Shh! We spill the beans on Dallas’ best kept secrets

With nearly 700 people moving into the Dallas area every day, it’s no wonder innovation is making itself at home in South Dallas. In-demand amenities like DART rail service, urban trails and opportunities for higher education are already in place or well into development. And a quick tour of the education corridor with Paul Quinn College to the east and the University of North Texas Dallas campus to the west reveals a bright future for an area that has been largely overlooked until relatively recently. To help you get to know the area better, today we’re sharing some of South Dallas’ best kept secrets.

Secret Number One: There’s a lot to do in South Dallas. Even though you’re only minutes away from downtown, you’ll find a great escape at the Texas Horse Park in the heart of the Great Trinity Forest and spectacular family adventures at the nearby Trinity Audubon Center. And the amazing part is that there is still so much more room for development here. UNTD will be opening its first residence hall next fall, and their Student Learning and Success Center will add an amphitheater, event and recreation space, a library, student lounge and fitness center to the rapidly expanding school. Luckily, the brand new UNTD DART stop is just a short walk away. Plus, the Trinity Forest Golf Club will soon be adding a premiere golf facility to the area’s already burgeoning list of attractions. From theaters to trails to nature centers, there’s always something going on down here.

Secret Number Two: You can invest in the success of South Dallas. The success of the Bishop Arts District and Trinity Groves speak volumes for what can be accomplished south of the Trinity River, and local leaders are working hard to encourage the everyone in Dallas to work together to expand the bounty of the Dallas economy to the entire community. Area officials are working hard to bring in a variety of mixed use developments and single family housing opportunities. There are already a lot of projects in the works, and the City of Dallas is actively seeking more investment. To make it all happen, there are investment funds created just to give the public a chance to invest in the development themselves. Impact Dallas Capital is a not-for-profit organization that creates investment funds specifically designed to bring capital to South Dallas while creating potential for significant returns. If you’re interested, visit http://impactdallascapital.com/ to find out more.

Here’s the biggest secret of them all: the rolling hills of South Dallas hold a lot of human potential, too. If you’re a small business owner, entrepreneur, or just looking for a great employee, the public and private colleges that dot the landscape are a great place to start your search. The students here are attracted by innovative programs designed with their success in mind. UNTD has a special focus on programming for veterans and non-traditional students. Paul Quinn College, already garnering national attention for its rebirth as a premier small college and its innovative urban farm program, actively seeks businesses and entrepreneurs to invest in their students through their Work Program. You can find a talented intern for your business by contacting the Office of Personal and Career Development at OPCD@pqc.edu or invest in the success of students at UNTD by joining the UNT Dallas Foundation at http://www.untdallas.edu/ua/giving.

As your local professional association, we want all of our participants to know what’s going on in the community. We believe that by knowing the issues and successes of all of the parts in our city, you will be better able to serve your clients. We also believe when you choose to take that knowledge a step further and become active in the community yourself, you can harness the power of that community for your own development. A recent tour of the Education Corridor, presented by the MetroTex Southern Regional Advisory Council and sponsored by NAR, provided our members a first-hand look at South Dallas. Participants were able to meet the presidents of UNTD and Paul Quinn College as well as Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Erik Wilson, and other city officials working to bring South Dallas to its full potential. We hope that by spreading the good news about South Dallas, you’ll be able to benefit from what we learned. And if you missed the tour, we strongly encourage you to go have a look for yourself.

Come to South Dallas for its beauty and opportunity. Stay in South Dallas for its community.

 

Check out our amazing new way to save you time and money

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It’s new, it’s exciting, and it will change the way you do business. It might even save you money. Introducing our latest upgrade to your MLS package, TransactionDesk® by Instanet.

Imagine being able to start a transaction directly from the Matrix listing. Storing all of your documents in the cloud and having them automatically assigned to the corresponding transaction. Writing contracts and getting them signed on the fly. Keeping track of your calls, contacts and activities related to a transaction. All in one place. Without any extra fees.

Now included in your MLS dues, TransactionDesk is a complete transaction management system and it’s fully integrated with Matrix for a seamless user experience. For instance, if you fill out the Residential Data Input Form on TransactionDesk for a new listing, it will auto populate your incoming Matrix listing when you’re done. Any affiliated documents can be stored with TransactionDesk, too so they’re right where you need them, wherever you are.

TransactionDesk® includes

  •     InstanetForms® Replaces the need for ZIPForms. Complete online  forms and contracts on any device.
  • DocBox® All of your documents in one place. No more muddling between two different uploading platforms. Now you can upload any document and have the ability to edit them online. DocBox is a complete paperless online document management and storage solution. Enjoy unlimited storage forever. You’ll no longer need a separate cloud storage system like Dropbox or Google Docs, although they are compatible with TransactionDesk if you need them. Keep them private, for MLS users only, or mark them as public so potential buyers can see them. You’re in control.
  •  AuthentiSign® E-Signature Tool. Do you use DotLoop, Docusign, or Inked? There’s no need for another service now. With unlimited signatures and transactions, you can legally e-sign documents and forms online.
  • InstanetFax®. Unique fax cover sheets with each transaction ensure that incoming faxes from inspectors, appraisers, and anyone else gets correctly filed instantly. Then, take those documents and have them signed, make changes, or save pages to unique files all in the same system. Unlimited inbound and outbound including paper fax to email. 
  • Customer Portal. Online collaboration and service tools available to clients 24/7.
  • Calendar, Appointments, Contacts, Tasks, & More. Track your to-do list, keep records of your calls, store your contacts and calendar all in one place. Takes over a lot of the tasks of a typical CRM software package. Get automated reminders to complete tasks. Managers, you’ll be able to keep track of and review your team’s transactions from any location.
  • Start transactions directly from the listing. Simply click on the green Instanet logo under the listing photo and start a transaction instantly. Information from the listing will be automatically added to the transaction, so you don’t have to input it yourself.
  • Create your own transaction templates. Customize your templates for the transactions you use most, or use your broker’s templates. If you’re starting fresh, use the wizard to guide you through.

