Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NAR Issues Call to Action to Uphold Mortgage Interest Deduction

The National Association of REALTORS® is encouraging its members to reach out to Congress to persuade them to cosponsor H.R. 25, a bipartisan House resolution offered by Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) that affirms the value and importance of the mortgage interest deduction. The associationissued a call to action this morning to help REALTORS® send a message to their representatives on this issue.

“We know in Congress that there’s a lot of questioning of whether home ownership matters,” 2011 NAR President Ron Phipps said in a video promoting the effort. “We really need to remind Congress that the mortgage interest deduction is a critical element of … the experience of home ownership.”

As currently constructed, this bill expresses the sense of Congress that the current law governing the MID must be retained, and argues that restricting the current law in any way would undermine progress in the still-fragile housing recovery.

Source: NAR

Side note: Did you know that REALTORS® are the individuals who fight for the rights of home owners? I am going to the Texas State House to do just that in a few weeks. I will be sure to report back!

REALTOR® Magazine-Daily News-NAR Issues Call to Action to Uphold MID

Monday, March 28, 2011

Take the Stress Out of Homebuying

Buying a home should be fun, not stressful. As you look for your dream home, keep in mind these tips for making the process as peaceful as possible.

1. Find a real estate agent who you connect with. Home buying is not only a big financial commitment, but also an emotional one. It’s critical that the REALTOR® you chose is both highly skilled and a good fit with your personality.

2. Remember, there’s no “right” time to buy, just as there’s no perfect time to sell. If you find a home now, don’t try to second-guess interest rates or the housing market by waiting longer — you risk losing out on the home of your dreams. The housing market usually doesn’t change fast enough to make that much difference in price, and a good home won’t stay on the market long.

3. Don’t ask for too many opinions. It’s natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas from too many people will make it much harder to make a decision. Focus on the wants and needs of your immediate family — the people who will be living in the home.

4. Accept that no house is ever perfect. If it’s in the right location, the yard may be a bit smaller than you had hoped. The kitchen may be perfect, but the roof needs repair. Make a list of your top priorities and focus in on things that are most important to you. Let the minor ones go.

5. Don’t try to be a killer negotiator. Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price or by refusing to budge on your offer may cost you the home you love. Negotiation is give and take.

6. Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself — room size, kitchen, etc. — that you forget about important issues as noise level, location to amenities, and other aspects that also have a big impact on your quality of life.

7. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate home insurance, and consider a schedule for moving. Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your bid much less attractive to sellers.

8. Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-home buying budget. Even if you buy a new home, there will be costs. Don’t leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.

9. Accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will probably pass. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big financial commitment. But it also yields big benefits. Don’t lose sight of why you wanted to buy a home and what made you fall in love with the property you purchased.

10. Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation. While U.S. homes have appreciated an average of 5.4 percent annually over from 1998 to 2002, a home’s most important role is to serve as a comfortable, safe place to live.

Reprinted from REALTOR® magazine ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Law Students Help Foreclosed Home Owners

REALTOR® Magazine-Daily News-Law Students Help Foreclosed Home Owners

Law Students Help Foreclosed Home Owners
Through a pro-bono program at Capital University’s Law School, about 50 law students in Ohio are working with home owners who are facing foreclosure and showing them how they may be able to stay in their homes by getting them more involved in the foreclosure process.

Capital Law professor Peggy Cordray launched the program in the fall. "I thought the program would be helpful to the students, but also to the home owners," she says.

Cordray says she hopes the program will help more home owners get involved in the process and find a solution to stay in their home, rather than just turn over the keys.

Few home owners pursue a settlement or see the process through, according to county statistics. In Franklin County, Ohio, 9,649 foreclosure cases were filed, but only about 1,800 home owners--less than 20 percent--pursued mediation through the county’s Mediation Foreclosure Project. What’s more, only about half of those 1,800 actually showed up at mediation.

"One of the things we find is home owners are very intimidated in even coming to court," says Eileen Pruett, the project's administrator. "After they file their request for mediation with us, we thought Capital could walk them through what they could expect."

About 160 home owners so far have gone through the program.

The law students do not offer legal advice. In the program, they offer tips to home owners on how to prepare for mediation.

"You read about how everyone is living beyond their means, but that hasn't been the case with the people I've spoken with," says Thomas Siwo, a 26-year-old law student who has worked with 15 home owners. "Many of these people have been in their home 15 or 20 years and are in their 50s or 60s."

