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Mary Beth Harrison's Blog

By Mary Beth Harrison | Agent in Dallas, TX
  • I Want to Buy a New House But Have to Sell Mine First

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Dallas, Home Selling in Dallas, Property Q&A in Dallas  |  May 11, 2011 10:40 AM  |  2,536 views  |  No comments

    Once you have made the decision to buy a home it is hard not to put the cart before the horse. Many buyers have a home to sell before they can buy. It is only human nature to want to start your home search but first things first…get your home on the market, hopefully priced well and see what your activity is before starting your search.

    You can certainly start looking at houses early and if you are in question about what part of the city you want to live in then absolutely use the time to establish your search parameters. The problem you run into when you start your home search too early is the possibility of being frustrated and disappointed when you find thenperfect house and cannot move forward to buy it.

    Mary Beth Harrison, www.dallastexasrealestateblog.com

  • Southern Stars

    Posted Under: General Area in Dallas, Market Conditions in Dallas, In My Neighborhood in Dallas  |  May 11, 2011 10:38 AM  |  2,279 views  |  No comments

    Recently released Census data show that the South's population grew by 14.3 percent while the West’s grew by 13.8 percent, surpassing the population of the Midwest.

    H ere are a few recently released Census data points of interest:

    Hou ston and Dallas-Fort Worth together accounted for more than half of the state's population growth. San Antonio, Texas, had its own impressive growth statistic. It kicked Detroit off the list of 10 most populous places and replaced it as No. 7.

    Information provided by the Census Bureau

  • Nature Trails in the Dallas Area

    Posted Under: General Area in Dallas, Parks & Recreation in Dallas, In My Neighborhood in Dallas  |  April 29, 2011 10:31 AM  |  3,253 views  |  No comments

    Looking for a way to enjoy the beautiful weather outside? DFW is full of gorgeous trails to take a pleasant stroll on or healthy run. Each one offers something different and special, but most of all, allows you to enjoy the wonderful outdoor Dallas-weather!

    Cedar Ridge Preserve (formerly the Dallas Nature Center)
    Length: 9 miles
    Details: 600 acres of trails, native trees, grasses and wildflowers, butterfly gardens, limited picnic areas and wild mammals, birds, insects and reptiles
    Upcoming event: May 7th Hike
    Location: 7171 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas

    Katy Trail
    Length: 3.5 miles
    Details: Popular urban trail through Highland Park and downtown surrounded by green trees and high rises; bicycle, skate, and hiking friendly
    Upcoming event: May 12th Katy 5k
    Click here, scroll down, and find the best area to enter the path

    Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
    Length: 20 miles
    Details: Unpaved trail through forest, prairie and wetland scenes plus spotted buffalo, deer, rabbits and dragonflies
    Upcoming event: April 10th Art in the Park
    Location: 9601 Fossil Ridge Road, Fort Worth

    The Heard Wildlife Sanctuary
    Length: 6.5 miles
    Details: Acres of unpaved natural trails with birds, insects, wildflowers, ducks, and sycamore trees
    Location: 1 Nature Place, McKinney

    Kidd Springs Park Trail
    Length: 75 miles
    Details: Japanese gardens, lake, free Wi-Fi, quiet and peaceful
    Location: 711 W Canty

    Gateway Park Trail
    Length: 1 to 3 miles
    Details: former Comanche tribal lands; historic trees and limestone amphitheater
    Location: 2500 Jim Miller Rd, Dallas

  • The Best Time of the Year to Live in Dallas TX

    Posted Under: General Area in Dallas, Market Conditions in Dallas, Home Buying in Dallas  |  April 27, 2011 1:15 PM  |  2,278 views  |  No comments
    This my favorite time of year to live in Texas…Spring. Everywhere you look trees are flowering, bushes are blooming and flowers are poking their heads out. As I drive down a street in Unviversiry Park I can see Dogwood trees, red buds, pear trees and the red tips of Japanese Maples. A drive along Lakeside in Highland Park reveals beautiful azaleas thick with blooms. A walk along the White Rock Lake Trail is also a beautiful sight. The Katy Trail that runs through the Knox St, Uptown, Turtle Creek to the American Airlines Center is full of people enjoying the perfect weather. In fact you can go to any restaurant and see the patio filled with diners.

    Festivals are prevalent this time of year from the balloon festival to the Wild Flower Festival there are a lot of reasons to bet out doors and enjoy.

    Mary Beth Harrison, www.dallastexasrealestateblog.com

  • Summer Camps in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area

    Posted Under: General Area in Dallas, Parks & Recreation in Dallas, In My Neighborhood in Dallas  |  April 20, 2011 9:24 AM  |  3,284 views  |  No comments

    Summer CampsSoon hot weather will be here, school will be out, and the kids will be itching for something fun to do! DFW is full of exciting camps for all sorts of interests that will make the kids excited to get outside, be active, and have some fun. Here is a list of some of our favorite camps!

