Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tax credit and deduction tips for home improvement in 2012


(ARA) - With the new year under way, you may be thinking about needed home improvements and how you'll use your credit to fund them. While it's important to understand your credit before making major home improvement decisions, you should also consider another kind of credit - tax credits for energy efficient home improvements.

For the past few years, the federal government has offered tax credits for certain home improvements aimed at increasing a home's energy efficiency. While the most popular and generous tax credits, such as the one that allowed you to claim up to 30 percent of improvements such as a new roof or hot water heater, have expired, you can still get credit for other significant energy-efficient improvements.

According to EnergyStar.gov, you can claim a tax credit for 30 percent of the cost of installing a geothermal heat pump, small wind turbine or solar energy system in your home. The credit has no upper limit and applies to both existing homes and new construction, but not to rental properties. This credit is good until Dec. 31, 2016.

You can also get a credit of up to 30 percent of the cost of residential fuel cells, up to $500 per .5kW of power capacity, EnergyStar.gov says. This credit is also available until Dec. 31, 2016.

While the initial cost of these improvements may seem significant, they can dramatically decrease home energy bills in the long run.

Depending on the type of home improvement or repair you undertake, you may also be able to claim a deduction on your taxes. Before launching a significant home repair or improvement, it may pay to consult with your tax accountant to see what, if any, portion of the cost may be deductible. And, as you do home repairs throughout the year, keep receipts and discuss the improvements and possible deductions with your accountant when he or she is preparing your tax return.

Knowing ahead of time which, if any, tax credits or deductions your home improvement may qualify for can help you make a better decision about how to use credit to fund the work. Since how you use credit affects your overall credit score, knowing the cost of a project before starting it can help you better manage your credit.

If you're unsure how a home improvement project may affect your credit score, websites like freecreditscore.com can help you understand your credit. The site offers members a Credit Score Estimator that can help you understand how big financial decisions, like applying for a home improvement loan, may affect your credit score.

To learn more about tax credits for energy efficient home improvements, visit www.EnergyStar.gov. To learn more about tax deductions, visit www.IRS.gov. You can find a list of regional tax credits, rebates and savings at energy.gov/savings.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Today's boomers downsize homes, but upsize the amenities



Say goodbye to the McMansion. According to a leading real estate website, Trulia.com, 2010 was officially the year that homes over 3,200 square feet ended their dominance and appeal. But don't think that downsizing means downgrading. In fact, homeowners are looking to upsize their amenities to help them enjoy every inch of their homes.

And, while many different generations are following this trend, Boomers are a unique group, looking to enjoy their smaller nest now that the kids have flown the coop - yet ensure that their homes are filled with the many amenities they'll require for their golden years.

Anything but basic baths

While they may purchase a smaller floor plan, mature adults are looking for ways to turn ordinary rooms into extraordinarily indulgent experiences. In the bath, that means the ultimate spa experience - from elaborate showers to heated floors and towel warmers. But when it comes to the bathroom, it's just as important to keep it safe. Luckily, safe can also equate to stylish. Try installing comfortable seating for the shower with a beautiful fold-down shower seat made of teak and aluminum; or updating common bath accessories such as a paper holder, towel bar or shelf with a new integrated version that combines each accessory with a grab bar for added safety.

"Our goal is to make every bath a safe bath. And, for savvy homeowners looking to incorporate safety at any age, it's essential we provide products to meet their safety and style requirements," says Laurie Birko, Moen Home Care brand manager. "Our newest products, such as our Fold-Down Shower Seat and Grab Bars with Accessories look like decorative pieces rather than safety devices, so homeowners no longer have to choose between safety or style ... they can have both."

Kitchens that cook ... and more

Different generations have very specific desires in terms of creating a kitchen to meet their needs, and according to findings from the Research Institute for Cooking and Kitchen Intelligence, boomers are looking for kitchens with amenities that will assist with entertaining. These upgrades may include cooktops with special-purpose features, such as a built-in grill or wok; commercial or professional-grade appliances; a built-in coffee pot connected directly to plumbing or an oven that dramatically reduces cooking times without microwaves.

Bedrooms that sizzle

Mature adults still know how to spice up their bedroom with hot amenities, including fireplaces, heated mattress pads and large-capacity warming cabinets for blankets, robes, towels and clothing. Convenience-based bedroom trends include a laundry room off of the master suite, remote-controlled window treatments and voice controlled lighting and electronics, making your mature boudoir much more magical than your childhood bedroom.

The greater outdoors

No-mow lawns have sprouted up as a time-, water-, fuel- and money-saving alternative to the traditional lawn. These lawns have been around for over a decade in parks and other public spaces. Now they're catching on with homeowners - particularly with the growing population of second-homeowners who don't want to spend their precious getaway weekends mowing the lawn. They're also becoming popular with mature adults who are simply tired of the rigors and high cost of constant lawn upkeep.

For homeowners in colder climates who are tired of the hassles and hazards of snow removal, driveway heating systems are an ideal amenity. Radiant driveway heating systems provide heat similar to indoor in-floor heating systems. Heat is delivered with either electric cable (electric systems) or by hot water pumped through plastic tubing (hydronic systems) compacted in the surface. Most driveway heating systems have automatic smart sensors that turn the systems on when it begins to snow, providing great consistency and reliability for snow removal, whether you're home or not.

And, with safety always a concern - both indoors and out - driveway heating systems are not only convenient; these systems are potentially lifesavers, helping prevent heart attacks, frostbite and back pain commonly associated with snow removal. Driveway heating also helps reduce injuries due to slips and falls, and possibly liability due to such accidents.

Regardless of the size of your home, whether you build new or buy used, filling your empty nest with hot amenities will help to make your golden years as good as gold. For more information about Moen Home Care bath safety products, visit http://www.moen.com/.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Video Tour - 637 Shady Bridge Lane



Just Listed by the Grove Team, Keller Williams


637 Shady Bridge



Located in the Carriage Gate Addition, Keller - this home has all the right touches in all the right places. Situated on a prime corner lot, the home features four bedrooms and two and half baths. Call the Grove Team today to schedule your private showing! (817) 337-0000

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recent Flood Could Have Been Avoided

Recently, a member of the Grove Team came home to a gushing laundry room faucet. The water had not gotten past the tile in the hall, but the entire event could have been a disaster had she come home a few hours later.





This reminded me to mention that anyone who might be leaving a home vacant for any period of time should cap off the laundry room and ice maker faucets. The parts to do so are about $10 and could prevent thousands of dollars in damage.





This is just one way a homeowner can eliminate the possibility of water damage while not occupying a residence. Although some owners choose to cut off the water at the street, this step can create a great deal of inconvience. Taking smaller steps, such as cutting off water to toilets and capping laundry room faucets can prevent accidents without making water unavailable to all visitors.





For more ideas of steps you can take to avoid damage while your home is vacant, call the Grove Team at 817-337-0000 or email us at info@groveteam.com.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Video Tour - 640 Cardinal Lane, Keller




Just Listed by the Grove Team

640 Cardinal Lane, Keller

Offered at $165,000


Located across the street from the community pool and park, this home sits on a beautiful corner lot. Featuring three bedrooms and two baths, it has been lightly lived in and is ready for you to come take a look. For a quick preview, check out the video!


Then call the Grove Team, Keller Williams to schedule your private showing - (817) 337-0000 or find us online, www.groveteam.com

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Latest Statistics in for Third Quarter Home Sales in Texas

According to the Texas Quarterly Housing Report, issued by the Texas Association of REALTORS and compiled by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M, statewide home sales were up 18% in the third quarter of 2011 with prices holding steady. Statistics for area cities will be released as they become available.

Part of the increase could be linked to housing becoming more affordable. In 2010, housing affordabililty was at its highest rate in the past 20 years. First time home buyers are pleased with their home purchases:



  • 67% were able to purchase a home sooner than they expected

  • 50% were able to purchase a home in a better neighborhood than they expected

  • 61% purchased at a better price than they expected

  • 43% were able to lock in a better interest rate than expected

To talk about why purchasing a home in today's market is a smart decision, call the Grove Team at 817-337-0000 or contact us online at www.groveteam.com.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Local REALTORS Win Grant

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has awarded a grant of $3,000 to the MetroTex Association of Realtors. The MetroTex Association covers the REALTORS in most of North Texas, including Tarrant and Dallas counties. MetroTex was the only Texas association to be successful in gaining a grant through NAR's Housing Opportunity Program.


