For those who follow me with this blog, you know I usually am pretty transparent. While I write about real estate and provide information about home ownership, I also share some snippets of real life. With Christmas just around the corner, I wanted to do just that in this post.
My husband and I have gone through several times of financial difficulties. One such time was in the early 90's while living in a suburb of Houston. We had moved there to start a new life and bought a foreclosure home. The home had some damage when we bought it and we had to immediately make some repairs to make it livable, but it was comfortable, and we could afford it at the time.
After a while, I began having some health issues, and then my husband lost his job. It was just before Christmas, and we lived several hours away from family. Due to our financial situation, we knew we couldn't go home for Christmas. This particular year was just going to be our little family, in our little home. My daughters were in 5th and 7th grade and while they had their wants, we knew we couldn't afford much. They were such sweet kids and excited that we were just going to be together and alone for Christmas.
While this may sound like the beginning of a Hallmark movie, it didn't feel like one. I made a special dinner for Christmas Eve, and we all were semi-excited about Christmas, but had a sadness none-the-less. We sat around and watched Christmas movies and went to sleep hoping for some sort of Christmas miracle.
The next morning, we got up, gathered around our sad little tree, and began opening gifts. The girls seemed genuinely happy for the sneakers they got and dug into the gifts from my mom and dad. I have no clue what else they got because I was too shocked when I opened my little gift.
As I opened the sleek box, there was tissue paper (light pink) as I recall, and when I opened it, there were 2 pairs of underwear.
What the heck?
For those who are older, you may remember that our parents shopped in Department Stores. Department stores were similar to Macy's and Dillard's but were not near as large and always carried nice things. This was where you bought nicer clothes, household items, and gifts. This box and the underwear, obviously came from a nice Department store.
We were all puzzled, then Earl opened the envelope with his name on it. There was a large check with sweet words of encouragement written on the card.
We had always joked that Earl was her favorite, but this really proved it. I got panties and Earl got a check.
It was cold and rainy that day, but we all went down to the local school and played basketball, then home in front of the fire and played cards. While we didn't have a lot that year, it soon became one of the best Christmas's we've had.
It took me years to understand the truth behind the underwear, and now I cherish it. You see my mom was one of 6 kids that went through the depression. She never had much, then when I was young, our family went through our fair share of financial struggles.
Silk underwear was a luxury to her. She knew that I was sacrificing personally to provide for my kids, and in her mind, something this extravagant would never be something I would purchase for myself. Expensive silk underwear, wrapped in tissue, in a nice gift box.
While this may be 'TMI' for many of you, I shared this story because most of the time, the simplest of gifts are the most memorable. Maybe we should all decide to go simple this year.
Economic experts are saying we are either in a recession or moving to a recession. Those days in Houston, Texas was in a deep recession. The house we bought was in a neighborhood where most of the homes were repossessed and vacant. We happened to be just one of many families in our little church that were experiencing financial difficulties. After the first of the year, we were able to move back to the metroplex to be close to family and the promise of a job. We made it through that season and have had many wonderful Christmas's since then.
I wanted to share this story simply because, as we get older, we remember the memorable moments more than the big moments. Purpose to make this holiday season memorable. Regardless of what you are facing, you will make it through, and who knows, maybe you will have a simple, memorable Christmas.
As a realtor, I have become all too familiar with people who are not aware of the importance of maintaining their unit. Whether you have a Heat Pump, or another type of unit, it is as important as changing the oil in your car. One client of mine, had to replace their unit in order to sell their home because they had not maintained it properly. This cost them a big chunk of money they had anticipated having for their new home.
Now is the perfect time to have someone come out and check it over. Don't wait until you are freezing and realize it isn't working properly. A service call is a fraction of the cost of a new unit, and if there are any problems developing, they can let you know now before it becomes an issue.
Our climate in North Texas can go from balmy and warm to sub-freezing in just a matter of hours. That change alone can put a strain on your unit, especially if it is older. Some older units have lasted well beyond their expected end date, just because the owner performed regular maintenance. By changing the filters every few months, and having annual checkups, you can be assured your system will work to its full potential.
My husband and I learned the lesson of taking care of our HVAC unit many years ago, and realized that since a unit is such a large expense, it makes sense to purchase an annual maintenance plan. It is relatively inexpensive and well worth the money.
