Monday, December 22, 2008

My Favorite Gift to Give This Christmas

I was thinking about some of the best gifts I have ever received from Christmas' past. The one that sticks the most out in my mind was the pink Huffy bike when I was probably 8 or 9. It didn't have the dandy plastic basket or sparkly streamers hanging from the handlebars but it was pink. And I loved it.
It's pretty easy to just go buy gifts that have little or no meaning to us or the people we buy them for.
A friend of mine's mom recently passed away. As I tried to come up with a gift I could give this family for Christmas, I thought that maybe a tree in memory of her mother would be a constant reminder of her legacy. I came across and was shocked and amazed at how little one needed to spend to contribute to saving our environment. For as little as $1 per tree, you could plant a tree in one of our nation's struggling forests. I purchased 25 trees in memory of my friend's mom that will attract a rare Warbler.
Did you know that for $15, you could purchase a year's membership to the Arbor Day Foundation and in return, you will be sent 10 FREE trees of your choice? I love this gift idea! I bought a membership for my husband, in-laws and an eco-concious friend of mine. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!
I have had several friends this year bypass Christmas cards to help save a tree. I didn't, but I have in turn, pledged that 55 trees will be planted because I chose to give a gift that gave back!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Is Santa Claus Coming to Town?

This may be the only Santa that comes through the city!
Again, some recent drama in the lovely and quiet city of Highland Village.
I don't know when the tradition started, but for the past several years, Santa makes a visit to Highland Village and it's not on Christmas Eve. He, along with our faithful firefighters make the rounds through the streets of the city spreading holiday cheer and some candy too.
I received an email thread from a resident who inquired about Santa's visit. She received confirmation from Nancy Sharp, from the HVFD, that "due to the high cost of fuel, Santa would not be riding around this year". That may have been true when gas was $4+ a gallon but now it's half the cost. So, what's the deal? People are definitely saddened by this decision because this has been a tradition for many years. There is a lot of discontent and downright anger over the 2499 road situation. Take this away and it's not going to be pretty.

Several residents wrote to Mayor Dianne Costa and this was her response:

Thank you for your email. I was unaware of the change. In the past I rode the truck distributing candy to the onlookers. I too enjoyed this event. Yesterday I spoke to the Fire Chief and the city manager. Unfortunately fuel had little to do with their original decision. It requires 4 personnel eight days in a row. We also had to have our full crew at the station in case of an emergency. In the past we had several fire volunteers but there still was a significant cost of overtime. After speaking to the chief and city manager we came up with a compromise that I hope you will be pleased with and we will soon make it available on the website and throughout the city.

The fire station will be the site on December 20th for pictures with Santa. What we plan to do prior and all day that day, is have the fire truck along with police escort, run through the city. Once back at the station pictures and holiday events will begin. I pray this meets with your satisfaction.

Thank you for expressing my feelings as well.

At your service,
Dianne Costa

Monday, December 1, 2008

What Better Christmas Gift...

than a brand new house for the holidays?! I'm joking, but just a bit.
Prices are low and people selling are serious. And to add to all that, the rates are great.
Whether it's now or in the New Year, I am here to help with your reals estate needs!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Need Information?

Tonight at 7 pm, the Castlewood HOA Board will be meeting. Come to learn more about the closure issue and express your opinion to the Board. Without their support, it doesn't look like it will be possible to get this approved. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just the Facts, Ma'am

With the election this year, you would be an ostrich with your head in the sand if you didn't hear the slogan of a candidate for "Change". I guess most Americans felt that a change was in order.
I am not adverse to change. I like variety when it comes to music, my breakfast meals and exercise programs. I am not a big fan of changes that disrupt my "normal" way of life. For instance, what used to take 14 minutes during the lunch rush on 2499 now takes at least 20 and I am usually behind one or more construction trucks.
It seems that change is inevitable when it comes to the closing (or not) of the Northwood/Castlewood streets in Highland Shores and Castlewood. We are in the process of a petition going around to bring to our highly-respected city officials to make this change as minimal as possible.
There are a lot of rumors and speculative jibber-jabber going on out there. I have heard plenty but will not post anything further until I have the facts, which I thought I had previously. With that being said, it would wonderful if our city leaders would take some time from their busy schedules and EDUCATE their constituants on this issue. Instead of making this an uphill battle that makes the blood boil for residents of this city, I would love to see our mayor and city council say "Let's see if we can't come to a decision together that we can all agree on". Huh, what a novel idea!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Time Change Reminders!

As it gets darker earlier in my living room, I am reminded of the little home maintenance items that need to be done.
If you haven't already done so, it's time to check and change out the batteries in your smoke detectors. I don't know why, but our batteries always seem to go out in the middle of the night and it freaks my dog out. She goes and hides underneath a bed upstairs or jumps into bed with me and shakes like Jell-O. So, save yourself the adrenaline rush at 3 am. Oh, and don't forget to stock up on 9 volt batteries.
Also, make sure you check your air filters every month. One thing I have learned is that you don't need to spend gobs of money on the special allergen filters if you change them frequently.
Are there certain tasks you do monthly? It's so easy to remember with the technology we have! Plug it into your phone or into your Outlook calendar. It's way easier to let the computer remind us than rely on my own brain!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

On the Road Again...

If only it could be as good as Willy sings about.

I was recently made aware of the new grassroots effort by my friends and neighbors to turn the whole 2499 road expansion on its' head. Thank God for concerned families who care more about the safety and well-being of their families, communities and neighbors than our local politicians. Yes, this means you Mayor Dianne Costa.

I was sent a string of emails from citizens of Highland Village who have a vested interest in what happens in our community. Ed Kourany Jr. has headed up the petition process to make the "loop" of Northwood and Castlewood roads to become a dead-end where 2499 will be going through our communities. As stated in the email, "The current plans on file show this intersection to be a two-way stop. This means that traffic traveling North or South on 2499 will NOT stop at the intersection, making it extremely difficult for pedestrians to cross and vehicles to enter or exit. It is also likely that Southbound traffic coming off the bridge will be traveling in excess of 55 mph due to the higher speed limit proposed on the bridge. This intersection presents a significant safety hazard to the entire community."
Mr. Kourany hasn't spoke directly to Mayor Cost-us (my interjection) but this is what he has heard from others who have:
She (Costa) has allegedly stated her desire to leave the plans unchanged, due to the numerous requests she has already made to TxDOT for other changes along FM2499. (BOO HOO, it never hurts to ask!!) However, she stated that to consider supporting this initiative she would require a couple things:
1. 95% of the residents approving the petition to change the intersection
2. Approval by the Fire and Police chiefs. Standard Operating Procedure for most Emergency Response Vehicles (Fire & Police) requires them to use an intersection with a light for safety; so this intersection has no purpose for either!
3. The residents of Highland Village / Castlewood to pay for the modifications

95% approval? Do our elected officials have to get 95% approval? Uh no. Let's turn the tables. Where does it say in the rules of voting that a majority is 95%? Mayor Costa, you weren't elected with 95% approval so should you really be our mayor? Hmmm, that math sounds a bit silly. There was a comment made in one of the threads that said "How come 95% voting approval wasn't required by residents to go forward with the 2499 expansion?"

I am not really a political beast but I do have a problem with our trusted elected officials bending the rules to make everything fit their interpretation and agendas. This isn't gray. It's black and white. 95% majority vote is a joke. It would be nice if the Mayor would not just HEAR her constituents but actually LISTEN!

What can you do? Sign the petition located on the front porch at 3202 Timberline Drive, email or email Mayor Costa at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wanna Know the Weather in Dallas?

Then look at the weather in Miami. Crazy isn't it? Same goes for the real estate market. A lot of homebuyers are letting the negative news affect their decision to buy a home. I am not saying the concerns of the state of this economy aren't valid. Many people have lost tens of thousands of dollars in a matter of days. That can be scary and frustrating.
Blanche Evans recently wrote in Realty Times the following piece:

NAR expects the national median price of homes to drop to $218,200 in 2007. In Dallas, where it's warm, wide-open, and there are lots of jobs, the median home price is going up. One of the few bright spots of the retreating housing market, Dallas is beating national numbers in jobs, culture, and inflation in terms of housing appreciation. And with a median-priced home only two-thirds the price of the national median at $156,000, the city is a screaming, stomping bargain.

