Listen to your FOMO: Register today for Forecast 2017 and you won’t miss a thing!

You’re a REALTOR, and you know that our local economy is critical to the ebbs and flows of your business. Prepare yourself for changing market conditions in 2017 by attending our perennial favorite Forecast event. Forces Shaping Tomorrow’s Economy will consider the DFW economy from many angles.

Will there be housing for all? With the rise in median prices quickly outpacing income levels, the ability to obtain housing is becoming increasingly difficult for hard-working families. Did you know that in Dallas, the median household income is $50,118? That equates to a home purchase price of less than $200,000 for the average buyer, a prospect that is becoming increasingly difficult. Join us as we welcome Bill Hall, CEO Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity to discuss the housing needs in this area and what is being done to ensure safe, affordable housing for all.

What about the economy? The DFW area is experiencing tremendous growth in business and in population. What lies ahead and what factors will influence our future economy? Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist realtor.com will be here to address the dynamics of the North Texas economy.

Who needs Houston? With the rapid expansion and development of Texas on the whole, it’s no surprise that the triangle formed by San Antonio, Houston and DFW is quickly becoming a vital part of the nation’s economy. Meet David Winans, author of Texaplex and listen to what he has to say about the vibrant, vital and interdependent Texaplex economy. (For a video previewing his book ,visit https://youtu.be/FC16-4fh-Qc).

What will the real estate market do? The always popular Dr. Jim Gaines, CEO Real Estate Center at Texas A&M will be discussing future real estate trends for Texas as a whole and North Texas in particular. Know the current market and what to expect in the coming years.

Friday, October 21, 2016 at the Marriott Las Colinas from 8:30 – 12:00. Includes continental breakfast and 3 hours CE credit. $35 for members and $45 for non-members. Register today at mymetrotex.com or call our Professional Development Dept. at 214-540-2751

Fall clean up tips for your yard

Take advantage of what remains of daylight savings time and the blessedly cooler weather this October by giving your yard a thorough fall clean up. You’ll have a better canvas for holiday decorating and give your yard a big head start to looking great next spring. Here are our top tips for giving your home some autumn curb appeal.

Rake. Leaves left on the grass can smother the turf and create dead patches. But leave some leaves in flower beds and gardens to insulate remaining plants from cold weather and provide nutrients as the leaves decompost.

Fertilize. Applying a fall fertilizer helps your lawn recover from summer heat stress and will give your lawn a much healthier start in the spring. A healthy lawn will be better able to withstand insects and next summer’s heat.

A top-down approach. Once the leaves have fallen, clean out your gutters. Check for any leaks or missing brackets and address the issue before winter weather sets in.

Protect your pretty pots: The topsy-turvy rain/freeze cycle in North Texas can turn microscopic fissures in your pots into big cracks. Clean them with equal parts water and vinegar before you move your pots to shelter.

Weed the beds. Weeding now will prevent a lot of extra work in the spring.

Topdressing. A very thin layer (less than 1/8 of an inch) of soil or sand can help your lawn by promoting decomposition of thick thatch build up. It’s not a good time to de-thatch or aerate your lawn – that’s best left for early spring – but if you notice a more than a half inch of thatch on your lawn, a light topdressing will help over the winter months. Also apply topdressing to areas that have bare or trampled spots. If they’re very bare, apply seed.

Take care of outdoor furniture. Rinse off all patio furniture. Rub a fresh coat of teak oil on untreated teak furniture. Check metal furniture for rust spots and sand and repaint where needed. Put away umbrellas and inspect cushions for damage. Lastly, cover items with tarps if furniture will remain outside.

Hire a chimney sweep. Prevent chimney fires caused by debris. Both wood burning and gas fireplaces should have an annual cleaning from a chimney sweep. A chimney sweep can also let you know if the chimney itself shows signs of deterioration. Have your dryer vents cleaned at the same time and save on energy costs as well.

Toss it. Be sure to pick up any fruits, vegetables, and nuts leftover from the growing season. Food left out can attract pests and rodents that you don’t necessarily want hanging around. If you have plants that are dead, dying or diseased, now is a good time to get rid of them, too. When you’re cutting back plants, look for signs of disease or damaging insects and destroy that foliage, too. If you’re removing the whole plant, make sure to get the roots as well. Cut off dead and broken limbs so strong winds won’t create problems for you later. You might also find it useful to trim away branches that are too close to the house. Don’t trim too much now, though. Wait until they’re coming back out of dormancy in the spring.