Understanding how your unit works is also very important. If you have a HEAT PUMP, have a technician go over how to use the thermostat with you. Several years ago, we bought a house with a Heat Pump and no one ever explained how to use it properly. We spent hundreds of dollars on electric bills because the service tech never told us about the EM HEAT setting and when to use it. When my friend, who owns Ary Co AC told me how to operate it, I quickly switched to his company.
I was helping someone buy a home with an older unit. We requested the seller have service done on the unit to see what kind of condition it was in. They contacted Ary Co A/C & Heat LLC and upon inspection, they were told the unit worked fine, and didn't need to be upgraded or changed. I know other companies that would have taken the opportunity to make money off of the sellers. That is why we use them exclusively.
Whether you use Ary Co or not, please contact a reputable company to check on your unit if you do not have a maintenance plan. It may save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
By the way, Ary doesn't compensate me for this. I've just had too many bad stories to tell of problems with units and unethical companies. There are a lot of good HVAC companies out there, so just investigate.
Stay warm everyone, who knows what this winter will bring!
To contact Ary AC, go to Air Conditioning & Heating Repair (aaryhvac.com).
Oh, and one final meme, just because I thought it was funny.
You are only 1 Decision away from a totally different life. This quote by Charles Spurgeon has impacted my life, so I decided to start a podcast about it.
In my podcast, I explore the 3 foundations of the podcast which are Character, Leadership and Integrity. I will interview interesting people as they tell their story of their 1 Decision as well as give tips, encouragement, and understanding to help you make your 1 Decision that could change your life. Some interviews will be leaders who provide tools to motivate you to move forward, and I'll also provide some teaching opportunities, to help you know how to make a wise decision.
If you want more information on my podcast and my new leadership platform, please email me at email@example.com.
Early voting started today, October 24, 2022, and will end on Friday, November 4th. This election, as all elections are extremely important for many reasons. So please take time to vote.
If you live in Wise County, you can go to Elections | Wise County, TX, to get everything you need. From polling locations, days and times, to a sample ballot. There are several things on the ballot, besides the candidates, so understanding the ballot is very important, as well as knowing the candidates and what they stand for.
Texas Realtors, the organization that licenses realtors, has put together a voter's guide to help you know which candidates they support.
TREPAC, Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee interviews candidates all over the state. They are a bi-partisan organization, and base their choices on those candidates that support personal property rights, as well as personal integrity. If you are a property owner, you will want to support someone who protects your interests and works to keep taxes at bay.
To find out what candidates TREPAC supports in your area, you can go to www.texasrealtorssupport.com.
I love living outside of the big cities. I truly do.
We lived in the metroplex (DFW) for most of my life, then when we moved out to Wise County, discovered just how much fun it is to live in a place where almost every weekend, when the weather is good (and sometimes not so good) there is some sort of festival or fun thing going on.
Saturday we ventured out to a full day of visiting different festivals and events. The weather was beautiful so we needed to get out and see what was happening.
First, in Decatur, was the Biker Bash, hosted by Full Armor Church. We know the Pastor, Doc Dennis and his team, so going out to see what was happening there, was a must.
Then we headed north to Bowie's famous Chicken and Bread Days. We met a Bowie treasure and she shared the story of Chicken and Bread days. We had such a great time that I did an entire podcast about it. Take some time to listen, you will be glad you did as I share a tidbit of Texas history. As well, you will discover the grit of a true Texas hero. To view the podcast, go to https://rumble.com/v1mey2o-episode-9-the-legacy-decision.html.
It was a beautiful day, and the streets were full of antique cars, so my hubby really enjoyed it. There were food vendors, people selling their wares, a barrel train for the kiddos, and lots of other great stuff. Even a Fiddling Contest.
Then we rounded off the day by going to a fish fry. We live in a tiny town, called Alvord. We only have a Volunteer Fire Department, so they have a fish fry every year to raise money. I love helping sponsor, but we also attend every year. They have a silent, then a live auction, even auctioning off homemade cakes. I think the cakes are what brings in the most money.
It's always so nice to see our friends and neighbors, eat some good fish, and just enjoy the evening. Even watching the kids play ball out by the fire trucks.
We went home that evening tired, full, and happy.
We had no idea how wonderful it is to live in such an amazing community.
All the years we lived in a metropolitan area, we had no idea these things took place. We never knew that in one day we could visit 3 different towns with 3 different events, and meet so many precious people.
There are things like this going on all the time here in Wise and Montague Counties, almost every month, if not every weekend.
I am truly grateful for all the hard work and the heart it takes to do these events.