There's just one little problem. Dallas is moving into a financial press-led housing recession, too. Why blame the financial press? Because buyers aren't paying attention to the positives. Fear has them sitting on the sidelines just when they could score the housing touchdown of their lives.

Dallas sat out the housing boom of 2001-2006. In fact, Dallas homes appreciated below the national median for over 16 years, until this year. Recovering from the oil embargo of the 70s, the Savings and Loan crisis of the 80s and technology meltdown of the aughts, Dallas never got up off its knees. Exacerbating the problem was a squabbling, racist city council and school system. People with means high-tailed it for the suburbs, and Dallas deteriorated.

But the smell of money is in the air. Forbes magazine recently ranked Dallas-Fort Worth among the Best Cities to Live as number one in cost of living; number five for job growth, number nine both in the best cities for singles and in the culture categories.

That's great news! That's something you just don't hear in the 5 o'clock news!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

You're Stressing Me Out!

Should we really be surprised to find out that in a new survey, it was revealed that Americans are more stressed about the economy and money issues now than in the spring. You can't get away from the doom and gloom no matter how hard you try! The nightly news, talk radio, even commercials citing "With higher gas prices and the state of the economy...blah blah blah.

You may not know this but I was a Broadcast News in college and I knew I wanted to be in the media industry since junior high. My freshman year in 1994, the Internet was just starting to hit the mainstream. The good old days of logging on to AOL with the dial up modem and the annoying static sound to get into the Internet. People still prefered to get "ink on their fingers" as my J-30 professor, Bob Woodward said. CNN was really the only 24 hour news network. Sometimes a breaking news story wasn't reported for 30 minutes to an hour. Now, a squirrel causes a four-car pile-up in La Crosse, Wisconsin and it's BREAKING NEWS. I think my life will go on without this information. Breaking News isn't a matter of informing the public of what it needs to know right now. It's about who scooped and carried the story first.

It saddens me to see the state of the media these days. News is no longer the unbiased disimination of important events. It is filled with opinions, false "facts", and personal agendas. I was at the gym several months ago and they had four stations on. Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN and TNT. No local channels so that I could watch The Price is Right! When I asked why there were so many news channels on that were reporting the SAME things, the answer was that people complained that one was too liberal and one was too right-wing so management had to put on both channels. Seriously people! Get over it! A gym is a place to go and relieve stress, not create it because a freaking TV channel!

The bottom line is that with so much instant access to "news" via text alerts on our Blackberry phone, it's hard not to get stressed out over all the issues at hand. My advice is to just remain calm. Don't check your mutual funds everyday and certainly, don't listen to the media. Sad to say, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Good News for the Dallas/Ft. Worth Housing Market

With the media inundating us with negative news and not-much-better forecasts for the future, it's nice to read some positive stats from a recent Dallas Morning News article written by Steve Brown.

A local housing market pining for some good news will get a boost from the latest home sales and inventory numbers.

North Texas pre-owned home sales eked out a 2 percent gain in September – the first such increase in over a year.

And while new-home purchases have continued to plunge, the number of vacant new houses on the market is down sharply, the latest industry report shows.

"Yes, the folks in North Texas should feel somewhat better, but the news should be tempered by what's happening – or not happening – in the capital markets," said economist James Gaines of Texas A&M University's Real Estate Center

Still, the improvement in the local home sales numbers "means the market is in better balance with a reasonable inventory and enough activity to keep prices from falling dramatically," Dr. Gaines said.

September's rise comes after a long string of monthly sales declines. The last time monthly home sales in the area were up from the same time the previous year was in January 2007.

Dallas housing analyst Ted Wilson said he's optimistic that housing demand and supply are more in balance.

"I think the wild card is the current economic turmoil," said Mr. Wilson of Residential Strategies Inc. "If the credit crisis derails our local economy or again ratchets up the requirements on getting a new mortgage, then the slide would continue."

Despite last month's small gain in sales totals, median home prices in September were 2 percent lower than a year earlier at $142,500.

About 41,000 pre-owned single-family homes are for sale in the 29-county area, down 15 percent from September 2007.

September's pre-owned home sales gain follows an 18 percent decline in August compared with August 2007.

So far this year, real estate agents have sold about 53,000 pre-owned homes in the area, a drop of 12 percent from the first nine months of 2008.

About a six-month supply of houses is listed for sale by North Texas Realtors.

However, multiple listing service inventories may not reflect total homes for sale. Many foreclosed properties are being sold at auction and are not included in Realtor numbers.

Also, the decline in Realtor home sales listings could indicate that some sellers have decided to sit it out and have taken their homes off the market.

In the new-home market, starts are down almost 35 percent from a year ago, but the number empty new houses is falling.

At the end of the third quarter, about 7,600 vacant new homes were sitting in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, housing analyst MetroStudy said Tuesday.

"Inventory is down 27 percent from a year ago – that's great news," said David Brown, who heads MetroStudy's Dallas office. "That needs to come down to about 4,000, but it's going to take a little while to get there."

Local builders started just over 5,500 single-family homes in the third quarter, the lowest start count in more than a decade.

Quarterly new-home sales totaled 7,185 units, down about 29 percent from third quarter 2007, according to MetroStudy.

"It is my opinion that the drop in new-home construction is going to hit bottom between now and next summer," said Mark Dotzour, chief economist and director of research at A&M's Real Estate Center. "The fact that new-home construction in the D-FW area has fallen off so precipitously in the past two years is going to shield the metro area from significant price declines."

Comparisons of September pre-owned home sales and prices in the North Texas with year-earlier statistics:
Single-family home resales 6,392 2%
Median price $142,500 -2%
Average days on market 79 7%
Pending sales 5,410 -16%
Listed for sale 41,604 -15%
Condo-townhome resales 358 -13%
Median price $129,500 -7%
Average days on market 104 27%
Pending sales 305 -18%
Listed for sale 3,807 -10%
SOURCES: Texas A&M University Real Estate Center, North Texas Real Estate Information Systems Inc.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I recently read an article providing information on a program that the government and the mortgage industry has promoted for homeowners in danger of foreclosure. Here is the article from Inman News:

Hope for Homeowners, a program created by Congress to assist homeowners at risk of loan default and foreclosure that will allow some homeowners to refinance into more affordable FHA-insured mortgages, launched Wednesday.

An estimated 400,000 homeowners could avoid foreclosure through participation in this program, which is voluntary for lenders and is scheduled to run through Sept. 30, 2011.

That program is among an assortment of federal, state and industry efforts intended to stem the tide of foreclosures.

Under Hope for Homeowners, lenders will determine a homeowner's eligibility and consider loan modifications to lower the monthly mortgage cost, and can also consider whether to take a loss on the difference between an existing loan and a new loan set at 90 percent of the home's current appraised value.

I am glad to hear that there is a program like this. But I also don't agree with the government stepping in and bailing people out. My opinion, whether you like it or not, is that if you put your trust in a real estate agent who puts his or her trust in a quality mortgage professional, this whole foreclosure issue wouldn't happen in the first place. That's not to say that the only reason this whole mortgage mess happened was because of bad loans. Many of the loans offered to buyers were based on their low credit scores and many of those buyers obtained 103-105% loan approval. While most homeowners put 5-20% down on a home, they have equity in the home. But when you roll in closing costs into a loan on a house, you have no equity and are immediately upside down on this house. When someone with high-risk credit takes on a high-risk loan, it's a disater waiting to happen. Many of the foreclosures were due to the three-year ARM (adjustable rate mortgages) adjusted this year. Homeowners just can't afford going from a $2000 a month payment to $3500 or higher.

