Check Those Sprinkler Heads!

I was out walking early this morning and I came across a home with a broken sprinkler head. While the new “water feature” looked great, the entire zone was not working and the lawn was all brown.

Most people set their systems to run in the early morning so they do not lose water to evaporation during the day. The downside is that they don’t see the system running so unless some good Samaritan lets them know about the broken head it may be too late when they finally figure it out.

The best idea is to test the system once a month. Most systems will allow you to run each zone manually for a couple of minutes so you can quickly check to make sure the system is running properly. Broken heads can be replaced for a couple of dollars and a few minutes of your time.

Do yourself and your lawn a favor–check out your sprinkler system!

Photo Copyright 2012 – Tom Branch 

Now May Be The Perfect Storm For Sellers

Storm CloudsIt’s been a crazy year so far in the north Dallas real estate market. Buyers are out in droves and homes are flying off the market. The bad news for buyers is there are very few homes available in some areas and the ones that are properly priced, prepared, and show-ready are under contract in days.

This is fantastic news for potential sellers! With low inventory and lots of willing buyers, this may be one of the best times in years to list and sell their homes.  Even better news is that homes are selling for close to list price and in many cases for more than list price.

Many sellers believe that the spring may be the best time to list and sell, but selling now may actually be a better time given the market conditions and low inventory.

Thinking about selling? Click here to find out what your home may be worth.

Please contact us at 214-227-6626 if you have any questions.

Photo licensed from iStockPhoto

Hamilton Hills Kick Off Party

Hamilton Hills Kick-Off Party

Gina and I attended a kick-off party for Hamilton Hills last night at the “old farm house” in Montgomery Farm. Belclaire Homes and David Weekly Homes sponsored the event for a limited number of agents who have been actively involved in the early stages of the project.

Hamilton Hills East and West are located just west of Central Expressway where Bethany Road intersects with Alma Road, these two developments offer a small community feeling while still enjoying all that Montgomery Farm has to offer.

We picked up quite a bit of new information that we want to pass along.

Belcaires Homes will build on the 18 exterior lots including the greenbelt and creek lots. Homes will range in size from 3900 to over 5200 square feet and prices will start around $550k.

David Weekly Homes will be building the Custom Classic line on the 19 interior lots along Hamilton Green. Homes will range from 3200 to 4800 square feet and prices will start in the low $500k range.

Both builders will begin presales in October and the model homes should be open in January 2013.

Click here to visit our Hamilton Hills Allen Texas webpage.

New Home Rebate

Purchase a new home through us and we'll help you with your closing costs! We'll give you a credit of 1.5% of the price of the home at closing to use towards your closing costs.

Click here for our New Home Rebates page.

How The Hell is The Market Supposed to Heal?

Housing Market RecoveryIt’s been a crazy ride in the North Dallas real estate market this year. The heavy buyer’s markets of previous years have given way to a strong seller’s market in 2012. Properly prepared and show-ready homes are flying off the market in days at premium prices.

All should be well except appraisers keep killing the sales.

According to Fannie Mae, “Market value is the most probable price which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeably and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus.”

Appraisers were more than happy to take us down the “lower value” path. Part of it caused by the pressure asserted by the Appraisal Management Companies (which are usually owned by the banks themselves) and appraisers are tired of having to defend their valuations (why take the time when the AMCs lowered the pay per appraisal?) to underwriters so many of them take the path of least resistance.

I’ve had three sales in the past three months die because the appraisals were ridiculously low. Willing sellers and buyers have agreed upon a price and terms usually in a short period of time in an open market. Yet appraisals continue to come in low and no amount of work on our part can get the appraiser to look at it again. They’re dug in.

How the hell is the market supposed to heal if we can’t get values to go back up?

Photo licensed from iStockPhoto

Are Hip Pocket Listings Really A Good Thing?

Hip Pocket ListingsI read a blog posted on Candy’s Dirt this morning titled, “Newest Status Symbol: Our House Sold Before Going on the Market. Hip Pocket Sales and Why Brokers Love Them” In this blog, Candy talks about the growing trend for brokers to hold new listings off the market and then sell them to their own clients.

She goes on to write, “The proliferation of Hip Pocket sales is really good for Realtors, because they are back cutting deals again and doing what they do best: network. Also, it’s good for the brokers, especially if they can get both sides of the sale in the same firm. Yippee to that one!”

I’m going to argue that hip pocket listings are not really a good thing for the vast majority of sellers. Yes, there are some sellers who just rather not have people in their homes or desire to keep the sale secret for some reason–however this is not true for the vast majority of sellers. Exposing the home to the larger market will most often allow the seller to achieve the highest possible final sales price and better terms.

We listed a nice home in west Allen several weeks ago on a Friday. By Monday we had 7 offers and the seller wound up with a higher sales price and an all-cash offer. If we had held the listing with the intention to sell it to one of our internal buyers, the result would not have been the same. The multiple offer situation worked in the seller’s best interest.

The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires us to put our client’s best interests in front of our own. In the vast majority of cases, hip pocket listings most likely put our best interests in front of our client’s best interests.

