Honoring Our Military

Military - Peace Flag

Thank You

Thank you for your service to our country.

Thank you to your family who has sacrificed their lives as well as you served.

Thank you for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for people they don’t even know.

Thank you for putting yourself in harm’s way for us.

Thank you for moving every few years, up-ending your family to get to a new duty station either in the United States or anywhere else around the world where you are needed.

Thank you for taking those temporary duty stations without your family because the area was too dangerous to have them near.

Thank you for the deployments you went on where you were gone from your family for anywhere from three months to a year.

Thank you for the thankless efforts you provide for some who don’t respect any of that but you do it anyway.

Thank you.

Military - Blue Angels

Let Us Honor You

As a Realtor® with Ebby Halliday, REALTORS® there is an opportunity to offer a thank you to you for your service through a program called “Military on the Move.”

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This program offers rebates to those who have served our country, when they purchase a home in Texas. For information on the extent of those rebates, email me and I can send you a brochure about the program and the range of rebates available.

My partners at Texas Premiere Title have also generously offered to waive their title fees for active duty military and veterans. That’s a considerable savings when purchasing a home.

Military - Ship Mast

There’s More

I have a standard giving offer from every transaction I am involved with regarding the sale or purchase of a property, that I will give $200 to Agape Resource & Assistance Center, Inc. Agape is an organization that offers housing for women and their children who are escaping domestic violence situations and find themselves homeless. There holistic approach allows these women and their children to rebuild their lives.

Let’s make a deal today!

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Renting When You Want To Buy?

Problem!

Rental House

You Don’t Have the Down Payment?

So you want to buy a home?

You’re spending as much on rent as you would be by owning your own home. Maybe you only need a few months and you’ll have enough for a down payment through FHA.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

What Is Your Home Worth Button

Problem!

Credit problems?

Home Partners of America can work with you if your credit score is above about 550. Even if you have had issues in the past, Home Partners of America may be able to work through those issues and get you approved anyway. It’s not a guaranty but may be worth a shot to find out.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

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Problem!

I just went through a divorce and need to sell my existing home

Divorce can be tough. No one really wins. It’s hard enough getting a divorce but then having to sell the home you lived in adds even more stress.

Home Partners can work with couples who are in this situation. Get with me to find out how we can sell your existing home and get one or both of you into your own house. Selling your existing home requires both parties in most cases but not the buying part. Home Partners of America will work with you while you are selling the existing home so you aren’t worried about where you are going to live.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

Keep In Mind

You only get one shot at this program. Once you get into a home, if you decide to leave after the lease period, you won’t be able to use the program again on another home. Therefore, it’s really important to take the time to look for the home you want in the process. The beauty of it is that if you decide it really isn’t the home for you, you can get out of it.

One final thing

If the market tanks like it did in 2008 and the house is now worthless, simply finish your year lease and move on to another property. Hopefully, we won’t have to worry about issues like that.

Frustrations When Selling Your Home – Part 3

Who’s ready for more?

Don’t start reading here. If you missed the previous posts, they are titled Frustrations When Selling Your Home – Part 1 and Frustrations When Selling Your Home – Part 2. Read them and then come back for even more frustration.

But I like it!

When I was living in my first house, I was raising kids and wanted them to “own” their rooms. One of my daughters decided she wanted to paint her room “Tiggeriffic Orange.” It has got to be the brightest orange available. When the light was on in her room at night, from the outside, it looked like the room was engulfed in flames. Other kids’ rooms in the house were painted with blue. However, they also wanted feathered paint of a different color throughout. Finally, the playroom had murals that covered the entire room complete with flowers, clouds on the ceiling and a bright yellow sun in one of the corners.

Home Paint Colors

It would take someone really special to buy the house that way. Before selling it, I painted the whole house in earthy, soothing tones. It’s what most people expect. Besides, it gives the house a neutral look so that people coming in can start to envision their idea of what the house would look like with their added touches.

Why does my REALTOR® want me to change the price?

It’s really frustrating when you have an idea of what your house is worth and someone else comes along and tells you the price is not realistic if you want to sell your house. REALTORS® have experience figuring out the best price for your property so that it doesn’t sit on the market for months and months. Sites like Trulia and Zillow don’t help a whole lot because their pricing can be radically different than what the market says it is worth.

