North Texas Real Estate & Community News

April 4, 2020

Virtual Home Tours - A Home Buyers Guide

Virtual home tours have become a hot topic in real estate lately due to the stay-at-home orders stemming from the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic.We believe that virtual tours of homes are going to continue to be a hot topic in real estate for the foreseeable future. Not only will the Virtual Home Tours remain relevant now due to social distancing, but the benefits of evaluating properties from the comfort of your own home will continue to be valuable as we move into the future.  The most important thing you need to know is that not all virtual tours are created equal. In fact, this term has been used loosely for years in the real estate industry. For the purpose of this guide, we’re going to talk about a virtual tour led by your real estate agent, as we believe that this is the most thorough way to evaluate a home. However, before we begin, let’s look at the other types of “tours” available so that you understand the difference.

 

Slideshow of photos (usually set to music)

You may have heard a real estate agent refer to this as a virtual tour.However, this is not a “tour” of the home at all.slide projectorUsually the photos are the same ones used to market the home in the MLS and on-line.This might be better described as a Visual Tour of the home.With 1-click a consumer can see all of the photos of the home visually as they scroll across the screen. Most home buyers would not consider this to be a “tour” of the house.

Video walk through (may be recorded on a cell phone or could be professionally done)

A real estate agent may also consider having an actual video made of a property.This could be done by the agent on their cell phone, or it could be done by a professional video/photographer.It may or may not have music or voice-over information.It may or may not include drone video footage.Think of this more like a commercial for the house.A home buyer should be able to get a good feel for the layout/floorplan of the house, however you do not have the ability to control the view of the rooms like you can through a dollhouse/Matterport tour.Many home buyers say that this does help them visualize more information about the house, and they believe this is a great tool to help them prepare for viewing a home in person.

360-degree photo tour– (3-D tour or Matterport tour)video camera

This is actually a great tool that some real estate professionals use to provide a better feeling for the floor plan.When the photographer takes the photos they actually create a 3-D model of the floorplan and as a consumer you have the ability to click through the home to view various rooms.As you are moving through the rooms online, you have the ability to look up or down. You get a full 360-degree view of the home.This provides more of an immersive look at the house. Home buyers are able to piece together the floor plan and how the rooms are laid out.Most home buyers say that this does help them visualize more information about the house, and they believe this is a great tool to help them prepare for viewing a home in person.

Virtual Home Tour (interactive video tour of a home with your agent)

This would be your best option for getting a realistic Virtual Home Tour at this time.  

Couple watching video

It’s best to think about virtual home tours in the same way you think about viewing a home in person. When touring a home in person, you normally set time aside to go out with your agent – you will want to do the same thing in a Virtual Home Tour.  Our goal is to create an experience that is as close to an in-person showing as possible when touring homes over video. 

At the specified time, your agent will arrive at the house and begin a video conference with you.Once you are all present on the video call, the agent can begin to show you the home.You may want to view the front exterior (including the neighboring homes, the view of the street). As you enter the home you will be able to ask questions and have a conversation with your agent about the things you see.If you want to look inside of a closet, your agent can do that.If you have a question about the layout, your agent can help explain more details as they walk through the home.This is THE BEST way for a home buyer to virtually tour the home they are considering purchasing.

 

Our agents have the ability to help you take a virtual home tour. Call 469-759-3899 to learn more or schedule an appointment.

Now that you know the differences in viewing properties “virtually”, let’s see if this might be a good fit for you.Please know that starting your Virtual Home Tour doesn’t begin at the time of the showing.If you are going to shop for homes virtually – you will want to start at the beginning:

 

How do I get started? Deciding to view homes virtually.

You are ready to buy a home, but are not able to view them in person.This could be because you are moving across the country, or it could be due to our current Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic.When you come across a home you think might be a fit, you ask your REALTOR to show you homes virtually.In order for you to take full advantage of virtual showings in your decision making process, both you and your agent will need to go through the following steps.

1. Get pre-approved

Regardless of how you intend to tour homes, this is always our starting point.Most home buyers think that the process will be time-consuming, or that they are not prepared to take this step.However, this step is of utmost importance.In a matter of minutes, you can complete a pre-approval process with a lender.This will give you peace of mind that the homes you are considering meet your budget.

2. Determine your search criteria – and understand the “why” behind it

You will want to decide which items are most important to you in your next home, but more importantly, WHY are they important.Ideally, you want to have a list of 3-5 “must-haves,” or things that you cannot live without. The key to narrowing down what’s most important starts with your motivation. Ask yourself, why are you moving in the first place? What will buying a new home help you to achieve? When you connect your criteria to something that powerful, you will be surprised how quickly you find clarity. 

