Posts filed under Buyers

Why you NEED a Home Inspection When Buying Your Texas Home

Agent Samantha Smith has some valuable information about why you absolutely NEED to have your home inspected...whether it's 2 years old, 10 years, 100 or even if it's BRAND NEW! Read on to see why they're so important when shopping for your next Texas home!
Read: Home Inspections are a MUST when buying a home.

Posted on September 12, 2017 and filed under Buyers.

Lake Ray Hubbard Happenings

Our resident Lake Ray Hubbard expert, Samantha Smith, has some great info to share about everything you can do on Lake Ray Hubbard this summer:

Did you know that Lake Ray Hubbard is one of the largest lakes in north Texas spanning 22,000 acres and is known as a "recreational lake"?!? Me either! But it is!  Lake Ray Hubbard is a lake that great for all ... you can ski, jet ski, paddle board, all types of boats are allowed & so is fishing. 

Speaking of fishing ... Did you know that Lake Ray Hubbard has a variety of fish species that include white and hybrid striped bass, large-mouth bass, channel and blue catfish, and white crappie?!? Me either! 

But I'll tell you where I learned all this and more ... a website called 

This website has everything you want to know about Lake Ray Hubbard and then some! You can find out where the different Parks / Beaches are along the Lake, where you can find Hiking / Biking Trails, Boat Marinas & Ramps, Rentals for a variety of Recreational activities, where you can Camp, and yes, even where you can get some good Fishing done!

Hands down, Lake Ray Hubbard is a wonderful place to LIVE or VISIT!

Are you interested in owning a home on Lake Ray Hubbard? If so, there are 4 amazing cities that border Lake Ray Hubbard ... Garland, Rowlett, Rockwall & Heath. One thing that's not mentioned on this website is one of the greatest things about owning a home in the Lake Ray Hubbard area ... Lake Ray Hubbard is the only lake in the DFW Metro-Plex that you can have your own private Boat Dock on! 

As a Realtor who lives in the Lake Ray Hubbard area, I'd be happy to share more information about these great cities and what makes them each unique to live in. You can also Email me or go to my Website to request a personal Home Search. If you're thinking about Selling your home and would like to find out how much your home is worth in the current market, simply go to my Website to fill out the form & a Comparative Market Analysis will be made for you. 

Posted on June 28, 2016 and filed under Buyers.

How to Buy a Home in North Texas!

So, you've decided to pack up your bags and turn in your move-out notice to your landlord. Maybe you've decided that living with mom & dad isn't so great for your social/love life. Perhaps you've just gotten a promotion and your new office will be located in the "Big D". No matter what your situation, you are going to be purchasing a home in the North Texas (McKinney, Frisco, Plano, Allen...) area and you don't know where to begin. Until NOW...

As a Buyer Specialist for the last 11 years, I've had the privilege of working with tons of home BUYERS. Not that sellers aren't great, but my heart belongs to the buyers. Many times I get the most satisfaction from working with First Time Homebuyers or buyers that are relocating to this area. In many ways, the relo buyers are like first time buyers. How? Buying a home in California and buying a home in New York and buying a home in Dallas or McKinney are completely different ballgames! Different laws, customs & processes are involved.

Below is a step-by-step guide to buying a home in my neck of the woods.

1. Make Decision to Purchase!

2. Choose a Realtor - ANY of our dedicated, knowledgable (and all around FUN) agents!

 3. GET PRE-APPROVED! Meet with a lender who will tell you how much you can spend!! This is the MOST important step!! If you do not have a lender please ask me and I will provide a list of Loan Officers that have done a great job for us! Having a pre-approval letter that can be sent to the seller with your offer is a way of showing the seller that you are a serious buyer. DO THIS NOW!

4. Make your "Wish List"! Tell us all about your ideal home! Start using the Prospect Gateway Portal - a special website we'll create JUST FOR YOU that automatically emails you when a new listing hits the market that meets your specific criteria! Make notes and sort listings by "Favorite", "Possibility" or "Reject". We want to know your likes & dislikes. Our goal is to not waste your time showing you the wrong houses!

5. Preview Homes! With rising gas prices, there is no need for you to drive from house to house! Leave the driving to us while you make notes and learn about the neighborhoods! We will call and schedule all showings - don't make the mistake of shopping on your own and having to call each & every Realtor to see a home! Just because we are an independent brokerage, DOESN'T mean we can't show other homes listed by other companies. We're members of the MLS (multiple listing service) and can show ANY - yes, I mean ANY - home on the market!

6. Make an Offer! After researching comparable properties we will make an informed offer. We'll explain the contract, answer your questions and negotiate all terms of the contract with your best interest in mind! We will address contingencies, such as: Home Inspection, Financing, Closing Date, etc.

      $$ You will deposit an Earnest Money check and Option Fee check with the contract. Earnest Money is customarily 0.5% - 1.5% of the purchase price (depending upon the price range you are shopping in) and is made out to the Title Company. The Option Fee is negotiable, but typically $50-250 and is made out to the Seller. Both checks will be credited to you at closing.

 7. Contract Acceptance! Yeah! This begins Day Zero in our timeline. This begins in Texas what is called the "Option Period". Home inspections will be scheduled during this time. During the Option Period (which is also negotiable and usually anywhere from 5-10 days) you have the right to walk away from the contract for any reason and still get your Earnest Money back. You will only lose the Option Fee you paid to the seller.