To access this great new benefit, simply log in to NTREIS and click on the Instanet button on the right hand side on the home page. Or, if you’re already in Matrix, click on the TransactionDesk link under External Links on the lower right hand side of your Matrix home page.

Go ahead, give it a try. It’s pretty user-friendly. And watch our e-news for updates on training classes and webinars to teach you all the tips and tricks of TransactionDesk. With its cross-platform flexibility and full integration with Matrix, you’ll be sure to save time and effort with every transaction.

We’re excited to bring you this great new benefit. For questions and technical support, contact the MetroTex MLS-Tech Support line at 214-540-2755.

How would TPP impact Texas?

Are you down with TPP? While the Trans-Pacific Partnership has gained attention by becoming a talking point for presidential candidates, it’s sometimes hard to know what impact such an agreement would have here in North Texas. But it’s important that we try. The economy in North Texas is quickly becoming one with an international focus. And, with the real estate market so dependent on the local economy, it’s important for Realtors to understand the pros and cons of TPP and its potential impact on Texans. Learn about TPP and make your voice heard in November.

Whether or not you support increasing free trade, there is no disputing that the countries involved in TPP are already important to Texas’s exporters. The Department of Commerce notes that last year Texas exported nearly $140 billion in goods to Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam alone. In fact, 55 percent of Texas exports went to TPP countries, from nearly 20,000 companies. Most of these companies were small to medium sized businesses. These businesses would no doubt benefit from the elimination of foreign import taxes. The elimination of these taxes would reduce the cost to their buyers– by an estimated 25 to 59 percent in many cases.

Economists and business leaders point to these cost savings as having the potential for creating more jobs and faster, more economical trade. They also believe that the elimination of restrictions on trade could have big beneficial impacts on agriculture and in the service industry.

The controversy over TPP begins with a lot of unanswered questions. Because governments are eager to create more open trade, they are negotiating most of the partnership details out of the public eye. Activists opposed to eliminating trade barriers are concerned that a variety of protections currently in place will be eliminated. For instance, it is unknown whether the TPP will include labor standards based on current international conventions or how such standards will be enforced. Similar standards in place to protect the environment and public interest policies might also be impacted. Further, activists want assurances that access to affordable generic versions of medications will be protected. Agricultural experts want to know that farm workers are protected and that dumping of crops won’t force family farmers out of business.

Texas businesses stand to benefit greatly if the TPP is passed in some version. With our strong economy ready to do business with the world, it could be a great time to be a Texan. But with so many unanswered questions and concerns, no one can say for sure that this massive trade agreement would be a panacea to struggling global economy, or its greatest folly.

Hear from both sides of the TPP feud. For local interpretations of TPP’s impact on Texas, visit http://trade.gov/fta/tpp/states/texas.asp to see the government’s official stance, pr listen to the Texas Standard interview with Raymond Robertson, a professor of economics and government at the Bush School at Texas A&M. For a more general explanation, listen to What is TPP and why are both parties so angry about it? from PRI. Then decide for yourself.

And, don’t forget to vote in November. 

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

What’s the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor?

Can you explain the difference to your clients about the difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor to your clients? There’s a difference between the two, and the difference matters.

Becoming a Realtor

Before a person can sell real estate in Texas, he must be licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) as a salesperson and sponsored by an established broker. He must also take 180 hours of required educational courses and pass the real estate licensing exam. Within two years, the licensee must complete an additional 90 classroom hours of real estate education.

But holding a real estate salesperson or broker’s license from TREC does not make someone a Texas Realtor. After earning the license, many agents elect to join their local association of Realtors, the state-level association, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Only after all these steps are taken can a person be called a Realtor. Membership in this three-level system gives Realtors (and their clients) advantages over agents who don’t join.

Why use a Realtor?

Realtors must adhere to NAR’s Realtor Code of Ethics, which clearly identifies their responsibilities to the consumer. The Code of Ethics is the cornerstone of what it means to be a Realtor. Realtors pledge that they will treat all parties fairly and protect their clients’ interests. It’s a consumer-oriented code that holds Realtors to a higher standard of professional behavior.

Adhering to the Code of Ethics isn’t the only way Realtors are set apart from real estate licensees. Texas Realtors in particular have a long track record of working with state and local officials, as well as other regulatory bodies. These highly organized and effective efforts are focused on four main areas: keeping the cost associated with real estate transactions reasonable; preserving private-property rights; protecting consumers from proposals that make homeownership more difficult; and maintaining the overall health of the real estate economy.

If that’s not enough, Texas Realtors are plugged into the best information and education, so they know more about the process of buying and selling real estate. The MetroTex Association of Realtors provides educational opportunities for members to further their real estate knowledge and become more proficient in their industry.

Plus, Texas Realtors have exclusive access to more than 100 forms for every type of real estate situation imaginable, which can help keep you out of legal trouble when you’re dealing in real estate transactions. Texas Realtors even have Spanish translations of many of the most widely used forms. Although not legally binding documents, these translations help explain the forms to Spanish-speaking consumers.

It’s a difference that counts

Working with a Texas Realtor can make a huge difference in the level of professionalism and skill clients will receive during the process. Tell them to expect a smoother transaction by working with a knowledgeable practitioner who puts the needs of her clients first.

Contract tips from the MetroTex Forms & Contracts Committee:

1. The Unrestricted Right to Terminate Option time period in Paragraph 23 was changed effective January 1, 2016, to 5:00 pm on the last day of the option period, per the contract terms, in the time zone the property is located. 

2. TAR form #1926, “Seller’s Invitation To Buyer To Submit New Offer” is available for use by Sellers that do not wish to “counter” offer(s), but want to encourage the Buyer(s) to continue negotiations.  Consult your Broker or Manager for proper use of this form.

