Thursday, June 30, 2011

4th of July Fun In Dallas - Fireworks

Kaboom Town (July 3)
This is the BIG ONE!  For sure the one to see!

Texas Rangers Stadium (July 4)
Watch the Rangers play the Orioles and then stay for the "Captain America-Disney Independence Day" fireworks show!

The 4th at Fair Park (July 4)
Fireworks start at 9:30pm.  For the best view you can watch from inside The Cotton Bowl, but families with young children note: no strollers allowed.

Lake Grapevine (July 4)
Watch from the shore or from the water.  Fireworks start at 9:30pm

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why Getting to Home Sweet Home?

A friend asked me the other day why I titled my blog Getting to Home Sweet Home.  The answer is twofold.  A few years ago I had the opportunity to take the Berkman Personality Test through the Junior League of Dallas.

At that point I had been working for PricewaterhouseCoopers a little over 4 years.  I enjoyed the people I worked with, but my career path didn't really suit me.  I wasn't excited about what I was doing, but I wasn't sure how to change it.  I knew I wanted to make a difference in peoples lives.  I also knew that working full time for a non-profit wasn't an option for me.  I love volunteering, but I have a bad habit of getting emotionally attached.  I would never go home.  Therefore, I continued with my job and volunteered my time with a few great places whenever I could.

After taking the personality test my previous thoughts were confirmed.  Did I have the head for numbers?  Yes!  Did I have the heart for numbers?  Numbers don't even have hearts!  Heck no I didn't have the heart for numbers!  Why on earth would you "heart" something that could never "heart" you back?

During this year of soul searching Stephen and I also began looking for our first home.  We had been in an apartment for 3 years and finally decided that we wanted to call Dallas home.  The best way to do that was to lay down some permanent roots.  It was during this time that I discovered I really liked real estate.  At the time we were not using a REALTOR® and I was doing most of the home searching myself while still holding down a full time job.  Talk about work?  It wasn't until the end of the process that I finally gave in and found a REALTOR®.  I immediately understood the value a full time agent brings to the table.  She knew her stuff and was one of the best in the business.  

I sat down and told her of my new love of real estate, my passion for helping people, and the desire to find a career that fit.  She told me that if I was serious about the change she would support me 100%.  She cautioned me that I would work harder than I ever had and that it had to be my full time career.  So, I took the plunge!

During that time I learned a lot about myself.  Stephen and I found our home sweet home and I found a career that feels like home.  Thus, the name of my blog and my motto... helping my clients get to home sweet home!  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


That was one nasty storm early this morning in Dallas, huh?  I woke up to some crazy thunder and lightening this morning and one heck of a downpour!  Did you wake up to much of the same?  You might have even heard the dreaded drip...drip...drip and I don't mean a leaky faucet.  When you find you have damage to your roof or any other part of your house from a storm you might think that the first person you should call is the insurance adjuster.  However, if the damage does not exceed your deductible you might be doing yourself more harm than good.

Did you know that when an insurance adjuster comes out a claim is automatically filed on the house whether the insurance company ends up paying or not?  A tip I picked up from an insurance adjuster is to go ahead and have a roofer check the issues out first.  If it exceeds your deductible call the insurance company.  If not, you have just saved yourself a claim against your property.

The reason behind this theory is that homes with a lot of insurance claims attached to them can be hard to insure.  If your property is hard to will be even more difficult to sell.

Friday, June 10, 2011

White Rock Lake - A True Dallas Star (Part 2)

In 1930, White Rock Lake became more than just a became a lake with a beach!  The Bath House (the same that stands today) was constructed along with a sand bathing beach on the east side of the lake and a boathouse was built for speed boats on the west side.  A year later a picnic shelter was built complete with stone and concrete picnic tables in the pecan grove.  These tables are still there today!

Until the 1940's more than 100 fishing cabins dotted the Lake's shoreline and Regatta's and speedboat races  were among the regularly scheduled activities.  There was also a dance pavilion beside the bathhouse as well as a floating dance pavilion and excursion boat, owned by Johnny Williams, named Bonnie Barge!

1952 was the last year the White Rock Lake Beach was open.  The summer of 1953 brought a drought in which the Lake was put back into service as a water supply and swimming was banned.  Fueled by fears of racial conflict the City of Dallas built smaller neighborhood pools and the beach was never reopened.  The ban on swimming in the lake remains in effect today.  

