Why Are You Letting Your House Sit On The Market?

It seems, at least for now, that the days when you would slap a sign in your yard and sell your house in 24 hours are ending. Things have changed in the market in North Texas. People are tired of overspending on a home when there are others nearby that will work just as well. Sometimes, even new construction homes will sit on the market because people don’t want to spend that much.

The Number One Reason Your House Doesn’t Sell

I see it often. A perfectly good house in a great neighborhood and it’s been on the market for half a year or more. Unfortunately, sometimes seller’s are just not realistic about the pricing of their homes. Even if you have the best Realtor in North Texas, you still won’t sell the home if the price is not in line with what is going on in your area.

It doesn’t matter if you put in a $100,000 pool with lights and an outdoor kitchen. If no one else in your neighborhood has a pool like that or an outdoor kitchen, it’s likely you won’t get near what you put into that pool or kitchen. People just won’t pay for it.

A decent Realtor will tell you where the house should be priced. Still there are those who insist that their house is better than everyone else’s home in the area.

An Honest Question

Market Bikes

Would you honestly pay more for something when there are other choices that will do the same thing for you? If you don’t race bicycles, would you pay $8000 for a bike when a $200 bike will do what you want it to do? I could ask the same thing about so many items we use every day.

When my grandson was born, my daughter insisted on buying Tommy Hilfiger clothes for him. When I asked her why, she said it was because she never got nice clothes growing up and she was not going to have her child be embarrassed by the clothes he wore. Ouch! When I tried to explain that he would be in those clothes for two months and they would never get worn out, it fell on deaf ears. There was no convincing her about the practical aspects of buying clothes for babies.

What About A House?

Market Similarity

I recently had a conversation with another agent in my office. He had a house listed on the market. It had been going slow and he was considering having a conversation with the owner about possibly lowering the price.

Just when he was about to do that, another house in the same neighborhood came on the market with an inflated price. Before he knew it, he received multiple offers on his listed house. Why? Because the houses were almost the same. People could look at both of them and soon realized that the house he was promoting was just as good as the other house.

Why would you spend extra money on a house when there is another one down the street for less?

Unless there are specific features or needs that one house has over the other, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

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If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

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My Return To Toastmasters

 

It’s been a few years since I was in Toastmasters International. It is an organization that helps people come to terms with public speaking. They offer education and practice in front of a group, offering constructive feedback on your progress through a series of speeches.

Toaastmasters Logo

Why Did I Go In The First Place?

When I first started going to Toastmasters, I had been a corporate trainer for years. I had been in front of groups of people in a teaching environment. There was a need to take very complex concepts and make them understandable to people who had never used the technology before.

Although it was just a part of my job, I enjoyed it immensely. After a while, I became very comfortable teaching any subject to this group. The nervousness had gone away for the most part because these were people I had dealt with for years in the work environment.

I wanted more.

Something Was Very Wrong

One day, my boss invited me to go with him on a recruiting mission. My job was to present our “pitch” for getting new people to apply at the company. When I got up to speak in front of this “foreign” group, I stammered terribly. I was suddenly so nervous speaking that I barely got the words out.

Afterwards, my boss asked me what was wrong. I knew but I wasn’t about to tell him. I was nervous because I had been speaking in front of the same group of people for so long. I had not experienced speaking in front of groups I did not know and it was completely different. I knew I needed to improve. Enter Toastmasters

What I Accomplished

After about 18 months and two different clubs due to relocation, I achieved Competent Communicator status. I think the name has changed now to Competent Toastmaster Certification but it doesn’t matter. To get to that level, I needed to give ten speeches on different topics in front of people I didn’t really know. I even gave an evaluation at a competition and came in second place. It was kinda cool to accomplish those things.

It was during that time that I applied to teach at a Junior College in order to get in front of people I didn’t know on a regular basis. My Toastmaster training allowed me to take on that role without getting into a panic.