Recently I found myself home, in bed, or in my easy chair after a nasty fall in my house. Not because of clutter but because my dog is black, and the lights were all off. While recuperating, I watched a lot of different things on my Roku TV, including YouTube.
I came across a TEDx Talk by an organizational expert called Sandra Lane. I love TED talks, at least mostly, but this one, I knew would be beneficial. Not just for me as a reminder, but for me to share with you, and possibly with prospective clients.
Clutter is one of the biggest issues I repeatedly come across in Real Estate. Elderly parents or family members pass, and their children, or others are left to deal with the clutter. Another, very common scenario takes place over time, many years in fact, living in the same home. Clutter just happens. No one seems to know how or when, but often a very nice, well-kept house, begins to grow piles, or collections and soon, the residents are overtaken.
I'll get a call to look at the home to sell, and I struggle to tell people they have to de-clutter and get it cleaned up first. If the potential buyers are OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), even a very light case of it, clutter can absolutely overwhelm them. Some will just walk away, even if the home is perfect for them. Or if they are just organized people, and like a neat and tidy home, then clutter will make them feel like something is wrong with the home, even when it is in good shape. It is often very hard for them to picture themselves living there, they can't imagine the space without the clutter.
Decluttering is absolutely essential to selling a home. It is also absolutely essential to mental and physical health, as well as a more comfortable environment. There have even been some families who wanted to sell because they needed more room, and once they decluttered found out they didn't need to move. They just needed to better utilize the space they have.
Did you know clutter also costs you money? 1 in 10 families rent an outside storage unit on a regular basis, just to handle the stuff they don't have room for. The more clutter in your home, the more your HVAC system has to work to cool down, warm up, and even moderate the air around all of the clutter. If the clutter is in the wrong places, or is a home to unwanted 'critters', it can cost your health. And, if it prevents you from being able to find crucial pieces of information, ie bills, or important documents, it could cost you in the long term.
I could go on, but you get my drift. I am a recovering 'clutterer.' I struggled for years with this issue, but after having to deal with it in my own life, the life of family, and now with clients, I thought I would share this wonderful video with you.
Take a few minutes to watch it and start decluttering. You may decide you love your house again after all. If not, give me a call, I'd love to help you sell it, and move onto a new life!
There are many other decluttering techniques out there as well. Do some research, but don't take too long. You do need to start decluttering sooner rather than later. You will be glad you did.
You are only 1 decision away from a totally different life, just 1. It may be big, it may seem simple, but it can change your world.
What is your 1 decision?
I recently started a podcast series called 1 Decision. It is not specifically about real estate, but I have seen so many issues with this in my work, I thought I’d write about it. So here goes.
Remember that inaction is an action, indecision is a decision. Purposeful decisions allow you to have control over the direction you go. Make that 1 purposeful decision and see where it takes you!
The reason for the name 1 Decision is that a few years ago, my husband and I had gone through some tough times in our lives, and I learned the power of 1 decision. We were really struggling. We had gone through bankruptcy, family issues, health issues, etc., and while we didn’t lose our house, we did end up having to sell it. I found myself, after many years having owned a business and a ministry, going back into an entry level job. While I enjoyed the work, it was nowhere near what I really wanted to do or where I wanted to be.
Then, one day a meme popped up on my Facebook page. I realized in that moment that I really was only 1 decision away from making some real, positive changes in our lives. At that time, we were in a rental home that was miserable, and while I enjoyed my job, I needed more. When I saw that meme, I knew I needed to make a change. So, I sat down and prayed and asked God to give me direction to make a change in my life.
I had become friends with someone who was a realtor and one day, my husband Earl and I were talking about retirement. We were getting close to age and while I can never see myself as being someone who totally retires, I still have to do something. I had my real estate license many years before and he mentioned that maybe I should get my license again. Suddenly we both felt like that should be the direction I take.
He had a good job, and we were comfortable financially, but knew it was going to be a struggle to get through the classes. So, I worked very hard, studying before work, during lunch, and even after work and 6 months later I took the test and passed. And I was off, into the real estate biz.
Initially I worked full time, but after a bit realized that I could not handle my clients well if I was only working at it part time, so I quit my job. Eventually my husband retired, and I am continuing in real estate, living a very comfortable life.
In real estate, whenever I have a property listed and we receive an offer from a buyer, I always tell the seller that they have 3 choices. The seller can accept, reject, or negotiate the offer. We have those same 3 choices constantly in our life.
We can accept where we are, or we can reject it, and make the choice to make a change, or we can negotiate and maybe pivot toward a change. In other words, we can make a smaller decision that eventually can lead to a bigger decision.
