Nearby Great Escapes

Nearby Great Escapes

Nearby Great Escapes

Helping our clients buy and sell property is our passion. We love what we do and work hard to do it well. At this time of year, many hard working people start to dream about vacations and exciting “escapes” from the steadiness of our schedules. What is so great about our area is that there are so many nearby Great Escapes that it doesn’t require a lot of money to get away from it all.

Check out these fun “daycations”

  1. In Ft. Worth – Visit the FW Zoo, Hip Pocket Theatre, Catch the train at the T&P Building, Sundance Square for music, Art at the Modern and Kimbell Museums, Movies at the Coyote Drive In, Drama at The Hip Pocket Theater, Nature at the Botanic Garden and Cowboy culture at the Stockyards.
  2. In Granbury – Visit the Granbury Opera House, Brazos Drive in, Granbury Marina for canoes, kayaks, fishing and food and the Granbury Town Square for food, wine, music, art and clothes
  3. In Arlington – Visit the Levitt Pavillion for outdoor music, Theatre Arlington for fun kid plays, Friday Food Truck night at River Legacy, Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor, the Planetarium at UTA and The Rangers Ballpark
  4. In Benbrook – Ride horses at the Benbrook Stables, rent boats and sail or fish at Benbrook Lake, visit the Lost Oak Winery in Burleson – a stone’s throw from Benbrook, and on your way back to Fort Worth, eat dinner at the Edelweiss German Restaurant.
  5. In Dallas – Visit the Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas Zoo, Arboretum, Dallas World Aquarium, Highland Park Villages for high end shopping, The Science Place Museum, Dallas Arts District and don’t forget Dallas Top Golf for a different kind of fun.

Make your summer a great one!

Home Insurance

This type of insurance, also known as Homeowner Insurance or Hazard Insurance is required by any mortgage company when you purchase a home.  It is designed to protect a private residence and covers various losses including loss to the home (fire, slab leak, hot water heater bursting, etc), contents (theft, etc), loss of use of the home, other personal possessions (tools, lawnmowers, etc), and liability insurance including accidents that may happen at the home or on the property (injuries from trampolines, pools, falls, etc.)

The cost for a home insurance policy is figured based on what it would cost to replace the home, and any additional riders (coverages) that you add to the policy.  Of course, the safer your home is (fire detection equipment, security system, proximity to fire station, police, crime statistics in the area, etc) the more deductions from your rate the insurance company will allow.

Most companies require payment of the policy prior to the year it will cover.  Some companies allow monthly charges to your credit card or bank account for the policy.  If you set up an escrow account with your mortgage company when you purchase the home, the mortgage company will be responsible for paying your insurance policy out of your escrow account once a year for you.

It is important to have an insurance agent that you trust, that is accessible for information and that can provide you with good coverage at a good value.  There are many insurance providers and we always recommend that you shop insurance carriers – making sure to compare apples to apples and that the different quotes include the exact same coverage.

We have recommended the Shane Ferrell Insurance Agency (agentshane.com) to many of our clients (and I use this company personally) with good results.  If you haven’t compared insurance companies in a while, I would recommend setting up an “insurance check up” with your agent and getting quotes from other providers for comparison.

As the Richest People on the Planet say – protecting your assets is one road to wealth…

Preparing Your Yard for the Spring Growing Season

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The temperatures have been quite cool lately so most of us aren’t thinking about our yards, but when the sun peaks out and we have those warmer days there are a few things you can do to get your yard ready for performing its best.

1. Clean out gutters and clean out drainage/runoff areas – get ready for those April Showers
2. Trim dead limbs on trees and shrubs
3. Trim to the ground all dead perennial foliage
4. Cut back at least by a third all perennials with foliage (ie. Sage, Salvia)
5. Repair edging around beds and trellises
6. Feel free to pull any young weeds that are growing – if you see bare spots in beds, cover with 3-4 inches of mulch to help prevent upcoming weed growth
7. Rake the yard and mix grass seed with soil and spread in bare spots
8. Apply pre-emergent herbicides like corn gluten meal or generic brands with these chemicals – Bensulide, pendimethalin, oxadiazon and DCPA.
9. Transplant shrubs you want to move before they leaf out
10. Plant bulbs that are sprouting (daffodils, tulips, etc)

So, take advantage of those warmer Texas days that are woven in with the 20 degree ones and get out there and get your Vitamin D. Enjoy!