The grant will be used to hold a workshop for REALTORS, public officials, and affordable housing organizations to define and describe the negative attitudes held by the public about affordable housing. Workshop participants will also create strategies to change those attitudes.

"Receiving this grant will be very beneficial for MetroTex to address a big issue in communities across North Texas," said 2011 MetroTex President Patricia Szot. "In today's market any negative perception about affordable housing needs to be eliminated. We have to move forward to improve all all areas of our housing market."


Information about affordable housing programs in Texas is at http://www.txhomeprograms.org/.
The Texas Veterans Land Board, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, and USDA Rural Development agency offer assistance to various groups.

Of course, contact the Grove Team at www.groveteam.com or call 817-337-0000 for more detail on any of our blog posts.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How to Decorate for the Holidays While Your Home Is on the Market

Homes on the market face stiff competition these days. Make sure to decorate for this time of year in a way that celebrates the holidays but doesn't hurt your chances with buyers:




  • Remove furniture to accommodate the Christmas tree.


  • Use a select few decorations. Less is more.


  • Decorate only the main living area of the home.


  • Check out upscale stores and mirror their approach to decorating.


  • Keep your eye on the ball: make sure buyers look at the house, not your decorations.


  • Keep presents out of sight and well-hidden. Wrap empty boxes for effect.


  • Remember that not everyone celebrates in the same way. Keep strong themes to a minimum.


  • Use white lights rather than multi-colored. No flashing lights.


  • Decorate the outside, too. Curb appeal is important. Don't be a black lot on your street while other homes are well-lit.

It is possible to celebrate the holidays while a home is on the market, but a change in approach might be necessary for this one year. Decorate appropriately and toast in the New Year with a contract for sale!

How to extend the life of your heating system


(ARA) - Just as regular tune-ups may extend the life of your car, performing routine maintenance to your home's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system may extend the life of your HVAC equipment. While there are some tasks homeowners can handle on their own, many HVAC projects require a professional contractor.

Independent Customer Care (TM) Dealers from American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning offer a quick overview of basic service tasks for do-it-yourselfers and service jobs that require a pro:

Furnace maintenance: DIY

Filters prevent dust and dirt from building up in your HVAC system. However, dirty filters slow airflow, forcing your system to work harder. The extra exertion can increase energy costs and lead to a damaged system. To prevent costly repairs and keep your system operating at peak efficiency, replace your furnace filters on a monthly basis.

Furnace maintenance: Pro

A licensed HVAC contractor should fully inspect your furnace at least once per year. During an annual inspection, the contractor will check the heat exchanger and may adjust the burner. Depending on what type of heating system you have, a professional may also check or clean the flue.

Outdoor unit: DIY

Keep the area surrounding the outdoor unit free of debris - remove any grass or leaves near the base of the unit and keep nearby shrubbery pruned. If the exterior of the unit becomes dirty, you may also use a soft brush or vacuum cleaner to clean the surface.

Outdoor unit: Pro

When servicing an outdoor unit, a professional will inspect the unit's wiring and repair any loose or damaged connections. A licensed HVAC contractor will also remove any debris that you may have overlooked or can't see, as well as oil the fan and inspect the unit's interior for any damage.

Ductwork: DIY

Leaky ductwork wastes energy and reduces the life span of an HVAC system. DIYers are encouraged to inspect all visible ductwork in the attic, crawlspace or garage for cracks or leaks. Most local home improvement stores carry a variety of metal tapes or sealants that you can easily apply to seal leaks however, homeowners are encouraged to contact a professional for tougher jobs such as adding new ductwork.

Ductwork: Pro

A professional duct cleaner will inspect the entire system, including ductwork not accessible to you. As a part of the inspection, a professional will take apart the vents, clean the vents and registers, and check for mold, asbestos and other contaminants. A contractor will often seal off any fiberglass insulation in the ducts, preventing it from blowing into the home.

While a professional HVAC contractor will keep your system running at its most efficient, there are a few things you can do in tandem to help extend the life of your HVAC system. In addition, regular care to your heating and cooling system may also improve your home's energy efficiency and enhance indoor air quality. For more information or to contact a local American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning dealer, go to www.americanstandardair.com.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What Did Home Buyers Look Like in 2009 and 2010?

Additional information from the National Association of Realtors survey of home buyers and sellers in 2009-2010 demonstrates the following:



  • First-time home buyers were exceptionally strong at 50 percent. First-time buyers were most likely in their thirties.


  • Singles represented a growing segment of home buyers. About 32% of buyers were not married.


  • Median income among first-time buyers was $59,900 and among repeat buyers was $87,000.


  • Buyers typically searched for about three months and saw twelve homes.


  • The vast majority of buyers--83%--purchased through a real estate agent or broker.


  • On overwhelming number of buyers financed their homes: 91%

Again, the Grove Team's experience in 2009 and 2010 mirrored these national trends. On the whole though, the market in Texas was much stronger in 2009 and 2010 and continues to be so in 2011.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Kind of Home Did a Typical Buyer Buy in 2009 and 2010?

Each year the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys thousands of buyers and sellers to determine trends for a particular year. From July 2009 to July 2010, NAR found the following:




  • New home purchases were at the lowest level in nine years. New home purchases represented only 15% of home purchases. Obviously, 2010 was a tough year for builders.


  • The typical home was under 2000 square feet, measuring about 1,780 square feet.


  • Single family homes without any adjoining walls to other homes were the most popular at 77% of home purchases. Condo developers also suffered in 2010.


  • Buyers over 50 purchased senior-related housing, including active adult communities, in 11% of cases.


  • Commuting to work is a prime concern for most buyers. The costs of getting to work or school were considered very or somewhat important by 76% of buyers.


Looking at the year in Grove Team sales, Texas buyers were very similar to those found nationally. New home sales slowed and condo owners had a very difficult time selling their homes in 2010.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Seasonal sense: Using scent, sight and sound to stimulate holiday spirits


(ARA) - From baking cookies with loved ones to caroling through the neighborhood or celebrating with family and friends, fond memories of holiday traditions abound. Each year, scents, sights and sounds promote the season's spirit - continuing long-standing traditions and creating new memories.

Here are some ideas for stimulating your senses and evoking the warmth of the holidays in your home:

Savoring seasonal scents

Home fragrances create a warm, inviting environment during the holidays and all year-round. A whiff of a familiar scent often calls to mind memories of holidays past. The scent of cinnamon and vanilla conjures thoughts of freshly baked cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, while a blend of evergreens, cedar, and musk reminds many of Christmas tree hunting in the woods.

One of the safest ways to recreate holiday memories is with scented, wickless candles. With no wick and no flame, there's no worry or mess. After selecting a favorite seasonal fragrance, it's easy to place a cube or two of the scented wax into a decorative, ceramic candle warmer. Just one whiff and you are on your way down memory lane.

"A festive, welcoming atmosphere stimulates our senses and reminds us of holidays past as we celebrate with our family and friends," says Heidi Thompson, president and co-owner of Scentsy, a leader in home fragrance. "A home filled with classic holiday scents not only evokes memories but inspires new seasonal traditions for young families."

Behold the sights

Twinkling lights fill the indoor and outdoor landscape during the holidays. To capture the spirit of the season and add a shimmering glow to any room, consider a simple string or two of miniature lights strung along a mantel or displaying a holiday-themed wickless candle. From snowmen to Santa, there are festive designs in all shapes and sizes to complement any decor.

Sounds of the season

The sounds of the season create happy holiday memories. Adding traditional tunes from Bing Crosby or modern interpretations from Harry Connick, Jr. can set the mood as you decorate your home, entertain dinner guests or simply escape the hustle and bustle of the season. Music creates a cheerful atmosphere and often encourages listeners to sing along.

