Friday, November 30, 2007

Internet home searching is up!

If you have ever used the Internet to search for homes, you are definitely not alone.
A new survey finds that 88% of public rely on Web sites as their primary source for the latest real state news and information, with newspapers coming in a distant second at 12%. The poll reinforces the results of a study earlier this month by the National Association of REALTORS(R) concerning the use of the Internet to buy or sell homes.
The latest survey was commissioned by Edward Segal, author of Profit by Publicity (iUniverse, 2007), a how-to PR guide for the real estate industry.

A study released on Nov. 13 by the National Association of REALTORS(R) (NAR) shows a similar reliance on Web sites by people looking to buy or sell residential real estate. According to the 2007 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 84 percent of recent home buyers used the Internet in their search, up from 80 percent in 2006.
Segal observed that, "Web sites represent the new level playing fields for real estate agents and brokers who want to promote themselves or their properties. Although real estate professionals know how to promote listings, this latest poll shows that it is essential they also know how to promote themselves to the media."
The telephone poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Nov. 9-11, 2007 by Synovate, and has a margin of error of plus or minus four percent.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In With What's Out

Nature remains the rave.
The Earth seems to be on everyone's minds -- and the colors expected to be popular in home decor next year prove it.
"The No. 1 influence is sustainability, the whole environment issue, which is a long-term issue," said Jack Bredenfoerder, president of the Color Marketing Group, an association of color professionals.
Paint and color-marketing companies recently released their forecasts for 2008, and tones inspired by nature continue to be hot: earthy greens, silvers and grays, citrus yellows and oranges, and orchid like purples.
"We are seeking balance, sanctuary and calm from external stress and pressure, which is sometimes achieved by returning to nature," said Aimee Desrosiers, a color expert for California Paints. Cool grays and silvers -- some reminiscent of snow-capped mountains -- are on the upswing.
"What's new is they are taking on a cooler tint, a little inspired by the ice," Bredenfoerder said. "With global warming, it seems to be a real issue."
Although they could be cold and sterile, the icy grays have a hint of blue, giving them warmth and a soothing feel.
Kellie Toole has noticed the trend toward bluish grays and silvers, too. "It hasn't quite hit yet, but it was big at (the International Home Furnishings) Market. It's more of a French blue or a spa blue," she said.
The grays, which once were inflected with a touch of earthy brown, now have slight shades of cool blue.
The shades were popular on fashion runways two years ago and now are trickling down to home decor, following the usual progression.
Other colors expected to surge to the fore are "organic mixtures of yellow and green." Also predicted to gain favor are cool stony grays and gray browns, she said.
In particular, two California Paints colors, Pretty Shady (a grayish green) and Papaya (a fruity orange) reflect "soothing colors of nature."
"Look for a tremendous use of natural materials and colors, decorating with stones, metals, woods, glass, plant materials and colors that are complex and natural," she said.
Likewise, Benjamin Moore's sample paints for the 2008 color trends show lots of earthy tones. One of the top three accent colors is Split Pea, a brownish-green shade that, predictably, looks like a smashed pea.
The company has separated its colors into three themes: Modern Tranquility, a selection of neutral and light grays, beiges and warm whites; Organic Comforts, dominated by earthy greens, yellows and reds; and Pure Opulence, with more vibrant yet still nature- inspired hues of brown, red brick, teal and violet.
"Strong, bright neon colors have gone by the wayside. We're toning them down so you can live with them longer. It's the evolution of color," Horn said.
One specific prediction: Red will be on the rise, thanks to the 2008 Olympics taking place in Beijing, which flies the red flag of China. Also, red fits with the continuing popularity of Asian-influenced design. Citrus oranges also will be popular, Toole said.
"We're not seeing huge changes, just some shifts in colors. Orange is still hugely popular, but it's getting to a darker coral," Thompson said.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Gobble, Gobble

Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

It Could Be Worse...

