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November
8

Don't Fall for These Real Estate Myths

Real Estate Myths

Today's real estate market remains hot, hot, hot, with sellers enjoying high prices, while buyers are facing a highly competitive market that has made it difficult for some to land the home they're longing for. This is especially true for those selling homes in Dallas/Fort Worth or shopping for Dallas homes for sale and Fort Worth homes for sale

It's easy to get distracted during the buying or selling process by certain widespread real estate myths. Our real estate agents help many families in the area find their dream home and advise them to not fall for misconceptions they might hear from well-meaning friends and family members.

Read on about some common real estate myths you should not fall for.

  • Myth 1: You don't need to do any prep work
    Many home shoppers think the process starts by rushing out and touring houses either in person or online before you've gotten yourself organized. The best course of action to ensure a smooth transaction is to plan your financing. Get either a preapproval letter or perhaps even a prequalification letter, from the lender you choose. This will help you be prepared when it's time to make an offer, but you'll also be able to focus on searching within the price range you're qualified for -- rather than wasting time looking at homes that are out of reach.

  • Myth 2: You can do it alone
    You'll be missing the expertise an agent brings to the process, including knowledge of market conditions, and above all, the ability to negotiate the best deal. A good agent will also help you get your paperwork ready. Organized, complete paperwork can make the process flow much more smoothly than when papers and forms are shoddily prepared and incomplete.

  • Myth 3: You can rely solely on online sources
    These resources can tell you a lot, such as an estimate of what your home is worth, or a calculation of your monthly mortgage payment. What's missing is a visit to a property by an agent, who can determine if the data is all correct.

  • Myth 4: You won't need to worry about repairs
    Modern builders are tending to build quickly at minimal expense. That means you need to exercise caution regarding lower-quality construction. Hire a home inspector who is well versed in new home construction to suss out potential problems. Talk to your real estate agent about what to look for in new home construction  -- or older homes if you're looking at an older model.

  • Myth 5: You should always offer less than the asking price for a home
    Low-balling the seller can be annoying to the point they may move on to a potential buyer who's easier to work with. Do you really want the home? Is the price reasonable? Then offer the list price or a price that's close to it. In really hot markets, you may need to offer over the list price to make sure you're in the competition. Your real estate agent should be able to help you strategize the best approach.

Need more help navigating today's real estate market? Contact us today.

February
8

Storage Solutions You'll Want in Your Home

Home Storage SolutionsNo matter how big a house is, we seem never to have enough storage space. The problem might be you just haven't unlocked the secrets of a good storage strategy.

If you're considering homes among Dallas homes for sale or Fort Worth homes for sale, and you're wondering if the storage will be sufficient, just keep these tips in mind for how you might expand the storage space in your new home.

  1. Over-the-doorway shelving. 
    Bet you didn't know you had all that potential storage space right over the doorway. Install open-air shelves over the doorway in bedrooms, bathrooms, and above double doors. Depending on the type of room where the shelves are installed, you can place plants, decorative dishes, and pottery, or treasured mementos.

  2. Under-the-bed storage bins.
    Don't let that space under your bed go to the dust bunnies. Acquire long, flat storage bins and stow things such as holiday gift bags, tissue, and wrapping paper; or even off-season clothing. 

  3. Hooks for measuring spoons and cups.
    Don't you get fed up looking for measuring spoons and smaller-size measuring cups in your drawer full of miscellanea? Now you can put your hand right on them by installing hooks inside your kitchen cabinet doors and hanging them within easy reach.

  4. Drawer organizers.
    Utilize these to help organize your kitchen. Drawer organizers work well if you put some time into planning what you need to access before you buy the organizers. Make sure you measure your drawers as well! 

  5. Storage bins for cabinets.
    Same as for drawer organizers: think about what you want to place in storage bins before you buy them. For instance, maybe you have some spices you'd like to have right at hand, so you acquire a bin for the pantry where you can place them in rough alphabetical order. Storage bins in cabinets should work well for all the smaller items in the kitchen, such as packets of gravy or dressing mixes, a box of bouillon cubes, a baggie full of orphaned tea bags, sweetener packets, whatever. Obviously, storage bins for your bedroom closets will be larger so they can hold your shoes; maybe in your office, a storage bin would be useful for rounding up all those power cords and chargers you can't seem to throw away.

  6. Excess stuff.
    You know you need to get rid of stuff you never use, but it's hard. We suggest once a year going through your possessions and doing a fearless assessment of what you're likely to need or can let go of without regrets. Some of it can go in the trash or the recycling bin; the rest, such as clothing or furniture in good repair, can go to charity. 

  7. Outdoor storage shed.
    This is one of the best solutions for relieving indoor crowding. Try to arrange stored items with a top to bottom plan by stacking seldom-used items on the bottom, and stuff you might need in smaller containers near the top. Think about what you'll want to get at (holiday decorations for instance) and place them so you can access them as needed. 

All these small changes will add up and provide you and your family more space so you can live more comfortably in your home.

Need more tips? Our real estate agents can help. Contact us today.

August
31

Don't Let Your Credit Score Hold You Back from Your First Home

Credit Score - First-Time Homebuyers – RE/MAX DFW Associates

Our real estate agents here at RE/MAX DFW Associates know that sellers have been bouncing back in our area for weeks now. It's about time for buyers to join the excitement and check out all of the great Dallas homes for sale that are hitting the market!

And that market is right for first-time home buyers.

Many people put off the decision to buy a home because they aren't sure about their finances or worry about their credit. With historic low interest rates, however, now's the time to test the waters. If you're interested in buying a home, you can begin working on your credit and make a big difference.

