Homes for Sale – Prosper, TX – 1201 Broken Bend

Homes for Sale - Prosper, TX - 1201 Broken Bend

4 Bedrooms | 3.1 Baths | 3-Car Garage | 3600 SF/Tax

Prosper TX Homes For Sale, Priced $50k under Market – Custom home on corner lot in golf community. Gourmet island kitchen with granite has double oven, wine rack, and breakfast bar. Spacious master retreat has tray ceiling, oversized shower, jetted tub, granite vanities, and large walk-in closet. Designer touches include Plantation shutters, skip trowel walls and crown molding. Floor to ceiling stone fireplace. Built-in grill and outdoor fountain. 4th bedroom in guest quarters with separate entry..

Click here current status, pricing, photos, and a virtual tour.

Source: NTREIS | Photo Credit -Tom Branch

The Rain Has the Ants Looking For Higher Ground

The Rain Has the Ants Looking For Higher Ground

After several days of heavy rain in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex I was out looking around my home.

I discovered fire ants building nests up the foundation and entering my home through the weep holes in the bottom course of bricks. The heavy rains have all kinds of things looking for dry ground!

I often tell our clients to watch their foundations for signs of termites building tubes, but I’m reminded that checking it after a heavy rain is also a good idea. While fire ants are not necessarily a wood-destroying insect, I don’t want to share my home with them either!

I treat fire ant mounds in my yard with a granular fire ant killer but prefer liquid when treating the foundation. You can hire a professional to spray for you or you can purchase a small sprayer and the chemicals at your local home supply store.

Rain, Rain Everywhere!

Road Damage in Ridgeview Ranch

It’s been a long, hot, dry summer in the greater North Texas area this year.  While this is not all that uncommon, an extended period of it takes its toll on homes and our water supply.

The vast majority of foundations built in the past forty years are post-tension slabs on grade. Combine post-tension slabs with expansive soils and you have a recipe for lots of foundation movement.  Basically the foundations float on the expansive soil and are held together by the post-tension cables in the concrete.

It’s not unusual for there to be minor cracks in the interior sheetrock as there is always some movement in the slab. 

When we have an extended period with little to no rain, the soil around the outside of the slab dries out and contracts while the soil in the center of the slab remains wet and expanded. The foundation is high in the center and low on the ends.  If it gets bad enough, the foundation will settle and crack.

Foundation engineers recommend soaker hoses along the foundation to assist in keeping a constant moisture level in the soil around the slab. This summer, it added about $100 per month to my water bill trying to keep the slab watered.

It was so bad this summer that the entrances to Ridgeview Ranch were damaged and had to be replaced.  It’s the Texas version of a frost heave.

We’ve had heavy to moderate rain for the past 24 hours.  This is a welcome sight. It will green up the lawns, stabilize our homes, and refill our local lakes that are also our primary source of drinking water. 

If Only There Was a Test for a Person’s Ethical Compass

Moral Compass

I’ve been reading all the blogs lately talking about what’s wrong with the profession.

People want to raise the bar for entry into the profession because they believe that higher education and training is answer to the public perception problem.

I have advocated that the answer lies in holding the brokers responsible for the activities of his/her agents and that we need to hold each other to a higher standard of practice.  While both of these would help curb the unethical practices that cause much of our problem, it would only do so retroactively.

What we really need is a test for a person’s ethical compass.  If only there was a way to determine what people would do in a number of given situations prior to licensing we could effectively weed out the undesirable people long before they could cause problems for the rest of us.

Wouldn’t this be grand?

It sounds a bit like the “Precogs” in Stephen Spielberg’s “Minority Report.”  The “precogs” could “see” a murder before it happened and the police were able to arrest the person for a crime that would have happened in the future.  As a result there had not been a murder in Washington DC for a number of years.

While Pre-Crime appears to have created a Utopia of sorts, we find out just how flawed it really is when the “precogs” see the character played by Tom Cruise commit a murder. In the end he does not commit the murder and the flawed system is terminated, all those convicted of pre-crimes are released, and the “precogs” live out their lives on a small island isolated from people.

Sadly we can’t test for a person’s ethical compass.  What we can do as a group is to watch for people who act unethically and then file complaints with the appropriate association or state licensing board.  Until we start to really self regulate our collective behavior, we’re not going to solve the public perception issue.

PS – Updated moral to ethical.

The Branch Team Relaunches Castle Hills Real Estate Website

Castle Hills Real Estate

Castle Hills is a majestic 2,500-acre master-planned golf course community, located in North Dallas, west of the Tollway and Park Blvd., near Carrollton, west of Plano. Convenient to major employers, shopping, recreation, and entertainment, Castle Hills is one of the premier residential golf communities in North Texas.

