Wednesday, October 20, 2010

North Texas Is The Fastest Growing Region In The Country

This may very well have been what Frisco's city limit signs looked like before the millennium, when very few people in North Texas knew much about the then fledgling town. But now, according to this MSN Real Estate list that names the Top 15 Fastest Growing Cities in the country, Frisco is the fastest growing city in the entire country! North Texas made a strong showing with McKinney surprisingly coming in strong at the #2 spot, and Denton coming in respectably at #13.

The only other Texas city to make an appearance on the list is Round Rock at #7.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Vote For Me And Win $100!

Ok, so you won't really win $100. But you should still vote for my blog anyway. DREB has been nominated by as one of the Best Real Estate Blogs in Dallas and I need your support!

You can vote once a day, every day, up to August 11th, 2010. And don't even pretend you don't have time at work to play around on the internets and the Facebooks. I know you better than that.

Now go vote!

(P.S. Thank you for your support.)

Marketing 101: How NOT to Photoshop Pictures of Your Listings

I admit that from time to time I will photoshop some pictures of my listings. You know, get rid of a few brown spots on the lawn, enhance the colors of the landscaping and grass. But the above photo is just embarrassing. Did this agent have his 6-year-old photoshop this for him?

That being said, the house in under contract. Let's just hope for the seller's sake this agent's negotiating skills are better than his/her photoshop skills.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Dirt In Highland Park Has Appreciated Over 500% Since 2006

4311 and 4321 Lakeside Dr., both listed at approximately 1.17 acres, have just been hoisted on the market for a mind-boggling $16,225,000 and $15,100,000, respectively. Something about this new listing just isn't adding up. Literally. Nearly everyone knows the piece(s) of land I'm talking about. The gorgeous treed corner lot where Lakeside Dr., Preston Rd., Oaklawn Ave. and Armstrong Ave. all meet. Or some of you many know it as the piece of land across the street from where Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, lives.

So, the short history of these lots is they were both comprised of 4310, 4311, 4320 and 4330 Lakeside Dr. and they were all four listed for sale together in the MLS back in 2004 under one address, 4311 Lakeside Dr., for $7,500,000. The entire property eventually sold after a whopping 673 days (almost 2 years) on the market for a meager $6,025,000. While the property's owner is listed in the tax rolls as the Town of Highland Park, I seem to recall chatter that a neighbor who lives on Armstrong purchased the property to make sure the property sold to a nice individual that would want to build a HUGE single family residence on the property, as opposed to a church or some other commercial development. But who knows if that's true or not. I certainly don't.

Anyway, a few days ago I saw a couple new lots listed for sale in Highland Park with the addresses 4311 and 4321 Lakeside Dr. And then I see the redonkulous list price! I quickly whipped out my trusty TI-82 calculator to discover that the appreciation rate from $6,025,000 in 2006 to over $31,000,000 in 2010 is a nonsensical 520% appreciation rate over 4 years.

Sure this piece of land is desirable, but $6M to over $30M in 4 years for the same exact piece of dirt? Am I missing something here?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

HGTV's "My First Sale" Is Coming To Dallas!

Yesterday I got a phone call from a casting director for HGTV's show "My First Sale" asking me if I wanted to apply to be a part of the show (and also to share the press release to other area agents). Here is the press release:
SELLING YOUR FIRST PLACE? Then HGTV is looking for you! MY FIRST SALE, the popular primetime HGTV show, is looking for first-time home sellers (and their real estate agents!) in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Washington DC/Arlington VA areas.

We are looking for fun, high-energy people who are just starting the process of selling their first place! Our cameras will be there to capture all the trials and tribulations, stress and success of prepping for sale, pricing, negotiating, and ultimately selling a home for the first time.

Taping will begin in Spring 2010 and will continue through Winter 2010. Ideal candidates will be motivated, financially candid people who want to share the experience and the purchase details with HGTV and their audience. Singles, couples and families are all invited to apply!

If selected to appear on an episode of My First Sale, home sellers will receive a DVD copy of the episode to enjoy for years to come. Real estate agents will also receive a DVD of the episode. If this sounds like fun, first-time sellers should apply now for immediate consideration!