Your credit score is a numerical rating that helps lenders understand your financial habits. A higher credit score represents someone who is more likely to pay debts on time, making them a safer bet. 

Although your credit score is important, it doesn't have to be perfect!

By starting the right habits today, you can make a significant difference in your credit even if you only have a few weeks or months before you apply for a mortgage loan. Current "creditworthy" behavior is often weighed more heavily by lenders than any credit problems you had in the past.

Here's how you can get off to the right start by building your credit:

  1. Check Your Credit Report for Mistakes
    Your credit score is derived from information in your credit report, which can be hundreds of pages long. It lists all your current debts and obligations as well as your payment history. You can access your report for free online once a year – contest any mistakes you find and you could gain a few credit points.

  2. Pay Debts in Full If You Can
    If you have a few credit cards you can pay off quickly, go for it! Reducing the amount of total credit you use (while still having access to it) raises your score. For larger debts, it's best to start with the card that has the highest APR, then go on to the next highest, and so on in order.

  3. Put Other Plans on Pause for Now
    When you're looking for a new home, pump the brakes on a new auto loan or any other major debts. If you get approved for other financing, it can throw off your debt-to-income ratio, which makes it harder to get the best mortgage interest rates. A better rate could save you thousands of dollars!

  4. Mop Up Older Debts
    When it comes to debt, it's always best to communicate, agree on a payment plan, or make partial payment. If any debts fall into collections, always deal with those first. If you pay off a debt that has been around for a while, be sure you get written proof showing that it is paid in full.

  5. Revisit Your Budget
    Opportunities to spend less can help you improve your credit when the money you save goes to your debts. It's always a wise idea to take a close look at your budget and see if anything could be changed. That can give you a head start on writing a household budget and finding a great, affordable home.

  6. Use Programs for First-Time Buyers
    The federal government has created many different programs for first-time buyers. These allow buyers with lower credit scores to access funding with low or no down payment, and are often insured by the government, helping lenders and borrowers alike.

Getting a great mortgage starts with finding the right home – and there's no better ally than RE/MAX DFW Associates. Contact us to learn more.

February
17

Improve Your Odds as a First-Time Homebuyer

Buy a Home - Beat the Odds - RE/MAX DFW Associates

Buying a home for the first time can feel like an overwhelming experience. The walkthroughs, loan applications, and negotiations are only made more difficult when your offer is denied by a seller who chooses another buyer. Our real estate agents are also discouraged when a great offer goes unaccepted. Although a normal part of this process is to feel like the odds are stacked against you, remember that it's only a matter of time until you're handed the keys to your dream home.

Why First Time Homeowners are Faced with Unfavorable Odds

As each generation gets older, many men and women hope to purchase their first home early in adulthood. Unfortunately, there are a variety of factors that could prevent potential homebuyers from the home of their dreams. Some of the common hurdles first-time buyers struggle to overcome include:

  • Saving for a Down Payment
    A 20 percent down payment is a significant amount to save, especially for younger homebuyers. A single individual may find it difficult to reach this amount alone within a few years. Studies report that an individual may need up to 11 years to save for a down payment. Others may be struggling with student loan debt or are earning a salary that does not enable them to afford the homes in their area.

  • Increases in Housing Prices
    Even if an individual or couple are not struggling with debt and are earning salaries that meet the national average, these hopeful homebuyers can still encounter obstacles in the form of rising property values. Home prices are rising significantly in larger cities throughout the country where younger adults are relocating to, particularly new homes.

  • Limited Homes Available in an Area
    Even when young adults choose to relocate to larger real estate markets, they're still discovering that there are limited homes available — especially entry-level homes. Older adults are choosing to age in their current city, downsizing to smaller and more affordable homes.

  • Difficulties Qualifying for a Loan
    Although they may have an adequate down payment, some younger adults do not have the credit score or history necessary to secure a loan.

  • Increased Competition
    Young adults are facing two challenges simply because of their age. Not only are they competing for homes with other Millennial homebuyers, but they are also competing against another sizeable population — Baby Boomers who are downsizing. With the two largest generations competing for limited homes, it's increasingly difficult to secure a home.

How to Improve Your Odds as a First-Time Homebuyer

These obstacles may seem difficult to overcome, but don't lose hope! There are ways in which you can improve your odds of securing the home of your dreams even in a competitive market. We suggest that first-time homebuyers consider these tips:

  • Monitor and resolve any issues with your credit score. If you have a limited credit history, take responsible steps to improve it.

  • Save for more than the minimum down payment amount. Putting a few thousand extra aside will help cover closing costs or any bidding wars you might get into.

  • Limit your demands and try to find amicable ways to compromise during negotiations.

  • Submit an offer that's slightly above the asking price. A well-priced home could encourage more offers and your elevated offer will immediately stand out.

  • Get pre-approved for your mortgage loan before you begin your search. You should always calculate how much home you can afford before you begin searching. Securing pre-approval for a loan will show the seller that you are serious and able to afford the home.

Contact us today for the support and guidance first-time homebuyers need when buying Dallas homes for sale.

January
20

Real Estate Rescue: Yes, Your Agent Can Help with That

Real Estate Agent Help - RE/MAX DFW Associates

Our real estate agents are always working hard to connect our clients with the best Dallas homes for sale. Many clients, especially first-time buyers, are surprised by all we can do for them. A real estate agent is your guide through the whole home-buying process. If there's a question we don't know the answer to, we know where to find it! We strive to be our clients' top resource.

But agents don't just answer questions: They're also there to solve problems. No matter what comes up, a good agent will equip you with the knowledge and options to make a sound decision. Sometimes, the process of buying a house is smooth and easy. Most of the time, though, there are tricky choices to be made at one point or another. Your agent simplifies the issues.