Cordray plans to package the program so that it can serve as a model to other law schools across the country.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Celebrities' Worst Real Estate Mistakes

From asking an unrealistic sales price to buying too many homes, celebrities and their super-size homes aren’t immune to a sluggish real estate market.

Business Insider recently revealed some of the top real estate blunders that celebrities have made. Here are three:

1. Underwater with too many homes: Actor Nicholas Cage’s love for real estate ($33 million invested in homes) hasn’t been a smooth ride. He has several homes that were sold for way less than what he bought for and some that have fallen into foreclosure. Cage’s $1.7 million Newport Beach, Calif., home is listed for less than $1 million. His $15.7 million Rhode Island estate is on the market for nearly half what he paid--$7.8 million. After some IRS trouble in 2009 with one of his Louisiana properties, his two $3.5 million homes in New Orleans have been sold back to the bank for a combined $4.5 million. His $8.5 million home in Las Vegas sold for $5 million, and a $9.5 million Manhattan apartment sold for $7.5 million. But among his biggest real estate losses: His Bel-Air Tudor mansion, which was originally listed for $35 million, fell into foreclosure and is now listed at $10.5 million.

2. Unrealistic price tag: Singer Lenny Kravitz first listed his 6,000-square-foot, five-bedroom, seven-bathroom duplex in New York’s Soho for more than $17 million. Three years later, he dropped his asking price to about $13 million. With still no takers, he took the house off the market in 2006 and sank $1 million into renovations. In a down market, he re-listed the home but even higher at $19.5 million. After another three years sitting on the market, Kravitz’ real estate agents convinced him to drop the hefty price tag to $14.9 million, which led to singer Alicia Keys and Swizz Beats finally stepping in to buy the home last year.

3. Foreclosure: Singer Toni Braxton, a six-time Grammy winner, also hasn’t had much luck with real estate. She had a $2.6 million home in Henderson, Nev., fall into foreclosure and eventually sell for about $1 million. Braxton filed for bankruptcy last September after running up to $50 million in debt. Most recently, her $1.2 million home in Duluth, Ga., is now in foreclosure proceedings.

REALTOR® Magazine-Daily News-Celebrities' Worst Real Estate Mistakes

Thursday, March 17, 2011

FREE - Dallas First Time Home Buyers Information Session

You and anyone interested in learning more about the home buying process.
(Limited to the first 20 people who sign up)

FREE - First Time Home Buyers Information Session

Monday, April 11th. at 7:00pm

Coal Vines
2404 Cedar Springs Road Dallas, TX 75201


or 972-804-2930

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tipsy Tuesday: Remodeling and Contractors

12 Tips for Hiring a Remodeling Contractor

1. Get at least three written estimates.

2. Check references. If possible, view earlier jobs the contractor completed.

3. Check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau for complaints.

4. Be sure the contract states exactly what is to be done and how change orders will be handled.

5. Make as small of a down payment as possible so you won’t lose a lot if the contractor fails to complete the job.

6. Be sure that the contractor has the necessary permits, licenses, and insurance.

7. Check that the contract states when the work will be completed and what recourse you have if it isn’t. Also, remember that in many instances you can cancel a contract within three business days of signing it.

8. Ask if the contractor’s workers will do the entire job or whether subcontractors will be involved too.

9. Get the contractor to indemnify you if work does not meet any local building codes or regulations.

10. Be sure that the contract specifies the contractor will clean up after the job and be responsible for any damage.

11. Guarantee that the materials that will be used meet your specifications.

12. Don’t make the final payment until you’re satisfied with the work.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Who Represents Who

In a court of law it is pretty black and white. You have an attorney representing the prosecution and an attorney representing the defense. In real can get a little gray. Here is how to know who represents you!

Understand Agency Relationships

It’s important to understand what legal responsibilities your real estate salesperson has to you and to other parties in the transaction. Ask what type of agency relationship your agent has with you:

Seller's representative (also known as a listing agent or seller's agent)

A seller's agent is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller. The agency relationship usually is created by a listing contract.

Buyer's representative (also known as a buyer’s agent)

A buyer’s agent is hired by prospective buyers to represent them in a real estate transaction. The buyer's rep works in the buyer's best interest throughout the transaction and owes fiduciary duties to the buyer. The buyer can pay the licensee directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer's rep may be paid by the seller or through a commission split with the seller’s agent.

