Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Jan. 17, 2020

Should I landscape my property if I'm getting ready to sell it?

 

Should I landscape my property if I'm getting ready to sell it

You’ve thought about it long and hard.  You even went to the local nursery and looked around for a bit before deciding to wait until next year.  But now, next year is here, and you’re getting ready to sell.  And the question remains: To landscape or not to landscape? 

Well, let me help you out.  Landscaping is one of the surest ways of selling your home much faster and for top dollar. In fact, according to a 2013 National Association of Realtors survey, 71% of homebuyers cited curb appeal as one of the more important aspects when deciding on a home. 

But it gets even better; various studies have revealed that landscaping can add another 12 to 15 percent to the value of a home.  In dollars and cents, that could potentially add an extra $10,000 to $20,000 or more of those crisp green bills in your pocket.  Now, how’s that for having a green thumb?

Right now, you’re probably thinking as most people do at the start. Landscaping? Expensive! And a lot of work! Well, here’s the thing, landscaping is like everything else in life. Yes, it can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.  And more so, it certainly doesn’t have to feel like 'back-breaking' work. 

Here are a few tips to get you going…

Trees.  Yes, trees!  Well-placed trees increase property values by 5% or more in some cases.  Any tree, right?  No, not just any tree.  Some tree varieties can substantially plummet the value of a home if the species isn’t desirable for a specific neighborhood.  For instance, Maple trees can provide an enjoyable shady oasis, but because of their quick growth and brittle wood, they are easily susceptible to cracking or toppling over in strong gusts of wind. 

On the other hand, Ornamental dwarf trees that have blossoms (e.g. dogwood, Crabapple, etc.) and a variety of Evergreens can add an attractive combination of colors, fragrance, and landscaping structure that make any home look more appealing, warm and inviting.

Mulch. Whether its pine bark nuggets, pine needles, shredded hardwood, or colored wood, mulches are relatively cheap and easy to apply and can quickly add to the beauty of a home’s landscape by providing a uniform color and an interesting texture to the surface. Mulches are “hands down” one of the best ways to add value to any landscape, and not to mention, an inexpensive option that can make a powerful impact on the prospective homebuyer.

 

Edges.  This is the simplest landscaping technique that will give your property a very clean and orderly appearance, projecting both quality and elegance. If you’ve opted for budget-friendly landscaping upgrades then adding edges around your existing greenery will add a ‘crowning touch of beauty’ to your home.

As you can see from the tips provided above, getting a home ready to sell can be done without breaking the piggy bank or that tender back.

So whether you’re ready to sell your nicely manicured and landscaped property, looking to buy an exquisitely detailed home, or just have questions about Durant, OK and the surrounding area, We’d be happy to help. Give us a call or send us an email today.

 

 

Should I landscape my property if I'm getting ready to sell it 2

 

Posted in Seller
Jan. 11, 2020

The Pitfalls of Rent to Own

The Pitfalls of Rent to Own

In the world of real estate, there is a group of people that fall in-between the line that divides homeowners and renters. These are the “rent-to-own “people, the ones who chose to rent the house that they may eventually buy or have the first option to buy in the future.

For lack of better choices, people who choose this housing arrangement are usually the ones who have poor to no credit and/or cannot acquire funds for a down payment or a mortgage loan. 

At first, the idea of rent to own sounds promising. Renter cannot qualify for a mortgage loan, but intends to buy a house someday. So renter finds another option, there’s a house available for rent, and then part of the rental payments become credits for buying the house during the time of the lease.

In reality, this type of transaction leaves a blurred line in rights and responsibilities of the landlord and the renter-buyer. In a report done by the National Consumer Law Center, contracts of this kind are “toxic transactions”, deceptive, and predatory for lower income buyers.

No standard or universal contract forms

Some states allow rent to own, while some do not. The lack of a governing law and undisclosed information regarding rent to own housing transactions is the cause of confusion and disappointment to renter-buyers.

No proper disclosure / appraisal

Most rent to own transactions do not involve real estate agents, so the renter-buyers are more likely to fall into a predatory scheme / trap. Home inspections are rarely done, and the house is provided as is, defects and all. Oftentimes, the renter-buyer pays more than the actual value of the home.

