Home Staging 101

Home staging is essential when selling your home and helps to show off the true potential of your home. The overall thought of staging is to clear out clutter or other personal items that will distract buyers. You can also paint the walls a neutral tone, and furnish the space to show off how functional it is when staging. When buyers come through and imagine themselves there, you can bet an offer isn’t far behind. Lets talk about staging more in detail with a few great tips:

1. Boost curb appeal and welcome visitors with an inviting porch!  This is something you always hear, and with very good reason as the outside of your home is the very first thing a buyer sees. Many people thinking of touring your home will do a quick drive-by first, often deciding on the spot if it is even worth a look inside. This is why it is a good idea to make sure your home is ready to lure in onlookers by planting blooming flowers and fresh greenery. Keeping the lawn mowed and making sure your house number is easy to read are also great ways to attract home buyers. For an added bonus- wash those windows! As for the porch, even if you only have a tiny stoop, make sure to say “welcome home” with a clean doormat, potted plants in bloom and if you have room, even a piece or two of neat porch furniture. It is always good to keep your porch lights on in the evenings, in case potential buyers drive by and illuminating the front of the house makes it more inviting. 

2. Clean is key!  From shiny floors to clean counters, every surface should sparkle. This is the easiest way to help your home put its best foot forward, and the cheapest! Some may opt to hire pros to do the deep cleaning, especially if you have a large house. Definitely don’t skimp on cleaning- this step is key! And while cleaning….lets talk about clutter! If you are serious about staging your home, all clutter must go- bottom line. It’s not easy, and it may even require utilizing offsite storage or even garage space temporarily, but it is well worth the trouble. Clean and clear surfaces, floors, cupboards and closets equal more space in the eyes of potential buyers, so purge anything unnecessary or unsightly. It is easy to take this step personal and think that you are removing your “style” but when preparing to sell your home, you must remember that it may not be the style of those seeking to buy your home!! No worries, you can bring your personal style back into play in your new home. 

3. Pops of Color! When cleaning and clearing out clutter, it is easy to leave rooms more bare than they once were. Don’t forget that those buyers will see the pictures online first and a space that pops will help entice people to want explore the whole house. By placing something that draws the eye at the top of the stairs, in hallways or in corners, you can pique curiosity and keep potential buyers interested throughout a whole home tour. A piece of artwork, a painted accent wall, a window seat, a vase of flowers, a hanging light or even a small, colorful rug can all work to draw. As seen in the picture above of some before/after staging pictures of a home, placing a simple plant or wall hanging can change the entire look of the space and make it seem more interesting. Pops of color help stage a once boring home and bring it to life! Keeping decor simple yet somewhat neutral or to match the space directly are definitely things to consider. It has been proven that even staging an empty home on the market helps it sell faster! Buyers sometimes need help imagining the space and since you have cleaned and cleared clutter while placing furniture to show functionality, they can see the space in its entirety and enjoy the decor that much more. 

These are just a few staging tips that can help as you prepare your home to sell. There are many more tips and advice we have to share with you as home staging is evolving and becoming more and more important in the real estate world. We, The Marr Team, stay up to date with all home staging trends as we do provide free home staging to all of our clients when we sell your home. Call us today at 214-620-0411 to get started, we would love to help!

FHA MIP Reduced

On January 9, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced that they will be reducing the annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) for most mortgages (closing on or after 1/27/17) by 0.25%!   This is GREAT news for eligible homebuyers!  These new rates are projected to save new FHA-insured homeowners an average of $500 in 2017.

HUD Secretary, Julian Castro, said consumers are facing higher credit costs as mortgage interest rates increase.

“After four straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, it’s time for FHA to pass along some modest savings to working families,” said Castro.

“This is a fiscally responsible measure to price our mortgage insurance in a way that protects our insurance fund while preserving the dream of homeownership for credit-qualified borrowers.”

“We’ve carefully weighed the risks associated with lower premiums with our historic mission to provide safe and sustainable mortgage financing to responsible homebuyers. Homeownership is the way most middle class Americans build wealth and achieve financial security for themselves and their families,” Ed Golding, principal deputy assistant secretary for HUD’s Office of Housing, said in the report.

Call The Marr Team at 214-620-0411 to help you find the home of your dreams, then call The Gail Hillman Mortgage Team to help you finance it!

For more information or questions, contact Gail Hillman NMLS# 312734 with Waterstone Mortgage at 972-200-3253 or ghillman@waterstonemortgage.com

www.GailHillman.com

 

Vote For The Marr Team

The Marr Team is honored to help so many amazing families with their real estate needs and for that we are extremely grateful.

