Buyers, Buyers everywhere with little-to-nothing to buy.

February 11, 2013

It is déjà vu… All over again.

2013 is starting to look and feel a bit like 2007. Try to remember back to a time when buyers were abundant, inventory was scarce, interest rates were very good and lending requirements were forgiving.

2007 was a perfect example of a market that was totally skewed to one side, creating a true seller’s market, thereby limiting buyer choices and actions. There were very few new homes available and resale properties were flying off the shelves, often times with multiple offers just days or mere minutes after hitting the market. This naturally (or un-naturally) drove sales prices up, up, up so that our average annual appreciation rate of 4 percent shot upwards to 10 and 12 %.

Good news for sellers; bad news for buyers, right? In 2007, it was. But not so today, as we experience valuation problems with the remnants of the HVCC legislation leading to low appraisals (read more about HVCC).

So what is a seller to do? Price competitively but realize that even though you may receive many offers that push the sales price above your initial asking or list price, today’s appraisal process might not allow for the overage. Your Realtor should prepare an appraisal packet including information about any and all updates, valid comparable properties in the immediate area and details of the multiple offer situation. This is still no guarantee that the appraiser will review or consider the data, but it goes a long way to helping your property make value. Sometimes the other terms offered by buyers are more important than taking the highest price. Financing terms are crucial and often the type of financing being used by a buyer can be indicative of future potential appraisal problems. If presented with a cash offer, make sure to negotiate what will happen if buyer seeks an independent appraisal (not required with cash) and the property does not make value.

Yes, a seller’s market is exciting and good for neighboring homeowners’ property values. The only downside, other than potential low appraisals, is an inventory level so low that future buyers stay put because they have nowhere to move and nothing to purchase.

This means everyone is waiting for the next guy or gal to list. That would be such a pity when interest rates on a 30 year fixed are below 3.5 as of today. So go on, jump in the market… The water is warm and inviting.


Lunch with The Girls Through the Ages!

July 22, 2011

by Christi Borden

Unknown Author….

A group of 15-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner.
Finally, they agreed to meet at the Dairy Queen next to the Ocean View restaurant because they had only $6.00 among them and Jimmy Johnson, the cute boy in Social Studies, lived on that street.

10 years later, the group of 25-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the beer was cheap, the restaurant offered free snacks, the band was good, there was no cover and there were lots of cute guys.

10 years later, the group of 35-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the cosmos were good, it was right near the gym and, if they went late enough, there wouldn’t be too many whiny little kids.

10 years later, the group of 45-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the martinis were big and the waiters had tight pants and nice buns.

10 years later, the group of 55-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the prices were reasonable, the wine list was good, the restaurant had windows that opened (in case of a hot flashes), and fish is good for cholesterol.

10 years later, the group of 65-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the lighting was good and the restaurant had an early bird special.

10 years later, the group of 75-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the food was not too spicy and the restaurant was handicapped-accessible.

10 years later, the group of 85-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because they had never been there before.


Sweet Little Dog Found in Cinco Ranch, Katy… Do you know him?

May 12, 2011

We found a dog and we would like to appeal for your help in finding the owner. Attached is his picture and the text is as follows:

Sweet Dog Found in Cinco Ranch!

On May 11 we found this cute little dog at our front door. It is small, male, light brown colored and seems to miss his owners a lot. We live in Sedona, a neighborhood within Cinco Ranch Southwest, near the intersection between Spring Green Blvd. and South Fry Road. My mobile phone is (832) 596-4908.

Thanks,

Carlos Elmer Ferro


Houston Realtors Helping Tornado Victims in Alabama!

May 3, 2011

The Houston Real Estate Community is coming together to help the Alabama Victims of the recent Tornado. We will have an 18-wheeler and driver deliver all donations to the storm victims in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Please help us help them!

