Words Sell

March 6th, 2014

Here are some very interesting statistics about how words sell your home faster and for more money. When you are making the decision to list your home it is a good idea to ask the real estate professionals you are interviewing what sets them apart from their competition. Knowing that someone has taken the time to find the most competitive way to market your home should be one of those key deciding factors. I would say researching the way words sell a home faster is thinking outside the box.

Green – Young buyers are very interested in energy efficiency.

Storage – Everyone thinks they will get organized with their next move.

Landscaping – Ads with this word sold 20% faster than those without it.

Brand Names – Putting a name to the appliance is helpful in written descriptions. The name most associated with quick sales is Sub-Zero. Viking, Bosch, and Whirlpool are also popular.

Beautiful – This is the most commonly used word in most in real estate ads. Words like this and gorgeous sell homes 15% faster.

Move In – Advertising as move in ready speeds a sell by 12% on average.

Motivated Seller – Terms such as this that reek of desperation actually prolong the time on market  by 10%

When you are listing your home be sure and pay attention to what descriptions and adjectives that are used across the marketing landscape. If your agent doesn’t know which words sell you may be missing out on a golden opportunity to maximize the value  of your home. Contact us today and find out how we are different. We want to guide you down the right path in real estate.



Community Spotlight – Forest Cove

March 5th, 2014

Forest Cove is not actually a Kingwood village, but most of the residents treat Forest Cove as if it’s been there all time. Truth of the matter is, it has been there. Forest Cove was actually a neighborhood that was in place before Kingwood ever existed. This Northeast Houston neighborhood began in the 1950’s and locals remember when a trip to the grocery store was all the way into Humble. With large lots and some less restrictive ordinances, Forest Cove is little slice of country very close to the big city.

forest coveThe homes in Forest Cove also include those located on a golf course. There are just under 1000 homes in all and typically are configured with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. At an average of around 2300 square feet there is plenty of room and the lot sizes tend to be over half an acre. Many of the home in Forest Cove have been updated and are very appealing to many people who are moving here from a smaller community than the fourth largest city in America.

Forest Cove is managed by the Forest Cove Property Owners Association. While Forest Cove may not have all the amenities that other Kingwood venues offer there is a community center and Forest Cove is located within close proximity to many area attractions and shopping. The golf course that winds through portions of Forest Cove is the Kingwood Cove Golf Club. This course is a daily fee course, but does offer memberships. Mature trees and lots of room between houses make this Kingwood neighborhood an ideal location for home buyers looking to have some room to spread out and not look right into their neighbors window. Homes in Forest Cove don’t fly off the shelf, but they do draw plenty of attention from the real estate market. Contact me today if you are looking to buy or sell a home in Forest Cove.

Pre-Approval. Preparations for buying a home.

March 4th, 2014

I remember my first memories of a home buying experience. I was about 10 years old and my parents were buying the home that I  lived in until I left home. We went around to look at houses for months. Sometimes we would go see a house twice, but it would be 2 or 3 months between the showings. In the current market those days are non-existent. What you see today may very well be gone next week if not tomorrow. Being thoroughly prepared to make an offer on a house is the key to a winning strategy, but not knowing if you can afford that house can snatch that victory right out of your hands. Are you prepared to pull the trigger on a home purchase?

One of the key elements to buying a home is actually being able to afford the home. Big surprise I know. Many times a home buyer has become convinced through faulty advice that getting a pre-approval is not necessary to start the search for their new home. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you are truly seeking a new home to purchase you have got to be ready to send in a offer packet that gives the seller no reason to ignore it. A pre-approval letter says “I’m not only ready to buy your house, here’s how I’m paying for it.” Making an offer without pre-approval is like saying you have a million dollars in a vault, but don’t have the combination.

Pre-approval does not take much time and it doesn’t commit you to the lender you receive it from. Don’t confuse pre-qualified with pre-approval. Pre-qualification is a quick conversation with a lender and based solely on your word they say you can afford a certain amount. Pre-approval actually looks at income and pulls credit. That sounds scary, right? A credit pull to check scores for pre-approval has a minimal effect on your score. Maybe a point or two at most. Adding a pre-approval letter to an offer is one step below offering cash for the house and sometimes a pre-approval can trump that. Call me today if you want to talk more about the financing aspect of buying a home.

A drunk man in the closet

March 3rd, 2014

That title should have gotten your attention. One of the things a good real estate agent does on a regular basis is to preview the inventory in the area where they work. Open houses on the weekend is one way and scheduling a showing to preview the home is another. I always tried to schedule homes that were empty when I was first starting in the business. I would look at pictures on the MLS and schedule the ones that didn’t have any furniture in the pictures. Pictures can be deceiving.