Maintenance is shouldered by the renter-buyer

With this kind of arrangement, the would-be occupant is usually left to take charge of the repairs needed to make the home habitable. The undefined status of renting and future ownership leaves the renter-buyer to believe that he/she should be responsible for the upkeep.

The status of the property is uncertain

In a rent to own transaction, the future status of the property remains uncertain. While the renter-buyer pays regularly, he/she is still at the mercy of the landlord’s (seller) financial capacity. If the landlord fails to pay the mortgage, the house may be foreclosed and the renter-buyer loses the option to purchase the home.

There are many factors which can make the landlord lose the house at any given time, it can be due to tax issues, divorce settlements, lawsuits, or foreclosure.

 

 

Building code violations

Some houses have been on the market for so long before it becomes a rent to own home. One of the reasons could be structural defects that are too costly to fix. Hence, properties who do not meet the building code requirements are usually the ones sold through shady transactions.

In an article reported by the New York Times, some people have bought rent to own homes only to discover its unresolved issues in the end. One home had a standing vacancy order from the city council, while another home had no furnace. Another rent to own home was sold without a heating system, water supply, and a proper sewage installation.

Money will be forfeited

Renter-buyers pay extra money on top of the rent, like a small portion of a down payment. It gets credited to the purchase price of the house once the renter finally decides to buy. However, that same extra money is non-refundable, and will be forfeited once the renter changes his/her mind.

There may be trustworthy landlord/sellers out there, but the risks still spell a huge difference between rent to own and standard real estate transactions. In a standard home buying process, the buyer is protected against possible scams, because every step is regulated by the law.

People who are interested in dealing with rent to own agreements should think twice and explore other options. It may take time to build a better credit score, but it is better to wait than to fall into the unfair practices that come with most rent to own transactions.

There are loan opportunities available for low-income buyers, and most local agents are acquainted with specific programs and lenders. Information is the key to one’s future home. If you’re considering a rent to own, please call me today to explore the range of options available. 

 

Source for NY Times Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/22/business/dealbook/rent-to-own-homes-a-win-win-for-landlords-a-risk-for-struggling-tenants.html

 

 

The Pitfalls of Rent to Own 2

Posted in Buyer
Jan. 5, 2020

10 Critical Steps You Must Take Before Selling Your House

10 Critical Steps You Must Take Before Selling Your House

If you are planning to sell your house, then here’s some good news: sales of existing homes still remain strong, accounting for more than 90% of all the houses sold in the US real estate market for the past decade.

But before you start listing your house for sale, have you ever wondered how existing homes compete with brand new properties? These few but very important changes will make your house sell faster instead of letting it sit on the market for months.  

1. Have a full home inspection.

A full home inspection will give you a better understanding of the real condition of your home. Chances are, there are a few items around the house that could use an improvement or an upgrade. No matter how well-maintained you think your home is, wear and tear is inevitable. Avoid headaches and surprises from the buyer’s own inspection by adopting a preventative maintenance approach. Have all the plumbing fixtures checked as well as the heating and cooling systems?

2. Make the necessary repairs.

After your house has been professionally inspected, you will be able to assess which areas need immediate attention to be either repaired or replaced. Critical repairs include the plumbing systems, heater, the roof, and anything that compromises the structure of the house.

3. Update your home fixtures.

Some home fixtures give clues on how old the house really is. Heavy, fringed curtains, flowery wallpapers, brass lamps, old door knobs and handles, patterned vinyl flooring, and tiled kitchen counters all scream the ‘80s and ‘90s. Update the look of your home by replacing these fixtures.

4. De-clutter.

Clear your surroundings from visual clutter. Remove as many personal belongings as you can, and put them away in a storage unit. Buyers need to see that your house is move-in ready, so make it look as welcoming as possible.

5. Repaint the walls.

A newly repainted house gives a rejuvenating vibe, making the place look as good as new. Paint eliminates odors which may have been left by pets, as well as markings made by children. 

6. Refurbish the carpet/flooring.

A deep, steam clean will make a carpet feel and smell better. A worn-out carpet, however, needs to be replaced. For wooden floors, sanding and re-buffing will give it an inexpensive yet renovated look.

