Lawsuits are such fun aren’t they?
A few years ago a lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors and a couple of huge brokerages was filed, claiming, in essence, price fixing. I first became a realtor in the early 90’s and the common commission rate was a 6% split between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. When I came back into Real Estate, that was still the standard.
Please keep in mind, I am a licensed Realtor that works under a broker. The broker is the one who ultimately decides the commission on listings or gives the agent leeway to adjust it. The 6% Commission rate can usually be explained like this: 6% commission, always paid by the seller in the Listing Agreement contract, is split between the listing agent, and the agent who brings the buyer. This incentivizes both agents to get your home sold. The 3% commission is typically split 3 ways between the broker, the agent and of course the IRS.
In recent years with some of the newer brokerages, they have gone to a flat fee for the agents which has allowed the agents versatility in this structure. For instance, when an agent lists a house, instead of a percentage split with the broker, they pay a flat fee regardless of the price of the home. This allows the agent to pay less to the broker and therefore they can negotiate a little more with the seller on the commission.
More traditional brokerages still use the full 6% model simply because it covers all of the overhead needed and really incentivizes the buyer’s agent to bring someone to your home.
The results of this lawsuit is over $1 Billion (yes that is a ‘B’) in damages and now bringing the commissions into a state of flux. Closer to home, other lawsuits have been filed against Texas Realtors, the state licensing organization and we are already seeing changes in commissions.
One of the outcomes is that some realtors are having the seller only pay commissions to the listing agent and none, that is 0, to the buyer’s agent. This brings another dynamic into play where the buyer will have to pay the buyer’s agent their commission.
I have actually seen some listings recently like that in the metroplex. It is really hard because most buyers only have enough money for downpayment and closing costs, not extra to pay the realtor.
This actually disincentivizes the buyer’s agent to show that home. Remember, buyers’ agents may show many homes, drive many miles, and work for hours with a buyer to find the right home. They also help the lender and title company, negotiate with the seller’s agent, and much more, so they work hard for their piece of the pie. While our licensing requires that we don’t discriminate against certain properties if the commission is low, it puts the agent in a tough situation to recoup their costs of working with a buyer.
If a buyer finds a home that they want to look at, and the seller is not willing to pay the commission, that buyer may have to go directly to the seller’s agent to see the home. Then if they want to purchase the home, they will have to work with the listing agent directly. The listing agent is bound by the listing agreement to ONLY represent the seller, which means that the buyer has no representation to protect their interest. There is no one who can legally walk them through, giving wise advice or counsel, and help them truly understand the process.
When one agent works both sides, it is called ‘Intermediary’ and I have had to do it a few times. It is really tough. The only time I will do it is if the buyer is a very savvy home buyer, having bought multiple homes and fully understands the process. All I can do for them legally is give information, no counsel or guidance. This makes it very tricky for buyers and can put them in a difficult position with no trusted advisor to help them.
All of this said, the landscape of real estate is changing and who knows where it will land. We are in a different time and that calls for different tactics and understanding of how to sell or buy a home. Just make sure to have good conversations with realtors when reaching out. Make sure you understand exactly how the compensation will work and what the best strategy is to buy or sell a home.
When looking online at homes, this information isn’t readily available to buyers. Don’t be afraid to ask your realtor about it. It may help you make a better decision in the long run. Remember, a realtor is a trusted advisor and having open conversations about the entire transaction only benefits you as a buyer or seller.
Here are links with more information.
NAR lawsuit: After a $1.8 billion verdict, the clock is ticking on the 6% real estate commission | CNN Business
What the Compensation Lawsuits Filed in Texas Mean for You – Texas REALTORS® (texasrealestate.com)
February is here and many, who are tired of winter, may be looking toward Spring and Summer. Often that includes dreaming of purchasing property at a lake somewhere. This dream often conjures up images like the one here. Water sports, green off in the distance behind homes with docks, and all the fun that may include.
But in reality, if you go out to Lake Bridgeport right now, you may see this.
As a realtor, I've shown and sold property on Lake Bridgeport, and have not seen it this low in several years. This gives you an idea of what it looks like when the lake is approximately 16 feet low. (This is a level tracker, but may change depending on when you are reading this Lake Bridgeport Water Level (lakesonline.com)
The second photo is an aerial photo of the bridge in Runaway Bay and the buildings around it. Not sure when it was taken, but it is pretty sad.
