Richardson, TX Real Estate News

By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
This is great news!I'm not sure this happens in other states, but Texas has a TAX FREE weekend in August every year.  Each year, they modify what is on the list.  The original list was for clothes and school supplies to help parents save some money for the upcoming school year.  There was also a restriction that each item was only tax free up to the first $100.  That meant, no tax free on designer $150 jeans!Well, it was just reported yesterday that they're thinking about making more changes.  The most recent change that might effect this coming August '07, is appliances!!  How appliances really relate to going back to school, I don't know, but I guess some people could use the help to buy a big ticket item, save the tax, and then wash all the brand new clothes they just bought.  This w...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
Recently, I was in Chicago for a video shoot for a company.  At the end of the interview, they allowed me to make a personal commercial.  I had to quickly think of something to say that didn't sound stupid or scripted.  It took me a couple of minutes, but then I remembered my Mission Statement that I have on my website and my Blog profile, and then it was easy.  I've been using the same statement for almost 7 years now, so I had it down pretty well.Watch my Personal Commerical here!!
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
The petition to add a Beer and Wine vote to the November election was sucessful!  Richardson has been "dry" for way too long.  Dallas to the south is mostly full wet which means the majority of Dallas can sell Beer, Wine and Liquor.  Plano to the north is "moist" which means it can only sell Beer and Wine.For years, Richardson residents have always had to plan a drive in order to get Beer, Wine, and/or Liquor.  Hopefully, those times are coming to an end.The vote has the basic stuff like they can't sell within a certain distance of a school or residential neighborhood.  They're even putting on the ballot that Richardson could have drive-thru Beer places.Richardson is basically completely built out so there are no more high priced homes being built that would increase tax revenue.  Plus,...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
It seems as though I'm not "allowed" to have a smooth transaction.  I posted a few days ago about a situation where the buyer wants to meet the seller for a final walk through before closing.  Boy did this almost blow up this week.So, the lender had 4 appraisers take a look at the house, and we let the listing agent and her sellers pick the final appaiser.  Even the highest appraisal was $10k below our sales price.  After 3 days of bickering on both sides, the sales price was lowered to the appraised amount and closing costs were reduced.We put the appraisal into underwriting, and low and behold, the appraiser is on the Lender's "Watch List" from 2004.  What  could he have done in our market in 2004 to be on a watch list?  Our market hasn't had ridiculous appreciation like other markets...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
I represented these Sellers.  We get to closing 6 days late because the buyer's loan all of a sudden was not in a clear to close mode like we were all told.  That was actually ok, because my sellers were buying a new home and we hadn't received the CO yet, which actually came through around 5 pm on Wednesday.  We kept pushing and pushing for the buyers mortgage people to do their job, but were also pushing for the city to do their job simultaneously...So, finally on Thursday morning, it's 8:15 and the title company opens early for us so we can complete this domino of closings.  My sellers are first at 8:15 and the buyers are at 8:30.  As we're finishing up, I'm pulled outside and told the buyer didn't want to sign because he had a 5 year ARM and not a 30 year fix...  wait for the loan o...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
After you close on a house, you need to change your locks.  You don't actually have to change the actual lock as rekeying a lock is much cheaper, but you never know who has copies of the keys.  If the previous owners didn't change their locks, you could have people from years earlier that still have keys.  That's so dangerous!There have been many times when I've gone to pick up keys for the buyers and the sellers are like, there are only 3 keys there, but I know I had 4 so I'll get that to you when I find it.  I'm like, don't worry, the buyers will be changing the locks.  They always look at me with a blank stare, almost like, why in the world would they change the locks?Hello people!!  Crime rates are up, not down!!  You don't want that college kid coming home on a break and just check...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
This is hilarious... did you know that some developers omit the 13th floor of a high rise building??  I had never heard of this before.  There's a new condo conversation going on in Dallas and instead of having a 13th floor for residences, they are putting the pool and workout equipment there to top off the building.Many builders are afraid that people on the 13th floor would never have the resale value of people on other floors and it would hinder sales completely. What's weird is I know many people where 13 is their lucky number.  My brother's birthday is on the 13th and he turned 13 on Friday the 13th, back many years ago...My husband's mom's birthday is on the 13th and she also likes that number.  Maybe the 13th floor should always be held for people born on that day.Other cultures ...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