One of our biggest problems though is procrastination. We can almost become polarized when faced with making a decision. I have struggled a great deal with procrastination, but indecision is a decision. And whether we like it or not, it is changing your life. So, there are many areas you can make changes in to make your life better.
Health, marriage, finances, relationships, job, investments, you name it. But knowing you need to make a change, then continually procrastinating is a decision really to not do that thing.
Day 1 is much better than 1 day. In other words, when you make a decision to make a change, make it day 1, don’t put it off. If you make a decision, do something daily towards that decision. Even if all you do is write out the decision and maybe set goals, that is something. Forward movement.
But making the decision to make a change, then never doing anything about it, will cause you to soon forget it and put it on the back burner day after day. Then you will see that you wasted a lot of time.
I had clients that told me they wanted to sell their home in a metro area and move out to the country. I sent them some information, asked to set up a meeting to come to their house and discuss it, and waited. They kept telling me they wanted to find a house first. While that may sound like a good idea, I have found that is really not a good idea at all. Often people are unaware at just how long it takes to get everything ready to sell a home. Then it makes it easier to move forward with the information you need, in order to purchase a home.
Occasionally they would send me homes they wanted to look at to buy. However, because their house was not on the market, and they had not gotten pre-approved for a loan to purchase a home, it was hard news to continually tell them that looking at houses before they were ready to sell, was not wise.
Eventually an entire year went by, and they missed an opportunity they had their hearts set on.
Procrastination caused devastation.
It doesn’t matter if it is a big thing, or a little thing. If we continually procrastinate, it can keep us from being where we want to be in life, and before you know it, you have a lot of regrets.
So just simple choices can affect our life all the time.
If you make a decision, make a plan, set goals, set deadlines. Nothing worth having is without sacrifice. You may have to sacrifice time, effort, money, whatever. Just do it and make this day 1.
If you have made a big decision and it seems daunting, then break it down into small increments to make it easier to take.
Many times, we don’t see the results we are looking for because we are setting the wrong parameters for our goals. So initially make a small change, then make another change after a week or two, then soon, you will begin to notice the fruit of those changes.
If you make decisions every day to live a better, more joyful, more glorious life, you can. Our economy is kind of crazy right now. You can either sit in your life right now, complain, mumble, grumble, moan, and accept where you are, or you can make a change to make a better life. Even if you can’t make the entire change right now, make the small changes to become better and change your life. Don’t put it off.
Let’s say you want to buy a new home. I deal with this a lot in real estate, but if you have credit issues, or no money to buy a home, then get with someone who understands how to do it. Don’t ask just a friend or family member that has done it once, often that advice is really not the best advice. Get with a professional, reach out to a realtor, lender or financial person. Make a plan, a long-range plan then break it up into short term goals. Before you know it, you will see your dream come to pass.
Often people make really bad decisions on the fly. They decide to buy that expensive car that they really don’t need, just because they like it. A big thing now is to buy the latest smartphone. Those things are so expensive, and you pay for it for years in your plan. Maybe you don’t ‘need’ it like you think you do.
I read an article years ago about a homeless man sitting on the street in New York talking to someone. The man saw Donald Trump walking down the street and the homeless man said, ‘I wish I was like him.’ His buddy reminded him that he was better off than Donald trump. At that time, Trump had gone through some huge financial losses and bankruptcy. His buddy reminded the homeless man that he was in better shape than Mr. Trump because ‘at least you aren’t 92 million dollars in debt.’
It's all about perspective. Stay strong, make that 1 decision.
As we go into the summer months in Texas, it is not only a time of heat, but often drought conditions. While we may not necessarily have an immediate problem, we must be conscious of any potential issues and be good stewards, taking care of what we do have.
I am not an extreme conservationist, but I do believe in protecting our resources, water being most precious.
Recently, I attended a wonderful event at our Wise County Fairgrounds, where the Upper Trinity Groundwater District provided a grant to install a Rainwater Harvesting System, basically a 65,000 gallon barrel, which collects rainwater from some of the larger barns and buildings. This water can then be filtered and used for a variety of things, helping lessen any potential strain on the city well system.
Also, at the event, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office in Wise County, was there to provide some wonderful resources, we can all use. Instead of telling you about them, I just want to give you some brief highlights and links to these resources. Besides, they can explain this better than I can.
