Fall Maintenance Tips

Now that the temperatures are starting to cool down, it is the perfect time to start thinking about some interior/exterior maintenance around your home.

Here are some great DIY tips to get you started:

Exterior Fixes

  • Regularly clean gutters and downspouts. Make sure all drainage areas are unblocked by leaves and debris. Consider installing gutter guards to make the job a lot easier.
  • Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Use caulk to fill the holes or completely replace the wood.
  • Lower humidity and cooler (not yet cold) temperatures make fall a good time to paint the exterior of your home.
  • Inspect your roof, or hire a licensed professional to examine your roof for wear and tear. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, replace them. If you have a lot of damage, it’s time to replace the entire roof. Also, check the flashing around skylights, pipes and chimneys. If you have any leaks or gaps, heavy snow and ice will find its way in.
  • To prevent exterior water pipes from bursting when the weather gets below freezing, turn off the valves to the exterior hose bibs. Run the water until the pipes are empty. Make sure all the water is drained from the pipes, if not; the water can freeze up and damage the pipes.
  • Wrap water pipes that run along exterior walls with heating tape. It will save energy and prevent them from freezing.

System Maintenance

  • Clean and replace filters in your furnace or heating system. Contact a licensed heating contractor to inspect and service your gas heater or furnace to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Your local utility company will often provide this service for free.
  • If you use a hot water system for heating, drain the expansion tank, check the water pressure, and bleed your radiators.
  • Check the attic to make sure the insulation is installed properly. The vapor barrier on insulation should face down toward the living space. If it is installed incorrectly (with the vapor barrier facing up) then the insulation will trap moisture causing possible water problems. Cut slits in the vapor barrier to allow moisture to escape. To install attic insulation, unroll the insulation with the paper side out. Install small pieces of insulation between the joists on the attic floor. Be careful not to step between the joists.

Fall Garden Maintenance

  • Fall is the perfect time to divide or move perennials. Remove dead annuals and mulch hardy perennials. Annuals typically die when temperatures drop below freezing. But perennials often appear as though they too have bitten the bullet. That’s because their top growth dies back, although in most cases the root ball is hardy enough to survive even extreme temperatures, especially if it’s covered with a layer of mulch.
  • The best time to mulch perennials is after the first hard freeze. Just make sure you don’t cover the crown or center of the plant, because that can lead to rot.
  • Clean garden tools before storing for the winter.
  • Trim dead branches out the trees to prevent them from coming down and causing damage in a winter storm.
  • Rake up the thick layers of leaves that settle on lawn surfaces. Large leaves in particular, especially when they get wet, can compact to the point where they suffocate the grass below and lead to all kinds of insect and disease problems. So it’s a good idea to routinely rake or blow them off the lawn or, better yet, use a mulching mower to shred them into fine pieces.
  • Put the raked leaves in the compost pile or use as a mulch. Whatever you do, don’t waste fallen leaves because they’re an excellent source of nutrients and organic matter. You can also add them to flower beds to put a winter blanket on your garden.
  • Fall is a good time to aerate your lawn; it will allow moisture and nutrients to get into the roots. When you’re done, spread fertilizer then grass seed.
  • This will be the ideal time to sow cool-season grasses such as fescue and rye – it will give them the opportunity to germinate and develop a good root system before freezing temperatures arrive. It’s also the right time to fertilize turf grasses, preferably with slow-release, all-natural fertilizer. When given adequate nutrients, turf grasses have the ability to store food in the form of carbohydrates during the winter months. That will mean a better-looking lawn come spring.

Check for Pests

  • Pests love attics because they are full of nice warm insulation for nesting, and they offer easy access to the rest of the house. With gable vents that lead into the attic it is a good idea to install a screen behind them to keep those critters out.
  • Even after closing off those entryways, pests can still find a way in. The first place to check for any unwanted guests is under the kitchen cupboards and appliances.

