Rain in North Texas

Raain In North Texas

Wow! It’s hard to believe but it’s raining in North Texas. With Stage Four Water Restrictions looming, this is a welcome sight.

Last year’s drought left our lakes and reservoirs dangerously low. People living on Cedar Creek Lake and many of the local lakes could not get their boats in the water. A positive side was that it was a good time to do any repairs or maintenance on their retaining walls.

While low lakes may seem like an inconvenience, there’s a much larger implication for those of us living here. Those lakes and reservoirs are also the source of our drinking water. When the levels are low, cities begin the various stages of water restrictions in an effort to insure we have water to drink.

The droughts also have an impact on our homes. The vast majority of our foundations are slab foundations. These foundations are sensitive to changes in the water content in our expansive soils. Last year we saw a dramatic rise in homes with foundation issues due to the drought. This cost north Texas homeowners millions of dollars.

Let it rain!

Photo Copyright 2012 Imaged2Sell

Groundbreaking at The Preserve in Allen

The Preserve in Allen

Finally! Ashton Woods has broken ground in The Preserve in Allen. I was out visiting the site over the weekend and found the two model homes are well on their way to being completed. I also noted the lake is filled and the fountain is operating.

There are two model homes under construction near the west side enterance. While I did not speak to the sales staff, I suspect they will be open in late March 2012.

I understand that presales have been going well with about 12 homes already under contract.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Photos 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.

Investors, Do You Really Want The Highest Possible Rent? – Part 2

Modern Home for Rent

In Part 1 we discussed how rental price impacts occupancy rate and the impact that can have on annual cash flow. In Part 2, we’re going to explore how rental price impacts the quality of applicants.

Let’s say you have a rental property where the fair market rent is $1500 a month. If you list the property at $1600 a month, not only will you receive fewer applications, we’ll argue that those applications will be of lower quality.

Applicants with good credit and clean backgrounds do not have to overpay for a rental home. Since they can easily qualify, they will spend the time to not only find a well-maintained rental home, they will not pay more “just to get in.”

At $1600 a month, you’ll likely find that your applicants have credit or background issues. They want a decent place to live, understand they have issues, and are willing to pay more. It’s no different than a mortgage applicant who is willing to accept a higher interest rate because they have credit issues.

In some cases the extra cash flow may be worth the risk. That’s a call you have to make based on the total application.

Our recommendation is to price the home at market value to attract the largest number of quality applicants. One bad tenant can eat up lots of time and destroy a property. That little bit of extra cash flow just isn’t worth it in the long run.

Have questions or want to work with an experienced real estate team on purchasing or managing investment properties? Contact us at 214-227-6626.

Photo licensed from iStockPhoto

Weep Holes – Those Holes in the Bottom of the Brick

Weep Holes

Gina was out showing homes this morning. When she returned she told me about a house where the owner had filled the holes in the bottom of the brick. While this might seem like a good idea…it’s not for a number of reasons.

Most building codes require builders to leave weep holes along the bottom row of bricks. These holes allow any water that might get behind the brick to drain. If the water gets trapped behind the brick, mold can form and the water may damage the supporting structure behind the brick.

When the home is sold, these plugged weep holes will be caught by the inspector and most buyers will want them opened up again.

The homeowner in the right-hand picture above has used expanding foam to seal the weep holes. This will be almost impossible to correct later depending upon the amount of foam injected into the weep holes.

First Time Homebuyers Are Finding Few Homes

Seaching for a Home Online

Over the past couple of months we’ve seen lots of first-time homebuyers entering the market. They are enthusiastic, pre-approved, and ready to buy a home. The problem is a general lack of good homes under $150k.

Gina and I are currently working with four first-time home buyers looking in the Allen Texas area and we have only been able to find one of them a home. Don’t get us wrong, there are homes on the market in this price range, but the vast majority of them are foreclosures, short sales, or are in poor condition.

If you are a home buyer, you need to move quickly when you find a home to view. You simply cannot wait because the good homes are moving quickly. Homebuyers can click here to sign up for home alerts on The Branch Team website. This free service sends you an alert as new homes come on the market that meet your needs.

If you are considering selling your home this may be a great time to list it as homes that show well and are priced right are going quickly. Further, plenty of qualified buyers and low inventories present an opportunity to sell quickly. While prices are down in some areas, Collin County and DFW in general have weathered the storm well. Click here to read “Internet Marketing – The New Curb Appeal” and click here to read “Are You Show Ready?

Please feel free to contact us at 214-705-2470 if you have questions or need help buying or selling a home.

Photo licensed from iStockPhoto

The Branch Team Wins 4th Quarter and 2011 Awards

2011 Top Team Award

RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs announced 4th Quarter and 2011 Annual Awards at a recognition breakfast held at the Glen Eagles Country Club on January 20, 2012.

The Branch Team was recognized as the Top Listing Team and Top Closing Team for the 4th Quarter. The team was also recognized as the Top Listing Team and the 2nd Closing Team for 2011.

RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs is the top-producing RE/MAX brokerage in the Dallas area and ranks number 11 in production in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex among almost 2000 brokerages.

Source: RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs

Investors – IRS Issues New Rules on Deducting Repair Costs

IRS Tax Returns

The Internal Revenue Service has issued a 255-page guide in the Federal Register. The new rules, which went into effect on January 1, change the way investors can deduct repair and improvement expenses.

In the past, most investors took the one-time deduction of the repair or improvement expense during the tax year in which it was done. The new rules clarify what is a repair and what is an improvement.

An ordinary business repair of an asset is generally tax-deductible in the current tax year. An improvement is usually classified as a capital expenditure and gets depreciated over time.

Eric Lucas, a principal at KPMG LLP and a former Treasury Department tax counsel, said in an interview that this one of the more significant changes” from current accounting policy and could be troublesome for businesses that took “an aggressive view” in deducting repairs.

Investors should discuss these changes with their CPAs or Tax preparers now in order to make preparing their 2012 tax returns easier next year.

Photo Licensed from iStock Photo | Blog based upon a story published in Inman News