I'm not giving you this information to be a Debbie Downer, but to remind you that having an agent who understands the lake property you may be looking at is extremely important in your search. Every lake has different 'owners' or management organizations and there are always rules, lots of rules. So ensuring your agent knows and understands this information can prevent problems down the line.
Lake Bridgeport sits in the Trinity River Basin and is fed by the West Fork of the Trinity River. It is what I call a feeder lake, managed by the Tarrant Regional Water District and is often sending water down to Eagle Mountain Lake in Fort Worth. There is some controversy about the whys of letting the water out of the lake, but you can investigate that for yourself. Bridgeport is also a water source for some of the surrounding towns, and when it gets this low, it can be problematic.
The good news is that what goes down, must come up, or is it the other way around? Oh well, don't despair. Wise and Jack Counties, where this lake is located, has been in a severe drought and are praying that as the rains come, it will soon fill back up and be beautiful and enjoyable. Just remember, if you do decide to buy a lake home during drought season like this, make sure you get everything checked out, especially the dock. Docks that float may have some damage if it ended up on dry ground. But it can always be fixed.
And don't expect to get a killer deal if you buy during a drought. You may be able to find one, but they will go fast. Most of the owners know that the water level will come back up at some point and will hold out for those prices. Lake property is more for your enjoyment, not so much an investment. Keep that in mind.
If you want to investigate lake properties so you can be ready when summer gets here, give me a call. I'm familiar with most of the lakes in this area and have realtor friends that can help you with lakes in other parts of Texas. Time to start dusting off the summer fun!
I recently sold a property in Bridgeport and dropped by to see the new owner when they were moving in. It's a beautiful new home, with a mid-century modern feel and I'm sure will be absolutely beautiful when everything is in place.
As I left, I drove around the corner and saw a home that I had shown many years ago. The lot was large, but the home was absolutely crazy. They had added on, and added on, and added on to the point that they had to put another 'front door' in to access the rest of the home. It became a game with my clients as we wandered through, with surprises around every corner. Obviously, they did not buy it.
One home that clients wanted to see several years ago was small and cute on the outside, the inside needed some work, but the bathroom, oh the bathroom. It was small and the shower was obviously a DIY job and I'm pretty sure beer was involved somewhere.
The shower took up the entire space across the back of the room, with pony walls (half walls) across the front and a center opening to access. The entire shower was done in tiny, 1-inch tiles with the shower head coming from the ceiling. No, this wasn't the modern rain shower type shower head, the typical adjustable one. But what made it really weird was that on each of the side walls, embedded in the tiles, were brass, water-hose spray nozzles, one on each side. One was placed higher on one side than the other and we finally figured out they were placed 'strategically' and that is all I'll say about that.
I could almost hear the conversation.
Wife: "Could we get a 'spa' shower?"
Husband: "I got ya baby! Hold my beer"
And there you have it, a bad remodel job.
Often people, stuck inside their home because of cold weather decide to make some changes. If you think you want to make changes to your home, talk to a realtor. Most realtors don't mind talking your changes through and telling you what will and won't work.
A home with a bad remodel job and/or a bad traffic flow can actually add stress to your life. When we built our little one bedroom, one bath home, I decided to put an antique claw foot tub in. it was great until it wasn't. I broke my kneecap and couldn't get in or out of that tub. My husband hurt his arm and had the same problem. So, after only 5 years, we had to pay a ton of money to have it removed and replaced with a walk-in shower. We are older and found out that a claw foot tub may look cool, but it isn't practical as we age.
A good realtor can help you know what will and won't add value. While a good remodel job can actually add value, a bad job will actually lessen the value of your home.
Many people think that since they aren't planning to move, they don't need to worry about it. But someone will, it may be your family, or even your spouse if you pass.
I have had so many buyers go through a home and at first glance, they love it, only to come across something crazy like the 'spa' shower and walk away. Even though they could have remodeled and corrected the problem, bad design often sours the buyers on the home.
While a contractor may advise you somewhat, they also want the work so they will often just do what you want. A realtor looks out for the overall value of the home. They don't mind advising you and often won't charge because they are hoping to develop a type of relationship with you where you will either refer friends and family to them or will eventually use their services.