Plant your April flowers. Early flowering bulbs like tulips, crocus and daffodils like to overwinter in cooler soils. Now is a great time to plant them for the spring.

Take time for your tools. It’s a great time to take care of your yard tools, too. Brush away dirt and debris and then oil the blades to prevent rust. Sharpen cutting tools and oil them as well before storing them for the winter.

The MetroTex Association of REALTORS is comprised of more than 17,000 area professionals in real estate and related industries. For more information about buying, selling or renting a home, visit dfwrealestate.com.

August housing sales booming after slower start to summer

DFW home sales increased 12 percent to 10,860 sales in August, in contrast to weaker sales figures in July, according to the July 2016 North Texas housing market report released today by the MetroTex Association of REALTORS.

“August was an exceptionally busy month,” said Russell Berry, president of MetroTex. “We’re seeing strong increases in terms of number of sales and in dollar volume. Prices are up and inventory remains our biggest challenge.”

According to the report, 10,860 homes were sold in North Texas in August, a 12 percent increase from the year prior. The median price for DFW area homes increased 10 percent year-over-year to $230,000 during the same time frame.

North Texas’ monthly housing inventory fell to 2.3 months in August. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University cites that 6.5 months of inventory represents a market in which supply and demand for homes is balanced.

Homes spent an average of 37 days on the market in August. There were 19,964 active listings for the North Texas housing market during the same time frame, a 6 percent drop.

August 2016

  • 10,860 – Homes sold, 12 percent higher than August.

  • $230,000 Median sales price for homes, 10 percent more than August 2015.

  • $280,402 Average sales price for homes, an 8 percent increase over August 2015.

  • 2.3 – Monthly housing inventory in August 2016.

  •  37 – Average number of days homes spent on the market in August 2016.

  • 19,964 – Active home listings on the market in August 2016.

The MetroTex Association of REALTORS® represents more than 17,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry. As the largest REALTOR® member association in North Texas, MetroTex represents the entire region. Established in 1917, MetroTex is an advocate for the real estate industry and private property rights. For more information, visit us online at DFWRealEstate.com.

Housewarming Traditions From Around the Globe

The saying goes that all real estate is local, but that does not mean that all homebuyers are local. According to the National Association of Realtors® 2015 international homebuyers report, global buyers spent an estimated $104 billion on housing in 2014, an increase of more than $10 billion from the previous year. And with Dallas becoming a popular place for international transactions, it’s good to know some traditions from folks all over the world.

“We live in an international marketplace, and U.S real estate is extremely attractive to foreign buyers,” said Russell Berry, president of MetroTex. “International buyers recognize the country’s attractive prices, economic stability and well-defined property rights as an amazing opportunity for investment in their future.”

As more international buyers become a part of the fabric of American communities, they bring with them their many traditions and customs – including those that go along with moving into a new home.

MetroTex Association of Realtors has pulled together a few common housewarming traditions from around the globe, which you may want to use to welcome friends, family or neighbors into their new home.

Russia. According to Russian custom, a cat should cross over the threshold of the new home before anyone else enters. This is said to ensure that the homeowners will have a happy and prosperous life.

Thailand. Thai tradition dictates that visitors should bring a new homeowner three items: rice, water and a knife. The rice and water are so that food will always be plentiful and the homeowner will know prosperity, and the knife is to protect them from any evil spirits. There is also a traditional ceremony known as ‘Sen Wai Jour Teen’, during which the homeowner asks the ‘Lord of the Land’ and any restless ghosts and spirits in the vicinity for protection through an offering of food and water, flowers and incense.

China. Before moving into a new home, Chinese custom is to shine a light in every corner, closet and wardrobe of the house. This is said to let any lingering spirits know that it is time to leave and how to find the way outside.

France. When construction of a new home is finished, the French throw a traditional party called the ‘pendre la cremaillere,’ literally meaning ‘to hang the chimney hook.’ The phrase comes from medieval times when it was customary to invite over everyone who took part in the building of the house and eat dinner as a gesture of thanks. The food would be cooked in a large pot over a fire, where the chimney hook could be used to raise or lower the pot to heat or cool the food.