Your agent will be a valuable resource in this stage. Their role here is to confirm your criteria, ensuring that together you are digging down to what matters most to you. They are the sounding board for your home search ideas and will be there to tell you if the ideal home you are imagining is realistic given the area you are looking in.

Regardless of whether you will viewing homes in person or via video, this step sets the stage for the rest of your home buying process. 

3. Select your favorites 

When viewing homes online before your tour of homes, you will want to be hyper-realistic about whether or not the homes you are saving on-line as your favorites are actually a good fit.  For example, if one of the top items in your search criteria is a large back yard for your dog, but you find a listing on-line that has a fabulous media room and the most gorgeous finishes, yet the home doesn’t have much of a yard, you need to stop and review your criteria.Ask yourself, “Is what has drawn me to this home more important than the criteria I’ve created?” You may also ask yourself, “Do I need to revisit my must-haves?” Of course, there is no right or wrong answer, but you want to think through the process.You should also discuss any changes to your wants/needs with your agent. 

One thing we encourage our home buyers to do (when viewing homes in-person or virtually) is to only keep the top 2 homes in their sight.We do that by ranking homes as you view them.After seeing the first 2 homes, we determine which one would be the best fit if there were no other homes available.Then with each new home toured, we compare the newest home viewed with the current number 1 choice on the list.

4. Narrow your search – gather more facts

Once you have a few homes you really like on-line, it’s time for your agent to help you learn as much as possible about the homes. This could include viewing any other video or walk through tours provided.This should also include review of any disclosures, list of updates, or previous repair receipts that could be available. Your REALTOR may also contact the listing agent to ask any further questions before setting an appointment. If you have specific questions regarding the home, now is the time to bring those to your agent’s attention.

5. Schedule a live virtual tour

It’s best to think about virtual home tours in the same way you think about touring a home in person. You normally set time aside to go out with your agent, so it’s best to create an experience that is as close to this as possible when touring homes over video.  The ultimate goal is to simulate viewing the home through your eyes. The most important result of virtual home tours is that you can see the property in a way that gives you confidence in making a decision, and being there live is a great way to ensure that.  

Keep in mind that when you walk through a home in person, you instinctively take in the home through all of your senses. If the home features certain smells, you pick up on it immediately. If the floor dips in an area, you feel it. If there is a busy road nearby, you might hear noise in person. Knowing this upfront, and having an agent who understands this, is what separates great virtual home tours from bad ones. Your agent is truly your eyes, ears, nose, etc. This explains why those discussions your agent in advance are so important.It is critical for them to have a clear understanding of what you are looking for when you walk through a house. 

6. Schedule a second showing if needed 

After reviewing all of the information in advance, doing all of your due-diligence, and participating in the Virtual Home Tour with your REALTOR, you may still be unsure about making an offer.You should schedule a second showing with your agent to see the house.If you are able to attend in-person, this is the best option.However, if you are unable to attend in person for any reason, ask your agent to schedule another Virtual Home Tour.Many times, if all of the steps above have been done thoroughly, you won’t need to schedule a second showing.However, if there are any questions at all – it’s best for you to work with your agent to see the home again.Please know that seeing a home a second time is not an inconvenience at all….however, knowing that you missed out on a home you loved is heartbreaking.

Purchasing the home

Remember, when you are buying a home your REALTOR is there as a trusted resource for you.They are your advocate, and they are there to help you through the entire process.Not only can you view homes virtually, you can complete the contract paperwork remotely through electronic signatures, and many of the purchase documents can be emailed to you securely.However, we understand that viewing the home in person is an important step.Our goal is to provide you with all of the tools and options to help make your move go as smoothly as possible.

During these current times of uncertainty, and stay at home orders, you should consult with your agent or check your county's website to learn more about the shelter in place policy in your area.  As we continue to navigate this “new normal” world we live in, you may see more mentions of virtual home tours ramping up, keep one thing in mind — they aren't created equal.

  • Want to know more about the home buying process?
  • Have questions about how the mortgage rates are changing?
  • Need to talk to someone about your specific situation?

Give our agents at a call at 469-759-3899 for a free and confidential discussion about real estate. We have been helping change lives, one home at a time, for 15 years.

Posted in Blog
April 2, 2020

Being Productive at Work while in Quarantine – Working from Home

home officeIf you have found yourself working from home during the “shelter in place” or “stay at home” orders, you may find yourself in uncharted territory.  If you have found yourself working from home while your kids are home from school, you may feel like you are in an impossible situation.  Every possible distraction is there to keep you from being productive at work.

 

In fact, while the following information is helpful to all people working from home, this is especially important for working parents of small children.  Even if they are old enough to keep themselves entertained for hours, kids don’t understand why you are not able to play with them or take them to do things since you are home. 