Home Paint Colors

There are a lot of factors that go into the price of your home and one of the biggest one’s is what other houses, comparable to yours, have sold for in the last three months.

Sure, you can find a REALTOR® who might promise that they can sell your house for more than someone else. I would challenge you to look at other houses they have sold and see how long they were on the market. Also ask them about the houses that didn’t sell and why.

Some final thoughts

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Sometimes, there are things associated with your home that you cannot do anything about. This can be really frustrating like when they installed high power lines right behind your house two years after you bought it. Maybe it is because that empty field behind your house is suddenly a shopping mall or a natural gas fracking system. Although there is nothing you can do about that, if you take some steps to make reasonable upgrades and show the house in its best light, the right buyer will come.

Conclusion

Thanks for joining me on this frustrating journey. In my opinion, if you stick with these ideas and the time your house is on the market could be shortened. If you have any questions, contact me or visit my business page.

Frustrations When Selling Your Home – Part 2

This post is part two in a three-part series.

In Why Won’t They Buy Your House? Part 1, we began a discussion about the ways you can sabotage the sale of your home.

There are a lot of reasons for it and knowing how to address some of them can help sell your house quicker than you think.

I’ll get to it one of these days

I know I am guilty of this myself. Those little things that could easily be fixed, yet they sit there broken for months or even years. The cracked outlet cover; The light switch that doesn’t work all the time; The window that fogs over with condensation; The gutter downspout that has separated from the side of the house; The chipped paint on the corners of the hallway.

 

Home Issues
Minor repairs that are delayed can affect the sale of your home

 

So many repairs that need to be done.

Who would you rather make those repairs?

These kinds of repairs are pretty easy to accomplish. The problem is that if you don’t do these repairs before you accept an offer on your house, you could end up spending a whole lot more to get them fixed. Why? Because after a contract is accepted, you will need to hire a licensed professional to do the work. That’s right, once a contract is in effect, any repairs must be hired out. Anyone care to guess what the hourly rate for an electrician is? How about painters or someone to work on gutters?

There are probably better ways to spend your money than to have to hire professionals to do this type of work.

Are you stopping people from seeing your home?

People need to look at your house if they are going to buy it. That requires that you have the house ready for people to come through and take a look.

A REALTOR® will make sure that people find out your house is for sale. There’s really no hard, fast rule to this but if it’s advertised and the price is set right, people will come. Don’t forget to clear out the clutter, mow the grass, and make those small repairs so your house shines.

The problem comes when the homeowner doesn’t want to vacate the property so the house can be shown. I know – sounds crazy right? Why wouldn’t someone leave their house so it can be shown?

Actually, there are a lot of reasons for this to happen. Maybe you have a three-month-old and it’s nap time. As exhausted as new parents are, the last thing they want to do is prevent their new baby from getting a nap. Maybe 30 minutes notice just isn’t enough time to get ready to get out of there. Maybe you’re in the shower and can’t respond to the request.

The point is that there are times when you can’t but if you plan things out the best you can, at least you can be ready to move quickly. Not in every case but maybe in most cases. After all, the primary objective is to sell the house. Don’t prevent people from seeing it and forcing your house to be on the market longer than it should be.

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But there’s more…

What Do You Do When Your REALTOR® Tells You That You Did Too Much?

You put a lot of time and money into making some improvements to your home. The kitchen is ultra-modern with the best appliances, the best cabinets, the backsplash is really expensive and the flooring is to die for. You have a custom bathroom too with marble. Your REALTOR® then has the nerve to tell you that you’ll only get about 50 cents on the dollar for all those upgrades.

Why?!?

There’s this thing called over-improvement. Houses sell for their market value. This means that the price is based on what all the other houses in the area are selling for. If no one else in the area put high-end appliances and such in their kitchen, meaning that maybe they upgraded but installed “middle of the road” equipment, then why would someone pay extra because you went all out? What if the house down the road with the same floor plan and regular upgrades was selling for $20,000 less than yours? If someone can get the same house for a lot less, why wouldn’t they buy that one instead? Unless of course, they HAD to have the upgrades you put in. In that case, the right person needs to come along. The other side of that is that a lot of people won’t pay extra.

