dining room and kitchen in new luxury home

How To Keep Your Home Looking Show-Ready

You have decluttered, cleaned and done little touch-ups here and there.  Now, how do your keep your home looking show ready.

Here is a great post from Realtor.com that hits on a few quick cleaning hacks to help you be prepared for that unexpected showing.

When you’re selling your home, you must be ready for people to pop in at a moment’s notice. And no, it’s not like when your neighbor drops by to ask you to water her plants while she’s on vacation, and leaves in five minutes without noticing how many dishes are stacked in your sink or the layer of dust on your coffee table.

Nope, these people will scrutinize. And they will judge. But you’re still living in your home—how do you keep it clean enough to make a good impression, no matter the time or day?

It turns out you don’t have to hire a live-in housekeeper, and your life doesn’t need to come to a screeching halt just because you’re showing your house. Try these hacks to get the job done quickly and easily, so you can free up your time—and save your sanity.

1. Work the room

Half of my cleaning problems come from not knowing where to start. I walk into a room, picture myself trying to clean all the things at once, get overwhelmed, and suddenly feel the urge to sit down for a while. Apparently I’m doing it wrong (no big surprise there).

But if you know how to work the room, cleaning will go much faster.

“Then focus on the top eye-catcher places and things like floors, ovens, and bathroom [fixtures],” she says.

While your instinct might be to clean everything, you might also go crazy trying to pull it off before every showing. Instead, zero in on what the potential buyer is likely to notice, Haynes recommends—cleaning it every day or two, and then doing a deeper clean once a week.

2. Use mobile storage

As soon as you know you’re going to show your house, pack up everything you don’t normally use.

“Remove all the nonfunctional stuff or things which don’t contribute to the overall look of the property,” Haynes says. It’ll feel weird to live like that at first, but the more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to clean.

Once you’re down to the stuff you actually need, find a way to quickly and easily hide it when it’s time to show the house.

“When we had a viewing on short notice, we used plastic and cardboard boxes where we stored our belongings,” says Harriet Jones, supervisor for Go Cleaners London. “Pick a box with a different color for each room so you can find and return those items to the respective rooms easier. You can place the boxes in the garage during the viewing.”

3. Fake the good habits

Sure, it might take a lifetime to actually develop good habits, but you can always fake it until you sell your house.

By taking small steps throughout the day, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and keep the house clean around the clock. In the living room, pick up as you go (or at least as soon as your kids leave the room). In the bathroom, make it a habit to keep your toiletries under the sink and not on the counter. In the kitchen, unload the dishwasher as soon as the drying cycle is done so you can start loading again right away.

Granted, it probably won’t go perfectly smoothly (especially if you have kids), but every little bit helps.

4. Give the illusion of clean

Running short on time? You can easily make a room look clean without actually having to clean everything—as long as you focus on the stuff people notice the most.

Focus most of your effort on two rooms: the kitchen and the bathroom, Jones recommends.

“Countertops should be free and clear of clutter, and clean,” she says. “Same applies to your refrigerator’s door and your floor. Make sure your shower and tub are clean and neat. Tiles and floor should be sparkling.”

If you have time, give rooms an extra boost by wiping down the fixtures and faucets, running a dry mop over the floors, and dusting the window treatments. Fold white towels neatly on the towel rack in the bathroom for a classic look.

5. Add flair

Don’t forget those little touches that make your house look clean and presentable. Throughout the home, create inviting sitting areas and intimate spaces. In the bedroom, make sure the bed is made evenly every day—lumps and wrinkles in the comforter can make the whole room look messy. Put out a bottle of wine and a couple of wineglasses in the master bedroom or living room. And in the kitchen, add a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers to the countertops to give a touch of color and freshness.

You don’t want to do too much—or you’ll be heading back into clutter territory—but a few little touches here and there can create a scene charming enough that no one will notice the spots you forgot to clean.