Shortly after that, I relocated again and fell out of Toastmasters.

Why I Returned

Due to medical conditions, I had to leave my employment. I returned to school, got a degree, but ultimately decided on Real Estate as my new career.

While I was in school, there were requirements to give speeches as assignments. Again, I could feel some nervousness getting in front of people. I pushed through it though and was very successful.

I realized, getting into Real Estate, that I would need to be comfortable talking to people I had just met with confidence and assurance. They needed to know that I knew what I was doing and could help them.

As part of my transition into this career, I had mentors through my office but wanted different mentors. I thought it would be beneficial to have mentors from other industries.

My “lead mentor,” the one I  would be sharing everything with and asking for specific feedback, suggested getting back into Toastmasters as a way of improving my communications skills.

I thought back to all the times I had given a speech at Toastmasters and the valuable feedback I had received. I knew that I could not only continue to improve my communications skills but could also focus more on my leadership skills. Together, it had the potential to change my effectiveness in my career and dealing with people I already knew.

So here I am, getting ready to give the first speech over again, just like the first time I attended Toastmasters. It’s the “get to know me” speech, The Ice Breaker Speech, so my new group can know my background. It’s the easiest talk since I already know the subject – me!

I will post occasionally on my progress and even include video when I get it.

What About You?

There are many reasons to join Toastmasters. There are probably more reasons not to go. However, if you want to improve your speaking ability in a variety of ways, give it a try.

See you at the next meeting or competition.

———————

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

Those Sneaky B@$t@rds

phishing

Phishing Scam

My wife and I had a scare several days ago. She had received an email that looked like it had come from our bank asking us to click on a link to authorize a deposit into our account. It was a bit suspect from the beginning because my wife doesn’t use the account from this particular institution.

I looked at the email and noticed there was no indication of what the account number was and the return email was random letters followed by something other than the bank (ex. gr13ccea@southwestbell.net).

Sneaky B@$t@rds!

Calling The Bank

I called the bank and talked to customer service. I also checked the account to make sure nothing had been going on with it. Nothing. No weird deposits or withdrawals.

After some time with the customer service folks, they sent me over to security and asked me to forward the email to the abuse center. They checked everything with our account and made sure there was nothing suspicious going on.

Phishing - Two-Step Verification

2-Step Verify

We set up a 2-step verification process for accessing the account. It’s something I had overlooked. I have 2-step verify on so many things and this one slipped by.

2-step verification adds an additional layer of protection to your accounts. When you log in, the system will send an additional code to your phone which you need to enter back into the system before you can get access to the account. It seems like that would make it much harder for someone to get in otherwise. If someone did get access to your account information, you would get a text message when they logged in and could immediately say it wasn’t you. You can then call the bank and change passwords, check account activity and change cards if needed.

Credit Monitoring

Did you know that many banking institutions have free credit monitoring? I didn’t. Check you bank and see if they provide this service for free. If they don’t, maybe it’s time to find another bank.

Solutions

Well, now we are safe. No one has stolen anything and our accounts are secure. It could have been a lot different if my wife and I were not talking regularly. Talk to others on your accounts and make sure they recognize suspicious activity.

In this instance, the bank said the email address was wrong, there should have been a partial account number visible, and any email that comes from them would be directed to a specific person on the account, not “Dear Customer.”

With so much fraud out there, it’s easy to get your finances screwed up. Take the time to make sure you are as protected as you can be.

———————

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

That Feeling Of Despair

Despair - What Have I Done

Now What?

The New Year has begun. Remember over the holidays when everyone over-ate, over-spent, and generally over did it all? You woke up a day or two later and thought “What have I done?”

Despair - Overwhelmed

The House

The same thing can happen with a home purchase. It’s called buyer’s remorse. It’s not quite as easy to “return a house to the store.” You own it now. You’ve moved in and now you’re starting to rethink what you have done. Don’t worry, it’s a normal thing many people go through.