 

Below are some helpful tools and tricks that will help you be more productive at work as you continue down your new path.

 

1.    If you haven’t read our blog post about managing your day while working at home, then you may want to start there.  However the following tips for productivity are in addition to what is mentioned in our previous post.

 

2.    Keeping your routine when starting your day.  Wake up at your normal time and go through your normal activities you were doing when you had to commute to the office.  If you have small kids at home, wake up a little earlier than normal so that you can get your routine done before the kids wake up. 

 

3.    Plan your work, then work your plan.  If you don’t have a tool to do that, I recommend you use a spreadsheet or calendar to plan out your day.  Our team uses the My Perfect Week scheduler, but you can create something specific to your needs.  You may also want to just use a calendar or to-do list.  Whatever you do, make sure to time block your day so you can know what you need to be doing and when.  Over the weekend, spend about 15 minutes planning out the upcoming week. You will be surprised how much more effectively you can work when you have a plan.

 

4.    Work split shift – If you have young kids at home you may need to break your 8-hour work day into shifts.  Try working for a few hours in the morning, then plan to spend some time with your kids.  Tell them in advance that you need to work a few more hours during nap time, and when they wake up spend time with the kids.  Then work a few hours in the evening after dinner, or maybe even after the kids go to bed.

 

5.    Use an alarm (or timer) throughout the day.  Setting an alarm or timer is a great way to not only keep yourself on track, but it’s also a great way to teach your kids about time and/or time management.  You can use these throughout the day to keep yourself on track.

 

6.    Technology is an awesome tool for working from home.  Take advantage of these tips to manage your workflow.

 

Schedule Email – most email programs have the ability to write an email and schedule it to send later. This is a great way to be productive at night after the kids are asleep. Just work on items for the following day and schedule your emails to go out in the morning.  Personally, I use GMAIL which has a schedule send function, but you could also try a Chrome add-on like Boomerang.

 

Schedule Text Messages – If you are an Android user like me, you will be excited to know that you can do the same thing with your text messages.  Write them now, and schedule that text to send later.  (Sorry iPhone users, this one is not for you).   Here is how it works:  Compose the text, click the plus (+) sign to the left of your message (if you don’t see it, you may have an arrow (>) to open the menu), once you click the plus (+) sign, you get several options and one of them should say “schedule message”.  Click that and then choose the day/time you want the text to be sent.

 

Text from your laptop – Again, this is for my Adroid users (sorry iPhone users).  If you are doing a lot of texting, you may want to look into using a program like MightyText.  They have a free version and a paid version with more options.  You can sync your texts from your phone to your laptop, you can easily print a text message conversation, and if you type faster on a keyboard than on a phone this product could make multiple texts much faster for you.

 

Zoom video calls – If you need to have meetings but can’t leave your house, consider using Zoom.  You can set up a free account which works well for small groups and short meetings.  If you will need a lot of people or longer meetings, you may want to upgrade to their paid plans.

 

Evernote – Using a note pad and pen are great when you are going into the office everyday.  However, using Evernote let’s you have access to your note pad all day, every day, no matter where you are.  You can set up a free account that works on 2 devices.  If you want to sync your notes across more devices, you can upgrade to their paid plan.

 

During your time at home – your work doesn’t have to suffer.  Be thankful that you have a job that allows for you to work from home.  Use technology and time blocking to ensure that you can keep things moving.  You might just find that you want to keep using these tools even after you are able to go back to the office again.

 

 

About the author:

Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country.  She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed.  She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry.  Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/

Posted in Blog
April 2, 2020

What our REALTORS are doing during the pandemic

During the shelter-in-place orders in North Texas, the REALTORS and staff at North Texas Top Team are staying busy.  Our office is open!  We have had a virtual office for many years – so our Team has not had to make many changes to our office structure.  Working with clients has changed.  We are not hosting open houses. Showing homes has changed, and we have solutions available for people to view homes remotely/virtually. 

As we are staying busy, some of what we are doing is helping clients, while other things we are doing is to help our families and our communities.  Here is a glimpse into the life of a REALTOR during the Stay at Home orders due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus:

 

Jami MumleyJami Mumley
Jami has been a busy lady!  Work-wise, she has been following up with past & current clients to see how they are doing and if there is anything they need.  I’ve also been doing buying consultations via Zoom and am working on some continuing education online.” 

Not only has she been working, she has been active in helping her community.  We’ve been ordering

 take-out a couple of times a week from local restaurants and I volunteered to help distribute food at Feed Lake Highlands last week.”   She is also posting on social media about local businesses and sharing ways for others in the community to support them.

bike

As a triathlete, Jami has been running at White Rock Lake and riding her bike on the trainer in the garage. Partly to stay in shape, and partly to keep her sanity.