Source: Angela Colley – https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/cleaning-hacks-show-ready-selling/

Winter season at Downtown Dallas

Klyde Warren Park – A True Gem In Downtown Dallas

The Story of Klyde Warren Park

Building a 5-acre deck park over a recessed eight-lane freeway took an imaginative and hard-working team of Dallas leaders with a clear vision.

Common Ground

Klyde Warren Park creates green space “out of thin air” that connects the vibrant Uptown neighborhood with the Dallas Arts District and downtown.

The increased pedestrian connectivity and natural landscape heals the urban fabric of the city. The park is envisioned as a catalyst for the ongoing transformation of downtown Dallas by bringing quality of life, foot traffic to the area and increasing demand for surrounding properties. Leaders envision a place where people can build new traditions, share experiences and have fun in the center of Dallas. Public parks strengthen our communities and benefit our health, environment, quality of life, and economy. These are benefits that Dallas will enjoy for generations to come. 

History

The concept of building a deck park over Woodall Rodgers Freeway may have originated in the 1960s when Dallas Mayor J. Erik Jonsson decided to recess the freeway. Many years later in 2002, the idea resurfaced in the real estate community and John Zogg began to rally support for the project. In 2004, The Real Estate Council provided $1 million grant to fund feasibility studies and provide staff support during the incubator stage. Texas Capital Bank Founder Jody Grant heard about the project and joined the cause with a $1 million personal donation and a $1 million donation from the bank. In 2004, Grant, Zogg and Linda Owen formed The Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation, the organization that led the project from design to completion. Many city and civic leaders contributed to the park throughout the process.

Construction on the deck began in October 2009 and the park opened in October 2012.

Public, Private Partnership

The $110 million project was funded through a public-private partnership. Public support included $20 million in bond funds from the City of Dallas, $20 million in highway funds from the state and $16.7 million in stimulus funds. The balance of funding is through individual donors directly to the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation. 

Klyde Warren Park is owned by the City of Dallas and privately operated and managed by the private Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation. The Foundation studied great public parks across the country and plans to bring best practices to the park’s operations, programming and maintenance.

Design

Klyde Warren Park was designed by award-winning landscape architect Jim Burnett, principal of The Office of James Burnett. His design is meant to create a sense of discovery as you move to the different “rooms” throughout the 5 acre park. The sustainable landscaping includes 37 native plant species and 322 trees, transforming a former freeway to a beautiful urban oasis.

The park is a feat of engineering and design. It is even with the street-level and preserves clearance for the highway below. The deck is made of more than 300 concrete beams arranged in groups with spacing in between the groups. Concrete slabs span the spaces connecting to the bottoms of the beams and forming trenches. The trenches act like planter boxes, allowing the trees to grow to the desired size. A combination of Geofoam and specially-designed soil helps keep the deck from being too heavy.

The design and construction of the park was managed by Bjerke Management Solutions and the design was led by two nationally-recognized design firms, The Office of James Burnett and Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. The Texas Department of Transportation selected Archer Western as the contractor for construction of the deck plaza. McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. served as the contractor to construct all of the amenities and complete the park.

Visit the Klyde Warren Park website for upcoming events. 

Source: http://klydewarrenpark.org/about-the-park/our-story.html

 

 

Home-Suveillance

Is Your Seller’s Surveillance Putting Them At Risk?

Have you thought about the possible legal considerations regarding the listings you may have that have audio or video devices?  Here is a great article written by Wes Bearden that touches on those issues.

Selling a home can be frustrating to homeowners. They’re asked to allow strangers into their home. They may never receive feedback and are left to wonder, “Why didn’t that last buyer bite?” What do anxious sellers do? They get an extra set of ears. Many homeowners have installed security cameras and smart-home devices. These installations can be an ultra high-tech security system or a simple baby monitor, and they all can be abused. A number of notable cases have emerged where sellers listened to a potential buyer’s showing. Sometimes it’s to gain advantage in negotiations, while other times it’s simply to better stage the property. So, can a seller covertly record or monitor a buyer’s showing?