Photo Licensed from iStockPhoto

4688 Edith – Plano TX Townhome For Sale

4688 Edith Plano TX Townhome For Sale

2 Bedrooms | 2.1 Baths | 2 Car Garage | 1633 SF/Building Plan

READY NOW! 2-bd, 2.5 ba, vaulted entry townhome with iron railing at entry. Brick-stone exterior. Kitchen with SS appl, gas cooktop-oven, Granite, 42 glazed site-finished cabs. Formal dining and breakfast nook. Wood floors. Gorgeous Master Suite and 2nd bdrm up. Granite baths. 16 SEER HVAC, Radiant Barrier, low-E windows, natural gas cooktop, oven, furnace and wtr heater, and patio. 2-car garage. SS Fridge included for 30-day closings!

Click here for more details, photos, virtual tour, status, and pricing on this Plano TX Townhome For Sale.

Click here to see all townhomes for sale in Plano TX.

Contact us at 214-705-2470 for more information or to schedule a showing.

Photo Copyright 2012 Imaged2Sell

New Home Rebate

Purchase a new home through us and we'll help you with your closing costs! We'll give you a credit of 1.5% of the price of the home at closing to use towards your closing costs.

Click here for our New Home Rebates page.

The Thrill of Flight – Cessna Style

View of the North Dallas TollwayLike many children, I remember looking up in the sky and seeing planes flying over head.  My father was in the Air Force and each year the base would have an Air Show. Again, we would marvel at the aircraft and watch the Thunderbirds do their high-speed precision maneuvers.

I joined the Air Force in 1979 and had flown as a crew member but never had the chance to pilot an aircraft.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been thinking about flying again. No good reason other than it’s a “bucket list” item and I’m not getting any younger.

As I researched the topic, I found that most private pilot schools offer a “Discovery Flight” allowing a prespective student pilot the chance to “sit in the left seat” and pilot a small aircraft. A quick phone call and I was ready to go.

I arrived at Monarch Air in Addison a few minutes ahead of my scheduled time to meet with Clayton Lynch, the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) who would give me an orientation to the school, the aircraft, and then take me on my first lesson.

The school, hanger, and aircraft were all super clean. It reminded me of my days serving with an aircraft maintenance unit in the Air Force. After completing the tour and facility orientation, we dropped by into the office to pick up our equipment and we were off to the flight line.

Clayton had selected a Cessna 172SP for our flight. I followed him around as he did the pre-flight on the aircraft; visually checking the fuel tanks, insuring there was enough oil in the piston engine, and a number of other tasks to make certain the aircraft is safe to fly. Once completed, we attached a tow bar to the front gear and pulled the aircraft from its parking space.

As I climbed into the left seat, adjusted my seat and fastened my seatbelt; I felt a bit overwhelmed when I started looking at all the controls. I guess I expected less in a small plane!  The good news is that things I learned on active duty helped.  I knew the names for the various flight controls, and could pick out the basic gauges for direction, altitude, and air speed.

What’s really neat is the Garmin G1000. The G1000 has two cockpit displays–one with all the primary flight data and a multi-function display for mapping, traffic avoidance, and more. Sorry, but I digress from time to time when it comes to technology!

Clayton  turned over the engine and it came to life. Within a few minutes the motor warmed up and we were ready to taxi. The adrenalin was pumping as we held short of runway “one five” allowing a corporate jet to take off ahead of us.

A view of Ridgeview RanchThe next thing I know, we’re out on the runway gaining speed and the little Cessna is in the air. We took off towards the south and turned back to the north. I quickly realized we were just to the east of the North Dallas Tollway and I could see where it intersected the Sam Rayburn Tollway. I mentioned that I lived nearby and Clayton offered to fly over my house so I could see and photograph it from the air.

With that behind us, my first lesson began. As I took control of the aircraft, I marveled at how sensitive it was to slight movement of the yoke. It’s like driving a car but you have to think in three dimensions. Turning the aircraft results in a loss of lift so you have to compensate for it in order to maintain altitude.

I banked back to the north and we flew towards the Oklahoma border. Another turn to the left and I could see Lake Ray Roberts. Throughout the flight, Clayton was giving me instructions on maintaining altitude and heading, along with explaining the two displays on the G1000.

As we flew towards the Lake Lewisville marina, Clayton told me to start looking for the runway. It was a bit hazy that day and it took a few minutes for me to find it. I quickly realized I was lining up for my first landing.

The flight had been fun up to that point.

I concentrated on lining up while Clayton reduced our airspeed and lowered the flaps for landing. I was tipping back and forth trying to keep it perfectly lined up. I can only imagine what the pilots in the corporate jet waiting to take off were thinking watching my approach.

I finally realized that Clayton was trying to help me when I heard him tell me to “stopping fighting him” at the controls. We were a couple hundred feet off the ground, so I turned it over to him completely and we touched down smoothly.

If you have ever wanted to experience flying, call your local Cessna Training Center and set up a Discovery Flight. It was a fantastic experience and fulfilled a life-long dream to pilot an aircraft.

Photos Copyright 2012 – Tom Branch