Neighborhood social network Nextdoor launches real estate listing service 

Lake Highlands Property has joined, and we would like you to join too! Next Door has had it’s next major boost in the market, and it is a great way to get to know your neighbors, get updates from local public services, increase safety in your neighborhood, and find excellent recommendations for local services.

Join Us on Next Door!

This article from HousingWire outlines some of the great new benefits coming to you from Next Door… Time to join the next wave!

An Exciting New, Alternate Interface for Real Estate!

 

Source: Neighborhood social network Nextdoor launches real estate listing service | 2017-07-13 | HousingWire

Burglars spill their secrets: Is your home really secure?

When considering how to keep your home safe from burglary, there are a myriad of costly options in home security systems. The rapidly changing world of technology makes it difficult to keep up, and even then sometimes that won’t keep them away.  Take it from the thieves themselves: some of the top deterrents for burglars are actually not “sold in stores”. Is your current approach warding off criminals, or are you advertising your home as a treasure chest?

See the full article: We asked 86 burglars how they broke into homes | WFAA.com

Burglars prefer breaking in early morning or afternoon. 

“Between 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm. Anyone that was home for lunch should be gone by then and most kids should all still be in school,” wrote a convicted burglar.

Deterrent or Advertisement?

NRA sticker on car bumper = Lots of guns to steal,” wrote one burglar.

Burglars had mixed opinions about home security signs. Some burglars said it didn’t faze them.

Others said they knew how to disable alarms or avoid setting them off.   

All of the inmates who responded said they would knock on the front door before breaking in.

Generally, burglars agreed security cameras were a deterrent.

 But some said it also likely signaled there were valuables inside the home.

If Fido Has A Big Bark, Thieves Won’t Risk The Bite

If a homeowner had a big, loud dog most burglars would stay away. 

Small dogs don’t seem to bother them.

“Dogs are a deal breaker for me,” said one inmate.

“Big breeds, home protectors are the best to keep people out.”

Dallas Plans New Farmers Market

View from Taylor and Pearl
View from Taylor and Pearl

Re-blogged from: http://city hall blog.Dallas news.com

By Robert Wilonsky
rwilonsky@dallasnews.com
8:40 am on December 2, 2013

Update at 10 a.m.: As expected, the Economic Development Committee voted to send the Dallas Farmer Market’s five TIF agreements to the full council for a December 11 vote. But that was after an hour-long discussion during which council member Jerry Allen wanted to make sure the new ownership group wasn’t just building a “an apartment development around an entertainment thing called a farmers market.”

Said Allen, he was especially concerned about the loss of Pecan Lodge, which is moving to Elm Street in Deep Ellum.

” That’s one of the top barbecue spots in Texas, but it’s an attitude,” he said. “Those guys attract so many folks to the market. That creates an attitude. When we lost that deal that perked my ears up.” He asked Brian Bergersen to explain his “true vision” for the market.

“We’ve always said the most important part of this redevelopment is Shed 1,” Bergersen told him. “That is the farmers market. The retail and restaurants compliment that. But the most important part of the farmers market is making sure we have fresh produce and it’s year-round.”

He said they have a coordinator working with farmers, and that they’re attempting to bring back folks who’ve left in the last couple of years. Council member Rick Callahan also wondered what constitutes a “local farmer.” Said Bergersen it’s someone within 400 miles, but they’re hoping to limit that to 150 miles — though they will bring in “fresh” produce that’s not necessarily grown in Texas during peak seasons. At which point he mentioned Hatch chilis, because Central Market.

He also reminded the council that on its eastern side, Shed 1 will have a band shell — and it’s being developed and assembled by none other than Angus Wynne.

The committee was concerned about spending so much public money on a single project in an area of downtown lacking density — but not concerned enough to delay sending the item to council.

Dallas, though, needs to “connect the dots” between Victory Park, the Perot and the market, said chairman Tennell Atkins, reiterating one of his favorite themes.

“Right now there is a disconnect between the farmers market and the Arts District,” he said. “That’s something we need to do — infrastructure. The market is sitting on an island by itself.”

