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!

New Construction: Where to Look

The Pros of New Construction

Let’s face it – new homes are nice. No one has lived in them before you. If you are involved in the actual construction process, you get to make it like you want it. Even if you aren’t there are many upgrades a builder will place in a spec home that are really nice.

Here are a few things that are nice about a new construction:

  • The latest gadgets are installed
  • Insulation is the best to date
  • They are wired for the latest technology
  • Light fixtures are modern
  • Some are even built in master plan communities

The Cons of New Construction

New construction homes are really nice but there are some things to consider

  • It may take years to finish out the neighborhood. That means constant construction.
  • The first years on the home may be met with unexpected repairs
    • Sometimes construction items are not done correctly. I had a situation where the main water line at the meter was not properly glued and had separated causing a big water leak.
  • Home values can change dramatically. The market is always moving and in particular, the Dallas area seems like it will continue to go up for a while.
  • Taxes go up. Typically, when you purchase a new construction home, the property is taxed for the land value the first year. The second year, there is a huge increase in taxes. It’s the same for the third year and then market value drives the taxes. This can increase your mortgage payment by hundreds of dollars.
  • Trying to sell can be limiting. Who’s going to pay more for your house than the next new house being built in the neighborhood? If you have a new construction home build in 2011 and the neighborhood does not get finished until 2015, the newest house may have more modern conveniences built-in which can make them more attractive.

It’s Your Choice

What is the most important thing to you?

Only you can decide based on the knowledge you gain in the process. The more knowledge you can acquire, the better the decision you can make.

If you want to search for a new construction home, check the link below for a site that will help you locate new builds in your area. Then reach out to me and let’s make a deal.

New Build ButtonWhat Is Your Home Worth Button

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


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.


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.

Who Would You Sell Your House To?

The Situation

Sell Your House

You are down-sizing from your 4 bedroom, 2 ½ bathroom, 2 car garage home that you have lived in for 30 years. You don’t like the stairs anymore or the amount of cleaning and upkeep needed. You’re getting ready to retire and the three kids you had have all moved away and have their own family.

It would be nice to move further away from the city and get a one story home that is newer.

You’ve done a good job updating your home with a new kitchen, updated master bathroom, and some great landscaping.

You reach out to a REALTOR® and ask for help selling your home and finding a new one in another town.

The REALTOR® brings you three people who are very interested in buying your property.

House Keys

John and Sally

John and Sally are both hard-working people with one child. They are planning on growing their family and the apartment they have been living in is just too small. They really like your house and the neighborhood. They are ready to make an offer. Good news! They have a prequalification letter from a bank.

Mark and Susan

Mark and Susan are a little older than John and Sally. They have two kids in grade school. Mark is the main breadwinner and Susan works part-time at the school where their kids go. They grew up in the neighborhood and want to relocate back to where they grew up. Great News again! They have been preapproved by a lender.


Karen is a single mom of three kids in middle school and high school. Unfortunately, her husband, Dan, passed away from a car accident six months ago. She’s fortunate that they had a will and life insurance so she is ok financially. She needs the room for the stage of life she is in. Great news a third time! Karen has been pre-underwritten from a lender.

Who would you choose?

John and Sally have written you a nice letter. They say they love the upgrades to the house and how much the kids loved it when they went by to look at it. They even included a photo of their family. Oh look – they have the cutest little puppy that the kids wanted so bad. What you don’t know is that they have five credit cards that are maxed out and a loan they defaulted on.

Mark and Susan noticed that there were a few items that needed to be fixed and they don’t want any hassle. They expect the items to be fixed or they may look for another house. They really like the neighborhood though and would love to be back close to family.

Karen just wants something safe and secure. She knows the neighborhood a little and even though there are a few minor repairs needed, she can handle having a contractor come in to have them looked at during the contract option period.

This is a tough call for anyone. They all sound really good for the most part. If you were trying to sell your home what criteria would you use in choosing which buyer you wanted to sell to? Would it be the young growing family, the established family, or the widow? Would you want to make repairs or work with a person who is ok with the small defects in the property?



Thanks to my friend, Paul Nolte from Home Team Mortgage, I have some definitions for you to consider before making your final choice.

Prequalification – A prequalification letter simply states that there has been a discussion between the potential home buyer and a lender or bank. There is a verbal verification of assets and income. A credit report has been pulled and it seems ok on the surface. The credit score is verified but at this point, we are relying on what the potential buyer is saying about the details of their credit report, their job history, and bank account balances.

Preapproved – A preapproval means that all the information provided by the potential buyer has been verified based on what they have said. W-2’s, paystubs, tax returns, bank statements, etc. have been verified. This is done at the local lender level only but there is certainly a better feel for the state of the potential buyer’s finances.

Pre-underwritten – This is the best you can get. It combines all the efforts of the prequalification, preapproval but also the information has been given to an underwriter to make sure nothing has been missed. Work verifications and IRS checks of the tax documents provided have been verified. The potential buyer is qualified to get the loan they need for the purchase. All that is uncertain at this point is the property (title work and appraisal).


Elderly Couple

With this new information, it’s easy to see that the best choice would be the person who is pre-underwritten. They are qualified. The property still needs to be approved. That includes inspections, repairs, and appraisal but at least you know the person can get the loan.