 

7.  Get a pre-sale cleaning service.

A professional cleaning service can make your home look as pristine as the ones you see in magazines. These cleaners use high-quality tools and equipment to make your glass windows sparkle, your countertops shine, and your rooms look serene.

8. Spruce up your home landscaping.

Buyers will first notice your landscaping before they even set foot in your house. In Bryan County (Oklahoma), for example, there are 232 sunny days in a year, so buyers here can always expect a lush, green yard. Landscaping is a great way to improve your home’s curb appeal, making it look more inviting.

9. Do a house staging.

The National Association of Realtors revealed that “for every $100 invested in staging, the potential return is $400.” It is also believed that staged homes sell faster than empty homes; because it helps the buyers feel how it’s like living in the house.

10. Ask help from a local real estate agent. 

After you have done all the needed improvements, a local real estate agent can help you determine the fair value of your home. Hence, you can avoid pricing it too much and scare buyers away.

Need help in buying or selling a home in Bryan County OK? Call or email me today.

 

 

10 Critical Steps You Must Take Before Selling Your House 2

Posted in Seller
Dec. 24, 2019

DO YOU NEED AN EARNEST MONEY DEPOSIT

 

 

You may have heard the term “earnest money deposit”, or at least something close to it. As a homebuyer, what does it mean for you? And do you need to be worried about it?  

 
 

Just like it sounds, an earnest money deposit is a cash deposit on a home that you want to purchase. It shows the seller that you’re serious about buying the home and are happy to end your search.  

 
 

It’s relative to the price of the home 

There are no rules saying how much the deposit needs to be, but it’s typically a small percentage of the overall cost of the home. The amount will depend on your local real estate market, but it tends to be around 1-2% on average. It’s not unusual for this number to go up to 3% in some larger cities, but I’ve typically seen 1-2% in Durant, OK. It’s up to you and the seller to agree on a number that best suits you both. 

 
 

You can (and should) make it conditional 

1-2% is not a small amount, and it’s likely a portion of your hard-earned down payment. You want to make sure you’re covered under contract and able to receive a refund of the amount if the sale is canceled for any reason e.g. your financing falls through, the seller backs out, or a home inspection goes awry, a contract will have you covered. It can be tempting to offer a non-refundable deposit on your dream home, but you never know what will happen in the closing process. If the seller isn’t happy with placing conditions on the deposit, consider offering a much smaller non-refundable fee instead.  

 
 

The money remains in escrow  

When you’re offering an earnest money deposit, it means you’re serious about buying the home and don’t want to look at any others. However, that doesn’t mean you’re giving up a portion of your precious savings too early. The deposit you offer will remain in escrow until the sale is finalized and all conditions have been met. Afterwards, that amount is typically taken as a portion of your down payment. If a seller asks you to give them cash directly, don’t do it. Talk to your real estate agent about the best way to secure your earnest money deposit.  

 
 

You don’t always need one 

Depending on the real estate market in your city, you may or may not need to make a deposit. Earnest money deposits are seen more often in hot markets where sellers want to be sure you’re not placing offers on multiple homes. However, even in a subdued market, they can help close the sale of a home where a seller is motivated to sell quickly. Another case in which I encourage an earnest money deposit is when a buyer falls absolutely in love with a home. If you find a home that is “the one” and are comfortable parting with 1-2% up front, I say offer an earnest money deposit!  

 
 

If you’re still unsure about whether you should offer an earnest money deposit, let’s set up a time to chat. 

 

Posted in Buyer, Buying Homes
Dec. 18, 2019

Do I Need To Purchase A Home With A Real Estate Agent?

Do I Need To Purchase A Home With A Real Estate Agent?

With all the real estate information that is readily available online, it may seem that home buying is now as easy as 1-2-3. In fact, some people have been able to buy a house on their own. But, purchasing a home is not that simple as you may think. In fact, it is quite the tedious process that takes weeks, months, and even longer. Home buying entails a ton of work that is best left in the hands of a professional – a real estate agent.

 

This is why 88% of homebuyers still buy their home through a real estate agent, based on a NAR study.