– See more at: http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/2013/12/a-very-specific-look-at-the-upgraded-dallas-farmers-market-and-how-it-will-be-funded.html/#sthash.M04hjKlo.dpuf

10 Questions for Purchasing a Condominium

Condo living in Uptown Dallas
  1. How long will I be there?
    Purchasing a condominium is like any other real estate purchase. You’ll need to own the Condo for at least a couple of years in order to recoup the closing costs. For shorter term needs, leasing may be a better option.
  2. What amenities are offered at the complex?
    There are a broad array of potential amenities to a condo complex. Some are sparse with simple covered parking and a little landscaping. Others have grand work out facilities, picnic/barbeque areas, work out facilities, playgrounds, pools, common libraries, media centers, laundry facilities, etc. Determine what extras you are looking for before you begin your search.
  3. What are the current condo market conditions?
    The condo market may be quite different from the single family housing market at any time. And like all real estate, the location of the condo will also make a large difference in the value of the unit. Study recent sales in the neighborhood and building you are seeking. Be sure to account for the differences in amenities between the complexes/buildings when studying these figures.
  4. What is the reputation of the building you are considering?
    Different condominium buildings/complexes have different senses of community. There are many buildings that are principally owner occupied, while others have a stronger tenant base. Some communities have very stable populations while others see more turnover. For example, condo complexes closely located to a large university will likely have a younger population and frequent turnover as students move in and out each year. Determine the characteristics that are important to you and talk to some of the neighbors.
  5. Do the owners get along, or are they at each others throats?
    Condominium ownership is a cooperative community effort. The common areas and structures of the community are supported by payments from all of the owners. By requesting copies of the HOA minutes, you can get a feel for how unified the residents are. No one wants to move into an atmosphere of strife and turmoil. Look to see if there are any hot issues that are burning in the community.
  6. How well funded is the HOA?
    As an owner, you are ultimately responsible for the common maintenance of common amenities and structures. You will pay a monthly HOA fee representative of your “fair share” of these costs. In the event that major repairs or maintenance is required, a special assessment may be charged of all owners
    if the HOA account does not have sufficient balance to cover the expense. You will want to make sure that the HOA is financially sound so that you don’t get hit with an immediate assessment upon buying into the property.
  7. What is the history of Special Assessments?
    Request the Special Assessment history for the last ten years. Take a look at the patterns that have emerged. A well managed condominium should not see regular special assessments.
  8. Are you comfortable with the association rules and by-laws?
    Closely review the rules of the community and make sure that your lifestyle matches with the community that they have developed. Talk with the condo association and the residents to see how closely these rules are enforced. This will be the community that you are joining. You will want to be sure that you like the structure set in place, and that it actually occurs.
  9. What are the parking arrangements for guests?
    As an owner, you will have parking for your vehicles. You will be limited in how many vehicles you can park on the property. Generally, guests will be directed to specific parking places. In some complexes, that parking available for guests may not be either convenient or plentiful. Make sure you understand how parking works, and that it is sufficient for your lifestyle. This seems to be one of the leading sources of aggravation in a condominium community.
  10. Who actually manages the condo property, and what services do they provide?
    Some condominium complexes are self-managed by the owners while others employ a professional management company. For owner occupants, the idea of self-managing can be quite appealing. Who has a more vested interest in the property than the unit owners that live there. For landlords, it is frequently easier to deal with a professional management company than with local owners. Along with association management, be sure to also explore association insurance. Make sure that in the event of catastrophe your investment is protected.

Golf Course Real Estate Still Has a Pulse in the Heart of Texas

Aerial View - Ols AMerican Golf Course
Aerial View - Old American Golf Course

For many, it’s the American Dream: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of… Golf Course Living. In 2011, the first Baby Boomers turn 65 and the demand for golf course real estate in Sunbelt states will likely skyrocket as Boomers look for homes in a climate conducive to their hobby.

But those who have long dreamed of living adjacent to fairways and greens could be disappointed. Development of a golf course community is exceedingly rare in this slumping economy. After almost two decades during which new golf course communities spread like wildfire across the Sunbelt, both the real estate and golf industries have suffered major setbacks.

In 2010, builders started on 15,000 homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to Ted Wilson of Residential Strategies, Inc. That’s down nearly 70% from the 51,000 housing starts in 2006.

New golf course construction has also taken a major hit. The overbuilding of courses in the 90’s and early 00’s oversaturated the market. When the recession descended upon the industry, many courses were forced to close, some in the middle of construction.

With every rule, however, there is an exception. In 2010, only one course opened in The Metroplex. What vaults this course from exception to veritable anomaly is it is part of a residential community.

The Old American Golf Club, located in The Colony’s The Tribute Resort Community, opened its doors to public play in September 2010. In addition to fairways, greens, bunkers and water hazards, The Old American features brand new residential lots alongside select sections of the course and dozens more just off it. In the desert that is the current landscape of new golf course development, The Tribute is an oasis, affording golfers the opportunity to live alongside the game they love.

