Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Grilling Safety

More people grill in July than any other month. While grilling is all about good food, fun, friends and celebrations, it is important to make sure that accidents don’t interrupt your activities. Approximately half of the injuries involving grills are thermal burns. If you work with fire, there’s a chance of getting burned.

  • Only use BBQ grills outdoors and in ventilated areas.
  • Place the grill away from home or anything that could be flammable. iStock_000065187147-250.jpg
  • Keep grill stable.
  • Keep fire under control.
  • Keep children away from grill.
  • Never leave the grill unattended.
  • The grill lid should always be open before lighting it.
  • Grease should not be allowed to build up in the grill. 
  • Use long-handled utensils.

  • Check the tank hose and connections for leaks before using it for the first time each year by using a light soapy water solution to see if bubbles appear.
  • If you smell gas when the grill is lit, move away from the grill and call the fire department.
  • If the flame goes out, turn off the gas for 15 minutes and open the lid before re-lighting it.

  • Never add any starter fluid or other flammable liquid to a fire.
  • Only use charcoal starter fluid and not gasoline, kerosene or other flammable liquid.
  • Keep starter fluid away from heat sources and out of reach of children.
  • Electric charcoal starters do not use fire but have a coil to ignite the coals.
  • When finished cooking, close off the grill vents to suffocate the fire and save some of the remaining charcoal.

 Practice safe grilling and enjoy the occasions to cook outdoors and share with your family and friends.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Eliminate Mortgage Insurance

Why would you consider refinancing if your mortgage is only two or three years old and the rate is not considerably higher than what is currently available on new loans? Because you may be able to eliminate the mortgage insurance and have significant monthly savings. chopped.jpg

Many homes have seen their values rise in the past few years. The current loan-to-value ratio may be low enough to no longer require mortgage insurance. In some cases, a homeowner might actually pay a little higher rate than they currently have but lower their monthly payment dramatically because the mortgage insurance isn’t required.

A rough rule of thumb is that mortgage insurance is not needed on loans at or less than 80% of value. There could be programs available that would allow a higher LTV than 80%.

Careful consideration should also be given to the fees required to refinance. Lenders differ in not only the rates they charge but also the fees associated with the loans and the process. If you’d like a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional, we’d be happy to make a recommendation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My house flooded and partially blown away by Bill

What am I going to do?  I'm miserable over the loss of my house, my car, my boat, my poor little dog, and all my things.  Bad luck has a way of taking its toll on me.  Gloom, despair, and agony on me.

OK, I'm making this up . . . but my bet is that I'll have more "reads" with this negative headline and notice of bad news than I get with positive headlines and good news!  Why is that?

Somehow, we're addicted to the potential of bad news, as that's all the news channels seem to report. Occasionally they post a dog rescue -- or even a human rescue -- but mostly stabbings, hit-and-runs, robberies, prison escapes and the like.  It sells.

So . . . now that I've got your attention with bad news, how about buying or selling a house with me? TheSamTeam.com.  832-200-5656.  HELP!  I'm suffering without you!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Where Are the Sellers?

Low inventories resulting in multiple offers are contributing to what experienced agents are calling the most challenging market they’ve ever worked. While buyers with resources may find the market difficult, purchasers with minimum cash and credit are struggling to find and get into a home. where are sellers.jpg
First-time buyers feel the impetus to purchase because they’re renting and are concerned about being priced out of the market with rapidly appreciating prices and rising interest rates.
Sellers may not feel the same urgency because they already own a home. While they might find it appealing to change homes, they may not feel a pressing motivation causing them to act.
In some cases, sellers are so attached to their low interest rate mortgage that instead of selling, they’re keeping the home for a rental property. This may be a good investment for people with additional cash resources for the down payment and closing costs on the replacement property.  But, then again, many sellers cannot find a suitable home to purchase and replace their existing home!  Thus, they are choosing to stay "put" because they feel they won't find anything.
Why now is a good time to sell:
  1. The economy is strong.
  2. The majority of home sales occur in the months of May through September.
  3. Many buyers find it preferable to move in the summer because their children are out of school and they can avoid the winter weather.
  4. Mortgage rates are still very low but are starting to rise.
  5. Current low inventories in most markets result in higher prices and less competition.
Want help evaluating if now is the time for you?  Let us help you with a market evaluation -- for both selling and buying -- to see where you fit in today's market.  TheSamTeam.com  832-200-5656

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Take Pictures Now

Preserve the memories you’re making by taking photographs of your home now. The pictures will remind you of the role your home played with your family and life.

Reminiscing is easier when scrolling through pictures to remind you of people and times. One of the least heard regrets is that westreet scene.jpg should have taken more pictures.

Shots to consider:

  • The front of the home from across the street    
  • Times when your yard and plants looked exceptional
  • Holiday decorations
  • Special occasions in the homes like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc.
    Home improvements
  • Major purchases for the home
  • Times when the home looked the best and the worst
  • Family, friends and pets in the home
  • Your children’s height marks on a door frame
  • The view from a favorite window

From an organizational standpoint, put the pictures in a folder with your address as the name. Even if you don’t take time to name each picture, you’ll have the file date to identify when it was taken. Since the cost of film and processing has disappeared, there is little reason not to chronicle your life in pictures.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

What separates "ordinary" Real Estate Agents from the "elite"?

