NOLAN AWARDED SELLER REPRESENTATIVE DESIGNATION

I’ve always prided myself on education, education, education! I’ve found it to be the best foundation to ensure that I’m continually learning. I love to listen to new podcasts, read different books and skim through magazines. While all of those have been great and inspiring, I also made a promise to myself to receive designations in real estate that will help me better my knowledge and better represent my clients. I’ve learned that experience counts and credentials matter!

I’m honored and excited to announce that I have been awarded the Seller Representative Specialist (SRS) designation, the premier seller agency designation in the country. The SRS is conferred by the Real Estate Business Institute (REBI) and is an official credential of the National Association of REALTORS®. I join an elite group of real estate professionals from around the world who have earned the SRS designation. All designees are required to successfully complete comprehensive coursework in seller representation, demonstrate significant seller representation experience and expertise, and subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

Here’s what I gained from this designation:

  • Trained seller advocate who knows the importance of client needs through each step of the selling process
  • Extensively trained in a variety of marketing methods to uniquely promote your property to the widest range of prospective buyers
  • Understands importance of staging properties for best results along with accurate pricing to attain desired results in a timely manner
  • Negotiation skills to ensure a successful transaction
  • Keen understanding on how to collaborate with a variety of cooperating agent of all skill level to help you get the best buyer

In addition to my SRS designation, I’ve also received my Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (NAR) and Accredited Luxury Home Specialist (ALHS) designation by the Luxury Home Council (LHC).

With this new designation, I am providing clients with confidence, trust and experience. You can feel confident working with me as your Seller Representative Specialist.Let me help you take your home from for sale to SOLD!

Staying Green While Staying Home

Right now, we are all spending more and more time at home during COVID-19. And with all of this time inside our homes, we are likely using up more energy and not being quite as green as we want to be. We are leaving lights on, cranking up that A/C and maybe leaving that back door open a little longer.

While we are home and since today is Earth Day, I’m going to share ways we can conserve and stay green while at home. Now there’s no need to get all crazy and make drastic changes in our homes because we’ve gotta stay sane. So let’s keep it simple.

Unplug appliances. Honestly, I’m guilty of just leaving everything I own plugged in. So don’t mind me while I go and unplug the toaster I haven’t used in a hot minute.

Turn off lights. Not in the room? Turn the lights off. An even better and easier solution could be to switch over to smart lights and do it from an app on your phone. I’m a BIG fan of my smart lights and have them hooked up to my Alexa system.

Switch to LED. Change out those old light bulbs and change over to more energy efficient lights like LED. First of all, LED is brighter and just really can change up the vibe of a room.

Check that Temperature. Keep an eye on your thermostat. Are you heating or cooling a room you don’t use? Keeping your home too toasty or like the antarctic? Adjust to save energy. Even better, invest in a NEST Thermostat. I have one and love that it automatically sets to ECO Mode when I leave the house.

No waste pact. Make a deal with yourself to waste no food in your pantry/fridge. Cook all that you have before you head to the grocery store. This may give you an opportunity to get creative with your cooking!

Switch to paperless. When paying bills for your home, do it online and reduce wasting paper. Opt out of receiving mail.

Plant inside. Make your own indoor green space. Get a fiddle leaf or snake plant and add a little oxygen flow in your interior. It looks cute, too!

Open those blinds. Natural light is the best light! No need to turn on lights or lamps when you’re using that nice sunshine from outside.

There are so many other great ways to keep your home, but these are just a few items you can add to your daily checklist. Stay home and stay green!

What Am I Even Signing: One to Four Family Residential Contract

Not to be the bearer of bad news here, but when it comes to buying or selling a property it’s more than just house hunting. There’s a big portion of the process that all about contracts. Sounds boring… I know. But this is really the most important part! You’re signing your life away on a very, very expensive piece of property, so it would probably be nice to know what you’re signing…right?

