Rental Scams Hit the Area…Again

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My phone has been ringing like crazy all morning long. Almost all the calls are about a new lease listing in Garland, TX at 3313 Ivanhoe

Apparently some low-life has poached my listing and posted it on HotPads at $700.  They’ve looked up the owner’s name and it’s made to look like a For Lease By Owner listing.

This is a scam! The guy tells a compelling story about being out of the country and asks you to wire him funds via Western Union.

Don’t fall for scams!  If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The best way to protect yourself is to work with a reputable and local  leasing agent.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Lakewood Estates in Coppell Texas

Lakewood Estates in Coppell, TX

I was out working in Lakewood Estates in Coppell, Texas this morning. It was early in the day and the temperatures had not yet climbed out of the 80’s. I was early for my appointment so I sat on a bench in the park next to the lake.

As I sipped my Starbucks coffee, I watch as the ducks paddled around the lake and a couple of large turtles sunned themselves on the dam. I was not alone as people sat on their back patios doing the same.

Coppell TX is a bedroom community located on northwest of Dallas. Coppell offers nice homes, abundant shopping and dining, and easy access to many of the major highways including 635, 35E, and 121.

See all Homes for Sale in Lakewood Estates.

See all Homes for Sale in Coppell, TX.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Is It the Right Time to Buy?

Renting Versus Buying a Home

I had lunch with the sales staff of a local builder I represent yesterday. A couple of tasty pizzas combined with an interesting conversation led to this post.

Many of the potential buyers are walking in concerned about everything they are reading, hearing, and seeing in the national media. “It’s a bad time to buy”, seems to be the news of the day.

As we sat there and ate, we jumped onto Google and looked at the rents of an apartment complex within sight of the subdivision. The rent for a 1608 square foot apartment is $1639 a month. We compared that to a brand-new 1620 square-foot townhome. The townhome is priced at $195k. An FHA mortgage with a 3.5 percent down payment results in a mortgage payment of about $1626 including principle, interest, taxes, insurance, mortgage insurance, and HOA dues.

For the same money being paid for rent, one could own a townhome. These figures do not take the tax advantages or long-term appreciation in account. 

Home and interest rates are both low. It will not stay that way. Home prices in North Texas are up 3.5 percent over last year and Collin County is up 5.4 percent. Interest rates will remain where they are as long as the government continues to purchase most of the mortgage loans. They cannot continue to do so forever.

I suspect we will look back at this period in 20 years as the golden opportunity of a lifetime.

Search the North Texas MLS.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

RE/MAX Website Number 1 Among National Brands

RE/MAX Website Hitwise Rankings

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The RE/MAX Website is the most visited real estate website among the national brands. The data comes from the March 2011 Hitwise Report of all U.S. websites in the “Business and Finance – Real Estate” category.

The Branch Team is proud to be associated with RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs and the RE/MAX® brand.

It’s another reason, “Nobody Sells More Real Estate Than RE/MAX®!”

Plano TX Home For Sale 8713 Isaac

Francesca - CB Jeni Homes

3 Bedrooms | 2.1 Baths | Study |2-Car Garage | 2474 SF/Building Plan

Plano TX Home For Sale – New floor plan in Frisco ISD. Large island kitchen with granite counters, stainless appliances, and custom cabinets. Master bath with separate vanities has garden tub and huge walk in closet. Nice covered back patio. Designer touches include crown molding, bull nose corners, and art niches. Many energy features. Ready in July or August. 

Click here for Current Pricing, Details, Photos, and Virtual Tour.

See all Homes For Sale in the Estates of Willow Crest.

Source: NTREIS

Foreclosures Make Dramatic Drop in June

Foreclosure Notice

I was interviewed by Danny Gallagher with the McKinney Courier Gazette as part of his story on the dramatic drop in foreclosures in June 2011.

According to the Foreclosure Listing Service (FLS), July 2011 foreclosure filings are down 28 percent across the Metroplex, the fifth straight month of decreased filings.

The real question is “What’s driving this change?” I agree with the FLS that while our numbers continue to decline, it’s hard to pinpoint the reasons.

As I dug into the MLS statistics, I note that North Texas continues to buck all the trends. Housing prices are up 3.5 percent year over year and Collin County prices are up 5.4 percent. Higher housing prices allow people to sell, if needed.

Additionally new listings are down 17 percent and home sales are down 14 percent. What these two numbers tell me is that the number of available homes is getting smaller since there are more sales than new listings. This has a positive impact on housing prices because the supply is actually getting smaller.

Other good news is that the North Texas economy is doing well. People who are working are far less likely to default on their mortgages.

Are we out of the woods yet?  Perhaps–but there is still too much economic uncertainty at the national level.  While some areas of the country are experiencing the “double-dip”, our housing market appears to be relatively stable.

If you are a homeowner having problems paying the mortgage, help is avaialable. Contract your lender or local real estate professional.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Are You Show-Ready?

Are You Show-Ready?

I was reading a blog post written by Leslie Ebersole titled, “Is Your Home Listed to Sell or Listed to Sit?” Leslie writes about making the most of every showing.

I often talk about having your home in Show-Ready condition. What is “Show-Ready”? Here’s a little background before we answer the question.

Homes sell on either emotion or price. Homes that create emotion with buyers sell faster and at a higher price. Many sellers hire a professional stager to help create that warm and inviting atmosphere. While professional staging is a great idea, we’ve seen staged homes that would look even better if they were “show-ready.”

Most sellers know in advance that their home will be showing. When you get that call, it’s almost show time! Have a plan of action to get your home in show-ready shape:

• Open all the blinds and turn on all the lights including the garage and walk-in attic. Homes that are light and bright appear larger and more inviting. If you have ceiling fans, turn them all on low.

• Have some soft music playing. If you have a media room, leave a movie playing with the sound turned down low.

• Scents are important to creating emotion. In years past, we would leave a drop of vanilla on a light bulb. When the agent turned on the light, the heat would release the vanilla fragrance into the air. Times have changed and now we can simply purchase small air fresheners. While some fragrance is good, too much can be overpowering. If you can, burn a candle until you have to leave. Candles often smell more natural than the artificial air fresheners.

• If you have time, run the vacuum cleaner over the carpets. Buyers notice when the carpets look like nobody has walked on them.

• While you may love your pets, many people are afraid of them and they often get in the way. Taking your pet with you during the showing is the best idea. Some dogs are crate-trained and sit quietly in their crate. However, there’s nothing more annoying than listening to a dog bark the whole time you’re viewing a home.

• Don’t be there when the agent and buyers arrive. It’s awkward and makes the buyers uncomfortable. Buyers want to be able to peek into closets and kitchen cabinets. They want to be able to discuss what they like and don’t like with their agent and each other. If you’re there, it will be a short showing! Leave the selling to the agent.

Many sellers assume the showing agent will arrive ahead of time to get the home show-ready. If I’m only showing one home, I often arrive early and get the lights on. However, if I’m showing 10 homes, I have the buyers with me and we both walk in at the same time for that important first impresion.

Buyers decide in the first 60 seconds if they like the home. Get your home show-ready and make the most of that minute!