North Texas Real Estate & Community News

Aug. 7, 2020

Zoom Etiquette for Work

10 Tips for Successful Video Conference Calls

ZoomMeetingOnLaptop

No matter what kind of business you are in, if you had interviews, office meetings, training classes etc. in person previously you now know that those meetings and classes continue despite social distancing.  This is made possible through video conference tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Groups and more.  Think of your video meeting the same as a face-to-face meeting...just with a few new things to consider.

You may have already found that there are a new set of guidelines to follow, or best practices to use when meeting through video conference tools.  You might not have thought about these manners or this etiquette when meeting in person because it just came naturally, however they are important to consider in our new video-tech age.  If you haven’t considered these acceptable behaviors yet, now is the time to learn the new business etiquette or polite manners of video conferencing. 

 

1. Turn your video on whenever possible

When you use your video function, people can communicate better with you.  Did you know that experts say between 55%-93% of all communication is non-verbal?  That included body language and facial expressions.  It’s especially important to use your video function when you are hosting or speaking at the meeting.  If you are a participant in a large group, you might have the ability to turn this off – but it shows less professionalism regardless of how many people are in attendance.  If you are in a smaller meeting, classroom, or interview - it's even more important to be seen on video.  In fact, for some education classes you must be seen on video in order to obtain credit for the course.

2. Dress for success on the video

Do not just plan to stay in your pajamas all day.  Would you dress like that if you were going to work?  Not if you wanted to keep your job!!  The good news is that people can only see your head and shoulders most of the time.  That means you can still wear a nice shirt, put on makeup/jewelry, brush your hair and then look great without having to change out of your pajama pants.  My secret is that I wear shorts and flip flops many times….but my shirt, jewelry, hair, and makeup are always done!  Plus, if you get dressed for the day, your work day may feel a little more normal.

3. Pay attention to your video area

Keep in mind that other people are going to see whatever your camera is pointed at behind you.  If you are working in the kitchen, pick up the dirty dishes behind you.  If you are working in your bedroom, face your camera away from the pile of dirty laundry.  You may even consider “staging” an area of the home to look nice as your backdrop.

4. Be aware of your audio/video settings

Check yourself in the video before beginning

If you followed step 2 above, you likely looked at yourself in the mirror and you are put together. If you skipped step 2, this step becomes even more important.  Either way, sit down at your computer, and click to join the meeting.  Most video conference systems allow you to view yourself on camera before joining the meeting.  Do a quick look – is your hair sticking up, is there food in your teeth?  If so, fix that quickly before jumping on the Zoom call.

Check your sound before beginning

Are you going to be somewhere quiet, or in a noisy location?  Consider using headphones or earbuds if needed to be sure other participants can hear you.  If you are lucky enough to be in a quiet location without distractions, your computer audio may be just fine.

 

5. Check your lighting

Generally speaking, more light is better.  Your video quality will be better when you have light in front of you, not behind you. If you have the ability to turn on a lamp or overhead light that is optimal.  If you have natural light from a window, be sure it's in front of you not behind you.  If you are going to do alot of video conferences, you could even invest in a ring light.  You can find a ring light that clips to your laptop/phone or one that sits on your desk and prices start at under $10.

 

6. Look into the camera when speaking, or at the speaker who is talking

If you are the person conducting the meeting or you are the featured speaker, looking into the camera will give the appearance of eye contact with whoever you’re talking to.  If you are watching the meeting, pay attention!  Look at the person who is speaking and focus and be present during the meeting.  (Plus this is better than staring at yourself just to realize your hair is sticking up)

7. Stay Muted

If you are participating in a large group video conference, you should keep yourself muted.  Background noise and echoes from your computer volume can be a huge distraction. This is especially true if you have kids at home or a pet that makes lots of noise. It can be very hard to be productive when people are talking over each other or with overlapping audio from others.

 

8. Don’t eat on camera

If your meeting was in person, would you bring your lunch and not share? No one wants to watch you eat (or if your sound is on, hear you chew).  If you can’t wait until the meeting ends then at least turn off the video/sound until you are done with your food.

9. Consider your privacy

I have heard some crazy horrible stories about people taking their phone/laptop with them to the bathroom and forgetting to turn the camera or sound off.  All I can say is just don’t do it!!!  There could be other private things you don’t want to share on camera too.  Picking your nose, having kid drama, a family member coming to visit you at your desk while dressed in their robe.  Turn off your video, mute yourself, and leave your device on your desk – then deal with the personal issue.  When you are done, jump back on promptly and continue the meeting.

