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By Andrea Brooks | Agent in Frisco, TX
  • Do you REALLY want a discount??

    Posted Under: Home Buying in North Dallas, Home Selling in North Dallas, Property Q&A in North Dallas  |  June 17, 2013 11:14 AM  |  1,153 views  |  1 comment
    By Andrea Brooks
    Keller Williams Plano

    Imagine showing up to work this morning only to be told that you'll have to give your boss a 30% discount from your paycheck this month. The boss goes on to tell you that he already knows someone who'll do the job for less, so take it or leave it.  

    Now if you are desperate, you'll agree to the arrangement.  But you're not likely to give 100% to that employer anymore because, aside from being demoralized, you're going to start looking for other jobs just as fast as you can to make up for the reduction in your income.

    There's not a day that goes by when someone doesn't say to a Realtor, "I want a discount." What these self-proclaimed savvy consumers fail to recognize is that an agent who agrees to give away part of his/her income to buyers and sellers is generally pretty desperate.  They need business and hope that reduced commissions will attract such a huge volume of business that the money won't be missed. But the increasing pressure to keep business coming through the door forces compromises in the quality of service. That agent is now so busy trying to secure more business to cover your discount that your transaction is no longer a priority.  Deadlines are missed, details are overlooked, and money is lost (yours, by the way).

    A discount means a reduction in value and should be taken with a reduced expectation of return from that asset or service.  When I go to McDonalds I anticipate an inexpensive meal.  I don't expect to be served the best burger I've ever eaten. I don't expect a waiter to bring me anything. I can't even count on a table being available.  Nope, I wait in line 5 or 6 people deep, tell the cashier what I want, stand around for a few minutes while it's dumped in a paper bag and slid across the counter. It works for McDonalds, but do you really want your $250,000 purchase or sale handled the same way? Less service and volume production is fine when it comes to fast food, but they're hardly the ingredients for a successful real estate transaction.

    Andrea Brooks
  • Pigs Get Fat...Hogs Get Slaughtered

    Posted Under: Home Selling in North Dallas  |  May 5, 2013 8:10 PM  |  1,212 views  |  2 comments

    Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered...this is probably my all time favorite turn of phrase when it comes to selling real estate. 

    Now that our market has shifted into high gear, many home sellers are finding themselves on top when it comes to negotiating sales price. If a property is affordable, in a desireable area, and has been recently updated, that seller can count on receiving several above-price offers - literally within hours of going on the market.

    Now feeling like the most popular kid in school is a heady experience...particularly after the 6-year slump of stagnant home sales from which we've just emerged. But acting on that feeling can cause sellers to lose their edge when negotiating offers.

    For example, a recent listing of mine received 5 full price offers and one above-price offer the very first day on the market. Not surprisingly, the seller selected the above price offer. The contract was signed and the home inspection took place several days later. After the inspection, the buyer presented the seller with a handful of minor repairs. Against my advice the seller - feeling that he had the upper hand - turned the requests down flat. The buyers - feeling that they were already paying more than enough - got angry and walked away from the deal.

    Of course we immediately turned to the other buyers who'd made offers - all but one had already moved on to other properties and that one remaining offer, while still full price, had other terms the seller didn't like. The property sold about a week later, but for less than full price. And the seller also wound up paying for most of the repairs that the original buyer asked for.

    The original buyers were willing to pay more than the seller was asking because they understood that market conditions dictated that offering strategy. Fair enough. But the seller's response to the repair requests just came across as greedy. Not fair at all. Had he agreed to at least a couple of small repairs, the buyers would have likely moved forward with the deal.

    It stands to reason that people's willingness to accept a proposal is strongly influenced by whether or not they felt fairly treated during the negotiation process. If they perceive their treatment as fair, they are much more likely to accept something less and move forward in a cooperative spirit.


    Posted Under: Home Selling in Plano, Curb Appeal in Plano, How To... in Plano  |  April 3, 2011 7:57 AM  |  1,981 views  |  No comments

    47 Easy Ways to Make Your Home Sell Faster


    Suggestions and ideas to improve your home’s

    appearance and help you prepare to sell it faster!