In 1971 the first "Run the Rock" marathon was held.  Run the Rock has become a major Dallas event over the years.  It typically starts in the Downtown area, winds its way through historic Highland Park, University Park, Lakewood, Swiss Avenue and back through Downtown.  The Marathon is capped this year at 6,000 and the Half Marathon is capped at 13,000.  Along the way are 28 sponsored bands and 28 water stops.  Many of the neighborhoods along the route also throw Marathon Watch Parties that also include their own bands.  It is a marathon that has sell out participation as well as terrific crowd support!  Remember, it was training for this marathon that I found the Lake when I first moved to Dallas!  Trust me, it's a lot of fun...and a nice "flat" course.

In 1995 a group of caring Dallasites formed For the Love of the Lake.  A grassroots effort created specifically to take care of White Rock Lake.  They have helped enhance the lake and park with projects such as picking up litter during their monthly Second Saturday Shoreline Spruce-Up events, helping to create the White Rock Lake Museum and The Celebration Tree Grove, working to restore the historic Big Thicket building and other park facilities, as well as, painting buildings and restroom murals.  Thanks to the efforts of few, many have a park to enjoy.  

From a tree lined valley, to water source, to recreation, White Rock Lake has worn many hats since its creation 100 years ago!  It truly is a a Star in Dallas and one worth celebrating this year and for many years to come!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

White Rock Lake - A True Dallas Star (Part 1)

When I moved to Dallas 5 years ago I stumbled across White Rock Lake when I began training for the White Rock Lake Marathon.  Go figure, right?  Over the years it has become my own little get away within the city.  A quiet place where I can be alone with my thoughts and unwind!  On any given day of the week  many Dallasites come out to the Lake to do much of the same whether walking, running, or cycling.

This year, White Rock Lake and Ebby Halliday have something in common.  Their 100th Birthday!  Much  like Ebby (who is also the Centennial Celebration Honorary Chairman) the Lake's party is a year long celebration.  The conclusion of the party is at the end of this month with a party at The Bath House!  However, White Rock Lake wasn't always such a "happening" place.  In fact, in the beginning, it wasn't even a lake!

Before Dallas County was even a county the land where White Rock Lake now stands was a tree lined valley in which Native Americans hunted bison!  Crazy, huh?  It wasn't until the 1840's that settlers started home steads around the valley; the names of which you might recognize. (Cox, Dixon, Humbard, McCommas and name a few)

After the Civil War many families moved to the area and established communities that surrounded the valley.  Egypt (yep, we had one of those in Texas at one point too) was on what is now the northeastern shore of The Lake, Fisher on the northwest side, and Reinhardt (roughly where what is now the Casa Linda area).  In the 1890's a Swiss immigrant, Jacob Buhrer, started a dairy farm, most of which is now below the present day Lake.

So by now you have either quit reading or are wondering why a Lake.  One word.  WATER!  Dallas was growing and without an abundance of water in sight a reservoir was needed.  By 1914, White Rock was declared full and although it was not built with recreation in mind, Dallasites quickly discovered a great place for outdoor recreation.  Fishing, boating, camping and hunting were among the first activities at the Lake.  Yep, hunting!  Hey, it's Texas!
*It was also during this time that the road around the lake was constructed  by order of the mayor Joe E. Lawther.

In the early '20's a new reservoir was constructed (what is now Lake Lewisville) and White Rock Lake became a city park.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summertime Home Projects

Summertime is almost here and millions of Americans will be starting home improvement projects.  Whether they're classified as maintenance, updating or energy saving, they should make homeownership more enjoyable.

Remodeling magazine's 2010-11 Cost vs. Value Report suggests that some improvements are a better investment than others.  Front door and garage door replacements are two of the easiest and return the greatest percentage of cost on resale.
Kitchen and bathroom updates transform an older home and instantly give visitors and buyers a fresh impression. Countertops and appliances can be expensive but yield great results.  Painting the cabinets and replacing the hardware is much less expensive to change the look and feel of the rooms.
Energy efficiency enhancements can improve your enjoyment of the home and help save money on utility costs.
  • Replace older appliances - refrigerators, ceiling fans, water heaters, air-conditioners
  • Add insulation to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter
  • Seal air leaks around doors and windows; holes in attics and crawl spaces with caulk, spray foam or weather stripping -more information
  • Seal all heating and cooling system ducts - more information
Looking through the eyes of a buyer could show you what features most date your home and could order the priority that you tackle the projects.