The following items are needed order of priority:

  • Bottled Water
  • Snacks
  • Toiletries
  • Hand Sanitizer & wipes
  • Paper plates, utensils and napkins
  • Tarps
  • Canned food (including baby food)
  • New underwear (men’s, women’s, teen’s and children)
  • Diapers (both for infants and adults)
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • Folding Chairs
  • Coolers
  • Clothing & Shoes
  • Bedding, towels, wash cloths

DROP OFF LOCATION:

  1. Century 21 Hardee-Team Realty, 30310 Tomball Parkway Tomball TX 77375
  2. *Prudential Gary Greene – 23922 Cinco Village Center, Suite 123, Katy TX
  3. RE/MAX Hometown 7214 FM 1488, Suite 105, Magnolia, TX 77354
  4. Prudential Gary Greene 18477 W. Lake Houston Parkway, Suite 50, Humble, TX 77346
  5. Princeton Classic Homes 18018 Darling Point Drive, Cypress, TX 774…29
  6. Keller Williams Pearland – 2734 Sunrise Blvd., Suit 208, Pearland TX 77584
  7. Realty World First Choice 18121 FM 306 Canyon Lake, TX. 78133 
  8. RE/MAX Integrity – RE/MAX Integrity.19510 Kuykendahl , Spring TX 
  9. Keller Williams Professionals 8101 Cypresswood Drive, Spring TX
  10. Great American Title (Galleria), 1535 West Loop South #115, Houston, Texas 77027
  11. Texas American Title – 4610 Sweetwater Blvd. #100, Sugarland, TX 77479
  12. Texas American Title – 2000 Bering 10th floor, Houston, TX 77057
  13. Startex Title Hwy 6 N. 8711 Hwy 6 N.,Houston, Texas 77095
  14. Register Real Estate /advisors – 1614 Louetta Rd. – Spring, TX 77388
  15. Prudential Gary Greene – 1939 W Gray St # 100, Houston, TX 77019
 *For those of you near Katy, TX, our drop off location is: Prudential Gary Greene – 23922 Cinco Village Center, Suite 123, Katy Monday – Saturday (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) Sunday (12:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.).

Call me if you need directions – 832-372-7470. We thank you so much for your donations… it will make a difference in the lives of those affected by the recent storms.


Found Pets in Katy – a kitten and a large puppy named Sophie!

March 30, 2011

I have received two calls today regarding found pets in the Katy Area. One is a little kitten in Oak Park Trails located on South Mason between Highland Knolls and Cinco Ranch. The woman who called will send in a photo and is happy to foster for a little while but already has several pets of her own so I hope we can find the owner quickly.

Second, a large puppy was found (did not get location yet) that is named Sophie. She has one blue eye and one brown, has a pink spot on her nose and is so friendly that the finder cannot get far enough away from her to take her photo. This family has already fallen in love with Sophie and will be happy to take her in but wanted to try to find her family. They will be sending me a photo which I will post as soon as it is received.

Do you know anyone who may have lost these pets? If so, have them contact me so we can see if we have found them. All it takes is a little effort and a lot of love to make sure our pets are safely home. Another thing is all owners need to make sure their pets are micro-chipped so finding the owner is a breeze. Thank you for your kind attention, Christi.


Social Media… Manners Matter!

February 19, 2011

by christiborden

Social Media Sandbox

Where is Emily Post when I need her?

In the time before Social Media, long before Facebook and Twitter, we all knew or should have known the rules of engagement. Someone holds out their hand; you shake it. A stranger smiles at you on the street; you smile back. A woman stands next to you on the bus; you render your seat. Someone sneezes; you bless them. When so many of our relationships now exist outside of the physical world, how do we translate the old rules for today? And have they really changed?

I read a great post by Erica Johnson addressing the etiquette of “commenting” on blogs (read here), which led me to ponder (as I often do) about other areas where we may all need a little direction.

Facebook: Stop the sales pitches, please. I love my many friends on Facebook, but I have painfully started to “de-friend” them when the only thing they bring to the conversation is a sales pitch. Imagine attending a cocktail party and starting in on the “pitch” the second you are introduced to a stranger. No…we strike up conversation, find common ground, add to the discussion and then maybe, if invited, hand them our card and tell them what we “do”. Real life rules apply here, too.

Twitter: See comments above. The sales pitches are even more annoying when squeezed into 140 characters. I think Twitter is best used to share information with like-minded followers. Yes, we can link to our blog or web site. But let the follower decide to follow instead of ramming our business/service/product down their throat with every Tweet. And please turn off the auto-responder. I would rather hear nothing than a canned comment (which usually includes a sales pitch).