 

When purchasing a home, the one who will represent you is called a buyer’s agent. By working on your behalf, he/she will save you hundreds of hours of research, negotiations, and paperwork. For further enlightenment, here are a few more reasons why you need to purchase a home with the help of a real estate agent:

 

It simplifies the buying process.

 

Hiring an agent means you’ll receive listings that tick off your home buying checklist (number of rooms, square footage, price range, location) saving you time from browsing hundreds that do not fit into your criteria. 

 

The paperwork will be properly filled and filed. 

 

With a real estate agent by your side, you will be able to review all the paperwork involved in the home buying process. If you’re wondering just how much documents there will be, here is a rough estimate (from Zillow):

 

Purchase Contract = 10 to 200 pages (addendums, disclosures, disclaimers, escrow instructions, etc.)

 

Mortgage Loan = 100+ pages (deed of trust, promissory note, lender disclosures, HUD-1, etc.)

 

Title Insurance = 15+ pages (abstract, policy, exclusions)

 

Property Insurance = 30+ pages (homeowner’s policy, liability, coverage exclusions)

 

HOA documentation = 200 to 300 pages (bylaws, conditions, restrictions, and more)

 

Now imagine having to read and decipher the terms and jargons all by yourself. Are you willing to take legal risks due to a few missed details? Surely, a real estate agent is worth it.   

 

A local agent knows the current market data. 

 

You will receive a better analysis of the comparable homes in the neighborhood. For example, he/she can explain to you why that renovated home in the historic Bryan County district has a better value than the newly built one on the other street.  

 

With his/her local knowledge, your real estate agent can help you make a strategic offer (and counter offers), with a price that is fair enough yet still attractive to the seller. 

 

Your real estate agent will act as your mediator.

 

Without any emotional connections for the target house, your real estate agent can help you look beyond the lovely home staging or the distasteful paint colors. Your agent will help you negotiate on the repairs, disclosures, and other things that reflect the actual value of the house. If it is overpriced, your agent will find a way to lower the purchase price without annoying the seller. All the efforts will be done in your best interest. 

 

According to the NAR statistics, “…73% of homebuyers say that they would use the same agent again”. Real estate agents work hard to provide you with the best service possible. You should never think twice about hiring one to ensure a smooth and uncomplicated home buying transaction.

 

Thinking of buying a home in a quiet and charming community? Bryan County OK has lots of neighborhoods that combine small town living with perks of the big cities. Call or email us today.     

 

Do I Need To Purchase A Home With A Real Estate Agent?

Posted in Blog, Buyer, Buying Homes
Dec. 5, 2019

Wil Montgomery REALTOR® & Buyers Specialist

Wil Montgomery REALTOR® & Buyers Specialist

REALTOR®

Buyers Specialist

Go Getter!

Wil Montgomery is a lifelong resident of Durant. He graduated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2001 with an undergraduate degree in education and is currently teaching math at Durant High School. Wil is truly invested in the southeastern Oklahoma region. His knowledge of the area, coupled with his degree in teaching, has provided him with valuable skills that he uses daily in real estate negotiations, educating home-buyers and sellers, and effectively marketing the team’s listings. Wil is also well trained in the use of current technology. He uses the latest internet marketing tools to expose your property to the widest possible range of qualified buyers. Honesty and integrity, along with determination and dedication, are philosophies that Wil strives for in all aspects of his life. He will work tirelessly on your behalf.

Posted in Real Estate Team
Dec. 3, 2019

Home Buying Checklist - What Happens After Your Offer Is Accepted-

Home Buying Checklist - What Happens After Your Offer Is Accepted- 1

Buying a home is a long and exhaustive process and the help of a trusted real estate agent is most often necessary to ensure that you get to experience the exhilarating feeling of being on top of it all. However, as much as you might like to pop open a bottle of champagne and celebrate, having your offer accepted is still not enough reason to party – just yet.

This is an important moment of transition (from being a buyer to finally, a homeowner) that entails a few more steps that can make or break the deal. This helpful guide will enable you to be as ready and as prepared as possible, to go from offer to closing the deal on your dreams:

Seek loan approval.  Ideally, you should have already been pre-approved before making an offer. It is not too late, however, as long as you seek at least two or more lenders to increase your chances of getting approved for a mortgage loan.