    Throughout the House


    1.    Open the draperies, pull up the shades, and let in the sunlight.

    2.    Create a positive mood.  Turn on all lights, day or night, and install higher wattage light bulbs to show your home brightly.

    3.    Remove clutter from each room to visually enlarge them.

    4.    If you have a fireplace, highlight it in your decorating.

    5.    Keep your home dusted and vacuumed at all times.

    6.    Replace the carpet if it does not clean up well.

    7.    Have a family “game plan” to get the house in order quickly if necessary.

    8.    Air out your home for a half hour or so before showings, if possible.

    9.    Lightly spray the house with air freshener so that it has a chance to diffuse before the buyer arrives.

    10.   Put family photos in storage

    11.   Improve traffic flow through every room by removing unnecessary furniture.

    12.   Create the feeling of a spacious entry area by using decorative accents and removing unnecessary furniture

    13.   Putty over and paint any nail holes or other wall damage.

    14.   Paint all interior walls a neutral color to brighten the home and make it look bigger.

    15.   Repair or replace any loose or damaged wallpaper.

    16.   Clean all light fixtures to brighten the home.

    17.   Wash all windows inside and out.

    18.   Use plants sparingly – remove dead, scrawny or dying one too!

    19.   Clear and tidy up the attic where applicable

    20.    Remove and/or hide excess extension cords and exposed electric cords.

    21.   Open doors to areas you want potential buyers to see such as walk-in closets, pantries, attics, etc.

    22.   Remove smoke and pet odors – carpets and drapes are often the culprit

    23.   Repair/replace loose banisters and handrails


    In the Kitchen


    24.   Microwave a small dish of vanilla extract 20 minutes before a showing and put it in an unnoticeable place.

    25.   Highlight an eat-in kitchen with a table set for dinner.

    26.   The kitchen and bathrooms should always be spotlessly clean

    27.   Expand your counter space by removing small appliances


    In the Bedrooms


    28.   Create a master suite effect in your decorating

    29.   Depersonalize bedrooms and decorate in a neutral scheme.

    30.   Make sure the beds are made and the linens are clean.

    31.   Organize your closets, remove unnecessary items, store out of season clothes


    In the Bathrooms


    32.   Do not leave wet towels around and be sure to wipe down the shower and sinks after use.

    33.   Re-caulk the shower/tub if what's there looks old, dingy, moldy, etc.

    34.   Repair or replace broken tiles in the shower/tub/floor.

    35.   Replace shower curtains and keep them clean.

    36.   Put out fresh towels and washcloths.




    37.   Keep the yard mowed and raked at all times.

    38.   Use flowering plants to dress up the yard, walkway and patio.

    39.   Remove all toys, bicycles, tools, unsightly patio furniture and trash from the yard.

    40.   Porches, steps, verandas, balconies, patios, and other extensions of the house should be kept uncluttered, swept, and in good condition.

    41.   Give front and back entry doors a fresh coat of paint.

    42.   Make sure the garage door opens easily.  Fix and paint it if needed.

    43.   Clean and shine all hardware and accessories indoors and out (door knobs, knockers, lamps, mail box, address numbers, etc.).

    44.   Prune trees and shrubs.

    45.   Buy a new doormat.

    46.   Be sure the front doorbell works.

    47.   Be sure exterior doors and screen doors work properly.


    Posted Under: Home Selling in Plano  |  January 30, 2010 3:18 PM  |  1,722 views  |  No comments
    There are many ways to lose a home but signing away ownership in a manner that destroys credit, embarrasses the family and strips an owner of dignity is one of the hardest. For owners who can no longer afford to keep mortgage payments current, there are alternatives to bankruptcy or foreclosure proceedings. One of those options is called a "short sale."  When lenders agree to do a short sale in real estate, it means the lender is accepting less than the total amount due. Not all lenders will accept short sales or discounted payoffs, especially if it would make more financial sense to foreclose; moreover, not all sellers nor all properties qualify for short sales.  If you are considering buying a short sale, there could be drawbacks. For your protection, I suggest that all borrowers obtain legal advice from a competent real estate lawyer and call an accountant to discuss short sale tax ramifications.