Organizing Your Home To Sell

 

We’ve all known the kind of people who everyone would like to buy things from. The kind that save all their records for repairs and keep great logs of service, get regular maintenance done and are just generally detailed and organized about caring for their things. We call it obsessive compulsive or sometimes pride of ownership. Bottom line is that this type of person can get more money and sell their items quicker than others.

When selling a home, if you are not a person who naturally does this, you certainly can benefit from at least appearing like you do.

Here are a few ideas to help you do just that.

1.  Keep your yard mowed and precisely edged. Mulch all beds, trim trees so windows show, pull weeds, and before a showing, water your grass so it sparkles. Make sure shrubs and trees aren’t touching the house or roof. Freshly paint your mailbox and front door and have large easy to read house numbers displayed. Clean your windows and remove the screens.

2.  Neatly organize in trays, boxes, or baskets your drawers, cabinets, and closets. Pack up everything you won’t use in the next 3 months and label boxes and store neatly in the garage or storage building.

3.  Clean and shine up all lights and ac/heat vents and ceiling fans. Make sure all light bulbs work. Don’t use the slow to brighten ones as your home will appear dark during showings.

4.  Freshen all caulk in baths and along molding

5.  Freshen up paint on trim, doors, window sills, and walls where needed

6. Clean and organize fridges and pantries

7.  Make sure your house is clean, dust free, and scrubbed, vacuumed and has a pleasant smell. Green apple or apple cinnamon are best for plug in scents.

Certainly this takes a lot of work, but will reward you greatly with how much you can sell your home for – and without it having to sit on the market for months.   

It’s Home Repair Time

I have always wondered why one of my favorite stores, The Container Store has their Annual Elfa (shelving organization) sale in January each year.  I think it’s because when we put all the Christmas decorations back in the attic and our homes seem a little less sparkly, the “Get Organized, Get Tidy” bug sets in.  For a home owner, that often means it’s time to start working on the home maintenance and repair list.

As you begin to prioritize your home maintenance and repair items, keep in mind that we have a long list of amazing contractors and service companies that we can recommend to you.  Our contractors have been tested over and over by our clients in the homes they buy and sell and by ourselves in our personal homes.  This year I have personally tested out three different paint companies, two carpet cleaning companies, two plumbers, and two electricians.  Only the good ones make the cut and we are happy to recommend them to you as well.

If you are prioritizing your repairs as you get your home ready to sell, that’s easy.  You will want the “high dollar” functional repair items completed first.  That includes plumbing, electrical, HVAC (air/heat), roof, water heaters, and of course foundation.  If you have cracks in your foundation, we have two wonderful structural engineers that we use regularly to assess if repairs are needed.  An evaluation and report costs about $400 and is well worth the cost if you are planning to sell your home.

We work with many buyers who are very willing to buy a home that needs some cosmetic repairs, but they won’t bother with a home that needs functional/basic system repairs.   Also, some functional repairs will prevent a buyer from being able to get an FHA loan on the home they are buying, which decreases your “buyer pool” (the number of people that may be interested in your home) if you are selling.  So, let us know if you need some good recommendations for contractors.  Homeowners, start your to do lists!  Happy fixing!

Have You Filed Your Homestead Exemption For 2014?

Ever wondered about how the Texas Homestead Exemption works?

If you own a new home by January 1st,  you will want to add a homestead exemption to your property.  You are allowed to have one property identified as your homestead.  There is no fee to declare a homestead for tax purposes. 

Upon purchasing a new home, you will likely receive a number of mailouts and phone calls from companies requesting to do this service for you but it is a simple process that you can do yourself with no fee.  If you live in Tarrant County, go to tad.org and click on the “New Homestead Application” form.  You can print off the form, fill it out and mail it in.  You will need your closing date and legal address of the property as well as a copy of your updated drivers license that shows the new address. If you are in another county, simply go to that county’s appraisal district website and request the same form.   

 

How much does this help you with taxes?  (Show me the money)

School districts grant 15k off the value of your home to be assessed school taxes.  Any taxing unit can grant up to a 20% decrease in taxed value, but not less than 5k in decreased taxed value. 

For example, a home appraised at 100k, would be allowed a 20,000 decrease in tax value – so you would be taxed on an 80k amount.  The school taxes would be 100k minus 15k which equals an 85k taxed value.  It is definitely worth your time and energy to file for a homestead exemption.  If you purchased a home in 2013 with our Real Estate team you will receive a reminder this month to file your homestead exemption.  The deadline for filing is April 30th.  Happy Tax Savings!