This time we need YOUR help! Not many know but each year, we have several opportunities to be voted “Best Realtor” and we would appreciate your vote!! Please take a minute of your time to visit each of the links below and vote for “The Marr Team at RE/MAX Prestige” in the Realtor category (#85 for Living Magazine)….. then tell your friends to vote, too! 

 

We THANK YOU in advance for your help!

If you are looking to buy, sell or just wondering what the current value of your home is please give us a call at 214-620-0411 or contact us HERE.

Floor Plan Friday- Columbia by Gehan Homes

Talk a look at the Columbia floor plan by Gehan Homes! This 3,094 square foot floor plan offers 4 bedrooms, 2-1/2 bath in 2 stories. This beautiful floor plan is a classic and spacious home. This inviting design has open living area with spacious kitchen. Over-sized master suite is secluded from secondary bedrooms upstairs. Also upstairs you will find the game room that is laid out perfectly with the bedrooms. With a large covered patio, this home is also great for entertaining! Gehan Homes offers many upgrade options including butler pantry, 5th bedroom, and even a media room! The options are endless, this floor plan is a must-see!! 

Gehand Homes is currently building this floor plan in Trinity Falls in McKinney. Located in McKinney ISD this beautiful master-planned community has parks, playgrounds, community center, pool, and trails. So much to offer you and your family, call us today for your VIP tour at 214-620-0411.

Are You Covered?

Whether you are looking into buying a home or are currently a homeowner, it is always great to make sure you have the best coverage when it comes to homeowners insurance should you need it. We reached out to one of our preferred Allstate insurance agents, Kari Heatherly, to help provide the best tips when making sure you are covered and here is what she had to say: 

If you are like most people, your home is your greatest asset. Because of that, it’s super important to make sure you are insured correctly! To protect your investment from MAYHEM, make sure you update your insurance regularly to include any improvements, major purchases and increased rebuilding costs.

To make sure you are appropriately covered, it’s important to ask your insurance agent the following questions:

  1. Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?

Make sure your policy covers the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs, not just enough to satisfy the loan on your mortgage. Don’t confuse the real estate value of your home with what it would cost to rebuild it. Essentially, you should have enough insurance to rebuild your home should it be completely destroyed. Think about this: 

  • Replacement Cost – Make sure your policy covers replacement cost for damage to the home. A replacement cost policy pays for the repair or replacement of damaged property with materials of similar kind and quality.
  • Extended Replacement Cost – This can typically be added to your policy for a very minimal cost and provides an additional insurance coverage of 20 percent or more over the limits of your policy. This can be important if there is a widespread disaster that forces the cost of building materials and labor to increase.
  • Ordinance or Law coverage – If your home damage is extensive, you may be required to rebuild it while meeting new and often more stringent building codes. Ordinance or law coverage pays a specific amount toward these costs. This is super important to consider when purchasing an older home.
  • Water Back-Up – This coverage insures your property for damage from sewer or drain back-up. Most insurers offer it as an add-on to your standard policy because damage caused by sewer or drain back up is not typically covered under your typical home policy.
  • Flood Insurance 
    Most home insurance policies provide coverage for disasters such as fire, lightning and wind or hail. They do not include coverage for rising water (floods). Flood insurance is available through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, but can be purchased from the same agent that provides your home insurance. Even if you are not in a “flood zone” this is a great coverage to have! As you know – in Texas we experience all four seasons and sometimes that’s in ONE DAY! Make sure to purchase flood insurance for the structure of your house as well as for your contents. If you aren’t in a flood zone, the prices tend to be pretty reasonable (under $500/year)! Keep in mind that there is a 30-day waiting period before the insurance is valid. 
  1. Do I have enough insurance to replace all of my stuff?

Most homeowners’ insurance policies provide coverage for your personal property for approximately 60% of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. So if you have $100,000 worth of coverage on your home, you would be covered for $60,000 worth of the contents in your home, depending on the policy. This can be increased for very little additional expense.

The best way to determine if this is enough coverage is to do a quick inventory of your home, detailing everything you own and the estimated cost to replace these items if they are stolen or destroyed by a disaster. To help with this task, download “Allstate’s Digital Locker” app from your mobile Play Store. It’s free! Even if you aren’t an Allstate customer! This app not only helps you value your property, it will also keep a digital record for you so that if the worst happens, you aren’t having to remember everything you owned.

There are 2 ways to insure your personal property. Talk to your agent to determine which coverage is best for you personally.

  • Actual Cash Value – This coverage pays the cost of replacing your property minus depreciation.
  • Replacement Cost – This coverage reimburses you for the full current cost of replacing your property.