The rules in Texas

Both the Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and Section 16.02 of the Texas Penal Code prohibit audio recordings without the consent of at least one individual who is part of the conversation. The Texas rule, commonly referred to as the one-party rule, requires at least one party to consent to recording conversations. What that rule allows is any individual to covertly-and legally-record his own conversations with a broker, neighbor, or other party. Whenever you speak, it’s best to follow the old saying: Say what you mean and mean what you say. The other person in the conversation may be recording everyone.

If a seller is not present and participating in the showing, he cannot record audio … even if the conversation happens inside the seller’s home.

Why a seller cannot record audio of a showing

Texas law does not allow audio recording or audio monitoring of conversations that you are not a part of. If the seller is not present and participating in the showing, he cannot record it. Even though the conversation happens inside a seller’s home, he is prohibited from recording any conversations that he is not a part of.

But what about video?

Many homes today have security cameras installed that record video. Some have audio recording, similar to a baby monitor, and some without. The ECPA docs not prohibit video recording. In fact, silent video-like from security cameras-is generally allowed as long as it isn’t in an area where an individual would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For instance, silent bathroom video recording is not allowed. But silent video recording of the foyer, kid’s playroom, exterior of a home, and a garage arc likely permitted.

 

Is your listing breaking the law?

 

Most professional alarm and security cam-era installers are familiar with the law. Normally, they install video cameras with-out audio and arc leery to place inside cam-eras in any location other than a foyer. However, when your seller is a do-it-yourselfer, you may want to ask questions. Have sellers tell you what the system will record. If audio is recorded, the seller may have a problem. If it is silent video, have sellers show you where the cameras are located. Make sure they aren’t video recording in a private area, such as a bathroom. Courts have traditionally upheld individual privacy rights over the property rights in a residential home. Consider limiting the use of cameras to the exterior of the residence. Violating state and federal recording laws can involve criminal penalties.

ln addition, Texas, like many states, recognizes several types of common law invasion of privacy claims. At its essence, invasion of privacy protects a person against unreasonable intrusion upon his seclusion, solitude, or private affairs. Even though recording may be in the seller’s house, courts have found that a visiting party can have a valid claim when the homeowner overreaches.

Illegal recording is a felony offense in Texas, and anyone who has been recorded in violation of the law can bring a civil suit to recover $10,000 for each occurrence, actual damages in excess of$10,000, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs.

Help your sellers avoid criminal or civil liability by encouraging them to concentrate on feedback given with consent and leave the mics and hidden cameras out.

Help your buyers be smart about surveillance

  • Don’t discuss confidential negotiations within a home.
  • Be careful about over-enthusiasm of particular features in a residence.
  • Realize that most video recordings are legal.  You and your client’s body language and gestures sometimes tell more that you think.
  • If talking on the telephone, make sure that the owner’s neighbors can’t overhear your conversations.  Neighbors are often nosier than the owner.
  • If you are really worried that someone is playing unfair, turn on a faucet.  The audio tones from the running water create white noise that masks voice tones and makes it difficult for micro-phones to do their job.

Don’t be too paranoid.  Be security smart, but don’t let it ruin your real purpose to be at the house.

The information contained herein first appeared in the November 2017 edition of Texas REALTOR® Magazine and is being reprinted with the permission of Texas REALTOR® magazine and the author, Wes Bearden.

Please click here for a printable version of this great resource. 

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Best Tubing Rivers in Texas

One of Texan’s favorite pastimes is floating our rivers.  Here is a list of some of the best tubing rivers in Texas.  Grab a tube and beat those triple digit days!

Guadalupe River

The Guadalupe River is the most popular river for floating in the Lone Star State. This 230-mile river actually runs from central Texas all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. However, the most popular spots to float are found in the Texas Hill Country, especially in Canyon Lake, San Marcos, New Braunfels and San Antonio. The cool water in the Guadalupe makes this a popular summer tubing destination. Tubers can choose from a short float to an all-day excursion. Shaded by cypress trees, the Guadalupe River is a relaxing float, where Texans are seen with typically a beer in hand.

