Home Seller: Your “To Do” List Prior to a Home Inspection.

February 22, 2011

by christiborden

Home Inspection Approaches

So you finally have a contract on your home. Congratulations! Now, your buyer has ordered an independent inspection. Believe me, this is a good thing. When so many real estate transactions end in court due to disclosure items, inspections are a wonderful way for both parties to be aware of the condition of the property and hopefully resolve any such issues up front. You should applaud a buyer that thinks enough of his investment to hire an inspector. I am always worried about buyers who don’t. In fact, I would rather not represent a buyer that declines to inspect, even new construction.

Even though it is probably too late to make major repairs prior to the inspection, there are some things a seller can do to help the inspection go well for both parties and most of these items are simply the little nagging, honey-do type of things that we, as homeowners, tend to get used to and ignore.

  • Let there be light: Check all light bulbs and replace those not working. An inspector is not going to test the fixture itself but may call it as a deficiency and recommend that it be examined by a licensed electrician. Quite a costly repair for a blown bulb.
  • Water, water everywhere: Repair any leaking faucets, water fixtures, irrigation systems, etc. If you do not know how to do it, hire a plumber. If you are aware of rotten wood on the exterior of your home, this is usually flagged for repair.
  • Heating, Cooling and More: How long has it been since your systems have been serviced? How long has it been since you changed your filters and cleaned your vents? A well-maintained home will shine at an inspection, helping you and your buyer keep the transaction together.
  • Access to your home: Make sure there is access to your breaker box, the heater/air conditioner, water heater, etc. If your personal belongings block these important items, the inspector will not inspect it causing the buyer to either accept an incomplete inspection, having to pay an additional fee for a further inspection or he may just pull out of the deal completely.
  • Disclose, Disclose, Disclose: Please click here to read my past blog about your responsibility as a Seller to disclose. This is not something to take lightly or to ignore. If you know about it something that you, as a buyer, would want to know about a property, disclose. Even if you have made a repair, it is required to let them know the issue existed.

That should get you started on your way to having your property ready for the inspection. If you have questions about this or other items, contact your Realtor or your real estate attorney for advice regarding the inspection report and repairs. Also, in the State of Texas, you are required to disclose this and any other property inspection performed within the last four years and must note same on the Seller’s Disclosure Notice.

I hope this has helped you and wish you a safe and stress-free journey toward your closing.

Disclaimer: My name is Christi Borden. I am a licensed real estate agent in the State of Texas and a member of the National Association of REALTORS. As such, I adhere to a strict code of ethics and all laws with regard to equal housing, which is reflected in the content of this blog. My broker is Prudential GARY GREENE, REALTORS, 23922 Cinco Village Center, Suite 123, Katy TX 77494. My TX Real Estate License number is 0517398. All of the opinions in this blog are mine, unless otherwise noted.


All for the love of a Dog!

February 21, 2011

by christiborden

Macie, The Wonder Mutt

Our loving Macie who died 2/20/2011

Day one after my sweet loving companion has forever left my side and I am slightly numb. Day two and it promises more of the same.

I still walk gently in the dark to avoid stepping on her. I still wait for her to peek around the corner to see what I am up to. Cats had nothing on her curious nature. My daily routines so wrapped around her needs that I must now reorganize my day. Every little task, a memory of her. Something so simple as pouring that first cup off coffee…her signal that it was time for her treat and a walk to her lake. Pavlov’s theory in full force, although I am not quite sure I wasn’t the one being trained to respond.

Amazing how much our lives become entrenched with those of our pets. When the kids flew the nest, the dog and I developed our “you and me, pal” attitude to get through our day. We eventually settled into a comfortable partnership that filled the void left by their departure. We both loved when our boys and their smelly friends blew in for weekends and holidays. The house then filled up again with laundry, fun and laughter. She would give me that knowing look that said, “ah, this is as it should be”. Both of us sad to see them go but also content with a home at peace.

Quiet… now it is all too quiet and suffocating. I know this will pass. I welcome the day when I can replace the searing pain of loss with the sweet joy of memory. I know in my heart that she was loved and returned that love completely. I know she is not in pain. I know that if dogs have souls, hers is shining above with a bright light, a wet nose and a wagging tail. And for her brief time on this earth, I thank God that I was her Human.