 8. Home Inspection/Termite Inspection. We will attend the home inspection once it is completed. The Inspector will review the report and answer your questions. Based upon the findings of the inspection we can negotiate any repairs you would like the seller to make. Both parties must sign an amendment to the contract, with all negotiated repairs listed, before the Option Period expires. The termite inspection is typically performed at the same time as the home inspection. Your lender may require a copy of this report.

    $$ The Home Inspection is a cost to the Buyer. Cost of the inspection is dependent upon square footage and other factors, but averages $250-600. You pay this cost up front by check/credit card or sometimes it can be added to your closing statement.

 9. Title Work. The title company is working in the background to make sure they can provide clear title to the property for the buyer when it closes.

   $$ Survey - If the current seller does not have a survey or the survey is not deemed to be good, then you may be required to pay for a new survey. The title company or your lender will be responsible for ordering this according to the contract.

   $$ Appraisal - This is typically paid up front with your lender, and it is also ordered by your lender.

  *You must have a clean survey and the home must appraise in order to close! We will monitor these activities and keep you updated on each step of the process.

10. Obtain Homeowners Insurance! Your lender and the title company will need this information prior to closing. Shop around and compare quotes  

11. Contact Utility Companies & Make Moving Arrangements! Make arrangements to have water, electric, gas, cable & phone service prior to your move-in day. 

We're getting closer...

12. Final Walk-Thru - This gives you the chance to visit the property one last time before closing to make sure any repairs that were requested have been made and that the home is in acceptable move-in condition (per terms of the contract).

13. Closing & Funding - Closing means the paperwork has been signed by both the buyer and seller...but that's all. The property is not legally conveyed (read-you don't get the keys) until the funds from the buyer are wired to the title company and then wired to the seller. **It is also important to note that many times a home does not fund on the same day it closes. Sometimes it won't fund until the next day, or if it closes on a Friday not until the following Monday. Be wary of long holiday weekends too! For this reason we suggest a morning closing, mid-week if possible. Particularly if you plan on moving over a weekend!

You're a new homeowner!

Posted on March 4, 2016 and filed under Buyers.

Taxes in Texas. How they Work.


Not the most FUN topic to discuss, but an important one nonetheless. Especially given that each state does things just a little bit differently, it's good to know how real estate taxes are handled in the area you are moving to.

Here are how things work in the Great State of Texas!

*Property owners in Texas are required to pay property taxes on real estate and income-producing personal property.

*Some taxing jurisdictions, such as the City of Dallas, also tax personal automobiles.

*Your property is taxed by a county, city and school district. The determination of property values is the responsibility of an appraisal district. Contact the appraisal district in your Texas county to find out which jurisdictions tax your property.

Tax Calendar:

January 1 - Application for tax exemptions may be submitted to the appraisal district after this date.

May 1 - Exemption applications are due.

May/June - Appraisal notices are mailed to all taxpayers whose property value has changes more than $1000. Taxpayers are given 20 days after receiving the notice to appeal to the appraisal review board.

July/August- Appraisal review board meets to hear appeals regarding property values or exemption status.

August/September - Adoption of the tax rate for the current year by each taxing jurisdiction.

September/October - Tax bills are mailed to property owners.

January 31 of the FOLLOWING YEAR - Last day to pay taxes without incurring any penalties or interest.

If you need help fighting your property values, contact a REALTOR. They can help provide you with some comparable properties that may support a lower value. I've found that the BEST time to contest high property values is the year after you purchase the property. Simply bring your closing statement showing that you paid a LOWER amount than the proposed value, and you'll have a strong piece of evidence in contesting your taxes.

Posted on September 15, 2015 and filed under Buyers.

Is This House Still for Sale, or Isn't It?

It happens with almost every other buyer. Buyer sees a house they LOVE online but it's not on the list of Active properties I send them. Or a buyer drives by a home they didn't see listed online. They ask me about the mystery house and when I go look it up in the NTREIS (North Texas Real Estate Information Services) MLS, it shows that the home is not available - either under Option or Pending.

I give the information to my buyers and explain what the different status' mean:

  • Active Option - this means that the home has just gone under contract and is currently in the buyer's "Option Period". The Option Period - per the Texas contract - is a negotiable period of time (typically anywhere from 5 to 14 days) where the buyer is allowed to have inspections performed. Buyers can back out of the contract FOR ANY REASON during this Option Period and get their Earnest Money back - only forefitting a nominal "Option Fee" (usually $50-$200). These homes are usually the ones that appear to be ACTIVE when searching online.
  • Contingent - the home has gone through the Option Period but still has a contingency to clear. The most common contingencies are financing or the sale of a home by the buyer.
  • Pending - these homes have cleared the Option Period AND contingencies. They are uaually just waiting for closing day to arrive.

However, even after I explain what status the home is under, the next day they still question WHY there is still a For Sale sign in front of the house when they drive by. And I suppose it's a good question.

Here's a few reasons why a REALTOR might leave up the For Sale sign even though the home is no longer Available:

  • Marketing & Exposure - being able to put up an "Under Contract" rider on the agent's sign is GREAT exposure! Neighbors and buyers drive by and see that the listing agent was able to sell one of the homes in their neighborhood, and instantly a potential seller might think to call this agent if they were at all curious about selling THEIR home.
  • DEALS FALL THROUGH! All the time! If for some reason the current buyer backs out of the contract, the listing agent hasn't lost any marketing time by taking the For Sale sign out of the yard.
  • To pick up Buyers (aka Potential Clients) - interested buyers driving by the home can call the number on the sign for more information about the home. If the home is already under contract, the listing agent can use this as an opportunity to tell them about other homes for sale in the same neighborhood and potentially gain them as a client.

Still have questions about buying a home? Give us a call, or contact any of our agents and we'll be happy to walk you through the house hunting process!

Posted on August 13, 2015 and filed under Buyers.