    Nature Camps at Heard Museum
    Explore Heard Museum’s 289 acre sanctuary through daily nature walks, interactions with interesting animals, and learning more about mother-nature. Kids ages 5-9 can choose from Camp Vampire Bat and/or Camp Barn Owl. Camp Vampire Bat will learn more about bats, make special potions like their favorite wizards, play exciting eco-games, and more! Session dates will be June 13-17, June 27-July 1, or July 18-22. Camp Barn Owl will learn more about nocturnal animals, solve a Land Scene Investigation, discover how some animals have their own GPS-like systems, and more! Session dates will be June 20-24, July 11-15, or July 25-29. Camp Eco-Explorers is specially designed for the older campers, ages 10-12 years old. Learn how to explore with a map and compass, keep a nature journal, use microscopes to discover new aquatic critters and more. Session dates will be June 13-17, June 27-July 1 or July 18-22. All camps will be from 9:30am-2:30pm. Cost is $210 for members and $235 for nonmembers.

    Location: 1 Nature Place, McKinney

    Audubon Naturalist Art Camp at Heard Museum
    For those campers that love art and animals, this specialty camp will be an exciting week of adventure and fun! Children, ages 6-12 years old, will get the opportunity to follow great artists like Audubon and Monet. Draw from natural sceneries around Heard Museum. Art supplies will be included. Session dates will be August 1-5 or 8-12 from 9am-12pm. Cost is $160 for members and $185 for nonmembers.
    Location: 1 Nature Place, McKinney

    Animal Adventure Camp at Heard Museum
    Enjoy two different camps, designed for campers ages 10-14 years old. Camp 1 will get a special learning opportunity through hands-on adventures with the education and exhibit animals. Session dates will be July 18-22 or July 25-29. Not enough for your special camper? Camp 2 will continue the adventure, diving into even more depth on proper animal care and enriching the lives of animal ambassadors. Must have attended Camp 1 to register. Camps will be from 9:30am-2:30pm. Costs are $260 for members and $285 for nonmembers.
    Location: 1 Nature Place, McKinney

    Summer Sports Camps at Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church
    Cottonwood Creek is a Baptist Church offering a variety of fun sports camps for children who have completed K-9th grade. Choose from a variety of favorite sports such as volleyball, soccer, basketball, dodge ball, flag football, martial arts, and cheerleading. Register before May 15 and cost is $70. After May 15 cost is $80. To find more details on the camp session that’s perfect for your athlete, check out the church’s summer camp webpage.
    1015 State Highway 121, Allen

    Kimbell Summer Camp
    Artists, ages 6-12, will experience arts, culture, and the language of Paris. Discussions will include featured artists and related studio-art activities. Snacks will be provided. Cost is $125 for members and $150 for nonmembers. Camp session is July 11-15 from 2:00pm-4:30pm. For more information or to register call 817-332-8451, ext. 299.
    3333 Camp Bowie Boulevard, Fort Worth

    Camp GiddyUp
    The equestrian place for fun and learning! This summer camp will provide 4 two hour classes, track and horse rental, arena riding, and trail riding. Learn more about proper horse care and horseback riding. Cost is $150. For more information call 972-727-8280.
    Location: 950 N Winningkoff Road, Lucas

    Creative Soul School of Modern Music
    Join a band and get the best music experience possible! Rock Camp is great for beginners to advanced musicians! Just choose an instrument, get placed in a band, learn new songs, and perform for family and friends. Musician ages 7-17 will also get a chance to write original songs. Instructors say “Rock Camp is equivalent to 3 months of Private Lessons packed in one exciting week!" Instruments include guitar/bass, keys/piano, drums, voice, and horns. Camp sessions will be June 13-17 or July 11-15, Monday-Thursday 9-3pm and Friday 9-5pm. Performances will be at 5pm on Friday. Cost is $399/week. Extended pick up option available until 5:30pm for an addition $100/week.
    Creative Soul also offers
    Mini Camps for $199/week. For more information call 817-485-7464.
    Location: 5633 Watauga Rd, Watauga

    Young Chef’s Academy
    Camp Can-I-Cook is a great way to have your little chef experience new tastes and learn to prepare recipes from various cuisines “with a twist.” Each camp has its own theme and consists of a 3 hour session for 3-5 consecutive days. Themes include “Summer Treats to Beat the Heat,” “The Great Kitchen Mystery,” “Party at Pennsylvania Avenue,” and “Gadget Madness for the Independent Chef.” Call one of the many Young Chef’s Academies to find dates of a camp near you!
    Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Fort Worth