While you typically trust your agent and would prefer them to just tell you to initial here or sign there, I always make an effort to sit down with my buyers or sellers (especially first-time home buyers) to walk through the contract they’re signing. Luckily as a REALTOR® in Texas, we are giving contracts and forms that have been prepared by attorneys that protect our clients, but regardless you should still know what you’re signing! I’m not going to break down the whole property contract line by line, but I will tell you what a lot of the verbiage means at a high-level help you understand what you’re signing.

I would like to always note that you should to consult an attorney if you have any questions about a real estate contract.

WHAT ARE YOU EVEN SIGNING: ONE TO FOUR FAMILY RESIDENTIAL CONTRACT

Now here’s to the heavy stuff. There’s a lot of information, numbers and details. I find it important that you understand every page of this document before you sign it and this is why you sit down with your agent prior to signing to have any questions answered, but for this blog’s purpose I will breakdown the top items to understand.

Sales Price: This is your total purchase price. It is broken down by your cash portion brought to closing and your borrowed funds through your loan.

Earnest Money: This is typically 1% of the purchase price of the property. You’ll input to amount and what title company you’ll be using (both the earnest money and title company are negotiable). This is credited at closing.

Title Policy: The seller normally pays for the title policy, but this is negotiable.

Survey: The title company and your lender will likely need a good survey on file but sometimes a neighborhood plat works. If the seller has a survey on file then great! If not, this is something to consider whether the buyer or seller purchases. Depending on the property, they can be pricey.

Property Condition: Allows for you to conduct inspections, confirms you’ve received a seller’s disclosure about the property and acceptance of the property. The main takeaways from this portion is to ensure you’ve received and thoroughly reviewed the seller’s disclosure (if applicable for the property) and accept the property as is. Yes, you will still have an inspector come out to the property, but the main reason you wouldn’t accept the property as is would be if the roof must be repaired and other major defects that could be there and are obvious.

Residential Service Contracts: It’s always nice to have a home warranty on the property to protect your HVAC or hot water heater. You will determine what type of home warranty you prefer with your agent and input the price in the contract. You don’t have to ask for one, but they’re great and this is typically covered by the seller for the buyer.

Closing: This is the determined date you plan to close on the property. There is always a possibility the date can move up or be pushed back. It’s typically pushed out 30 to 45 days from the day of signing the contract.

Possession: You’ll either have possession of the property upon closing and funding or there will be a leaseback on the property. Leasebacks are needed if the seller needs more time to move out or buyer needs to move in earlier.

Settlements and Other Expenses: Are you needing closing cost assistance? This is the portion where you would put that amount. Your lender will know what your financial situation looks like and can guide you on this aspect.

Termination Option: This is the timeframe that you’ll use to have your inspection conducted. You can negotiate the amount of days and the amount of money paid to the sellers. People typically ask for 7-10 days and pay $100. This is credited at closing. Your termination option begins the day after the contract is executed.


While this does not include every little piece of wording in the One to Four Family Residential Contract, it does give you a good idea and understanding of what you’re signing. Your REALTOR® is there to protect you and answer any questions you may have when signing a contract. They always have your best interest, it’s our responsibility! Remember that no question is stupid, so ask away!

Common Misconceptions of First Time Home Buyers

Daunting, overwhelming and terrifying. Exciting, thrilling and blood-tingling! That’s exactly what home buying can feel like for a first time home buyer. It can be a roller coaster of emotions throughout the process of purchasing or even thinking to purchase. I’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt to live and tell the tale. I’ve also help a LOT of first time home buyers in this process as well and I have heard all the questions and misconceptions of home buying. One thing I always try to emphasize to my buyers is that no questions is stupid. Not one!

As always, I want to be a resource for my sweet first time home buyers, but I also think it’s important for anyone thinking about buying to know what is even possible!  I’ve pulled together common misconceptions that first time home buyers to help you or even a close friend or family member to see what’s possible with first time buyers.

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Common Misconceptions for First Time Home Buyers

I can’t afford to buy a house!

You don’t know that yet! This is why it’s great to meet with a mortgage loan officer or your local bank to explore ALL options. You may actually be ready or they can help create a timeline and program to get you on track whether it’s increasing cash flow/assets or building credit.

