Central Arkansas Real estate…

October 17, 2017

What exactly is a short sale?

Sometimes life gives you lemons… and sometimes it is my job to turn those lemons into something palatable. It may not be the best lemon meringue pie, or the sweetest lemonade, but it will be tastier than choking on the whole lemon rind and all.

A foreclosure happens when life deals you a hand that you can’t play. It’s like getting a pair of twos and your up against a royal flush.  Perhaps it is a job loss, or an illness and a person falls behind in their payments.

There are a few alternatives to losing your house and your good credit. If you have enough equity in your home, you can sell it, clear the mortgage and walk away hopefully with a jingle in your pocket. You have to realize that you can’t wait on this option. Banks will apply late fees that will eat up the equity pretty fast and those fees normally have to be paid at closing reducing the jingle substantially.

Another option is bankruptcy. I’m not a bankruptcy expert, by any stretch of the imagination, so you would have to check with a bankruptcy attorney to see if filing for bankruptcy will help you.

I am however, as close to being a short sale expert as an agent in this market can be.  I’ve done at last count over 25 of them in this small area market.

Continue Reading →

August 4, 2017

Razzle Dazzle them with Curb Appeal

Razzle Dazzle them with curb appeal! 

Most of my friends know that my DH is a horticulture guy. While my yard is not the Garden of Eden, sometimes it comes pretty close… minus the snake and apple. 

He has his favorite plants and I have mine. I absolutely hate Echinacea. Well, at least I hate it where he plants it because it blocks my yard art and little pond. He is not partial to day lilies. I don’t know why he doesn’t like them, but I imagine it’s because next year he is going to have to choose to either move the day lilies or move the calla lilies because they are so close to each other neither gets to put on a show. 

The standout plants in our yard this time of year are our Razzle Dazzle Dwarf Crape Myrtles that line our driveway.

Crape Myrtle just the right size

Razzle Dazzle Crape Myrtle

As I drive around showing property I see so many people plant Crape Myrtle trees in the wrong place. Builders especially seem ignorant about the growth patterns of Crape Myrtle trees. They have no idea that these beautiful trees can grow to 30 feet with a span of 20 feet or more. They also do best in full sun and get spindly in shaded yards.

Crape Myrtle planted to close to house

This Crape Myrtle will cause problems!

If you have these beautiful trees planted close to your house, you can and probably should move them. I have moved Crape Myrtles that were upwards of 15 foot tall. I’ll tell you how I did it if you want… but it involved muscle shovels a couple of strong kids and a 4 wheeler.

One of the best things about Crape Myrtle trees is that as they age they develop the most beautiful bark. The canopy is nice too with its umbrella shaped branches. Never ever commit Crape Murder… meaning don’t let your tree have nubby branches because of bad pruning. You don’t have to prune these trees, except maybe to clear area toward the bottom of the tree. 

Don’t commit Crape Murder!

But I digress… let me tell you about my Razzle Dazzle Crape Myrtles. These trees were planted in my yard almost 9 years ago! The tallest one in the photo is maybe 4 feet tall. This is the way you create curb appeal with a Crape Myrtle planted next to your house… along your driveway or just about anywhere you don’t want the tree interfering with your gutters and roof. 

Always remember… A wise woman once told me “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago… the next best time to plant a tree is today!”


August 1, 2017

Curb Appeal Sells Houses!

How to Create Curb Appeal! 

I can’t count the times I have had a client in my car and drove up to a house where they have simply not wanted to go inside to take a peek. Of course this puts me in a bit of a spot when I have to tell the listing agent,  “I’m sorry. My client just didn’t want to go inside.”    

Sometimes this happens because of things that the Seller has no control over… such as the slope of the yard or the condition of the neighboring houses. But most of the time it is because the house just isn’t that appealing. It doesn’t say “Welcome” and it certainly doesn’t look special or stand out from the crowd in a good way. 

Those of you that know me personally know that I really don’t mince words. Some houses are just downright pitiful! Ugly houses are hard to show and hard to sell. When I market a home, I’m spending my time, my energy, my money and I put a little bit of my heart into each house I represent. 

Fix that Front Door!

Pay attention to your front door. A fresh coat of paint in a snappy color can mean a lot. Please make sure your lock works. Opening that front door with a key that works smoothly is so VERY important. A Realtor fighting with a lock for even a few minutes in this heat can make buyers sweat and want to get back into the car. I once had a house sit on the market for months. I took the time and personally painted the front door yellow and hung a wreath on it and it sold within a week. Coincidence? I don’t think so. 

Mow the grass!

Not everyone is a Master Gardener, but a manicured lawn is important to curb appeal. Edge the beds and pull the weeds, put out a couple pieces of ‘yard art’ (Please don’t take this to mean that you need Doc, Dopey, Happy and the whole dwarf crew perched on your front porch.) And please, water the grass… there’s nothing worse than walking across crispy grass. 

Replace the blinds!

Blinds that have been chewed or broken by kids and dogs can be seen from the street. Untangle that knot in the cords while you are at it. If at all possible spring for the faux wood blinds not the $2.00 kind from the dollar store. They should all match if visible from the street. The slats should be positioned where the light reflects upwards toward the ceilings, not down toward the floor. This keeps the view through the window shielded but allows light reflect from the ceiling into the room. 

Wash the house!

Broom off the cobwebs and dead bugs. Knock off the ‘dirt dobber’ and wasp nests! And for goodness sakes remove the bird nest that is over your front door and wash the bird poop off the front steps! You may enter your house from the garage, but buyers use the front door. Realtors and Buyers especially don’t like to be attacked by nesting birds. Then wash down the front of the house with a hose. You don’t need a pressure washer most of the time. There is a product called Jomax that you can buy at most big box stores that will do the trick with a little bleach and a garden hose.  