As a realtor, I have seen a lot of growth in the past couple of years, which is a cause for real concern. There are already parts of our area where water is a big concern, simply because we have been in drought seasons more than not in the past several years. To give you a brief idea of what I am talking about, let me explain.
Large areas such as cities and towns, and even some communities, may have a public or commercial well system. These systems rely on a variety of resources, providing water for their citizens. Some get it from area lakes, others have huge wells. But the cost of maintenance and getting the water to the consumer is always an issue. Some of the towns in my area, often have 'boil water' notices because of aging systems, or breakdowns. Fixing these systems are not always an easy fix, because of the financial burdens on the cities.
Many people in rural areas rely solely on wells. Many wells have a 'recharge' rate, which means that they are not always down into an unending supply of water. They are often drilled into a 'pool' of sorts, and as long as rain comes, it can filter down into that pool and the end-use will have water. But in drought seasons, the pool may not refill quickly or properly. Or if the pool is connected to an underground spring, the spring may not refill quickly enough when the well experiences high usage. This alone is one reason not to use your well to fill a large pool. There are places to buy large amounts of water that can be delivered and not put the stress on your well system.
One of my clients had a regulator on his well that cut off at a specific time of day. This allowed the underground pool to recharge or refill, and they could not use the water during that time. They learned how to work around it, but it was better than the well going dry because they just continued to use it without regard.
There are areas in this part of Texas where the wells have gone dry, and other areas where there is just no water under that particular piece of land. I personally had a situation where a customer, who wanted a 20-acre tract of land, contacted a well digger only to find out water was 'spotty' in that area. So, they decided to dig a test well before they even bought the property, just to make sure they had water. It was an expensive endeavor, costing them over $3,500. They were able to move forward with the purchase because luckily, they did find water. However, the area they were in had another landowner who has no water. just a short distance away.
This, among many other reasons, is why I tend to be a bit passionate about this. Water is not a never-ending resource in Texas, like in times past. We have to be good stewards of it.
Here are a few links with resources that will help you navigate and protect our water resources.
Water for the future, starting now Because Texas enjoys a vibrant economy and continued population growth, ensuring we have enough water for current and future Texans remains a top priority in the state....Cities and counties may also offer planting guides and information about conserving water resources through careful landscape selection and watering practices....Excess water pressure can cause significant water loss.
Click below to see the entire brochure.
Water Well Basics
Texas landowners are responsible for managing the drinking water from their private wells. To protect your water supply, you need to keep records on each well, manage potential sources of contamination, and test your water at least once a year.
Protect Your Water Well During Drought
During severe droughts, people rely heavily on groundwater—the water held underground in aquifers. An aquifer can become depleted when more water is pumped out of it than is replenished by rainfall or other water sources. If the water level drops below the point of your pump intake, the pump could be damaged.
For other resources on this subject go to Texas Well Owners Network at Fact Sheets - TWON (tamu.edu)
Each week the Texas Water Development Board posts information on drought conditions, as well as a lot of other great information on Texas waterways.
Follow them on Facebook, then check out their website so you can be in the know for all things Texas Water.
(20+) Texas Water Development Board | Facebook
Finally, if you are looking to purchase land, or just want to understand more about the efforts in this area, be sure to check out UTGCD.
The Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District exists to help protect and conserve water within the Upper Trinity Aquifer. Through registration of wells, education and outreach to citizens, and cooperation with local government, we seek to allow for accessible and clean water for generations to come. Our region includes Montague, Wise, Parker, and Hood counties. We aim to respect and protect the rights of landowners with their groundwater, as well as the environment and ecosystem. Please call, email, or visit with us; we look forward to working with you!
Home - Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District (uppertrinitygcd.com)
Connecting you with July 4th Fun!
"For over 30 years, ABC used this line at the opening of their Wide World of Sports programs. During the introduction, with music blaring, the announcer would say "The Thrill of Victory," while the scene of a car driver opening a bottle of champagne was playing. Then the scene would shift to a video few can forget. A skier going off of a slope and crashing down, rolling hundreds of yards before stopping, while the announcer was saying 'And the Agony of Defeat.' The entire world felt the pain and grimaced at not only the image, but at the idea of such a spectacular failure.
1978 photo from ABS Sports
While this may seem to be a bit overdramatized for real estate, it happens a lot in this market, any market for that fact.
A seller may have a huge victory when they sell their home quickly and for way over the list price, and a buyer may be absolutely defeated after losing so many homes because they just can't make the grade on a bid.