I’ll save more money if I rent. 

Want to hear something W I L D? ! A lot of first time homebuyers end up having mortgages that are LESS than what their rent was costing them. Crazy! While you’re thinking you save on repairs and upkeep on the home, you’re still toward someone else home and not you own. Why not pay toward your own dream? I need to have a 20% in cash for a downpayment! 

No one is asking you to liquidate all your cash monayyy! There are so many great loan programs like FHA and USDA loans that require very little (like 3.5% down) or zero down if you’re in a rural area. FHA loans are fantastic for first time home buyers and great lenders can also find grants to help assist in closing costs.

If you’re in the military or a veteran, you can also look into VA loans where they will take 0 down. There are programs for E V E R Y O N E!

I need to have perfect credit! 

Your credit needs to be good, yes. But it doesn’t have to be PERFECT! While credit scores can effect your interest rate, there are many ways that lenders can find the right loan program or ways to build up your credit quickly to prepare you to purchase YOUR own home.

I need to have a job for 2 years before I can buy a home! 

Not going to lie, I always thought this as well. While this does pertain for self-employed people to show a complete history, salaried people have a different set of rules. Sometimes all you need is a letter from your workplace with your salary and some pay stubs.

I can’t afford repairs. 

Ever heard of a home warranty? I try to always get my buyers a home warranty that covers repairs on AC units and other appliances in their home. While home warranties don’t cover everything, they do help pay toward some larger expenses. All you have to do with a home warranty with pay an upfront fee that could range from $60-75 per visit from contractor sent to repair items. These home warranties can basically pay for themselves over time.

I don’t bring in enough money. 

You don’t have to be raking in the dough to buy a home, you just need to be consistently making money! You Realtor and lender will help guide you on budgeting and staying within your limits on what you can afford, but never assume what you cannot do.

I need to find the home before I get approved for a loan. 

WRONG!!! I typically won’t even show a client a home until they’re approved for their loan. Here’s why: I hate to take a client into a home, they fall in love and then come to find out… they can’t get approved for a loan to purchase the property. That’s a bummer and then the buyer is stuck on that one home and it really sours the rest of the house hunting experience. Getting with a Realtor first is a great game plan and we can then guide you to the right lender for what you’re needing. After you get all your ducks in a row with the lender, it is then time to find the home!

I need to purchase a price at the high end of what I am approved for.

Not quite. You need to purchase a property that keeps you living within your means! This is why it’s important to start the home buying process with a budget in mind – you need to know what you can afford in a mortgage and utility payments. Just because you’re told you’re approved for a $400,000 loan, it doesn’t mean you have to go near there. No one wants to be house poor.


Buying a home has enough what ifs, so don’t let all of these misconceptions scare you away from pushing toward your dream of home ownership. As always, a handy perfect Realtor like me is a great FIRST STEP in the home buying process. I help guide you on all of the next steps and how we make YOU a HOME OWNER!

Preparing Your Home During The Stormy Season

April showers were supposed to bring May flowers, right? But all we feel like we’re getting are scary tornado watch calls from Mark Scirto from our local news station.

WINDOWLESS INTERIOR

In the grand scheme of things, you truly need to worry about finding a small, windowless interior room in the home. Duh! But we also need to think about how you can protect your home during this stormy weather from hail damage and more. Here are a couple of things you can do to protect and prep your home.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO

Trim those trees. Look at the limbs close to your roof, where you park your vehicle or near any lines. While I always recommend hiring a professional, if it looks like a smaller job these tree trimmers can help lighten the load and stress. This can help prevent much larger issues after storms.

Cover or move your outdoor items. Do an inventory of your outdoor items like patio furniture, planters, firewood, grills, etc. Either cover those items or bring  them inside to a garage or shop area. You can use patio furniture covers, grill covers and more to protect your outdoor favorites. Securing them to the ground is also very helpful.

Check those gutters and downspouts. Ensure that they’re not logged with leaves or full of miscellaneous items by using gutter cleaners. Clear them out to prepare for proper flow of water during the storms.