I am fortunate to know and work with several quality lenders that will take care of the financial needs and comforts of you, my important clients. Don't just rely on who is going to give you the best rate. Make sure you understand all of the terms of the loan! I'm here to help in any way I can!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Here's your chance to take a look at a unique and absolutely gorgeous home in Flower Mound! Stop by and say hello at 2551 Rock Haven off Wichita Trail and Bruton Orand. I will be there from 1-3 pm. I'd love to show you around this beauty! Bring your checkbook!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Waiting Game

There is so much activity and rushing around the first 10 days you have a contract on a house that after the option period, you are left saying "What next?"
After the option period you are now "pending". That basically means that all that's left is the appraisal. And when I saw all that's left, that's a really big step. We've seen trends recently because of the mortgage fraud and subprime fallout that homes are getting scrutinzed more. What does this mean for you? Let's say you contracted your future abode for $250,000 but the appraisal only comes in at $245,000. The lender is not going to approve this loan because the home isn't worth what the lender is going to give the borrower. What ends up happening is you have to renegotiate the contract or probably lose the deal all together. There have been instances where the seller believe that his or her is worth more than the silly appraiser thinks and absolutely will not negotiate.
Many times, recently, most of the appraisers are just appraising the house at what the contract is. I find this interesting for two reasons. The first is that it seems to me that most appraisers are just taking the contract price because that's what the buyer is willing to pay for it. It is a personal value to that buyer. The second is they may be just covering their rear-ends since the buyer is putting that value on it so why question it!? I had a listing where the appraisal was scheduled and then cancelled. We questioned why this happened. It was a desktop appraisal so he never even came out to the house. It appraised for the contract price.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Next Step

Yippee! You found the house you love, wrote an offer, negotiated and you are now in the "option period". During that 7-10 day period, the most important thing to do is get a third party inspection. I like to get my inspections completed the second or third day of the option period. I will elaborate on that later. Some people have an inspector they know through past experience or I can recommend the person for the job. Not only do you want a property inspection from a very anal and precise inspector, but you also want a wood destroying insect report. This is usually called a termite inspection, but there are also other types of nasty bugs that can ruin a residence like carpenter ants. Inspections will usually run from $250-500 and up, especially if there is a pool involved.
Once the inspection is completed, the hardest part comes: the repair request. From my experience, there are two types of buyers: ones that nit-pick the little stuff and those that focus on the big stuff. I understand buyers want perfection. Unfortunately, perfection isn't real in real estate. Even brand new homes have doors that stick or a crooked face plate. Unless it's electrical, heating, air conditioning, foundation, roof or major plumbing, it can be handled for a few hundred dollars and a call to a local handyman. Is a loose hinge and a couple of GFCI plugs REALLY worth losing the house you love? Oh, and the reason I like having the inspections done ASAP is because if the AC isn't cooling properly, there needs to be some extra time built in to get a professional out to the house to clearly make a diagnosis. I don't like to be rushed and with this is a major financial purchase, I am sure you don't want to be rushed either!
What happens next? Tune in next time!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What Does It Mean?

For most people, buying or selling a house isn't something you do every year. OK, so there are investors, those that relocate, or just flat out like to move. Like to move? I hate to move. I haven't been able to find my portable round cake pan and cover since we moved into our home four years ago. I think it's still packed in a box in the garage.
The average American family moves every FIVE years, which is two years sooner than the national average of seven years not too long ago. With that being said, many of you may not remember the process that buying or selling actually is. Being a legal transaction, there are many steps that must take place. Forget to order this or enter that, and your closing is suddenly delayed.
Over the next few days, I plan to discuss things that occur once we (listing and buyer's agent) have an executed contract. Oh, the executed contract is when both parties come to agree on all terms in that said contract and have signed off on it.
Once the contract has been agreed to, we enter into the option period. First time homebuyers and out-of-state buyers don't usually know what this is. For a nominal fee of usually $50-100, you, the buyer have the unrestricted right to back out during a set number of days, for any reason at all. Some reasons to back out are inspection items, financing terms, or you just flat out changed your mind. As the buyer, you lose that money for the right to back out for no reason, but better $100 than a large loan on a home that you realize you hate.
With that being said, here is my Tip of the Day: If you first see the home of your dreams at 10 am on a Monday, make sure that you drive back at 5 pm on a Wednesday to see what kind of traffic, public transportation, neighbors and parking is going on at the property. Knowing that no one parks in their garage after work could be a huge pet peeve of yours. Find that out during the option period!
Next time, I will discuss some other aspects of the contract period. Have a good one!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I am sorry to say it's been too long. Life gets in the way, work gets hectic and I think that sometimes I just don't have anything to say. Is that really possible? Me, nothing to say? I think that I have been hanging around my three-year old too much and the last thing I want to do after 10 hours of straight talking, is continue "talking".
So, what's been going on with me? David and I recently closed on our second investment home. I have represented the buyer on five foreclosures and each time, it's been a different bank and transaction. It's hard to ever give good, professional advice when dealing with banks and mortgage companies. Some will allow to negotiate repairs, others won't. Some will pay for a home warranty. Others won't. We dealt with a seller who would pay for a warranty but not any repairs after the five day option period.
I hope all is well with you...those of you who still actually visit and read my blog!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Investment Property

We are going down the road of purchasing another investment property. It's one of those "great deals" you just can't pass up!
I have to say, it's such a different position to be in. I am now on the side of being a buyer, not just representing one. Every bank is different in the handling of a foreclosure so it's hard to say what will happen in negotiations. I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Innocent Victims of Foreclosure

I have a soft heart for dogs. It saddens me when I see a lost dog on the street and if I have the time, I try to help find the owner. I recently did that with "Twinkle" who was wandering the streets of my neighborhood. Luckily, Twinkle hadn't wandered too far from home and she was reunited after an hour or so.

I recently read an article in the Dallas Morning News that made me want to jump in the car and rescue more than one dog. As families can't afford to stay in their homes, many are forced to give up their companions. Operation Kindness is a no-kill shelter in Carrollton that has seen a large increase in animals being dropped off and a quarter of them are due to foreclosure and eviction.

Many North Texas shelters are also seeing a decrease in animal adoptions, partially due to rising costs of everything and maybe pets are considered a luxury. Overcrowding at shelters, in general, is nothing new. There was a feature on Oprah several months ago about the Fort Worth Animal Shelter and it mentioned that anywhere between 20-40 animals were euthanized A DAY!

I remember feeling so sad about all of the pets that were lost, abandoned or found dead after Hurricane Katrina. Animals are almost defenseless and can't do much in these types of situations. We can help ourselves,but what about our pets?

My husband and I rescued our lab-mutt, Peanut, from the SPCA five years ago. She's an absolute sweetheart and when we decide to get another dog, it will be from a shelter. If you are looking for a pet to love, check out your local animal shelter before anything else! We may not be able to help all families save their home, but maybe we can save Fido!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Great one story home with pool!

Maybe you have a friend or family member looking for a home that is quaint, "homey" and has a wonderful pool! This is it!
Charming, one story in the heart of Lewisville with quick and easy access to the airport, shopping and highways is the one you've been waiting for! If you are looking for a pristine heated pool with attached spa, private backyard with mature landscaping to go along with a great home, call me at 972-740-4108. This three bedroom, two bathroom home has a large open living room with fireplace and pleasant dining room. The large kitchen overlooks the pool and has an abundance of countertop and cabinet space. Natural light graces this workspace as does a nice size breakfast nook with built in window seats. The master bathroom has dual vanities, large shower and huge closet with seasonal storage. The back patio is cool and covered on the back and the side offering a sanctuary with an eight foot fence and lush trees and plants.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

New Listing in Highland Village!