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?


Why Volunteer for HAR/TAR/NAR!

February 15, 2011

While I do not exactly live and breathe real estate, you just might think I do by the amount of time I give it, both as a Realtor and as a volunteer. In fact, today I returned from our bi-annual governance meetings in Austin and I am first to admit that I am thoroughly “pooped”.

Why do I do it?  Why would I spend so much time away from my business and family on volunteer projects that at first glance do not make me money? I am often asked these questions and want to share my personal experience with you.

As a volunteer, you get to…:

  • Surround yourself with industry leaders and innovators, nationally recognized and gifted individuals known for their contributions to our industry. These are people usually who move in different circles than we do. In fact, you might rarely get to meet them, much less work with and learn from them without giving of yourself and your time to the things they love – the business of real estate.
  • Learn something new every single day. This is the best form of continuing education and is being taught by the true masters in our business.
  • Be “in-the-know” and at the forefront of industry trends and technology. Things change so fast with regard to contracts, marketing, social media, etc. that you may end up with a huge advantage over your competitors by leading the pack.
  • Network with like-minded professionals across the State and Nation, which could pay off in quality future referrals. I have been fortunate to receive referrals from many fellow Realtors with clients moving to or from my area of Katy, TX. And I also have a great resource to refer my clients when they move. A true win-win situation. 
  • Serve your fellow members, building good will and a strong reputation with your peers. Plus, it really does the heart good!
  • Make an impact on your industry. You might just be the next great innovator or “influencer” and your association and its members will benefit.
  • Enjoy your business more thoroughly through building life-long relationships. Some of my best friends are Realtors who work hard and play harder. This is a group that enjoys life and they never get upset if I have to text a client or take a call. They truly understand me and my life as a busy Realtor.

There are so many more reasons for you to step up to the plate. What is stopping you? Volunteer Today!


Top # 10 books for Real Estate

February 14, 2011

I recently participated in a panel of peers speaking on the subject of what we, as full-time, residential real estate agents, were doing to move our business forward in a challenging business environment.

Part of my presentation on the panel was sharing books that contribute to my successful journey in this crazy world of real estate and for life in general. I thought I would share it with a broader audience and ask for your opinion of books that I can add to my shelf of knowledge.

My Current Favorites:

Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison and Wayne A Conaway. A fabulous guide-book for anyone working with international clients. While you may need more in-depth information for a specific client, this book helps you understand the decision-making process of different cultures and may help prevent a critical yet innocent faux pax.

Hard Optimism by Price Pritchett. This is a small, concise, easy-to-read booklet that gets to the heart of what is necessary to be truly optimistic. I keep a copy in my car to read when I find myself with a few moments of down time. I also have several copies on my shelf that I loan out and have given away.  Whether you are in real estate or not, it is powerful and I recommend it highly.

E-Myth Revisited by  Michael E. Gerber . This book helped me to see the difference between the “job” and the “entrepreneurial” mentality, which is crucial to success not only real estate but in any business venture. If you behave like an employee, you will never be the boss. And in real estate, you must rise to the position of boss or fail. While it is a little dry in places, this book has a powerful message.

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. If procrastination is your thing, you need to buy this book today.. no not tomorrow, TODAY. This is short, sweet and to the point. If there is a job you need to do but tend to put off, this book is for you. 

How to List and Sell Real Estate by Danielle Kennedy with Warren Jamison. This was my first introduction to real estate prospecting. In my freelance court reporting past life, I was very familiar with how to attract clients but Danielle helped me focus on the particlar business at hand. Timeless advice for an ever evolving business.

The Tech Savvy Real Estate Agent by Galen Gruman. Although written with the agent in mind,  this book has great technology advice and information that many businesses could benefit from reading.

The Millionaire Real Estate Agent…. by Gary Keller, et al. A well-written book that focuses not only making money but it is one of the most information-packed and practical guides to starting and maintaining a successful a real estate business.

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. A great book that is not directed at real estate but has provided great insight into marketing strategies that will “stick”.

Exploiting Chaos… by Jeremy Gutsche. Again, a non-real estate specific book but chock full of powerful strategies for thriving in a chaotic economic crisis.