Prepare earnest money. This is a security fund deposited into an escrow account, to demonstrate that you are a serious buyer. Depending on your agent, the earnest money may be required before submitting your offer, or after your offer has been accepted.

Hire a professional home inspector. It is important to have the property checked for any defects or initial construction issues. Aside from structural defects, also check for radon levels, pest infestation, mold presence, as well as septic and HVAC problems.

Get a home appraisal. Inform the lender as soon as the inspections have been cleared so they can order a home appraisal. You may need to negotiate with the seller if the home value is less than its asking price. Lenders require that the loan amount should match the appraised value of the home.

Prepare your lender documents.

Get ready to submit all the required documentation so the lender can start the mortgage process as soon as possible. Keep track of the progress and verify your timeline.

Review the title commitment. The Title Company will issue a document providing information on the property’s title history and liens if there are any. Seek the advice of a real estate attorney to resolve issues.

Shop for a Home Owner’s Insurance Policy. Find the policy that is best suited to your needs. Depending on your location, you may need to add additional coverage for flood, hurricane, or earthquake. In Durant OK, you may no longer need flood insurance since it is not located in a hazard area. It is also wise to purchase a home warranty as well.

Set the closing schedule. Reserve a time slot from the title company based on the agreed closing date. Coordinate with your real estate agent, seller, and the listing agent to finalize the purchase process. Prepare your identification cards and payment for the closing costs.

Final inspection. A brief walkthrough is needed so you can check if the repairs are completed and if the house is move-in ready. Check for any seller’s personal belongings which may have been left around, or ensure that there are no more issues that are against the contract.

Closing day. Pay the required amount for closing and sign all the required documents at the title company. Upon the release of the funds from your lender, and the signing of all the paperwork, you will finally receive the keys to your new home.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed with all the steps needed to accomplish after your offer has been accepted. You need a reliable agent by your side to make the sales process as smooth and organized as possible.

Are you looking for a new home? I can help you. Call or email us today.

 

Home Buying Checklist - What Happens After Your Offer Is Accepted- 3

Posted in Buyer
Nov. 28, 2019

BJ Bellettini Real Estate Agent

BJ Bellettini Real Estate Agent

Born on a ranch just outside of Coalgate and having lived in Southeastern Oklahoma for most of his life, BJ Bellettini is your guide to the Lake Texoma region. He is proud to be from Texoma and knows the area like the back of his hand. BJ can tell you all the ins and outs you need to know about the region. 

After high school, BJ attended Oklahoma State University, where he graduated with a bachelors in Agricultural Economics. Over the years he has gained knowledge and experience in many different business sectors before launching his career in Real Estate. This gives BJ a unique background. His past experiences include ranching, trailer manufacturing, sales, banking, pharmaceutical, and medical devise sales, and he currently co-owns Marco Pizza in Durant.

BJ uses his knowledge and insight obtained through the many years working in the Texoma region to represent clients in their Real Estate negotiations. He is a seasoned Texoma realtor and has negotiated many property transactions. BJ also has experience with the sale of new home projects. He commits to creating an added leverage and strength in his client's negotiating position, assisting his clients in optimizing value and benefits in all of their Real Estate transactions.  

Focussed on making the buying and the sales process as simple as possible for his clients, BJ always comes up with a positive approach and solutions. He will break the whole process down to make it as understandable as possible, because BJ knows that the business can be confusing as a first-timer, but sometimes even for experienced buyers or sellers. He helps his buying clients to get the properties they want at the prices they need, and he helps the sellers market their home through the right channels to get it the attention it deserves. BJ is the epitome of "family first," and this includes his clients because BJ considers his clients family. Moreover, BJ loves to give hugs and sing happy birthday. Even when it's raining, BJ can make it feel like the sun shines.

BJ Bellettini has experience from the pasture to the office and is excited to partner with you for all of your real estate needs.  