Wow! This is a gorgeous new listing of mine in Highland Village. This one is what you've been looking for! This home has been completely renovated! Handscraped hardwood and travertine flooring, brand new carpet, paint, light fixtures, faucets and fixtures, toilets, electrical, plumbing...whew, I can go on and on!
If cooking and entertaining are important, this is an ideal home for you. The kitchen has been updated with 3 cm granite, stainless appliances including double ovens, unique stone backsplash and newly painted cabinets. The breakfast bar and nook are nice sizes for family gatherings. The Coronado dry-stacked stone fireplace is a beautiful focal point.
Downstairs, there is a study, formal dining room, large family room with a half bath and a guest suite with full bath and access to the private backyard.
The master bedroom is a sanctuary all of its own. It's spacious and features a stacked stone fireplace and private balcony to enjoy the gorgeous backyard. The bathroom is right out of a catalog! Glass tiles surround the relaxing bathtub and the delicate glass chandelier makes for a perfect getaway! Two bowl sinks, picture frame mirrors and modern faucets complete the look. The closet is enormous and the secondary bedrooms upstairs are spacious. The gameroom also has a wet bar and overlooks the backyard.
Located in the safest city in North Texas, 2706 Queens Court is a heavily treed lot on a quiet cul-de-sac. You don't want to miss this one!
For more pictures, visit

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Trump Card

Imagine just for a second that you are a billionaire and you were house hunting. You're looking for something in the $100 million range and in the "Sunshine State". I guess you are automatically drawn to Donald Trump's 33,000-square-foot French Regency-style mansion, built in 1990, that sits on 6.5 acres with 475 feet on the ocean.
Trump bought the home a few years ago for $41.4 million in a bankruptcy court deal. That is one heck of a flip! The estate is rumored to be purchased by a Russian fertilizer billionaire.
I can't help but wonder what life would be like if I had $100 million to waste on a house. I am too much of a giver to want to buy that much house. It must be some residence!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I'd Like to Hold an Open House but...

I recently received an email from my broker reminding all agents that the City of Frisco has a sign ordinance on many types of signs, including open house signs on weekends. You may no longer put Open House signs on easements, medians, right-of-ways, or entrances to subdivisions and neighborhoods.
As a dues-paying HOA member in my own neighborhood, I think it's a bit over-the-top to limit signs that are present for a few hours on a weekend. Is it really doing that much harm and causing home values to plumet because of a REALTOR trying to do their job?
I know I appreciate many of the signs I see at the entrance to my neighborhood. Ads for festivals, voting, board meetings and services are helpful and keep us better informed. I don't like it when the sign is there for two extra weeks after the event has already taken place and think they should be taken off within a day or two of the completion.
Maybe I am just crazy!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Here a Deal, There a Deal

This is a first for me. It's June and since February, I now have four clients purchasing foreclosure homes. While great deals are definitely out there, quite a few issues can arise.
Most of these properties are sold As-Is so there isn't any room for the seller (usually a bank or mortgage company) to make repairs. They just want the thing sold without much hassle. It's a lot of work for me because the contracts need to be pristine and the buyers have a lot to consider as well. Repairs, time of possession, lender approval and the always adventurous, multiple offer situation. You are sometimes bidding against three or more other offers. It's a game, that's for sure!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

So, we recently had a great trip to Napa Valley and the gorgeous wine country. We now have a bit more wine than we have room for but it's always nice to have a bit of a selection handy.
We have a built-in wine rack in our kitchen island and a wine cabinet in our dining room. I was recently given an article about the popularity of wine and creative storage areas by my husband.
It turns out we are doing a TERRIBLE job at storing our precious wine collection. We house some inexpensive bottles in the $5 range and up to $35 with many in between. According to this article that was in the Dallas Morning News, you should NEVER store your wine in the kitchen because of the inconsistent tempuratures. Wines should be kept at a tempurature of 50-55 degrees and in relatively dark rooms. Failure #2. Much like beer can become "skunky", the same can happen to wine.
Many builders are using the storage space underneath the closet as a wine closet. Deck it out and slap a rustic iron gate and *boom*, you've got a great storage space for your vino.
Now if I can only convince my hubby that we really, really need a wine refrigerator!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Charmer in Flower Mound!

Looking for a warm, inviting and open one story in Flower Mound? This well-maintained and stylish three bedroom two bath home is ready for new owners! Designer paint and dark hardwood laminate floors, along with ceramic tile floors, plantation shutters, surround sound wiring, new roof, split bedrooms, treed backyard and a convenient location to boot! The combined formal living and dining rooms are spacious and comfortable. You won't be disappointed by all this home has to offer!
Call or write for more information on this great home!

Sorry to Say...

That I've been gone all too long. I hate to say it, but I just really felt like I had nothing to say. I know, it's hard to think of me as speechless, but it was just one of those times I guess!
So, now I am going to start back up and just put out what's on my mind or what's happening in my world. I am not sure if anyone has missed me, but I've missed the blogging universe. Hope to hear from you soon!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Have You Ever Done Canton?

So, last week was my first-ever trip to Canton, TX. You know, the open air market that sane women go crazy for and the men that love them, love them a little less? We have been doing a little decorating at the Hoffmann household and after always hearing about how great Canton is, decided to make a trip with my good friend, Liz. We set out early and happened to get a call from my mom while we were stuck in traffic, for no apparent reason. She said she heard of a tornado that just touched down in a town near Tyler that had an open air market. Surely that wasn't the same place we were going. It was 9 am! Sure enough...tornado in Canton!
We decided to continue on our trek and am glad we did. There are quite a few of the same shops of dried flowers, adorable kid's stuff, sassy t-shirts and just general home decor. I didn't realize it was also like going to the State Fair. How can you pass up a funnel cake and turkey leg at 10 am?!
I ended up with a beautiful oil tapestry, which was the main reason I went. A few other decor items and the best deal going-cabinet hardware. I picked some up for a friend who just moved into a new home. At a buck a piece for knobs and 2.25 for pulls, that is a steal! Those will run anywhere from $3-6 each if you are lucky at a local store.
So, the bottom line is, if you are going to do some decorating, head to Canton. Take some comfortable shoes, cooler of food and an open mind. Oh, and don't forget cash and checks because many places don't accept plastic. Have a good one!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Brighter Side of Housing

After a few week hiatus, I am down to a cast below my elbow allowing to type and rejoin the land of the living!
I read some encouraging news for those of us living here in the Dallas area. The Wall Street Journal rated 28 metro areas in the country and only three of those 28 were listed as "Strong" markets with high job growth and a "normal" amount of housing inventory.
Dallas was third behind Seattle and Houston with 6.6 months of inventory available.
One of the most shocking statistics to me was the staggering 34 months of inventory in the Miami area. That's almost three years of homes sitting on the ground! I just couldn't imagine that!
To see the full chart, visit the following website:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Feeling a Little "One-Sided"

It's been a while since my last post and it's for good reason, I promise!
I broke my wrist at an indoor soccer game Friday and am now in a cast over my elbow. It's not very convenient and typing is a nightmare. Don't worry...I'll Be Back

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Townhome Development Approved in HV

Out here in Suburbia Central, a major step has been taken to focus on all different types of home dwellers.

In my opinion, townhomes are for a variety of homeowners. Even though there are many complexes that may target "empty nesters" or "young executives", these types of homes can be an attractive choice for anyone from 18-85 and beyond.

Recently, the city of Highland Village, where I happily call home, approved its' first town home and mixed-use development. The development will include 77 luxury town homes featuring six floor plans ranging from 1550-2500 square feet, with first floor master bedrooms and rear entry two car garages. Prices will start from the low to mid $200,000's. The District of Highland Villagewill also include retail shops, professional office space and restaurants. Construction on Phase 1 is expected to begin shortly (spring of 2008).

I imagine that as land becomes more of a premium and low-maintenance living becomes more poplular, townhomes and condos will be more and more desireable. While a small, nicely finished out unit may not be for a young family with two kids, it is ideal for that couple who married off their kids and are looking for something nice and new to enjoy retirement in. No yard to mow? Awesome! Just a concrete patio and some flower beds? I'm in. Master is on the ground floor? Woo Hoo!

As the Baby Boomers start to downsize and leave work behind, it's going to be a necessary adjustment the market will have to continue to make. Active adult communities like Del Webb's and Robson Ranch are resort-style living with activities and amenties that a semi-or retired person can enjoy. The new townhome development in Highland Village provides everything one could want or need. Shopping, doctors (I would imagine in the office space), restaurants and all within walking distance to grocery stores. Who could ask for more!?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

New Listing in Highland Village!