IM: How in the world do we end a conversation politely? On the phone, I can say “I have to go, good-bye” and hang up.  But online where they can see I am still “there”, how do I tactfully let go? I end up saying goodbye at least 5 times before the connection is severed. I welcome comments here because I have not yet figured it out. Also, can we in good grace ignore a Facebook IM when we are otherwise engaged? Oh, the guilt…

Games: While I am not a big game player, I do enjoy the faux Scrabble Words with Friends. I recently had someone I know well “decline” to play me. Gasp? So, does this mean right now or forever more? Did I do something so heinous that I have been permanently banished from their Scrabble world? Don’t worry, I can still sleep at night but perhaps an explanation would have been nice rather than… “Declined”. Ouch:).

Frankly, I see Social Media as a huge sandbox filled with lots of wonderful, interesting kids all trying to get along and play together. Some follow the rules and some do not.

How well do you play with others?


Katy, Texas: How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways!

January 31, 2011

I am fortunate to live and work in the sprawling western Houston suburb known as Katy, TX, recently recognized as the top community for growth in the Nation by the Gadberry Group. Click link to read more…

There are obvious reasons for my statement and a few that are not-so-obvious:

1. Location, Location, Location: Close proximity to the Energy Corridor, a major area for our top employers. 

2. Terrific Schools: Just search www.katyisd.org to see what our school district and individual campuses have to offer to our residents and their children. (As the mother of a National Merit Finalist and a Semi-Finalist, I can personally attest to the effectiveness of the administrators and their staff.) Thank you Katy ISD!

3. Cost of Living: We still have lots of available land for building and labor is fairly inexpensive so housing is affordable. However, our property taxes tend to be a high but keep in mind Texas does not have a State Income Tax so our property taxes are used to fund our great schools.

4. (Relatively) Easy Commute: Traffic, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and it depends on what you consider an easy commute. Face it, Houston loves its vehicles so the traffic will always be with us. However, with the completion of the I-10 expansion and the Westpark Tollway completion, there are several avenues for timely travel into Houston and beyond. I know some people do not want a commute and are willing to pay higher homes prices to live closer in and perhaps sacrifice a bit on the schools but our many residents feel that the trade-off is worth it.

5. Great Communities: There are so many different neighborhoods available to a home buyer in our area. I tend to call them “communities”  because some of them are larger than many small towns. In fact, Cinco Ranch is currently the number one new home selling community in entire country and has recently acquired 500 additional acres to continue its growth. Katy offers many other terrific choices such as: Grand Lakes, Firethorne, Cross Creek Ranch, Seven Meadows, Kelliwood, Grayson Lakes and more. Our developers have thoughtfully designed and completed their communities with the homeowner in mind. With careful presentation of commercial/retail, beautifully landscaped common areas, abundant resort-style amenities (golf, pools, tennis, hike/bike trails, lakes, etc.), our residents can feel secure that they have made a wise choice with regard to their families’ enjoyment and potential resale value.

6. Quality of Life: Katy offers a true, small town experience with big city features. We have great dining, shopping, and entertainment opportunities for everyone of all ages. We are thrilled to be the lucky recipient of abundant medical care, including but not limited to the new Medical Center’s West Campus: Texas Children’s Hospital, Methodist Hospital, Hermann Memorial Hospital, Christus St. Catherine Hospital and the MD Anderson Radiology Center.

7. Diverse and Interesting: Our area is truly representative of the world’s population. As the destination of choice for most expatriates moving here with their energy sector jobs, you will love our multi-cultural make-up. Our kids grow up with friends from all over the world and so many international buyers (drawn here because of our schools), develop strong ties to our community. I know on my street alone we have residents representing: US, Canada, Africa, India, Russia… and this is one street.

8. Family: Katy is family centric and is a place where you can finally stop, unwind and relax with the ones you love. This is a place where people gather to enjoy everything that a true “community” can offer.  

9. Spirituality:  At one time, this area was known as the “City of Churches” and offers a place of worship for everyone, regardless of your faith.

10. Friendly Residents: I have lived all over US and abroad and can attest that I am living in one of the friendliest places on Earth. This could be one of the reasons so many people keep moving back to Katy, TX. When a family moves away, chances are … they will be back.

Why not drop by and check us out. You just might love it and never want to  leave. For more information, please visit my website www.ChristiBorden.com .

See you in Katy!