10. Stay Focused

Remember – this is just like meeting with people in person, only it’s virtual.  Don't do other tasks during the meeting such as email, surf the web, or check your texts.   If you are participating in an interview, give the host your full attention.  If you are in a classroom setting, give the instructor your undivided attention.  If you are in a meeting, don’t make it go longer than necessary.  Stay on task, be productive, and you will find that video conferencing gets just as much done as meeting in person.  

 

A few other thoughts on this new age of video conferencing.  One is to ensure that only people that are supposed to be in the meeting are invited.  If you are the host, you may consider using a password for your meetings or being sure that others don’t have access to your meeting link or meeting ID.  Additionally, if you are the host of the meeting and there are unfamiliar faces in the group, you should consider introducing people before your meeting begins. If you were meeting in person, you would start with that same introduction.  Another thing to consider is that the host should always be the last one to leave the meeting.  If you are the host, be sure that everyone has finished talking and that participants feel they have had a chance to be heard before closing out the meeting.  This gives your meeting attendees a feeling of importance and relevance instead of just being cut off when you are done with what you had to say.

If you liked these video meeting/virtual classroom tips, you might also like some additional tips on working from home or tips for being productive while working from home.  

I hope that all of these tips are helpful to you.  Especially tip #9 above – don’t be that person (for your own sake).  Good luck in your new George Jetson's style communication in our world of Zoom!

 

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
Aug. 3, 2020

Why Hire a CRS REALTOR®?

Posted in Video
Aug. 3, 2020

Repair Request: You need to know THIS!

Posted in Video
Aug. 3, 2020

What Are Certified Funds?

 

 

 

Posted in Video
July 24, 2020

Home Trends For A Post-Pandemic World

Since March 2020, we have seen so many changes in our world.  From running out of hand sanitizer on grocery store shelves to wearing a mask anytime you are in public, from late-night talk shows broadcasting from home to professional baseball in an empty stadium.  Our world sure looks a lot different these days.

Another thing that has changed, is what it means to have a "home" and some people have changed their perspective on their idea of what a 'dream home' looks like. Not too long ago, buyers preferred smaller homes and open concept spaces conducive to gathering with friends and family. After a few months of being cooped up inside, those features may not seem so appealing.  Home buyers may prefer more space to spread out, and a home-office could be a must-have in the future. 

Real estate developers are likely taking notice and considering options that a post-pandemic world may demand.  

After doing some research, here are just a few suggested areas of home design where trends may shift in the coming years:

Home office / Study space / Zoom roomshome office
Many businesses implemented work-from-home policies for their office workers over the past few months.  Some people have opted to work remotely entirely.  Add that to the fact that schools are offering on-line curriculum and some parents and students are choosing to learn-from-home.  With all of this in mind, the home office may become essential for many buyers.  Home builders and developers may even consider more than one dedicated space for privacy while multiple people are working/studying at home.

Smart-home technology
Prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic, smart-home technology was already one of the fastest growing trends in home design.  However, smart home technology will likely move from a wish-list item to a must-have item. Hands-free items may become the standard instead of a luxury item.

Home buyers may required that the home office or study be pre-wired for telecommuting with high-speed internet and wi-fi access.  Keyless entry, along with lighting and security that is motion-activated helps families feel safe.  Touchless faucets in the kitchen, motion-sensor garbage cans, and automatic toilet flushing help reduce the spread of germs.  Air filtration and air quality monitoring could become more common too.  Not to mention thermostats, sprinkler systems, and garage door openers that can be controlled through the cloud, eliminating touch points. 

family gardeningOutdoor gardens
Many people have started growing their own food since mid-March. This will likely lead to home buyers considering their backyard size and layout ensuring they have the ability to have a vegetable garden.  Additionally, with more time on their hands due to reduced commute time - home owners are looking for activities that allow them time outdoors.  A backyard space allows for privacy and social distancing while still having outdoor activities.


Home size increase

With so many families spending time at home together lately, there's never been more need for personal space. Plus, if someone is sick they need some personal space to self-quarantine from everyone else at home.

Increased storage space
Home owners have changed the way they shop.  In order to minimize trips to busy retail and shopping areas, home buyers have stocked up on essentials and need space to store those items.  From canned goods and other food staples to other household supplies, home owners will want additional closet space and storage systems to keep things organized.

Shift in floor plan layout
For many years the open-concept floor plan has been the desire of buyers. However, now that families are spending more time together, the demands for 
privacy have increased.  Kids doing school work, parents working from home, and more meals being prepared in the kitchen - all lead to a noisy atmosphere filled with distractions.  Buyers may opt for a home that has dedicated space for some of these activities, leading to more closed off space and a less open floor plan.