If you’re looking for a distinctive and unique home in one of the most sought after cities in the area, you can stop the search today! This stunning custom home is loaded with amenities and upgrades you would find in half million dollar homes. Handscraped hardwoods, solid core doors, heavily textured walls, plantation shutters, granite island kitchen with stainless Jenn Air appliances, a built-in wine cooler and so much more. This home has four bedrooms, two of which are down, formal dining room, a spacious game room, and a huge media room situated over the garage. There’s even radiant barrier sheathing in the attic to reduce the temperature between 20-25 degrees, helping with reduced electric bills. For more information or to see this home within the hour, call Tricia Hoffmann at 972-740-4108.

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Lending Guidelines

Thanks to Lewis Brooks of PrimeLending for the following information regarding new lending guidelines. If you need any further explaination or have questions, please don't hesitate to contact me!

*100% Loan-To-Value conventional loans with mortgage insurance (PMI) will no longer be available after 3/31/2008, on 4/1 the maximum will be 97%.

*Second liens for 80/20 type loans are available as of today, but only by one investor, I anticipate that these loans will be extinct by later this week.

FHA's loan limit in this area has been raised to $271,050. FHA require a 3% contribution, but this contribution can come for "gift Funds."

VA's loan limit is unchanged at $417,000 with up to 100% financing.

Thanks again Lewis!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sales Tax?

I am writing this edition of my blog from my hotel room in lovely La Crosse, Wisconsin. I am here for a wedding and am enjoying the charm of a small town environment and the chilly temperatures!
I had the opportunity to spend some time last night talking with a mortgage professional in Chicago who's in the wedding. One thing that he mentioned really struck me. The city is quite corrupt, which isn't that surprising. It's commonplace to have racked up hundreds of dollars in parking tickets. The interesting part was that they just approved a 10.25% sales tax amount, up one percent. This applies to retailers, hotels and restaurants. I think I will stay in Dallas!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Little on the Trashy Side

Back in the day, the rage of the decade was trash compactors. Most people don't know what to do with them, especially if they no longer work. The space is too small for a dishwasher so what do you put in it's place?
Perlick recently launched a new product to fill that need. A 15-inch Wine Reserve fridge holds 24 bottles of wine and slips perfectly into the hard-to-fill gap the old crusher leaves behind. This product is available with a stainless steel, wood overlay or UV-protected insulated glass door. But, save your pennies. This little sweetie will cost you around $2,600. Maybe the old black compactor isn't so bad after all! Thanks to Home Magazine for this feature!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Housing Website Spreads Good News About Market

I recently read a statement that I think is so simple yet true. If you live in Seattle and want the weather forecast, would you look to see what the temperature in Dallas is? Or if you reside in San Diego, would you want report for Chicago? Same goes for the real estate market. What is happening in the Metroplex is certainly not what's happening in Virginia. So, instead of speculating about how terrible things are in our backyard, let's take a look at the facts! A website has launched to educate the public about our great housing market in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Try visiting It's a very interesting website that details what really happened with the "housing bubble" and gives statistics about why our area is a fantastic place to invest in real estate. Enjoy

Saturday, March 1, 2008

What Do The Candidates Say About Real Estate?

With an election year on hand, it's hard to say what the year is going to bring us. So, just what are the candidates saying about the real estate industry? Here are some key points:
John McCain: Generally opposed to federal intervention but says the crisis may require measures to limit the fallout and to assist the truly needy. Wants more consumer education and more rigorous regulatory enforcement.
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Would expand government-lending programs to stabilize the mortgage market and set up a $1 billion fund to assist state programs that help at-risk borrowers avoid foreclosure. Wants laws to crack down on unscrupulous mortgage brokers and abuses in mortgage lending.
Barack Obama: Supports comprehensive legislation to combat fraud and abuse in the mortgage industry. Proposes a fund to help people refinance mortgages and offset the cost of selling homes. Would waive certain federal, state and local income taxes that result from the sale of homes to avoid foreclosure.
*Courtesy of

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The REAL Foreclosure Story

A lot of people are nervous about what they are reading in the newspaper and hearing on TV. But how can you blame them?

The media is bombarding people with reports about the housing decline and the sub-prime mortgage mess.

However, Chief ECONOMIST for the National Mortgage Bankers Association, Doug Duncan decided to set the record straight. In a private conversation, Doug said that people have nothing to worry about in Texas.

Some of his defenses were...
-The foreclosure problem in this country is really a story about 7 states
-The biggest foreclosure problem is in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. These are predominantly manufacturing states
-Since 2001, Michigan has lost 300,000+ jobs
-The other 4 states are California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada. In each of these states there has been significant overbuilding. 25% of the foreclosures in these states are on properties that are held by investors who were speculating
-California & Florida have been hit very hard
-35% of the homes in the USA do not have a mortgage
-98% of the mortgages in the USA are performing
-Only 9% of all mortgages are sub-prime
-75% of all sub-prime mortgages are performing
-In the other 43 states, foreclosures have fallen in 2007 from 2006

Right now, our local inventory levels are half the national average and well-priced homes are selling fast.

Thanks Becky for always thinking of me for my posts!

Monday, February 25, 2008

$776.7 Million LISD Bond Proposed

The Lewisville school board on Wednesday called for a $776.7 million bond proposal to be placed on the May 10 ballot.

Trustees agreed to propose a $697.7 million package of new schools and athletic facilities, campus expansion and renovation projects, technology upgrades and land purchases. The board voted 4-3 to include a $79 million event center under a separate ballot proposition.

“We are a school district, not an entertainment entity, and I don’t see how it fits into our educational goals,” said Trustee Amber Fulton, who voted against proposing the center.

Trustees Carol Kyer and Tom Ferguson also dissented, citing potential costs to operate a 191,000-square-foot center. By law, those costs may not be paid with bond money.

“In the future, we would have to worry about supporting something with money that we could spend on programs,” Kyer said.

But Board President Fred Placke said the center would make the district and students “more well-rounded” by offering an auditorium of up to 8,000 seats for school plays, band concerts and graduation ceremonies.

Many of those events are held in smaller campus auditoriums. Graduation ceremonies are held at the University of North Texas in Denton.

“It will be an enhancement to the good facilities we already have,” Placke said.

The center and other building projects would be finished in six years, when the nearly 50,000-student district is expected to reach build out.

Flower Mound schools would get at least $144.3 million, which includes $113.6 million for two ninth-grade campuses, $27 million for a 9,000-seat stadium at Marcus High School and $3.5 million to expand locker rooms at Flower Mound High School.

In addition, $3.8 million is earmarked for renovation of choir and drama rooms at Marcus and two other high schools.

The bond would require annual tax increases. The district levies 33 cents per $100 in valuation to pay off debt, which would rise to 36.75 cents in 2010 and 45.86 cents in 2014.

The increase would cost the owner of an average $246,834 home in Flower Mound an additional $93 in taxes in 2010.

*Article courtesy of the Flower Mound Messenger

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If Money Were No Object...

In a recent "spiritual gifts" test, my results indicated that the two areas I excel at are hospitality and giving. Anyone that knows me, knows I love to throw a good party for many or a small dinner party for a few friends.
After a night at church recently, we came home with a guest and it took about an hour before we could eat.
So, if money were no object, I would splurge and buy the oven that also doubles as a refrigerator. Here's the website description from TMIO:

Modern space age convenience finally arrives in your home with the Connect Io Intelligent Oven, Professional Series: The world’s finest cooking oven, and first appliance that allows you to refrigerate foods for cooking later, then connect remotely via phone or Internet--delivering the great taste of traditional cooking at home whenever you are ready. State-of-the-art cooking, luxury conveniences, exceptional performance, and beautiful design are the hallmark of Connect Io wall ovens that households and professional chefs insist on, and that we deliver. Dinner is ready when you are!

If I suddenly come into $5,895 plus shipping, I will be replacing my standard GE with the TMIO. As we say in my household, "Sell Some More Houses"!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Town of Flower Mound Approves Cell Phone Ban

I'm definitely guilty of using my cell phone in the car. I many times find myself asking if that email or phone call is more important than my family's or other driver's safety. Of course, the answer is no, the business can wait.