Next time you think the housing market is bad in Dallas, read this story:

CLEVELAND ( -- When homeowners moved away after a wave of foreclosures in Cleveland's working-class neighborhood of Slavic Village, crime took off.
Slavic Village is known as the worst neighborhood in the nation for foreclosures. In a study for CNNMoney, RealtyTrac calculated that properties in its ZIP code recorded more foreclosure filings in three months than anywhere else in the United States.
According to Jim Rokakis, Cuyahoga County Treasurer, more than 800 houses now sit vacant and moldering in the area, which was founded in the 1840s by Polish and Bohemian immigrants who worked in area steel mills and factories.
The first thing that happened after owners moved out of foreclosed homes in Slavic Village was that squatters and looters moved in, according to Mark Wiseman, director of the Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Prevention Program. "In the inner city, it takes about 72 hours for a house to be looted after it is vacant," he said.
Walking around the neighborhood, Mark Seifert, director of the East Side Organizing Project pointed out a home he said was still occupied less than two weeks before. The gutters and downspouts were already gone, and trash covered the yard.
Long-time Slavic Village resident Joe Krasucki had celebrated his 78th birthday last spring, when, late in the evening, he heard some noise and went out for a look. Reports said he'd had run-ins with local gangs before. A neighbor's abandoned house had already been stripped of its aluminum siding and, according to Rokakis, Krasucki thought the looters were back, working on his home. Outside, he was attacked and badly beaten. He died some days later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

New Trends in Home Design

As most people do, I often wonder what the new and greatest trends will be in the housing industry in years to come. When I enter a kitchen in a house that was built and still looks like the 70s, I laugh at things like a pea soup green oven. Now there are "bronze" appliances making their way into homes. Will we be smirking at that product in 10 years?
It's so hard to say but I imagine our children will joke that they grew up with "granite countertops" much like the way my sister and I used to joke about our huge Zenith TV with three button "clicker". I would call it a remote, but it really did click!
One thing's for sure...the times and products are always changing. Here are some of the newest trends in home design and remodeling:
1. Earth-Friendly Designs--Perhaps the most exciting and most important trend in home design is the increased sensitivity to the environment. Architects and engineers taking a new look at ancient building techniques that used simple, bio-degradable materials. Far from primitive, today's "earth houses" are proving comfortable, economical, and rustically beautiful.
2. Healthy Design--Some buildings can literally make you sick. Home designers are becoming increasingly aware of the ways our health is affected by synthetic materials and the chemical additives used in paints and composition wood products. The most innovative homes aren't necessarily the most unusual; they are the homes constructed without relying on plastics, laminates, and fume-producing glues.
3. Storm Resistance--Every shelter should be built to withstand the elements, and engineers are making steady progress in developing storm-ready home designs. In areas were hurricanes are prevalent, more and more builders are relying on insulated wall panels constructed of sturdy concrete.
4. Flexible Floorplans--Changing lifestyles calls for changing living spaces. Tomorrow's homes have sliding doors, pocket doors, and other types of movable partitions allow flexibility in living arrangements. Dedicated living and dining rooms are being replaced by large multi-purpose family areas. In addition, many houses include private "bonus" rooms that can be used for office space or be adapted to a variety of specialized needs.
5. Outdoor Rooms--An increased interest in eco-friendly architecture is encouraging builders to incorporate outdoor spaces with the overall home design. The yard and garden become a part of the floor plan when sliding glass doors lead to patios and decks. These outdoor "rooms" may even include kitchens with sophisticated sinks and grills.
6. Abundant Storage--Closets were scarce in Victorian times, but over the past century, homeowners have demanded more storage space. Newer homes feature enormous walk-in closets, spacious dressing rooms, and plenty of easy-to-reach built-in cabinets. Cathedral ceilings are becoming passé because families tend to prefer usable space below the roof. Garages are also getting bigger to accommodate the ever-popular SUVs and other large vehicles.
7. Eastern Influence--Feng Shui, Vástu Shástra, and other Eastern philosophies have been guiding builders since ancient times. Today these principles are gaining respect in the West. You might not immediately see the Eastern influences in the design of your new home. According to believers, however, you will soon begin to feel the positive effects of Eastern ideas on your health, prosperity, and relationships.