The Old American and The Tribute were brought to life by Matthews Southwest, a DFW-based developer that has transformed The Metroplex’s real estate market through urban redevelopment and suburban lifestyle development. In The Tribute, Matthews Southwest saw the opportunity to deliver a suburban community where people could enjoy their hobbies right outside their front door. The community’s location on the shores of Lewisville Lake, combined with The Old American and The Tribute Golf Club (opened in 2005), has provided residents with access to golf, boating and fishing.

Even in the down economy, builders and homeowners have pounced on the opportunity The Tribute presents. Matthews Southwest reported a more than 100 percent year-over-year increase in residential lot sales at The Tribute in 2010. The community’s 1,150 acres showcase many of North Texas’ most prominent and distinguished builders, offering home designs that emphasize the Old World-themed atmosphere of The Tribute and begin in the 240’s.

As Baby Boomers and golf enthusiasts search for a place to live in harmony with the game they love, they may be hard up as developers and builders continue to tighten purse strings. However, The Tribute serves as proof that golf course real estate still has a pulse in the Heart of Texas.

What Does an HOA Do?

The idea of an HOA is that all of the neighbors join together to maintain infratstructure that they all enjoy. HOAs take two forms, voluntary and mandatory.

In a voluntary HOA, membership is just that, voluntary. Each home decides whether or not to participate. The HOA usually does some community building activites, may form a crime watch, and sometimes does little beautification projects like planting flowers by the neighborhood sign.

A mandatory HOA exists when a neighborhood is built with additional community infrastructure such as a community pool, private parks, gated entrance, etc. Membership is mandated in the deed to each property. There are guidelines established for how the HOA is to run, how dues are determined, etc. These HOAs are frequently managed by professional companies and take care of the maintenance of all of the common grounds.

Fees for voluntary HOAs are usually very small – less than $100/yr. Fees for mandatory HOAs all depend on the amount of common infrastructure in the neighborhood and can range from $50 to hundreds of dollars per month.

Wild Lease Scam – Can the Market Get Any Crazier?

I love the real estate market – there’s always a great story to be told, and a new experience to be had. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any crazier, they did. Here’s the story…

I recently represented a young lady in the purchase of her first home. Being a first time home buyer, we were looking at small homes that were financially distressed – we were bargain hunting. We found the perfect home in east Dallas, a 1950’s era 3/2 that was in short sale for about 60% of the value it had appraised for just two years ago. As we toured the home, we could not access the garage – it was locked and the key did not fit. When I later inquired about accessing the garage, I heard the craziest story ever:

After the owner vacated the property, a person we’ll call Joe ConMan noticed that it was vacant. He proceeded to pose on the internet as the owner of the property. He entered into a lease agreement with a unsuspecting young couple, newly married with a small child. He collected the first month’s rent and the damage deposit. On move-in day, the Tenant could not get access to the house. Joe Conman has the Tenant call a locksmith, and then meets them at the property. He cons the locksmith into believing that he is the property owner, gets him to open the house, and then leaves – vanishing to never be seen again.

The Tenant begins moving into the house when a neighbor comes over to investigate. Having not seen either the owner or the owners agent, he calls the listing agent to confirm that the house had been leased. A very surprised listing agent then called the police. The Tenant was forced to vacate the property, and lost the damage deposit and rent they had paid to Joe ConMan.

I learned a couple of lessons from this story. First, get to know the neighbors around your listings, especially if they are vacant. The actions of a consciencious neighbor kept this situation from getting any worse. Second, keep a close eye on your vacant property listings – you never know when something crazy like this might happen to them.

Dallas County Taxable Home Values Decrease

Here’s a Spring present for all you homeowners. As usual, the Dallas Central Appraisal District (DCAD) is lagging the market. Just as real estate values and activity are increasing, The Dallas Central Appraisal District has announced that sixty percent (60%) of homeowners will see a decrease in their taxable property value this year – YEAH! That means that most of us will be receiving a decrease in our property tax bill for 2010. Enjoy the break – I believe it will reverse next year!!

The Dallas Central Appraisal District also stated that approximately twenty percent (20%) of home values will rise. I suspect a number of these are homes which had permitted improvements accomplished over the last year, or are recent sales of previously undervalued real estate. The final twenty percent (20%) of values will remain constant.

That’s a fairly substantial move for the Appraisal Distict to have made, adjusting the values of about eighty percent (80%) of the homes in Dallas County.

For a complete report on this issue, please see the Dallas Morning News article.

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