According to the show's page on the show is billed as follows:
Think buying your first place is tough? Try selling it! My First Sale takes the proven and successful docudrama format of My First Place and turns it upside down — telling the story from the seller's point of view. Selling your first place means the stakes are even higher than when you purchased. More pressure, more jeopardy, more to gain — and potentially thousands to lose. For HGTV viewers, My First Sale has even more drama and, most important, more valuable takeaways to help viewers make top dollar on their own sale.
I personally haven't seen any episodes but it sounds like a great idea. Hopefully it won't be the equivalent of House Hunters where the buyer sees 5 homes and makes an offer on one of them. Then the buyers get a phone call while they're having a picnic in the park with their 2 and a half children and - POOF! - instant happy homeowners! That ain't how it works folks.

So if any Realtors or homeowner's out there are interested shoot me an email. I'll be happy to send you the application and contact information.

Gotta run and go get my hair did for my casting video!!!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Are Interest Rates Really Going To Rise? Experts Say "Yes!"

Consumers, mortgage lenders and real estate professionals are all wondering what will happen to interest rates now that the Tax Credit is expiring. Earlier this year many financial types said interest rates will definitely rise in the second half of 2010. So far this year the interest rates have been hovering around 5%, so will interest rates rise, and if so, how high will they go?

According to Ken Rosen, chair of the University of California Fisher Center for Real Estate, by keeping rates so low, “We are encouraging asset bubbles in the stock market, bond markets, and global real estate,” Rosen says. This Inman News article states interest rates will rise for the next 10 consecutive quarters and will be at an average of 5.8% by the 4Q of 2010.

Here is a very informative spreadsheet from the Mortgage Bankers Association showing the predicted rise in interest over the next 2 years. Spoiler alert - by 4Q of 2012 30-year fixed interest rates are predicted to be around 6.6%. Yikes!

So if you've been sitting on the fence, whether to refinance or buy a home, it might be time to jump off that fence and take advantage of the low interest rates while there's still time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Onion Pokes Fun at Real Estate Agent Photos

Thanks to my friend Ken for passing this Onion article my way. Here is a link to the article and I've also copied it below. It pokes fun at the fact many Realtors put their photos on their signs, business cards and even billboards. My favorite line from the article,
"You know, in a way, I'm sort of glad Mary and I never met face-to-face. Touring the property with her assistant and conducting the negotiations over the phone really helped maintain the mystique of that wonderful, wonderful sign. I can only assume Mary's heavily made-up visage conveys an even greater degree of trust in person."
Hopefully both real estate agents and consumers will get a kick out of this. I know I did!

I Wasn't Going To Buy This House Until I Saw The Realtor's Headshot On The Sign

MARCH 16, 2010 | ISSUE 46•11

Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions a person can make, so when I set out to purchase my first home, I didn't take the matter lightly. Sure, the place I ended up with isn't in the greatest shape, or even in the best part of town. And by any fair market estimate of its value, I certainly overpaid.

But as far as I was concerned, the deal was sealed the moment I saw real estate agent Mary T. Ellington looking back at me from that Re/Max sign, her face just barely visible over the rampant weeds growing in my new front lawn. For my money—$256,560 of it, to be exact—there's nothing like a poorly lit, oversaturated photograph to let me know that I'm working with a friend and not just someone out for an easy commission.

To be honest, I had serious reservations the first time I drove through what is now my neighborhood. I have two kids, so the lack of good schools in the area and the dangerous highway mere feet from the unfenced backyard were sources of concern. But after I passed more than half a dozen of Mary's signs in front of house after ramshackle house, I just knew that if she sold me a home I would be her No. 1 priority. And if there was any doubt left in my mind, it was immediately eradicated by the quote right below her picture: "You're my No. 1 priority!"

But the slogan was really just the icing on the cake. Seeing Mary's insincere, plastic smile and stiffly coiffed hair several times had already reassured me that I was making the right choice.