Here’s the difference: Heaven forbid, a fire destroys your home. You have a 10 year old TV in your living room. If you are covered at replacement cost, the insurance company will pay to replace the TV with a comparable new one. If you are covered for actual cash value, it will pay only a small percentage of the cost of a new TV because the old TV has been used for 10 years and is now worth a lot less than its original cost.

  1. Do I have enough coverage for additional living expenses?

Coverage for additional living expenses pays the extra costs of temporarily living away from your home if you have to move out because of a covered loss. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals, transportation and other living expenses incurred while your home is not useable or while it’s being rebuilt. It’s important to remember that this coverage is only for those expenses that are above and beyond your regular living expenses. It’s not designed to pay your mortgage or regular trips to the grocery store.

Coverage for additional living expenses differs from company to company. Most policies provide coverage for about 20 percent of the insurance on your house and up to a certain amount of time. Make sure you know exactly how much coverage you have and whether there is a time limit. If the standard coverage is not enough, it can typically be increased for a few dollars more per year.

  1. Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?

It’s important to have adequate liability protection. This protects you against lawsuits for injuries or damage that you or your family members may cause to other people or their property. It also pays for damages caused by pets. Liability insurance pays for both the cost of defending you in court and for any damages the court rules you must pay—up to the limits of your policy. Most homeowners’ insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 in liability coverage, but higher amounts are available.

It is important to purchase enough liability insurance to protect your assets. If the liability coverage offered by your insurance company is not sufficient for your needs, you may consider an excess liability (or umbrella) policy. These provide additional coverage on top of what is covered on your home (and auto) policies.

My final piece of advice is to make sure you are working with an insurance agent you can count on to explain your coverage before you buy and to walk alongside you should the day come when you actually need the coverage you purchased. As an Allstate Trusted Advisor, I’m always happy and willing to review your policy with you regardless of who you select to insure your home. Feel free to contact me or my staff to schedule a review by phone or in person. We look forward to the opportunity to meet you!

 

Call The Marr Team today to help sell or buy a home at 214-620-0411. We make sure that you are “COVERED” when it comes to Real Estate during the home selling or buying process!

Special thanks to our guest writer Kari Heatherly.

For more information or if you have any questions on coverage, contact The Heatherly Agency directly at 972-562-9263.

 

Walk-Through Wednesday – Auburn Hills Neighborhood- Meritage Homes

Situated just north of Hwy 380 in McKinney, residents will appreciate the acclaimed Prosper ISD schools.  This ideally-located community will feature a variety of amenities including hike and bike trails, a community lake, lushly-landscaped green spaces and an amenity center with pool. Don’t miss your opportunity to live in Auburn Hills in the beautiful city of McKinney, named Money Magazine’s #1 Best Place to Live. Enjoy this Walk through Wednesday video! Let us know if you have any questions or if you want to see this home, or any other, in person call us at 214-620-0411!

Rent vs Buy

Choosing between buying a home and renting one is a big decision! Many will find that the costs of buying are more varied and complicated than they are for renting, which makes it hard to tell which is a better deal. To help you decide, lets compare a few of the homes currently listed on the market for sale and for rent. Similar in size, these homes are great to compare the benefits of buying a home versus renting a home in the same area. 

Comparable # 1: 

 

 

RENT:  7417 Collin Mckinney Parkway, McKinney is currently for lease for $2,500/month in McKinney. This home is 4 bedrooms, 3 bath at 2,652 square feet in size. 

 

BUY: 5109 Datewood Lane, McKinney is currently listed for $345,000 which is approximately $2,382/month** in McKinney. This home is 4 bedrooms, 2 bath at 2,674 square feet in size. 

 

 

Comparing the two homes above which are both located in McKinney and both offering the same space with similar square footage, you can see where in this case you would be paying less a month to buy versus renting.

Comparable # 2: 

RENT:  610 Hampshire Drive, Prosper is currently for lease for $3,100/mo in Prosper. This home is 4 bedrooms, 2 bath at 2,829 square feet in size. 

 

BUY: 1520 Brush Creek Road, Prosper is currently listed for $364,000 which is approximately $2,513/month** in Prosper. This home is 5 bedrooms, 3 bath at 3,051 square feet in size. 

 

Comparing the two homes above which are located in Prosper and both offering similar square footage, you can see where in this case you would be paying less a month to buy vs renting. 