 

Taylor RedfearnTaylor Redfearn
Taylor has been getting a lot of projects completed around her house.  Her main focus has been to stay positive during all of the changes that Covid-19 has brought to our world.  She knows that adapting to a garden"new normal" is never easy, but making the best of the situation definitely helps. “I try not to dwell on what we are missing out on by staying home, but rather all the things I get to do by staying home. I've been able to start a garden that I've been meaning to do for two years. I've cleaned out every closet in our home and even started putting our guest bedroom together. It feels like this is a break from normal life so we can focus on ourselves and our families.”  Her positive outlook on life is helping her to adjust to the new normal.

 



Melissa and StanleyMelissa Hailey
Melissa says she has been hanging out with family more.  Melissa and Stanley have 6 kids and 2 grandkids.  Part of their Coronavirus Stay at Home orders have been spent watching the 2 grandkids while Alice finished some on-line school work.  We went outside, we played games, we had a dance party, we baked cupcakes, and we learned all about Noggin kids shows.”  

Melissa has also been getting a lot of work done.  She has created video walk through tours for listings, negotiated contracts, and even listed 2 new homes.  Not only that, she has spent time teaching REALTORS across North Texas via Zoom in several classes.  She said “Teaching adult learners for 8 hours a day is much easier when you have energy in the classroom. Zoom is great, but I don’t usually use that many power point slides.

 

Corbin JacksonCorbin Jackson
Corbin says he has been helping others. He has been motivated and working hard. “I would say just making sure our clients are taken care of by asking if they need anything specific that I could deliver to them.”

He is also cooking more.  He and his girlfriend are trying new recipes and enjoying more at home date nights.

 

 

We hope that you (and your family) are adjusting well to your “new normal.”  We hope that you are healthy and that you have found new ways to stay connected to friends and family.  If you have a need, reach out and let us know.  Our agents are happy to help support your family, your neighborhood, your local business.  We are in this together!

Posted in Blog
April 2, 2020

Sheltering in Place – 6 Observations: Glad, Thankful, Grateful, Lucky, and Blessed

thankful and blessedAs we have been sheltering in place for a couple of weeks, I wanted to share 6 positive things I have observed.

 

I am glad I work remotely/virtually. Our office has not had a brick/mortar location for years. My home office was set up and ready before Covid-19 arrived. Technology is great. We have been using Zoom calls, electronic signatures, and cloud storage for years.  Our agents are poised to be able to help without any technology learning curve.

I am thankful for what I do for a living. I help people find the right home.  Everyone needs a place to shelter in.  What REALTORS do is so important so that people have the safety of home.

I am grateful that we are still able to work during this time of the Covid-19 Coronavirus health concerns. From connecting with clients/friends, to providing health and safety tips for your home, and from supporting local businesses, to giving tips about working from home – we don’t just help people buy and sell houses. We help build great communities.

I am lucky.  While one of our kids has lost a job, she lives at home and isn’t in danger of not being able to pay bills. All of my other kids are still able to work remotely or are considered an essential worker.

I am blessed.  None of my kids or immediate family is sick. While I do know people personally who are in the hospital or who are recovering at home from this terrible virus, my immediate family is healthy.  I am thankful and blessed.

 

I know it's hard sometimes, but try to stay positive.  Having an attitude of gratitude can go a long way to helping you survive the crazy days.  

 

 

About the author:

Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country.  She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed.  She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry.  Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/

Posted in Blog
March 30, 2020

Stay At Home Silver Linings

One of the unexpected upsides of having to shelter in place is my rediscovery of the joys within my own home—a sentiment that some of my friends and family say they've felt, too.  Here is what I have been doing with my extra time while I am under “stay at home” orders in North Texas.

plate of foodCooking more – and baking more

While I was already a work-from-home REALTOR, and I did cook dinner often, during the Covid19 crisis I have found myself cooking even more frequently.  I certainly live in an area that has plenty of restaurants with to-go food available, I have just been spending more time cooking full meals for my family.  I even made pancakes and also banana-carrot bread from scratch while I have been home.

 

New ways to exercise

I am not a person who works out every day, but I do spend time working out a few times per week.  With the gym closed and Camp Gladiator on their new normal of no more than 9 campers, I have started going on more walks.  I have taken the dog, my husband, my grand kids, my adult kids – if it’s nice outside, I think we should walk for exercise and as an excuse for leaving the house.  I have also watched several work out videos.  I even hosted a dance party in my living room with my toddler grandson.

 

Laundry

I can’t believe it’s all caught up. Enough said.