Recently, I had to tell a client they had lost the home they wanted so badly, because they had been outbid. It broke my heart as I could hear their voice breaking through the disappointment. This wasn't the first house lost because of overbidding on a limited amount of homes.
In my area, it is not quite as competitive as others. However, the more 'affordable' homes, say between $125,000 to $300,000, can be very competitive for a couple of reasons.
1) They rarely come available.
2) When they do, many are not in good shape so the ones that have been renovated or updated go very quickly.
3) Most people do not realize they need to be fully 'ready' to buy. This means, they know they want to buy a home but they have not contacted a realtor previously. So a home comes on the market, they reach out to go see it, but before they can get pre-approved, the home has already gone under contract. Or they think they have plenty of money to buy, but they really don't. Down payment, closing costs, and inspections can add up quickly. Or they think they will borrow the money from someone else. That has to be secured and the lender has to have that information in order to work on a pre-approval, so you can't wait until the last minute or you will miss out.
4. You have to MOVE QUICKLY in order to buy in that price range. So you need to move heaven and earth to go see the home, maybe even take off of work. You have to have money in the bank for the Earnest and Option Money, and you have to know that you want to make an offer. There is no time to 'think about it' or 'sleep on it.' It is a very high pressure situation and a lot of money is involved, so you have to be fully prepared mentally and emotionally. Most people aren't.
How do you prepare to buy in this kind of situation?
First of all, be flexible, be flexible, be flexible. If the kitchen is not big with an island today, can it eventually be opened up? You may have to live with it for a few years, but if the rest of the home and property works for you, maybe you can work around it.
Secondly, take all of your 'Must haves' and lay them out in order of importance. But get real with yourself and make sure you know the difference between 'must haves' and 'would like to haves.' If you have 3 kids, you know you have to have at least 3 bedrooms. Believe it or not, there aren't that many homes out there with 4 bedrooms, so you may have to compromise for a few years. Or if having a short drive to work is highly important, then maybe you will have to get a smaller house. Identify the things that are truly important to you.
Third, take all of your 'would love to haves' and toss them out the window. I have seen too many people upset because their desires were impossible in the homes in their price range or even in the location they need. However, if you are open to being flexible, you may be sweetly surprised at what is out there. Then later you may be able to do some work to the home or make some of the changes you want.
Finally, when you are ready to buy and start looking, then realize that it must be a business decision first, and an emotional decision secondly. Then if you don't get the bid, you aren't as disappointed.
Remember, what goes up must come down. If you don't have to move immediately, then be patient. The market will shift and you will be able to find something in your price range. Yes, interest rates are going up a bit, but what is happening is not going to make a huge difference in your payment.
Also, you do not want to be 'upside down' in a house. I have seen that happen several times throughout the years and it is horrible. This is similar to being upside down in your car, where you paid more for it than you could sell it for. Many people have paid over market for their home, with a large mortgage to go with it then the market turns, and now buyers are paying more for their home than they can sell it for. They are stuck in it for many years before it ever turns around.
Many years ago, there were entire subdivisions with abandoned homes because of this. The builders built homes in a hot market, sold them for the high price, the market tanked, and the owners couldn't recoup their losses. They literally walked away, destroying their credit, and losing all of the money they put into the home. There are those in the real estate industry that say this won't happen again. Really? I've seen it happen 2 or 3 times in my adult life being in and around the real estate market. It absolutely can happen again and you do not want it happening to you. So if you don't win that bid on that house because you couldn't go $10-$20 thousand or more over asking, be grateful. It could be saving you from a huge mistake.
But most importantly, you will find a home. We all can get in that mindset that this is the "perfect" home and we will "never" be able to find one as good as this one. That is not true, there will always be another home, another opportunity, and what happens many times, one that is often much better than the one you lost. Just be patient and flexible.
The main thing is not to get trapped. Trapped in the frenzy of trying to buy and feeling like you are missing out if you don't get the house, or houses, you have bid on. Don't get trapped in a bad situation by overpaying for the home. Too many buyers have ended up being miserable because they are stuck in what they thought was their dream home, but because they watch the market go down, realize they owe more than it is worth. Then it ruins their dream.
Be grateful if you are in a situation where you can wait it out. Then you can buy knowing you made a wise financial decision and a true investment.
That is the real thrill of victory!
In working with buyers, I am not bothered if they are poorly informed or unaware of basic information. But what shocks me, is how much they THINK they know. It is usually because someone told them once about their mom's best friends, sister, who bought a house 45 years ago and had this weird thing happen. there is always a lot of details and most of the info either doesn't happen anymore or is just wrong. I'm not calling anyone a liar, but stories and details change over time.