Still, I had a few lingering concerns, which is normal with any major life decision. So it's a good thing I drove past that billboard bearing the selfsame image of Mary on my way home! There's a certain level of gravitas and legitimacy that only a 30-foot-high, clumsily retouched photograph of a middle-aged woman can achieve. Text-only ads may have their flashy exclamation points, and business cards may be embossed and glossy, but I don't think any of those things could ever convince me to plunge myself and my family into insurmountable debt the way that awkward photo did.

You know, in a way, I'm sort of glad Mary and I never met face-to-face. Touring the property with her assistant and conducting the negotiations over the phone really helped maintain the mystique of that wonderful, wonderful sign. I can only assume Mary's heavily made-up visage conveys an even greater degree of trust in person.

I just wish every crucial choice in life could be guided by hastily produced visual aids! Sure, finding the very best attorney, bail bondsman, or elected representative is no more difficult than perusing the signs at a bus stop or the contents of one's mailbox. But what if I need a babysitter or a qualified psychiatrist? Or—God forbid—a funeral director?

I guess what I'm saying is that it's just such a relief when professionals take the time to demonstrate a true respect for my intelligence. By having their picture taken in front of that same sky-blue background used in all my school yearbook photos, it's clear they're trying to put an honest face on whatever transaction might transpire between us, and not at all employing some sleazy, calculated tactic they learned during a business seminar at a hotel by the airport.

The airport with a major flight path right over my new house.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Will A Second Wave Of Foreclosures Hamper Our "Recovering" Real Estate Market?

This is a great article from the Washing Post talking about the possibility there will be a huge onslaught of foreclosures coming down the real estate pipeline in the not so distant future. This second wave of foreclosures will most definitely ruin any chance of a real estate recovery. What is the likelihood of this happening in 2010? According to this article the numbers are pretty telling.
"Lenders are deluged by late-stage delinquencies. The pent-up foreclosure inventory is there," said Massoud Ahmadi, director of research for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
Also from the article,
In addition to those already in default are 11 million more U.S. borrowers who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth -- known as being underwater -- and are in danger of becoming delinquent, said Sam Khater, chief economist for First American CoreLogic.
I briefly touched on this topic late last year and it sounds like I wasn't that far off. I feel like the government is trying to help stave off this impending second wave of foreclosures. But until the banks get their act together and help homeowners adjust their current mortgages and assist with shortsales I feel like we'll be dealing with the threat of foreclosures for a very long time. From the article,
"Banks have remained in foreclosure paralysis, allowing that backlog to get larger and larger. You can't do that indefinitely," said Sandeep Bordia, head of U.S. residential credit strategy at Barclays Capital.
I agree, but banks won't change unless someone forces them to change the way they're handling this crisis. Until then I guess we'll all just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's Time To Spring Forward!

Don't forget to turn your clocks AHEAD this Sunday, March 14th at 2:00am!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Short Sale Hell: Another Reason Why Banks Are Killing Our Economy

I'm currently negotiating a short sale with Bank of America. It's a joke. I also need to point out I've been involved in 10 successful short sales, so I know how these things work. Unfortunately, how each bank handles short sales is exactly why people are choosing to walk away from their homes and accept foreclosure - because it's less of a headache than talking to some $8.00/hour bank employee who could care less about your financial hardships.

This is good article explaining how banks are killing real estate values by not being able to work out short sales in lieu of foreclosing on the home. Here are some key points of the article.
[Short sales are] also a better option for banks: According to one analysis, short sales resulted in loan losses of only 19 percent, compared with an average loss of 40 percent on homes sold after foreclosure.
According to research firm Campbell Communications, only 23 percent of short sale transactions are actually completed. "Three out of four potential short sale transactions fail, principally because the mortgage servicer takes too long to respond to the offer," said Tom Popik, author of a February survey of real estate agents. "When these same properties are later sold it further depresses real estate prices."
Having spoken with these banks on behalf of my clients over the years I can tell you they are in no hurry to help anyone out of a tough spot. If your home is about to go into foreclosure and there is an offer on the table, they will not move faster to make the short sale happen.