3. MLS Status TIP: There are three (3) flags that appear on an Active (ACT) Listing, and remain there for 5 days: “$” means there is a price change; “B” indicates the listing is Back on the Market; “N” indicates a New Listing.

4. In Paragraph 6D, Objections, it is a good idea to consult a real estate attorney for appropriate language to insert if the Buyer intends, or is considering, tearing down the current structure and rebuilding.  There could be restrictions the Seller and/or Buyer are unaware of.

5. MetroTex form, “Notice of Withdrawal of Offer” is available for use by members.   It will function for either the Buyer or Seller wishing to withdraw their offer or counteroffer, prior to acceptance by the other party.  Consult your Broker or Manager prior to using this form.  It is in the MetroTex library of ZipForms.

6. MLS Status Tip: Active Contingent (CON) means the Seller has accepted an offer, but has requested the property remain available for showings, and Seller will entertain back-up offers.  This status may be used in any situation and is not tied to a specific contingency in the Contract.  Ask the Listing Agent before you show.

7. General Information and Notice to Buyers (TAR1506) is an excellent form to provide to all buyers – not just first-time buyers!  It contains a wealth of valuable information about appraisal, environmental concerns, inspections, home owner associations, mineral interests, property insurance, residential service contracts, termination option…and more!! (Your find this in the TAR library on ZipForms.)

8. TREC has six (6) Promulgated contract forms. Please be sure you are using the correct form for the type of property: 1-4 Family Residential is for 1-4 UNITS; condominium contract form has specific condo requirements. Do not use the 1-4 Family for condos!  Unimproved is for vacant land, whether a lot in a subdivision or many acres with no structures on it;  New Construction has 2 forms; Complete (ready to move in!) and Incomplete (which can be anything from “dirt” with a build job to not-quite-finished).  Farm and Ranch has very specific provisions for those properties.  USE THE CORRECT FORM!

9. MLS Status Tip: Active Option Contract (OPT) means the Seller has accepted an offer and the Buyer is exercising the Unrestricted Right to Terminate Option in Paragraph 23 of the Contract.  The property is available for showings and back-up offers.

10. Paragraph 21 calls for the contact information of the Principals to the Contract, meaning Buyer and Seller, NOT the Listing or Selling Agent.  

11. Most title companies are not able to provide copies of earnest money checks due to regulations about redacting the bank information on the checks.  A good business practice for all real estate professionals would be to blackout the account number and routing number on copies of checks before they are sent to other parties, such as listing agents, etc.

12. MLS Status Tip: Active Kick Out (KO) means the Seller has accepted an offer contingent on Sale of Other Property by Buyer, and the property is available for showings and Back-Up offers.  There is a “Kick-Out” time period for the Buyer to waive their contingency.  Good idea to check with the Listing Agent before showing!

13. Paragraph 4 of the revised contract forms, effective January 1, 2016,  calls for disclosure of a relationship between the license holder and “spouse, parent or child,” or business entity in which the license holder owns more than 10%, or a trust where the license holder is a trustee.  Be sure you read this paragraph carefully and make all appropriate disclosures.

14. Paragraph 7-F, Completion of Repairs and Treatments, states “unless otherwise agreed to in writing…. Repairs and treatments must be performed by persons who are licensed to provide such repairs or treatments, or if no license is required by law, are commercially engaged in providing such repairs and treatments.”  SELLERS MAY NOT MAKE REPAIRS THEMSELVES UNLESS BUYER HAS AGREED IN WRITING!!

15. MLS Status Tip: Pending (PND) means the Seller has accepted an offer,  the property is not available for showings, and the Seller will not entertain Back-Up offers.

16. There is no provision in the contract for an “automatic extension” of closing delays for lender or title company (TRID) issues.  If the closing is being delayed past the date in Paragraph 9, an amendment to extend the closing date is required, signed by the parties.

17. Buyer should give Seller a specific time for submitting repair receipts, at least 5 days prior to closing date, so that no delays will be incurred.  If buyer is having property re-inspected prior to closing, that should also be scheduled several days prior to closing.  Any changes to the closing documents will require at least a 3-day delay.

18. MLS Status Tip: Withdrawn (WTH) means that based on the terms agreed to between the Seller and Listing Broker in the Termination of Listing form (TAR-1410), the property is no longer available for showings.  Due to the conditions agreed to in the Termination of Listing, the property cannot be listed with another broker.  The listing will expire on the original expiration date entered into the MLS.

19. Explain to Sellers at time of listing that any known inspections by buyers who do not close will have to be disclosed to subsequent buyers.  This alleviates the need for that discussion at a later time.

20. When the Buyer notifies the Seller they are exercising their unrestricted right to terminate under Paragraph 23, the notification should include the Release of Earnest Money form for the title company to release the funds. 

21. When the Buyer is specifying the POA/HOA be provided by the Seller during the Option period, and this requires an additional “rush” fee be paid to the Association, there should be a statement with the provision of who is going to pay that additional fee, the Seller or Buyer, and the amount of the fee to be paid.

22. MLS Status Tip: Temp Off Market (TOM) means the Seller has a reason not to show the property for a period of time, and is still in a Listing Agreement with the Broker.  There can be various reasons for not showing the home, such as illness, remodeling, etc.  THIS IS A TEMPORARY STATUS, and should not be used in place of Cancelled or Withdrawn statuses.

23. Advise Sellers that they will be required to pay the POA/HOA Resale Certificate and Subdivision Information fees at the time of contract, not at closing.

24. The Listing Agent should contact the POA (aka HOA) to obtain information regarding fees, procedures, time required to get Subdivision Information and Resale Certificate, etc AT TIME OF LISTING THE PROPERTY!!   This will save time and stress when an offer comes in!