Let's look at some of the unexpected ways agents can "rescue" their clients:

  1. Help You With Loan Preapproval
    Loan preapproval is the last step before a formal package, which you only get once you choose a home to bid on. Your agent can connect you with a lender who offers loan programs suited to your needs. You can also get advice on strategies around closing costs and other money issues.

  2. Help You Select a Home Inspector
    A trusted local agent has deep industry connections at all levels of the buying process. That makes it easy for them to orchestrate administrative tasks, such as finding a home inspector. An inspection is essential for ensuring no major repair bills are lurking around the corner!

  3. Help You Purchase a FSBO Home
    A "for sale by owner" (FSBO) home is one that has been placed on the market without the help of an agent on the seller side. As a buyer, though, your agent can bridge the gap and assist you during the purchase. An experienced agent will make it seamless.

  4. Help You Negotiate a Purchase
    Not everyone is a born negotiator. Even if you've never haggled before in your life, an agent brings the right skills to the table. Agents can stand in on your behalf and use their insights on the local market to argue for your interests when a home is overpriced.

  5. Help You Organize Your Big Move
    After closing comes moving, and that can be hectic. Not everyone has the opportunity to get a head start by moving things into a storage unit. Even if you find yourself with a whole home to pack up in days, your agent can recommend area movers who can do the job.

  6. Help You Find the Right DFW Home
    It might seem obvious that an agent helps you find a home, but most people don't know how far it goes. The better you know your wants and needs, the more your agent can do. Instead of focusing on one "dream home," you can have great new property listings to review every week.

  7. Help You Manage a Rental Property
    Buying a property for investment purposes? Most new Dallas-Fort Worth landlords soon decide they could use help running the business side of things. An agent can step in to screen renters, collect rent, and oversee maintenance issues. It's all done for you for a modest percentage of rent.

RE/MAX DFW Associates is the largest RE/MAX company throughout the entire southwestern United States. We got there by supporting our clients with the very best in real estate knowledge and customer service. Contact us to find out more about real estate opportunities in our area.

November
18

Is Playing Airbnb Host Right for You?

Short-Term Rentals - Hosting Tourists - RE/MAX DFW Associates

Dallas homes for sale are some of the most desirable around. It's no surprise many people enjoy seeing them up close – both to buy and to stay a while! Our real estate agents have noticed a trend: Newly-sold Dallas homes are becoming popular Airbnb destinations.

Airbnb equips homeowners to provide short-term lodging for travelers – from a day to a few months. It maintains an online, mobile-friendly platform where homeowners list properties and visitors view them. Once a booking is made, Airbnb notifies both parties. The company takes a portion of the proceeds; the rest goes to the homeowner.

Listing on Airbnb can be a terrific way to generate income from almost any Dallas home. If you choose, you can make hundreds or even thousands monthly, even while still living on the property. But making money with Airbnb isn't quite as easy as downloading an app. Here's how to decide whether it's the right move for you.

  1. Check Out Your Legal Obligations
    There are many places where Airbnb is a sort of Wild West – people you invite into a home are your guests, no questions asked. However, that's starting to change. In some places, you may be expected to follow tenant laws with rules about property upkeep, so seek appropriate advice.

  2. Think About Repairs and Renovations
    Airbnb users browse homes almost the same way would-be buyers do – by looking at photos and checking out the details of your listing. To stand apart from the crowd, you might need to think about new exterior paint, landscaping, or quick fixes like leak repairs.

  3. Get Terrific Photos Ready
    No matter how prepared you are, you'll need to sell the "sizzle" of your home to stand out. Take quality photos in well-lit areas. Stage spaces by removing clutter and getting organized first. If you invest in major renovations, like a deck, you can use these to entice guests, too.

  4. Choose What Level of "Guest Experience" You Want
    Some Airbnb hosts are completely hands-off, while others strive to create an experience similar to, well, a B&B. This can result in higher ratings and more bookings, but it will inevitably mean that you invest more in overhead and spend more time with each guest.

  5. Be Ready to Track Your Expenses
    As fun as it can be to meet new people and introduce them to your community, Airbnb hosts are in it for the profit. Don't assume it'll be smooth sailing from the start: Track associated costs, like the cost of cleaning carpets, replacing lost keys, or making repairs after guests depart.

  6. Prepare to Lose Some Space
    The main drawback of renting on Airbnb is not having complete access to every room in your home whenever you wish. For some homeowners, this turns out to be a deal-breaker, especially if there is only one bathroom. Consider your first few guests a "test flight," then decide.

  7. Address Security Concerns
    The potential for loss or damage of your possessions is another serious issue with short-term guest rentals. Determine whether you need to buy more insurance for certain items, install or expand a security system, or take extra steps to ensure your keys are never misused.

Airbnb Is Here To Stay: Are You In?

For the right homeowner, Airbnb can be a great way to open up a new income stream without the substantial investment and property management woes of a dedicated rental home. If you're eager to get started, remember: A beautiful, modern home will position you to achieve more on Airbnb. Contact us to learn more about the best real estate opportunities in Dallas.

October
21

Buying and Selling a Home: How to Bridge the Gap

Bridge Loans - RE/MAX DFW Associates

Buying or selling a home can be a stressful situation, but buying and selling a home simultaneously can get downright terrifying if you're not ready for the transition. Fortunately, there are some ways to help ease the burden of buying and selling at the same time, and the primary method is by way of a bridge loan.  

Just like it sounds, a bridge loan helps bridge the gap between selling your current home and buying another. Our real estate agents are familiar with the challenges you face when trying to sell your existing home and purchase a new home, so we've put together this guide on how to bridge the gap.