It seems as though mixed-use communities are sprouting up all over the place.  The developers have this plan to make suburban areas more like urban areas so people who move to the suburbs reluctantly can still have the city feel.  It's happening all over Dallas and now they're sprouting one in Ft. Worth called Montera.They're going to start with apartments and build houses and retail from there.  I always get frustrated when I hear they're going to build apartments as part of communities like these.  The communities should be mixed like this for the convenience of home owners who are going to appreciate the surroundings and take care of the area, not apartment people, who usually don't care too much about a community as a whole. I hope the prices are going to be high enough to where the...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
My seller's are constantly wondering why the showings have slowed down or why there aren't any showings period.  In July, there was a 10% drop in home sales which followed a 5% drop in June.  We currently have 47,391 listings on the market which is about 8% higher than last year!!  WOW!  My view of that is that our market is basically still holding steady.  At the beginning of the year, there were about 46,000 which is not that large of a change.  I recently heard that the Phoenix market went from about 3400 listings in Jan '05 to about 46,000 in June of '06.  Now THAT is a big change in market conditions.  I don't know what I would do if our market flipped like that.All I can say is that my business is still fairly stable, and the only difference is that the listings are taking a littl...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
I had my first attempt at really helping a seller stage their home this week. Below are some of the before and after pictures. I was unable to utilize the garage for storage, so there is still more furniture in the rooms that I would like, but at least the spaces are shown much better now. What do you think?
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
Within an executed contract, the seller has agreed to sell their home, with no way out of the contract.  That's called Specific Performance, as they must perform their end.  However, the buyer has a way out almost every time as you can just claim something about financing.  Or if they default, the earnest money would revert to the seller.  Buyer can always back out, seller cannot.I'm in a situation right now where we're having appraisal issues, and the seller is wanting to terminate the contract so an appraisal is not stuck on their house, so they can still turn around and sell to another buyer willing to over pay for the house.  We have had 4 appraisers look at the house, and the final appraisal we're accepting is from an appraiser that the listing agent picked!!  It's not even a buyer...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
The big joke is to schedule plans to be out of town at least once a quarter because you'll notice your business will pick up right before you leave.  As I was driving out of town on Friday, I had about 15 minutes before I would lose cell reception, and the listing agent calls me to say all terms have been agreed to except the microwave.  Microwave?  Who cares about the microwave, and my buyer felt the exact same, so the buyer and the listing agent met on Saturday morning to execute the contract.Another deal I have been working on for over a month finally finalized about an hour before I left town.  The house didn't appraise, so we had to renegotiate terms that both buyer and seller could live with.I have another client who was supposed to close on his current house and new house on Frid...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
I just read about a contest going on in the North Texas area about trying to get people to car pool.  They estimated about 3 million people driving to and from work everyday and 9 out of 10 are driving alone.  The contest is at http://www.tryparkingit.com/.  "Only" 235,512 miles have been saved thus far.My problem with this is though people care about the environment and people talk about trying to carpool, people don't and won't do this.  People in North Texas have pride in their cars and they want others seeing them driving their cars.  People can't see the prestige if it's sitting in a parking lot for DART (the transit system here).I work from home, so I don't have this problem.  But more and more, when I'm showing properties, people assume they'll just follow me in their car.  I'm l...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