*Courtesy of

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Steps to Take Before Taking the Plunge!

Last time, I wrote about getting PRE-APPROVED instead of just PRE-QUALIFIED.

Before you decide to go into debt and spend your hard-earned savings on that "great deal" in need of some TLC, think about a few things:

  1. Have I been pre-approved by a reputable mortgage lender?

  2. Do I have any outstanding debt hanging over my head?

  3. How solid is my credit?

  4. Is my/significant other's job secure?

  5. How much money am I going to put towards my down payment?

  6. Am I ready to take on a project like remodeling or fixing up a home?

  7. Do I have a trusted real estate agent to be up front and honest with me?

  8. If, after a year, the roof needs to be replaced, can I afford it?

These are just a few questions to get you thinking about a major move. Many of us (me included) have owned one of those "money pits" that comes with lots of unexpected repairs. Being a knowledgable consumer and being reasonable about what you can truly afford is the first and most important step in homeownership. But, together, we can make things as close to perfection as possible!

Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval

You may have heard of the terms "pre-qualification" and "pre-approved" but did you know there is a difference and that the difference is enormous?
If you are considering purchasing a home, the first and most important step is to get PRE-APPROVED with a reputable mortgage lender. The difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved is the amount of information you provide your lender and the amount of work that lender does.
When you are pre-approved for a mortgage, it means a lender has looked closely at both your credit report and your income and determined that you qualify for a loan. The lender will tell you the maximum amount of loan it will make, which loan programs you qualify for, and will discuss the interest rates it will offer for different types of loans. In most cases, the amount that you qualify for and the amount that you can really afford are different. You may be able to afford a $400,000 home but you would be eating ramen noodles and watching basic cable in that humble abode.
Just because a lender or real estate agent gives you a number you can get approved for doesn't mean you should jump into that shiny new home. There are other things to consider and I'll talk more about that next time. Need a lender? I've got a few high-quality and honest individuals that are ready and willing to help!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

How much house can you afford?

You've driven in the neighborhood and love the tree-lined streets and freshly-cut lawns. You ask your significant other, "We can afford this right?" Your husband or wife looks over and shrugs.
It's so important to know what your getting into before you decide to make a major purchase like a home. If you've never owned a home before, you may just think you can afford the monthly payment because you're paying the same in rent. But, don't forget that you have to pay taxes, insurance and regular home maintanence on your home--all costs that are absolutes in home ownership.
So, before you decide to move up in price range or buy your first home, ask your trusted real estate professional (I know one if you can't think of one) to refer you to a qualified mortgage lender. You need to get pre-approved for the mortgage you can afford, not just pre-qualified. Why is that important? I will give you the details next time!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Vote FOR Proposition 6!

On Nov. 6, 2007, Texans have the opportunity to vote for or against a series of proposed constitutional amendments. One of the proposals, Proposition 6, will guarantee that Texas drivers won’t have to pay an additional tax on their vehicles – if it passes. During the past several years, some central appraisal districts in Texas have targeted independent contractors for an ad-valorem tax on their personal vehicles. Independent contractors are people who work for themselves, including:
-Contract nurses who drive their car to patients’ homes
-Independent landscapers who transport equipment in their personal truck
-Independent cosmetics salespeople
-Independent insurance agents
-Farmers and ranchers
-Independent real estate agents
-Independent providers of on-site technical assistance
-Independent plumbers, electricians, carpenters, handymen and others in the home- repair industry
-Pizza delivery people and couriers who work as independent contractors
-Music teachers who drive their car to students' homes
-Small-business owners who use their personal cars in the course of their business
This tax could mean $600 or more per year. Even if you’re not an independent businessperson today, you could be tomorrow. Voting for Prop 6 on Nov. 6 means not having to worry about this unfair tax in the future.