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.

 

How personal marketing now will bring you success in 2017

We’ve been talking a lot lately about building your business up in 2017. Recent blogs have covered email marketing strategies, lead generation, and rebranding. Today we’re going to look at networking and personalized marketing strategies. These are the most time-intensive activities you are likely to do, but they also are most likely to create greater dividends for your business. All of these tips are touches; they demonstrate that you care about your community and your client base beyond your paycheck.

Invest in your community. When you are active in your community, you’ll get more top-of-mind referrals. You can do this by sponsoring local events. Remember that you don’t have to create or run the event to help. For instance, if your town has a medical waste drop off day, offer to promote the event by printing and distributing door hangers in neighborhoods or posters in local businesses. If your local chamber of commerce or Rotary Club is holding a luncheon or banquet, sponsor the centerpieces and then donate them after the event to a local retirement home or hospice (and be sure to announce this at the event so people don’t walk away with them). Look for ways to give back first.

Volunteer. Get involved with a local charity or community group. Volunteer frequently and whole-heartedly. You’ll feel great knowing that you are helping a worthy cause and you will engage with people on a deeper level than if you were only marketing to them. You are your brand, and doing good in the community will encourage people to recommend you to others. Take it one step further and offer to host, sponsor or help advertise or promote a fundraiser with your charity.

Attend Professional Events. Don’t be intimidated by other agents or view them as competition. Remember, chances are that you will be conducting deals with them at some point in the future, or if they’re not in your market area, you might be able to create referral sources. Transactions with agents you already know can be a whole lot easier to manage when the lines of communication are already open. Plus, you can pre-market your listings to a receptive audience. If there aren’t enough professional groups in your market area, create your own and invite other real estate professionals and members of affiliated industries to join.

Stay in touch with your base. Regularly host an event for your friends, current and past clients and their families. It’s a fun and casual way to organically grow your network and show your gratitude to the people in your life. Events can be simple. Think happy hour. They can be seasonal. Create a mini pumpkin patch at a park and let the kids pick out their own tiny pumpkin. They can be potluck. Start a dinner club and have everyone bring something to pass. They can be unique and locally focused. Find an artisan shop near you – a chocolatier, bakery, or coffee roaster for example, and host a tasting event. They can be trendy. Hire a food truck. They don’t have to be expensive events, but they should be scheduled on a predictable and regular basis. Have a friend from an affiliated industry help you plan events if you don’t want to do it alone.

Say thank you. Send a handwritten note to anyone who gives you a referral or closes a deal with you. In fact, send handwritten notes to everyone in your sphere on a regular basis. Thank them for being active in the community, or compliment them on a job well done. When your referral client sends you a referral, go back two steps and thank the person that sent you the original client in the first place. Don’t ask for anything in return, simply show gratitude.

Ask for referrals. When clients are referred to you, they come to you with a certain level of implicit trust in the relationship before you ever show them a house. Referrals also come with responsibility. If someone refers a friend to you, they want that friend to be treated well. Be responsive and communicate with them regularly. Treat them well and demonstrate to both the new client and the old that you are honored to have earned that business. Be sure to thank the people that refer you business and make it clear to new clients that referrals are the life-blood of your business. Don’t be afraid to ask, “How am I doing?” and “Can you think of a friend, family member or co-worker who could use my help?”

Remember your business relies on people. When you’re good to the people around you, others will return the favor. It’s not always easy to stay in touch with others when we get busy, but doing so really is a fundamental key to success in real estate. We all get busy, so even if you have to block time off in your calendar and force yourself away from your desk, do it. Your efforts will be appreciated by others. And the potential upside is infinite.

Rebrand today for a successful 2017

Marketing your business well takes effort. Make the most of your time and market dollars. You can put a new spin on old school techniques and get creative with new technologies to get the word out. The rest is all about networking and following up on your efforts. Keep your pipeline flowing through the winter doldrums and get ready for an active spring by building these efforts into your business today.

Find Your Niche. Your niche doesn’t need to be based solely on geographical areas. Think about the people you’ve worked with in the past. Is there a common thread among your favorite clients that really allowed you to connect with them? Target the demographic where you’re most likely to find success and gain referrals. It could be that you work best with pet owners, or have a great relationship with a particular immigrant community. Maybe you work really well with young families. Your marketing and networking efforts should focus on connecting with that target.