  • How Does a Bridge Loan Work?
    Bridge loans are meant to be short-term solutions to help you purchase your new home. Generally speaking, you can borrow up to 80% of the combined value of the two homes. The 20% gap will need to be made up with equity in your current home or cash. Unless you've got a substantial amount in liquidity, you're probably banking on having a good deal of equity in your current home.
     
  • Reasons to Use a Bridge Loan
    Bridge loans, while available, are still fairly rare in the grand scheme of home loans. But just because they're rare doesn't mean they aren't worth considering.

    One of the main reasons you may choose to use a bridge loan is to secure your position as a buyer when making an offer. Many times, offers and contracts on homes are contingent on the buyer securing the necessary financing. While this is common, it leaves a lot to be desired on the seller's side and practically gives a buyer a free out if their financing falls through.

    With a bridge loan, you're guaranteed the cash to purchase the home you're looking to buy, which can significantly improve your position while making an offer on a home.

  • Reasons to Avoid Bridge Loans
    Bridge loans, as we've already said, are considerably more unorthodox compared to conventional loans or other mortgage products. Knowing that, it's essential to realize that getting a bridge loan is wholly dependent on your credit, debt-to-income ratio, and a lender's willingness to give you the money. 

    Even if you are in a relatively favorable financial position, getting a bridge loan is basically like taking out two loans at the same time. This means that you'll likely have double the payment as long as you technically own both homes, which can be a big financial burden. Understandably, this burden is only for a short time, but the real estate market is far from certain.

    No matter how confident you are of selling your existing home, there is still an inherent risk that you'll be stuck with a bridge loan for longer than you ever intended.

Talk to a Real Estate Agent

If you're looking to sell your current home and upgrade to a new home, no matter if you're looking to a bridge loan or not, selling your home quickly is critical. Contact us today to get in touch with an agent and let one of our agents help you search Dallas homes for sale!

September
23

Homebuyers: Is Multi-Generational Living Right for You?

Multi-Generational Living - RE/MAX DFW Associates

Life never stands still, and the single-family home occupied by the nuclear family unit doesn't work for everyone. There's a rising demand for multi-generation homes as younger adults stay at home longer, and families come together to take care of parents and grandparents in their retirement years. Today our real estate agents are providing you with all the information you need to decide if multi-generational living is right for your family.

What Is Multi-Generational Living? 

We're seeing a rising trend of multi-generational living spaces in our inventory of Dallas homes for sale, and it isn't surprising given the recent trends. Close to 25% of families are currently or have recently shared a multi-generational living arrangement. These are often younger couples starting families while still living at home with parents. In some cases, grandparents return to live with their children after the grandchildren have grown up and moved away. This can be in one large home or in multiple structures on the same property, such as the ever-popular "mother-in-law" suite.

There are several reasons why this living situation can be advantageous, as it allows multiple generations to pool their resources. and enjoy a standard of living that may not be available individually. It may also be an opportunity for home improvements to increase the value of the property. It also can be a boon for working adults as retired family members may help to take care of children and save the family a significant amount on childcare costs. This may seem like a recent development, but prior to the 1950s, it was common for three or more generations to share the same household. 

Why You Might Consider Multi-Generational Living

Some consider an adult still living with their parents a mark of failure, or a retired person moving back in with their children to be an act of interference. Both of these are unfair characterizations. Multi-generational living has concrete financial benefits, but trends show that financially successful families are also adopting the lifestyle as security in an uncertain economic climate.

The cost of living is getting more expensive while wages and benefits remain stagnant, and this is putting the squeeze on families that are seeing fewer opportunities to save money, invest, or plan for retirement. Having grandparents spend their hard-earned retirement with their children may be the only way for their children to save enough money for their retirement. Recent college graduates with student debt can benefit from having an additional generation to help with household expenses.  

The Warmth Of A Multi-Generational Household

Whether the current working generation needs help from their parents or the older generation is finding retirement income insufficient, they may find things are better together. Multi-generational living can heal old wounds and bind families closer together, allowing grandparents more precious time to spend with grandchildren. It can give young couples an opportunity to spend time with each other away from the kids on the weekends, building a stronger relationship. It can bring old-fashioned expertise and know-how into the home.

It can also build closer bonds of understanding between the generations, even as caregiving and chores become a shared responsibility. It may also be a bridge from renting to finally being able to make the leap into homeownership with older parties able to co-sign on loans as well as help to meet minimum household income requirements. 

What do you think? Is multi-generational living something that might work for you? RE/MAX DFW Associates can help you find your ideal home for more than one generation. Contact us today for more information on our listings. 

August
26

First-Time Buyers: How to Spur Credit Score Improvement

Credit Score Improvement for First-Time Buyers - RE/MAX DFW Associates

Our real estate agents are always glad to support your search for the best Dallas homes for sale. First-time buyers, in particular, find the process easier when they connect with the right real estate agent—someone with plenty of experience in their situation. Many of the big questions first-time buyers have usually deal with obtaining a mortgage loan.

They often worry about the effect of credit score on their hopes for a favorable mortgage. Most people don't have perfect credit, so they wonder if their credit will stop them from getting the home they want. Luckily, the answer to this is almost always "no." A few credit blemishes here or there will not usually disqualify you from getting a home loan. Even if you've had credit problems in the past, many lenders are willing to look at your current income and credit behavior to determine how much you can borrow.

That said, your credit score is still relevant. A good credit score can improve your loan terms. Raising your score just a few points can make a worthwhile difference, so don't feel you need perfection. Even if you have only a few months before you begin your home search, there are steps you can take to raise your credit score. This may translate to better loan rates and substantial savings over time. Let's look at some ways you can raise your credit score faster.