Safety Checks

  • Each fall, check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and put in fresh batteries. These are very important detectors to have in a home. A smoke alarm can save lives in a house fire. A carbon monoxide detector can also save lives if a home has oil or gas-burning appliances, like a furnace or water heater.
  • Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless byproduct of burning oil or natural gas, and it can be deadly. For just a few dollars, a carbon monoxide detector will sound an alarm if the levels get too high.
  • Always install carbon monoxide detectors according to manufacturer’s instructions. Generally they should be installed near each potential source of carbon monoxide, and within ear shot of the living and sleeping areas.
  • Have your wood-burning fireplace inspected, cleaned and repaired to prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Happy Fall Y’all!

Source: https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/maintenance-and-repair/repairing/autumn-maintenance-tips

August Stats Are In!

The August 2020 DFW area real estate statistics are in and we’ve got the numbers! Take a look at our stats infographics, separated by county, with MLS area stats on each county report as well! These infographics and video are perfect for social sharing so feel free to post them!

To see past month’s reports, please visit our resources section here.

For the full report from the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center, click here. For NTREIS County reports click here.

Texas Housing Insight – July 2020

Here is the July 2020 Summary from Texas A&M Real Estate Center.


Total Texas housing sales rose 17.1 percent in July, exceeding pre-pandemic levels with a record-breaking 36,165 sales amid historically low interest rates and steady demand. Supply-side activity bounced back with large increases in building permits and housing starts. Inventory levels, however, continued to trend downward, falling to an all-time low of 2.6 months. Strong demand and a dwindling number of listings contributed to accelerated home-price appreciation, but the pace ran below the seven-year averages in Texas’ major Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), except in Austin. Although the Real Estate Center’s single-family housing sales projection suggests activity took a step back in August from July’s high, the outlook remains overall positive.

Supply1

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction levels, increased to its highest level this year as industry employment ticked up. Moreover, the Residential Construction Leading Index posted an all-time high due to record-low interest rates and rising building permits and housing starts, indicating strong activity in the coming months. The major metros’ leading indexes posted solid gains except for the San Antonio metric, which flattened as multifamily starts slowed.

Single-family construction permits rebounded completely from pandemic-related decreases in March and April, accelerating 21.8 percent to a post-crisis high to start the third quarter. Texas remained the national leader, contributing 16 percent of the national total. Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) issued 4,952 and 3,750 nonseasonally adjusted permits, respectively, also peak levels since the Great Recession after accounting for seasonality. Permits increased to 2,077 in Austin and 1,002 in San Antonio. Texas’ multifamily sector improved as well, with permits rising 28.2 percent.

Total Texas housing starts continued to recover from coronavirus-related uncertainty, accelerating 39.8 percent to start the second half of the year just 2 percent below the post-Great Recession high reached in February 2020. Single-family private construction values, however, dipped 1.3 percent in July after two monthly increases. Most of the decrease was due to San Antonio’s 18.2 percent decline, offsetting Houston’s third straight improvement. DFW values ticked down, but the metric in Austin made up for a contraction the previous month.

Extended decreases in the supply of active listings and record sales pulled Texas’ months of inventory (MOI) down to an all-time low of 2.6 months. A total MOI of around six months is considered a balanced housing market. Inventory for homes priced less than $300,000 was even more constrained, sliding to less than 2.1 months. The MOI for luxury homes (homes priced more than $500,000) remained higher at 6.7 months despite dropping for the second straight month.

Inventory reached historical lows in all the major MSAs except for Houston, although the metro’s MOI ticked down to 2.8 months, its scarcest level in six years. The metric in Austin fell to 1.5 months while North Texas inventory slid to 2.1 and 1.9 months in Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively. San Antonio’s MOI inched down to 2.5 months.