25. MLS Status Tip: Expired (EXP) means the listing has expired and the property was not sold.  If the property is re-listed within 31 days, Cumulative Days On Market (CDOM) will display the combined days on market (DOM) for the current and prior listing, or listings.

26. Most POA/HOA fees paid by the Seller are good for 60-90 days – check with the POA/HOA for confirmation.

27.  DO NOT DELIVER THE OPTION FEE TO THE TITLE COMPANY!! The Option Fee goes to the Listing Agent/Broker to be transmitted to the Seller.  The Title Company cannot – and should not – accept the option fee!

28. MLS Status Tip: Sold (SLD) means title to the property has been transferred to a new owner and all photos will remain in MLS indefinitely.  After 30 days all documents will be purged from MLS.

29. An additional Option Fee is required to extend the option.  It must be delivered to the Listing Agent/Broker or Seller, and must be receipted to confirm delivery.

30. If a property will not qualify for FHA or VA financing, note that fact in the MLS – and don’t check VA or FHA financing.

31. MLS Status Tip: Look at History in MLS to fully understand a property’s entire history.  Days on Market (DOM) is calculated from the list date through the “off market” date, at the change to Pending (PND), Sold (SLD), Expired (EXP), Withdrawn (WTH), Temporarily Off Market (TOM), or Cancelled (CAN) status.  A property could be on the market one day, Pending or Temporarily Off the Market for 30 days, and back on the market showing a DOM of one day!

32. If you have a legal question, call the TAR Legal Hotline; 800-873-9155. Want more information on current topics?  Visit the “Advice for Realtors” blog at texasrealestate.com/our-blogs.

33. MLS Status Tip: All pictures, other media, and listing data remain on file indefinitely for all listing statuses, except Expired (EXP) and Cancelled (CAN).  When in Expired or Cancelled status, all media is purged after six months and listing data is purged after 3 years.

34. Make sure the prospective purchaser of a house built before 1978 receives a copy of the pamphlet, “Protect Your Family From Lead-Based Paint in Your Home.”  It is the Realtor’s responsibility to comply with this federal law!  It is available on ZipForms.

35. If a buyer of a home built before 1978 is contemplating remodeling or renovations, advise them to consult an EPA-certified contractor, per the Renovation Repair Program.

36. MLS Status Tip: Cumulative Days On Market (CDOM) is calculated by adding the Days on Market (DOM) from a previous listing with the DOM of the current listing when the break between listings is less than 31 days.

37. Use the Information About Property Insurance for a Buyer or Seller form (TAR 2508) to assist the Seller in accurately completing the Seller’s Disclosure regarding the importance of disclosing previous damage and insurance claims, and the CLUE report.

38. When representing a buyer making an offer on a condominium, USE THE TREC PROMULGATED CONTRACT FORM FOR CONDOMINIMUMS (TREC No. 30-12, dated 11-2-2015).

38. MLS Status Tip: The calculation for Days On Market (DOM) continues to accrue if the status is Active (ACT), Active Option (OPT), Active Contingent (CON), and Active Kick Out (KO).

39. Confirm that Buyer and/or Seller know the HOA transfer fees and assessments prior to negotiating a contract.  The Listing Agent should get this information from the HOA/POA.

40. There are 11 statutory exceptions to the requirement for the Seller to complete a seller’s disclosure of property condition for the buyer.  They do NOT include, “never lived in the house” as some investors will tell you!!  Know what the exceptions are!

41. MLS Status Tip: Days On Market (DOM) is calculated from the list date through the off-market status change.  If Pending (PND) or Temporarily Off the Market (TOM) status is changed back to one of the Active statuses, Days on Market is less than the calendar days on the market by the number of days the property was in an off-market status.

42. There are several versions of a seller’s disclosure – your broker will advise which one to use, or the seller may choose the one they prefer.  The form that is approved by TREC meets the minimum basic statutory requirements of the Property Code.

43. In Paragraph 6-D, Objections, it is not necessary, nor advised, to enter the clause, “single family residential use” in the blank after “or which prohibit the following use or activity…”

44. If the buyer wishes to add language to the offer regarding the buyer’s willingness to pay above appraised value, an attorney should be consulted to draft the language according to the intent of the parties in that specific transaction. AVOID THE UNLAWFUL PRACTICE OF LAW!!

45. All executed Listing Agreements, Leases and Sales Contracts, including terminated agreements, are to be retained by the Broker for 4 years, per TREC.  This does not apply to Buyer Representation Agreements.

46. In addition to the 6 TREC Promulgated contract forms, there are 4 contract forms provided by TAR for the voluntary use of Realtors when appropriate to the proposed transaction: New Residential Condominium Contract (complete construction), TAR-1608; New Residential Condominium Contract (incomplete construction), TAR-1609; Commercial Contract – Improved Property, TAR-1801; Commercial Contract – Unimproved Property, TAR-1802.

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.

 

By 2019, cyber-crime will cost businesses an estimated $2 trillion annually. Don’t be a part of that statistic!

Wire fraud is a common occurrence in our industry here is an example of a notice you may wish to consider adding to your email signature line. This notice should not serve as a substitute for educating your clients and other participants in your real estate transactions about email wire fraud.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Never trust wiring instructions sent via email. Cyber criminals are hacking email accounts and sending emails with fake wiring instructions. These emails are convincing and sophisticated. Always independently confirm wiring instructions in person or via a telephone call to a trusted and verified phone number. Never wire money without double-checking that the wiring instructions are correct.

Home Buyers Are Seeking Green Features

Saving energy, keeping homes more comfortable and doing a good thing for the environment are all benefits of adding green features to your home.  In fact, adding green features to existing homes, or building them in from the beginning is becoming more important to most homebuyers today.

Recently, the National Association of Homebuilders surveyed buyers about several types of green features and which were most important to them. Add them to your home and you’ll benefit by making your home more comfortable you’ll also add value to your home.