Selling a home can be frustrating. If you have any questions, contact me or visit my business page.

Stay with me while we are talking about the frustrating aspects of selling your home. There is one more post on this topic coming up and I don’t want you to miss it. Then we can talk about other stuff. See you in the next post.

Frustrations When Selling Your Home – Part 1

Selling your home introduces you to a new level of stress to anyone’s life. In this three-part series, I will be talking about some of the more frustrating aspects. These frustrations can be managed by embracing some simple ideas. Part 2 and Part 3 will be posted soon and links will be made available.

How Aggravating! It’s a Seller’s Market!

It can be pretty frustrating trying to sell your house and no one seems to want to make an offer. This can be especially troubling when it is a seller’s market like it is right now. Wouldn’t it be nice to know some of those reasons so that you can address them before ever putting your house on the market? Even if you already have your house on the market, you can take certain steps to fix some things so that there will be minimal delays.

There are several reasons why houses don’t sell quickly. Although this list is not complete by any means, it covers some areas where you can increase the likelihood that someone will come with a reasonable offer for your home.

How can you use your cell phone to help sell your house?

Home Cell Phone

There’s an old photographer’s trick. Well, really – it can’t be that old since cell phones haven’t been around that long but go with it for a minute. A cell phone has limited viewing.

As an example, if you were to take a photograph of your kitchen using your cell phone, what would you notice in the picture? Maybe you would see all those items on your counter that you see all the time and look past. Do you notice the features of the cabinetry, appliances, and space or do you see all the ornaments you have placed around? No one buying your home cares about your canisters, the magnets and pictures on the refrigerator, or your dinner from last night in the sink.

Using your cell phone doesn’t replace having someone come out and take professional photography but can give you an idea of what others will see when looking at the photos online.

That brings me to the next item on the list.

Who’s making sure all the information about your house is being broadcast to as many people as possible?

Home Marketing

How many people think that the REALTOR® is ultimately responsible for making sure as many people as possible know about the sale of your home? Would it surprise you if I told you that you were wrong?

After all, who wants to sell your home? You do of course.

However, there’s a lot that goes into selling a house and many times you need a REALTOR® to help make that happen.

But why do I say it’s the homeowner’s responsibility? They are hiring a REALTOR® to sell their home!

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All of that is true. However, the homeowner is responsible for making sure they hire the correct REALTOR® to do the job.

Before I was a REALTOR®, I had bought and sold a couple of houses. I hired a REALTOR® who showed houses to me and I selected one to purchase. I lived in that house about 20 years before selling it again. It was a strange time to be selling a house. The market had crashed terribly and my wife and I had already relocated. We were relying heavily on our REALTOR® to get our house sold. Looking back at it, I’m not sure he ever advertised the house for sale. It took forever to sell that house. When I became a REALTOR®, I promised myself that I would make sure that I did everything I could to help my clients.

It’s up to the homeowner to make sure that their REALTOR® is doing the best job they can for the owner. If you figure out they are not doing what they can, you can fire them. A REALTOR® has an obligation to spread the word about your home to as many people as possible so that you can sell it for a fair price. If no one sees the house, how is it going to get sold? It means that there needs to be some good marketing, open houses, and online distribution of the information about the house. Great photography needs to happen. Staging needs to happen. Repairs and negotiation need to happen.

The next question is how do you find a REALTOR® that will do that for you? I’m right here!

In the next post, find out other ways you may be sabotaging the sale of your home.

If you have any questions about the current real estate market in the DFW area, contact me or visit my business page.

Real Estate Photos

Front House Photo

Why Does It Matter?

When you are in real estate, there are a ton of photos you view each week. You can immediately tell which agents have their client’s best interest at heart just by looking at the photos. Using your phone doesn’t really qualify as a professional photo.

Here’s the reason. When someone comes in to take photos of your home for sale, you are broadcasting to a large number of people, including international buyers interested in purchasing. The photos are their first look at your property. Think about that!

I know what you are thinking – The market is so hot right now, it doesn’t matter what the quality of the photos are. People are buying homes left and right.