Enjoying the scents, sights and sounds of the season is simple. To learn more about how to fill your home with festive fragrances and decorate with wickless candles, visit http://scentsy.net/.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Four ways to achieve a luxurious look with an affordable price tag


(ARA) - It's not uncommon for homeowners to get the itch to move when they've been in their house awhile. While just picking up and moving isn't an option for most of us, there's another approach that people are taking: Refreshing their house to create a high-impact, high-style look, but doing it in a way that's cost effective.

You don't need to be an interior design expert to pull this off, either. A little creativity, adaptive reuse and the right focal point can give your home a luxurious look at a reasonable price, according to top experts who specialize in fabulous on a budget.

"Affordable luxury means achieving comfort and a high level of style for a price point that is not going to break the bank," affordable-luxury designer Sarah Barnard says.

Here are a few ways to achieve a high-end look at a low-end cost for your next indoor and outdoor project.

* Use materials that are timeless and classic.

"Mix the old with the new," says Blanche Garcia, interior designer and contestant on HGTV's "Design Star." "It's about finding a balance between interjecting something really beautiful with a flea market find."

She recommends starting with something simple - like a great desk - as an anchor piece and fill in around it. Use large pieces you already have that can endure quality and aesthetics but will not look dated or need to be replaced. Add trims around living room windows and doors to create a timeless feel.

* Keep textures warm and beautiful

"Somehow, we are missing the warmth in new homes," Blanche says. "You can change that feeling by using lines that are classic and clean."

The simple yet elegant look of wood, such as Western Red Cedar, instantly adds a glow and beauty to any room. This versatile material holds a finish for an extended period of time and weathers beautifully naturally, making it a lasting choice inside and out for siding, wall boards, trim, posts or beams.

* Create visual accents

Simple details can add a luxurious feel to your home, and accents, such as antique lamps, artwork and fresh flowers, can spark visual interest. Garcia recommends adding pops of yellow for a more vibrant look, as an easy way to add spice at a low price. To create a more dramatic effect, consider adding blinds or shutters - inside or out - in warm natural red cedar for additional function.

* Think green.

It's easy to get an affordable luxury look using elements that are also eco-friendly, including locally-sourced products or natural materials. Barnard recommends looking at what's available and what can be reused for a fraction of the price. Consider using salvaged material by re-inventing old furniture, cupboards or light fixtures.

"It's about moving toward not just affordable luxury, but responsible luxury," says Barnard. "Instead of industrial manufactured materials, think natural materials. They're better for your family."

Make use of sustainably-harvested materials like red cedar that require minimal processing while reducing environmental impacts. Add luxury outdoors, by placing a reclaimed coffee table on your deck to extend the warm, luxurious look outside while creating a relaxing space. Planters and window boxes made with natural materials add warmth and texture as well.

At the end of the day, remember not to get swept up in fashion trends. "Don't just focus on things that are hot and new," advises Barnard. "You want a home that reflects your personal style."

For more details and to locate a Western Red Cedar retailer or distributor in your area, visit www.wrcla.org, and for more creative affordable luxury tips from the experts, visit the Real Cedar fan page on Facebook.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Video Tour of Foxpaw Trail




Tired of paying more in rent than you could for your OWN home? Look no further, because the Grove Team just listed the perfect home for you!


Located in the Timberland Addition in Fort Worth, 12725 Foxpaw Trail features three bedrooms, two baths, and an open floor plan that is perfect for entertaining or simply relaxing.


Call the Grove Team, Keller Williams today - (817) 337-0000 to schedule your private showing of this awesome new listing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

JUST LISTED - 9417 Wood Duck, Fort Worth




Offered by the Grove Team

$232,500


Enjoy our video tour of a new Grove Team, Keller Williams listing! Featuring four bedrooms, two baths, formal dining and well appointed design...this home has barely been lived in.


Call the Grove Team, (817) 337-0000 to schedule your private tour today!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to Determine Drive Times and Commutes

The length of the commute to work determines the area in which many buyers choose to look for a home. Proximity to work can outrank quality of schools and affordability of homes.

Here are some interesting sites to add to your knowledge of the costs to drive:




  • http://www.cost2drive.com/ is the most fun. Input your vehicle model make and year, home address, and work address and a simple calculator gives you commuting costs.



  • Input the search term "field guide to commuting" at http://www.realtor.org/ for the most exhaustive information on commuting in the Metroplex.



  • Rate the affordability of an area taking into account transportation costs at http://www.htaindex.cnt.org/.

All of these sites can help you decide between two similar homes in different areas or the best areas to pursue based on commuting costs.

Are you looking to make your commute shorter with a new home? Call the local real estate experts at the Grove Team, Keller Williams to start your new home search! (817) 337-0000

Americans paying credit cards on time, but lag on mortgages


(ARA) - While more Americans are paying their credit card bills on time, a growing number are paying their mortgages 60 or more days late, according to research by Experian, the leading global information services company.


Nationally, since 2007, the number of credit card payments that are 60 days or more overdue declined by 20 percent, the study found. In contrast, 25 percent more consumers are paying their mortgages 60 days late.

In 30 of the nation's largest metropolitan areas, the percentage of late credit card payments decreased significantly, with Cleveland showing the most improvement, Experian reports. Residents of the "Rock and Roll Capital of the World" improved their payment rate by nearly 35 percent between 2007 and 2011.

Mortgage payment rates, however, did not fare as well over the same time period in many metropolitan areas across the country. The percentage of missed mortgage payments (considered to be payments 60 or more days overdue), rose dramatically in 26 regions in the study, and improved in just four.

Portland, Ore., fared the worst, with nearly a 100 percent increase in the number of missed mortgage payments. Phoenix (78.4 percent), Baltimore (66.8 percent), Seattle (65.1 percent) and New York (49.4 percent) rounded out the list of the five cities with the highest increase in missed payments. At the other end of the spectrum, the number of late mortgage payments actually declined in Cleveland, Minneapolis, Denver and Detroit.

"In looking at the numbers, we're seeing that even in the cities at the bottom of the list, consumers are meeting their bankcard payment obligations better than before the recession," says Michele Raneri, vice president of analytics, Experian. "While the Experian data shows an overall improvement to these 60-day delinquencies, as much as a 30 percent improvement is seen in the key Texas cities, which is a positive sign in what has been a slow economic recovery."

While the trend is positive on the bankcard side, the mortgage side is continuing to suffer in most of the markets. Delinquent payments and collections can have a major negative impact on a credit score and a consumer's ability to obtain credit.

Experian offers these tips for consumers to consider regarding payment behavior:

* Make sure your payments are current, and do not let them be late again. The longer your history of on-time payments, the less impact the delinquencies will have on your creditworthiness.

* If you miss a payment on an individual account, that payment may impact your ability to open joint accounts because both credit histories will be considered.

For more information on managing credit, visit www.experian.com/credit-education/credit-information.html.


Are you or someone you know struggling with your mortgage? Contact the Grove Team, Keller Williams to learn more about alternatives to foreclosure. Call us at the office to speak to a member of the team - privacy is our #1 priority, (817) 337-0000 or find us online, www.groveteam.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Just Listed - 345 Cedar Crest, Justin

Just listed by the Grove Team


345 Cedar Crest Drive, Justin






Come visit this immaculate home - architectural details throughout! The split four bedroom, two bath home flows in this open and inviting floorplan. The two car, swing entry garage set the tone from the moment you pull into the driveway.





Take the quick tour with the video, then call us at the Grove Team, Keller Williams Realty to schedule your private showing of the awesome new listing.




(817) 337-0000



www.groveteam.com

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Important Changes for Those Applying for Property Tax Exemptions in Texas

Texans applying for exemptions from property taxes will have to submit a bit more paperwork because of legislation that took effect September 1, 2011. With the new bill, the legislature attempted to curb those who double dip and claim exemptions for multiple properties.