  1. Pay Off Any Credit Debts You Can
    As a general rule, paying credit card debts with a higher APR (annual percentage rate) will help you reduce your total debt load while paying less in interest. Look at the APR of each of your credit debts and pay off any that combine a low balance with a high APR.

  2. Don't Close Any Unused Credit Accounts
    Closing an unused credit account may seem like a good idea, but it's actually self-sabotaging. This is because the total amount of credit you have influences your score. Simply pay off each credit card and leave it. You can use cards occasionally for small purchases to keep them active.

  3. Don't Take on New Loan Obligations
    When planning to buy a home, it's best to make it your sole financial focus if you can. Lenders will tend to be suspicious of buyers who take on a new car loan or other major debt before a home search. In the early stages of getting a loan, this may endanger your plans.

  4. Choose a First-Time Buyer Loan Program
    This won't affect your credit score directly, but it may help you boost it in the long run. First-time homebuyers can benefit from many state and federal programs that make it easier to access a mortgage loan. Most of them put less emphasis on credit score or may not consider it at all.

  5. Examine Your Credit Report for Errors
    Credit data is collected from a number of sources and compiled by several different companies. When mistakes are made, they can negatively impact your credit score. Use the official site to get your free annual credit report and follow up with creditors on any errors you catch.

  6. Consider a Side Gig
    If you can raise your income even a hundred dollars a month, you'll be able to pay off your debts that much faster. There are many legitimate opportunities to make more money out there on the web, but be careful you don't end up working around the clock!

Contact us to find out more about your options as a first-time home buyer here in the Dallas area. The team at RE/MAX DFW Associates looks forward to helping you.

July
29

Choosing a Dallas Neighborhood: HOA Pros and Cons

HOA Neighborhood in Dallas - RE/MAX DFW Associates

If you're looking into purchasing a home in Dallas, then one of the big questions you'll have to ask yourself is whether or not to buy in a neighborhood with a homeowners association. Our real estate agents are familiar with HOAs and have put together this handy guide on choosing a Dallas neighborhood with one—and the pros and cons that go along with it.

HOA Pros

By design, pretty much any HOA worth its mettle focuses on making life in a neighborhood easier, simpler, and more uniform for its homeowners. In most situations, the pros of joining an HOA or buying in an HOA-run neighborhood usually far outweigh the cons. Here's why you want to join an HOA:

  • Less Maintenance
    Most HOAs will maintain landscaping around your home, which means you don't have to worry about doing it yourself. In addition to basic yard work, you can expect your HOA to handle most of the aesthetics for your home.

  • Utilities May Be Included
    Depending on the HOA, some, or maybe all, of your utilities may be included as part of your HOA membership dues. If you prefer to live with all of your expenses covered in one payment each month, then this is certainly the way to go! Make sure you hammer out the details with the HOA on exactly what they cover before you sign any contract.

  • HOAs Have Rules
    To some, rules are a bad thing, but to many homeowners, they're a godsend. HOAs explicitly outline the rules and regulations for the neighborhood, which means there are no gray areas for noisy neighbors, barking dogs, or any other common homeowner issues. Additionally, the HOA will be the ones to issue any "citations" for breaking the rules, which means you won't have to!

HOA Cons

While HOAs have many positives, there can be some negatives. Some things you should be aware of before committing to a neighborhood with an HOA:

  • They Can Be Expensive
    For everything you get in return, HOAs can be notoriously expensive and can quickly put an unsuspecting buyer out of their housing budget in no time. For all of the nice amenities you desire such as landscaping, maintenance, and the like, you may also be on the hook for amenities you don't care about, such as community pool access or golf course.

  • Personalization is Out
    If your HOA is big on maintaining a consistent aesthetic from home to home, then you may very well have to adhere to those standards. What this means is that you likely won't have much leniency for personal touches to the exterior or landscaping of your home. If you're the type that wants to "make a house a home," then you may want to be very careful what HOA you choose.

  • Management is Crucial
    There's always the chance that your HOA isn't run by homeowners and is actually managed by an outside company. In either case, management could be less-than-stellar, meaning all of your hard-earned money that goes toward HOA dues and membership may not live up to your expectations. This can cause problems when needs and expectations aren't met, so do your homework ahead of time.

To find the best Dallas homes for sale with the best HOAs, contact us and let one of our real estate agents guide you through the buying process.

April
16

Texas Senate Passes Homeowner Property Tax Overhaul Bill

Currently city and school districts can raise taxes 8% a year without voter approval.

This new bill, passed by the Texas Senate, and now heads to the House, would limit the increase to 2.5% per year.

AUSTIN — Legislation that would slow property tax increases for home and business owners cleared the Texas Senate on Monday, after the sole Republican opponent of the bill stepped aside to allow the vote.

The vote was a victory for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a longtime proponent of property tax relief and champion of the Senate bill. He was again pitted against his political foil, Amarillo Sen. Kel Seliger, the only Republican who openly opposes the bill. Seliger held it up for weeks before changing his mind Monday morning and voting to allow the debate to proceed.

"Today is a historic day," Patrick said after the vote. "We heard a lot of comments from the floor ... from those in opposition who were concerned about cities and counties and their budgets. We're concerned about the people's budget — that's what we're concerned about."

Senate Bill 2 passed 18-12 with Seliger joining the Democrats in opposition. One senator, Brownsville Democrat Eddie Lucio, was present but did not vote. The bill will be debated in the Texas House, which has written its own version of the priority legislation, a week from Wednesday.

Authored by Houston Republican Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a former tax assessor-collector, SB2 would slow property tax growth by limiting how much revenue local governments and school districts can collect each year. It would not make tax bills smaller.