Disclosed dual agent

Dual agency is a relationship in which the brokerage firm represents both the buyer and the seller in the same real estate transaction. Dual agency relationships do not carry with them all of the traditional fiduciary duties to clients. Instead, dual agents owe limited fiduciary duties. Because of the potential for conflicts of interest in a dual-agency relationship, it's vital that all parties give their informed consent. In many states, this consent must be in writing. Disclosed dual agency, in which both the buyer and the seller are told that the agent is representing both of them, is legal in most states.

Designated agent (also called appointed agent)

This is a brokerage practice that allows the managing broker to designate which licensees in the brokerage will act as an agent of the seller and which will act as an agent of the buyer. Designated agency avoids the problem of creating a dual-agency relationship for licensees at the brokerage. The designated agents give their clients full representation, with all of the attendant fiduciary duties. The broker still has the responsibility of supervising both groups of licensees.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ebby!

Today, in Dallas, we celebrate a true legend. An individual who if you look up inspiration in the dictionary her picture is bound to be there. A small town girl born in Leslie, Arkansas who began selling Cloverine Salve at age 11. She later went on to selling hats in Dallas...and then on to become The First Lady of Real Estate! To this day she is in the office every day working to improve the lives of others through philanthropic ventures.

Happy 100th Birthday, Ebby Halliday!

I am honored to have the privilege of being a part of what you created!

Unsolicited advice from Ebby:

- Don't smoke, don't drink, never retire.
- Always wear your name tag on the right hand side.
- Always have a true interest in your client. They come first!

The Birthday Girl being surprised by The Little White House singing Happy Birthday before she starts her big day!

Ebby's Birthday Banner on the side of The Little White House

First Flowers of the Day

Ebby Halliday, In Her Own Words!

A break from Tipsy Tuesday Today!

The below is a great interview with Ebby Halliday, my boss on her fast approaching 100th Birthday on March 9th!

Favorite quote: "In the 30's there were no barriers, only opportunities." Ebby Halliday

What a great outlook on life!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What to do with all your stuff after a good Spring Cleaning

How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale

Garage sales can be a great way to get rid of clutter — and earn a little extra cash — before you sell your home. But make sure the timing is right. Garage sales can take on a life of their own, and it might not be the best use of your energy right before putting your home on the market. Follow these tips for a successful sale.

1. Don’t wait until the last minute. You don’t want to be scrambling to hold a garage sale the week before an open house. Depending on how long you’ve lived in the home and how much stuff you have to sell, planning a garage sale can demand a lot of time and energy.

2. Get a permit. Most municipalities will require you to obtain a special permit or license in order to hold a garage sale. The permits are often free or very inexpensive, but still require you to register with the city.

3. See if neighbors want to join in. You can turn your garage sale into a block-wide event and lure more shoppers if you team up with neighbors. However, a permit may be necessary for each home owner, even if it’s a group event.

4. Schedule the sale. Sales on Saturdays and Sundays will generate the most traffic, especially if the weather cooperates. Start the sale early, 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. is best, and be prepared for early birds.

5. Advertise. Place an ad in free classified papers and Web sites, and in your local newspapers. Include the dates, time, and address. Let the public know if certain types of items will be sold, such as baby clothes, furniture, or weightlifting equipment. On the day of the sale, balloons and signs with prominent arrows will help to grab the attention of passersby.

6. Price your goods. Lay out everything that you plan to sell, and attach prices with removable stickers. Remember, garage sales are supposed to be bargains, so try to be objective as you set prices. Assign simple prices to your goods: 50 cents, 3 for $1, $5, $10, etc.

7. If it’s really junk, don’t sell it. Decide what’s worth selling and what’s not. If it’s really garbage, then throw it away. Broken appliances, for example, should be tossed. (Know where a nearby electrical outlet is, in case a customer wants to make sure something works.)

8. Check for mistakes. Make sure that items you want to keep don’t accidentally end up in the garage sale pile.

9. Create an organized display. Lay out your items by category, and display neatly so customers don’t have to dig through boxes.

10. Stock up on bags and newspapers. People who buy many small items will appreciate a bag to carry their goods. Newspapers are handy for wrapping fragile items.

11. Manage your money. Make a trip to the bank to get ample change for your cashbox. Throughout the sale, keep a close eye on your cash; never leave the cashbox unattended. It’s smart to have one person who manages the money throughout the day, keeping a tally of what was purchased and for how much. Keep a calculator nearby.