It amazes me how many sellers think they can just get a contract on their house, show up to closing, and get the amount of the sales price at closing.  Many sellers don't understand that they have their own closing costs, just like a buyer.Sellers don't just pay a commission to sell their house.  Sellers also have to credit the buyer the taxes on the property from Jan 1 through the day of closing.  When towards the beginning of the year, this number is small.  Towards the end of the year, this number gets bigger and bigger. Also, you will be buying a tax certificate that ensures all taxes are current and up to date. I've never seen a contract written where the seller doesn't buy the Title Policy for the buyer to ensure a clear title transfer over to the buyer.  This is just tradition in...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
I got my ASP today!  I am now a certified ASP REALTOR®.  The ASP is an Accredited Staging Professional.Staging is NOT decorating!  Staging is de-personalizing.  Staging is getting a house ready to sell faster and for higher dollar.  A staged home makes all the difference in the world.For our final exam, we hit a house in Plano and we tore it apart and then put it back together.  It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun!  We had strict rules about not putting any furniture in the garage, so we were basically forced to use everything in the house, which is what you don't want to do, but it all turned out ok.The seller's listing agent came over at the end and he didn't even recognize anything in the house as it was all moved around and the colors we focused.Anyway, if you're in the Dallas ar...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
National Night Out was fun in my neighborhood.  There was a live band, a jump house, and some other air blown slide thing for the kids.  I definitely think we had enough people to keep you Crime Watch signs up for another year.  You have to have something like 40% of the neighborhood show up and sign in for that recognition.The police stopped by and talked with the kids.  Even the firemen stopped by with their firetruck so the kids could climb up and into the truck.We collected  alot of canned goods as well.The hit of the party was my "Donna Water".  Every time I looked around, someone was holding one of my water bottles with my picture and logo and contact information.  I even saw some of them reading them!  I'm working at getting the main Realtors out of my neighborhood, since they do...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
Plano based EDS announced that they will be cutting anywhere from 3000-4000 jobs, globally, in the second half of the year.  IKES!!  Collin County is already seeing high foreclosure rates and this does not look good.  I imagine many of those people will have problems finding comparable jobs and then I get the calls from friends asking me to help their friends/ co-workers through a short sale...I say, reduce the salary of many of the executives at most corportate companies, and layoffs would not be necesary in that type of abundance.  Execs typically make such gross numbers, it's disgusting.  Share the wealth! 
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
This is ridiculous!!  Last year, there were 264 schools that were ranked as unacceptable and this year, that number jumped up to 321!  How does this happen?  What's funny (not really) is all the schools that cheated on their TAKS Tests (standardized tests) didn't help much as most of those are still unacceptable.Granted, we had a huge jump in enrollment due to Hurricane Katrina and those students were probably on different levels which made it hard for many of them to catch up.On the good side is that the number of exemplary schools were on the rise too... but just like the local news broadcast, it's easier to look at the negative than the positive.  The increase of exemplary schools went from 304 up to 555 which was a 7% increase.  WAY TO GO!!
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
The Dallas County officaials are thinking about declaring a heat emergency. There are now 8 heat related deaths across the county as even the night time temperatures are staying above 80 degrees.The news keeps reflecting back to the summer of 1980 as the hottest summer with 69 days over 100 degrees, but I keep reflecting back to the summer of 1998 when there were over 50 days over 100 degrees, and I had juts graduated college and I was having to go on interviews in a full suit and pantyhose and boy was it hot.  I didn't live here in 1980, so I have no idea how that really compared, but '98 was HOT HOT HOT!Back in 1980, the hottest days records were on July 26 and 27 at 113 degrees... and with the heat index, that was probably well over 120!Stay COOL and drink lots of water, not just flu...
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By Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator
(Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com)
Like it's not enough that Texas is getting a bad rap about all the cheating on the standardized tests, but now the FBI has come to town to investigate DISD and their credit card use.  About a month ago, DISD found out that some of their employees were using the district credit cards for personal use.  We're not just talking about a lunch here or a dinner there.  We're talking about big purchases!  $6Million in big purchases that were in violation of the use!!  That's $6M in just one year!!Look at the tax dollars at work.  All I can say in response to this is I'm so glad I'm no longer in Dallas County.  My tax money, for the most part, goes elsewhere.Here is the full story  
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