SB2, which was changed on the Senate floor Monday, caps property tax revenue growth for counties, cities and special taxing districts at 3.5% a year, up from 2.5% in the original version. School districts would stay capped at 2.5% a year; however, they are getting a boost of new funding under separate legislation this session.

The cap could be exceeded if taxing districts hold elections and voters approve the increase. Currently, local governments can increase property tax revenue by up to 8% a year without an election.

  • Dallas Morning News, April 15, 2019
March
31

Dallas Home Price Hikes Are Turning Buyers Into Renters

 

Should you buy or rent?

Dallas is one of the U.S. metro areas where rising home prices have hurt homeownership the most. Dallas, Denver and Houston were identified as the markets where there is the most downward pressure on homeownership, according to a new report by Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University faculty. The study ranked areas where the markets have tilted in favor of renting over buying homes. Researchers traced housing conditions in 23 markets for the report. Dallas was the most unfavorable for homeownership among the cities surveyed. "Of the metros in our index, Dallas is the highest and exhibiting the greatest downward pressure on the demand for homeownership," said Ken Johnson, real estate economist in FAU's College of Business. "The extraordinary appreciation in the area is a major driver of this score."  Dallas' housing market has taken off since the Great Recession, with soaring prices.

  • Dallas Morning News, March 20, 2019
January
7

Home Buyers: Understand Applying for a Mortgage

Applying for a Mortgage - RE/MAX DFW Associates

Buying a home is a big decision, but paying for a home is an even bigger deal. Naturally, if you're looking at purchasing a home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, then you'll most likely be looking toward a mortgage to finance your home purchase. 

The mortgage process is complex, multifaceted, and became even more so since the housing crash from a decade ago, so our real estate agents have put together some tips to help you understand the mortgage application process.

  • Applying for a Mortgage
    First things first, regardless of who you end up going with as your lender, you need to apply for a mortgage. Most mortgage applications can be filled out online from your lender of choice, and some online services offer a "catch-all" mortgage application that can be submitted to multiple lenders saving you a lot of time. After all, most mortgage applications take 45 minutes or more to complete and submit!

    Once you've applied, your lender will likely give you pre-approval or pre-qualification for a certain amount of funds. In other words, based on what you provided in your mortgage application, the lender will give you a fair ballpark of how much they can lend you. From there, you can budget and shop within that price range.

  • Get Your Documents Ready
    As you're working through the mortgage application process, your lender will want to see quite a few financial documents to prove your financial standing. Your lender will want documentation proving your monthly or annual income, the total of all of your debt obligations, your credit score, how much you can use for a down payment, and what you can afford in a home. 

    Prepping these items early in the process will give both your lender and yourself a good picture of your financial standing and allow either one of you to make adjustments to financing as needed.

  • Clear Up Debts
    One thing that your lender will be looking for is your income to debt ratio. In other words, how much do your current liabilities weigh on your gross income?  If you're preparing to buy a home and you haven't started the mortgage process, or if you're just trying to prove your position as a worthy borrower, then pay off any small debts.
    Small debts such as credit cards, small amounts in collections, or car notes that you can clear up will improve your position as a borrower worthy of a mortgage. Additionally, clearing up any unnecessary debts will improve your credit score and give lenders more confidence in you.

  • Credit Score
    Your credit score will say a lot about you as a borrower. Credit scores effectively give lenders a numerical value of your creditworthiness and your overall risk as a borrower to them.

    A FICO score is usually the number that most lenders and credit companies use to compare a borrower's creditworthiness. FICO takes into account debts owed, how long they've been owed, and how frequently you make payments on those debts among other things. Getting rid of small debts or paying down loans will help improve your credit score.

Buy a Home in the Dallas-Fort Worth Real Estate Area

If buying a home is part of your plan for 2019, and you're looking to settle in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, then contact us today. Our agents at RE/MAX DFW Associates have an ear to the ground in the Dallas Fort Worth housing market and can help you find the home that's right for you.

November
27

5 Smart Reasons to Buy a Home at the Holidays

Buying a Home at the Holidays

The real estate market is booming in North Texas. You'll find Dallas homes for sale in a variety of neighborhoods to suit many potential homebuyers' needs. However, when is the best season to purchase a new home? Surprisingly, it's not always in the spring. The holiday season is an ideal time to buy a new house. While it may seem like another stressor with the holiday baking, shopping, and family commitments, our real estate agents have listed these five reasons for house hunting during the holiday season.

  1. Less Competition
    During the winter, there is around 25 percent fewer houses for homebuyers to consider; however, there are also fewer house hunters during the holiday season. Many take a month off to attend that holiday party, which means fewer open houses to walk through or less home-buying competition in a bidding war.

  2. Motivated and Desperate Sellers
    These sellers are likely motivated and more willing to negotiate to with serious buyers. Most sellers aren't any more enthusiastic to be selling their house during the holiday season than you are about house hunting during it. However, they've got a reason for it.

    Some homes listed in early fall are still not sold.  Therefore,  homeowners may be willing to negotiate to complete the sale year's end. Others may be relocating for a new job and need to sell quickly.

  3. Faster Closings
    Both parties are motivated to close on the house to complete everything before the holiday with a goal to move and unpack before Christmas. If the sellers are relocating, they'll have everything taken care of as well.   Nearly all professionals from the real estate agent to the mortgage broker want to report the home as closed before the end of the year.

  4. Tax Advantages
    Closing near the end of the year can also bring you more significant tax breaks. Recently, the House of Representatives passed a GOP bill that allows new homeowners to subtract the interest of their mortgage up to $500,000. Also, some states have a homeowner's tax exemption. Therefore, closing by the end of December can make a huge difference whether you receive those valuable tax savings.