Comal River

The Comal River is a tributary of the Guadalupe River, and at only two and a half miles, floating down it is one of the best things to do in New Braunfels. Tubers typically begin their journey in this spring-fed river at Landa Park. The crystal clear water makes for a great reprieve from Texas’ hot summer days. Tubers definitely utilize their right to bring along alcoholic beverages here, but do keep in mind that glass and styrofoam are not permitted. End your float on the Comal at the “tuber’s exit” right before the Comal meets the Guadalupe.

San Marcos River

For those in San Marcos, Texas, the San Marcos River is the waterway to head to for the perfect summer tubing spot. Usually filled with coeds from Texas State University, the San Marcos River has some of the cleanest water a tuber could ask for. This spring-fed river, also a tributary of the Guadalupe, does have cool temperatures year round, 72 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. Locals love to start their tubing journey on the San Marcos River at the city park behind the Strahan Basketball Stadium. Tubers typically float a mile down the river from here and exit right before reaching Rio Vista Park.

Frio River

For those looking for an outdoor adventure in West Texas, hit up the Frio River. Spanish for “cold,” the Frio is 200 miles long, boasts scenic views of Texas’ best land, and of course is cold due to the spring-fed water. Garner State Park is a popular spot where floaters typically gain access to the Frio. Unlike rivers in the Texas Hill Country, the Frio River is less populated and is in a more remote setting.

South Llano River

The South Llano River, a tributary of the Colorado River, is located northwest of Austin, Texas near Junction, Texas. This popular fly-fishing river is also a great spot to float in a tube. There are a number of spots to enter the river with your tube, but many tend to enter near South Llano River State Park or even before the park at Boone’s Crossing. This relaxing float is family-friendly and is also a great place to canoe or kayak.

Brazos River

Located near Caddo, Texas, the Brazos River is a great spot to tube, kayak or canoe. Since this river is quite a drive from Texas’ big metropolitans, like Dallas and Austin, the river isn’t as crowded as other rivers on this list. When it comes to tubing, most floaters enter the water near Possum Kingdom State Park, which just so happens to be a great spot to camp too. Fed by Lake Granbury, the Brazos River varies from slow floats to quicker currents depending on the weather. Mid-summer is the best time to experience a float on the Brazos, since water levels tend to run low near summer’s end.

Trinity River

The Trinity River is the closest tubing destination for Dallas residents. Every summer, the Trinity River Vision Authority hosts tubing events, and in June, the Rockin’ the River concert series begins where tubers can actually enjoy live music while floating the river. The Trinity River is truly Texan, since it’s the only river that flows entirely within the borders of the Lone Star State.

Medina River

For a secluded float, head to the Medina River. A float on the Medina is one of the most scenic on this list. Near the small town of Bandera, Texas, this 120-mile Texas river offers clear water and mild rapids. The Medina River is spring-fed but also relies on rainfall to manage its flow. It might be in a more isolated area than other rivers on this list, but the town of Bandera still offers tubes, shuttle services and excursions for those wanting to experience the Medina River.

Colorado River

The Colorado River, a massive river that flows through seven states, is the final river on this list perfect for tubers. The longest river in Texas, the Colorado River offers a mild flow with plenty of sandbars for when you need a place to take a break. It is very common to have multiple day excursions on this river. To access the Colorado River, Columbus, Texas is the town to visit for supplies and access points.

Source: https://www.tripstodiscover.com/best-rivers-in-texas-to-float-down/

Home For Sale Real Estate Sign in Front of New House.

Preparing Your Home For Sale

Remember: First Impressions are the Strongest!

When buyers make a decision to purchase a home, they do it emotionally!  The feeling they get from the house and the way they picture themselves enjoying the home are two of the most important factors in the decision to buy.  The following list offers suggestions to help the potential buyers create their own good feelings and visualize themselves owning your home.