Monday, June 6, 2011


The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
What is the Federal Housing Administration?
The Federal Housing Administration, generally known as "FHA", provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders throughout the United States and its territories. FHA insures mortgages on single family and multifamily homes including manufactured homes and hospitals. It is the largest insurer of mortgages in the world, insuring over 34 million properties since its inception in 1934.  Did you know that you can get an FHA loan on a duplex, triplex, and quadplex as well?
What is FHA Mortgage Insurance?
FHA mortgage insurance provides lenders with protection against losses as the result of homeowners defaulting on their mortgage loans. The lenders bear less risk because FHA will pay a claim to the lender in the event of a homeowner's default. Loans must meet certain requirements established by FHA to qualify for insurance.
Why does FHA Mortgage Insurance exist?
Unlike conventional loans that adhere to strict underwriting guidelines, FHA-insured loans require very little cash investment to close a loan (3.5%). There is more flexibility in calculating household income and payment ratios. The cost of the mortgage insurance is passed along to the homeowner and typically is included in the monthly payment. In most cases, the insurance cost to the homeowner will drop off after five years or when the remaining balance on the loan is 78 percent of the value of the property -whichever is longer.
How is FHA funded?
FHA is the only government agency that operates entirely from its self-generated income and costs the taxpayers nothing. The proceeds from the mortgage insurance paid by the homeowners are captured in an account that is used to operate the program entirely. FHA provides a huge economic stimulation to the country in the form of home and community development, which trickles down to local communities in the form of jobs, building suppliers, tax bases, schools, and other forms of revenue.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Open House 5738 Greenbrier (Sunday: 3:30-5:30pm)

Charming Devonshire home beautifully updated with three bedrooms and three full baths. Light filled living and dining rooms with floor to ceiling shuttered windows, hardwoods, crown moldings and a cozy fireplace in the living room. Gourmet updated kitchen with granite countertops, stainless appliances, gas cook-top and a breakfast bar opens to large slate floored family room. Sunny breakfast room with a window seat and French doors views private brick patio and beautiful landscaped backyard. Master bedroom has two closets and a spacious master bath with a tub-shower combination, built-in vanity and a large walk in closet. Separate utility room with a sink, cabinets above the full size washer-dryer, closet and a door which accesses the backyard. Enjoy the front porch. Security. Sprinklered. Four Windows Replaced-2011. Paint-2011. Hi Efficiency Trane Indoor Gas System Replaced-2011. This home is adorable!

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Open House 7703 Kilbride Circle (Sunday: 1-3pm)

Wonderful open, light,bright floor plan on a cul de sac. This 4 bedroom 3 bath is great for entertaining indoor or outdoor by the pool. Two living areas. Nice large kitchen with granite counter tops, breakfast room that opens to the main living area. Roof with radiant barrier. Located in Richardson school district.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011



Nationwide home prices hit a new low in the first quarter of 2011.

Standard & Poor's Case Shiller Index published May 31, 2011, showed that the U.S. National Home Price Index declined by 4.2% in the first quarter of 2011.


The average sale price in the Dallas - Fort Worth and North Texas market increased 6% in the first quarter of 2011 according to NTREIS MLS statistics.

The average sale price for homes sold by The Ebby Halliday Companies - Ebby Halliday, REALTORS, Ellen Terry, REALTORS, and Dave Perry-Miller & Associates - increased 15% in the first quarter of 2011 according to company sales records.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 a GREAT DAY!

As you know, a few weeks back I wrote an article on Protesting Your Property Taxes.  Because of this article I had the opportunity to help many of you determine the market value of your home and whether it was worth protesting or not.  No charge to you of course!  As stated in a previous article, I consider helping protest property taxes a public service that I owe you!  Not the other way around!

Several of you were "lucky" enough not to have to protest...meaning your property value actually did go up.  Perhaps not so great for you to have to pay higher taxes, but property value increasing is a good thing in many ways in that it shows recovery in the market place (HURRAY)!

Some of you were "lucky" enough that your property had not gone up in value as the Dallas County Appraisal District stated and your property taxes will remain low until the next evaluation period in which we hope...most properties will have recovered by then.

This morning I received the sweetest call from one of the folks I was able to help.  A sweet man called our office a few weeks back asking for help in regards to protesting his taxes.  He is 82 years old and lives in Preston Hollow.  He already had the 65 and up deduction applied to his property taxes and the Appraisal District was still trying to increase his taxes by increasing his property value.  The number they through out was just so over the top I couldn't believe it.  So, I ran the numbers a few times to make sure that I wasn't nuts.  Then called him back and gave him the news that I thought he could get somewhere between a $40,000 and $50,000 property tax reduction.  I put the information together and put it in the mail...not thinking much of it after that.

That sweet man called me this morning and told me that with my help he was able to reduce his property value by $43,000!  This made my day!!!!  This is why I am in Real Estate - it gives me a great opportunity to serve great people!

Do you have a great property tax protest story to share?  Would love to hear it!