Follow local news. Be informed. Pay attention to the weather either on your local weather radars, sign up for texts, calls or email alerts from your local weather station to be in the know on upcoming weather.

Inspect your roof. Hail storms and high winds are not your roof’s best friend. Keep an eye on the condition of your roof and if you see any significant damage, be sure to get in touch with your insurance adjustor to see what they can help cover repair costs.

Do you have an emergency kit? Grab the basics: first aid kit (bandaids, ointments, etc.), food (water and non-perishable snacks – put in those granola bars), flashlight with extra batteries, radio and fully charged phones or portable chargers. Have those ready just in case. 

Lastly…

FIND THAT SAFE ROOM! Be prepared and have a cleared and clean windowless, interior room or area identified for storms.  Stay safe!

Stay safe out there, my friends.

Listing Your Home? Here’s What You Can Do Now

Making moves? Then it’s probably time you start thinking about putting your home on the market. Now it’s not as simple as one, two, three… but it’s not as scary as it seems. I’ve pulled together some simple steps to take care of before you put your home on the market.

Deep Clean

Do it yourself or hire a professional. From the baseboards to every corner in the home, dust should go POOF! One man’s trash is not another man’s treasure in this situation. Potential buyers are looking at EVERY corner of your home, so keep it clean.

Declutter

Clean out your shelves, pantry, countertops and the bottom of your closet! When people come in to look at your home, you want them to see the bare minimum. If it doesn’t add to the aesthetic of the home, it needs to go.

Move Those Family Photos

Yes, you’re proud of you family or significant other, but they need to go! You don’t want your family on display for your pictures on Realtor.com and you probably would prefer that the potential buyer isn’t concerned about who currently lives in the home instead of seeing the beauty of the home. Depersonalize!

Inspect Your Home

This is not a requirement, but it could show you potential hiccups or issues that could come up once you get an offer. An inspector can point out some big or small issues that you can fix before putting your home on the market.

Curb Appeal

Pull out those weeds, rake those leaves and sweep that front porch. Curb appeal is EVERYTHING! Does the outside of the home need some love? A good power wash could do the trick or even a fresh coat of paint on the trim or shutters. A lot of potential buyers will make their rounds to check the outside of the home before they asking their Realtor to show it to them.

Freshen Up That Paint

Keep it neutral and keep it cute. If you have the funds and the time, cover up that lime green or bubble gum pink room and paint over an spots or scratches and definitely think about replacing that wallpaper. This makes a bigger difference than you would imagine. A lot of potential buyers want move in ready and having a great, neutral paint color throughout the home can be just what they want.

Find Those Documents

Your Listing Agent is going to ask for any documents that you have involving the home. This includes any existing surveys, restrictions or manuals on an fixtures for the home (operating manuals for appliances, security system, etc.). If you can’t find everyone, no worries! Your Listing Agent can help you gather details from your local title company or other resources.

And finally….

Call Me!

Don’t blindly hire an agent. Let me help you list your home and market it to the right clientele. I specialize in social media and marketing, helping me direct your property to people in the area and outside of our area. I also happily meet with clients before listing to help guide with any updates needed in the home. I never recommend throwing a ton of money in updates unless it is NECESSARY, so consult an agent first.

Not in the East Texas area? I can refer you to the top agents in your area and ensure you’re listing with an agent that specializes in residential or land sales in your community. I refer friends and family to clients in large and small cities that help market and SELL properties!

Looking to buy a property? 5 Things to Do Before You Call A Real Estate Agent

Is buying a new property or home on your horizon? It’s the most exciting, stressful time and likely the biggest purchase of your life! There’s no doubt that the whole process of buying a home or property can be overwhelming. Luckily, real estate agents and brokers provide local expertise and are a great resource to help you find exactly what you are looking for.