Create a Slogan. When done well, a great slogan sums up your business in a short, memorable phrase. Avoid smarmy puns and aim instead for a sincere, reassuring tone. Great slogans will create an emotional connection. Keep your slogan short for maximum impact. Think about your niche and how your slogan can reflect that. Some examples we’ve seen online include luxury brand Kerwin & Associates’ Exceptional Properties. Exceptional Clients and Podley Properties’ Your Next Chapter Starts Here. Both are simple and direct and convey a certain message about the client. Kerwin & Associates slogan gives them an air of exclusivity. Podley Properties convey that they are able guides through the transition that a move brings. What feeling do you want to convey about your brand?

Update your value proposition. Write a short statement about yourself and your company that highlights your unique strengths and qualifications. Underscore how they benefit your clients and your community. Be prepared to use your value proposition when you meet someone new and in your marketing materials.

Write your Bio. With your target audience, slogan and value proposition in mind, write a short bio that emphasizes your professional qualifications and your values. Clients should get a sense of your personality, experiences, and interests. Use this in your presentations and on the “About Me” page of your website.

Get a professional headshot. Unless you’ve had a headshot taken in the past couple of years, it’s time to update your photo. No selfies, please! You are your brand and you want people to respect you as a professional. Hire a photographer who can give your photo proper lighting, positioning, and in several formats and sizes for reproduction. A good photographer can show you how to optimize your headshot for social media, websites and print materials.

Create a marketing plan. Now that you’ve defined your target market and your brand identity, it’s time to develop a strategy to make it all come together. What strategies can you incorporate to underscore your brand this year? Dream up a big, audacious goal and take small steps every day toward achieving that dream. For instance, break up your marketing strategies into time-specific increments: what can you accomplish annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily? Taking the time to plan out the year will help you prioritize.

Now you’ve got a good foundation for creating a successful marketing campaign. Watch for our upcoming blogs where we’ll discuss how to implement your new brand through altruism, networking, social media campaigns, and advertising.

Top tips for making the most out of your website

We all know that everyone goes to websites when they are checking out a new business. Unfortunately, a lot of agents don’t really have a strong online presence, or they rely on their broker’s website. The problem with relying solely on your broker’s website is that their site is not going to help you reach your sphere or stand out from the crowd. If you really want to up your online game, you should have multiple websites. Keep your broker’s site, of course, and also have a site for your existing sphere to get your personalized message. Take it a step further and add sites for prospecting. Fortunately, you don’t have to be tech savvy these days to set up great looking websites or to keep them active. Use this guide to help you along.

Find a service to help you. There are a ton of services that offer website design and hosting at very reasonable prices. Search for website design and hosting or check out well-known services like SquareSpace, Wix, Bluehost, or Weebly. They offer simple tools to get you started.

Be mobile. No matter how many sites you have, the one critical factor must be that it looks good and works well on every device. This is called having a responsive website. That means that no matter if your client is looking online through a computer, phone, or tablet, the site is easy to use and makes sense. You want to make sure that anyone who goes to your site has a good experience and is left with a positive impression. First impressions matter. They won’t be back if the website is clunky.

Make it easy to get in touch. Put your contact info on every page of your website. Include a clear Contact Us page. Be consistent and friendly.

Be easy to find. Include content in your website that make it easy for search engines like Google and Bing to find you. This is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It sounds tricky, but it’s really not to add keywords to your site if you keep your target market in mind. Think of terms that would be attractive to them, including the name of your town, school district, popular neighborhoods or attractions near you, or popular features that are found in your listings.

Be useful. Make sure you update listing information and add new content at least once every week. Offer online calculators that help figure out monthly payments. Offer a local calendar of events and invite your clients to participate. Include maps of local features like school zones, parks, restaurants or bike trails.

Blog. Create a blog to answer common questions and offer advice. Use it to present a local monthly market report (note: if you don’t have the data, call us and we’ll be happy to send it to you.) Ask local businesses or your entrepreneur clients if they want to offer a guest blog. It helps them get the word out about their business and gives you fresh content. Not all of the content you post must be your own. You can publish other’s blogs as long as you give the author credit and include a link. Make sure to share your blog on social media and in email campaigns so you know it is being seen and read by your sphere.

Create online guides or ebooks for prospecting. Create a short ebook that offers tips for buyers, sellers, and homeowners. For instance, think about topics like “Top Fall Maintenance Tips” or “Secrets of Successful Staging.” Create a separate website that hosts these guides and make sure to require prospects to provide an email address to access the full content.