What if I Build a Blog and Nobody Comes?

January 27, 2011

Does this go through the mind of anyone thinking of beginning a blog? It goes through my mind, still…

I have developed a newfound passion and respect for blogging and bloggers, brought about by a longtime, secret desire to write, the knowledge that it might actually be good for my business and a challenge by blog creator, WordPress.com. Who knew a silly online challenge would unleash the writer within?

I am now a true believer and crusader for the power of the blog. I also make every effort to follow other writers to learn more about this exciting craft and have discovered there is a lot more to it than simply throwing words on a wall and hoping they stick.

If there are so many great reasons to do it, why don’t more people try it. And for those of us who do, why aren’t we doing a better job? While getting started seems to be the hardest part, in reality, it is consistency or rather the lack of consistency that trips us up.

So you want to start a blog? Great. Welcome aboard. First, you come up with a title, pick out a theme … now what? Some will plow ahead unhindered by fear or hesitancy, while others will end up staring at a daunting online dashboard, paralyzed with indecision and frozen from elbows to finger tips, unable to render a single word. Sound familiar?

I started with no plan at all. I was meandering from thought to thought and this approach helped me get into the habit of writing. I could continue along this path but I realize to obtain relevancy and longevity, my blog and my thoughts require focus. To help develop your own, draw a wagon wheel on a sheet of paper or on the first page of your blog journal. If you do not have a blog journal, get one. This a great way to capture the white-hot streaks of ideas that race across your consciousness and eventually become seeds for your posts.

Now, write down the focus or main theme of your blog in the center, and add related subjects or topics at the end of the spokes, throwing in a few that may not relate to the central story you are trying to tell but reflect who you really are. Your overall theme may anchor the blog but only by adding a bit of “you” will it be interesting.

How many of us have had blogs for a while but have not posted in months… years even? That is not really a blog, but a dull and static example of how we have missed the most important recipe for blogging success… consistency. A good way to develop the habit of routinely updating or contributing to a blog is to create a daily or weekly schedule for your topics.  An example could be Top Ten Tuesday, Wild Wednesday, Free Thought Friday, etc. This puts a routine to your writing and helps your reader anticipate what to expect from your blog. This is a great way to build your viewership and that goal of all goals, the subscriber.

Finally, let’s talk about syndication, which is important to getting actual eyeballs on your site. Luckily, WordPress will send your posts directly to Facebook and Twitter. I would also suggest advertising the name of your blog along with your static website. There are many people who feel that the blog has taken center stage and basically replaced the need for a separate site. I still cling to mine but have made a link to my blog a central part of my site and have started sharing my blog URL as I would my address or cell phone number.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that if you build it, they will come. But I can guarantee if you don’t, they will go somewhere else.

What are you waiting for? Like me, you may find that you not only like it… you love it.

Happy Blogging, Y’all!


Hard to be Permenant in a Disposable World

January 26, 2011

Just yesterday I wrote about my love of gadgets and today, I received my timely comeuppance.

My college-age kids called me to tell me their phones were malfunctioning and needed to be replaced. How is it that both phones have run amuck at exactly same time?

And the wireless Gods were not smiling upon me because the blessed upgrade from our carrier is not until March. But Mom, they pleaded in their most pitiful voices, we (meaning me) could buy two refurbished phones to get them through the long wait (one month) until the upgrade was within their grasp… and only for measly $ 50 a pop. The phone is regularly $ 300 so this is a deal, right? I am being asked to dole out $100 for what will amount to two disposable phones. I ask you, does that seem logical? It seemed perfectly fine to them and they are now questioning my ability to reason let alone my ability to function without assistance.

When a $ 300 phone or anything for that matter is viewed as “temporary” and we count the days until they can be discarded, where do we draw the line on what is considered valuable enough to keep?

Computers: Laptop technology changes so rapidly that they are pretty much rendered obsolete in 3 to 4 years. I am on my third laptop since beginning my real estate business just 7 years ago.

Cameras: Do you remember how long you kept your first camera? I still have my fully manual Pentax K1000 (remember film, gasp), from high school which has still created some of the best shots I have taken to date. How long do you plan to hang onto your current camera? Or, are you already looking at the newer models and wishing you had them or worse, planning your future purchase?