    I am not licensed as a lawyer nor a CPA and cannot advise on those consequences. Except for certain conditions pursuant to the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, be aware the I.R.S. could consider debt forgiveness as income, and there is no guarantee that a lender who accepts a short sale will not legally pursue a borrower for the difference between the amount owed and the amount paid. In some states, this amount is known as a deficiency. A lawyer can determine whether your loan qualifies for a deficiency judgment or claim.

    Although all lenders have varying requirements and may demand that a borrower submit a wide array of documentation, the following steps will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.

    Call the Lender
    You may need to make a half dozen phone calls before you find the person responsible for handling short sales. You do not want to talk to the "real estate short sale" or "work out" department, you want the supervisor's name, the name of the individual capable of making a decision.

    Submit Letter of Authorization

    Lenders typically do not want to disclose any of your personal information without written authorization to do so. If you are working with a real estate agent, closing agent, title company or lawyer, you will receive better cooperation if you write a letter to the lender giving the lender permission to talk with those specific interested parties about your loan. The letter should include the following:

    o   Property Address

    o   Loan Reference Number

    o   Your Name

    o   The Date

    o   Your Agent's Name & Contact Information

    Preliminary Net Sheet

    This is an estimated closing statement that shows the sales price you expect to receive and all the costs of sale, unpaid loan balances, outstanding payments due and late fees, including real estate commissions, if any. Your closing agent or lawyer should be able to prepare this for you, if you do not know how to calculate any of these fees. If the bottom line shows cash to the seller, you will probably not need a short sale.

    Hardship Letter

    The sadder, the better. This statement of facts describes how you got into this financial bind and makes a plea to the lender to accept less than full payment. Lenders are not inhumane and can understand if you lost your job, were hospitalized or a truck ran over your entire family, but lenders are not particularly empathetic to situations involving dishonesty or criminal behavior.

    Proof of Income and Assets

    It is best to be truthful and honest about your financial situation and disclose assets. Lenders will want to know if you have savings accounts, money market accounts, stocks or bonds, negotiable instruments, cash or other real estate or anything of tangible value. Lenders are not in the charity business and often require assurance that the debtor cannot pay back any of the debt that it is forgiving.

    Copies of Bank Statements
    If your bank statements reflect unaccountable deposits, large cash withdrawals or an unusual number of checks, it's probably a good idea to explain each of those line items to the lender. In addition, the lender might want you to account for each and every deposit so it can determine whether deposits will continue.

    Comparative Market Analysis
    Sometimes markets decline and property values fall. If this is part of the reason that you cannot sell your home for enough to pay off the lender, this fact should be substantiated for the lender through a comparative market analysis (CMA). Your real estate agent can prepare a CMA for you, which will show prices of similar homes:

    · Active on the market

    · Pending sales

    · Solds from the past six months.

    Purchase Agreement &
    Listing Agreement

    When you reach an agreement to sell with a prospective purchaser, the lender will want a copy of the offer, along with a copy of your listing agreement. Be prepared for the lender to renegotiate commissions and to refuse to pay for certain items such as home protection plans or termite inspections.

    Be prepared for a lengthy process.  Short sale contract approval can take weeks, if not months for the lender to approve.  Now, if everything goes well, the lender will approve your short sale. As part of the negotiation, you might ask that the lender not report adverse credit to the credit reporting agencies, but realize that the lender is under no obligation to accommodate this request. Credit report status is not always negotiable.

  • Important changes for FHA loans...Now Harder To Get A Mortgage Backed By Uncle Sam

    Posted Under: Financing in Plano  |  January 21, 2010 3:29 PM  |  1,751 views  |  No comments


    The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which insured nearly a third of new mortgages in 2009, announced stricter standards for home loans this week.  It will increase the premium it charges for its mortgage insurance, require those with weaker credit scores to come up with larger down payments, and reduce the amount of money a seller can provide a homebuyer for closing costs.  

