homeowners

The Best Home Security Pins

Home Security1Even though Flower Mound was recently ranked the #1 safest community in Texas, it’s still important to be mindful about your home security. Is your home security PIN easy to guess? With four digits you have exactly 10,000 choices — and some pins are stronger than others. This SAFEHOME article suggests do’s and don’ts for personal identification numbers you may find helpful.

Security PIN Don’ts

The best home security PINs are easy for you to remember yet difficult for others to guess. Therefore the worst PINs are 1) common or 2) easy to guess with research about your household. Here are examples of PINs to avoid.

  • The Default PIN: Your home security system might have a default PIN. Do not keep this code! Replace a default PIN as soon as possible.
  • Your Usual PIN: Don’t use the same PIN in different places. Using the same PIN for bank cards and your alarm system, for example, increases your vulnerability.
  • Patterns: Avoid choosing PINs with common number patterns such as 1234, 2222 and 2468. These sorts of PINs are very common and relatively easy to guess with sheer luck. (Don’t try to get clever with pi either; 3141 is a popular PIN too.) Also avoid physical patterns that simply move across or down the keypad, such as 2580.
  • Address and Phone: Don’t use part of your address or phone number when setting your PIN. For example, if your phone number is 867-5309, then “5309” would be a not-so-secure PIN.
  • Birthdays and Anniversaries: A criminal can easily research the dates of importance to you and your family members. Therefore don’t use birthday numbers or a wedding anniversary date as a PIN.
  • Years: It’s wise to avoid any PIN that starts with 19 or 20, such as 1968 or 2017, because criminals have found that these PINs are rather common. Also avoid using years that have historical significance such as 1776.

Home SecuritySecurity PIN Do’s

With so many don’ts, what’s left? Here are tips for choosing a home security PIN that’s memorable but can’t easily be compromised.

  • Start with a Digit 2-9. The best home security PINs start with a digit from 2 through 9. These are much less common than PINs starting with 1.
  • Space Your Numbers. People tend to choose PIN digits that are adjacent to each other on a security keypad. Make your PIN harder to guess by choosing digits that are more distant from each other. For example, 4917 is more difficult to guess compared with 4569.
  • Use Letters. Use letters instead of numbers to remember your home security code. For example, the phrase “A Very Fine House” is abbreviated AVFH. On a security keypad the corresponding digits are 2834.

Extra Security PIN Tips

For extra PIN security, be sure that your alarm control panel isn’t in view of prowlers, including prowlers with binoculars.

fingerprintsBe sure to clear your fingerprints or other signs of control pad wear. If you leave prints on a touchscreen control panel, you could make it easy for an intruder to narrow down the possibilities for your PIN. With pushbutton control panels, occasionally changing your PIN can help ensure that all the buttons wear evenly.

 

Home security information provided by Keller Williams Dallas Metro North. Call us today – we have over 400 qualified realtors eager to assist you!

 

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Homeownership & Well-Being: It’s Complicated

Model house in female hands.Homeownership has come to represent security and wealth – the American Dream, realized, for millions who place their stake through property. There is evidence, even, that homeownership lends itself to overall satisfaction.

Financially, homeownership is also associated with well-being, according to a new report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB defines “financial well-being” as “a state of being wherein a person can fully meet current and ongoing financial obligations, can feel secure in their financial future and is able to make choices that allow them to enjoy life.”

The first factor is key. The ability to afford a home affects sense of well-being, the report shows. The CFPB assigned respondents to a survey, on a scale of zero to 100, scores of well-being. In comparing homeowners and renters, homeowners averaged a 58, while renters averaged a 49. (As a whole, respondents to the survey averaged a 54.) Generally, Americans in good enough financial straits (in the context of income and savings) are in a position to purchase a home; the capacity to own, therefore, rather than ownership itself, is a predicator of well-being.

Business 01Affordability is also impactful in that those with a lower share of their income spent on housing have higher scores of well-being. Respondents paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing averaged a 46.5, roughly 10 points below the 56.51 of respondents who shell out 30 percent or less.

Respondents with “non-retirement investments” have higher scores of well-being, as well. (A house, often, is an appreciating asset, building wealth, as other investments do, over time.) Respondents with even one non-retirement investment averaged a 62, while those without averaged a 51. (Real estate, relatedly, has ranked as the No. 1 investment in several studies.)

“Housing satisfaction” is connected similarly. Respondents “very satisfied” with the place they live averaged a 60; those less than “very satisfied” averaged a 50. One distinction, however: The ability to improve level of satisfaction (buying in a more costly but safer neighborhood, for example) hinges on having the wherewithal to do so.

New Home - family - 01Financial well-being is also linked to homeownership in unanticipated ways. According to the report, age, education and physical health are the top three influences on financial well-being. Age has implications: Americans at a certain life stage, for instance, could be of the perception that “now” is the time to own a home. If they do not meet that expectation, their sense of well-being could suffer.