 

Learned some new skillshome office

My office is still open and we are working.  While we have been working on our normal activities such as listing homes, processing contracts, negotiating repairs, working with title companies, and more – I have found some time to learn some new skills.  Not only did I learn some new skills, but I also taught a class to about 50 students for 2 full days via Zoom.  Usually, I teach REALTORS in a classroom setting.  However, due to the coronavirus we hosted the class online.

 

Spent time with family – celebrated birthdays

I am lucky and blessed to have my adult kids living nearby.  Just before the stay at home orders went into effect, my youngest daughter and her 2 sons came over so that I could help her watch the boys while she took some online training classes.  I spent time washing bottles, changing diapers, and playing with toys.  Additionally, March is a really busy birthday month in our family.  We celebrated my husband’s birthday last week with a friends singing happy birthday on the phone and on facetime. We made brownies for his birthday cake.  Next week we celebrate another birthday in our house with our youngest child. I have a chocolate cake mix in the pantry, but if that’s not on the menu then we will just make something else from scratch.

 

card gamePlayed games

While my hubby doesn't enjoy games as much as I do, that hasn't stopped me.  I have played solitaire (with real cards). I have played Yahtzee with my hubby and daughter. When the grand kids were here I played Mastermind, Candy Land, and Twister.  Usually we spend our holiday time together as a family with all kinds of games....but since virtual Cards Against Humanity isn't an option, I will just make do with what I have. 

 

Granted, I will be thrilled once this coronavirus stay at home ban has been lifted—but until then, I will try to look at the silver lining and relish all the comforts and opportunities that staying at home has to offer.

 

 

 

About the author:

Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country.  She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed.  She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry.  Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/

Posted in Blog
March 29, 2020

Tips for working from home

Tips for working from home

During the current Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak, many people that have the ability to work from home are now doingwriting contract that.  Working from home is a BIG change from working in an office environment.  I know this because I made that adjustment from the corporate cube-farm world to working from home, and I have been working from home for 15 years now.  In fact, our entire office is a virtual office.  All of our REALTORS and employees work from home. We usually meet clients at coffee shops and houses.  That’s the beauty of being a REALTOR.  Right now we are also shifting our business to help our clients with less human interaction and more technology – just like so many other businesses.  Here are some tips for working from home that I learned through trial and error over the years.  I hope these help you as you transition to your work from home job.

 

alarm clockSet your alarm – get up on time

Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you don’t have to get up and start your day before you are supposed to be at work.  Do NOT try to roll out of bed 10 minutes before you are supposed to “be at work”.

 

Follow your normal morning routine

Keep doing what you did when you went to the office.  If you got up and showered, ate breakfast, had coffee, got dressed and got the kids ready…..then you need to do all of those things before you go to work at home too.  While your commute just got shorter, you still need to be ready for your day before heading to the “office”.

 

Get dressed!

See the note above.  Get up, get dressed…THEN go to work.  Do not go to work in your pajamas.  Especially if you might be on a video conference call.  However, even if you don’t actually need to see anyone (or better yet, them see you) it will make you more productive just by getting dressed.  There is a funny joke on Facebook right now about changing out of your daytime pajamas into your night time pajamas.  The struggle is real.  However, IT IS SO IMPORTANT THAT YOU GET UP AND GET DRESSED.

** it should also go without saying, if you are in fact new to the world of Zoom, Facetime, Google Hangouts; please know that others on the call can see you.  Make sure you are dressed and do not do anything that you wouldn’t want others to see.**

 

home officeSet up your office space

If you don't have a dedicated home office space, then it's time to get one.  It doesn't have to be a separate room (but that could be helpful if you have small kids, so you can shut the door if needed).  Even if you just move your dining table into a corner and use a cardboard box for your file cabinet - get a space and dedicate it to work for the next few weeks while you are in quarantine and working from home.  You may even want to add a wall calendar or other decor to make it seem more like a work space.

 

Set your work hours

It’s very easy to work all day, work through lunch, and also work into the evening.  Make sure you take a break during the day for lunch.  Get up and walk around the house or just stretch in the living room, eat lunch away from your desk, and then head back to work.  Make sure you have a time of day that you will turn it off (this is the hardest part for those of us who are self-employed).

 

Get some exercise

If your Fitbit usually says you get 10,000 steps walking around at your office, to/from your car, and to/from kids activities, keep a goal of still getting those steps in.  You will be sorely surprised to see how few steps you take from the bedroom to the study.  If you are in a place where the weather is good and you are allowed to walk outside, then take a stroll.  If you can’t go outside, consider working out in your living room.  There are free workout videos on Youtube, Amazon, and Netflix.  If you already work out but your gym is closed, then modify your routine to allow for working out from home.