Demand

Total housing sales reached a record-breaking 36,165 after climbing 17.1 percent in July, although the rate of increase moderated relative to the prior month. For the first time ever, sales for homes priced more than $400,000 accounted for more than 20 percent of total transactions while the share of sales of homes priced less than $200,000 sank to one-fourth.

Every major metro posted a historical number of sales, rebounding fully from sluggish activity earlier this year amid coronavirus concerns. While economic uncertainty is still prevalent, low mortgage rates and stable employment in the income bracket more likely to buy than rent supported the recovery. DFW led with 10,500 sales, but Houston and Austin registered the largest growth in percentage terms, with sales in each area increasing by one-fifth. Sales rose 12.9 percent in San Antonio, where the YTD sum outpaced transactions during the first seven months of last year by 4.3 percent.

Texas’ average days on market (DOM) stabilized at 64 days, suggesting the fluctuations from the economic shutdown in April have weakened. Similarly, upward momentum slowed to a halt at the metropolitan level. Demand was strongest in Fort Worth with a metric of 51 days. The DOM in Houston and San Antonio flattened to 65 and 66 days, respectively. Austin and Dallas’ DOMs posted solid declines, falling below year-ago readings to 54 days each.

During widespread local and federal eviction moratoria, the national and Texas foreclosure inventories fell to 0.7 and 0.5 percent, respectively, in 2Q2020. A recent extension of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s foreclosure moratorium (which prevents the lender or loan servicer from foreclosing on the home) for federally backed mortgages through the end of 2020 will help keep inventories from rising as much as they would under the previous expiration date of August 31. Under the CARES Act, borrowers have the right of up to 12 months of mortgage forbearance (an agreement to suspend payments without penalties).

Persistent economic uncertainty surrounding the pandemic kept interest rates at historically low levels. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield moved above 0.7 percent2, but the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate reached 3.0 percent for the first time in series history (starting in 1971). Mortgage rates extended a year-and-a-half-long slide within Texas, falling to 3.28 and 3.34 percent for nonGSE and GSE loans, respectively, pushing home-purchase applications up 8.3 percent YTD. Refinance activity slowly normalized after spiking at the onset of the pandemic. (For more information, see Finding a Representative Interest Rate for the Typical Texas Mortgagee.)

In June, there was a decrease in the median loan-to-value ratio (LTV) and debt-to-income ratio (DTI) constituting the “typical” Texas conventional-loan mortgage. Meanwhile, the median credit score shot up to an all-time high. The improved credit profile may reflect tightening lending standards as economic uncertainty looms heading into autumn. In contrast, both the median LTV and DTI of the typical Texas borrower who obtained a loan from a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) increased for the fourth straight month.

Prices

Amid compositional changes in sales, the Texas median home price surged to $261,600 in July, climbing 9.3 percent YOY. Austin led with the greatest median home price of $347,200, followed by Dallas at $313,500. Houston’s metric surpassed the statewide average at $261,800, while the Fort Worth and San Antonio median prices were slightly lower at $257,200 and $252,300, respectively. The growth rate in median sale price, however, reflects the relative strength of demand for higher-priced homes as the lower-end of the market has been more vulnerable to recent employment shocks.

The Texas Repeat Sales Home Price Index accounts for such compositional effects and provides a better measure of changes in single-family home values. The index suggested more moderate home-price appreciation, rising 4.1 percent annually. Fort Worth’s metric tied the state’s in YOY growth, with the San Antonio index close behind, increasing 4 percent. In Dallas and Houston, the index rose 3.0 and 2.8 percent, respectively. On the other hand, price appreciation in Austin accelerated 7.2 percent, driving the statewide increase.

