The Grass Will Not Grow Under The Trees

No grass growing under Bradford Pear trees in Plano, TX

I was chatting with a past client this morning. They love the house we found for them but they are unhappy with the lawn. The grass under the trees has all died off despite heavy watering.

It’s not a water problem; it’s a sunlight (really a lack of sunlight) problem!

When they purchased the home, the trees had been kept trimmed and thinned out allowing sunlight to reach the ground. Over the past couple of years, the new owners had not kept up with the trees. The Bradford Pear trees that line their driveway grow much quicker that the Live Oaks and had completely blocked out the sunlight from reaching the ground.

All they need to do is to trim and thin the trees’ canopies and reseed under the trees. Rather than Bermuda, Zoyia grass might be a better choice as it requires less sunlight.

According to, “In the south Zoysia has good shade tolerance while in the cooler areas it needs more sun…Zoysia establishes a dense thick turf that crowds out weeds after several mowings.”

Tree trimming and thinning should be completed every year. Visit our Business Directory for lawn and landscape contractors who can take care of your trees.

The Key to Leasing is Tenant Screening

Modern Home for Rent

With the shift from home ownership to leasing brought on by the aftermath of the mortgage crisis, more people see the long-term investment and cash flow potential of residential real estate as a good place to invest their money.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about the “tenants from hell” who fail to pay the rent and destroy the homes they’re leasing. These tenants cost the landlords an untold amount of money from lost income, expenses of eviction, and damage done to the properties.

The real question is, “How do we minimize the risk and avoid the tenants from hell?”  You have to filter out the problem tenants before you sign a lease and let them take possession. The key is tenant screening.

Before I discuss the various screenings, I want to encourage anyone who is considering leasing their property to establish their lease criteria before ever advertising the property. By establishing criteria in advance and not deviating from those criteria, you can avoid most Fair Housing issues.

When processing applications, we try to verify as much of the information on the application as possible. We verify employment and income with their current and past employers. We verify rental history with their current landlord or we can see mortgage history on a credit report.

We then calculate the rent-to-income ratio. We use 30% as our standard. While some people can support higher rent-to-income ratios depending upon their total debt load, we reject any applicant exceeding 30%.

A credit report is pulled on every applicant. The data is used to calculate the total debt load against their monthly income. Our standard is 50% debt-to-income ratio (including the proposed rent).  Once again, we reject any applicant exceeding 50%.

We pull a criminal background check on all applicants. We reject any applicant with a felony conviction within the past 5 years and misdemeanor convictions within the past 2 years.

Applicants are checked against the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Applicants on the OFAC list are rejected.

Last we search for past evictions. Applicants who have been evicted within the past 5 years are rejected.

While this appears to be a high standard for applicants, we find that applicants who meet these criteria pay their rent on-time and generally take care of the property.

If you are considering leasing your property, I encourage you to give some thought to establishing leasing criteria and putting a tenant screening process in-place. While this requires some time and thought, it can save you lots of time and money in the long run.

Looking for an experienced and effective property manager in the north Dallas area? Give us a call at 214-227-6626.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Plano TX Home For Sale 6002 Green Oaks

 Plano Texas Homes For Sale - 6002 Green Oaks

4 Bedrooms | 2 Baths | Pool | 2-Car Garage | 1986 SF/Tax

Plano TX Home For Sale – Great home with pool in the Heart of Plano. Bright and open floor plan with large formals and butlers pantry. Kitchen and family room with wood-burning fireplace overlook the backyard with diving pool. Perfect for entertaining. Generous master suite has walk-in closet and master bath has updated vanity and ceramic tile flooring. Main bath has also been updated including tile and flooring. New Heat and AC Coil in July 2011. 

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

See all Homes For Sale in Plano, TX.

Source: NTREIS

Plano TX Townhome For Sale 4675 Amanda

Plano TX Townhome For Sale 4675 Amanda









3 Bedrooms | 2.1 Baths | 2-Car Garage | 2319 SF/Building Plan

Plano TX Townhome For Sale – Contract NOW for August move-in on this gorgeous Valenica plan loaded with upgrades. Beautiful brick and stone exterior with hand laid brick porch. Welcoming 8ft Knotty Alder front door with speakeasy. Gourmet kitchen has stainless, granite, gas, convection oven, and maple cabs. Two dining areas great for entertaining. Gas on private patio. Energy efficient with 16 SEER HVAC, radiant barrier, cocoon insulation, double pane and low E windows. 