India. In India, it is considered lucky to move into a new house on Thursday, while Friday and Saturday are the unluckiest days to move. There is also the ceremonial housewarming known as ‘Grinha Pravesh,’ during which, in some parts of the country, a cow is allowed to walk through the house first, bringing good fortune to the homeowners.

For more information on how you can connect with international clients, check out our Certified International Property Specialist certification courses available on a rotating basis throughout the year. Or, join our Global Business Council and network with area leaders who specialize in the international market. Visit mymetrotex.com and check our calendar for upcoming meetings and events.

Did You Know? Architecture Terms

As a Realtor, you’ll get asked all kinds of questions about the structure of a home. To help you explain the design of a home better, we’ve compiled a list of common features found in homes around North Texas. 

Balustrade: a railing supported by balusters, especially on a balcony, bridge, or terrace.

Bay Window: three or more windows that project out away from the building

Casement Windows: windows that are hinged and open from one side

Colonnade: a row of pillars joined at the top

Double Hung Windows: windows that slide vertically over each other

Gable: a peak at a roof

Lintel: the supportive structure over a window or doorway

Lunette: a half:moon shaped window

Corbel: a supportive bracket under a projecting surface, as in a mantle or countertop

Victorian: home built during the reign of Queen Victoria, essentially from the 1830s until 1901. Victorian homes are characterized by lots of color and decorative moldings

Craftsman or American Arts and Crafts: style of home built in America from late 1800s to about 1930s characterized by cleaner lines and an emphasis on the use of local wood, metal and glass

Mid-Century Modern: homes built from the 1930s to mid 1960s characterized by minimalist, clean lines

Federal: A style of home popularized in the late 18th century, Federal style homes feature a symmetrical façade, typically in a simple box shape with a symmetrical arrangement of doors and windows, and a centered gable.

Beadboard is a row of narrow wood planks lined up vertically. In between each wood plank is a small ridge known as a "bead". These days most beadboard comes in long sheets that are easy to install and imitate the look of narrow vertical planks. Beadboard can cover an entire surface or used a wainscoting.

Dentil Moulding: A dentil is one of a series of closely spaced, rectangular blocks that form a molding. The finished product resembles a series of teeth.

Dormer Windows: a window that projects vertically from a sloping roof.

Gingerbreading: on Victorian House scalloped or zig-zag-edged clapboards, often painted in contrasting colors. Gingerbreading can be characterized by use of frills and curlicues.

Muntins: dividing bars between panes of glass.

Window Apron: a raised panel below a window

Balconet: A false balcony or railing outside of a window

Bargeboard: a trim board running along the edge of the roofline at the gables

Barrel Vault: an arched ceiling formed by one or more cruves

Cantilever: an unsupported overhang, often used to provide shade or dramatic effect

Coffered ceiling: a ceiling featuring sunken panels in the shape of a square, rectangle, or octagon that serves as a decorative device

Coping: the top or finishing row of brick or tile work. For example, the edge or a pool or shower

Window Cornice : a projecting shelf or molding along the top of a window

Cornice: more commonly known as crown molding, a cornice is ceiling trim.

 

AFFORDABLE SENIOR HOUSING RESOURCES

There is a quickly growing population of folks over the age of 50 in the housing market these days. Known as senior buyers, this huge segment of the population is as widely varied and diverse as you can get. But it does take a certain know-how to handle the concerns of the 50+ market. 


For instance, many elder seniors who have retired want to sell their homes to reduce their costs and capitalize on the equity in their current homes. REALTORS who assist them must remember to counsel them about the hidden costs that may exist some of the housing choices they are considering.  For instance, if they buy a condo with the proceeds from the sale of their home, they may still have substantial HOA dues, fees for assisted care, or monthly fees for offsite storage if they don’t purge their belongings when they downsize. 


REALTORS should also be prepared to be pulled into the issues involved when their sellers are purging. Adult family members might create havoc arguing about who gets certain heirlooms. Sellers may not have time or interest in going through old boxes that have been in storage for years. It’s a good idea to have some good references for senior movers handy to help in these situations.


When affordability is a concern, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does fund a variety of programs that provide rent assistance, home ownership, and assistive services for seniors and the disabled. Keep in mind that these programs often have waiting lists that can be years long, so you’ll have to plan ahead and be patient. HUD programs are primarily focused on independent seniors, and are limited when it comes to assisted living programs. 


