One in a Million, well, actually 24,487

Wowza, did you know that there are about 24,487 real estate agents in the Houston area?

How are you supposed to choose just one? Well, luckily, I posted this a while back to help you– How to choose an AWESOME Realtor.

That post has some great tips, but let’s really take a closer look at those 24,487 agents….

  • A LOT of them only have their license because they are investors or house flippers, or they work in Commercial or Corporate real estate.
  • A LOT of them only have their license to be able to give referrals.
  • A LOT of them have full-time jobs outside of their real estate career.
  • A LOT of them have never sold anything.
  • A LOT of them are just hobbyists.

They say that 20% of the people do 80% of the work, so 20% of those agents would be about 4,898 agents in the Houston market who are doing 80% of the work.

So how do I make sure that I am one of those 4,898 agents and not getting lost in the sea of others?

  • I am a FULL-TIME REALTOR, I do not have a side job, real estate is not my hobby, it is my passion.
  • I have 10 years of experience

But I don’t just want to be one of those 4,898 agents doing 80% of the work, I want to actually stand out in that group! So, I take it to the next level!! 

  • I actively seek out opportunities for additional certifications and continuing education
    • Relocation Specialist
    • Master Certified Negotiation Expert
    • Multicultural Certified Real Estate Professional
    • Expert in New Construction and Working with Builders
  • I work with an exceptional company that is dominating the Houston market.
  • I surround myself with professionals that I know and trust to take great care of my clients (lenders, title companies, inspectors, insurance agents, etc.)
  • My clients can expect outstanding customer service and communication.

Call me if you want to make your move, I am ready to help! Not all Realtors are created equal, call someone AWESOME!!!

Updates from Perry Homes in Riverstone

According to the sales representative for Perry Homes in Riverstone, time is running out!!

They have already sold out ALL of their 50 foot lots, and have only about 50 lots left at all. They will probably be completely built out by the end of 2016.

If you have been thinking of checking out these beautiful houses, now is the time. The brand new elementary school will be opening for Fall 2016.

Call me for your private tour, and check out all that Riverstone in Missouri City, TX has to offer here>>> http://www.riverstone.com/

Did you buy a TX home in 2015? Don’t forget to file your Homestead Tax Exemption!!

If you purchased a home in Texas in 2015, you can save a lot of money on your taxes by filing your Property Tax Exemptions. This is NOT done for you at closing.

You file the paperwork with the appraisal district in the county where the home is located, and you have from January 1- April 30 to get your exemption filed.

Once you apply, you do not need to reapply each year, unless something changes like if you move or you become qualified for another exemption.

Take a look at the available exemptions:

  • General Residence Homestead Exemption— If this is your primary residence, you own it, and you do not claim another property for this exemption, you can claim this.
  • Disabled Person Exemption
  • Age 65 or Older (Many people forget this one!!)
  • Surviving Spouse of Individual Who Qualified for Age 65 or Older
  • 100% Disabled Veteran’s Exemption
  • Surviving Spouse Of Disabled Veteran Who Qualified or Would Have Qualified for the 100% Disabled Veteran’s Exemption
  • Donated Residence Homestead of Partially Disabled Veteran 
  • Surviving Spouse of Disabled Veteran who Qualified for the Donated Residence Homestead Exemption
  • Surviving Spouse of Member of Armed Forces Killed in Action

For more information, or to print the required forms, click here!! 

BIG Changes are Coming to Closings!!

Actually, they are already in progress. The NEW TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule took effect on October 3, so any buyer who is just now applying for a mortgage will be under this new regulation. In about a month we will start seeing the new disclosures at the closing table.

There are a LOT of changes to talk about, so keep an eye on upcoming posts that are intended to help you understand all of the changes. Rest assured, I have been educated on the new rules and forms, and I am ready to go!

Let’s talk about the NEW LINGO:

  • What we used to call the LENDER is now called the CREDITOR
  • The BORROWER is now the CONSUMER
  • We used to talk about the loan TOLERANCE, now we will call it VARIANCE
  • Buyers used to receive an INITIAL TRUTH IN LENDING STATEMENT and a GOOD FAITH ESTIMATE. Now these two will be combined into the LOAN ESTIMATE.
  • The HUD-! SETTLEMENT STATEMENT and the FINAL TRUTH IN LENDING STATEMENT will now be combined into the CLOSING DISCLOSURE.
  • Finally, the CLOSING will now be called the CONSUMMATION (Stop giggling, this is really what they’ve decided)

Change is tough, and it will take some time to get used to everything but I am ready!

Which Real Estate Company is the Best in Houston?

I’m just sayin’.

BHGRE Gary Greene, in the first 3 quarters of this year:

  • #1 in listings taken – 38% more current listings than the next highest broker
  • #1 in listings SOLD – 38% more listings sold than the next highest broker – who’d list their home with anyone else?
  • #1 in buyer sales – 10% more sales than the next highest broker
  • #1 in total closed transactions – unbelievably 52% more closed transactions than the next highest broker
  • #1 in dollar volume closed – it’s been a great year!