I have offered this service to many and actually even saved them money. One couple decided not to do the remodel after we talked because they were only planning to live in the home another year or so. The home had good flow and fit their needs, so spending a ton of money on it made no sense to them for such a short amount of time. A little paint and moving furniture filled their need for change and they were happy.
Give me a call and I'll be glad to talk to you about the changes you may want to make.
I knew things were changing; however, it wasn't until recently, when I wrote a contract for a buyer I have been dealing with for a several months and saw that their interest rate was a good bit lower than before.
Yes, interest rates are slowly rolling downward. But even a small drop in rates can make a significant difference in your payment, depending on the loan amount and down payment.
Traditionally, mid-February is when buyers start getting out and testing the waters to see what houses are available. And sellers begin dreaming about moving into their dream, or just something else. So, realtors always see an uptick in activity.
However, the quarantine and lower interest rates made the last 2 years an anomaly. We never slowed down during the winter months like we usually do. We stayed busy throughout, especially in our market rurally.
So now, because we have had some mild weather in North Texas, people are getting out and not only starting to look at homes, but actually making offers.
Prices on properties for sale have started to fall and interest rates are dropping so now we may see a bit of a surge in buyers.
But the interest rate drops are slow, so don't get too excited. It is expected to level off soon so we may have time to get you into your dream home before any more drastic changes take place.
For sellers, this is good news because now the homes on the market may start moving after a very slow winter.
Whether you are wanting to buy or sell, now is a great time to jump into the water. As we saw the last few years, we never know what is going to happen, so don't wait too long.
Just give me a call and I can connect you with your next Real Estate Dream.
With the rise of interest rates in the past few months, many people decided to back off, and just wait for the rates to come down.
'Experts' are giving a variety of forecasts for both a rise in rates, and a decline. A lender published a video explaining, based on historical data and trends for the past 30 years or more, that the rates would decline after the first of the year. However, one thing we have all learned in the past few years is that nothing is happening the way we thought it would. So, while I'm holding onto that hope of a drop in rates, we truly can't be sure what will happen. All I do know is that there are still very good reasons to buy a home.
1. No overpaying! I, like many other realtors, felt the sting of loss when our buyers were continually outbid on homes they wanted. Or we were unable to go see the home and get an offer in fast enough. Sometimes, we would even schedule showings, show the home, only to find out the contract had been accepted prior to even looking at the home. Agents weren't being as diligent to update the status in MLS, so more disappointment.
In the current market, and in my area, we have more homes on the market dropping prices, than new homes coming on the market. This means that houses are sitting longer before offers are being made. This environment lends to a seller willing to negotiate on the price. So not only will you not have to overpay, but you may also even get a reduced price.
2. Interest Rate Advantages! While you may have a little higher rate right now, keep in mind, interest is tax deductible, so it will help you on your taxes at the end of the year. Many of your closing costs are deductible as well.
Also, if you get pre-approved and find a house you want to make an offer on, you can lock the rate in, so if it does go up, you are protected. But your lender can advise you best on that part.
Then when the interest rate does drop, you can look into refinancing down the line.
3. Home Prices! While the prices are not dropping as quickly as they rose, they rarely return to the 'old' prices. I looked at a home this morning that is almost $300,000 but was sold just 3 years ago at $180,000. Chances are really good that this home will never be sold for under $200,000 again, but we never know.
That being said, even though home prices are up, if you wait too long, and the rates do drop after the first of the year, the home prices may rise further, and you missed out. So, buying now keeps you at current market value on homes.
4. Owning is better than renting! We have all heard that, but it is true. Always buy the best house you can comfortably afford, in the best neighborhood, and take care of it. Don't overdo any remodels, or make crazy changes, and keep it in good condition. This will help you build equity.
We bought a house during a downturn in the economy a few years ago. It was new and had been sitting empty for several months, so we got a great deal on it. We lived there 6 years and sold it for well over $100,000 more than we bought it. It doesn't take that long to build equity if you are patient. But not buying, waiting on the perfect time, the right house, or whatever your reason may be, is not doing anything but taking money out of your pocket for a place to live.
Many who rent homes are paying fairly high rent, and that same amount monthly could get them a pretty nice home.
There are many more reasons to buy a home right now, these are just a few. So don't wait, give me a call and let's talk. I always say, a conversation is free, so why wait?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.