In both cases, you save money both at the start and long term when choosing to buy versus renting. In either situation you will have initial costs, recurring costs, opportunity costs, and net proceeds. Some costs more or less depending on buying versus renting which home. The New York Times Rent vs. Buy calculator is a great way that we’ve seen for simplifying these complexities, depending on your own individual specifics. We know a calculator can only do so much as it might tell you the better long-term decision on paper-that still doesn’t mean it’s the best decision for you. Give us a call at 214-620-0411 to help run the numbers for your specific situation so YOU can make the best decision. 

 

**Please note: Numbers used for monthly mortgage payments are ESTIMATES. These estimates were configured with a 10% down Conventional loan with a 720 credit score including PITI. 

Floor Plan Friday- Kilgore by Plantation Homes

The Kilgore floor plan with Plantation homes is a one-story floor plan dream for any home buyer! With 2,138 square feet offering 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, Plantation also offers adding a 4th bedroom and study option as well as 3rd car garage. Beautiful features right as you walk into large foyer with open family area and spacious kitchen. The gem of his home is a hidden playroom tucked at the corner of this house near garage. Large secondary bedrooms down their own hall separate from the master suite, this floor plan is a must-see! 

Plantation Homes is currently offering this floor plan in Trinity Falls, a master-planned community located in McKinney, also in McKinney ISD. This beautiful community boasts miles of trails, neighborhood parks, and over 450-acres of open space. Great family amenities including a clubhouse, community pool, and splash pad- this large community is one you don’t want to miss! Call us at 214-620-0411 to see this neighborhood, builder, and floor plan today! 

Preparing to Buy a Home in 2017

Are you looking to buy a home in 2017?

Here are some great tips from one of our preferred mortgage lenders, Andy Butler with First Bank that will make the process less stressful and help get the best rate:

 

  1. Speak to a lender early!  Don’t wait until you are ready to start looking at homes before contacting a lender.  If you plan on purchasing in the June or July, contact a mortgage lender and get pre-qualified in January or February. There are numerous benefits to starting the process early.  First, this allows the lender to pull a copy of your credit report and gives you time to address any  discrepancies that may appear on the credit report.  It also allows the lender to help you come up with a game plan to pay down some debt if that will be needed in order to qualify for the price range you want.  And it also gives you a little more time to prepare your savings account for the necessary down payment on the mortgage.  by start the process early, you can eliminate much of the stress the mortgage process can generate.  Most mortgage rates are impacted by credit score so by starting the process early, you have more time to get your scores up as high as possible by the time you are ready to lock in a rate.                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  2. Get a referral. Since the real estate crash of 2008, the mortgage world has transformed into a complex set of rules and guidelines that has very little flexibility.  And when you add in the fact that the rules are constantly being updated and changed, finding a qualified, dedicated mortgage professional becomes even more important.  Talk to family, co-workers, and friends and ask them who they used when they closed on their last mortgage and then ask if they would use that mortgage lender again.  Finding a local lender that knows your market is a big plus.  Each state has its own unique rules and requirements so it’s best to find a lender in your state and even better, in your city or town.  Then ask for an appointment and go meet your prospective lender.  You are about to entrust this person with a lot of personal and financial information and a face to face meeting will help instill a level of trust or may lead you to interview another lender.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
  3. Two sides to every coin. While everyone loves a low rate and while it may give you bragging rights at the office, it is very important to understand the COST of a certain interest rate.  Lenders love to clog the internet with advertisements that show a super low interest rate but rate is just part of the equation.  You won’t know if you are getting a good deal until you know more about the mortgage that is attached to that rate.  Is it a fixed rate or an adjustable rate?  What is the term of the loan- 10, 15, 20 or 30 yrs?  And most importantly, what is the COST of that rate?  Lenders can charge additional “points” to buy down an interest rate.  When someone says “1 point” in the mortgage business, they mean 1% of the loan amount.  So if you are paying 2 points on a $250k mortgage, that’s an extra $5k in closing costs that you are paying in order to lock in a certain interest rate.  And that cost is money that you have to pay out of pocket, at closing.  If you are considering buying an interest rate down, as the lender to run a “break even” calculation which will tell you how long you have to keep that mortgage before the cost of the lower rate pays for itself.  You may be surprised at the answer as typically it can run from 7-10 yrs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
  4. Understand the process. Once you have found your lender, have a conversation with them and ask them to explain the mortgage process to you.  Knowledge is power and the better you understand the process, the less stress you will have and the better the experience will be for you.  There is a method to how the loan is processed and what tasks must be completed in what order.  By understanding this process, you can be better prepared to assist the lender if they need additional documentation as the loan is processed and underwritten.  Which leads to our next tip…..                                                              
  5. Be a team player.  Understand that you and the lender are on the same team and you need to take an active role in assisting them get what is needed to close the mortgage.  As mentioned above, mortgages have very detailed underwriting requirements and you should expect that the underwriter may need additional documentation to support income or more likely, assets.  Since the introduction of the Patriot Act, lenders are now required to source non payroll deposits that meet certain criteria.  If your mortgage professional asks for documentation to show where a deposit came from, don’t think there is anything wrong with you or the mortgage- it’s a common requirement.                                                                                                                                                  
  6. Tread water. When it comes to anything involving your credit report, once you write a contract on a home, don’t open new credit or put any additional charges on your existing credit.  And as silly as it may sound, don’t make any large payments on your existing credit without checking with your loan officer first.  All mortgage companies are required to pull an updated copy of your credit report a couple of days before closing and adding any additional debt to your credit profile before you close on your new home can wreck the mortgage.  And as attractive as the 0% interest offer from the furniture or appliance store is, don’t even apply for their credit offer until after you close on the home.  The mortgage graveyard is littered with loans that never closed because of Nebraska Furniture Marts once in a life time sale that happened the weekend before someone was supposed to close on their new home.