A cushion for emergencies, likewise, is related. Respondents with access to at least $2,000 for the unexpected (within 30 days) averaged a score of 62 – leaps ahead of the 39 for those without. On the other side of the coin: Respondents who have experienced a “financial shock,” such as a major home repair, averaged a 52, while those who have not averaged a 57.

“The strongest relationships to financial well-being appear to be related to savings and security nets,” the report states. Homeownership, for most, is both – but its relationship to well-being? It’s complicated.

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.

Scare up a buyer with these Halloween marketing tips

Halloween outdoor decorHalloween isn’t just an opportunity to gorge on all things frightful or filled with sugar. It’s also a chance for home sellers to scare up a buyer!

Because these days, home sellers need as much marketing creativity as they can muster up. Now that the summer home-selling fever has died down, people are beginning to hunker down for the holidays. In fact, statistics show that home sales don’t pick back up again until spring. But if you have a home on the market, you don’t want to wait months and months to make the sale, right?

That’s where Halloween comes in: Every year, more than 41 million kids in the U.S. head out trick-or-treating on this holiday, trekking from door to door—many with parents in tow. In other words, Halloween is the one day of the year when you could have dozens of people visiting your house, no effort required!

So if you’re eager to use this opportunity to spread the word that your home’s for sale, check out these tactics to make that happen.

1. Turn your treats into marketing materials

Halloween treatsIt goes without saying that kids will happily take any treats you hand out at your door, and that parents will likely survey their haul (because, let’s be frank, parents like candy too and are not above pilfering). So this scenario creates prime opportunities for some stealth marketing: Use these candies to carry the message that your home’s up for grabs.

  • You can do this by attaching a small card or flier to your candy saying that your home is for sale, along with your address and contact info for your agent.
  • If you’re afraid this card will get chucked in the trash and you want your marketing material to stick around for longer, you can even print the deets on small toys like fidget spinners.
  • Or do you want something bigger, where you can post some nice real estate pics? Fraser suggests investing in quality fliers to post near the front door, so parents can grab them on their way off the porch.

2. Throw a Halloween-themed open house

Halloween house-for-sale-signRather than just getting trick-or-treaters on your porch, why not lure them into your house? The way to do that is to host a Halloween-themed open house, where you invite home buyers to check out your place with the bonus of giving them an excuse to celebrate all things scary.

You’ll want to ideally host your open house on the weekend of or before Halloween, and set up some kid-friendly activities to keep the tykes busy. Think apple bobbing, pumpkin painting, or even turning your place into a haunted house! What better way is there to get people poking through every closet and corner of your home?

A Halloween-themed open house is also a great way to lure in home buyers who might not normally trick-or-treat in your neighborhood—so be sure to get the word out far and wide.

Your agent might also host a broker’s open house, for real estate agents. After having a ghoulish good time at your Halloween open house, agents are sure to chat up your home to their buyers!

3. Don’t go overboard with your Halloween decor

pumpkin-on-haybaleFirst impressions of a home matter—by some estimates, you can increase a selling price by as much as 20% with some curb appeal improvements. You don’t want to undo all of that with over-the-top Halloween decorating. Remember, you want to draw attention to your gorgeous house, not to the scary ghouls hanging from your trees.

With that in mind, stick to inoffensive (read, appealing) mums or other fall-themed plants on the porch, and maybe a pumpkin or two—provided it’s not carved to look like scary.

If you have your heart set on something spooky, you might want to move the decor away from the home and into the yard, turning it into an attraction that will draw more families your way. One realtor suggests you set up a photo spot in your yard for trick-or-treaters. If your home’s “For Sale” sign happens to be in the background, all the better.

marketing ideas from realtor.com/Jeanne Sager

Happy Halloween from Keller Williams Dallas Metro North! Call us today. We have over 400 qualified realtors ready to assist you with your real estate needs!

Home remodeling expected to remain strong through Q3 2018

Remodeling 03Daily Real Estate News notes that remodeling activity will remain strong throughout the third quarter 2018, based on the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) report recently released by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. The LIRA index projects annual gains in home renovation and repair spending of 6.3 percent for the fourth quarter of 2017 and up to 7.7 percent by the third quarter of next year.

“Recent strengthening of the U.S. economy, tight for-sale housing inventories, and healthy home equity gains are all working to boost home improvement activity,” says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. “Over the Bathroom remodelcoming year, owners are projected to spend in excess of $330 billion on home upgrades and replacements, as well as routine maintenance.”

For homeowners looking to remodel for resale, the National Association of REALTORS® publishes a report looking at the costs of some of the top remodeling projects. Take a look at the 2017 Remodeling Impact Report.

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

What do Baby Boomers REALLY want in their Next Homes?

Retiree 03It’s all about millennials these days. Everything seems to center around these special snowflakes. But what about the original “me” generation? We’re talking about baby boomers, of course. What do these roughly 76 million Americans want when it comes to housing?