 

Click here for a printable version to share with your customers.

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Texas Housing Insight

Here is a great post from Texas A&M Real Estate Center regarding home sales for May.

Texas housing sales inched down monthly after a record-breaking April but continued a general trend upward. The average days on market remained stable, while lower mortgage rates and home-price appreciation eased the decline of housing affordability. On the supply side, single-family housing permits and starts trended upward, but more meaningful gains are necessary to satisfy demand. Builders moved toward smaller lot and home sizes to provide more affordable options, but the premium for a new rather than an existing home remained substantial. The shortage of homes priced below $300,000 remained the biggest challenge facing the housing market. Texas’ robust economy and population growth, however, support a favorable outlook.

Supply*

The Texas Residential Construction Cycle (Coincident) Index, which measures current construction activity, inched downward during an extended slide in construction values. The Residential Construction Leading Index, however, reached its highest level since the Great Recession amid low interest rates as well as a rebound in construction permits and housing starts. The extended economic expansion in Texas and across the nation bodes well for the housing market.

Single-family construction permits increased for the fifth consecutive month after sliding in the second half of 2018. Texas accounted for 16 percent of the national total, remaining the frontrunner with 10,946 (nonseasonally adjusted) monthly permits issued. Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth topped the list at the metropolitan level with 3,690 and 2,945 permits, respectively, as they climbed from last year’s correction. North Texas growth was led by the Dallas-Plano-Irving metropolitan division, but momentum eased in Fort Worth-Arlington after three years of explosive growth. The number of permits issued  year to date (YTD) in Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth, however, registered below the levels recorded during the first five months of 2018. In contrast, Austin’s growth accelerated to 12 percent year over year (YOY), issuing more than 1,700 permits in May. San Antonio posted similar growth levels and issued 875 permits, outpacing larger metros such as Seattle, Miami, and Chicago.

Total Texas housing starts surpassed 16,000 for the first time this year and showed signs of breaking from a four-year stagnation. Lower interest rates and lumber prices fueled activity, but the current pace remains insufficient to meet the demands of a growing population and economy. Unlike permits, single-family private construction values have not stabilized since the mid-2018 peak and have decreased in eight of the last ten months. The slide is concerning, but positive developments in earlier stages of the construction cycle portend improvements.

Housing starts had little effect on Texas’ months of inventory (MOI), which held firmly at 3.8 months. The number of active listings is dominated by the resale market and thus relies more on new listings of existing homes. Last year’s stretch of slow and steady inventory growth stalled amid rebounding demand and fewer new Multiple Listing Service listings. A total MOI around six months is considered a balanced housing market. Different segments of the market displayed wide variation in inventory levels. The MOI for homes priced less than $300,000 slid below 2.9 months, while the MOI surpassed 9.2 months for luxury homes (those priced more than $500,000). These divergent trends exemplify the growing shortage of affordable housing and the current mismatch between demand and supply.

The MOI stabilized across the major metros after marginal gains last year. In Dallas and Fort Worth, the MOI settled at 3.4 and 2.6 months, respectively, while trending at 4.0 months in Houston. The San Antonio metric held at 3.6 MOI for the fifth consecutive month. Austin was the exception where the MOI trended downward to 2.5 months. The supply of active listings was constrained across the capital city’s price spectrum, ranging from 4.7 MOI for luxury homes to below 1.9 months for those priced less than $300,000.

Demand

Total housing sales inched down after a record-breaking April but remained on an upward trend as lower mortgage rates stimulated purchasing activity. Existing homes, which are typically cheaper than new-home equivalents, accounted for most of this year’s rebound as buyers shifted toward lower-priced options. Builders continued to offer smaller home sizes, but the median new-home price remained 30 percent above that for existing homes.

Sales hovered around record levels in all of the major metros, maintaining the solid growth that accrued in the first quarter. Dallas and Fort Worth posted 11.9 and 7.3 percent YTD growth, respectively, as North Texas continued to recover from last year’s dip. Central Texas sales maintained a stark upward trajectory, increasing more than 10 percent YTD in both Austin and San Antonio. Houston sales increased 7.6 percent YTD amid solid growth for homes priced more than $400,000.