In order to qualify for residential property tax exemptions--such as the homestead, over 65, or disabled veteran exemptions--applicants must provide the following to the Central Appraisal District when submitting an application:




  • Texas drivers license or state ID card

  • Vehicle registration receipt

  • Those without vehicles must submit a notarized affidavit certifying that they do not own a vehicle and submit a utility bill.

All of the addresses on the documentation listed above must match the address of the property for which the exemption is being sought. Those with existing exemptions will see their tax discounts renew automatically, but if they apply for a new or different exemption they must present the additional documentation. This additional step is designed to stop those who are not entitled to an exemption from receiving one and shifting the tax burden to others.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Turn your first home into a decorator's showcase


(ARA) - Whether you've signed a lease agreement or purchased a house, moving into your first home is an exciting time. For many people, it's their first opportunity to express their personal style by decorating their own space.

Whatever your taste - contemporary or classic, modern or rustic - you want your first home's interior decor to look polished and put-together. And you'd probably rather not spend a bundle achieving that look.

Do-it-yourself home decor is popular for exactly those reasons. By doing the design and implementation yourself, you can save a lot of money. Plus, many people find that doing it themselves makes decorating their homes an even more personal and rewarding experience.

So where do you start if you want to turn your first home into a decorator's showcase? Focusing on a few key areas can yield high-impact results.

Start with the walls; they're the largest design element in any room, and repainting them is an easy, high-payoff way to begin redecorating. Choose colors that not only speak to you, but that also make sense with key furniture pieces you already have. For example, if you have a great sofa that you love, consider choosing a color or two from the pattern and using that on the walls.

Another smart paint strategy is to do three walls in a restful, neutral color and then spice things up with a more vibrant hue on a fourth "accent" wall. Whatever color you choose, remember to buy the best quality paint you can afford. It will last longer and look great.

Another option for dressing up your walls is to use removable murals. Wall murals are a favorite design trick of interior decorators. Repositionable murals, like MuralsYourWay.com's SmartStick line, make it easy to decorate with a mural - minus the commitment or expense of having one professionally painted. The moisture-resistant murals can be placed and then repositioned anywhere in the house, even the bathroom or kitchen (where Mediterranean wall murals are hugely popular).

Once you've gussied up your walls, it's time to look down and think about the floor. Flooring is the second largest design element in a room and it forms the foundation for your other design decisions.

If you've got the budget and the gumption, you can remove and replace old carpet, re-stain worn wood and retile dated floors. If your means and your DIY skills are more modest, you can always cover up unappealing carpet with throw rugs that speak to your tastes. Carpet tiles are also a great way to get the look and feel of new carpet without the expense and installation challenges of wall-to-wall. And bathrooms and kitchens can both benefit from a new flooring of easy-to-install vinyl tiles.

Finally, accessories are the icing on the cake when it comes to your interior decor. Even if your furniture is mature, you can make it look young again with new accent pillows and slipcovers. It's possible to find reasonably priced artwork to fit nearly every design theme these days, whether you look online or hit one of the big box home design stores.

Window treatments are another accessory that will give you more bang for the buck. You can get a designer look for less when you dress up cheap, store-bought panels with some personal touches.

Turning your first home into a decorator's showcase doesn't have to cost a lot. A sense of adventure, some creativity and the willingness to do the work yourself can have your home looking like something from a TV interior design show in no time.



Are you looking for your first home? Call the buyer specialist on the Grove Team, Keller Williams Realty today to schedule your customized appointment to help you find your dream home, (817) 337-0000. Find us online, www.groveteam.com.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just Listed - 7801 Clover Leaf, North Richland Hills

Just Listed - 7801 Clover Leaf Drive
North Richland Hills, 76182







Filtering into the highly sought after Green Valley Elementary, this home has much to offer! Four bedrooms, two baths AND a study! Enter the cook's kitchen with ample counter space, center island and tons of cabinets.

The split level offers privacy in your master and luxurious en suite bath, which features a jetted tub and walk in closet.


Don't miss the covered patio in back - perfect for enjoying the cooler evenings!


Call the Grove Team, Keller Williams today to schedule your private showing - (817) 337-0000 or find us online, www.groveteam.com.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Big Changes in Real Estate

The sub-prime loan lending collapse has had fallout in all areas of real estate. Recent changes in the guidelines for appraisals are a perfect example. New rules that took effect as of September 1, 2011, are:



  • Days on the market - The appraiser must account for all of the days the property has been listed for sale. No longer can agents take a property off the market for thirty days and have that escape the appraiser's attention. The more the days on the market, the more likely the days on the market will effect the property's appraisal negatively.

  • Offering price - The appraiser must report the offering price history and price changes.

  • Sale type - The appraiser must report the type of sale from a list of choices.

  • Financial assistance - All financial assistance including monetary and non-monetary assistance must be reported including gifts, payment of property taxes, and HOA dues for a period of time, etc.

  • Property view - A view rating must be assigned. The appraiser has the choice of neutral, beneficial or adverse. In the past, unless a view was exceptionally good or bad, it went unnoticed, this change will require that each property be assigned a number value for review.

  • Property style - Much more detail is required. One story and two story will not describe a property.

  • Condition - Much more detail is required. This is a boon to sellers who have updated their properties. The work done to a house must be described as "not updated", "updated" or "renovated." Specific definitions are applied for these terms. This change gives a clear advantage to sellers who have updated their properties.

  • Quality of construction - This change is also a plus for sellers who have purchased higher quality construction in a subdivision. Many times agents see subdivisions that are begun with one level of construction, but finished with a lower quality. This change is more accurate and saves the seller attempting to explain the change in construction or builders.

All change creates tension and apprehension. These changes are positive for the most part because they allow an appraiser to explain a property's value which might exceed the norm for the neighborhood . The downside is that appraisals may cost more. The upside may well exceed the downside for most sellers'.


Are you or someone you know looking to list your home for sale? Call on the experts at the Grove Team, Keller Williams to schedule a personalize appointment to meet with a listing specialist today, (817) 337-0000 or find us online, www.groveteam.com.

Small Changes with Big Savings

Want to reduce utility bills but not willing--or able--to spend thousands to do it? Look for leaks! Leaks of all kinds can cost you money and many cost little to fix.





  • Water leaks: Fix leaking faucets. They can cost you 20 gallons of water a day.


  • Electricity leaks: Unplug electronics when not in use. A cell phone charger still draws electricity if it's plugged in, even if it's not being used.


  • Air leaks: Weather-strip and caulk around windows to prevent drafts. A gap of just one-quarter inch can let in as much air as a softbal size hole.

Take these steps and save now!



Are you or someone you know looking to buy or sell a home? Call on the Grove Team, Keller Williams today to schedule your customized real estate experience, (817) 337-0000. Find us online, www.groveteam.com.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just Listed by the Grove Team
6605 Lyndale Drive, Watauga







Offered at $110,000
Updated and refreshed throughout - call the Grove Team, Keller Williams to schedule your private showing...(817) 337-0000

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Curb Appeal After a Cruel Drought

Some homeowners just gave up on curb appeal during the drought and decided to start over in the spring. However, homeowners who are trying to sell don't have that luxury. Here are some ideas for those who want to spruce up for important guests or for buyers:





  • Edge and trim to create a cared-for look. Get rid of plants damaged by drought.



  • Mulch dresses off flower beds and creates defined edges.



  • Plant inexpensive flowers--like mums--to add color. Pots are an alternative to planting and can add additional color.



  • Paint or stain the front door for maximum imact.



  • The front entry should be immaculate with an attractive welcome mat. Add a bench or small chairs and a table if there is room.



  • Light fixtures should be replaced or cleaned and painted.


Taking these steps will create an immediate atmosphere of pride of ownership and will work to bridge over until spring. Next year will be better!



Are you thinking about making some changes to your curb appeal and the home? Call you local real estate experts on the Grove Team, Keller Williams today for ideas on the best marketing tips to sell your home today! Reach us at the office, (817) 337-0000 or find us online, www.groveteam.com.



We are looking for friends on Facebook!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Help Texans Affected by Wildfires



The wildfires of the summer left inestimable damage behind for thousands of Texans. Those who need to replace essential items or cover some temporary housing expenses can apply for relief provided by Texas REALTORS.