Single-Family Forecast

The Real Estate Center projected single-family housing sales using monthly pending listings from the preceding period (see table). Only one month in advance was projected due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the availability of reliable and timely data. Texas sales are expected to retreat 12.5 percent in August from July as the rush to capitalize on exceptionally low interest rates wanes and dwindling inventory inhibits activity. The downshift is not surprising given the unsustainable pace set in June and July fueled by pent-up demand from the economic shutdown. Nonetheless, overall monthly sales hover at high levels while the YTD sum through August 2020 is predicted to be greater than the sum of single-family sales in the first eight months of 2019. The estimated decline in the number of transactions from July to August 2020 is expected to be steepest in Houston, with sales projected to fall 16.4 percent. Dallas and San Antonio single-family sales are projected to decrease around 13 percent each, while Austin’s metric is projected to drop just 8.3 percent. Despite the slowdown, Texas’ housing market remains a pillar of the state’s economic recovery.

________________

All measurements are calculated using seasonally adjusted data, and percentage changes are calculated month over month, unless stated otherwise.

2 Bond and mortgage interest rates are nonseasonally adjusted.

Source – James P. Gaines, Luis B. Torres, Wesley Miller, Paige Silva, and Griffin Carter (September 14, 2020)

https://www.recenter.tamu.edu/articles/technical-report/Texas-Housing-Insight

What You Should Know About Earnest Money

Hello, Sheri Groom with Republic Title and I’m here with Wade Bogdan, Residential Counsel and we wanted to visit a little bit today about earnest money and the purpose of that with a contract.  So can you help talk a little bit about that?

Yes.  Traditionally earnest money was put in place so that people knew that you were going to try to purchase a property in earnest so basically you’re showing someone that you are serious about purchasing their property.

I like that so earnest and then earnest money. That’s great.  So if there’s no earnest money given does that mean there’s not a valid contract?

So actually that’s a common misnomer. So currently now in common day, you do not need earnest money to have a proper contract.  However, the contract does have a section for earnest money and actually most importantly now the contract was just changed to add a three day time limit for getting your earnest money in after execution of the contract which is pretty much the most important thing that’s going on with earnest money currently.

That’s good information because we would get asked that a lot.  Like do we have to have it? Is it still a valid contract?

So if you have any additional questions, please go to our website and look for our complete list of attorneys or reach out to your favorite business development rep  or your favorite closer.

 

REALTOR® Safety Tips

September is REALTOR Safety Month and there are tons of helpful safety tips to consider while showing real estate. Whether it be a safety strategy, safety apps, or hosting an open house, we hope that you find these tips useful.

Preview the Neighborhood
Preview the neighborhood and home before you show the home. Check for cell reception and familiarize yourself with entry and exit points in the home. If you cannot preview the home before showing it, at least review the floorplan so you know escape points.

Open House Safety
Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. Be prepared to defend yourself, if necessary.

Charged Cell Phone
Make sure your cell phone is fully charged when you are out showing.

Hide Personal Information
Tell your sellers: DON’T leave personal information like mail or bills out in the open where anyone can see it. Lock down computers and lock up laptops and any other expensive, easy-to-pocket electronics before your showing.

Nothing Personal
When talking to clients and prospects, be friendly but still keep your personal information private. This means avoiding mention of where you live, your after-work or vacation plans, and similar details.

Carry Less
If you carry a purse, lock it in your car trunk before arriving at an appointment. Carry only non-valuable business items (except for your cell phone), and do not wear expensive jewelry or watches, or appear to be carrying large sums of money.

Have an Excuse Ready
Having an excuse in mind can help you out of an uncomfortable situation. For example, you have to return an important missed call.

Take a Self Defense Class
Check with your broker to see if they would be willing to host a self-defense class at your office or call your local police department for additional class resources.

Download Safety Apps
There are dozens of safety apps for your phone that are specifically designed with REALTORS in mind. The majority of these apps provide GPS locating to your broker or emergency contacts when you’re out showing and let you enter in information about who you are meeting. The Nationals Association of REALTORs has a great list of safety apps on their website.

Make sure to check with your brokerage for any security measures that they have put into place.

For more real estate safety tips, visit nar.realtor/safety

Source: nvar.com, nar.realtor