 

 

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
July 21, 2020

What REALTORS Do for Home Buyers

Posted in Video
July 17, 2020

Real Estate Glossary - the Letter B

REAL ESTATE GLOSSARY

Today we will focus on the letter B.  We will add more posts in the future with additional terminology that you may run across during a real estate transaction.  If you would like to see our previous terminology, click here.

 

BACKUP OFFER/CONTRACT:  A backup offer may be made by a buyer on a home that is already under contract to sell.  If the secondary buyer and the seller agree to the terms, it becomes a backup contract and is enforceable.  This generally takes place if a home seller wants a secondary option in case the first contract does not go through. Backup offers are extremely common when the housing market is thriving.

 

BANKRUPTCY:  Bankruptcy is a legal remedy available to individuals who have qualified debt that exceeds their assets. There are various types of Bankruptcy such as Chapter 7 or 11.  A person may seek relief from the courts in the form of a complete discharge of their debt or a court-supervised repayment plan.

 

BASIC RATE: When referring to title insurance, the basic rate is the rate charged to a consumer who does not qualify for a reduced rate.

 

BIDDING WAR:  A bidding war generally happens in a “seller’s market” when there are not enough homes to choose from for the number of buyers who are shopping.  In a bidding war there is competition between two or more viable buyers for one property.  Sometimes this also occurs at a foreclosure auction. Ultimately, the bidding war drives up the selling price on the home to the advantage of the seller.

 

BOUNDARY LINE:  A home's boundary is defined as the border between two adjacent properties. It is the spot where one owner’s property ends and another begins. Boundaries are generally established by professional surveyor who can accurately identify the exact location of the boundary between two properties.

 

BREACH OF CONTRACT:  Breach happens when one party to a written or oral contract fails to fulfill their duties without a valid legal excuse. A breach of contract is common in real estate sales and leases when either the buyer or seller (or tenant or landlord) fail to uphold their contractual obligations.

 

BROKER: A real estate broker represents a party (buyer or seller) in a real estate transaction or may act as an intermediary between the parties. A party may work with the broker or with one of the broker's agents.

 

BROKERAGE:  A real estate brokerage is a company/firm that facilitates a transaction between a buyer and a seller for a commission or fee. A real estate brokerage facilitates (brokers) a real estate transaction by working with a buyer and seller to help determine the price of a piece of real property, ensuring all documents are signed, and making sure all parties complete the sale.

 

 

BUYERS MARKET:  A buyer's market happens when there are more homes available for sale than there are home buyers.  This allows buyers to have negotiation power over sellers. 

 

 

We hope these glossary terms are helpful to you as you buy or sell your next home.  If you would like more information about how we help our clients, visit our website If you are moving in or to North Texas, our Team would love to help you personally.  If you are moving anywhere else in the United States, let us know and we can personally recommend a REALTOR to assist you wherever your move takes you.

July 3, 2020

Real Estate Glossary - the letter A

REAL ESTATE GLOSSARY

Today we will start with the letter A.  We will add more posts in the future with additional terminology that you may run across during a real estate transaction.

 

ABSTRACT:  An abbreviation of the cardinal aspects of all recorded deeds, mortgages, leases and other instruments affecting the title to a particular piece of land.

 

ADVERSE POSSESSION: The unauthorized occupation of land belonging to another, by a person who does not have the consent of the owner. Said occupier is said to hold possession adversely to the rights and interests of the owner. In most states, by operation of law, title to the land becomes vested in such occupier after a fixed number of years of peaceful occupancy.

 

AMORTIZATION: This term has developed through French and Old English from the Latin words “mors” or “mort” meaning death or dead. It is the killing off of an existing debt by regular partial payments. The word “mortgage” is also derived from the same Latin root. 

 

ANNEXATION:   If a property is outside the limits of a municipality, the buyer should be aware that the property may later be annexed by a nearby municipality. The buyer may find information on the boundaries of nearby municipalities by contacting the municipalities directly.

 

APPRAISER:  A person licensed by the state to perform Appraisals.  The appraiser must follow strict guidelines. The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) was adopted by Congress in 1989 and contains the standards for all types of appraisal services.

 

APPRAISAL:   An appraisal is a valuation of the property. An appraiser renders an estimate of value as of a certain date under assumptions and conditions stated in the appraisal report. Typically, a buyer's lender requires an appraisal to verify that the loan is secured by property that is worth a certain amount. An appraisal is not the same as an inspection.

 

 

APR – Annual Percentage Rate. The yearly interest percentage of a loan as expressed by the actual rate of interest paid.