    Specifically, the agency will increase its up-front mortgage insurance premium to 2.25%, from 1.75%. It will also ask Congress for the right to hike its ongoing premium, currently as much as .55% monthly. Once it gets permission, the agency will shift some of the up-front premium to the ongoing charge, which will have less of an impact on borrowers.


    The FHA will also require borrowers to have at least a credit score of 580 to qualify for the agency's 3.5% down payment program.  Those with lower scores will have to pay at least 10%.  The new policy also will reduce the amount of money sellers can provide to homebuyers at closing to 3%, down from 6%, of the home's price.


    One thing the agency did not do is to broadly increase the down payment requirement, in spite of the fact that most industry observers say high down payments are the key to reducing FHA loans' high default rates.  It is widely understood that borrowers "need more skin in the game" to discourage people from walking away from their homes.  However, the FHA says it did not increase minimum down payments more broadly because its borrowers with credit scores above 580 were generally timely with their payments.

    The Brooks Team has a network of industry-leading lenders to assist buyers.  Contact us at 469-450-1326 for more information.

  • IMPORTANT LOAN INFORMATION For First Time Home Buyers!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Dallas  |  January 19, 2010 8:13 PM  |  1,740 views  |  No comments

    I regularly work with first-time home buyers and always start out by advising them of this important lending criteria:

    You need the following qualify for a loan:

    • 2 years employment
    • 620 credit score or better
    • 3.5% minimum down payment
    • 2 years of bank statements or tax returns

  • I recommend checking with several lenders to explore rates and fees.  In some cases the lender fees are negotiable.  A good lender can also advise you about how to improve your credit rating which will in turn impact your interest rate.  Higher Score = Lower Interest Rate
  • I also feel it's important to have a lender who will be available to meet you personally, give you face time throughout the process, and communicate with your Realtor.  We work with a network of industry-leading mortgage lenders and brokers that consistently provide the highest level of service in the business.  Call us today for a one-stop shop home buying experience.

  • Why Do I Need A Realtor? Won't I Save Money By Going It Alone?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Plano  |  January 8, 2010 8:41 AM  |  1,737 views  |  3 comments

    Why do I need a Realtor?

    Your home is likely the most expensive investment you'll ever make.  Would you rely on a friend's opinion to invest over $100k in the stock market instead of the advice of a broker?  Would you enter into a complex legal agreement without professional advice? NO! But many homebuyers are willing to do just that. Your Realtor is your advocate in the home buying process.  The listing agent represents the seller alone and will not negotiate on your behalf - their objective is to get the best possible terms for the seller, not you. 

    Our services go well beyond searching for homes and then showing them to clients. A good Realtor is a skilled negotiator, seasoned financial advisor and, most importantly, knows the market.  A Realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors and must abide by the NAR’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.  

    Your Realtor has many resources for searching for homes.

    We have easy access to information about available homes which is not limited to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). We can provide you with information on new construction and For Sale By Owner properties. We often know of homes not yet on the market through agent to agent networking.

    Your Realtor will make sure you do not overpay for a home.

    We provide you with information about recent sales of comparable homes in the neighborhood so you will know what type of offer to make on the home you select.  We then negotiate the best price and terms for you.

    Your Realtor will guide you through the home inspection process and make sure you close on time, as planned.

    We want you to be fully informed about the condition of the home.  Inspections often reveal critical repairs that can cost you literally thousands of dollars.  Should you walk away or try to work it out?  We're experienced with these issues and can resolve repair issues to your advantage.

    Have all repairs been completed and re-inspected?  Has the title company delivered the title commitment?  What about HOA docs?  Are there any encumbrances to the property? Has the title company ordered the survey? What about the home warranty plan? Has your loan processor completed the underwriting process? Have they delivered loan documents to the title company?  Do you understand the HUD-1?  Your Realtor will monitor these points, keep you informed, ensure that the other parties maintain the contract timeline, and knows what to do if something goes wrong.

    And best of all...

    This service is completely free to the buyer because the seller pays both agent commissions. 

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