 

Talk on the phone

If your job requires you to actually speak to people, that is great.  However, if you have the type of job that allows you to sit quietly with your computer most of the day, plan to call friends/family after work.  You still need to have that human interaction.  Without it you will start to feel more isolated.  It’s good for your sanity to actually speak and hear others talk to you.

 laptop

I hope that you are finding ways to stay connected.  We are all adjusting, shifting, and learning to accept change.  Take care of yourself as you find your way into your new normal.  

Stay healthy.  Be well.  We are all in this together. 

 

 

 

About the author:

Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country.  She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed.  She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry.  Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/

Posted in Blog
March 28, 2020

Home: Where you can shelter in place

Home ownership is such a huge part of the American Dream.  It offers stability, comfort, expression of yourself….but homeas most of us are finding out now, most importantly it offers shelter.  A place where we can stay safe.  A place where we can heal and find hope.  This is why we do what we do as REALTORS. That’s who we R.  We give people a place to call home…a place of shelter.

However, sheltering in place is not without its challenges.  Let’s look at some of the challenges (some more serious, some more lighthearted) that we are facing together at this time.

 

 

Full time with kids…indoors
kids playingMost working parents were not prepared to be thrust into the world of home-schooling and entertaining on a full-time basis.  Some have found relief with sidewalk chalk, bike rides, board games, or even baking with the kids.  Others have adjusted to on-line school with zoom classes - complete with homework. 

Parents of toddlers or parents who were already home schooling are not necessarily at an advantage here.  Many times, those parents rely on home school group events and activities or educational field trips.  With the limits of social distancing and the closure of field trip locations, these parents are also frustrated and learning a new normal.


What are we going to eat? 

Some families are now finding themselves in a live-action episode of the gameshow Chopped on the Food Network.  spicesAfternoon conversations may be “What can I make for dinner tonight using 1 can of tuna, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and a box of macaroni and cheese?” 

Other families however are really struggling to get by.  Maybe one or more of the household earners has lost a job due to the virus.  Maybe when they run out of those cans of tuna and boxed macaroni and cheese they will just be out of food. 

Check with your local food pantries.  Some have plenty to share, while others can use more help than ever during this time.  If you find yourself in this situation and you have small kids, you may also want to check with the area school district.  Some are providing free meals for their students.  If you are in a position to help those in need – this is a great place to get involved and volunteer if you are healthy.


Who wants to watch more TV?

At first it sounds great – I can binge watch all of my favorite shows.  Then after days of sitting on the couch, you start to realize that there isn’t anything else you want to watch.  (or you just realize you only got 700 steps in for 3 days in a row).  Generally, we find that most people can only take so much time sitting on the couch doing nothing. 

 

Let’s get on-line and see what everyone else is doing
internetWhile I haven’t checked the stats, my guess is that Facebook is seeing an unprecedented number of people spending time on their site.  Not to mention all other social media channels.  People are not meant to be alone, and spending time with others (even if it’s online) is something that we crave.

 

 

 

Honey-do lists have no excuses
Have you been putting off those little tasks?  You know the ones.  Those projects that you really didn’t want to do…so you always found something else to be more important.  Well, NOW is the time to get those done!  No excuses.

 

Your sanity – keep it in check
Anytime you lose your freedom, it wreaks a little havoc on your sanity.  When you are prohibited from going out, or when someone tells you that you cannot go see your friends/family/neighbors you may be OK for a short time, but after prolonged quarantine it really does hit you emotionally.  Make sure that you are keeping active (even if that means doing yoga videos in your living room).  Make sure that you are staying hydrated.  Make sure that you are talking to your loved ones on the phone – they need to hear your voice as much as you need to hear theirs.  Talk about your feelings. Be empathic to others who may be in a different place mentally than you are.  Be a good listener. 

 

 

We know that you are having challenges during this time – we all are.  We are facing these things with you and we want you to know you are not alone.  We hope that you are staying healthy and safe.  We want to help when we can.  As much as this time is challenging, make sure you are staying plugged in to what is happening (as things are changing rapidly). Wherever you call home, we are glad that you have that place of shelter.  That’s what we do.  That’s who we R.

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About the author:

Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REATORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS  across the country.  She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed.  She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry.  Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/

Posted in Blog
Jan. 19, 2020

SINGLE STORIES EPISODE 07 - Everybody Wants Me

Everybody Wants Me

Love your homeAs the real estate market moved from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market in North Texas, things were heating up quickly in real estate.  The economy was turning around, companies were hiring and relocating to the DFW area, and there was a shortage of homes for sale.  This caused our real estate market to become a seller’s market….and not just a seller’s market, a HOT SELLER’S MARKET.

