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
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 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

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

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, 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


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:

  • 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 for the most exhaustive information on commuting in the Metroplex.

  • Rate the affordability of an area taking into account transportation costs at

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

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,

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

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'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,

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,