Despair - Own It

How To Combat Those Feelings

  1. Embrace what you have done. You are a homeowner now! What a great thing. It might seem like the costs are huge and there is no way you can really afford what you have done. Take heart. If you worked with a Realtor and a Lender, part of their job is to make sure you don’t overextend yourself. You actually can afford the home you are in.
  2. Make it your own. No house is perfect. Not even a new construction home. It’s quite possible there are things you will want to do to improve the property. Remember that it is your home now, not the previous owners. You can paint with whatever colors appeal to you, you can also change counters, drapes, and any other improvements you would like to make. Take it slow and start small. Paint one room. It doesn’t have to be done overnight. More than likely, you will be in the house at least seven years so plan things, save some money and be smart with the change decisions you want to make.
  3. Enjoy. You have spent a lot of time looking at properties and finding just the right thing for you and your family. Rest in the knowledge that you make an informed decision and it was what was best for your family at this time. The feelings of remorse will go away when you start making changes and making your new home more – well – homey!

If Something Changes

Job loss, illness, family dynamic changes, more family members moving in or out. All these things can affect your ability to maintain the house you had so many hopes for.

If something happens that prevents you from enjoying the tranquility of your home, don’t despair. Keep your Realtor and Lender informed of changes within you family. They are there to help you. If the need arises that you need to change things, they can help figure out alternatives or sell the property if that is the best course of action. They have spent a lot of time with you, building a relationship. It was never intended to be a “once and done” setup. Every day, there are new programs being developed that could change your outlook even if there have been dramatic changes to your family.

———————

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

Save With Purpose

Saving With Purpose

Several years ago, my wife and I were in New York City. It had only been about nine months since I had brain surgery and I was still very unstable. Sometimes I wonder why we took that trip because it took all I had to stay upright and she was holding onto me with a bear grip the whole time to keep me steady.

We were walking down 34th street and trying to hug the buildings to stay out of the way of pedestrian traffic as much as possible. It was a sloooooow walk.

Before long, a group of three teenage girls walked by and one of them glanced over her shoulder and said “Walk.With.Purpose.”

Brat!

She had no idea what I had been dealing with.

Save With Purpose

What’s Your Purpose?

I think about what those girls said that day as it relates to savings and it takes on some significance.

What is the purpose of your savings?

Actually, there can be many reasons for saving. Some good and some bad.

What?

What could be bad about saving?

Well, biblically speaking, I think about Luke 12:13-21 “The Rich Fool” who hoarded money and possessions. Greed to the point where you have more than you know what to do with but only want more isn’t a good thing. What’s the point? When you die, you aren’t taking it with you.

There are many good reasons to save though. In today’s society, it’s important to save towards retirement so that you can have the life you want when and if you decide to stop working. Ask around. It’s tough to live a decent life anywhere on social security alone.

Save with purpose Priority

Emergency Savings.

Emergency savings are important to cover those unexpected events that always seem to come our way. However, $1000 can cover just about everything that can go wrong. It doesn’t matter if the A/C in your house goes out or your car breaks down. Unless the car engine or transmission is gone, you can pretty much fix just about anything else with your car for $1000. Broken windows in your house, repairs to you air conditioning and even a water heater replacement can be covered by that money.

Specific Savings.

These types of savings are for a specific purpose. Want to take a trip to another state? Save some money. Buying new living room furniture? Save something for that. Kids college? There are accounts for that too.

What Should I Save For First?

I would think the emergency savings would come first. Having that account allows you to fix just about anything without having to go into debt using a credit card. The alternative would be to use a credit card instead, which only means paying interest that could have been planned for in advance.

Don’t have an extra $1000 laying around for an emergency fund? That’s ok. Start where you are. If you can save $100, or $50, or even $5 this week, start there. Put the money aside and next week, work on adding more to it. Even at $5 per week, at the end of a year, you’ll have $260. That’s a whole lot better than having $5 and your car needing new tires.