In addition to an ideal location, Castle Hills has unrivaled amenities and a small-town feel. The Castle Hills Golf Club is home to the 18-hole, Jay Morrish-designed course and club with dining, pro shop, meeting rooms and teaching academy. Throughout Castle Hills, there are parks, lakes, a hike-and-bike trail and community centers with swimming pools, basketball and tennis courts, fitness rooms, ball fields and more.

The updated Castle Hills Real Estate website includes information about the area, new homes, and homes for sale.


If This Was Easy, Our Wives Could Do It – Another Perspective

Leslie Ebersole’s well-written blog titled, “If This Was Easy, Our Wives Could Do It” took a look at the industry as it is today. 

She states, “The low education requirements plus the preponderance of licensees who make a little money in the business creates a self-perpetuating cycle of public mistrust and even contempt. We can change it…but we need to think about it and talk about it, openly and honestly, in ways that help us to change.”

You have to go back to the 1960’s to really understand how the part-time housewife came to be the stereotype for real estate agents. In the late 1960’s we saw a major shift in the make-up of residential agents.  Many men shifted into commercial real estate leaving residential real estate to women.  The low entry level combined with a small sphere of influence could produce a little extra income for the family.  It was never supposed to be a full-time job nor the sole source of income for the family.

I had the opportunity to meet with Ebby Halliday (a regional icon in the industry)  a while ago and she tells the story about getting her license.  You could send in $1 and get a salesperson license or send in $3 and get a broker license.  That was the extent of the requirements at the time.

We’ve seen lots of changes over those 50-plus years and there are plenty of full-time professional agents-both men and women–who are the primary wage earners.  We have also seen many changes in the licensing requirements. 

One of major issues is each state decides on the licensing for agents within their state.  For example, Texas requires 210 hours of education (with an additional 60 hours in year one), a passing score on the state / national examinations, and fingerprinting for an FBI background check. I read one Maryland blog talking about 60 hours of education in that state.

You have to look no further than the Mortgage Loan Originators to see what happens when the Federal Government gets involved. While I don’t see it in the immediate future, it could very well happen down the line. It will level the requirements for entry into the field and will add to the cost of getting a license but I highly doubt it will solve the image problem.

I’ll argue that it’s not the low educational requirements or the fact that the average agent makes less than minimum wage that causes our issues. The public is not aware of it–in fact, most of them thnk we’re all making loads of money selling real estate. 

You see, the public tends to loath commission-based professions.  The American system produces great employees but not entrepreneurs.  We’re taught to go to school, get a good education, find a good job, stay at it for 20 years, and collect a small pension. 

We’re an anomaly–people who will lay it all on the line for the chance to earn a living that’s not tied to a corporate salary. It’s the risk-reward principle–the more risk involved, the greater the reward and conversely, the greater the loss if you fail. 

The real problem are the unethical agents and brokers who create all the bad publicity for the profession.

One of the defining marks of a profession is that it has established rules for ethical behavior and takes care of its own problems. What we need to do is to take on the bad players through the appropriate channels be that the real estate associations or the state licensing authorities. 

We need to do it ourselves before someone else comes along and tries to do it for us.  I assure you, we will not like the latter.


PS – I’m not bashing part-timers. I think there are some great part-time agents and there are some really poor full-time agents.

Short Sales 101 – Anatomy of a Short Sale – Part 2

Short Sales 101 - Anatomy of a Short Sale

The easiest way to understand the Short Sale process is to think about qualifying for a mortgage.  When you apply for a mortgage, the lender reviews your recent bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, etc. to determine your ability to repay the mortgage.  

When you apply for a Short Sale, it’s like undoing a mortgage.  The lender will want to see the same documentation, along with a hardship letter, to determine your inability to repay the mortgage.  If you can do this successfully, the lender will likely approve a Short Sale.

Below is a list of documents that comprise a complete Short Sale package: 

•             Bank Statements for prior two months

•             Pay Stubs for prior 30 days

•             IRS Tax Returns for prior two years

•             Hardship Letter

•             Authorization to Release Information

•             Residential Real Estate Listing Agreement

•             Executed Purchase Contract

•             Lender Pre-approval Letter for Buyer or Proof of Funds for cash offers

•             Preliminary Settlement Statement

Some lenders may require other documents such as an Arms-Length Affidavit and a Short Sale Contract Addendum which they will provide.

If the package arrives for lender review incomplete, oftentimes the lender will just move the file aside and pick up the next one on the stack.  If the real estate agent isn’t diligent about following up with the lender, your file could just sit on the lender’s desk indefinitely with no action being taken.  In the mean time, you’re moving ever closer to foreclosure.

The important thing is working with a REALTOR® who understands the process, knows the proper documents to gather, knows how to submit a complete package, and regularly follows up with the lender.

Based on The Field Guide to Short Sales. Copyright © 2010 by Tom Branch & Gina Branch.