If you know of someone whose primary residence was damaged or destroyed by fire or smoke this year, let them know that they can apply for assistance at TexasRealEstate.com/web/Relief.cfm.

Donations are gratefully accepted by using this same link.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pet Protection During Halloween

Halloween creates its own special challenges for pets. Take a few moments to review these ideas for pet safety during a season that can be dangerous for pets:




  • Take extra steps to protect your cats, particularly if they are black. Some folks use Halloween as an excuse to be cruel to cats. Keep them inside if at all possible.



  • Some pets are fine with costumes, but most aren't keen on the idea. Balance your own enjoyment with the stress that you'll put your pet through.



  • Keep lighted candles and Jack-O-Lanterns off of coffee tables or other low surfaces where pets might come too close and start a fire or become burned.



  • Have a quiet room set up Halloween night for your pet to avoid too many trick or treaters.



  • Human candy--such as chocolate--can be deadly for animals. Candy wrappers can be a choking hazard.



Halloween can be one of the most creative and imaginative of holidays, but take some time for practical steps to protect all of the members of the family, including the four-legged ones.




Do you have some fun decorations for the house or great costumes for the family? Find the Grove Team on Facebook and send us pictures!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Lower temperatures have finally arrived and with them a list of maintenance chores to prepare your home for colder weather:


* Have your HVAC system serviced to protect against costly breakdowns when an ice storm blows in from the north.


* Change the direction that your ceiling fan's blades rotate. When moving in a clockwise direction, the fan will force hotter air downward.

* Clean your chimney to make sure the chimney is serviceable and vents are clean.


* Inspect your roof for shingles that may leak in winter weather. Check flashing seals, too.

* Seal any cracks and holes on the outside of the home to keep rodents from entering.

* Drain your hot water heater and remove any sediment from the tank.

* Clean gutters to prevent roof damage



Not interested in completing these chores yourself? Call the Grove Team, Keller Williams Realty, (817) 337-0000 for a list of contractors who will help

Find us online, http://www.groveteam.com/ or Friend us on Facebook!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Awesome new listing - 985 Quail Ridge Drive, Keller








Welcome home to

985 Quail Ridge Drive, Keller

Just listed by the Grove Team, Keller Williams - this home features 2,175 square feet, four bedrooms, two and a half baths. The split and open floor plan is functional and inviting.





Contact the Grove Team today, (817) 337-0000 to schedule your private showing.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

JUST LISTED - 6837 Lyndale Drive

JUST LISTED!

6837 Lyndale Drive
Watauga









Looking for a pool, four bedrooms and two and a half baths for less than $170,000? Look no further! Call the Grove Team today to schedule your private showing of this awesome new listing, (817) 337-0000

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Increase your home value, enhance your curb appeal


(ARA) - Whether you want to prepare your outdoor spaces for entertaining or you're trying to make a great first impression on home buyers, now is the time to get the outside looking great. From fixing up the deck on the front porch to adding some colorful flowers to the landscaping, there are plenty of elements to make your home look more inviting.

Start by determining your home's best exterior features, and then assess some improvements that you can tackle on your own and get the biggest bang for your buck. Here are some simple ways to help boost your curb appeal:

* Clean up clutter

Getting rid of clutter and scrubbing down grime should be the first steps in giving your home's exterior a fresh new glow. Start by removing any unused items or dead plants from the yard. Clean out the gutters and consider power washing the front of the house. It might not look dirty, but you'd be amazed at how much dirt can accumulate and cause a dingy, dull appearance.



* Spruce up landscaping

Take pride in your front yard and make sure to keep up with regular lawn maintenance. This could mean adding some new shrubs, plants or flowers to the house, but start by fixing up and trimming down all existing yard features. Consider lining walkways with an attractive fence or adding a splash of color with potted plants or bright flowers. A few garden fix-ups can go a long way to improve an outsider's first impression of your home.

* Add fresh features

If it's in the budget, hit up a local home and garden store to find some simple products to enhance existing elements. Maybe it's a new mailbox, trendy yard decor, or even a shiny new fixture for the front door. You can also add a couple pieces of furniture to create a more welcoming atmosphere to the front porch. Consider a visit to second-hand shops or garage sales; you never know when a fresh coat of paint can make one man's trash another man's treasure.

* Prep your deck

The exterior of your home doesn't stop at the front yard - make sure it looks inviting all the way around. Start by prepping the deck and applying a new coat of wood stain to enhance and beautify, while protecting your investment for the future. The Flood brand of wood care products provides a complete line - from prepping and cleaning to staining and sealing - to help you get the job done and make your deck the place to be.

There are plenty of projects that can make a huge difference to improve the look of your home without requiring you to spend a fortune on remodeling. Get a head start on a few of these weekend projects. Your home just might be the envy of all your neighbors this summer.





Are you ready to sell your home and looking for a customized market analysis? Call the Grove Team, Keller Williams today to schedule an appointment (817) 337-0000 or find us online, www.groveteam.com.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Visit 5001 Cedar River Trail, Fort Worth

Awesome home in the Park Glen Addition, Fort Worth! Functional floorplan for any dynamic,Keller Schools, and ready for the right buyer!


Call the Grove Team, Keller Williams today to schedule your private showing. (817) 337-0000

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tips for keeping your home healthy


(ARA) - Maintaining a healthy home is critical for your family's welfare - especially now as the weather cools and you begin to spend more time indoors. Applying a few simple solutions now will ensure your indoor living environment is safe and healthy for seasons to come.

Reduce toxins

Less desirable weather may make fall and winter seem like an ideal time to tackle your indoor painting projects. However, you need to be mindful of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in many interior paints and finishes. VOCs are one of the biggest threats to indoor air quality; they include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have both short- and long-term health effects. For indoor jobs, select paint with low or no VOCs to keep your air fresher. Additionally, some houseplants such as ivy and gerbera daisies can help to naturally remove VOCs from your indoor air.

Clean your indoor air

Ragweed and pollen will trigger allergy symptoms for millions of people this fall; however, the worst allergy triggers are often found inside the home. Installing a whole-home air filtration system can help to remove indoor allergens including dust, mildew, pet dander and pollen from the air you breathe. For example, the AccuClean (TM) System by American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning removes up to 99.98 percent of the allergens from your filtered air, so even if it's allergy season outdoors, your indoor air is crisp and clean.

Prevent mold

During the cooler fall and winter months, people tend to seal up their homes and spend more time inside, which traps moisture and humidity - both significant contributors to indoor mold growth. Maintain healthy indoor humidity levels by venting bathrooms and clothes dryers and using an exhaust fan while cooking. Install an air humidifier to provide year-round control of your indoor moisture level, and keep your home at 50 percent humidity or lower to reduce the chance for mold growth.

Watch out for CO

Protect your indoor living environment from carbon monoxide or CO by installing CO detectors or alarms throughout your home. This fall, make sure your home's heating system, including items such as a furnace or heat pump, vents and chimney, are inspected and serviced by a professional contractor. And, if there is a fireplace in your home, open the damper before lighting a fire to help prevent the buildup of potentially poisonous gases inside of your home.

Keep a seasonal routine

Most homeowners already know it's important to test their smoke alarms on a monthly basis, but how often do you change the alarm's batteries? One way to keep track of alarm maintenance is to make battery changing a seasonal activity. For example, beginning this fall, replace the batteries in your smoke alarms (and CO detectors), every time you reset your clocks.

By taking these simple steps now, you'll create a safer and healthier home, allowing your family to relax and enjoy all the delights the fall season has to offer - both outdoors and indoors.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Video Tour - 1201 Rollie Michael

JUST LISTED by the Grove Team




Visit 1201 Rollie Michael, Fort Worth

Offered by the Grove Team, $375,000

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Four simple ways to modernize your home decor


(ARA) - If you're like many people, your home interior could likely use some updating. But you don't need to hire a professional designer to modernize your home decor. No matter how much of a decorating novice you may be, a few simple updates can give new life to your living space and bring your home to the forefront of interior design.