Example, instead of the bank accepting $300,000 for a short sale, they take too long negotiating the offer and the home goes into foreclosure. The home sits vacant without utilities (or appliances) for months and deteriorates quickly. The home goes on the market as a foreclosure 3 to 6 months later and sells for $250,000 or less, which doesn't include the tens of thousands of dollars in attorney and processing fees paid by the bank. Smart financial decision on the bank's part, right?

And these "smart" bank folks are who we, US taxpayers, bailed out? *Scratches head*

Sunday, February 14, 2010

6155 Palo Pinto Ave. Dallas, TX 75214

I'm testing my iPhoto slideshow software. Let me know what you think.

The song is Home by Michael Buble. (See what I did there?)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Want to Save Money? File Your Homestead Exemption

Here's an email I sent to all my clients recently. I was going to post this soon after said email was sent but then I got busy. I'm very important you see. Thus, I get busy from time to time. And when I say busy, I mean forgetful.

If you purchased a home in 2009, please read the following information on Homestead Exemptions that I copied from the Dallas Central Appraisal District website and applies to the entire state of Texas.

"A property tax exemption excludes all or part of a property's value from property taxation, ultimately resulting in lower property taxes. To qualify, the property must be designed or adapted for human residence and the homeowner must own the property on January 1 of the year application is made. The person claiming the exemption must reside at the property on January 1 and cannot claim a homestead exemption on any other property. If more than one individual (not a married couple) owns the property, each separate individual must make application if they reside at the property. Exemptions are allocated according to percent of ownership interest the applicant has in the property. The exemption application must be completed, notarized and include a driver’s license or social security number and date of birth."

If you have not already done so, please go to the relevant district website below where your property is located. For most of the websites you can search for your property and then click a link to print out a homestead exemption form. I have also included the phone numbers for each of the appraisal districts should need to contact them directly. And of course, you are always welcome to call me if you have any questions about the homestead and other exemptions.

Dallas Central Appraisal District

Collin County Appraisal District

Tarrant County Appraisal District

Denton Central Appraisal District
(The Homestead Exemption application link is at the bottom right of the Home page)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Forbes List of Cities Where Homes Have Lost the Most Value

I love Forbes' lists. This is a nice list of cities across America that have lost the most value since the "Peak" which is some magic formula using 2004 values and 3rd Quarter of 2009.

I'm not surprised by any of the cities on this list. I'm also not surprised Texas isn't on any of them. I am surprised however that the Northeast cities have done so well during this housing crisis since that area tends to appreciate quite a bit. What does that mean? In my opinion it means that area has remained in demand. Most likely because that area has been built out much more than almost all other cities on this list. Kudos to you Northeast US!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Having Problems With Your Appraisals?

This is a pretty good article explaining how appraisals are killing more deals in today's real estate market. It's not the appraiser's fault...every time. And yes, listing agents will resort to begging in order to get their listing sold. Something we shouldn't be proud of but it happens all the same.

Consider an example where a home has been listed for 280 days and they finally get the home under contract. Until the appraisal comes in at $50,000 below the agreed contract price. If the seller doesn't drop the price by $50,000 then the buyer must come up with the $50,000 difference or else the deal falls apart. Guess what happens 98% of the time? The deal falls apart. It's heartbreaking for both buyer and seller and the lender. But how do we know if the appraiser really knows what they're doing? They're human and can make mistakes, right?

Fortunately, I have not had any appraisal problems but I have certainly had a few appraisers call me and ask for extra comparables. But the article points out a big problem and that is the lender will sometimes hire an appraiser not familiar with the area in which the subject property is located. Appraisers are similar to real estate agents in that both tend to have areas of focus. Most Dallas agents can't speak elementary about Ft. Worth real estate and vice versa. So then why is an appraiser any different? Yet Ft. Worth appraisers appraise Dallas real estate all the time. And there are many disagreements.

It's also odd that an appraiser will ask for a copy of the contract and, therefore, see the agreed sales price, before they've stepped foot in the property? Isn't this like cheating? I've never understood this practice. Aren't appraisals supposed to be unbiased reports? Wouldn't seeing the sales price before seeing the property make the report biased?

Whatever. My buyers get good deals and don't have appraisal issues and neither do my sellers. I guess that means I'm doing something right.