The second choice would be the preapproved persons. All their information looks right. They should be able to get the loan without an issue but it is unknown if there are IRS issues, back tax issues, or if they are still working where they said they were.

The last choice would be the prequalification letter. There has been little background work done on this potential buyer. Lots of things could go wrong along the way.

Next Steps

If you are in the market to put your house on the market to sell, the next step would be to contact me at Ebby Halliday, REALTORS® and set up an appointment so we can review your property and take care of things that might get in the way of selling your home. If you are looking to buy, again, reach out to me so that we can get you pre-underwritten and be in the best position to move on the property you want as soon as possible.

Why Get More Credit?

Credit, Bad – Debt-Free, Good

Credit Cards

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts about credit, you know that I’m not a fan of people getting all kinds of different credit. I am a firm believer that being debt-free is an amazing way to live. You never have to worry about where your money needs to go, how much you need to make to pay all those various bills, or worry about what will happen if something happens like a job loss or a medical diagnosis.

You may also know that I am now a REALTOR®. I want to help people learn about that process so they can get into a home that they can afford without stressing about the increasing costs of ownership.

My Friend Paul

Paul Nolte

As a REALTOR®, a trusting and honest relationship is established. If you are a seller, I represent you in any negotiations once a Listing Agreement is signed. If you are a buyer, I represent you in any negotiations once a Buyer’s Representation Agreement is signed. Without an agreement, you are on your own when it comes to navigating the contract paperwork and any negotiations.

Paul Nolte is one of the partners and a preferred Mortgage Loan Originator from Home Team Mortgage at our Ebby Halliday, REALTORS® office in the Plano/Willow Bend area.

We’ve had several conversations about clients who need help getting a loan. One reason a contract will fall through is an issue with credit. That’s why it is so important to start working on your credit immediately, preferably six months before you want to purchase a home.

Paul has provided an article on how to improve your credit when preparing to purchase a home.

My Take


Although I can appreciate having a variety of credit avenues open to show credit worthiness, sometimes, that is not a good thing for people.

If you have a habit of keeping a balance on your credit cards, then maybe a better way would be to keep one credit card and maintain control of your spending.

I was divorced in 2002 after an almost 15-year marriage. After six years, I managed to pay off my debts and only kept one credit card. Over time, I had several car loans for various lengths of time and maintained a zero balance on my credit card. With a credit score over 800, I had no problems qualifying for a loan for a house.

Everyone needs to decide their own path when it comes to finding a great home. If you choose wisely, your credit can help you achieve the goals you want. However, if you neglect what is happening with your credit, it may prevent you from getting that house.


Here’s a brief list of things that can trip you up when trying to purchase a home.

  1. Missed payments on loans.
  2. Late payments on credit cards
  3. Late utility payments
  4. Eviction
  5. Bankruptcy
  6. Foreclosure
  7. Too much debt-to-income ratio. If you owe more than about 36% of your income towards bills, you may not qualify for a loan.

There are also ways people can sabotage the loan process.

During the contract period, you start to purchase items for your home:

  1. Riding mower
  2. Refrigerator
  3. Washer and dryer
  4. Vacations

Once you are under a contract, do not make any changes that could affect your credit or your debt-to-income ratio. You’ll have time to purchase those items after you move into your new home.

Reach out to me so we can work together to make sure any credit issues are addressed before trying to purchase a home. Visit my business website for contact information.

Get the Pre-Underwritten Brochure!


Just The Facts – Light Farms

Last Tuesday, I went with several Realtors® on a tour of homes being built in the Light Farms community located in Celina, TX. It was a quick drive from the Ebby Halliday Plano/Willow Bend office, North on the North Dallas Tollway, past 380 to get to the location. The Light Farms community was established in 2012.

They are finishing phase one of the development now and have already started on phase two.

Here’s what I found out.

The Builders

Light Farms Builders

Light Farms Homes

The lot sizes vary depending on the size of the homes. Lot widths available include 50, 60, 70, and 80 foot, with plans to add additional housing with a 40-foot width lot.

The Development

Light Farms Pool

  • 1070 acres
  • Prosper ISD schools
  • Five pools
  • Tennis
  • Pickleball
  • Basketball
  • Bocce
  • Volleyball
  • Workout Facility
  • 150+ acres of green space
  • Stocked lakes
  • Swimming
  • Community Agriculture Program and Farmer’s Market
  • Beehive colony – Natural Honey available at Amenity Center
  • Retail center coming soon

Light Farms Farmers Market

Light Farms Amenity Center

The Pricing

  • $300K – $1M
  • HOA – $130-144 per month
    • Event Planning
    • Front Yard Maintenance
    • On-Site Security monitoring
    • Common Area Maintenance
    • Access to all amenities
    • Gym Membership


Construction is in full force right now with 60+ homes ready to move-in. There are various lots available also.

Things to consider

  • Easy access to the North Dallas Tollway and 380.
  • Train track that runs through the neighborhoods – one train daily.
    • Trains run in silent mode to reduce noise.

 For More Information

Interested in one of these properties?

Contact me and we can set up a showing.

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Patrick O’Connor – REALTOR®

Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®

6400 W. Plano Parkway

Plano, TX 75093

o: 972.608.0300x8669

c: 972-839-0541