Modern colors

Color is a key aspect of interior decorating, and paint is one of the easiest, most cost-efficient ways to update your home interior. To give any room a clean and contemporary look this season, take some hints from the professionals.

Pratt & Lambert Paints recently announced its 2012 Color Trends, which are divided into five palettes: Enough, Expressive, Instinctive, Essence and Echo. Pratt & Lambert's Color + Design team identified these colors as their top picks for the modern home, and Color + Design Manager Donna Schroeder says the Instinctive palette offers a number of great options for fall. From Cafe Cubano to Dusty Mink to Garnet, Schroeder predicts nature-inspired shades will pop up on ceilings, trim and walls everywhere. And with Pratt & Lambert's Quart-Size Color Sampler option, you can test out your choice before painting the entire room, ensuring a look you'll love.

Ground level

Just because the floor is under your feet, it shouldn't be last on your list of interior updates. You know that old carpet is ugly, but it will also overshadow more modern elements in the room.

Natural materials like granite and hardwood floors are popular, but their high cost may limit how many rooms you can update. Fortunately, stylish options are available that won't break the bank. For instance, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is available in hundreds of styles that mimic authentic wood and stone to give your home a modern, lavish look for less. With a wide range of brands, price points and installation options available, LVT is a great choice for anyone in need of a flooring update. Plus, LVT is more durable than some other flooring options, so you can enjoy new-looking floors for longer.

Time to reflect

Mirrors are an easy and inexpensive way to inject personality into a room. Hang a large square mirror to open up a small space, or arrange a number of smaller mirrors in a fun pattern to create an artistic statement.

With endless framing options available, you're sure to find a match to complement any room's style. A thin, simple rectangular frame will create a contemporary look, while an ornate metal frame gives an oval glass a traditional, old world feel. Or, for a completely clean and modern effect, frameless mirrors come in a wide variety of shapes and edge designs.

Brighten up lighting

New lighting can change the entire feel of your home's interior, and there are seemingly endless options to help you brighten up a room. Recessed lights create a clean look that can open up smaller rooms or highlight an area such as a photo or piece of artwork. Table and floor lamps can act as artful vessels of light, adding colors and patterns to a bland room. And hanging lighting, such as a unique chandelier, will bring interest and personality into a room while serving its functional purpose. To give your new lighting a sustainable side, energy-efficient light bulbs will save you electricity costs and last longer than standard bulbs.

Don't let your hesitancy to redecorate leave your home in the past. With these four easy updates, you can renew your living space and give your home a new, modern feel.



Are you or someone you know ready to buy/sell real estate? Call your local market experts, the Grove Team at (817) 337-0000 or www.groveteam.com to schedule your customized appointment today!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Updated video tour - 709 Ashley Drive




Visit 709 Ashley Drive, Hurst

Price reduced to $218,900

Friday, September 23, 2011

Open House - THIS WEEKEND

Join us this Sunday from 1:00 - 3:00



709 Ashley Drive, Hurst

Offer by the Grove Team for $218,500

Friday, September 16, 2011

A video tour - JUST LISTED, 3721 Apple Springs





3721 Applesprings Drive


Fort Worth, TX 76244


Offered by the Grove Team, Keller Williams for $222,500

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guest Blog - Affordable Designs

A big Grove Team THANK YOU to Lindsey with Affordable Designs in Azle for contributing to our blog this week. Looking for professional interior design? Contact the ladies at Affordable Design to schedule a consultation today, (817) 444-6075.


Myths

There are a few myths about design that I would like BUST! So often we think that because of one thing we cannot hire a designer, or have a nice home. And while not everyone has the budget for a designer, everyone CAN have a nice home.

Myth #1: I live and use my home. I don't want to feel like I am in a museum.

Having a nice home doesn't mean it's so stuffy and expensive that you can't touch anything. You should always feel comfortable in your home and it should be a reflection of you and your family. However, you don't want that reflection to say "messy and outdated" either! There is a balance between stuffy and no style. Find your inspiration, get organized and make your house your home!

Myth #2: I have kids, so my house can't be nice.

Kids are not a good excuse for a home with no style. The main key to a beautiful and functional home with kids is organization and a reality check. Use bookshelves with baskets to hide toys or even a large basket on the floor. Don't have white furniture and keep the glassware high or put it away. And, this may seem obvious to some, keep your house picked up. Have kids pick up when they are done with things and for those that aren't old enough, let them see you doing it. A tidy house always seems "nicer" than one with your things strewn all over the place (this also goes for homes without kids!)

Myth #3: I want new window treatments and bedding, but can't afford custom right now. I guess I have to wait.

FALSE! Stores have come a long way with their draperies and bedding! Ready made draperies are a cost efficient option for an easy update. Grommet drapes cut down the cost of hardware, too (no rings!). When it comes to bedding, you don't have to grab the bed in a bag. Take different pieces from different collection to make your own unique combination. Ready made does have to mean ordinary!

Until next time - Lindsay

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Video Tour - 3425 Sedaila Ranch Road




Just listed by the Grove Team, Keller Williams


3425 Sedaila Ranch Road, Fort Worth


Offered at $147,500

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Meet Lucky Dave Folsom

First National Bank in Southlake hosted the Southlake Chamber's Business Exchange on September 1, 2011. At least fifty people attended to enjoy the hors d'ourves and business casual atmosphere the bank provided. Attendees mingled and exchanged ideas and business contact information. Among those present from the bank were Sara Thomas, Senior Loan Officer, who specializes in residential loans, and Matt Hall and Jason McMahon, Vice Presidents in Commerical Lending. Jason McMahon spoke of the bank's flexibility and local decision-making ability as reasons to consider doing business with First National Bank in Southlake when considering your next loan.






As a bonus, door prizes were offered, and Dave Folsom of Keller Williams Realty won the big prize. Check out his video to hear all about it!

The next business exchange sponsored by the Southlake Chamber will be held on October 6, 2011. Click this link to visit their site and find out more http://www.southlakechamber.com/.

Fun, surprising cost-saving home improvements


(ARA) - Who wouldn't like to save money on utility bills this winter? But have you ever considered some of the more common energy-efficient home improvements - like insulating your hot water heater or replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent - and thought "dullsville"?

Sometimes the act of saving money just isn't fun enough on its own. Fortunately, you can make home improvements that will trim your utility bills and boost your home's appeal at the same time. Here are four fun home improvements that are surprisingly energy efficient as well:

1. Buy a new dishwasher - Or clothes washer. Older appliances were not only built to be less energy efficient, they can lose what little efficiency they had as they age. If your appliances are more than 10 years old, they likely use more energy and water than newer models, especially new models that are Energy Star qualified.

Dishwashers purchased before 1994 use an additional 10 gallons or more of water per cycle than a new Energy Star qualified model, according to EnergyStar.gov. And if you don't have a dishwasher at all, don't think of buying one as just a luxury. Energy Star says you'll save 5,000 gallons of water and knock $40 per year off your utility bills if you give up washing dishes by hand - not to mention 230 hours of your time.

2. Beautify your bathroom - Kitchens and baths sell homes, but they're also the rooms where the most water gets used and wasted. Old fixtures and faucets are among the top water-wasting culprits in a home. You can conserve water by turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, but that water savings goes down the drain if the toilet runs constantly when you leave the room.

Replacing leaky fixtures can reap significant water savings. Energy Star says a leaky faucet can waste gallons of water. Just one drip per second can waste up to 1,661 gallons of water in a year, according to EnergyStar.gov. You can also conserve water by installing a low-flow showerhead, which can save you as much as 5 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower. Many manufacturers now offer stylish, water-efficient faucets and showerheads.

3. Let the sun shine in - A venting skylight is a fun way to fill your home with nourishing natural light and passive ventilation, but did you know it's also energy efficient? Installing a venting skylight can help you lower your electric bill by reducing your dependency on artificial light and electric fans. Natural light has been tied to a host of health benefits, including improving mood. A skylight not only enhances the energy efficiency of your home, it adds decorating flair and could make you feel better about living there.