The Town of Flower Mound recently passed an ordinance banning the use of handheld cell phones in school zones, which is on the heels of another similar ruling in a North Texas city.

The decision will prohibit drivers from using handsets and sending text messages while in an active school zone. Hands-free devices are allowed.

"This has been a problem since the beginning," Dave Bell said. Only police officers who witness a violation can issue a citation, which can begin at $75 but increase to $200 for repeat offenders. But, crossing guards can write down the license plate number of an offender, and the police department will send the violator a warning in the mail.

The town will purchase warning signs and post them around Flower Mound as a reminder, beginning March 25.

The ordinance is patterned after a similar program in Highland Park, the first city in Texas to adopt such an ordinance. University Park followed suit soon after.

"I'm for it," said Spencer Webb, a student at Shadow Ridge Middle School, who attended the meeting with fellow Eagle Scouts. "I see the crossing guards, and sometimes they have a look of sheer terror because they're running out to stop a car so that we can cross."

Kyle Bell, Dave Bell's son, said he agrees with the ordinance but said it should go one step further.

"Even if you're using a Blue Tooth, your mind isn't on the road," said Kyle Bell, 11. "Your hands are free, but you're looking at the road absent-mindedly."

McCann Dahl, who attends McKamy Middle School, said he saw a problem with the ordinance.

"I agree with being safe," Dahl said. "But, when the crossing guard or the police look at a driver's license plate, they don't know why the person is on the phone. The person's mom might have just died."

Police Chief Kenneth Brooker said during his presentation to the council that crossing guards in Flower Mound have expressed support for the ordinance. While there have been no incidents involving someone getting hit as a result of a driver using a cell phone in a school zone, crossing guards have said the majority of violations have occurred by drivers using cell phones.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Highland Village May Restrict Sex Offenders Residency

An ordinance restricting Highland Village residency for convicted sex offenders was discussed during the City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Highland Village Chief of Police Ed O’Bara presented a potential sex offender ordinance. It states that registered sex offenders may not reside within a specific distance where youths under 17 years old commonly gather. Included in the list of places with restricted areas are public parks, city park trails, private and public schools, registered day care centers and video arcades.

“I think we need to follow the lead of our boardering communities,” O’Bara said. “We can bring attention to it, then hopefully someone at a state level can consider the issue and bring it for legislative consideration.” Also, residency rules help make residents feel safe, he said in his presentation.

Part of the discussion included determining the perimeters where registered sex offenders would be restricted from living. O’Bara presented geographic restriction areas of the city corresponding to 1,000-, 1,500- or 2,000-foot buffer limits.

According to data, Copper Canyon and Corinth’s sex offender ordinances prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of areas where youth commonly gather. In Flower Mound and Lewisville, the restricted distance is 1,500 feet, and in Argyle, Carrollton, Little Elm, Roanoke, The Colony and Trophy Club the distance is 1,000 feet from areas where youths gather.

Denton, Double Oak, Frisco, Hickory Creek and Lake Dallas do not have a sex offender ordinance. Cities that don’t have an ordinance must follow state law, which sets a 1,000-foot limit.

Currently, there are three registered sex offenders living in Highland Village.

Some common exceptions, which police say are common around the state, are: if the person established residency prior to the ordinance; if the person is a minor; if the person was a minor at the time the offense was committed; or if the protected premises was opened after the person established residency.

Highland Village Mayor Dianne Costa’s concern focused on registered sex offenders coming to the city.

“I recognize that we need to look at what other communities are doing. Yet I think it’s prudent upon this council to look at statistics and how they relate to sex offenders,” she said. “And so we want to be cautious, yet we don’t want to impose any false sense of security. I think we have to be diligent with the care of our children at all times — regardless of a distance that we would impose on sex offenders registered in Highland Village.”

The Highland Village City Council recommended that staff prepare a sex offender ordinance for consideration at a future date.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

New Survey Says "Smart Time to Buy"

RISMEDIA, Feb. 14, 2008-Despite all of the negative commentary about the housing and credit markets, 64% of Americans believe that for those with good credit and a down payment “this is an ideal time to buy a home,” according to a study commissioned by Beazer Homes, one of the country’s top-10 homebuilders. Perhaps with an eye toward the future, 24% of survey respondents-from Gen Y to Baby Boomers-say they plan to buy a new home in the next two years either as a primary residence or second/vacation home.

“We know the American consumer believes with great conviction that home ownership is a smart investment over the long term,” said Ian McCarthy, president and CEO of Beazer Homes. “Savvy consumers realize that housing is a cyclical industry and some appear to be waking up to the opportunities that do exist in today’s marketplace. Whether they act on this conviction remains to be seen, but the underlying sentiment bodes well for the industry.”

Across the board, consumers appear optimistic about the availability of home mortgage options. For experienced buyers, 75% believe there are plenty of mortgage options available for those with good credit compared with 53% of first-time buyers. When it comes to securing a home mortgage, 24% of total respondents report they are currently saving for a down payment.

Beazer Homes surveyed 548 adults nationwide, Jan. 4-7, 2008, between the ages of 25 to 72 with a minimum annual household income of $40,000.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Issue of Customer Service

It seems that in this day and age, customer service is a thing of the past. It is my goal to give my clients the attention they need and deserve. Click on the link below to see a little more about the type of customer service I strive for.
Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Farmers Branch Fights Illegial Tenants Again

FARMERS BRANCH – City officials whose previous attempts to keep out illegal immigrants have been blocked by the courts took another shot Tuesday, adopting an ordinance that would not only ban them from renting apartments but also from renting houses.

The City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 2952, which would require all renters to pay a $5 fee and claim U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status to obtain an occupancy license from the city.

About 40 people spoke during the roughly two-hour meeting, with a slight majority in favor of the ordinance.

"We've got to put a sword in the sand sometime, and I think this is it," resident Dale Cotton said.

Supporters said that while the ordinance may not resolve the illegal immigration issue, it's a step in the right direction. And some, led by council member Jim Smith, said they'd like to see the city also go after employers who hire illegal workers.

But opponents said they believe the law will also get hung up in the courts and ultimately be found unconstitutional. Others said the licensing process will cause potential renters to move to other cities and cause financial losses for property owners.

Here's the new ordinance at a glance:

•Prospective tenants will have to apply for an occupancy license.
•The application form will ask whether the person is in the U.S. legally.
•Anyone who completes the form and pays $5 will get a license and be allowed to move in.
•The city will verify noncitizens' legal status through a federal database.
•Anyone identified as being in the U.S. illegally will get 60 days to prove otherwise.
•Violators – tenants or landlords – will face fines of $500 a day.

Monday, February 4, 2008

One Vase, Five Ways

If you're like me, I have more vases than I ever get flowers (hint, hint) so when I came across this article on the Real Simple website, I just had to share!
Here is the list of ways to get your vases out of the cabinets and out on display!
1. As a Sculptural Bookend. Fill It With: Seashells, marbles, stones, or any other small objects that provide a visual treat and are heavy enough to both anchor the vase and hold up your books. For a serene look, keep all the items in shades of one color — perhaps with a single black-sheep standout for contrast.
2. A picture frame. Line It With: A strip of pretty paper displaying one of your favorite snapshots — or a row of them. (Note: This idea works only with straight-sided vases, not ones that taper.) Measure the inside height of the vase, then wrap a string around it to determine the circumference. This will tell you the size of the piece of paper you'll need. Cut the paper a bit longer than the string so there's overlap, roll it into a tube, then slide it into the vase to confirm that you have a perfect fit. Next, take the paper out and attach the photo (or photos) with acid-free double-sided tape. Slide the paper back into the vase, and use a little piece of regular tape on the inside to secure the paper where the edges overlap. Presto!
3. As a cooking tools holder. Fill It With: Spatulas, mixing spoons, whisks, strainers, and the like — then assign it a prime spot on a countertop near the stove. You'll have easy access to the tools at a moment's notice, and the clear glass will show them off nicely.
4. As a cake stand! Fill It With: Spatulas, mixing spoons, whisks, strainers, and the like — then assign it a prime spot on a countertop near the stove. You'll have easy access to the tools at a moment's notice, and the clear glass will show them off nicely.
5. Invert It Over: A piece of coral, a conch shell, a spray of silk flowers, a signed baseball — any objet that merits a spot at center stage in your home. Place your treasure on a plate with a flat center and upend the vase over it. This will make the display easy to move (say, when you want to dust under, not just around). There you have it: an art show you can change in minutes whenever the mood strikes.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Real Estate Oxymoron