Although that may be true, those photos will be in the various systems until your home goes on sale again. That could be years or decades. Since they stay in the system, every agent out there who looks at the property will see the photos and the agent who placed them there.

What NOT To Photograph?

Bathroom Photo

Toilets

Everyone knows you have toilets in your house. Unless this is a very unique toilet, you probably don’t need to waste much time taking a photo. If it happens to be in view when you are taking a photo of the bathroom, well, ok.

Clutter

No one needs to see your dirty socks on the floor or the dishes in the sink. You may have the greatest soda can and bottle collection around but it does nothing for selling your home. Clean off all flat surfaces. Kitchen counters, bathroom counters, bureaus should be clear.

Branded Company Signs

Believe it or not, it is against the rules to have photos of your company signs in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). It can lead to guiding consumers to your business instead of using the open market. Oops!

How To Take Great Photos

Kitchen Photo

Use a DSLR with a wider angle lens, 20mm or less. Use proper lighting. I heard this trick too. That the same photos at several different exposures and overlap them so that bright spots are dimmed and darker spots are enhanced. Then again, is that manipulating the photos? Hiring a professional photographer isn’t cheap but you can get about 25 photos of a property that will be great quality and show the real estate agent’s professionalism towards their clients.

Take photos of the main areas of the house, bedrooms, bathrooms, media rooms, and the outside areas. If possible, provide a floor plan of the home for people to see the overall layout. Of course, you want a nice, clean shot of the front of the house.

Highlight the favorite areas of your house. If you put a lot of work into your kitchen, take a few extra shots of it. Installed an outdoor kitchen? Make it attractive and snap another shot. Just remember that all improvements are not treated the same. Don’t overdue improvements. You may be wasting money.

Three Things To Improve Curb Appeal

Maintain your yard

Cut the grass, clean up the yard, plant a few new flowers. The first impression anyone has when they physically come to look at your house is the curb appeal. For a few dollars, you can spruce it up nicely so that it stands out on your street.

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Fix Minor Repairs

Fix obvious repairs before accepting any contract. If you make the repairs before people offer contracts, then in some cases, you can fix the issues yourself. Got some window trim that has some water penetration? Fix the caulking yourself and you could save a ton. If you wait until after you accept a contract, then the repairs must be done by a licensed person, not you.

Pool Photo

Pools and Spas

Make sure they are clean and working properly. If the pool or spa is dirty or the pump is not working, it will leave the impression that there are underlying issues with it. A clean and functioning pool and spa appeals as a relaxing oasis for all who come.

Things To Do Inside

Gathering Area Photo

Clean Rooms, Remove Clutter

Make the beds and basically clean out anything from inside the house that you do not need if you are going to still occupy the home.

Look at it this way – you’ll already have some of your stuff packed even before you make the mad dash to get out of there.

Of course, work with your REALTOR® to come up with the best marketing plan for your home. If you don’t have a REALTOR®, I’m available to help. Visit my business website for more information.

Business Planning

Starting With Nothing

Check out this video about entrepreneurship.

Honestly – that should be an inspiration to anyone at any age. I especially liked the one statement near the end where someone stated “So what if you fail! Even if you fail, you can still put it on your resume, college application essay or grad school essay.” The point is to keep learning and learn from your failures until you succeed. I think about all the jobs that are available just in the United States. Something like 80 percent of businesses are entrepreneurial businesses. That means that only 20 percent of the jobs out there are through big corporations.

You don’t even need a formal education to start a business.

Every great idea out there started with the idea popping into someone’s head. How many stories have you heard about people starting businesses in their garage?

You do need a plan though.

Going into business without direction is like trying to drive your car with your eyes closed. More than likely, you’ll end up crashing.

Where To Start

I’ve been in the real estate business now for several months. The first 2-3 months has been all about education. I’ve needed to learn a lot about the legal aspects of real estate, contracts, and a whole gambit of things to keep clients and myself protected. Getting started has been challenging too. How do I get the word out that this is what I’m doing now?

I just ran into someone this morning who I’ve known for about four years now. She noticed my nametag on my shirt stating which Broker I work with. She had no idea that I was in real estate now. That’s a problem. Obviously, I’m not doing enough to get the word out.