They're also relatively low-cost when it comes to "luxury" home improvements. You can get an Energy Star qualified "No Leak Skylight" from Velux for about $1,000 per unit for a remote-controlled electric venting model that closes automatically should it rain. Log on to www.veluxusa.com to find a local installer for a customized cost estimate.

4. Install a fireplace - Zone heating the areas of your home where you spend the most time can reduce your home heating bill by 20 to 40 percent, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association. Installing an energy-efficient fireplace or a stove is a great, appealing way to zone heat the rooms you use the most.

What's more, this type of heating can be "greener," if you use renewable fuels like cord wood, pellets or other plant-derived materials in your high-efficiency stove or fireplace. As for the fun quotient, it's hard to top a fireplace for a home improvement that adds warmth and appeal to a room.

Saving money can be doubly exciting, when you opt for energy-efficient home improvements that also enhance enjoyment of your home.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Restrictions on HOAs

In the last legislative session, there were several bills passed which limit the powers of HOAs (homeowner's associations). We'll cover specifics in future posts, but in general the new limits to HOA power are as follows:



  1. Apply payments to actual dues before fines and attorney fees;


  2. Improve voting rights for residents;


  3. Mandate more transparency and access to meeting minutes;


  4. Make it harder for HOAs to foreclose;


  5. Narrow HOAs' rights to prohibit religious displays, flags, and solar panels.

These changes give homeowners and residents more flexibility in the use and enjoyment of their own property. Good idea.



Thinking of buying or selling a home? Call on the Grove Team today to schedule your appointment with a real estate professional today! Contact us at the office, (817) 337-0000 or find us online, www.groveteam.com.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to Know How Much Water Your Sprinkler System Is Delivering

If you're planning to reduce landscape water usage and you have a sprinkler system, you need to know how much water your sprinkler system delivers. Here's how:




  1. Put out five to seven catch cans at different distances from each sprinkler head. (Tuna or cat food cans work well.)


  2. Water each zone for three minutes.


  3. Measure the amount of water in each can.


  4. Add the amounts in each can and divide by the total to obtain an average.


  5. Multiply the average by 4 to determine how long to run the system.

For example, if you found that the average in a particular station is 1/2", then you would water for 6 minutes to apply 1 inch of water. If you find great variations in the amount of water in various cans, then have your sprinkler system checked.


Most experts recommend at least one inch of water a week to maintain an existing landscape. However, more water may be required with recent high temperatures.



Whether it's selling your home, or finding a new one, the Grove Team is committed to a real estate practice that centers on our clients. The success of this philosphy shows in our 100+ closed transactions each year. Call the Grove Team today, (817) 337-0000 or find us online, www.groveteam.com

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Five Ways to Reduce Outside Water Use

The long drought has finally hit most residents of North Texas cities in their own back yards: mandatory outside watering restrictions are in place. We have found five ideas for limiting outside water use and still maintaining an attractive landscape with plenty of curb appeal.



  1. Avoid runoff on sloping areas by cycling the water off and on. Apply water slowly for five to fifteen minutes and then turn it off for fifteen minutes. Repeat until you have watered the correct amount. This process is particularly helpful for those who are unlucky enough to live on lots composed of clay soil. Consider using low output sprinkler heads, bubbles, or drip irrigation systems as tools to avoid runoff.


  2. When replacing plants or trees that have died because of this summer's hot temperatures and lack of water, consider replanting with drought-tolerant plants and shrubs. A blooming Mexican heather outperforms a drooping azalea in almost every category. As an added bonus, native plants can provide food for wildlife.


  3. Consider using groundcover rather than turf, especially on oddly-shaped areas. It's easier to maintain, requires less water, and will avoid runoff.


  4. Again, to those unlucky owners of clay: consider adding organic material to your clay soil at every opportunity. You'll use less water, and your landscape plantings will perform better.


  5. Evaluate your sprinkler system. The next post will include instructions for determining how much water your sprinkler system is delivering. Use those numbers to decide how long to water.

Following these tips will assist you in saving money and your expensive landscape.



Friday, August 26, 2011

Suspect a pool leak?

American Leak Detection provides a step by step test to find out if your pool is leaking or if the water is evaporating at a faster than normal rate because of the heat.




  1. Fill the pool to the level recommended for operating: usually pool companies suggest halfway up the pool skimmer.


  2. Turn off the pool pump and any other device that adds water to the pool.


  3. Take a five gallon bucket and fill it to within 1" of the top.


  4. Place the filled bucket on the 1st or 2nd step of the pool with the bucket under water at least six inches. Make sure the bucket won't tip or float.


  5. Mark the water level inside the bucket.


  6. Mark the water level on the outside of the bucket.


  7. Turn the pool pump back on.


  8. You won't be able to swim during the test.


  9. Wait 24 hours and compare the level in the bucket with the level in the pool. If the pool level is lower than the bucket level, then you probably have a leak. If the levels are the same, then the Texas heat has struck again, and you are experiencing normal evaporation.

Those pools with a spa, fountain, waterfall, or negative edge will lose slightly more than the bucket because of increased evaporation.


Of course, in the unlikely event that it rains, you will have to repeat the test. (We hope you have this problem!)


Thanks again to American Leak Detection. If you do have a leak, you might give them a call for advice and service at 817-789-4571 or 972-441-4030.


For all of your real estate needs, call the Grove Team, Keller Williams (817) 337-0000 or find us online, www.groveteam.com


Thursday, August 25, 2011

A video tour of 505 Charrington, Keller



505 Charrington Drive


Keller, TX


Offered by Grove Team for $275,000


Truly a home for a lifetime, this immaculate home has been meticulously maintained. The 4 bedroom plan features a separate secondary bedroom with a private bath. The dream kitchen boasts ample cabinet & counter space, Corian tops, island, smooth cooktop, & built-in desk. Other features:Private master ste (2 closets) & luxurious bath, Plantation shutters, radiant barrier, crown molding, solar screens, epoxy garage floor.Don't miss the 3 car garage!


Call the Grove Team, Keller Williams Realty today to schedule your private tour today - (817) 337-0000, www.groveteam.com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More Information on the Latest Keller IDS Accountability Rating

The latest ratings from the TEA have been released, and Keller ISD's rating has fallen to Acceptable from Recognized. Naturally, all residents of KISD are concerned about a ratings fall. Those with children and those who are concerned about children wonder about the effectiveness of education in the district. Even those without children are concerned about falling property values because of school quality.


A quick look at the ratings of various campuses demonstrates the problem. Although some campuses did have lesser ratings this year, Caprock Elementary fell from Exemplary--the highest rating--to Unacceptable. Falling from the highest rating to the lowest in one year is an unusual development, to say the least.



Brice Nieman from KISD shed some light on these new developments. The rating change for Caprock seems to be directly linked to a change by the TEA. The TEA did use the Texas Projection Measure in 2010, and the scores from all sub-populations were not used to establish Caprock's rating in 2010. In 2011, those two factors were reversed: the Texas Projection Measure was not used and scores from all sub-populations were used.


These and other changes to the rating system made achieving higher ratings more difficult in 2011 than in 2010. Rating changes--mostly downward--were not unusual for Texas school districts and for individual campuses in 2011. Caprock Elementary's fall is unusual in how far it fell in a single year.


Keller ISD is working to improve its campuses this year. The question is how much time will be spent on teaching to the test because of the furor over the ratings change.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Sky Is Not Falling

When you take a brief look at the numbers for August of 2010 and August of 2011, the results can be reassuring:


Measure August 2010 August 2011


Dow Jones 10,213,62 11,405.93

S&P 500 1,071.69 1,192.76

NASDAQ 2,179.76 2,523.45

Unemployment 9.7% 9.2%

30 Yr Mortgage * 4.44% 4.32%

Median Home Price $182,900 $184,300


*June number from National Association of Realtors.


On an anecdotal basis, the Grove Team received five offers on different properties in various price ranges over the past weekend. That many offers is respectable in any market. Other agents we have spoken to also have reported similar levels of activity.


We can't allow ourselves to be a part of a gloomy outlook that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.