Another agent and I had spent the entire day looking at houses and we were on our 12th and final home. The first thing we noticed when we pulled up about 20 minutes before our scheduled time was lights on in the house. A lot of times lights are left on in an empty house to give it the appearance someone is still there so we didn’t pay too much attention to that. We walked to the door and peered into the windows expecting there to be nothing in the house, but while a good portion was empty a few items of furniture could be seen. We still didn’t think much about that as often times the owners will leave the items they aren’t ready to move just yet. We rang the doorbell out of a sense of courtesy and unlocked the door. That’s when things got strange.

The house had quite a bit more furniture than the online pictures or our peeping tom routine had revealed. We could almost convince ourselves it was not occupied until we reached the kitchen. Not only was there food in the house, two half empty bottles of alcohol were sitting on the counter. We still thought there was no chance that we had entered a home that was currently occupied by anyone until we saw the shoes on the floor directly beneath a freshly made drink. We looked at each other and tried to decide our next course of action. For whatever reason we went ahead and looked through the house, expecting at every turn to find someone cowering in a dark room waiting for us to leave. We finished our tour and headed for the door when my partner decided to look in one last closet. The door opened slightly and then pulled itself back shut. Our eyes got big as saucers and we wordlessly pointed and attempted to tell the other one that someone was in the closet. We pushed and shoved each other all the way to the door and got into the car. After a few seconds of just sitting there we began to laugh and laugh. That is a story to start your real estate career on.

To this day I hate to open closed doors in a house I’m touring. If I’m ever coming to yours just take the drink with you and let me know your there. I’ll take a quick look and be on my way.

Stars and Stripes ATA Tournament

February 28th, 2014

A week ago from the time of this post I was preparing to volunteer at a local Taekwondo tournament. The Stars and Stripes Class A Regional Championship ATA tournament is put on by Henderson’s ATA Martial Arts. This tournament encompasses various forms of disciplines from traditional presentation of forms, which are a set series of moves, to extreme forms which allow the student to take many of the same moves in th traditional form and ramp up the volume and intensity during a routine. Finally there is actual combat sparring with hands and feet to combat weapons.

Friday morning we loaded several trucks and vans full of all the equipment necessary to set up the tournament venue. This ATA tournament has been held at the Humble Civic Center every year. I had never been to the civic center so I wasn’t sure how it looked or what size it was. I remember walking into the back of the building and into the auditorium to this huge cavernous room that was totally empty. Several hours later the room had been transformed into 18 taped off rings with chairs for spectators, various tables for scoring and recording, and an entire area for vendors to sell their items. A huge teamwork effort that was pretty cool to watch and be a part of.

Friday evening was a demonstration of all the skills by 4th and 5th degree black belts. You seriously don’t want to meet these men and women in a dark alley intent on doing them harm. Saturday dawned with the full schedule for participants as young as 4 to the ones who only allow themselves to be as old as they feel. I heard there were people from Pennsylvania, California, Florida, and all the states surrounding Texas. My 11 year old son competed and that was one of the big reasons I volunteered to help set up. My son has learned manners, self-control, and confidence from learning this art. Proudest moment of the day was what led to the picture below. First Place in combat sparring. If you are looking for a way to help your child grow strong in their body and their mind an ATA school is a great option.


first place

Seth Riggins First Place Sparring

Pricing Trends: Meeting the Curve

February 27th, 2014

In several of the jobs I worked before getting into real estate part of my duties was to analyze trends and make decisions based on that analysis. This will probably sound really nerdy, but numbers fascinate me. When you put together a set of data points and then begin to push and prod them with criteria some amazing things start to reveal themselves. Trends affect our world in a lot of ways like the stock market and baseball. One of the trends that come into play in my world are pricing trends for homes. There are a multitude of factors that can hold sway on the pricing of a home, but you need to be armed with the facts when the time comes to sell. Let’s use some graphs to walk through some scenarios.


upward trending market

This graph shows a market with prices increasing.

This graph shows our first scenario. One that is currently happening in the Houston area. Pricing trends are rising, but let’s say you started talking to an agent in January about listing in April. The price point in January was $300,000 and the agent showed you all the data to support that number. By the time you went to market the trend had changed and if your agent wasn’t watching, you just gave away some major equity. Keep asking about the trends as you prepare to sell and don’t be afraid to push the envelope a little if you have favorable conditions.





downward trending market

This graph shows a market with prices decreasing.

This graph shows a pricing trend on the way down. The blue line represents a house placed on the market at just over the current pricing trend. When the market begins to drop the homeowner is faced with a dilemma to maintain his wish for the starting price or hold on and see if things pick back up. By the time the decision is made to make a pretty dramatic cut, the market has beaten them to the punch and adjusted downward even more. Eventually after a long time on the market an entirely slash and burn cut is made to catch the trend. Catching the downward swing early is the key to cutting your losses if you are in a “have to sell” situation.

If you want to know the current pricing trend for your home just click here or click on the “Your Homes Value” link in the menu on the left.