Getting over bad beliefs because of a one-time story they heard, is one of the hardest things realtors deal with. As a buyer, regardless of what it is, it is your responsibility to research and know the truth behind what you are doing. If you don't, then you are setting yourself up for a bad situation, loss of your hard-earned money, or worse, even a lawsuit. So please do your homework.
Our market in North Texas, all over Texas actually, has been a sellers' market for several years. The market will shift and there are signs of it now, but no one knows for sure when it will shift or what the catalyst will be that makes the shift. Sometimes it may happen over time, others, it is an event that changes everything. However, with current inflation, interest rates rising, and other factors, we will probably see it soon.
So here are a few things I wanted to go over if you are in the market to buy right now.
Interest rates are rising, that is a fact. Unfortunately that means you cannot buy as much house as you could a few months ago. I recently had a situation with someone who was pre-approved last fall for one price, but because of rates, they are now looking at lower priced home. So before you look, get with a lender and get pre-approved. You may waste a lot of time looking at homes in the wrong price range if you don't and I promise it will save you headaches later on.
Save - Save - Save, and if you think you have saved enough, save some more.
There is really no such thing as getting in a home with cash out of pocket, at least not that I have seen. Usually, when a buyer doesn't have to make a down payment it is because the seller is being asked to pay it for them on an FHA loan. In a sellers' market, they aren't real keen on paying for someone to buy their home. Keep in mind, it is already costing them a good chunk of change with realtor fees and closing costs. Sellers 'concessions,' or money paid by the sellers for buyers closing costs or down payments, are not very welcome in this market. Many agents who represent sellers are not even marketing homes for FHA loans for that very reason. If you don't have the money for down payment and closing costs, you are probably not going to be able to buy a home right now.
Also, you will have to have some cash on hand to pay the earnest money and inspection fees. Sometimes other costs may arise as well.
There are some programs that help with down payment assistance, but you will just have to check with lenders and see. Those programs also have pretty tough standards, so they aren't very common.
The normal down payment can be 3%, 5%, 10% or even 20%, depending on your credit, what you have available, etc. So back to the topic, SAVE- SAVE-SAVE.
You may not want to pay full price for a property. You may have even been told all your life never to pay full price, but if you want that house, chances are, you will be paying full price, if not above.
Sellers with houses that are a bit distressed, out of date, or have been on the market a while, are a little more open to negotiating. The other problem with distressed properties though, is that your lender may not approve of the purchase. The lender not only approves you to purchase, they have to evaluate the house and condition, to ensure they want to lend on that home. It is a risk for them as well as you. However, if the house is in great condition, new on the market and priced well, more than likely the seller will not be willing to negotiate. Especially if you are in a situation with multiple buyers.
In metropolitan areas, there are usually many offers within just a few days after a property comes on the market and anything less than full price is quickly set aside. All offers will be presented to the sellers to make their decision, but a low-ball offer, meant to start a negotiation is ignored. Your realtor has played this game, listen to them and take their advice. That is their job.
If you are really into negotiating, just wait, you will get your chance when the market shifts.
A very famous, wealthy, and accomplished leader often says "I don't have to know everything, I just have to know who to ask." You don't have to know everything about buying a house, but you should know some things before you start the journey. So do your research.
To make my life easier, I put together both a video and a document that outlines the process of buying a home or land. When people contact me to look at property to purchase, one of the first things I do is to send them those resources, encouraging them to look at them. Obviously, many don't take the time, however as time goes on, I have found they have referred to these resources. Even seasoned buyers can't remember the entire process and are surprised they have forgotten certain pieces of vital info crucial to the process.
Please reach out to lenders, realtors, bankers, or other professionals when you have questions. It can save you a lot of time, energy and possible disappointment.
And remember, I would be happy to be your trusted real estate advisor whether you are just looking, thinking about buying, or actually ready to make that big purchase. I can walk you through the process and hopefully take some of the stress out of the process.
CONNECTING YOU WITH MARKETS ALL OVER THE AREA!
When thinking about selling your home, there is a myriad of things you need to think about, so let me give you a little free advice.
We have all watched House Hunters and all the DIY Flip series, but those are very rarely true in real life. It is very important to work with a reputable, experience real estate agent to help you. One that is very knowledgeable and well known in your area, will walk you through the process. But here are just a few things you need to know before you get started.
The 3 Things
There are 3 things that impact the sale of a home.