Robust demand pulled Texas’ average days on market (DOM) below 59 days, but market movements were mixed across the major metros. Dallas homes sold after an average of 54 days, a full 11 days slower than in May of last year. On the other hand, Fort Worth’s DOM held below 43 days and showed signs of trending lower. The DOM in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio remained stable on a two-year trend around 58 days.

Continued concerns about global economic growth and trade uncertainty pulled interest rates down for the seventh consecutive month. Long-term rates fell faster than those for short-term instruments, inverting the yield curve and stirring talks of a recession. Economic fundamentals at the state and national level, however, remain healthy and stable. Interest rates could fall further in anticipation of the Federal Reserve’s possible rate cuts this year due to a low inflation environment. The ten-year U.S. Treasury bond yield fell to an annual low of 2.4 percent, while the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation’s 30-year fixed-rate dropped below 4.1 percent. Mortgage applications fell in both Texas’ refinance and purchase market but remained positive YTD.

Prices

The Texas median home price dipped below $236,500 after four consecutive monthly increases, growing at an annual rate of 2.3 percent. While still increasing, home prices are no longer soaring at double-digit growth levels. Texas’ median price for new and existing homes trailed the respective national median by $14,500 and $41,400.

Home-price appreciation moderated in the major metros according to the Texas Repeat Sales Index. San Antonio maintained the strongest growth at 4.7 percent YOY, but the median home price ($226,300) held below the statewide level. The Austin median reached a record level $317,200 as the index rose 3.4 percent. Similar growth in Fort Worth pushed the median price above $238,800. In Dallas ($287,000) and Houston ($239,700) the median price continued to soften as the repeat sales indices slowed to 1.8 and 2.2 percent YOY growth, respectively.

curbappeal

Curb Appeal Tips & Tricks

If you are looking to sale your home, here are some great tips to catch the eye of your new buyer.

Curb Appeal Starts Online
Since 88 percent of homebuyers begin the process on the Web, fabulous photos are critical to getting homebuyers to the front door.  Find the best time of day to shoot each room, avoiding too much sunlight, which will give the photo a glow effect.  Overcast days are often the best time for a photo shoot.

Shiny, Happy Numbers
If your house numbers aren’t easy to see or if they’re dirty or dingy, replacing them carries a tremendous impact.  Consider the style of your house – traditional, transitional or modern – and create a harmonious or contrasting effect with new house numbers.

Open Up
Fling open the shutters, curtains and blinds.  Homes that are brighter inside sell faster, and open curtains look prettier from the street.  Go outside, look at your window treatments from the street, and try to keep a uniform look throughout.

Plant Some Color
Spruce up your porch containers, window boxes and front beds with some colorful flowers for instant lift.  A few inches of dark mulch will brighten up the beds without screaming “fake.”

Add Some Polish
Painting the front door, trim and shutters is a great way to polish the look of your home.  Other inexpensive fix-ups: a new mailbox (research your city’s regulations to make sure you’re up to code first), a new porch light fixture and a cheery new welcome mat.

Under Pressure
Pressure-washing the dirty siding and deck, as well as the oil stained driveway and faded walkways is an extremely cost-efficient way to increase your home’s curb appeal.  If you don’t own a pressure washer, you can rent one from your local home improvement store for the day.

Look Up to the Sky
Most homeowners don’t give their roofs a second glance, but the roof is an important curb appeal item that buyers do notice.  Is yours missing any shingles, or is it dingy and streaked?  A good cleaning or if necessary, a roof replacement will up your home’s curb appeal factor tremendously.

REMEMBER, ACT LIKE A BUYER!
Walk around your entire home’s exterior with a critical eye and a notepad and pen.  Take notes on what looks “off” and needs repairing. replacing or cleaning.

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