Following these tips will help you land a mortgage in 2017. Give the Marr Team a call at 214-620-0411 to help you find that home to buy!

 

Special thanks to our guest writer, Andy Butler , NMLS# 803225. 

For more information or if you have any questions on lending;

contact Andy with First Bank at 469-277-3538 or at abutler@firstbankweb.com

New Year’s Resolutions for the Home

With the start of a new year comes those New Year’s Resolutions. Whether you have decided to focus on losing weight, saving money or even traveling more; now is also a good time for some New Year’s Resolutions for your home. Below are some great tips:

Tip # 1: Clear your home of clutter!

Throughout the year, especially towards the end of any year, many of us acquire more stuff than what we started the year off with. If you do not take the time to purge throughout the year, you find it is hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most thus starting the year more cluttered. This year resolve purge periodically; go room by room and clear each room of anything that you don’t use, wear or love. This can easily be something you do on a certain date of each month or even one day every week. You can easily donate any of these items to charity and it helps to give back while de-cluttering. While doing this, it will also help you think twice about what you bring in. A regular purging helps remind you why you bring in all that you do and how much stuff accrues so easily over time. You will find that you will fill your home more with the things that raise your energy level and make you feel good while getting rid of things that drain your energy or are broken. 

Tip # 2: Organization! 

Another key to less clutter is organization. Stashing useful, but not as pretty to the eye, things like DVDs, remotes, and even shoes in simple woven baskets makes a huge difference. Keeping things together that belong together is also great so that when you are looking for a particular item, you find it easier to locate. Batteries, pens, and even all of those business cards that you save for future just in case! A sleek tray on a coffee table for remotes will give your home a decorative touch while organizing something you use often. Clear your kitchen counter tops of everything you don’t use on a daily basis. The old saying “everything has it’s own place” still rings true this New Year! 

 

 

Tip # 3: Weekly Cleaning System!

Every year we vow to not let the house go when it comes to cleaning but we all know how busy we get and what is always the first thing to put on the back burner….cleaning the house! A few tips for keeping the mess under control include having a daily cleaning list and a weekly cleaning list. Start the year off right by putting dishes in the dishwasher every night- no excuses! Putting everything back in place, put those dirty clothes in the hamper and hang up those jackets or clean clothes. Leaving the small odds and ends back in the place each night will help you conquer the next day successfully. To help with your weekly cleaning of the entire house, focus on one type of cleaning at a time. It is faster to wipe down cabinets, all cabinets, before you move on to windows, mirrors, and appliances. Streamline those tedious chores and you will find you feel accomplished enough to tackle the next task. Even better, enlist the help of your family. Divide and conquer! Splitting up dusting/vacuuming, bathroom, and kitchen amongst three separate family members can help same time and be an efficient way to get your weekly list done in s timely manner where you won’t feel as bogged down by chores to enjoy more free time!

 

Tip # 4: Entertainment Ready!

Finally, after de-cluttering, organizing, and cleaning your home through the year, you will find that entertainment comes easier! Each year, many vow to spend more time with family and friends. Look around your home and pinpoint the areas you normally entertain in and see if any updates are needed. Not major updates, but simply adding plants or changing up an accent color can really freshen up any entertaining space and help you keep that resolution of spending more time with friends and family! After all, sticking with all tips above you will find you want to entertain more! 

 

The above tips are great ways to start off a New Year right but can be just the beginning! With every resolution for yourself, vow to make some changes in your home, too. These home improvement resolutions will help make your home a more beautiful, efficient,  and clean place in the coming year. These tips also help you breathe a little easier in your own home….Happy New Year!

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