12. Prepare for your home sale. Donate the remaining stuff or sell it to a resale shop. Now that all of your clutter is cleared out, it’s time to focus on preparing your house for a successful sale!

Foundation Tip of the Month

After the recent freezing weather, sprinkler lines might have been damaged. It is important to get any leaking lines repaired as quickly as possible because excessive pooling of water on one side of your foundation will cause a heave.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tipsy Tuesday: Short Sales - Tips for Sellers

If you're thinking of selling your home, and you expect that the total amount you owe on your mortgage will be greater than the selling price of your home, you may be facing a short sale. A short sale is one where the net proceeds from the sale won't cover your total mortgage obligation and closing costs, and you don't have other sources of money to cover the deficiency. A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when your lender takes title of your home through a lengthy legal process and then sells it.

1. Consider loan modification first. If you are thinking of selling your home because of financial difficulties and you anticipate a short sale, first contact your lender to see if it has any programs to help you stay in your home. Your lender may agree to a modification such as: Refinancing your loan at a lower interest rate; providing a different payment plan to help you get caught up; or providing a forbearance period if your situation is temporary. When a loan modification still isn’t enough to relieve your financial problems, a short sale could be your best option if:

  • Your property is worth less than the total mortgage you owe on it.
  • You have a financial hardship, such as a job loss or major medical bills.
  • You have contacted your lender and it is willing to entertain a short sale.

2. Hire a qualified team. The first step to a short sale is to hire a qualified real estate professional and a real estate attorney who specialize in short sales. Interview at least three candidates for each and look for prior short-sale experience. Short sales have proliferated only in the last few years, so it may be hard to find practitioners who have closed a lot of short sales. You want to work with those who demonstrate a thorough working knowledge of the short-sale process and who won't try to take advantage of your situation or pressure you to do something that isn't in your best interest. A qualified real estate professional can:

  • Provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) or broker price opinion (BPO).
  • Help you set an appropriate listing price for your home, market the home, and get it sold.
  • Put special language in the MLS that indicates your home is a short sale and that lender approval is needed (all MLSs permit, and some now require, that the short-sale status be disclosed to potential buyers).
  • Ease the process of working with your lender or lenders.
  • Negotiate the contract with the buyers.
  • Help you put together the short-sale package to send to your lender (or lenders, if you have more than one mortgage) for approval. You can’t sell your home without your lender and any other lien holders agreeing to the sale and releasing the lien so that the buyers can get clear title.

3. Begin gathering documentation before any offers come in. Your lender will give you a list of documents it requires to consider a short sale. The short-sale “package” that accompanies any offer typically must include:

  • A hardship letter detailing your financial situation and why you need the short sale
  • A copy of the purchase contract and listing agreement
  • Proof of your income and assets
  • Copies of your federal income tax returns for the past two years

4. Prepare buyers for a lengthy waiting period. Even if you're well organized and have all the documents in place, be prepared for a long process. Waiting for your lender’s review of the short-sale package can take several weeks to months. Some experts say:

  • If you have only one mortgage, the review can take about two months.
  • With a first and second mortgage with the same lender, the review can take about three months.
  • With two or more mortgages with different lenders, it can take four months or longer.

When the bank does respond, it can approve the short sale, make a counteroffer, or deny the short sale. The last two actions can lengthen the process or put you back at square one. (Your real estate attorney and real estate professional, with your authorization, can work your lender’s loss mitigation department on your behalf to prepare the proper documentation and speed the process along.)

5. Don't expect a short sale to solve your financial problems. Even if your lender does approve the short sale, it may not be the end of all your financial woes. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You may be asked by your lender to sign a promissory note agreeing to pay back the amount of your loan not paid off by the short sale. If your financial hardship is permanent and you can’t pay back the balance, talk with your real estate attorney about your options.
  • Any amount of your mortgage that is forgiven by your lender is typically considered income, and you may have to pay taxes on that amount. Under a temporary measure passed in 2007, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation Act, homeowners can exclude debt forgiveness on their federal tax returns from income for loans discharged in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Be sure to consult your real estate attorney and your accountant to see whether you qualify.
  • Having a portion of your debt forgiven may have an adverse effect on your credit score. However, a short sale will impact your credit score less than foreclosure and bankruptcy.