Community Spotlight – Elm Grove

February 26th, 2014

Last week we pointed out that Bear Branch could be considered the heart of Kingwood and Elm Grove could be the crown. Located at the northernmost point of Kingwood proper, Elm Grove is sometimes overlooked as an option for home buyers. Elm Grove has a community center two local parks and an area swimming pool. The community fields a swim team at the pool as well.

elmgrovevillageThe first homes in elm Grove were built in 1970 and there are 1,417 homes located in this Kingwood village. Homes average 1,880 square feet of living space and are generally configured in a 3 bed, 2 bath layout. Homes in Elm Grove are a great option for first time home buyers. Elm Grove is in the Humble Independent School District, one of the top school districts in the Northeast Houston area. Easy access to highway 59 and the beltway are top reasons many residents new to the area consider a home in Elm Grove.

Elm Grove is a part of the Kingwood Service Association which works to maintain the area parks and trails. These parks include Creekwood Nature, Deer Ridge, East End, North Park, and River Grove. They boast such amenities as golf disc park, boat ramp, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, hiking trails, pavilion, picnic areas, duck pond, playground area, and fishing.

Elm Grove is a wonderful community in the collection of Kingwood Villages and is maintained by an HOA that strives to keep the beauty and aesthetics of the area maintained so that homeowners can feel that they made the right choice when choosing to buy a home in Elm Grove.

Inspections: It’s the little things that count

February 25th, 2014

When the time comes to put your home on the market there will be a whole host of things to prepare. Deciding to do an inspection ahead of time might save you some serious stress and cash at the bargaining table.

The process of selling your home can be rewarding, exciting, emotional, and stress filled all at the same time. Doing some remodeling, deciding on a list date and list price are all very common steps in placing your home on the market. Prospective buyers will schedule appointments with their own agent or yours. There may be an open house to allow for a broad public viewing and then eventually someone makes an offer. Price, closing date, and terms of financing are all placed into a contract between you and the possible new home owner. Then come the inspections.

Inspections are a very important part of buying a new home. In the state of Texas real estate inspectors are licensed through the Texas Real Estate Commission. The items that they are required to look for and report are set out by TREC and are meant to protect the consumer. To an uneducated buyer these reports could make your home look much less desirable and even seasoned home buyers know what to look for on a report that says there could be a problem. Finding and repairing these issues beforehand could make all the difference in final negotiations.

If you have sold homes before and have a good idea of the things that will be inspected start looking at your home with the critical eye of a consumer. Take care of the DIY jobs, hire a handyman for those items just out of your skill range, but by all means have a licensed professional fix items that will need documented proof of the method used for repair. If you are unsure of what is going to be inspected you could hire an inspector yourself and use the report they generate to get the home ready for market and leave less room for surprises later in the process.

It should be noted that in the state of Texas any inspection performed in the last 4 years must be disclosed to the buying public. If you are worried that this will be seen in a bad light, consider that any problems will be found by an inspector somewhere in the process. If it is found by your inspector then it gives you leeway to fix it without the pressure of knowing the sale of your home could be weighed on the buyers view of their report.

“REAL” Estate Vocabulary

February 24th, 2014

Sometimes in real estate you have to use your imagination and creativity to explain what your seller is really offering to the market. I found this infographic from househunt.com that gives you some pretty good examples. Part of listing a home is selling it in writing. While some agents take days to craft just the perfect word picture for a home in the 500 spaces allotted by an MLS, sometimes there are just no words to describe what you have just agreed to try and sell. Here are a few to make your day.

real estate vocabulary

Influence it and move on

February 21st, 2014

One definition from Websters Dictionary for influence is this: the power to change or affect someone or something : the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen. How much influence you have can vary from who your’e dealing with to what your’e dealing with. Knowing when your influence has reached its limit can become a key tool in your need for time management.

In the business of real estate, time can literally be money. From the time you use to generate new business or the time you give someone to respond to an offer, every second wasted can make a big difference in your financial stability. It can be said that time management has some effect on every one of us if we think about it. What you get accomplished in a given length of time is directly impacted by how much time you spend on each task. So what does this have to do with influence?

This year I’m making this a mindset I espouse to every agent in my office who will listen to me, but more importantly to myself. Manage your time based on the limits of your influence. When you have filled out the last box on a contract, send it to the clients and move to the next task. So many times we reach the end of what we have the ability change, affect or influence and continue to spend time thinking about what the outcome will be. Have the next project lined up and start to work on it. If the contract comes back 15 minutes later ready for you to do something with it, you got 15 minutes in on the next thing you can influence. We tend to spend that 15 minutes waiting for a reply and then decide to do something else. That’s 15 minutes you aren’t getting back.

The ability to multi-task is not possible. You can switch-task, but actually influencing more than one thing at a time just doesn’t happen. Switch-tasking by leaving one job unfinished to start on another one is not good use of your time, but if you view each segment of any task as its own job you can finish these micro-jobs and accomplish several whole jobs in the same amount of time. Realize when your influence has reached its end then move to the next thing you can control. When the time comes to get involved with an issue that requires you to act, you will know what to do. Influence it and move on.