One of the largest HUD programs is the Housing Choice Voucher Program. HCVP provides rent vouchers for low income individuals, families, the elderly and the disabled. There are two types of voucher. Tenant-based vouchers move with the renter, while project-based vouchers are assigned to a particular property and stay with the unit. Note that any income from pensions, retirement accounts, etc. are counted when assessing eligibility for these programs. 


For first time home buyers, HUD can provide home-buying vouchers to help cover monthly expenses. There are also programs for current homeowners in need of assistance through HUD and the Department of Treasury. These programs can be used to lower monthly payments, lower interest rates, help with a second mortgage and avoiding foreclosure, among other things.


These are just a few of many assistance programs available for seniors. For a more complete list of resources, go to https://www.usa.gov/housing-help-audiences. If you’re interested in working more effectively with this growing market, it’s a good idea to earn your Senior Seniors Real Estate Specialist Designation. Watch the MetroTex course calendar for upcoming dates. 

 

 

5 Networking Habits of Successful REALTORS

We all know we need to do it, but like diet and exercise, regular networking is a habit that can be hard to start and even harder to maintain. Like long-forgotten New Year’s resolutions, networking is one habit that REALTORS tend to get into when times are slow, and which fades off with the first taste of success. But in order to maintain that healthy glow, your business needs networking year-round. Keep your business steady through all kinds of market cycles and embrace the power of your network.


Listen to new clients. Obviously, the biggest point of networking is to meet new people and get them to use you. One of the best ways to do that is to train yourself to listen. Ask about families, challenges people are facing, work, milestones approaching. Elicit conversation from people and they will begin to trust and appreciate you more.

Bring clients together. You know people. That’s your job. Most of them probably either have a business or work for one. Find out what they do and what they need. Think about other people in your network. Could any of them fill that need or would they know someone who does?  Introduce them. You’ll gain referrals if you give referrals first. In fact, plan to give out more referrals than you receive. Actively look for opportunities to give out referrals.

Smoother transactions. Look, we all know a lot of real estate agents. And no, you’re not going to score both sides of every deal. At some point you’re going to have to work with other agents to get a deal done. So don’t shy away from talking to other agents and getting to know them. Negotiating is easier if there’s already a history of friendly conversation. Think of other agents as resources. After all, they’re only your competition if they’re better than you. And you are a master at networking, so there’s no problem, right?

Gain a mentor or two. Sometimes when you are networking you’ll run across someone whom you really begin to admire. They may or may not be in your industry, but they are successful in what they do. Harness that success. Take your would-be mentor out for coffee and ask about that success. Find out how you can incorporate their successes into your own life and business.

Collect cards. Collect more cards than you give out. If you are collecting a lot of cards, it means you’re talking to a lot of people. And that means that you are finding new connections to make. Remember, give referrals and make connections without expectations that you will receive an equal number in return. Your job is to make people feel like you value them, you listen to them, and you want them to succeed.

Get your head in the game and refocus your networking efforts for the year. Remember, we’re only halfway through 2015. There’s still plenty of time to make this your best year ever!

Agents, now is the time to register and upgrade for free with www.dfwrealestate.com. Claim your leads and give your clients the most accurate listing information available.

 

How to make your offer more attractive

In North Texas today, we’re seeing all kinds of creative tactics buyers and their agents are using to get their offer to the top of the pile. You may have heard of buyers writing heartfelt letters to the sellers, or even having warm cookies or bouquets of flowers sent to the sellers in hopes of gaining favor. These are interesting strategies and sometimes they work. But there are a few things you absolutely must do to have your offer considered above all else: get your financing and credit in order long before you make an offer.

When you’re ready to buy a home, one of the first steps you should take is to seek preapproval—or better yet, prequalification—for a mortgage loan. These documents state how much a lender is willing to let you borrow, and when you’re ready to put an offer on a property, they tell the seller you’re serious and that you’ve already taken the first steps toward seeking funding.

Preapproval and prequalification can put you in a stronger buying position, but they are different processes. Here are the steps to take before pursuing either.

Watch your credit report

Don’t go into the preapproval and prequalification process without getting a copy of your credit report, which lists your financial history, including total debt and whether you pay bills on time. Checking your credit report regularly is the best way to spot identity theft, credit-report errors or other financial missteps that could affect your ability to buy a home.

You’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit-reporting bureaus every year. Find out how to obtain your free reports at annualcreditreport.com.