So what are you waiting for? CALL ME!

How to choose an AWESOME Realtor

You’ve got a million things on your mind, and even more on your to-do list. When you decide to sell your house, things can get overwhelming quickly. Interviewing a hundred Realtors to find the right one? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Start by asking around. Ask a couple close friends and neighbors if they can recommend anyone. Look at the For Sale signs in your neighborhood and grab a couple of those names. Look at your local MLS and see who has homes listed in your hood.

Once you have a handful of names, check them out online to see if you can rule some out before you even interview them. I promise this takes a lot less time than making an appointment to have them come over!!

What to look for when you are checking out an agent’s online presence:

  • Look at their current listings– how do their photos look? Do they appear to use a professional photographer? What about the description of the home, does it give you enough details to be able to picture the home? Are there a ton of spelling or factual errors? How long have the homes been listed, and is that number normal for your area?
  • Find their FaceBook page– This can help you get a sense of their personality. Are they fun or having WAY too much fun? Does it feel like your personality would work well with theirs? Do they talk about real estate or is that all they talk about? Do they seem to get along well with others? Do they have a business page as well as a personal page?
  • What does their website look like? Is it just the generic page that they were given by their company or have they taken the time to modify it? Do they have any other websites, blogs, a YouTube channel?
  • Testimonials- can you find any testimonials for the agent? On the MLS, their web site, blog or anywhere? Do they have a decent client satisfaction ranking, or are they not sharing that info?

Once you do your online research, you should be able to narrow down the field quite a bit. Now it is time to set up a couple interviews. Here’s how to use the interview process to quickly figure out the right agent:

  • Pay attention when you call to ask to meet them. Did they answer their phone or reply to your email quickly? Did you talk to the agent or go through an assistant? Do you have to wait 2 weeks for your appointment? Did they seem interested and ask questions?
  • The agent will probably want to tour the home and have a presentation to give you about their marketing, let them.
  • Ask the agent “What are some challenges that we will face in trying to get the home sold and how will you help us overcome those?”
  • Tell the agent what your main goal is in selling your home, and then ask for a specific plan to accomplish that goal. Maybe it is to sell quickly, to have a closing date that works for you, to get the highest price possible, or to rent them home back from the buyers for 6 months. Whatever you need, tell the agent and have them explain how they’ll make it happen.
  • Ask them if they have any additional certifications and what continuing education they have taken. Are they up to date on technology, new regulations, negotiation techniques and trends?
  • When the price discussion comes up, have the agent show you exactly why they think the home is worth that amount. They should have specific data and comps showing what homes have sold for in your immediate area and which homes are most like yours.

Once you have gone through this process, I think you’ll be able to find the best agent for you. Remember, that not everyone will like the same agent, not everyone has the same goals, and not every agent runs their business the same way. Ask the right questions to get the right fit!!

Pink October

October is almost here, and that means it is my favorite time of year!! Cooler temps, fall leaves, Halloween decorations, costumes, and PINK EVERYWHERE!!!

Breast cancer is a terrifying thought, and I have always had a soft spot for charities that help fund breast cancer research, prevention, treatment and cures. I have participated in walks, raised funds, and donated time and money to help, and this year will be no different.

One concern that I have is that the charity that I donate to actually gives most of the money to the cause rather than huge CEO salaries. In an effort to pick the best charity to donate to, I came across this website that grades charities: CharityWatch.org.

This year, I will be donating to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 10% of my take-home commission paid in the month of October will go directly to them. I will be setting up a fundraising page for BCRF so that anyone else can donate as well.

The more fun part of my efforts to raise awareness is that I will be dying my hair PINK! The color usually doesn’t last very long, but it is a very fun way for me to start the conversation about donating to a breast cancer charity. Hopefully I will be able to end up somewhere in-between what the following celebs did: 

Too little- January Jones

TOO MUCH!! Hayley Williams.

Check out the other celebs with Pink hair in this article: 31 Celebrities with Pink Hair and let me know what you think!

More people have equity in their homes!

This headline came through my email this morning from the National Association of REALTORS®:

Report: 90% of Properties Now Have Equity  More home owners are emerging from the negative equity trap, which bodes well for a stronger housing recovery.”

This is such great news that I just had to share it. I remember years ago when I started my real estate career, it was very common that I would have to figure out how much my sellers would have to BRING to closing to sell their home.

Many times, I had to tell people that it really was not feasible for the to sell at the time. I would tell them to sit tight if they could. Some took that advice, but others had to move for whatever reason and many lost big.

It was quite disheartening for sellers to realize that they would have to pay to sell their homes. Sometimes I would have to explain that the boat or RV in the driveway, which they used a Home Equity Line of Credit to buy was they reason that they now couldn’t move.

I am so happy that so many people are coming out of being underwater on their homes, and they will now be able to make their dreams of a new home come true!!

If you are one of the MILLIONS of people who have been waiting to sell, let me know. If I can’t list your house myself because of location, then I can refer you to an awesome agent in your area!