Well, they want multicar garages, for one thing. According to a recent survey by national homebuilder PulteGroup, they were the top feature boomers were looking for in a new home, followed by open decks or patios; eat-in kitchens; and a private yard.

About 38% of boomers plan to buy a home within the next three years, according to the report. About 11% expect to purchase a residence within the year.

The survey was of 1,043 folks between the ages of 50 and 65 who plan to buy a home in the next decade.

“Retirement marks a new phase in a baby boomer’s life, and it only seems natural to relocate or move to a new home when transitioning away from their primary career, or from the day-to-day rearing of school-aged children,” Jay Mason, vice president of market intelligence for PulteGroup, said in a statement. “It’s not surprising that the 55+ buyer wants a variety of options and choices in their homes.”

Retiree 02According to the survey, 39% of respondents said the main reason they’re moving is because they want to retire, 33% want to downsize, and 30% want to move to a more desirable location.

“One thing we know about boomers is they are not done yet,” says Amy Lynch, president of Generational Edge, a Nashville, TN–based company that consults with companies on generational differences in employees. “As a group, they are starting encore careers and also going back to school. And they often move to be near their millennial kids, who are having kids.” They also start new families of their own, through divorce or remarriage.

All of these situations may require a move. About 26% of boomers plan to stay in their current cities, but just move to a different home, while 34% want to remain in the state, but in a different city or town. Also, 38% hope to cross state lines.

Their top retirement destination? You guessed it: Florida. It seems you just can’t beat all of that year-round sunshine. The state was followed by fellow warm-weather states Arizona, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The cost of living is lower in these states than on the pricier West Coast or in the Northeast.

Grandparents1About 82% of boomers wanted to be someplace affordable, and 74% want to be close to their preferred health care programs.

But boomers don’t want to just pack up and leave their grandchildren. Being close to kids was their top consideration when choosing a new community. They also want to be near the water and park or other green space.

“We are in a period in this country where family life and family connections are very strong,” says Lynch. “There’s a lot of regret among boomers because they worked so many long hours when their kids were young. With grandkids there’s a chance to make up for that.”

by Clare Trapasso, 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.

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!

Preparing your home for a Fall sale!

AutumnFall is a great time to sell a home! While springtime may be the most popular season to put your home on the market, there’s no reason to wait to sell your home – especially with housing inventories on the decline.

With fewer homes on the market, you will want to make sure your home really stands out to buyers by following these tips to prepare your home for a speedy sale:

Create Autumn Curb Appeal
Keep the outside of your home clean and neat; rake leaves, make sure lawn is mowed regularly. Plant fall flowers – chrysanthemums and pansies are very popular in this area. Make sure the front door is clean and hang a simple fall wreath. If the welcome mat is worn, replace it.

Make sure your windows are sparkling!

Check the Heating system
You don’t want any surprises when your home is on the market – be proactive and have the HVAC system checked so your furnace is ready for the first cold days of fall. By the way, you want the air inside your home to smell fresh – change your furnace filter.

Highlight the Fireplace!
First, make sure it works and is clean! Then emphasize it. Arrange your furniture to make the fireplace the focal point of the room; decorate your mantle with tasteful fall accessories or neutral artwork.

apples1Prepare Autumn Edibles
While it’s not necessary to bake cookies for your potential buyers, consider creating the same homey feel you get from baking with a few well-chosen foodie accessories. Fill a bowl with shiny red apples, open a cookbook to a chili or stew recipe (with pictures!), use autumn hued placemats on the table. Create a homey, welcoming atmosphere!

Emphasize comfort and luxury
Emphasize comfort by tossing a cozy throw over a chair, using plush pillows on the sofa, and adding a few fall accents (pinecones, pumpkins, gourds, candles). Use table linens. Don’t forget about the bedrooms – layer the beds with luxurious throws and pillows, display plush towels in the bathroom.

Brighten up your home!
Autumn signals shorter days and chances are good your home will be viewed in the evening. Make sure your outdoor lights have working light bulbs, and clean the glass. Indoors, turn on the lights! Include closets, stairways – you want your home to be bright and welcoming.

During the day, bring in the light. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, pull back the curtains.

mintsApply a Little Southern Hospitality
While not required, it’s a nice touch to leave a treat by the front door that potential buyers and their realtor can grab as they leave your home … wrapped mints, individually wrapped candy corn, snack size candy bars. It’s also nice to provide a small tray or bowl for realtors to leave their business cards.

pumpkin-on-haybaleAbout Halloween Décor
According to Realtor.com, you don’t have to forgo all festive decorations, but you do have to choose them wisely. In general, decorations should be neutral. Think scarecrows, pumpkins, and hay bales. As for what not to do, well, avoid blood, gore, political decor, clowns, and don’t over decorate. And a word to the wise … keep an eye on the pumpkins. Nobody wants to encounter rotting produce!

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