What do you do to save money? What is the purpose of your savings?

Save. With. Purpose!

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If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

Is Your Job Putting You In Danger?

Job Danger - Work

Danger! Danger!

Is having a job is dangerous to your personal finances? On the news recently, there was an announcement that a company was laying off 250 people soon. Those people have the option of moving to another area for a job if they want it, otherwise, they can start looking for another job now.

Growing up, I hadn’t really thought about having a job as a negative. Everyone was taught to do good in school so you could get a job that would take care of you. It wasn’t until I was much older that I started reading about some of the dangers.

If you have one job, with one income, what happens if something happens to that job? What if something happens and you are no longer able to physically do that job?

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is an avenue that can help with that but it is not necessarily the only answer. As an entrepreneur, you don’t have one income. You have the potential to have thousands of clients instead. If something happens to one of those clients, it doesn’t affect things quite like having one income. You can look at clients as individual income streams.

But…

There is still the potential that something could happen to you which would prevent you from continuing in your role as the entrepreneur. So what can you do?

Job Danger - Multiple Platforms

Multiple Streams of Income

Multiple streams of income is the alternative. It’s also referred to as passive income.

What is it and how do you do it?

First, it doesn’t mean that you stop doing the work you are currently doing. Keep your job, run your business. It’s all good.

It means starting to think beyond what you are doing day to day. When I worked in corporate America, I had one job and one income. Accidentally, because I had gotten bored, I created a course and began teaching at a Junior College part-time. That doesn’t technically equate to passive income. After all, I had to go to the college and teach each class for a fee. I was spending a lot of my “time” doing that work. A better way might have been to create a course on the subject and sell it online. That way, I could create the course one time, and sell the same course multiple times.

I wrote a book and published it in 2014 called The Little Debt-Free Book. It’s available on Amazon and Kindle. That is actually passive income for me. I wrote it once, published it and now I collect a royalty from each sale. Can I live on it? No way. But it does make a little money.

Building on that idea, what else can I do with that book?

  • Create a video based course based on the book
  • Create a study that others can teach based on the book
  • Offer my services as a speaker at conferences (not quite as passive)
  • Create products that go with the book or course
  • Create an audio version of the book

Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey? He teaches personal finance courses too. However, if you search, you can find the following products outside the courses:

  • Wallets
  • Deluxe Envelope System
  • Starter Envelope System
  • Books
  • Courses
  • Videos
  • Board Games
  • His & Hers Envelope Systems
  • Smart Saver Banks for Kids
  • Envelope System Replacement/Refill Sheets
  • Cash Envelope System
  • Framed motivational Quotes
  • Budget Stickers

My sister-in-law is an artist who sells prints of her paintings online. She paints the designs one time and then sells them on products for a royalty. Here is how her products are being delivered;

  • Wall Tapestry
  • Art Print
  • Framed Art Print
  • Canvas Print
  • iPhone Covers
  • Tote
  • Mug
  • Clock

Other ways her products could be provided would be:

  • Notepads
  • Pillows
  • Pillow cases
  • Sheets
  • Comforters
  • Hats
  • Bags
  • Binders
  • Sticky Notes
  • Flash Drives
  • Pens
  • Notebooks
  • Postcards
  • Greeting Cards

That doesn’t even cover everything. There are thousands of ways you can provide your products in various formats for people.

Just think about it. With my sister-in-law, she could provide these prints to companies that will do all the work for her. They will take the orders, create the products, ship the products to those who order them. She receives a royalty for each product sold. Even if she only makes 50 cents per product sold, she could make quite a bit. What’s really cool is that currently she has eight different designs. That brings up the next idea.

Multiple Products

One product is good, eight products are better. What if you had 100 products out there? Going back to Dave Ramsey. He currently has 88 product for sale on his website. The prices range from $7 – $159. With his reach, I believe he is either publishing the stuff himself or getting a substantial royalty. He also goes to conferences.