  5. Envision the House in Winter
    Touring houses in the winter allows you to see both positive and negative issues.  While you can see the neighborhood trimmed in lights, you'll also notice how quickly the city plows so you know you won't be driving on a poorly maintained road.  Also, you can check that the heating system works correctly throughout the house or if the front door jams in freezing and icy conditions. These issues don't often appear on a warm spring day.

If you're interested in DFW real estate opportunities, contact us at RE/MAX DFW Associates today.

March
5

6 Secrets for Getting Your D-FW Home Offer Accepted

DFW Home Offer Accepted
If you follow local real estate news, you already know that North Texas has been identified as one of the country's hottest real estate markets. Home prices are rising and sellers are expecting to sell their homes at their asking price or better. Whether you're considering Dallas homes or Fort Worth homes, you're negotiating in a seller's market. You must bid conscientiously or risk missing out on a home you love. 

Our REALTORS® understand it can be difficult for your offer to get a seller's attention, especially when they realize that the next buyer might be willing to pay more. When you're ready to begin your home search, we'll be here to help with "Six Secrets for Getting Your Offer Accepted."

  1. Get Pre-approved
    You may have heard this before, but it's worth repeating. For sellers and realtors to take you seriously, you must get pre-approved. No one wants to waste time on home tours and bidding wars with unqualified buyers.

    During the approval process, your mortgage company reviews your financial data and decides whether or not they would finance you and for how much. The letter they issue isn't a guarantee, but it tells the buyer that the mortgage company considers you financially ready to buy.

  2. Don't procrastinate
    When you're serious about buying a home, you must put a lock on any indecisive tendencies. You won't have forever to make up your mind about a home you love. You have to decide quickly and get your offer on the record. With so many buyers out there, you're destined to lose your dream home if you spend too much time mulling it over.

  3. Go big or stay put
    If you find the right home at the right price, don't try and lowball an offer. When home prices are rising, sellers know they can sell. They won't be tempted by a half-hearted offer. It's important to make a good offer the first time around or you might not get another chance. Maintain a little wiggle room to negotiate if you must, but don't nickel and dime the seller.

  4. Be a person
    Sometimes money isn't enough to win a bidding war. Sellers are human so they respond to humanness. They want to know who's buying their home, so let them know when you bid. Send a personal note. Identify yourself. Talk about sipping coffee on the porch while your children play in the backyard. Your bid will be coming from a real person.

  5. Pay cash if you can
    Cash is a wonderful option for sellers. Cash is simple. It speeds up the closing process and eliminates the mortgage company's complicated documents. When you make pay cash, the built-in benefits encourage a seller to accept a lower offer.

  6. Give the seller more than one option
    It's a known selling norm that people prefer to choose between something and something as opposed to choosing between something and nothing. Try making a two-part offer that forces the seller to think.

    - Bid a cash offer for one amount. (i.e. $200,000).
    - Supplement that with an offer that's higher (i.e. $220,000) because it requires financing.

    With two offers, the seller has options. They can accept the lower offer, take the cash, and avoid a lengthy mortgage approval process. Or they can take the bigger offer and wait.

The bidding process can be complicated, especially when there's a lot of buyer competition. Contact us when you're ready to begin your Texas home search.

January
26

8 Tips for Millennials Entering the Dallas Housing Market

Tips for Millennials Entering the Dallas Market
Purchasing your first home has long been a part of the American dream.  While some cities across the country are considered Millennial Magnets, according to a report by ABODO Apartments, Dallas ranks near the bottom of the list of major US cities for this new wave of home buyer.

Dallas, Texas has experienced a boom in its employment market because of huge economic opportunities.  Consequently, the increase in the job market has also caused an increase in demand for housing making it difficult for Millennials to afford Dallas homes for sale.

But despite these challenges, some continue to push forward with buying their first home in the DFW.  Our REALTORS® know the local market well and offer these eight tips when you're ready to buy a home in Dallas.

  1. Have Your Finances in Order
    With Millennials having higher student debt than previous generations, you will want to make sure that your finances are in order. Know your credit score and make sure to review your credit history and resolve any credit issues. A lower credit score and poor credit history will cost you with higher interest rates.

  2. Saving for a Down Payment
    The National Association of REALTORS® recommends saving approximately $34,000, which is 20 percent of a Dallas-area starter home priced at $168,300. If you are starting at zero savings, and can only afford to save $300 a month, it could take you up to 10 years to save that amount. There are low down payment programs available for first-time home buyers.

  3. Closing Costs
    In addition to a down payment, you will need to factor in closing costs that are included with most home purchases. Your REALTOR® can give you an estimation of how much these costs could be.

  4. Think of the Future
    When purchasing your first home, consider its future resale potential. Look for features that are appealing not just to you but will be appealing to potential buyers. This could be as simple as the house being on a quiet street or having a master suite on the main floor.

  5. Don't Go Overboard with Contingencies
    When you make an offer on a home, don't ask the seller to make minor repairs like replacing light bulbs or re-caulking the tubs. However, if there are obvious signs that major repairs are needed, like repairs to the roof, air conditioner or foundation, it's not unreasonable to ask for repairs. Your REALTOR® can create an amendment to your offer requesting these repairs be made.

  6. Make a Strong Offer
    In a seller's market, you need to make a strong offer for your purchase price to be taken seriously. Other buyers could be offering the asking price or higher. If you make a low offer, your offer may not initially be accepted.

  7. Don't Delay
    If you find a Dallas home that you really love and it's at the right price, don't delay in making your offer. The current market for real estate in Dallas is hot and taking time to "sleep on it" or ask your friends or family for their opinions could cause you to miss out.