Prepare for questions

When you’re seeking prequalification or preapproval, your loan officer will request information from you, like pay stubs, bank records, your credit history, debts and tax returns. It could take some time to gather these details, so you may want to meet with a loan officer early in your home search. You should also start thinking about your answers to the loan officer’s potential questions:

  • When are you planning to buy?
  • If you’re in a lease, when does it end?
  • Who will be listed on the loan?

This information will help determine your timeline for borrowing.

What is prequalification?

To prequalify you for a mortgage loan, your loan officer uses the information he or she collects to calculate how much money you may be eligible to borrow. However, all information you submit during prequalification is subject to verification when your loan application is actually submitted. The home loan isn’t guaranteed with prequalification because your financial situation hasn’t been verified. You may receive a Conditional Qualification Letter, which states that you’re eligible and qualified to meet the financial requirements of a loan.

What is preapproval?

Preapproval typically means that your financial situation has actually been verified by the lender. If you want to get preapproved, you’ll complete a mortgage loan application and you may have to pay an application fee. After an extensive examination of your financial situation, a lender will commit in writing to fund your loan, pending a successful appraisal of the property and a few other conditions.

Being preapproved for a mortgage loan doesn’t mean you’re obligated to borrow the money, but the lender must stand behind its written loan commitment unless something changes with your situation. Think about how attractive your offer will be to a seller when it comes with a letter preapproving you for the funds needed to make the purchase.

Put major purchases on hold

There are some reasons that could cause a lender to withdraw from providing a loan after a preapproval letter is issued. If your credit situation changes between your preapproval and the loan’s funding, the lender could change your interest rate or even deny the loan application. So, while you’re buying a house, abstain from applying for credit cards or other loans.
Your MetroTex Realtor can give you more information about getting prequalified or preapproved for a mortgage loan. You can also visit dfwrealestate.com to learn more about buying, selling and leasing real estate in North Texas.

Answering the question “Should I Remodel or Sell?”

You should sell. It’s a great time to be in the market. Take advantage of today’s interest rates and the hot market.

At least, that’s what you want to answer. But the quick answer isn’t always the best one for your potential client. A better solution is to walk through the pros and cons with your client and really let them know that the answer you give is in their best interest. Even if you don’t end up listing that house right now, you’ll be more likely to get referrals – and their business- if you take the time to have a conversation. Here are our thoughts about how to answer, “should we remodel or sell?”

1.   “How long are you planning to keep the house?” If they love the neighborhood but hate the bathroom, then a renovation keeps them in the house and neighborhood where they are comfortable. If they need more space because their family is growing and they want a long-term solution, then it’s probably time to go. Find out where they are in life and what’s coming down the pike in the next 5 years.

2.   “How much are you planning on doing to the house?” Usually it’s updating flooring, kitchens and baths. Keep a running tally in your head of roughly how much they’re looking at spending. A typical bath remodel of flooring, tub/shower surround, cabinets, paint, sinks, lights and faucets can run between $6000 - $10,000 depending on size and quality of finishes. Kitchens average from $15,000 - $50,000 or more. Installed carpet is typically about $5-7/sf and hardwoods average $8-15/sf. Of course, you’ll want to recommend that they have contractors come give them more accurate quotes, but you’ll have a general idea of how much money they will need to spend to get the house they want. If they start talking about moving a lot of walls, plumbing, or adding on then unless they are absolutely in love with their location, it’s probably time to start looking for something else.

3.   “How much equity do you have in the house?” If your client has a lot of equity in the house, then it opens up more financing options for them to pay for the remodel. They could consider a home equity line of credit or home equity loan. Interest on these loans is tax-deductible like a mortgage so it takes the sting out of the bills a little. Alternatively, if the client doesn’t have much equity, they may end up putting themselves underwater. Granted, in this market they likely wouldn’t stay underwater too long, but you don’t want to be the one to give them the advice to remodel when it’s financially a poor decision if they’re planning to sell soon anyway.

4.   “Are you willing to put up with construction mess for 3, 6, or 12 months? Because no matter how long you think it should take, it will take longer.

5.    “What do you think your house would sell for as it is? What would it sell for if you updated a little? And what would it sell for if you completely remodeled? Finally, what would your budget be if you bought new? Would that budget get you what you want?” This part of the conversation probably involves running comps and means a follow-up conversation. Never a bad thing.