Not surprisingly, the some of the most historically popular green features are energy efficient appliances, windows and insulation. Recent droughts have moved water saving features higher up the list.

The biggest thing buyers want in new homes is for the whole house to have a green certification, for instance an Energy Star® rating for the whole home. That includes appliances, insulation, windows. Buyers are willing to pay more for homes that will save them on utility bills, up to a point. Interestingly, gas-filled windows were the least popular feature of those surveyed.

If you’re planning to update old appliances, it’s wise to consider tankless water heaters and a high SEER air conditioning system. For other easy upgrades, look for water saving shower heads, toilets, and dishwashers. Adding a rain/freeze sensor to your irrigation system can also help.

Other green features are probably better suited for homeowners who are planning to stay in their homes for some time. Solar panels, for instance, have come down drastically in price, but are better suited for a long term investment than for someone who is planning to move soon.

If you are considering or in the process of adding green features to your home, a great way to get started is to speak to a MetroTex Realtor.  You can also look for MetroTex Realtors who have the GREEN certification, indicating they are knowledgeable about green construction and retrofits. Additionally, Realtors can provide valuable counsel, discuss ROI, and provide you with referrals for licensed contractors. Visit dfwrealestate.com for more information on working with a MetroTex Realtor.

Building Credibility With Foreign Clients

With nearly one in four residents in Dallas County from abroad, chances are pretty good that you’ll work with an expat at some point. There are some unique challenges that foreign buyers face when entering the US market, whether they are moving here or simply buying an investment.

Without a strong US credit history, would-be homebuyers moving into the area face unique challenges when trying to get established. They need to make a cash offer, or they may need to be able to put a large amount (up to 50% down). Before you start working with a foreign buyer, search for an interview local lenders who routinely work with international clients. They’re a great resource to have on hand.

Have other vendors and contractors in your portfolio as well. Whether they’re new in town or not here at all, they’ll greatly appreciate being able to turn to you for reliable referrals.

The process in the U.S. is often pretty different than how real estate is handled in other countries. Be prepared to explain the process down to every step. Clearly outline expectations both verbally and in a follow-up e-mail and be prepared for and open to a lot of questions.

When you’re working with foreign investors, give detailed feedback about their investment portfolios frequently. If you’re also managing their properties, let them know what’s working well and what isn’t. You’ll gain more credibility and repeat business.

Your international clients may not be in town for every showing. If your client is traveling or not able to attend a showing, suggest a virtual walk-through via Facetime, Skype or any number of available apps. Keep in mind time differences when booking appointments.

Finally, it’s a good idea to earn the Certified International Property Specialist designation and to join out Global Business Council here at MetroTex. The designation and the Council will be an invaluable part of building your business. Look for the next meeting and classes on the MetroTex calendar on mymetrotex.com.

How To Set Expectations With Clients

Managing your work/life balance as a REALTOR can be tricky. You want to be there for your clients. You don’t want to miss out on a deal. You need to keep filling your pipeline. But you also need to have a life. Setting expectations early and maintaining good communication with your clients throughout the process will make for happier clients and more referrals. And you’ll have more control over your day-to-day business, too.

How and when will you communicate? Find out how the client prefers to communicate. If they prefer phone calls or texts over email, or if they can’t talk during business hours, you’ll need to know the best way to reach them. On the flip side, they’ll also need to know when to best reach you. Just because you’re in a service industry doesn’t mean you have to answer the phone 24 hours a day. Have a clear message in your voice mail detailing what your hours are and when you will call back – and stick with it. As long as you are consistent, your customers will by and large respect your parameters. Do follow up phone conversations with an email to keep a paper trail for your records.

When will showings happen? If you’re keeping a block schedule, explain to your clients when you are available for showings. Of course, you will also have to make some accommodations for their work schedules from time to time. Do explain to clients that most homeowners want at least a few hours’ notice before a showing. If you’re listing the house, find out their restrictions first. Explain to your clients that you will respect their needs, and thatthey need to try to be flexible because sometimes buyers can’t reschedule or make a second trip to a neighborhood – especially those relocating from out of town.

What expectations does the client have? Whatever they are, exceed them. Give your clients a weekly report outlining the homes they have seen or the number of showings they have had. If they are under contract, give them updates with a timeline of all of the milestones and when they are achieved. If your buyer wants you to preview homes, offer to Facetime or Skype with them for a streaming walkthrough.

What expectations do you have? Now is the time to explain things like office safety protocols, the importance of getting documents together, how to handle credit through the process, and a general timeline for buying and selling. Explain the representation agreement and how you are compensated. It’s also a good time to reiterate your commitment to them and getting the transaction handled with proper care and attention.

Always be open to questions and concerns. Reiterate to your clients that they should always feel that there are no questions too small or insignificant to ask. You are here to guide them through the process and want to be their trusted, lifelong real estate advisor. Be welcoming and open and encourage them to be frank in their discussions.

For more information about setting client expectations, check out our representation designation classes: Seller Representative Specialist (SRS), Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), and Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS). Visit mymetrotex.com for a complete list of classes.

MetroTex Committee Spotlight: REALTORS in Action

Getting involved in the community is the primary goal of the REALTORS in Action Committee. RIA members coordinate a variety of events throughout the year. In 2016, we’re volunteering quarterly at the North Texas Food Bank, and running both the Trinity Treasure Run 5K and the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure. We’ll be hosting a variety of events during Health and Safety Awareness month, and the ever-popular Turkey Bowl. We have a lot of fun and our focus is on making DFW an even better place to live.

The committee meets monthly as needed, and new members are always welcome. See a cause that needs some extra support? Come to a meeting and let’s talk about how we can get together to help. For more information, contact the Communications Department at communications@dfwre.com. You may also view the full calendar of meeting dates here.