Just at the start of this seller’s market cycle, we listed a property in Plano for a couple who was moving out of the Metroplex to live closer to their kids and grandkids.  Ron and Lucy had lived in their house since before the recession, and they had good equity in their home. We reviewed the comparable sales with them, and determined a fair listing price.  Literally within hours of being on the market, they had plenty of showings and were receiving offers to buy their home.  Some people sent offers without even seeing the house in person. 

While Ron and Lucy were excited to have so much interest in their home, however, it was quite overwhelming to have so many people want your house….and want it now!  It was like being a movie star and being surrounding by the paparazzi!!  It was such a whirlwind of activity. 

Ron and Lucy picked the best offer within the first 24 hours and started the process of selling their home.  However, 2 days later, the buyer backed out of the contract.  While Ron and Lucy had plenty of other offers to choose from, we decided to put the house back on the market for showings.  Again, there were a ton of buyers looking, and many sent offers.  Sometimes with a letter to the seller pleading as to why the seller should take their offer instead of someone else.

After several conversations about the speed that things were happening, we decided to slow the process down by telling all buyers that we would consider all offers on a specific date (a couple of days away).  That way the frantic pace of people rushing to get inside the home, and rushing to send an offer would slow down….plus the sellers needed some time to think.  After all, buying or selling a home is a big process with a huge financial impact.

Once the offer deadline arrived, we met and discussed the offers.  We had 43 offers to choose from.  That is a lot to sort through.  The sellers made a choice based on a combination of sales price, time frame to move out, strength of the buyer’s financing versus cash purchasers, and end use of the property (deciding between a buyer who intended to live there or a real estate investor).   

They decided to sell to someone who planned to live in the home for many years to come.  Once under contract, things went smoothly.  The home inspection was ordered and the buyer didn’t ask for any repairs. The appraisal was done and while it didn’t appraise for the sales price, the buyer paid more money out of pocket to ensure the sale went through.  The title work and loan documents were complete.  On closing day, the sellers had their moving truck ready for their next adventure, living near their kids and grandkids.

The moral of the story is that sometimes, while it’s nice to be wanted and to be the most popular person, you have to slow things down so that you can think clearly and make the best choice for you.

Posted in Blog
Jan. 19, 2020

SINGLE STORIES EPISODE 06 - The Year Long Sale

The Year-Long Sale

Keys to your short sale house

Have you ever heard of a “Short Sale” in real estate?  Well, it’s definitely not a “short” sale!  During the recession, we helped plenty of clients with a “short sale” which is also known as a “pre foreclosure” sale. 

The actual definition of a short sale is:  an act or instance of selling short.  In a real estate transaction, a short sale is a sale that occurs where the mortgage company is not paid in full for the balance owed by the seller. When the seller does not have the assets available to pay the difference, the mortgage bank must write-off the balance that was short.

The reason we had so many short sales during the recession was because the economy as a whole wasn’t doing well and people were finding themselves unemployed and unable to make their house payments.  Additionally, those that still had jobs were many times under-employed and unable to qualify for a mortgage to buy a home.  On top of all of that, the lending practices leading up to the recession created a situation where many people did not have much equity in their homes to offset any losses incurred due to a sale.

This is where our story begins. We had a client who needed to relocate to Oklahoma for a job.  They moved out of the house in Wylie, Texas and left the home on 5 acres vacant.  We listed the vacant home for sale and got an offer pretty quickly….but this was a short sale, which required the mortgage company to approve the sale.  We sent the file to the bank for approval on the sale.  This included not only the purchase contract, but also the seller’s financials, a hardship letter, specific forms the bank required, and more. The bank had thousands of these types of files to review, so it was a long process.  After weeks of following up and resending documents for review, we still did not have approval to accept the sale. After months of following up, we finally got approval from the bank to accept the sale.  However, during the time that we were waiting the buyer who wanted to buy the house lost their job and now they didn’t qualify to buy the house.  So, after months of waiting, we went back on the market looking for a new home buyer.  At this point, the house had been on the market for 1 month, and we had been under contract for 4 months waiting for approval.  So here we are, 5 months later and we are starting over from scratch.

Several weeks later, we got another offer from a different buyer.  The new file was sent to the bank for approval, along with all of the updated financials.  Again we waited weeks, we waited months, and still no approval from the bank.  We waited another 4 months for approval from the bank.  By this time, we have been working on the sale of this one house for 9 months.

 

When the bank finally did approve the sale, the buyer’s lender required repairs to the house.  Of course, the seller didn’t have money to spend making repairs to the house.  Over the time that the house had been for sale, there had been some damage to the vacant property….some of it caused by contractors hired by the bank.  At one point, there was an inspection of the property by someone hired by the bank and they broke the back door trying to obtain access to the property.  This was just crazy because we had a lock box on the front door.  Regardless, the repairs were required. 