Mystery solved.  I know the answer.  It is all too clear.  Unfortunately, however, I am not going to reveal a "magic pill" that makes some agents super-effective while others can't seem to get it going. (You can probably get these online in an infomercial, though it may get something else going instead!)

It isn't about "time management," after all, we ALL have the same 24 hours in a day.  How can you manage that?  You cannot.  You can, however, manage what you DO with your time.  And this seems to be a key component of super-agents.

The hard truth is that average agents are "spontaneous and reactive," meaning if someone calls them or if something falls in their lap, they jump away from their Facebook and emails (i.e., their "distractions") and react to the outside stimulus.  In fact, many are downright competent when this happens!  These competent, though low-producing agents, are the hardest to help understand what it would take to move them to high-productivity.

Are you ready for "the answer?"  It is about moving from being "spontaneous and reactive" to becoming "intentional and proactive."  My favorite way of explaining this is to simply say, "move from waiting for the phone to ring to making it ring."  This requires the agent to focus on the activities that make the phone ring.  All day.  Every day they work in the business.  Somehow, this is the secret to the pathway to super-success.

SPAR:  Study - Practice - Act - Repeat

There's the formula.  But as an analogy, take a look at "losing weight."  Eat <1500 calories daily of lean meat, green vegetables, and salads (sans dressing).  This is a good formula to lose weight.  But we all know it, and continue to reach for the ice cream.

The best way to lose weight that I've found is to get on a program like Weight Watchers.  So, the best way to move from being "spontaneous and reactive" to "intentional and proactive" is to get on a program that helps you focus on the desired results, one day at a time.

And I'm proud to announce that I have designed such a program -- the first of its kind -- to begin June 15, 2015 only at RE/MAX Top Realty.  This is a serious, step-by-step implementation of every vital activity identified in the sales agent model.  12 weeks of high-intensity, daily SPAR activities designed as a program to keep you motivated and on track.

I know that the most successful agents in the business -- I work with many of them -- have a written system with a daily plan that is executed religiously.  Do you?  At the end of our new PROJECT: NIKE, you will.

If you really, really, really want to succeed as a real estate agent, you must check it out.  Space is extremely limited, and at the time of this writing, 2 spots are open.  Interested?  Call Timothy Hampson at 713-558-2555 today.  It's all about YOU.

RE/MAX Top Realty is one of the largest RE/MAX offices in Texas and is home of TopRealtyUniversity.com, a complete agent development program based online, in-class, and developed by top producers for those who aspire to the top.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cash Talks in the House Buying Game

If a seller was looking at two offers for exactly the same price on their home, there would still be things that could make one standout more than the other. If there happens to be more than two offers, things can really get sticky for a buyer. For that reason, it is good to craft the most attractive offer possible because even if you don’t have competition now, another offer could come in during negotiations and derail all your efforts to that point. InTouchbyPatZaby-unique.jpg
Anything that can give the seller the peace of mind that one contract will close on time and as agreed will make them more comfortable in accepting one offer over another. Buyers can consider putting up larger than customary amounts of earnest money and limiting the contingencies to only the most essential items.
The closing costs could be more expensive to the seller based on the type of mortgage a buyer is obtaining. One buyer may be asking the seller to pay part or all of their acquisition costs and the other buyer is paying their own costs.
The borrower who has a signed, preapproval letter will appear to have a greater certainty to closing than a buyer who only says they have talked to a loan officer. Some lenders' letters are considered “gold” and others may not be worth the paper they’re written on. The seller will depend on their listing agent to advise them.
In most cases, the seller will be taking all or part of the cash they receive from the sale of their home and buying another one. If they have to put a contingency clause in the contract based on their current home selling, it weakens their position. Conversely, it will strengthen a buyer’s position if they don’t have to make their offer contingent upon selling their current home.
Even shortening the inspection periods and offering to close early or possible lease the home back to the seller for a short time can be valuable negotiating factors.
Finally, don’t overlook the value of a personal hand-written letter that tells the seller why you want their home. An emotional connection has been known to make a difference for one set of buyers getting the home.
The REAL difference, however, is the cash down payment.  Yesterday, we received 25 offers on one house listed for $215,000.  All offers were above the list price, so how (as the seller's agent) does the seller decide which one to accept?  It came down to which one had the most cash and was willing to pay above the appraisal amount, in case the appraisal came in lower than the sales price!  None of us expect the appraisal to come in as high as needed, so this became the deciding factor.
I received a call from one of the buyers who "was in love" with this house -- I'd met her and her agent at the open house we'd held, and I felt badly for her.  Although well-qualified, she had the minimum required down payment to invest which made her offer susceptible to a low appraisal.  And as I told her, there was nothing she, I, nor her agent could do.  She was trumped by cash, which, as we all know, talks.

Want to know how you fit in today's market?  Call or email today, 832-200-5656, SamF@Remax.net. Get savvy advice.  Get Sam.  Get Sold.  Get with it!