Conferences

Recently, I went to a three-day conference by a well-known speaker. Three days. The cost of the conference was discounted through my work to $149 per person from my office. I honestly don’t know what the regular cost was. For this argument, let’s just say that the cost per person was $149. There were between 600-700 people at the conference. Even if we use 600 as the number of attendees, the total income for the conference was $89,400. There were costs involved with the convention center but they only offered coffee and tea as refreshments. Everyone needed to get their own lunch and there was no breakfast or dinner provided. If you signed up for their basic coaching system during the event for $600 per month for a minimum of one year, they bought dinner. There were 135 people that signed up for the coaching. That’s an additional $972,000 for the year. YIKES!

We were there for three days and the main speaker was there for 75 minutes total. Total!

He flew in that morning, got driven over from the airport which was 30 minutes away, and spoke, and drove back to the airport for a 1pm flight. Wow!

Ok. This guy is very well known in the circles the conference focused on and not everyone gets there overnight but DAMN! No wonder he paid for dinner for those that signed up for coaching.

For $1M over a three-day event, I’d pay for dinner for 135 people. No problem.

Doesn’t that make a whole lot more sense than working one job for one income for 45 years in the hopes that you will have enough to retire?

What can you capitalize on today? What knowledge do you have that you have been doing for years that you could turn into products and services that could bring in a different form of income for you and your family?

———————

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, reach out to me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be.

I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX

Why Get A Home Inspection?

Home inspections protect both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction. If you don’t think so, skip it and watch the sparks fly when something goes wrong.

Home Inspection Foundation

New Build Inspection

Why would you need to have an inspection on a new construction home? After all, the quality craftsmanship should be enough to guarantee an issue free lifestyle.

Wrong!

Just because you are buying something that is considered “new” doesn’t mean that it wasn’t built by hand, by people making a whole lot less than what the house sells for. Even if you have the best craftsmen involved in the construction of a new home, things can be missed. People can have a bad day. The materials could simply be sub-par. Whatever the reason, getting a home inspection can save you a bunch of grief.

My wife and I purchased a new construction home. Everything looked great when we purchased it. That new home smell was there and as we slowly unpacked out stuff, it became more and more ours.

About six months after moving in, I noticed some water near the driveway. I didn’t think much of it because the sprinklers had been running. The next day, I still saw water on the sidewalk and driveway. I also noticed that the grass between the sidewalk and the road was soggy.

I called the builder to have them come out and check it out since the house was under warranty. Sure enough, someone forgot the glue on the pipe connecting to the water meter at the curb.

Thankfully, that was a minor inconvenience.

My neighbor was talking to us one day and mentioned how the upstairs in their house was very hot. They had called the builder out to check it out and found that the switching mechanism for the air conditioner had not been hooked up correctly. As a matter of fact, a new device needed to be installed to make sure it worked long term. I called the A/C guy to check out unit out also and sure enough, we needed the same thing.

I’m not saying that a home inspection will catch everything. After all, we had a home inspection on the new construction home and there were still things missed. However, spending a few hundred dollars on an investment of hundreds of thousands seems to make a whole lot of sense.

What About Resale Homes?

Again, I default back to the idea that for a few hundred dollars, the inspection will help protect your investment of many thousands of dollars.

So many things go wrong with a house. How well did the previous owners care for the foundation, the plumbing, and the main systems in your house? Without an inspection, you are relying on word of mouth that everything is ok.

How would you feel if you purchased a home and found out years later that there had been a fire in one of the bedrooms and instead of replacing the studs, they coated them with a sealer and covered up the damage with drywall?

Don’t think it can happen? I encourage you to look up the horror stories that home inspectors share and see what it looks like.

If you need help with the purchase or sale of a home, email me for more information about how I can help you get where you want to be. I’ll send you a free buyer’s guide.

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I’m never too busy for your referrals.

Patrick O’Connor – CHMS, GRI, Realtor®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

Plano, TX