefield, 1512 I-35W, Denton 76207
Saturday, July 22, 2017 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Fort Worth Rockin’ the River – Tubing on the Trinity & Live Music Series
Panther Island Pavilion
Every Saturday until August 5th

Information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Over 400 qualified real estate agents to assist you with all areas of real estate. Contact us today!