Select an agent with the right credentials for your buy. While you may want to immediately pick up the phone and call me to help find your DREAM HOME, there is some groundwork that can be accomplished beforehand. Here are five things that you can do before calling a real estate agent:                                               

1. Get pre-qualified for your loan.

Hands down, this should be your first step as it is the most important! Getting pre-qualified means that a lender (your bank) has looked closely at employment history, credit reports, income, etc. The lender will then determine loan programs that you qualify for and find what works best for your financial situation. Basically, you can’t go spending more than your credit limit will let you!

Going through the pre-qualification process helps your real estate agent find a property that is in your price range. Most of the time clients get very eager and want to look at homes before speaking with a lender or bank, but I prefer not to show them homes without knowing their limits. You can really sour the house hunting process by showing a home out of a client’s price range, letting them fall in love, only to realize that they can’t afford it. Getting pre-qualified can be as simple as a phone call so it doesn’t have to take up your whole day. I do highly recommend meeting with the lender in person just to make the initial connection and help build a relationship.

If you don’t know where to start or who to call to get qualified, I can guide you in the right direction to help find a mortgage lender or bank that fits your needs.

2. Know the area that you want to purchase.

When it comes down to it, you need to know the location or area of where you plan to purchase a property. This decision can come down to the school districts, access to hospitals, or dining. Determining the location of the property helps the real estate agent zero in on where the buyer is focused on living or investing and eliminates questions about other locations. Real estate agents have great programs in the MLS systems that allow us to map out or search specifically by district.

Knowing the location you want to purchase a property in may take some time. I always recommend that my clients take a cruise in the areas they’re leaning toward in the morning and evening. It really helps you get a feel of the neighborhood. Wanting a neighborhood perfect for a growing family? Take a look and see if there are kids playing basketball outside or families going for walks in the evening. Looking for something quiet like a retirement community? Do a night drive by to see if the nightlife is popping in the neighborhoods you’re interested in. These little cruises can really cut down the house-hunting search. There’s nothing worse than when a real estate agent takes a client to a home they requested to see and the client pulling up and not even wanting to look inside the home (that you made clients leave so you could show) because they’re not a fan of the neighborhood. Yes, your agent is there and happy to help you in the elimination process, but help them out too!

3. Study the market.

Look at the economic situation that surrounds you. Research the market for homes in the area where you want to purchase. While a real estate agent can share the length of time homes have been on the market and estimated closing costs, research done ahead of time gives buyers expectations of costs in the location area of where they want to purchase a property. It can also help you see when the competitive times are in the market (typically in the spring/summer).

4. Know the usage of the property that you plan to purchase.

Typically, I’m searching for residential or luxury homes for my clients. So while is seems like an obvious answer that most clients want a subdivision, your real estate agent needs a little more information than that. Clarifying the usage of the property can narrow down the selection to more ‘prime’ choices. Do you want a minimum of five acres so you have room to breathe? Do you want a property where the Home Owner’s Association (HOA) takes care of the lawn? These little tid bits of information can really help narrow it down for your agent’s search.

Another potential deterrent can be deed restrictions on some properties. Some clients want to build a shop or add a pool to their backyard. Having those deed restrictions let’s you know what you’re allowed to build and add-on in neighborhoods. It can really make or break a decision.

5. Research your real estate agent.

Shopping for a real estate agent can be time-consuming, but knowing that you are using the right person for the type of property you want can help make the buying process a breeze. When looking to purchase a property, look at what your agent has listed or helped buyers purchase in the past. I’ve listed and helped as a buyer’s agent in luxury, residential, waterfront, commercial and other types of properties. Having an agent that has knowledge and a proven background in what you want to buy ensures a smooth process. It also doesn’t hurt to check out an agent’s Zillow or Facebook pages to see what properties and clientele they work with to find the right fit. Reviews can also be useful! But, trust me; I know I can help you find the PERFECT property!

 

Buying a property brings in a roller coaster of emotions. Doing homework ahead of time and keeping expectations clear between the buyer and the real estate agent can make this exciting journey a simpler one. These five simple steps to take care of before calling me to be your real estate agent helps set you, the buyer, up for success when looking for a property. Call Bethany Nolan with Murray Real Estate Services, LLC to get started on your house hunting today!