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

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

Source: NTREIS

Basic Real Estate Investing Terminology

Real Estate Investing Terminology

With real estate leasing going strong in many parts of the nation, you may be considering getting into Real Estate Investing. In this blog, I’ll describe some of the basic terminology.

All examples will be based upon a $100,000 purchase price, $1,000 a month rent, $300 a month operating expenses, and a $450 a month mortgage.

Gross Rent Multiplier

GRM is used to describe a ratio between the cost of a property and the anticipated rental rate. It calculated by dividing the purchase price of the property by the monthly rent. In our example, we would use $100,000 / 1,000 to arrive at a GRM of 10. The higher the number is the better.

Net Operating Income

Net Operating Income is the total cost of the property excluding any mortgage. It’s calculated by adding up all the operating expenses including taxes, insurance, management fees, leasing fees, maintenance, and HOA dues.  The total monthly costs are $300 and the monthly rent is $1,000. We would use $1,000 –  $300 to arrive at a Net Operating Income of $700. Use $700 * 12 to arrive at an Annual Net Operating Income of $8,400

Capitalization Rate

The Capitalization rate is a ratio between the Net Operating Income and either the original or current market value of a property. We would use $8,400 / $100,000 to arrive at an annual Capitalization Rate of 8.4 percent. 

Cash Flow

Cash Flow is the movement of cash in and out of the property. Positive cash flow is usually the goal. It is calculated by subtracting the Net Operating Income and any existing debt from the Gross Income.  We would use $1000 – ($300 + $450) to arrive at a monthly Cash Flow of $250.

Occupancy Rate

Occupancy Rate is the ratio between the amount of time a property is rented and the amount of time is vacant.  If there is no actual data, I usually use 90 percent as a starting point for analyzing a property.

Knowing the basic terminology and how to calculate them is essential to evaluating any real estate investment purchase.

Looking to purchase investment properties in the North Dallas area? Contact us! We have the experience and knowledge to find good investment properties, lease them to suitable tenants, and provide on-going property management if needed.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

It is a Landlord’s Market in Dallas Texas

For Rent Sign in Front of Home

I’ve been watching the rental market in the greater Dallas area for a number of years. It’s finally a landlord’s market again.

Since 2008 we have seen a steady increase in capitalization and occupancy rates. We’re to the point today that any decent rental property is leased in less than a week.

There’s nothing magic about the increase. It’s simple economics. As the availability of easy money dried-up in 2008, those would-be buyers went back to leasing homes. This allowed the glut of inventory we once had to slowly decrease.  This stabilized occupancy rates and prevented the downward spiral of capitalization rates we saw during the market boom.

Come forward to 2010 and there are a couple of other factors that are driving the need for rental and lease homes in DFW.  As homes went into foreclosure or were short-sold, those homeowners had no choice but to look for rental homes. While the Texas economy is stable, many of the people who could still qualify for a mortgage decided to sit it out and continue to rent. These two factors have basically drained the rental market in the area.

Currently I have almost 50 people looking for rentals and there are so few available. As soon as they come on the market, there are lots of showings and multiple lease applications.

I listed a large home in Frisco on a Friday. I had four applications on Monday. These were solid applicants with high credit scores, little debt, and substantial incomes.

We recently purchased a property for a local investor and leased it for him in less than a week. The Gross Rent Multiplier exceeded 10 with a Capitalization Rate of about 6.5 percent. This is prior to taxes and does not factor in appreciation over time.

It’s a great time to purchase investment property! Prices are low and the need for rental homes continues to climb.

Are you looking to purchase investment properties? Contact us! We have the experience and knowledge to find good investment properties, lease them to suitable tenants, and provide on-going property management if needed.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs Sweeps 2nd Quarter DFW Awards

RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs

August 5, 2011 – RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs swept the Dallas Council Second Quarter Awards at an Awards Ceremony held earlier today.

Awards included:

Top Commissions Paid
Top Listing Units
Top Listing Volume
Top Sold Units
Top Sold Volume

RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs is a company built on the promise of exceptional customer service. Whether you are selling your home or searching for that special place to call your own, you deserve to work with someone who has your best interests in mind. 

The Branch Team is proud to have contributed to these awards.