 

We hope these glossary terms are helpful to you as you buy or sell your next home.  If you would like more information about how we help our clients, visit our website.  If you are moving in or to North Texas, our Team would love to help you personally.  If you are moving anywhere else in the United States, let us know and we can personally recommend a REALTOR to assist you wherever your move takes you.

July 3, 2020

Selling a Home when you have kids - TIPS

Selling a Home when you have Kids

If you have ever sold a house while you had young children, then I admire you.  Moving is a stressful experience already – and adding kids (and their mess) can make you go crazy.  Here are a few life hacks or moving tips to help you sell your home when you have small kids. 

 

As a REALTOR, I advise my clients to try to have the home “show ready” all the time.  When it’s just an adult or two, it’s pretty manageable….but it’s just not that easy when you have small kids.  Kids have A LOT of stuff, and they don’t usually do a great job of picking up after themselves.  To help you have the home ready to show you might try the following tips and tricks:

 

Advanced Notice:  Request a 1 or 2 hour notice before each showing appointment.  That should give you enough time to put away any clutter, clean up real quick, and get the kids out of the house.   Most REALTORS in are able to work around a 1-2 hour notice so that your home can look it’s best for their buyers.

 

Pre-Packing:  Pack away things you can live without for a few months.  Not just from plain sight, but also from closets (giving you more room to hide things on short notice). You might pack away things like toys, games and art supplies, but might also include other things like small kitchen appliances (crock pot, toaster oven) or extra bedding/linens, seasonal home décor, etc.

3.      Now that you have more space in your closets, pick a place to store the things you use everyday.  If you have already packed away some items & put them in storage or in your garage – you can utilize your closet space for kids toys or bulky items like play sets.  For smaller items, use plastic bins or baskets to help transport things to the closets.

 

Involve the kids:  Depending on the age of your children, you may want to include them in helping to choose what items go into storage for a few months, and which items they can keep out and use every day.   They might even be able to help bring things to the closet for you to stack away.  Definitely talk to the kids about the upcoming move.  Ask for their opinion on things like what toys they want to see in their new room, or maybe what color they would paint their room if they got to choose.  Keeping them involved will help them not only as you plan the move, but after the move too.  It’s not just a stressful time for you, but also for your kids – make sure to talk with them, and really listen to what they have to say.  Stay positive when talking to them about the move.

 

We have a showing….now what?

Don't panic!  We always recommend that you be away from the home (and remove pets if possible) for all showings.  Now that you got that text or phone call telling you that a  REALTOR wants to show your house….what do you do? 

Pack up the kids (and the dogs) and head to the park or a friend’s house, or take a walk around the neighborhood.  If you don’t have pets, you might also try the library, grocery store, or  shopping mall.  The key is  finding somewhere to go that’s free.  However, you might decide to go get an ice cream or other snack.

Showings are usually scheduled within a 1 or 2 hour window.  The agent & potential buyer could show up at your house anytime during that window.  You can request a 1-hour limit – just let your agent know up front when you list the house. 

 

Getting it sold!
As you prepare your home for sale, and keep it clean and tidy for showings, you will find that a home buyer will fall in love with your home and send you an offer.  Work with your REALTOR to help negotiate the terms and get your home sold.

 

If you want more information, check out our blog posts about moving when you have kids, or our packing and moving tips.

 

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
July 3, 2020

Moving When You Have Kids - TIPS

Moving can be stressful....for everyone involved.  Depending on the age of your children, you may want to include them in the moving process.   Talk about the things they want in their new house....what toys they might want to bring, what color they might want their room to be, or what new adventures await them during or after the move. 

 

Let them get involved.  While your kids may not be the best "helpers" when cleaning up the house to show it, they can still help bring their toys to you to put away.  Once your home is under contract and it's time to pack, they could help you pack some things that are not fragile (think pots & pans, metal or plastic utensils, or toys).  If you color code your packing tape, they can even help you mark a box or two.

 

 

Plan ahead for moving day.  You might want to pack a box of things to keep the kids busy on moving day.  Consider packing a box with a few favorite toys or games (or maybe coloring books, stickers, craft items) and labeling the box as a "Special Delivery". When you first arrive at the home, find a quiet place for the kids to play (maybe one of the bedrooms or even a large closet where they can spread out, or in their new backyard if the weather is nice).  Then hand their "Special Delivery" to them and let them play while the moving truck is being unloaded. 

 

Family, it's what makes a house a home.  Remind them that what makes a "house" a "home" is the people that are there, not the actual building.  You will be on this new adventure together - and enjoy making your new place your new home!

 

If you want more information about making a move when you have kids, you may like our post about selling a house when you have kids.

We hope these life hacks are helpful to you as you plan your next move.  Good luck on your next move!

 

 

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