Committee Spotlight: Public Education Committee

If you want tangible ways MetroTex Realtors make a difference in our communities, a great place to start is to take a look at the Public Education Committee. This group of MetroTex members is dedicated to supporting public education in the region. By establishing the MetroTex Charitable Trust, the Public Education Committee is able to provide program grants to schools every year. In the short time since 2010, the Committee has distributed more than $85,000 in educational grants through the Charitable Trust. These grants have been made to 18 different area school districts and charter schools to fund 33 different programs. This year, the Committee awarded seven grants from the 63 applications received. The educational programs support kids of all ages through high school.

The MetroTex Charitable Trust raises funds through ticket sales to the annual MetroTex Awards Banquet. Public Education Committee members promote the event and select grant recipients in the spring. The Committee also monitors school board activities and conducts candidate interviews during school board elections. We recommend and provide political endorsement and/or financial support of the candidates who uphold our mission to the MetroTex Board of Directors.

The Public Education Committee needs your help! Support our efforts by encouraging everyone in your office to attend the annual banquet, or make a direct donation to the Charitable Trust. Join the Committee and help select grant recipients. And if you know any great schools or teachers who could use a grant, watch for next year’s call for submissions in February.

For more information, contact Susan Kaplan at susank@dfwre.com and join the Committee in our monthly meetings. A calendar of meeting dates can be found here.

Student Loan Debt Causes Homeownership Ripple Effect

For some time, housing industry experts have been discussing the impact of student loans on the ability of many to purchase a home, especially since the number of first-time homebuyers in recent years has dropped and remained lower than usual. In Texas, nearly two-thirds of graduates emerge from college with debt. That’s a lot of potential homeowners waiting longer to buy homes. 

Thanks to a paper by Federal Reserve Board economists, the industry now has a better idea of just how much homeownership is impacted by student loan debt. According to authors Drs. Daniel Ringo and Alvaro Mezza, a 10 percent increase in student loan debt cuts the homeownership rate by 1-2 percentage points 24 months out of school. Additionally, that 10 percent increase in student loan debt increases the probability that a borrower falls into the subprime category (a credit score of 620 or less).

In Texas, students graduating with a bachelor’s degree leave school with an average debt of $26,250. That’s lower than the national average of $37,172 but more than $10,000 higher than it was a decade ago. 

College grads shouldn’t let the news get them down, though. With proper credit management and a bit of financial planning, grads can still find a way to buy a home sooner rather than later. It still makes sense to buy in many cases, too. After all, mortgage rates remain historically low and the cost of rent is rising quickly. If you’re thinking of buying a home in the next few years, it makes sense to speak with a credit counselor and a local lender who can advise you on the best ways to protect and build your credit rating, how much to save for closing costs and down payments, and incentive programs available to first time homebuyers. Do this long before you plan to buy and you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you’re ready.

For more information about buying or selling a home, visit dfwrealestate.com or speak to a MetroTex Realtor. 

 

Homebuyers Seeking Green Features

Saving money on summer electricity bills is pretty important to most North Texans. And using less electricity in the summer is a great way to start living greener, too. But how many homebuyers are actively seeking green features, and what are they looking for? 

In North Texas, the most popular green features do tend to revolve around keeping the summer cooling bills to a minimum. Updates MetroTex Realtors report seeing most often include 16+ SEER air conditioning units, extra insulation in the attic, solar screens, and energy efficient windows. Less costly updates for the DIY set include blankets on water heaters, low flow shower heads and dual flush toilets. Bigger investments are beginning to make headway in the area, too. A recent search on the local MLS revealed more than 100 homes on the market with solar panels, and about 1850 with tankless water heaters. MetroTex Realtosrs also report that buyers do appreciate green features that are perceived to save them money on utility bills, and will more often perceive homes with green features as a better value.


According to research by the National Association of REALTORS®, 11 percent of new homes are bought for green/energy efficient reasons. As for which features buyers of new homes desire, buyers ranked the following as very or somewhat important: heating and cooling costs (84 percent); energy-efficient appliances (67 percent); energy-efficient lighting (67 percent); landscaping for energy conservation (47 percent); environmentally friendly community features (44 percent); and solar panels on a home (11 percent). And while all generations seem to be going green for environmental and financial reasons, 14 percent of those between the ages of 36 and 50, and 13 percent under the age of 35, bought a newly built home for green/energy efficient reasons.


If you’re considering updating your home, it makes sense to incorporate green features where you can: changing out a toilet to a dual flush system, using LED lighting, replacing windows with broken seals to more energy efficient models. You’ll be more comfortable in your home, save on energy bills every month, and your future buyers will appreciate your efforts. 


The MetroTex Association of REALTORS® is comprised of more than 16,000 licensed agents in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. For more information on buying, selling, and leasing property in Texas, speak with a MetroTex REALTOR or visit www.dfwrealestate.com

 

2016 is All About the Single Ladies

Realtors might not be courting blushing brides this June; new data from the National Association of Realtors suggests that singles women will be a growing demographic when it comes to homebuyers in 2016.

Single women buyers have made up a larger share of the housing market than their male counterparts since the early 1990s, buying at nearly twice the rate. These women have a strong desire to feel settled and be part of a community and do not believe that marriage is a prerequisite to homeownership.

According to NAR’s 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, single women accounted for 15 percent of all home buyers. Many believe that number will increase in the next few years. The median age of female buyers was 50, and 72 percent of them purchased detached single-family homes. About 90 percent used a real estate agent or broker to guide them through the purchase process. 

Here are some reasons why single women are set to take the 2016 real estate market by storm: 

Desire to Own. Thirty-seven percent of unmarried female homebuyers said that the desire to own their own home was their primary reason for purchasing a house. Women are the most likely to make sacrifices, like cutting spending on entertainment or luxury items, to afford purchasing their home. This demonstrates just how high a priority they place on homeownership.
 