Since the seller could not make the repairs, they did give permission for the buyer to make the repairs.  This was a BIG risk for the buyer.  If the buyer spent money repairing the house and then wasn’t able to buy it after all, they would not be repaid for their work.  The buyers knew the property was the right home for them, so they agreed and made the repairs.  This took another 45 days to get the approval and get the work done. 

After the repairs were complete, we needed to get final approval by both banks to move forward.  Of course, this took months to complete.  By the time the home finally closed on the sale – and the new owners could move into their new house, we had been working to sell this house for over a year.

Being a short sale does not mean being a fast sale.  In fact, this is the slowest sale we have ever been involved in.

Posted in Blog
Jan. 2, 2020

SINGLE STORIES EPISODE 05 - Whatever it Takes

Whatever it Takes

BAM Super Realtor
My long-term client Frank recently retired from his job. He tells me he is ready to move to Florida and retire on the beach. He is a single guy who loves guns, computers, and his parents (who live in upstate New York).  He wants to have buy a place and let his parents come to visit him on the beach during the winters.

Over the years, I have helped Frank move 4 times. He trusts me to help take care of his real estate needs.  In our time working with together, Frank ALWAYS answers the phone.  Since he has recently retired, he spends a lot of time at home now. He still has a land-line phone, and when I call, Frank will answer the phone.  He does still have his cell phone too….so no matter when I need to reach him, Frank is always available to talk. 

As I help Frank prepare for his move to Florida, I help him sell his house.  We get professional photos, list the house in the MLS, host open houses, and negotiate the sale.  Things are going well, and there are no big issues to deal with…..until Frank stops answering the phone.

About a week prior to closing, I tried to call Frank on the land-line to give him an update from the title company.  Frank didn’t answer the phone.  I called him on his cell phone, he doesn’t answer that either.  I think to myself “that’s weird, Frank always answers the phone”.  Later that day, I call Frank again.  I try again later that evening.  Still no answer from Frank.

Starting to worry about Frank, I drag my husband with me to Frank’s house.  We knock, we ring the bell, no answer.  My husband is walking around to the back to see if there is a car there.  We are peeking into the window to see if we can see anything to let us know what happened to Frank.  While we are there, I notice the neighbor across the street has opened the front door and is watching us.  Of course, I ran across the street to ask if they know where Frank is.  The neighbor tells me that an ambulance came a day or two ago and she doesn’t know what happened.

I drive up to the hospital, trying to find answers.  The lady at the information desk tells me that Frank is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the hospital.  Since this is a restricted area for very sick patients, only family members are allowed and only limited visitation times.  Of course, I didn’t bother to tell anyone that I wasn’t a family member.  I just went straight up to the ICU floor and asked the nurses there which room Frank was in.  I was shocked to find that Frank was on a respirator with tubes and wires going everywhere in his room, they were monitoring him closely.  He wasn’t even aware that I was there to check on him.  I left a note with the nurse’s station to have any family members who came to visit please call me.  I needed to know that Frank was going to be OK. 

The next day, I get a call from Frank’s brother.  He was in town to help take care of his brother, and he said he was actually trying to get in touch with me because he knew that Frank was selling his house.  I told him not to worry about the house, first we needed to make sure Frank would be OK.  He assured me that he would be OK, but he would need my help with the sale of the house.  I told him that we would do whatever it takes to help Frank.

After several weeks, Frank was recovering nicely and we arranged to have the closing on the house at the hospital.  We did have a 2 week delay in closing, but everyone was just happy that Frank was going to be OK.  The newest problem that Frank was facing, is what to do with all of his personal belongings.  He could not continue to keep them in the house that he was selling, and he couldn’t store them at the hospital, and he wasn’t physically ready to actually move.  That’s where we came in!  Frank’s brother had everything loaded into a POD storage container except for the most prized possessions which were loaded up into Frank’s car.  Not having anywhere safe to store his car full of stuff, I offered that he could store his car in my garage.  Frank’s brother drove the car to my house, and we parked it in the garage so that it was safe until Frank was feeling better.

When closing day came, we brought the title company to Frank!  Frank signed the paperwork to sell the house from his hospital bed.  He still had a few weeks of recovery time in the hospital ahead of him.  I kept in touch with Frank and his brother, and when he was released from the hospital they came to my house to get the car.  As they drove away, headed toward the beaches of Florida, I was just grateful that we were able to help.  When our clients need us, we do whatever it takes!

 

This post is part of our "Single Stories" series. All of our stories are true, but the names have been changed to protect our clients.  Want to read more stories about the life of a REALTOR and what to do or not to do when buying or selling a home?  Follow our blog to read more at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/blog/

Posted in Blog