Cars: I for one like to buy a really nice vehicle (usually one or two years old versus new) and will keep it for a very long time before moving on. While others may own 4 or 5 vehicles during the same time I have kept one. No judgement rendered; just observation.

Has advancing technology created an itch than cannot be scratched, a hunger than cannot be fed, a thirst that cannot be quenched?

 Are we doomed to enjoy temporary satisfaction only to be left wanting more?

What say you?


Cool Tools for Today’s Realtor!

January 25, 2011

Okay, so I am a gadget junkie and an intervention is certainly in my near future, but there are certain tools that help me through my day as a busy and successful Realtor in Katy, TX  – a sprawling suburb located about 20 miles west of Houston and near the center of the Energy Corridor.

My list has nothing to do with being able to perform the business of real estate but haseverything” to do with my being able to perform it well.

1. Tablet PC – I love being able to run my business as paperless as possible. I have an HP Tablet Elite that allows me to take notes, bring up all manner of paperwork, fill in the contracts and have clients sign on site. This is a powerful machine and impresses clients that I have the equipment of a professional.

2. Real Estate Dashboard software by www.Gopaperless.com. I use this software to keep my documents organized on my computer and it has an e-sign feature that compares to Docusign as well as an upload feature similar to Dropbox.  (I use Dropbox for my iPad, too).

3. Docusign – Even though I have a redundant system on my computer, with so many other Realtors using Docusign, I am an avid subscriber as well. It is easy to use and clients LOVE it. No more driving across town to secure signatures. Experienced relocation clients, especially those out-of-town, now expect this level of service. Check it out… your business will prosper because of it.

4. Mi-fi – I have a wi-fi by Sprint (the Overdrive) that I carry with me always. For a mere $ 50 a month, I am able to access the internet at every opportunity on at least 5 machines: iPad, laptop, etc. I always give my listing appointments LIVE so that future clients can see exactly what is happening in their market in real-time as well I can demonstrate my marketing in action. For my buyers, we can drive around and use the new www.HAR.com app or the www.Realtor.com app to view homes on the fly. I am one of those people who are “always” connected and I like it that way. However, my family does not always agree with me. Use with discretion…

5. iPad – Yes, I know I have a computer but it is not always convenient to bring it along plus my iPad is so much fun! I love the instant access to all of  my Social Media Sites plus my husband steals it from me to play “Words with Friends”. I know that my opponents may notice at times I am a tad brighter than usual… it is all Danny. Sorry but he loves the game and can really crush it at Scrabble. How can I deny him this one joy?

6. Kodak HD Video camera – the best $ 139.00 you will spend, and make sure to get the sport version which is water proof down to 3 meters and can be dropped from 5 feet (not that I have ever dropped a camera anywhere near water…ahem). And it will be perfect to take on my next vacation. Bahamas, here I come…

7. Laser Tape measure – How can any Realtor live without this device? In fact, I have about three because I tend to leave them around or lose them. They are fantastic and sellers are very impressed when you whip them out to measure their home.

8. Digital SLR Camera with a tripod – While I usually hire a professional photographer for my main photos, I tend to supplement with area community shots and they have to be great. I have several point and shoot cameras (the Kodak Video camera has a built-in 5 MP) but nothing really takes the place of a good SLR camera. There is no comparison between the two and having a great range of lenses (wide-angle for indoor shots and long-range for outdoors) helps me truly present the best features a property has to offer. I am a Nikon gal but any of the big guys will do. Shooting with a tripod completely eliminates any motion or shake allowing you to take the clearest of photos. Try a tripod, you will never go back to handheld photography again.

9. Laminating machine – I know this is a weird tool but many times I need to present a great copy of a survey, pool rendering, bullet list of features, newsletter, community update, etc. and a laminated copy always takes my marketing up a notch. The fact that it came from Sam’s and cost $ 99 is beside the point. No one else is using one and my listings stand out because of it.

10. Showing Beacon – This is a terrific box that connects to the phone of the seller and lets them know when a showing is complete by the simple touch of a button. The agent showing the home signals the seller to return home upon leaving the property and the beacon actually calls the seller’s cell phone with the message. Pretty cool, huh? My sellers love it because they are not left waiting hours for an agent that arrives late or does not show at all.

Now that I have gotten started, I could probably list at least 10 more.

What tools would you add to this list and how do you use them?