Posted in Real Estate Team
Nov. 25, 2019

SOLD - 26220 US Highway 70 Bokchito OK 74726

SOLD -  26220 US Highway 70 Bokchito, OK 74726
26220 US Highway 70
 Bokchito, OK 74726

3 beds2 bath1553 sqft

 

Selling Agent: Tracy Powell Bryan Appraisal & Realty

Listing Agent: Macy Dunn REALTOR® 580 Realty®

 

Your secluded getaway only 15 min. from Durant far enough in the country to escape the most hectic of days. House sits on a lazy acre and includes a privacy fence for kiddos and pets alike. Plenty of room on the property to build your shop! New roof and painting in July 2018 and new HVAC in July 2019. CALL NOW!
Listing Agent
Macy Dunn
  • Macy Dunn
  • 580 Realty LLC

580 Realty LLC
Posted in Blog, SOLD
Nov. 22, 2019

The Winter Checklist -10 Ways to Prepare Your Home for the Winter Season

The Winter Checklist -10 Ways to Prepare Your Home for the Winter Season

Winter is fast approaching and the holiday season draws near, but there are still a few important things to do around the house. So before the frost bites your budget due to unexpected repairs, check out this handy list to prepare your home for the coldest time of the year. 

Inspect the Roof

On top of everything else, it is best to start with the roofing system. Come winter time, the snow can bring lots of problems that can affect all the other parts of the house. A little crack here and there could cause ice dams which will leak once the indoor heat melts the snow. Prevent water damage by scanning the entire roof up to the ridges and flashings.

Guard the Gutters

Clogged gutters can cause water to seep into the walls and floors. Remove accumulated dried leaves, tree branches, or dead birds and rodents that keep the collected water from flowing properly. Install mesh guards to keep the gutters free from debris.

Seal the Air Leaks

Caulk windows, baseboards, and doors to reduce air drafts. Weather stripping is the best way to save on heating costs, which is up to 10% annually according to the US Department of Energy. So inspect your home for gaps which can let the cold air in, especially the holes made for electrical, phone, and cable installations.

Check the Chimney

Hire a chimney sweep to inspect for loose bricks, remove flue blockage, and clean creosote build up (tar created from wood smoke) which may cause a fire if neglected.

Clean/Replace Air Filters

Keep your indoor home temperature to a comfortable level by removing the dust off your furnace filters. Clean or replace depending on the air filter material.

Test the Thermostat

Tune up the thermostat so it will be stable during the winter. Heating systems usually break down during winter months, due to heavy use. Prevent expensive repairs by having your furnace professionally inspected for worn belts, blocked ducts, damaged blower, or misadjusted parts.

 

 

Clean the Carpet

Accumulated dirt and grime from your carpet may make your indoors smell musty when the air is filled with moisture. Keep your home smelling fresh by giving your carpet a deep clean. The same goes for your upholstered furniture and mattresses.

Prepare the Plumbing

Frozen pipes are one of the most common winter home problems. Sprinkler systems buried underground, exterior faucets, and outdoor pipes are prone to bursting due to freezing and cracking. To avoid this, turn off the valves for the outdoor plumbing and drain the remaining water from the pipes.  For the indoor pipes, insulation is best for keeping a stable water pressure.

Secure the Driveway/Walkways

 Ice makes the driveway and walkways slippery, so reduce safety hazards by fixing cracks, loose paths, cement holes, uneven steps, damaged fencing, and shaky railings.

Trim the Trees

Large tree limbs of old trees pose a serious risk to your home during winter. Ice and moisture may cause the dried branches to fall on the roof, fence, and even on people. Trim tree branches, especially the large ones and keep the limbs as far from the roof as possible.

Free your home from the common winter problems by following the tips above. Regular home maintenance can make your home habitable and comfortable all year round.  Whether you’re buying or selling, We can help you, just send us a message or call our number today. 

Sources:
https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/repair-maintenance/winter-maintenance-checklist/
https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/lifestyle/dont-let-these-winter-home-problems-leave-you-out-in-the-cold
https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/advice/your-homes-fall-checklist/
https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/winter-home-maintenance-checklist-2018/

The Winter Checklist -10 Ways to Prepare Your Home for the Winter Season-2

Posted in Seller