Take the time to engage in a longer, meaningful conversation with your client and you’ll create a foundation of trust with your client that will lead you to more business. Don’t dread the question. Consider it your lucky day. If they’re asking, then they’re already feeling like the house they have no longer suits their needs. And that means they’re probably going to end up selling. Even if they don’t sell, you’ve already established yourself as a trusted resource that they’re more likely to refer to their friends.

Be More Successful By Creating a Better You

Business experts, motivational speakers and career counselors agree. You can’t be the best in your business if you haven’t worked on becoming your best self. You can work harder than anyone else, but if you’re not improving your personal skill set, you’ll find it nearly impossible to keep improving your business.

You could spend a lot of time and money on coaches, self-help books, and seminars. But a better way to stay laser-focused on developing your real estate skill set is by pursuing coursework that is specifically designed for your needs. And no one understands the needs of Realtors better than other Realtors and your Association. That’s why our classes and certifications are carefully designed to help you achieve your dreams by offering you classroom mentoring by people who have been through it too.

A great way to improve your personal  skill set is by achieving certifications. Take our new Real Estate Negotiation Expert (RENE) certification, for instance. This brand new program from the National Association of REALTORS includes both The Power Negotiator’s Playbook and Advanced Field Negotiations. Imagine how many more referrals you’ll win when your clients see how you handled that tough situation for them.

MetroTex Association of REALTORS is offering a tremendous variety of certifications this spring to help you become better at your game, open new pipelines, find new markets and become an expert in your field. From learning how to capitalize on the burgeoning international marketplace (CIPS), picking up some expertise on the exciting revitalization movement going on in established neighborhoods in Dallas (HHS), to taking your business to the next level with a broker’s license (ABR), MetroTex has the solution. New agents will benefit from the Leader Choice Listing Bootcamp and Seller Rep Specialist. Agents who want to maximize their online presence will love e-Pro Certification.

As Jim Rohn once said, “What you become directly influences what you get.” Become a better you and watch the skills you develop grow your business with purpose.

Find out more about the many certifications MetroTex will be offering this spring at dfwrealestate.com. See you in class this spring!

Keeping a Home When Disaster Strikes

Wildfires are burning out of control on the West Coast. The stock market is doing the Jitterbug. And it’s been 10 years since the Hurricane Katrina disaster. It may make you wonder what you would do in the event of a disaster, whether it’s caused by Mother Nature or financial distress.

Could you keep your home or rebuild? Where would you go for help?

Believe it or not, MetroTex REALTORS think about this kind of thing all the time. We see good people struggling to recover from the loss of a home due to fire or foreclosure, or trying to rebuild their finances after a job loss, medical bills, or divorce.

Because we’re experienced, REALTORS can offer a few words of advice to help you prepare for tough times and help you manage your affairs during them.

Call your lender.  Don’t wait until you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage to let your lender know about your situation. Ask for financial assistance or relief if needed. Lenders can offer to move you to an interest-only payment plan, or lower your interest rate for a short time. They can also rework the terms of your loan or forgive a portion of the principle balance in some cases. They are much more likely to work with you if you call them before there is an issue or if you can demonstrate that you are trying to make payments on your note a priority. If you can, pay the mortgage first before other bills.

Keep track of paperwork. You will need to prove to your lender that you’ve lost your job or come into other financial distress. Keep electronic copies of insurance policies, termination letters, divorce decrees, medical bills or deployment notice, along with copies of credit card statements, bank account statements and other bills so you can email them to the bank when needed. Keep these documents accessible and organized by using cloud storage service. Many of these services are offered for free or low cost.

Consider tapping other resources. If it’s possible to borrow money from family or friends while you’re getting back on your feet, it might help you stretch a few more months out. As a last resort, consider withdrawing from retirement accounts. You may have to pay taxes and penalties but if it helps you keep above water for a little longer, it might be worth it.

Try to avoid bankruptcy or foreclosure. While it may be tempting, abandoning a house or letting a house go into foreclosure can have a lasting impact on your ability to secure credit in the future. Credit problems can impact your ability to find another job and make it hard to find a rental property. Look into federal relief through various programs and weigh all of your options before you do anything drastic. Find information on current programs online through the Federal Housing Administration web site. Look for a HUD-approved counselor to guide you for free or very low cost. Housing counselors can contact lenders and other creditors on your behalf and negotiate payment plans.