Rising Incomes. In large cities across the country, women have seen a significant rise in average income the past few years. Traditionally, single female homebuyers have had to stretch their budget to buy a home. Now, with higher incomes, unmarried women can enter the housing market without taking on as much of a financial burden.

Availability of Housing. According to NAR research, single women typically purchase single-family homes with three bedrooms and two bathrooms; the same properties usually targeted by investment buyers. It’s good news that over the last year, people buying homes strictly as investment properties were not as active in the market. If investors continue to back away from the market, that means housing could become even more affordable for single buyers in 2016.

Visit www.dfwrealestate.com to connect with a MetroTex Realtor about buying a home in 2016.

Simple Tips to Crush the Clutter Now

Spending more time indoors around the holidays tends to highlight one fact: most of us have too much stuff and no good place to keep it. The problem with clutter is this: it tends to create stress and anxiety. Unorganized spaces also take up a lot of time and money. We spend more time trying to find what we need and cleaning around the clutter. And we spend more money because we either don’t remember what we already have, or don’t think about the consequences of bringing more objects into an already full house.


Crush the clutter  - First, establish a one in, one out rule. If you bring home a new dress, get rid of an item of clothing you no longer wear. If you buy something knowing you’re going to have to get rid of something you already own, buying the new thing becomes less attractive. If you’re really downsizing, establish a one in, two out rule. Remember, the goal here is to get rid of what’s weighing you down.


So now that you’re committed to not adding to the problem, you can progress into organizing and slimming down what you already own.


15 Minutes - Give yourself 15 minutes of focused organization time. And don’t stress about taking more time to complete the task. Don’t get overburdened by feeling like you have to keep going or complete many tasks in one day. Pick one drawer, shelf, or basket to go through. Quickly categorize each item into one of three categories: Keep, Recycle/Discard, and Donate or Give Away. Organize items that you are keeping as you put them back into place. Make a list of each room in the house and once all drawers and shelves in the room have been organized, cross it off the list. Don’t try to complete the list all at once, just remember that incremental progress adds up!


Donate or Give Away - When you decide to place something in the “Donate or Give Away” category, start a box or grab a trash bag for those items. Make it a goal to identify one item every day that you can donate to a local shelter, school or charity. Get the kids involved once a week or so, too. Have them sort out clothes that no longer fit or toys that they no longer want. Remember to keep an itemized list of donated items on your phone that you can use that for tax deduction purposes in the spring. Think creatively about what you decide to donate. Craft and art supplies, magazines, and scrap fabric can often be used by schools or day care centers for fun art projects. Unused travel size soaps, detergents and personal care products are often welcome at shelters. Old towels are always needed at pet shelters and rescues. Don’t be afraid to call a charity about what they need. 


Recycle/Discard - Start with a trash bag and look for items to recycle. Fill it and take it straight to the bin. Then look for other items that need to go. If it’s not useable by someone else and you don’t need it, then into the bag it goes. See how quickly you can fill it. Look for food and medicines that are expired and get rid of them. Remember that a lot of municipalities collect unused medicines and set aside a box for proper disposal. Old or unused cosmetics can go at this point, too. 


Do it Now - Once the bag or box marked for donation is full, put it in your trunk and make an effort to drop it off. You’ve worked this hard to get this far. Just finish the job and cross it off your list.


Drawers - Look for places in all of your drawers for ways to organize them. Take the clutter off your nightstand by using dividers to organize remote controls, phone chargers, glasses, books, and beauty products. Use them same method to organize bath vanities with your cosmetics, and in credenzas to store candles. Use utility trays in office drawers to corral batteries, pens, and odds and ends. For best results, bring along measurements of contents and drawer dimensions when you shop. With clothing, fold and roll items like socks, undergarments, and t-shirts and use dividers to keep rows tidy.


Linen closets and reach-in pantries - Custom fit an existing closet with gliding shelves or drawers to keep linens and dry goods accessible and neatly organized. Label the shelves or drawers so items go back where they belong. Choose over-the door hooks that have multiple tiers to take advantage of all of the space you have.


Tame the Pet Mess - Pet toys, leashes, brushes, waste bags and small accessories can be stored neatly in a decorative divided lidded basket. If you have a dog, keep the basket in or near an entry closet so it’s handy when you’re ready to go for a walk. 


Get the kids involved - Small kids and their older siblings can help keep their toys neat and organized with a system of baskets or bins on shelves or bookcases. Label them with photos or simple drawings so kids can put away like toys when it’s time to clean up. For example, use one bucket for trains, and another bucket for play kitchen pans and food. Use an art storage cart on wheels so kids can keep crayons, paper, play dough and other messy things together. By keeping it portable, you can make sure that they’re used where it’s ok to make messes (like the kitchen) and then stored out of sight when the kids are done.


Control Papers, Mail and Receipts - Use a small rolling file to keep a handle on mail and receipts that you want to keep. Bring the file along when you want to watch TV or if you’re hanging out with the kids while they do homework. The small space available will encourage you to only keep what you need, address the matters that need addressing and get rid of the rest. Recycle newspapers and magazines with you weekly trash collection. Remember that most subscriptions come with online access to articles, so you don’t really need to keep back issues. Take pictures or scan kids drawings or school papers and save them in cloud storage rather than keeping all of the macaroni art and finger paintings from the 18+ years your children are home.


For a referral to a reliable home organizer, call your MetroTex Realtor for a referral. And be sure to visit the most trusted source for information on buying or selling a home, at www.dfwrealestate.com.

 

George Jetson doesn’t live here – but you could.

Saving time, money, energy and effort, smart home technology is now available to the masses. And it’s easier to add into your home than you might think. Have an internet connection and a router in your house? How about a smart phone? Then you’ve already got the basics to get a smart home system in place.