  8. Choosing a REALTOR®
    It's a good idea to interview a few real estate agents before choosing one. It's important to ask about their familiarity with the Dallas area and its housing market. You should also get an idea of their negotiation style, the technology they have available to help you during your search and buying process and their track-record.

If you're getting ready to take your first steps to homeownership, there is no better time than now to start. Contact RE/MAX DFW Associates to speak with an experienced realtor that knows the Dallas market and understands the needs of first-time home buyers.

September
27

Open House Etiquette for Dallas Home Buyers

Open House Dos & Don'ts
A Buyer's Guide to Open House Etiquette

An open house is a great opportunity to tour homes for sale in your community without having to schedule an appointment.

Hitting open houses on a given Sunday can also help you gauge available homes in a market and begin a relationship with a REALTOR® if you have not already found one. If you're new to "Open House Sundays," here are easy tips for making your search for Dallas homes more enjoyable and productive.

  1. It's okay to walk in.
    You don't need to ring the doorbell or knock, unless there is a sign posted instructing you to do so. Someone may be outside or at the door to greet you.

  2. Introduce yourself.
    The person hosting the open house may not be the agent who is selling the home, but an associate agent who is hoping to represent a buyer. If you don't have a REALTOR® representing you, let them know that you are still looking for a buyer's agent. Getting there early allows you to talk with the agent and determine if you want to work with that person.

  3. Sign in.
    You may be asked to sign in and provide contact information. This makes it easier for the seller's agent to follow up with you. Even if you don't like the house, it's still a good idea to leave your phone number or email address, as the agent could have other listings that may interest you. If you prefer not to sign in, make sure to introduce yourself and say hello so the agent can keep an eye on who's touring the home.

  4. Beat the crowd.
    Try to arrive as soon as the open house starts. (NOT before that time!) The agent will have time to show you around and give your personal attention.

  5. Don't show up last minute.
    Don't wait until the last minute to arrive. The REALTOR® has most likely been there all day and is ready to pack it up and head home. You want to take your time when looking at the house, so contact the seller's agent and arrange a personal showing if you're running late.

  6. Wear appropriate, comfortable clothing and shoes.
    You don't want to look under or overdressed, so choose something casual you'd wear every day. Nice jeans and a t-shirt or are fine for attending an open house. You're probably going to be doing a lot of walking, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.

  7. It's okay to politely ask valid questions.
    Ask about the seller's motivation and if there are any offers. REALTORS® can also give you insight on the neighborhood and nearby schools. Be prepared to ask questions about plumbing, electrical systems, roof and other major components of the home. Please don't take an antagonistic tone or corner the agent with countless questions during a busy open house.

  8. Don't be nosy.
    Of course you want to check out closets and other storage space, but don't go through personal belongings. It's okay to a quick peek, but don't disturb any items that are stored in them.

  9. Don't criticize.
    Remember this is the seller's home. Don't criticize it during the tour. If there are multiple offers, you don't want the seller selecting another buyer because they heard you saying something negative about their home.

Our Dallas REALTORS® can guide you every step of the way during your search for a home. Contact RE/MAX DFW Associates today.

July
11

6 Tips for Buying a Condo in Dallas

Buying Dallas Condo
Thinking about buying a house? Are you interested in condos for sale in Dallas?

As the leading city in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro Area--the #4 most populous metro zone in the US--Dallas has something to offer everyone. It has a history as an economic engine for the whole region and attracts professionals of all stripes.

Home to more than 1.1 million people, Dallas is located in five distinct Texas counties. It features world-class universities, museums, sports complexes, hospitals, and more. Recently, high-end technological research has become key to the economy.

With all this action and excitement, it's no surprise Dallas is a great place to buy a condo.

In fact, condominiums are among the most accessible housing options in the area. Growing families, retirees, and young professionals can all find ideal options to meet their needs and their budgets. Dallas makes it all possible!

Let's look at ways you can find the best Dallas condo for you.

Finding the Ideal Dallas Condo 

  1. Meet the Neighbors
    One of the biggest issues with living in a condo for the first time is proximity to the neighbors. In most cases, condos are directly attached to one another and you'll be side-by-side with two sets of neighbors. Don't fall in love with a property until you're satisfied you'll get along.

  2. Double-Check Your Services
    Many condos come with services like reserved parking, extra storage, and lawn care. Early in the process, be sure you know what services will be included in your agreement. Get everything spelled out in writing so there'll be no confusion over informal agreements.

  3. Learn About Association Fees
    Association fees are levied on condo owners on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. These pay for things like insurance and maintenance. They can also include one-time fees for major repairs. Review records from multiple years to understand how quickly fees are rising.

  4. Check on FHA Approval
    The Federal Housing Administration is a government entity that helps establish some basic housing rules. It also backs a number of programs for buying a house – you may qualify for a loan with 3.5% down payment, but only if the condos are FHA approved.

  5. Verify the Reserve Fund
    Unlike buying a house, when you buy a condo you're also "buying into" the association. How can you be sure that your local association is well-run? One way is by verifying how much cash it has on hand. A big reserve helps prevent unexpected costs and protect owners from issues.

  6. If Resale is a Concern, Go Big
    A key part of buying a house – or any other dwelling – is having a plan. If you know you're going to be leaving within three or five years, a bigger condo will be more likely to appreciate in value. Average and smaller condos gain value more slowly and need to be maintained carefully.

Make Your Dallas Condo Search Easier

If you want to find a quality condo at an affordable price in Dallas, it's especially important to partner with a trusted local real estate team. When you choose RE/MAX DFW Associates, our REALTORS® in Dallas will work with you every step of the way to find the perfect condo. Our decades of experience in Dallas-Fort Worth means our team is second to none.

Contact RE/MAX DFW Associates for fast, friendly, personalized service.

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