    Museum of Nature and Science
    The Museum is a great place for little of explorers to learn and play. Help your child develop their imagination, participate in fun interactive activities, and learn about a variety of topics like pre-historic dinosaurs and the latest technology. Visit the site to find more details on the appropriate camp for your child. Discover Camp is for K-6, Discover Camp Jr. ages 3-4, and Little Explorers 6 months-4 years + adult companion.
    3535 Grand Avenue and 1318 S. 2nd Avenue in Fair Park


    Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Fantasy Camp
    Send your little cheerleader to learn from the most talented and renowned cheerleading squad ever! The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders will be hosting an energetic week where they will be teaching warm-ups, specially choreographed dances, team spirit, motivation, and self-confidence. In addition, girls will enjoy a welcoming night dinner, daily lunch, dolphin interaction at Dolphin Cay, admission into Club Rush, Pottery studio experience, and more. This camp is open to all girls ages 7-17. Camp cost is $495. For more information email fantasycamp@atlantis.com or call 800-ATLANTIS.

    Summer Night Sleepover at Sea World
    Sea World is one of those places that every kid dreams of visiting one day! The only thing better is actually getting to sleepover at Sea World! Children Pre-K to 8th grade will have the opportunity to spend a fun filled night with amazing entertainment and outstanding animals. Choose from multiple dates with different themes based on your favorite underwater creatures. Cost is $80. Sea World also offers a variety of other camps.
    10500 SeaWorld Drive, San Antonio

  • Investors Beware

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Dallas, Home Buying in Dallas, Remodel & Renovate in Dallas  |  April 20, 2011 9:08 AM  |  2,289 views  |  No comments

    Many real estate investors have tried to "beat the system" while getting a loan to purchase an investment property. Interest rates for a non-owner occupied home are higher than an end-user or a person who intends to live in the home.

    Up until now there has been no checks and balances to verify that the person obtaining the loan actually lives in the home. That is changing. Fannie Mae is requiring verification of occupancy after closing. This may include a third party to investigate occupancy information, reviewing the insurance policy or utility bills.

    As a home buyer, you must disclose your true intent with regards to your home purchase. After all that this country has been through, in regards to the mortgage crisis, It seems like a small price to pay to ask loan holders to be honest about their intent.

    Mary Beth Harrison, www.dallastexasrealestateblog.com

  • The Top 10 Credit Don’ts During the Loan Process

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Dallas, Financing in Dallas, Credit Score in Dallas  |  April 11, 2011 12:23 PM  |  831 views  |  No comments
    This would include adding new accounts, co-signing on a loan, changing your name or address, with the bureaus. The less activity on your reports during the loan process, the better.

    Including those “You have been pre-approved” credit card invitations that you receive in the mail or online. Every time that you have your credit pulled by a potential creditor or lender, you lose points from your credit scores immediately. Depending on the elements in your current credit report, you could lose anywhere from one to 20 points for one hard inquiry.

    Unless you can negotiate a delete letter, paying collections will decrease the credit score immediately due to the date of last activity becoming recent. If you want to pay off old accounts, do it through escrow-at closing.

    This is the fastest way to bring your scores down 50-100 points immediately. Try to keep your credit card balances below 30% of their available limit at ALL times during the loan process. If you decide to pay down balances, do it across the board. Meaning, pay balances to bring your balance to limit ratio to the same level on each cards (i.e. all to 30% of the limit, or all to 40% etc.)

    It seems like it would be the smart thing to do, however, when you consolidate all of your debt onto one card, it appears that you are maxed out on that card, and the system will penalize you as mentioned above in 4. If you want to save money on credit card interest rates, wait until after closing.

    If you close a credit card account, you will lose available credit, and it will appear to the FICO that your debt ratio has gone up. Also, closing a card will affect other factors in the score such as length of credit history. If you HAVE to close a credit card account, do it after closing.

    7. DON’T PAY LATE.
    Stay current on existing accounts. Under the new FICO scoring, one 30-day late can cost you anywhere from 50-100 points, and points lost for late pays take several months if not years to recover.

    Most cards offer a grace period, however, what they don’t tell you is that once the due date passes, that account will show a past due amount on your credit report. Past due balances can also drop scores by 50+ points.

    When you send a letter of dispute to the credit reporting agencies, a note is put onto your credit report, and when the underwriter notices items in dispute, in many instances, they will not process the loan until the note is removed and anew credit scores are pulled. Why? Because in some instances, credit scoring software will not consider items in dispute in the credit score- giving false data to the lender.


    If you have a question about whether or not you should take a specific action that you believe may affect your credit reports or scores during the loan process, your mortgage or real estate professional may be able to supply you with the resources you need to avoid making mistakes that could drop your credit scores or possibly, cause you to lose the loan.

    Mary Beth Harrison,

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