Whole Home Smart systems often involve a dedicated tablet mounted to a wall that controls the home systems – things like heat and air conditioning, lights, audio systems, pool equipment and security monitors. Complementary apps for your phone will let you control these things from room to room or while you’re away. For instance, Smart thermostats can have sensors placed in a room to make sure that rooms that are often uncomfortable get heated or cooled properly. Furthermore, you can change the temperature or change the thermostat to other settings while away, so you set the thermostat to away settings when you leave and can revert to the right temperature before you board the plane to come home.

But it’s not just about climate control, Captain Picard. Smart kitchen features are here, too. Refrigerators can let you know when you’re out of milk. Ovens and even the simple slow cooker are now controlled remotely to adjust temperature settings and cook times. Even plumbing gets in on the action with motion sensors instructing faucets to turn themselves off when no one is in the room. And with remote monitoring, if you get a leak under your sink or from the water heater, remote monitoring can alert you to the problem and shut off the water until a plumber can be called.

There’s no danger here, Will Robinson. Adding to the safety and security of your home is easier now with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that send alerts to you if there is an alarm. Wireless security cameras with audio are now pretty affordable and can both see in the dark and record what’s happening in your house. Garage door openers and locks are also smart enabled. No more lost keys. You can even let your neighbor in to water the plants if you forget to give them a key before you leave on vacation.

Audio and Visual equipment, always at the forefront of technological advances is certainly no exception. Sound systems that play from room to room, and televisions that turn off when you fall asleep are only the beginning. Homeowners can incorporate all of the flexibility they can imagine with shareable content and delivery.

Rosie the Maid also gets a break with the newest technology. Robot vacuums have been around for a while and can link to your phone so you can adjust the settings without having to look for the instruction manual. Even feeding the dog gets automated with wi-fi enabled pet dishes.

Many of these systems are easy enough for the DIY crowd to install.  If you’re planning on adding a lot of systems to your home though, it might be best to consult with a smart home installer to make sure the products you’re considering are scalable and compatible with a whole home system.

If you are considering upgrading your home with smart technology, consult with your MetroTex REALTOR to find out which features are most popular in your area.

For information on buying, leasing or selling a home in Texas, visit dfwrealestate.com or call a MetroTex REALTOR.

Buyers Agents! Get your Offer Noticed!

It’s tough to be a buyer’s agent these days! You’ll spend a lot of time showing every house that comes on the market as soon as it lists and writing offer after offer only to lose out to the competition. But there are some things you can do to get your offer noticed in the stack.

Network in Your Area
Get to know listing agents in your area. Give them a call and see if they have anything coming to market that meets your client’s needs. Join social media platforms that discuss properties coming to market (a simple search for “Coming Soon” and your town on Facebook will likely reveal a few groups in existence. If not, start one and invite all of the agents you know to join). They’re a great way to get a heads up on properties that will be listed, so you can see them as soon as they are active.

Call the Listing Agent
If the house looks good on paper, call the agent before you see the property. Ask what the seller’s circumstances are. Do they need a leaseback or a longer close? Are they planning on painting or changing carpet while the house is listed? Are there any special features that might not be apparent at a glance? Or, have they had a recent appraisal or inspection? Develop a relationship with the listing agent before you show the property. That way, when your buyers have questions, you’re better prepared.

Check for Documents on the MLS
Take the time to check for additional information in the MLS – things like average utility bills, seller’s disclosure, or a list of upgrades are great tools and shouldn’t be overlooked in your rush to get to a property first. The more information you have, the better.

Have Financing in Place
Make sure your buyers go through the pre-approval process and that their lender has a reliable history of closing on time. Remember that a pre-approval is much stronger than a pre-qualification letter because it demonstrates that all of the necessary documents have already been reviewed and closing won’t be held up because of things like missing tax returns or paystubs. Also, having a really good lender that understands the new closing documents and timelines is crucial. If you’ve got a good relationship with your lender and you’ve got pre-approval in place, you should be able to close reliably within 30 days even with the new lending procedures.

Call the Listing Agent Before You Write the Offer
When your clients are interested in making an offer, call the listing agent first. Ask if the sellers have a preferred closing date, if they need a lease back, and whether there are other offers. Let the agent know when to expect your offer – and meet or beat that deadline. And – tell the agent a bit about your clients – how much they love the home, how they have been looking in the neighborhood for some time, or how important it is to them to send their kids to that school. The listing agent wants to know that your buyers are motivated and serious. Make sure you have the correct email address to submit the offer. Express to your buyers that time is of the essence in this stage of the game.

Use Care When Writing an Offer
Nothing turns a seller or a listing agent away from your offer faster than an offer with mistakes. If you check a box that an addendum is attached, it had better be included the first time. Make sure all fields are addressed and that the math is right. Pay attention to the third party lender addendum, dates and conditions. Sellers want to work with an agent who will the most likely to ensure a smooth and drama-free transaction. And a big red flag is raised when a contract comes with little errors or inconsistencies.

Think hard how your structure the offer: Things like a larger earnest deposit and a larger down payment signal to the buyer that your buyers are serious and are more likely to be able to close the loan. Cash offers are great, but they won’t necessarily win the day if the other terms aren’t as good. If you’re putting in an offer that is well over list and you don’t have comps to justify that high of a sales price, make sure that it is clear that the buyer is willing to pay over appraisal value and has funds to cover the portion that the lender won’t.

Don't Request Favors.
If there are items specifically listed as included with the house, then by all means, put them in the contract offer. But don’t ask the seller to leave non-realty items without compensation, or to perform cosmetic fixes that weren’t part of the listing. If your buyers insist on some of these items, at least float it past the listing agent first to see what kind of reception that type of condition would receive. It could be that the sellers were planning on selling items before the move and it would be beneficial to them to negotiate them. Just verify before you write it.

CE Classes Can Help
Classes like Write it Right (coming up on July 10) and Secrets of Top Buyers Agents (Aug. 23) are a great way to really hone your skills and offer a chance to network with fellow agents. Register online 

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.