Make it visually appealing. Include pictures from around your town, including landmarks, familiar sites, festivals, or annual events. Include original art to make your brand stand out. Not the creative type? Sites like Canva and BeFunky offer user-friendly graphic design tools to create interesting icons and images with ease.

Use Video. Marketing with video can go way beyond property tours. Showcase your local knowledge, tell prospects about your company, and yes, show off listings. But you can also create short, funny videos that riff on popular culture. Some agents have been known to make parody videos out of popular songs, or offer a light-hearted look at current events or review a new local restaurant. Keep them short and shareable.

Include an e-mail opt-in. Offer to send market updates, newsletters, or monthly tips for homeowners, for example, and ask people to opt-in. This will help you build your base for your drip campaigns (we’ll get to drip campaigns in an upcoming blog).

Add sharing. Most website builders will let you add the ability to share your site or blog to Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social sites and by e-mail. Make sure to use them. Sharing content is critical for generating traffic and building online recognition.

Include reviews. You earned a great review from a client, so show it off! Solicit testimonials from happy customers and include them on your site. They matter.

Remember, a successful website will be mobile, relevant and updated. Start small by incorporating a few of these tips and build up to a full site as you get more comfortable with your online presence. Block out a little time every week to make certain your site is refreshed and visually appealing. You’ll be amazed at how much difference a great website makes.

Are your clients in line with local and federal Non-Discrimination policies?

Guest blog by David Sparling, Diversity and Housing Initiatives Chair

"Every American deserves to live with dignity, regardless of who they love or who they are. HUD is committed to fighting unjust discrimination and to expanding housing opportunity for all. We believe there are no second-class citizens. And I will do every single thing that I can to make sure that everyone is protected."
- HUD Secretary Julián Castro

While the NAR Code of Ethics clearly prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, local and federal housing policies are often unknown or unclear to the public. Protect your clients and make sure they understand current non-discrimination policies wherever they are in the Metroplex.

Working towards ending housing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is part of HUD’s ongoing mission to give every person and family access to a safe, secure and affordable home. Though the Fair Housing Act does not specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases, HUD’s position is very clear: one may not discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

HUD believes the Fair Housing Act offers protection for people who do not conform to gender stereotypes. For example, a landlord may not discriminate against an individual because he believes the person acts in a manner that does not conform to his notion of how a person of a particular sex should act. In addition, HUD uses the Gender Identity Rule to further require that transgender persons and other persons who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth be given equal access to programs, benefits, services, and accommodations in accordance with their gender identity.

On the local level, Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano also have specific non-discrimination ordinances offering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents protection against discrimination in housing and other environments.

Rules your clients should know:

It is prohibited for any landlord or housing provider who receives HUD or FHA funds to discriminate against a tenant on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.

It is prohibited for a lender to deny an FHA-insured mortgage to any qualified applicant based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

It is illegal to deny housing because of someone's HIV/AIDS status under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It is prohibited for homeless facilities to segregate or isolate transgender individuals solely based on their gender identity who are homeless and seeking shelter.

If you believe your clients have experienced (or are about to experience) housing discrimination, you may contact HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for help at (800) 669-9777. You may also file a housing discrimination complaint online.

Additionally you may contact your local HUD office for assistance with alleged violations of HUD’s Equal Access Rule and other program regulations.

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.

Attention Realtors! You and your clients are a prime target for cybercrime.

Take steps today to protect yourself, your business and your clients from these silent and malicious thieves. And make sure to tell your clients how you protect their information and their transaction and give them tips to protect themselves as well. 

Use best business practices with your data at all times. In your office, make sure everyone follows formal policies for ensuring data security. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Create unique logins and passwords for your online accounts. Use an algorithm or online password generators to help you create stronger passwords. Keep the passwords secure in an app or program and never save them to your computer. Change them regularly.
  • Never use free WiFi to conduct business.
  • Avoid using free email account services for business. Clean out your email account regularly. Store important emails on your hard drive.
  • Create an office-wide document retention policy. Store documents in a secure, locked location. If several people have keys to your office, make sure file cabinets and drawers are kept locked. ID theft can happen anywhere. Do not store documents longer than necessary, especially those with personal information. Destroy documents that are no longer needed.
  • Use an email encryption program whenever sending confidential information.
  • Never trust contact information in unverified emails. Do not click on links and do not reply to emails that look suspicious.
  • Educate your clients on how to properly send wire transfers. Have them call the intended recipient before wiring funds and have them verify wiring instructions. If wiring instructions are sent by email, have your client still call to verify as scammers are getting very good at sending fake instructions in order to misdirect funds. If a money wire has gone out with the wrong information, immediately contact the bank to try and stop the funds and immediately notify all affected parties.
  • If you do find that your data has been breached, contact any parties who might have been impacted, call the police, talk to an attorney and report the breach to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center:  http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.