If I can’t get buyers through the front door, they will never see your well-appointed chef’s kitchen with stainless steel appliances, or your new walk in shower.  

Hit me up if you would like my pre-inspection check list for sellers. It saves a ton of grief when you are under contract and are expecting the buyer to do inspection.


September 12, 2016

Who works for who???

Buyers Agency – Who works for you??

I believe the most common mistake a buyer can make is thinking the agent that shows them houses is working for them.

One of the hottest topics in real estate right now is the issue of agency. Agency is important because it answers the most fundamental question asked of any real estate professional: Who do you represent in this transaction?

The relationship between a listing agent and the seller is understandable. There is usually a contract stating that the agent is employed by the seller and defines the terms under which compensation (commission) will be paid.

In the good old days (approximately pre-1985 when I first became a Realtor®), every agent represented the seller. Because the person who pays the commission gets the allegiance of the Realtor®.

Let me explain… The seller pays the commission, his agent shares the commission with the agent who brought a buyer to the closing table. This creates an implied contract; a sub-agency agreement; every agent involved with the house, even those that only showed the house or talked about the listing is a sub-agent representing the seller. (ie working for the seller)

Because of the representation or lack of representation for the Buyer… a Buyer’s Agency came into being…

Arkansas law requires real estate agents to clearly disclose to all parties in a real estate transaction which party(s) he or she is representing.

Buyer agency is a contract where an agent agrees to assist a buyer in locating a home, and represent that buyer’s best interests in negotiating a purchase, and closing on a home.

Here’s a simple scenario that will shed some light on this…

You meet an agent at an open house. This house is perfect for you. You tell her that you have $45,000 in cash and you will offer $92,000.00 but if you have to you can go up to $96,000.00… (been there done that??)

What can this agent tell the Seller??? Unless you have a “Buyer’s Agency Agreement” in place with your agent, she is most likely working for the seller. That means she has a fiduciary obligation to the seller to disclose any information that might “promote or protect his interest”. She has an obligation to tell them exactly what you have told her.

My advice to Buyers is to make sure that the agent you work with (no matter who it is) has agreed in writing to represent you as a Buyer’s Agent.  Even if the agent sells you a property listed by her company, a ‘dual agency’ exists. In these instances there is a pre-defined code of conduct that must be adhered to very closely.

Simply put, never say anything to anyone unless you want it to get back to the seller. Assume everyone is working for the seller until you have a Buyer’s Agency Agreement in place. This will insure your agent will represent you in any transaction even FSBOs (For Sale By Owner).

In most cases the commission will still come from the sellers, but with a Buyer’s Agency Agreement in place, your agent works for you.

September 12, 2016

First Things First…

Get that Pre-Approval Letter!

As a Realtor® I made a conscious decision some years ago to abide by certain rules.  One of these rules is to only show property to qualified buyers.

When people list their property with me, I assure them that only ready, willing and able buyers will be tromping through their house, opening their closets, peeking in their cabinets and looking at their stuff.

So, unless you will be paying cash for your home, the first step in buying any home is to make sure you will be able to finance it through a mortgage lender. There is no reason to run around all over town looking at houses wasting gas and get your hopes set on a particular house until you get this first and very important step done. Continue Reading →

August 4, 2016

What a Bill of Assurance Can do for you!

Bill of Assurance…

If you are purchasing a home – especially a new home – you may notice something called a “Bill of Assurance”. In the very simplest terms this is a list of rules and regulations that were put together when the subdivision or group of lots was developed to protect owners.

For example, a developer gives a bill of assurance to purchasers of lots to let them know that the development has standards for quality housing, this can include minimum home size, architectural details, and the quality of exterior materials including garages, fences, and auxiliary buildings.

Deed Restrictions:  In Florida we often called them “deed restrictions”. In some instances an HOA (Home Owners Association) may have the authority to enforce the rules. In one subdivision I lived in it was up to the residents to enforce the rules by hiring an attorney. The HOA could write letters, but eventually an attorney would have to be involved to enforce the rules if the offending culprit didn’t comply.

I like having these restrictions in a readable document. Always ask if the home you are considering buying has a Bill of Assurance and get a copy to read it.  Most title companies keep copies of these Bills of Assurance as they close properties.  My favorite local title company had one that was almost 30 years old!

Often times I have heard people say. “I don’t want anyone telling me what to do with my property. I make the payments”. While that may be true there is another side to consider.

A family I am very close to purchased a home on a street where there is no Bill of Assurance or deed restrictions. After a few years, their neighbor let his landscaping turn into a weedy mess which could really impact the value of their property.

Messy burn pileAfter weeks of looking off their patio to see this pile of mess. If you look closely you will see old pizza boxes and beer cartons among the weeds and trash. This “burn pile” was out of control.

Neighbors phoned into the city to ask this fellah to clean up his back yard. Thankfully there were some city codes that applied because the pizza boxes were drawing vermin (coyotes and raccoons).

So in my opinion, a Bill of Assurance is a good thing.

A Bill of Assurance or “Deed Restrictions” would have been very helpful in this case. It pays to do your research. You may not want people to “tell you what to do with your property” but if you had this beside you as my friend did just maybe you’d change your mind.

Does it assure you that everyone will abide by the rules???  No. There will always be people that break the rules and there will always be bad neighbors in need of tall fences. With a Bill of Assurance you stand a better chance of living next door to like minded people.

Who enforces the Bill of Assurance?  In the earlier phases of construction the developer will enforce the rules.  Once the development is turned over to the owners, it is up to the owners to enforce the rules.  They can do this through a property association and sometimes have to resort to hiring an attorney.