As Is, Not Really
In the 1-4 Family Residential Contract, there is a box that says the buyer accepts the property ‘AS IS.’ This is one of the most misunderstood boxes in the contract. It means that when the contract is signed the buyer accepts the property ‘As Is’ but the contract also provides a provision for the buyer to get an inspection. Upon receipt of the inspection report, the buyer may come back and ask for repairs or a reduction in purchase price, so you are not really selling the property ‘As Is.’
If a seller wants to sell the property ‘AS IS,’ and is not willing to do any repairs, the listing agent must disclose that information in the listing, and the property needs to be priced accordingly.
People are always asking me what I ‘charge’ to list a home. There is technically no real industry standard, but in my market, most will have a 6% listing, however some agents offer a lower percentage. This means that 6% of the sales price of the home will go to the agents that negotiate and manage the transaction. It is typically split between the listing broker and the broker who represents the buyer. While that may sound like a lot of money, it covers a lot of things, so make sure and discuss with your agent what services are provided. Keep in mind, you get what you pay for, so a lower commission may mean you get a lower level of service.
While I can’t speak to other agents and their commission, I am a full service agent, which means I offer a variety of services to my clients. When deciding to sell your home, interview agents, and ask them about their services and how the commission works. Many people are unaware of what goes into the sale of their home, so a full understanding of the process and the cost to sell, is crucial.
Overprice vs Underprice vs Just Right Price
The pricing of a property can be tricky. Some sellers will want to price their property high, thinking that buyers will negotiate it down. However, most buyers I have worked with, are uncomfortable with that strategy and will rarely want to lowball on a house. Because of that discomfort, they may not even go see a house that would be perfect for them, if it is priced too high. Overpriced properties often languish on the market for months and the seller eventually drops the price enough to get interest, ending up selling for much less than was originally anticipated.
Underpricing a property can generate a lot of interest and sometimes bring a bit of a bidding war. However, it doesn’t always work out best for the seller. The belief that pricing a property low will allow fora quick sale can backfire. Buyers may become suspicious that something is wrong with the property and avoid it altogether. So a really good strategy is a….
Just right price. When a property is priced properly, it usually will sell quickly and sometimes gives the buyers an impression of a good value. This may generate multiple offers, but usually allows for a much less stressful listing, leading to the perfect buyer.
To Stage or Not to Stage
Sellers are often confused by staging. If you have a really nice property, that will bring a price above the median sales price, then staging always works to your benefit. Professional stagers charge a fee, and may have a warehouse full of items to supplement your décor if needed. However, most sellers cannot afford that kind of expense, so what should they do.
Multiple Offers vs The Offer
In this market, many believe that multiple offers is a really good thing. However, it is often very stressful and can be a very hard decision. At the end of the day, you only need one that gets you to your goal. The highest offer is not always the best offer, so having a realtor explain the terms clearly, and provide a side by side comparison, makes decision easier. Some agents will hold onto the first offer, hoping to get other offers in. I have found that often that first offer may be the best offer, so presenting that to the seller early on may save a lot of difficulties. But it is your decision, so talk with your agent about the process and what is best for your situation.
When vs Why
Some people have to sell for a variety of reasons. Either a job change, family situation, loss of income or some other reason is driving their decisions. The when and why is not an issue in these situations. But many people are thinking of selling, partially because the market is high and, because they want to make a change for another reason.
There are two parts to this decision, then when and the why. One may drive the other. When to sell depends on your circumstances. If you have kids in school and they want to finish out their education in that district, then your when, will be at graduation. However, if you want to move to a different district to benefit your kids, then your when may be now. So one will always drives the other.
Sell High and Buy High
Keep in mind that when you sell high, you will buy high. When you buy low, you will sell low. Those are facts that can’t be changed. In an active sellers' market, you may get premium price for your home, but you will probably pay premium price for your next home. Wrap your mind around that from the beginning. You will not be able to get a ‘deal’ unless you pay cash for a fixer upper and usually investors grab those up before they hit the market. Connect with your lender before you list to determine what you can afford before you list your home. Putting your house up for sale before finding out what your lender will allow, may often bring disappointment and upset. Or you may be strapped with a house payment higher than you want. Do your homework before you decide to sell. A conversation is always free and will save you a lot of issues later.
I hope this insight will help you while you are trying to decide if you should list your home or not. If you aren’t sure, give me a call. We can discuss it and I’ll be glad to answer your questions and maybe help with the decision.
I'm always available to give you a little free advice.
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