Remember, cybercrime is no joke and it is here to stay. Do your best to protect yourself and your clients. For more information, visit the NAR page about realtor safety here and join us on October 20 for the popular REALTOR Safety Matters class to learn more about protecting both your physical and virtual safety. 

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.

Showing Courtesy and Professionalism When You’re Showing

With the burgeoning spring market, temptation to skip past the rules and forget common courtesy can get the better of us. But showing violations are a serious matter and shouldn’t be taken lightly. For your own protection, please remember to follow the MLS & Key Service Rules.

Things that are never allowed:

  • Showing properties without an appointment
  • Giving lockbox combination codes to clients 
  • Allowing clients to go alone to properties
  • Giving Supra Keys to either an assistant or client and allowing them to open lockboxes in violation of the rules.

What are the consequences? How does being charged a$500 fine and being required to take TREC Legal 1 and Legal 2 courses sound? You may also be liable if something happens when an unauthorized showing happens and your key was used to access the property. Further, imagine your embarrassment if your client is visiting a property without authorization and gets in trouble for trespassing. Or defending yourself when it turns out the client gets bit by a dog that would have been removed if the showing had been authorized. Try winning that deal back. You also risk assuming liability if there is a theft of the seller’s property.

What should you do if you encounter an issue like this? Email a detailed account of the issue along with any CSS or other appointment records and/or a report from the Supra box showing who opened the box. Email the complaint to cathyf@dfwre.com.

Avoid a messy situation and remember these rules:

  •  ALWAYS Make the required appointments as directed in the “Showing Instructions”.
  •  NEVER give lockbox combination codes to clients or any other third party.
  • NEVER allow them access to a listed property without you.
  • NEVER loan your Supra key to anyone.

Remember, Supra key rules are in place to protect you, the Seller, and the Buyers.

Please enjoy this thriving market while it lasts. Don’t make mistakes that can deprive you of your ability to reap the benefits of a healthy market.

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.

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

 

REALTOR Challenge: How Well Do You Know the Industry?

2016 MetroTex Leadership Academy Grads to Shape the Association, Industry in an Era of Massive Growth for North Texas

If you’re not familiar with the MetroTex Leadership Academy graduates, you should be. They are the movers and shakers of North Texas real estate and they are shaping the future of the industry both in North Texas and nationwide. Designed to identify and develop future leaders for the Association, the Leadership Academy pushes members to become active in their communities, to get to know the legislative issues arising that impact homeowners, to become active in leadership roles within the Association and to become their best selves.


Leadership Academy students are expected to commit a significant amount of time and effort in the program; some participants go beyond the strict requirements to graduate with honors. These dedicated members embody the spirit of the Leadership Academy in a special way.
This year’s graduating class produced four amazing honors candidates. They’ve devoted hours to attend civic meetings, volunteer in our community, participated in MetroTex and TAR meetings, and read the words of respected business leaders, all while participating in the program and, oh by the way, running their businesses. 


So kudos to you, 2016 honors grads. You’ve accomplished a lot in 10 months! And congratulations to all of our 2016 MetroTex Leadership Academy graduates. We know you have a bright future ahead of you. 

There are 28 new graduates of the MetroTex Leadership Academy this year. Congratulations to the Class of 2016!

Aundrea Allen*                                                              Tamaria Johns*                                 
Ericka Alvarez                                                        Brenda Kronenberg*
Wanda Arias*                                                         David Lee*
Beth Arnold                                                           Kyle Lyo
Brandon Arnold*                                                   Paulette Mahome*
Kyle Baugh                                                            Chris Martinez*
Andrea Bell* Summa Cum Laude                         Gwen Moore* Cum Laude
Sabrina Bell Summa Cum Laude                          Grant Myers*
Carol Blair                                                              Amy Rakoczy
Matthew Byrd                                                        Leti Ramos Cum Laude
Jennifer Clark*                                                       Laura Stuckey*
Diane Davis*                                                          Chelsea Walley*
Ronnie Eckel*                                                         Maria Ward*
Laneal Ernest*
Jeff Fielde                                                              *Denotes perfect attendance.

 

 

 

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.