Swanepoel Trends Report and Swanepoel Social Media Report both by Stefan Swanepoel. I always follow this yearly report on trends and market leaders. It provides me with insight into where our industry has been and where it most likely is headed.

101 Technology tools for Business on the Go by Shannon King and Melissa Dittman Tracey. A wonderful quick read sharing tools that every real estate road warrior will want to have. (I had the chance to meet her in Austin this week and she is terrific).

How about you? Read any good books lately that have helped you in your business?


Superbowl … A Lesson in Living The Dream!

February 5, 2011

Today is Superbowl Sunday and, like everyone else, I have my mind on the game. However, it isn’t the game but the athletes themselves that interest me. Okay, the commercials, too but that is best left to another post.

I love learning about their individual stories and how they made it here. How they started playing the game as little boys, and continued to define their strengths, refine their skills, and struggle through years of injuries, hardship and courage to become these men at this time in history. Amazing, when you when you think about it.

Consider the immense number of people in life who start playing, training or studying to prepare for their desired area of expertise, and then consider the number who actually make it. What are the odds? What makes the difference? What is it that gets them from novice to Superstar while others, with similar talents, flounder instead of flourish?

Training: They are always training and have been since they first picked up a ball. I can tell you that the Ben Roethlistberger’s and Aaron Rodger’s of the world never stopped training once mastering their talent. In fact, they never believe it to be fully mastered.

Tenacity: They never give up. Injuries may sideline but still they press on. Even to their physical detriment, they continue to play with broken bones, bruised muscles (and egos), rain or snow, heat or cold. Something deep within drives them to continue when others are given the permission to rest.

Coaching: Every single professional has a coach and this is not limited to sports. The gifted require this external element, whether they are writers, actors, singers, and even Realtors (my field of play). A coach is someone who can clearly see where the athlete needs to be and knows how to get him there. He studies the the strengths and weaknesses and creates a plan of action that is specific to that individual. There is no one-size-fits-all! They develop a continuous push/pull dynamic to their relationship. The coach provides the roadmap, monitors the progress and constantly encourages, presses, cajoles, maybe even threatens to ensure action. An effective coach will not fall for excuses or procrastination. If the athlete is tough, the coach must be tougher.

Desire: They can see it, taste it and smell it, even when it exists only in their mind. What might seem daunting to most will only feed this desire further. Ask a true believer what their goal is and you will be astounded by dreams that appear unattainable at best and possibly even bordering on delusions of grandeur. Could it be we lack the belief system and vision to go there or maybe we never had it in the first place? There are no self-induced limits on their ability to achieve… and what they lack, they go back to the first three items above and create it, fix it or improve it.

So while you watch the game today, pay attention to the back-ground stories that the media uses to fill dead air time. Listen to proud parents as they portray their son’s childhood. Ask yourself; what was unique about the seed planted in the “Sapling” of the kid that helped him grew into this mighty “Oak” of a man? If you took a poll of each player on the field and asked what he wanted most as a kid, he will tell it is today. It is this one moment in time. It is to play in the Superbowl!

Win or lose, they are all champions and should be honored for truly “Living the Dream”!


A Life Lesson from Groundhog’s Day!

February 3, 2011

Did you watch the movie last night? I caught it on its final cycle and remembered why I love it so. It is a timeless movie: well written, well cast and just plain funny!

The central character is a grumpy, ego-centric, curmudgeon named Phil (Bill Murray not the groundhog) who finds himself caught in the nightmare of repeating the same day over and over again. No matter what he does, he wakes up at 6:00 am to find himself right where he started the day before. The entire movie is spent watching Phil’s reaction to this phenomenon and how he is changed by it.

It is when Phil Connors has the epiphany that he is truly happy with himself and his life as it is “now” and does not care about tomorrow, only then is he allowed to move forward.

Are you happy? Are you living in the “now” or are you waiting for your life to happen to you some day down the road? 

What will you find tomorrow when your alarm goes off and your day begins. Will it be different or just a repeat of the same?

If you love what you have today, then you will have it again. If not, only “you” can decide to be happy and discover a new day.

Don’t you love it when Hollywood gives us a postive message for a change?