Here's my thought for the day:
I think it's funny how, we as homeowners, will fight tooth and nail when it comes to our home values and tax appraisals. "What do you mean my house is $200,000? I paid $190,000 last year-there's no way my value has gone up that much! Those tax guys just want my money!" Then, a year later, you find yourself wanting to sell the house for $225,000. Makes you go hmmm...
Have fun with the Super Bowl!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


A headline caught my eye tonight on the website. 25 Biggest Decorating Mistakes. Yikes. I have to say that I am guilty of at least one of these. What about you? I do have one toilet surround and that is the 25th mistake so I just barely made the list. Although, I have to admit, I do have fake flowers, but I don't have them on display. In fact, I gave half my collection to my mother-in-law. To see the full list, go to Come back and tell me what you're getting arrested for!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

DFW Home Prices LEAST Likely to Drop

GOOD NEWS for those of us living in the DFW market! Thanks to Shelly Wilson of PrimeLending for this article from the Dallas Morning News!

Dallas-Fort Worth's housing market is the least likely of any in the country to see a decrease in home values, a new report confirms.

At the same time, the chances of a house price decline rose in almost four out of five U.S. markets, according to a report released Tuesday by mortgage insurance firm PMI Group.

Dallas and Fort Worth ranked dead last in PMI Group's latest forecast of cities with the biggest chance for a home price shakeout.

Analysts with the California-based company estimate that Dallas-Fort Worth has less than a 1 percent chance of marked home price drops in the next two years.

By comparison, cities in California, Nevada and Arizona have more than an 80 percent likelihood of falling residential values.

"We're seeing an increasingly polarized market," PMI economist David Berson said in a news release.

"The risk that home prices will be lower in two years has increased for many of the largest cities in the nation, although areas that saw only moderate home price gains during the 2002-to-2005 period still generally have low risks of price declines," he said.

That's certainly the case in Dallas-Fort Worth, where home price appreciation during the last five years has been a fraction of the national average.

"Because Texas did not participate in the double-digit home price gains in the first half of the decade, it doesn't have to take the great pain of the areas that are compensating for that now," Mr. Berson said in an interview.

Now that the housing sector is in a slump, home values in North Texas have been relatively flat while they are falling in many other major U.S. cities.

In 2007, the median price of homes sold through the North Texas Realtors' multiple listing service was up 1 percent from 2006.

Texas markets - including the D-FW area - were also less affected by investors who ran up prices in some cities, Mr. Berson said.

And most Texas cities are outpacing the rest of the country in overall economics, he said.

"The state economy is doing pretty well, and job growth is above the national average," Mr. Berson said.

"It's quite likely Texas will be doing better than the national average for the foreseeable future," he said.

The D-FW area has gotten high marks in the PMI risk report before.

And other national surveys show that North Texas' housing market is outperforming those in the rest of the country.

Even so, pre-owned home sales were down about 8 percent last year, and sales of new homes fell about 17 percent in 2007.

Foreclosure rates also continue to rise.

Analysts are therefore keeping a close eye on D-FW home prices for signs of deterioration.

"I can't argue with the PMI risk assessment, but it doesn't mean that it still couldn't happen - just not as likely as elsewhere," said Dr. James Gaines, an economist with Texas A&M University's Real Estate Center. "So far, most Texas markets are doing well.

"The metroplex probably will do well to have positive overall appreciation, but pockets within the metroplex will have a rough time for a while."

Indeed, Mr. Berson said, the Texas housing market isn't bulletproof.

"There are no sure things," he said.

"It's possible that some parts of Texas will see some declines in the near term."

But overall, the outlook for the local housing market is good, he said.


Markets with the most and least risk of a home price decline, based on price appreciation, economic growth and affordability according to PMI Group, one of the country's largest mortgage insurance firms. An index of 100 means there is a 100 percent chance of home prices falling in the next two years.


Riverside, Calif. 94

Las Vegas 89

Phoenix 83

Santa Ana, Calif. 81

Los Angeles 79


Fort Worth Less than 1

Dallas Less than 1

Pittsburgh Less than 1

Houston Less than 1

San Antonio Less than 1


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mortgage Applications Rise this week

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mortgage application volume rose 8.3 percent during the week ending Jan. 18, according to the trade group Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly application survey.

The MBA's application index rose to 981.5 from 906.4 the previous week.

Refinance volume spurred the growth, increasing 16.9 percent. Purchase volume fell 4.6 percent during the week ending Jan. 18. Refinance volume accounted for 66 percent of all applications.

The index peaked at 1,856.7 during the week ending May 30, 2003, at the height of the housing boom.

An index value of 100 is equal to the application volume on March 16, 1990, the first week the MBA tracked application volume. A reading of 981.5 means mortgage application activity is 9.815 times higher than it was when the MBA began tracking the data.

The survey provides a snapshot of mortgage lending activity among mortgage bankers, commercial banks and thrifts. It covers about 50 percent of all residential retail mortgage originations each week.

Mortgage volume rose as interest rates continued to fall. The average interest rate for traditional, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 5.49 percent from 5.62 percent. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, which are often used to refinance a home, fell to 4.96 percent from 5.07 percent.

Rates for a one-year adjustable-rate mortgage declined to 5.51 percent from 5.77 percent.

Need to refinance or find out how much house you can afford? Give me a call or shoot me an email! I've got a few high-quality mortgage lenders who will give you the service and attention you deserve!
*Courtesy of

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Housing Predictor for 2008

As a broadcast news major in college, I really enjoyed TV and journalism.
However, in recent years, sensational television has ruined consumer confidence. As a real estate agent in Dallas, I can safely say that the market in the Metroplex is strong. That doesn't mean we don't have our share of inventory or problems, but compared to other parts of the country like Ohio, Michigan, Florida and California, we are kicking some tail!
Let's compare some statistics from the past three summers for Dallas:
The first column is number of sales
The second column is average sales price
The third column is total sales
The fourth column is months of inventory

June 2005 6,416 $210,700 28,875 6.1
June 2006 6,875 $219,900 30,323 5.9
June 2007 6,009 $233,700 33,624 6.6

Very interesting statistics if you ask me. I remember the summer of 2006. You couldn't keep a good house on the market for three days. Multiple offer situations were not uncommon. That was the summer that the "coast" real estate markets were at their peak. Smart folks were cashing in on their overpriced home and getting the heck out of Dodge. Where did they go? Ah ha, the Lone Star State. I ran into more buyers from California and Florida! Those buyers were creating the temporary frenzy because many of them thought the market in Dallas was like that in their state. Not so much. Builders were trying to keep up with the trend by churning out spec homes like elves at Christmas. So once the bust happened, that left our consistent little market here suffer a bit. But the most interesting stat to me is that although the summer of 2007 saw 800 less homes sold than the previous summer, the price was also considerably higher. While most states were suffering from double-digit depreciation, we have actually stayed steady or enjoyed appreciation.
Dallas has a sort of mystic romance for an urban area, attracting many newcomers to "Big D." Its real estate market has had a history of erratic battles, but nothing as dramatic price-wise as major east and west coast markets. Dallas will still work through 2008 with healthy home sales volume and is projected to appreciate slowly at 2.0% in 2008 (courtesy of
The bottom line is, the interest rates are fantastic and there are a lot of homes out there. If you are hesitating to buy because of the doom and gloom you hear on the nightly news, take a look at the stats and ignore the haters!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

DFW Home Foreclosures jump by 31%

The number of homes facing foreclosure in the Dallas-Fort Worth area has jumped by more than 30 percent.