Take advantage of programs offered to you.  Government programs, while they can be slow and involve a lot of red tape, can offer temporary housing, money for repairs and home replacement. Again, if you have documents stored online, you can demonstrate proof of ownership, insurance, income more quickly. Money may also be available for medical needs, moving, storage, transportation and funeral expenses. Ask about all of the services that are available and mention any special circumstances you may have.

Be persistent and ask around for help. If you find yourself in a situation that impacts your ability to keep your home, ask a MetroTex REALTOR for advice early on in the process. The earlier a professional is involved, the more options you have to keep your home or protect your credit.

For accurate local real estate information or to find a REALTOR in your area, go to www.dfwrealestate.com

Great Reads for REALTORS in 2016

Feeling the need to get inspired, get organized, get new ideas or just get customers? Make it your goal in 2016 to check out some of these great books for your business. Some are old favorites and some are new releases, and all offer insight into building and running a great relationship-based business.

The Compound Effect and Living Your Best Year Ever by Darren Hardy. Both books are about how small changes can have a big impact in your life. Living Your Best Year Ever is part journal, part daily planner, and all about staying focused and achieving balance.

The Art of Selling Real Estate by Patrica Cliff. Similar to The Compound Effect, Cliff writes that small changes over time can yield incredible results. Specifically address the challenges and rewards of building a successful real estate career.

Seven Levels of Communication and Miracle Morning for Real Estate Agents by Michael Maher with Hal Elrod. The 7L book and the system in which it encourages readers to run their business will change your life. It’s all about relationship building and giving back first. Maher explains how to incorporate an Attitude of Gratitude and his Do It Now philosophy. You will be amazed at the deep relationships you will build with the folks in your pipeline.

Customers for Life: How to Turn that One-time Buyer Into a Lifetime Customer by Carl Sewell. In a similar vein to 7L, Carl Sewell describes his philosophy of treating every customer like your best customer from the first moment you meet.

Mastermind Dinners by Jayson Gaignard. If you read Seven Levels first, this will build off some of Maher’s ideas in a concrete way. Gaignard demonstrates how connecting people in your sphere will lead you to better success in your own business.

How to Make Your Money Last by Jane Bryant Quinn. A powerful read that pairs nicely with the above books to set your goals for retirement and actually have a plan to achieve them.

The Power of Broke by Daymond John. While not specifically a real estate book, nearly every agent can relate to starting from scratch with few resources. The Shark Tank host began his first business with $40 and found that being broke is a great way to unleash your creative advantage.

How To Leverage Your Real Estate Business With Facebook by Skyler Irvine. Using Facebook to bolster your business, leverage your impact with your sphere, and increase sales without spending a dime on ads.

Leasing & Property Management Series - Residential Lease

A successful listing has brought a great tenant for your client.  Now, you’re ready to write the lease.  Time to think of everything - when is move in, where to pay rent, when is rent late, what if your client’s tenant is late paying, how much will he charge for late fees, what if they don’t pay at all, who is responsible for yard care, what if something breaks, who pays the utilities, who pays HOA dues - EVERYTHING. 

The lease contract should list who the parties are in the transaction, the terms of the lease, and the consequences should one or the other party default on the contract.

As a Texas Realtor, the Texas Association of Realtors Residential Lease is your go-to lease form.  The Texas Association of Realtors Residential Lease was developed to protect the Landlord and the Tenant in a lease transaction.  Please be aware that use of the TAR Residential Lease without the assistance of a licensed Texas Realtor is not authorized.  Any use without the assistance of a Texas Realtor will render the document void and unenforceable.  You should not provide a copy to anyone for use without the assistance of a Texas Realtor.

There are several addenda to the Residential Lease available to address Lead-Based Paint, Pools and Spas, Pets, etc.  If your client’s property has a special circumstance that you believe cannot be addressed adequately in Special Provisions, you are well advised to consult with an attorney about drawing up an addendum for the lease.  The last thing you want is for the unexpected to happen and your client finds the lease contract is unenforceable in court.  How will your client then evict a defaulting tenant, recover lost rent, or recoup loss from damages?

One responsibility of a Professional Property Manager is to protect the client and their asset from liability and loss.  Property Managers have the experience and knowledge to ask the right questions and complete an enforceable lease.  If you are going to help your client with leasing their property, you must become familiar with Texas Property Code regarding residential leases and local ordinances in addition to the application of Fair Housing Laws to residential leasing.

Guest contributor Marye Davenport, Property Management Director 3G Properties