Thanks to Sandy Shetty at Benchmark Mortgage for assembling the data above.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

A guide for getting through emergency home repairs


(ARA) - A surprise can be fun on some occasions, like your birthday. But when it comes to home repair emergencies, a surprise is the last thing you want - especially in these economically challenging times.


Unfortunately, this is a situation all too many homeowners find themselves in after a home emergency. Often they discover that a repair they assumed would be covered by their home insurance or local utility is actually their responsibility to fix.

From water and drainage systems to electrical and heating/cooling configurations, your home is a complex network of pipes, wires and electrical components that could require an emergency repair at any time.

An outside water pipe breaking or a sewer line collapsing can easily rank as a homeowners' worst nightmare; however, when an emergency occurs, most homeowners are not aware of who is responsible for the damage. In fact, less than 50 percent of the homeowners in a recent national survey, conducted by GfK Roper Custom Research, knew that they were responsible for repairs to the water line between their house and the street.

This is where companies that offer emergency home repair plans, such as HomeServe USA, can make the difference between peace of mind and an expensive and time-consuming repair.

"According the results of the survey, one third of all homeowners responding assumed that their local utility was responsible for the cost of a burst water line between their house and the street, when this is usually not the case," says Tom Rusin, chief executive officer of HomeServe USA. "One of the challenges of home ownership is that the potential for expensive repairs is always out there. In fact, repairing a water service line can cost more than $2,000 and simply clearing a blocked drain can cost upwards of $350."

Rusin suggests that all homeowners do the following things to minimize the potential financial liability and hassle associated with home repair emergencies:

1. Speak to your homeowners insurance agent to get a clear understanding of which areas of your home are covered by your insurance policy and which ones are not. Potential trouble spots include interior and exterior electrical wiring, outside water service and sewer lines, inside plumbing and gas piping, central heating and air conditioning systems, and the water heater.

2. Similarly, speak to your local electric, gas, and water utilities to determine equipment that you may be responsible for. As mentioned earlier, the water and sewer lines that run underneath the lawn are the responsibility of the homeowner in the vast majority of cases.

3. Proper maintenance of home components greatly minimizes the chance of an unexpected emergency. For example, check the air filter on your central heating or cooling system regularly and change it about once every three months during the season. Protect water pipes from freezing with proper insulation or draining them prior to winter. And fix leaky faucets and toilets to save water and prevent bigger problems.

4. Consider a home emergency protection plan that can relieve you of not only the financial burden of a home emergency, but also the uncertainty involved in looking for a repair person on a Sunday afternoon.

"The more prepared homeowners are for a home repair emergency, the more peace of mind they'll have and the more time they can spend enjoying their house with their families," says Rusin.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A video tour of 6124 Cherry Glow Lane




6124 Cherry Glow Lane

North Richland Hills

Offered by the Grove Team, $171,500


OPEN HOUSE THIS WEEKEND!




Looking for a secluded property with a pool and room to run? Come visit us this weekend in the Jewell Estates at 6612 Emerald in Colleyville.



Open from 1:00 - 3:00 this Sunday, the home is offered by the Grove Team for $499,000

Monday, August 15, 2011

Latest Ratings Released by TEA for Local School Districts

Here are latest TEA ratings for some of the school districts in our area:





  • Arlington - Acceptable


  • Birdville - Acceptable


  • Carroll - Exemplary


  • Coppell - Recognized


  • Denton - Acceptable


  • Eagle Mountain - Acceptable


  • Fort Worth - Acceptable


  • Grapevine-Colleyville - Recognized


  • Hurst-Euless-Bedford - Recognized


  • Keller- Acceptable


  • Northwest - Recognized


For additional districts, please call the Grove Team at 817-337-0000 or email info@groveteam.com.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Where are the REOs Headed?

Thank you Sandy Shetty, Benchmark Mortgage for this awesome information today! For your mortgage questions, call Sandy Shetty direct (817)966-9446.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Obama administration will begin working on new strategies for how to better sell previously foreclosed homes held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration, which may include renting more REO. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development put out a request for information, seeking new ideas from market participants for selling REO. Currently, the government owns roughly half of the REO inventory in the U.S.

The agencies called on private property managers to submit ideas on how to reduce the REO portfolios at the GSEs and the FHA in a cost-effective manner. They also seek new ideas on property repair, sales strategies in specific hard-hit areas and new analysis of when to sell or even rent these properties.

There are 92,000 properties currently for sale from HUD, Fannie and Freddie. Inventory is different as many properties are held up and not currently on the market due to delays in the process or state and federal regulations. Fannie Mae held 135,719 REO properties at the end of the second quarter, and Freddie held an inventory of roughly 61,000 REO. The agencies said there could be new programs developed for allowing the previous owner to rent the home or to allow current renters to become owners. They are also looking for private holders of REO to partner with the government in the effort.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) recently sent a letter to the FHFA, urging the Fannie and Freddie to convert their repossessed properties into rental units and pool them for sales to investors.
"FHFA, Treasury and HUD anticipate respondents may best address these objectives through REO to rental structures, but respondents are encouraged to propose strategies they believe best accomplish the objectives," the agencies said. FHFA Acting Director Edward DeMarco said Fannie and Freddie will continue marketing individual REO for sale, but they will also look at possibly pooling these properties in some areas to reduce credit losses and stabilize neighborhoods.

"Partnerships involving enterprise properties may reduce taxpayer losses and meet the enterprises’ responsibility to bring stability and liquidity to housing markets. We seek input on these important questions," DeMarco said. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said solving glut of REO on the market is crucial to repairing housing finance overall. "Exploring new options for selling these foreclosed properties will help expand access to affordable rental housing, promote private investment in local housing markets, and support neighborhood and home price stability," Geithner said.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said millions of families, who have struggled to maintain their monthly payments, have seen the value of their home drop because of abandoned properties.
"At the same time, with half of all renters spending more than a third of their income on housing and a quarter spending more than half, we have to find and promote new ways to alleviate the strain on the affordable rental market," Donovan said. "Taking steps to encourage private investment in REO properties and transition them into productive use will help stabilize neighborhoods and home values at a critical time for our economy."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

FSBO a No Go

Great information brought to you today through the Grove Team, Keller Williams Realty by way of -





Bill Adcock
Branch Manager NMLS#5772242
817-538-3858 Mobile 855-844-9467 EFax

"Delivering a Better Experience"



*************************************************************************************

Interesting story which recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal regarding Colby Sambrotto, the founder and former CEO of forsalebyowner.com. It seems the founding father and lifelong evangelist of the concept of selling your home without a real estate agent was forced to hire a broker to sell his home after failing at what he preaches others should do.

After failing to sell his NYC apartment on his own as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), Sambrotto hired a broker and paid a 6% commission in order to get the job done. His personal experience helps refute some of the myths Sambrotto has been espousing for over a decade. Let’s look at two of those myths:

Myth #1 – You Will Pocket More Money Selling on Your Own

Most FSBO sites say you can save the commission by selling on your own. What happened in Sambrotto’s sale? From the WSJ article: “The broker, Jesse Buckler, said he told Mr. Sambrotto the apartment in the Lion’s Head building on West 19th Street near Sixth Avenue was priced too low and wasn’t drawing the right buyers. By May, it went into contract, he said, after attracting multiple offers. It closed in the last few days for $150,000 more than the original asking price.”


Myth #2 – The Internet Alone Can Sell Your Home



Many have said that, with the introduction of home search on the internet, hiring an agent is no longer a necessity. What happened to the FSBO guru when he attempted to only depend on the internet? From the WSJ article: “Looking to move his family to the suburbs, [Mr. Sambrotto] said he carefully staged his apartment for sale himself, and put it on the market. But after using a mix of websites to publicize his apartment, he said he had only ‘middling success’ and switched to a broker because many buyers were so reliant on brokers.”




Have you tried to sell your home For Sale by Owner and not had the luck you had hoped for? Call the Grove Team, Keller Williams to meet with you to discuss the current market trends and how our team of local real estate experts are here to help you make your next move easier.



Find us online, www.groveteam.com or call us at the office, (817) 337-0000