Saying I need to get the word out is different than having a plan on how to get the word out. What steps do I need to take in order for the word to get out to as many people as possible? I need a plan.

I also need to know what the competition is doing. Some real estate companies are more like Ponzi schemes than real estate companies. For them, it’s more about getting more and more people selling houses and paying the people above you a portion of your proceeds than watching out for the client. Others are more like family businesses. Still others are internet based with no education available for their agents. This can lead to severe legal ramifications.

Creating The Plan

A business plan does not have to be some elaborate document with graphs, maps, and other things. It can be that, or it could be something you wrote down on a piece of paper. Just keep in mind that the business plan is actually your plan on how you are going to get from starting to being successful.

I’ve had several businesses in my life. My first was a web development company in the late 1990’s. It failed miserably because I was already working somewhere full-time and expected the work to come to me. I never really had a plan for that. Without a plan, I effectively planned on failing.

Another business I started was in graphic design. That’s a tough racket to get into in the first place. I actually had a plan in place for that but got sidetracked and caught up with one client who had expectations that went against my plan. As a result, my plan failed as my clients business started having problems. I left that client but it was too late.

Now I am in real estate and although I am working with a well-established brokerage, I still need a plan. Here’s something you may not know. Every real estate agent out there is actually an independent contractor for the brokerage they work with. As an independent contractor, agents are self-employed and considered entrepreneurs. I have my own business in real estate and it needs to be treated that way. Since this is the case, a business plan for success is something I need to have if I am going to succeed.

Planning Steps

Here is the step-by-step process to create a business plan that will work for you.

Step 1: What are your goals/objectives?

Pretty simple really. What is it you want to accomplish? Do you want to help the blind communicate with others better? Or maybe you want to design something that will help them see. Your plan does not always have to be that bold. Maybe it is designing an eating utensil that works better than a fork or spoon. Have you heard of a spork? You find them at a lot of fast food places. It looks mostly like a spoon but has ridges so it can also be used as a fork.

Spork

One of our daughters had a business editing translated documents from other languages. A company would hire her to take a document that had been previously translated to English from Korean as an example. She would go through and edit spelling and grammar. She did it while she was watching TV in the evening to make a few extra bucks.

The point is that if you have goals lined up for what you want to achieve, then you know where you are going. The next thing would be to figure out how to get there.

For several years, I have been teaching personal finance classes to people who have ended up homeless for one reason or another. The classes are based on a book I wrote about my own experiences with trying to dig out of debt. When I am teaching, the very first thing we cover is writing down goals. If it makes sense to do it with your personal finances, doesn’t it make even more sense if you are trying to start a business?

Step 2: How much money do you need to get started?

A good rule of thumb is to have 6-12 months of financing available to launch your business. But what if you don’t? Then what?

Well, you may have to be creative in generating some kind of income at first so that you have some funds for your real goals. Time takes time as they say. If you incorporate having to make some side money into your plan, you are still working on your plan.

Step 3: Marketing

There are a billion ways to market. Which one is best for you depends on your strengths. I have a colleague who strictly does postcard mailings. They spend thousands every year in postcards and stamps to get the word out about their business. I know another person who is heavy into video offers. Another does a lot with Facebook and other social networks.

What do you do if you don’t have a huge budget for marketing?

Start small.

Work with your sphere of influence. Your family, friends, people at work, at your church, and your neighbors.

Ask for referrals. Offer some things for free such as white papers, brochures, and PDF files with information relevant to your business.

Hopefully, it can take some time to exhaust your sphere. By then, you could have referrals available.

Don’t give up. Keep going. It can take months up to a year before you start seeing real results. It will happen. Be consistent. Don’t stop. Just keep swimming.

Step 4: Update the plan

Your business plan is not a static document. It should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated as you accomplish some of your goals. It is a living document meaning that it should be changing and improving the longer you are in business. Update your goals regularly. Challenge yourself to reach further into your dream. Come up with new directions to spread your business. Drop the ideas that haven’t been working.

If you would like a custom form to set up a basic business plan, fill out this form and it will be on its way.