The big rise in the number of homes scheduled for foreclosure in February follows a moderation in postings in recently months.

More than 5,300 homes in the four-county area are set to be sold at next month's foreclosure auctions, Addison-based Foreclosure Listing Service said Thursday. That's a 31 percent hike in foreclosures from the same month of 2007.

The biggest increase was in Denton County, where postings were up 50 percent.

Dallas County had the smallest increase - 22 percent.

February's foreclosure total for D-FW was the highest on record for the month.

And Dallas, Collin and Denton counties all set records for the largest number of postings in any month, according to Foreclosure Listing Service.

One reason for the substantial increase in February postings may be that the January auction fell on New Year's Day, Foreclosure Listing Service analysts said.

By law, lenders in Texas are only allowed to take properties through foreclosure on the first Tuesday of each month.

Between 50 percent and 60 percent of the monthly foreclosure postings result in an actual forced sale of the property. In some cases the sales are delayed, or the borrower reaches a new agreement regarding the debt.

Almost 43,000 Dallas-Fort Worth area homes were posted for foreclosure in 2007 - an increase of 10 percent for the year.

Home foreclosures in the D-FW area have grown by one of the biggest amounts in the county in recent years due in large part to lax lending standards, analysts say. Many homeowners who took adjustable rate loans a year or two ago can't afford the monthly payments when the interest rates rise.

And despite lots of publicity, government and mortgage industry mortgage relief plans have so far not had much impact in the market.

Courtesy of Dallas Morning News

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Remodeling for Resale

Does your bathroom look like this? If so, read on!
As you may know, when selling your home, you will get the most "bang for your buck" to update the kitchen and master bathroom. But there are a few other points to consider if you're thinking of selling your house soon. Followthese guidelinefor choosing improvements that will pay off:
1. Ensure that fundamentals are in good repair. You won't gain points for having basics buyers expect, such as a sound roof and dependable water heater, but you'll generally lose time and money on the sale if you don't.
2. Keep up with the Joneses. Add amenities that will bring your house in line with others that are selling in your neighborhood and set your asking price accordingly. Once homes get to be 7-10 years old, it's time to start updating. For example, gold or brass fixtures and hardware were all the rage in the mid to late 90s. Seeing those colors in a house today absolutely dates it. Spending some money to update those make a huge impact on the sale of your home.
3. Manage your expectations. The right remodeling job may add value to a home, but you're unlikely to recoup the entire cost in your asking price.
If you need any additional information, please don't hesitate to give me a jingle!

Sunday, January 6, 2008


As I sit here overlooking a stunning orange sunset and water view in Orlando, I can't help but think how much money the Disney family has.
This is my family's first trip to Disney World. One of the deciding factors to go now is that my daughter isn't quite three. She's at that "magical" age where she is free to the theme parks. Thank God because we would have had to take out a loan to finance this trip!
For those of you who have never been here, save up before coming. So far, the best deal for us was Cinderella's Royal Table breakfast. It was $160 for five of us and we received two, 8x10 professional photos with Cinderella herself along with some 4x6s to send to family. Also, a great breakfast, one-on-one time with four other Disney Princesses and a cheap (yet fantastic in the eyes of a two-year-old) plastic wand with a star on top. Everything else is just very expensive! It's even $10 per day to park!
One thing that's not going to cost you your firstborn is my service. For those of you who aren't familiar with the Team Nelson way of real estate, here's your education: If you buy or build ANY home, I will sell your existing home for FREE. No catch, no gimmick, cancel at any time. If you're downsizing, upsizing or just ready for a change, imagine saving 3% on the sale of your home. Example: Your house is worth $200,000, I will save you $6,000 or 3% right off the top. It's that simple!
So, before you pay full price for the same service you'll get for half price, give me a call or email me. Keep that money in your pocket should you decide to head to Orlando!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Existing Homes Sales Rise in November, Market Likely Stabilizing

Existing-home sales rose slightly in November, indicating a stabilization in housing in the wake of mortgage disruptions earlier this year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales – including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 5.00 million units in November from an upwardly revised pace of 4.98 million in October, but are 20.0 percent below the 6.25 million-unit level in November 2006.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market appears to be stabilizing. “Near term, existing-home sales should continue to hover in a narrow range, just as they have since September, and that’s good news because it’ll be a further sign that the housing market is stabilizing,” he said. “Mortgage interest rates are near historic lows and the most current data shows decelerating price declines, along with a modest reduction in the number of homes on the market.” Disruptions in mortgage availability and pricing peaked in August, which caused sales to slow in subsequent months.

The national median existing-home price2 for all housing types was $210,200 in November, down 3.3 percent from November 2006 when the median was $217,300, but there remains a downward drag on the national median as the mix of closed sales has shifted away from expensive markets.

“Just like the weather, there are large local variations in home prices,” Yun said. A quarterly examination of price performance on a metropolitan basis shows nearly two-thirds of metro areas are showing price increases. Among the many metros experiencing healthy local price gains are Farmington, N.M.; Reading, Pa.; Columbia, S.C., and Fargo, N.D.

Total housing inventory declined 3.6 percent at the end of November to 4.27 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 10.3-month supply3 at the current sales pace, down from a 10.7-month supply in October. “Inventory is still high, and further reduction in prices may be required in some areas to induce buyers back into the market,” Yun said.
*article courtesy of NAR

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Another reason to use me as your REALTOR!

It has been over a year since I took and completed my e-PRO certification. As an Internet consumer, what does this mean to you and is it important?

When you're on the Internet, you don't have time to waste on endless searches for useful real estate information. You want to get things done quickly and without hassle. So chances are you'd like a real estate agent who:
-Answers e-mail promptly and professionally.
-Respects your on-line privacy.
-Offers home listings and other Internet tools to help you find or market a home.
Enter the e-PRO.
An e-PRO is a REALTOR® who has successfully completed the e-PRO training program for real estate professionals. Endorsed by the National Association of REALTORS®, the e-PRO course teaches professionals the nuts and bolts of working with real estate on-line: Web sites, e-mail, on-line tools, and most of all, what today's consumer really wants.
What does all this mean to you? There are several benefits of working with a certified Internet professional.

More privacy
Are you reluctant to give out contact information through the Web for fear of being pestered or spammed? e-PROs understand. They've learned the Web isn't just a place to do business; you need information from someone you can trust.
That's why e-PROs respect your privacy. They respond quickly to your questions, but don't send you unwanted communication. And they protect your personal information.
Less hassle
Tired of struggling to find information? e-PROs are more likely to have access to the latest Internet utilities, making your life easier. These tools may include:
-On-line home tours
-Instant access to comprehensive neighborhood data
-Extensive property listings
-Immediate e-mail notification of just-listed homes meeting your criteria
-Referral networks and on-line forums, where e-PROs can quickly find information——even potential buyers——from other e-PROs
-Newsletters on current real estate conditions in your area
-Electronic faxes sent to you by e-mail
-Advanced software, PDAs, and laptops to find you answers on the spot
The result: you get more information, more easily. With electronic files, you have less paperwork to deal with. And since your agent uses e-mail, you can even eliminate phone tag. The e-PRO streamlines your entire transaction, from showing to closing.
Less expense
An e-PRO's access to advanced technology can save you considerable expense. You have more tools to find or market your home, so you're likely to get a better price. With on-line home tours, you reduce in-person showings——and the costs involved. And by using e-mail, you save money on long-distance calls and fax charges.

Relocating? An e-PRO is ideal for you. With the tools to do your research electronically, you can make a decision on a home the first day you're in town——or without traveling at all. You and your family save on travel costs. And after you've decided to buy, monitoring the sale by e-mail saves you even more.

Should you use an e-PRO? Yes——especially if you're an Internet user. In this fast-paced age, technology has become a necessity. An e-PRO is someone who has recognized and responded to the needs of the new consumer. If you choose an e-PRO, it's a safe bet you'll get the kind of service you want——and need.

Happy New Year to all of you! I look forward to helping you with your real estate needs!