Don’t get dogged when selling your home!

Before you think about listing your home for sale, there are a few things you need to get straight. One of them is your pets, how they act and what you should do with them. From a stern talking to, caged in the garage or a trip to dog day care you have to plan for home showings.

Ten Pet Questions to Consider

Is your dog or pet up to date on shots?
The last thing you want is a lawsuit because Buffy the poodle wasn’t up to date on her rabies shots.

Is it registered as required by law?
There is never a problem until there is one, so like above make sure you have followed all the rules for permits where you live.

Is it a dangerous breed as defined by your insurance?
Many breeds are considered dangerous by insurance companies. Your Pit Bull may be the most mellow dog you have ever owned but consider removing dangerous breeds or inquire about short-term insurance if available.  Advise your Realtor so they can note about them in the MLS listing’s private remarks. No home buyer likes to be surprised when confronted with the undisclosed Mastiff.

How does it handle strangers?
Some animals love strangers and others want to eat them.  Be sure to let your real estate agent know your pet’s name and if it will respond to basic commands like No!

Is it chipped in case it get’s out?
Sometimes dogs and cats can’t wait to dart out the front door.  In the event that happens you need to be able to locate them.  Having your animal chipped just makes sense and you a responsible owner.

If it escapes, will it come when called?
Does Duke know his name or is he deaf when someone says, “Duke, get back here right now”.

Will fleas attack visitors?
Hopefully this won’t be an issue but make sure you have handled any bugs lurking in the couch or on Fido.  Nothing is more memorable when house hunting than an itch.

Will it distract guests?
If your dog(s) bark constantly when strangers arrive you may want to consider boarding. Also if you have a strange pet like a snake or some other exotic creature consider how buyers feel about them.  It may be normal for you to have a Tasmanian Devil in the bedroom but not everyone will feel the love.   You want the buyer to think about buying a home vs. your choice of pets.

How are its bathroom habits?
If your pet is named Farty Dan, please make proper arrangements. I listed a home once with a mild-mannered Boston Terrier that could run free in the home and not bother strangers.  The only issue was he had a bad case of diarrhea all over the home before an important showing. If you have cats, please take care of the litter box before a home showing.

What will you do on short notice?
Showings can happen from a sign call.  Ideally, you will want to leave the home so you should know how you will handle your pet.  Take them for a short walk or ride, to the neighbors or to doggy day care.

I hope those pet questions help.  We all love our pets but when selling your home you have to plan ahead.  Call me for other home selling tips and let’s get you moving!

4 Mistakes to Avoid the First Time You Buy Or Sell A Home

If it’s your first time buying or selling real estate, you don’t know what you don’t know. There are tons of potential pitfalls and challenges along the way that it’s hard to anticipate when you don’t know what to expect.

But luckily for you, most of the missteps taken by first time buyers and sellers are pretty universal, which means you can learn from their mistakes and avoid falling into the same traps.

Here are four common real estate mistakes to avoid the first time you buy or sell a home:

1. Thinking you know the right price

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The price of a home – whether you’re buying or selling – is one of the most important components of a real estate transaction. But there’s a lot more that goes into pricing than what meets the eye.

Pricing a home is a kind of science. There are so many factors that come into play – time of year, current market conditions, how quickly homes are selling the neighborhood, the current value of the home. The real estate agent takes all of those factors into consideration when coming up with the right price for a home.

Without a real estate background, it’s impossible for you to understand all of those conditions and how they affect the price of a home. If you’re selling, you’re likely to think your home should sell for a higher price because of the value it holds for you. If you’re buying, you’re likely to think a property should sell for less because that means a better deal on your end.

But ignoring your real estate agent’s pricing advice because you think you know what the price of a property should be is a mistake. As a seller, you’ll end up overpricing your house (which will leave it sitting on the market). As a buyer, you’ll end up lowballing your offer (and losing the house in the process).

The first time you’re buying or selling a home, it’s your best bet to leave the pricing to the experts. Your real estate agent will always work to get you the best deal – and keep you from pricing yourself out of the deal you want.

2. Not budging on negotiations

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Another mistake first time buyers and sellers make is being too rigid when it comes to negotiations.

Most real estate transactions require a bit of compromise. As a seller, you might need to give in on some of your buyer’s demands and as a buyer, you might need to work with the sellers a bit in order to close the deal. It’s just the way real estate works. And if you’re not willing to give an inch, the deal can very quickly go south.

Now, just to be clear: you should never compromise TOO much. Don’t compromise on the things that are important to you. But if a minor repair is all that’s standing between you and closing your real estate deal, giving in can be much easier than walking away.

3. Not thinking outside of the box

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If there’s a mistake that nearly all first time home buyers make during their home search, it’s not thinking outside of the box.

Most first time buyers have a very specific idea of what they’re looking for in a home. And while it’s fine to know what you want, refusing to look at properties that don’t check off every single item on your wish list is a major mistake – a mistake that can keep you from finding a home you’re in love with.

If you want to find a home you love, it pays to get creative and see as many properties as possible. Have certain non-negotiables (like a specific number of bedrooms or a designated outdoor space) but allow for some wiggle room on everything else. You’ll end up seeing more properties, and who knows? You might fall in love with a house that’s totally different from what you thought you wanted – a house you would never have seen if you didn’t think outside of the box.

4. Trying to do everything on your own



Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make the first time you buy or sell a home is trying to do everything on your own.

Buying or selling a home is not only hard work, but it requires a certain level of knowledge and expertise. You need to know where to look for hot properties, how to market to buyers, how to negotiate, how to file all the paperwork… if you’ve never bought or sold a home, it can be completely overwhelming.

Which is why you need a real estate agent to walk you through the process. When you work with a great real estate agent, they make the experience of buying or selling a home easier, faster, and more profitable.

Trying to do everything on your own is a mistake. But hiring a real estate agent can quickly rectify that.

Buying or selling your first home can be overwhelming. But now that you know the most common mistakes to avoid, you’re well on your way to a stress-free first time buyer or seller experience.

8961 FM121 Van Alstyne, TX 75495 For Sale!

8961 FM121 Van Alstyne, Tx Home For SaleComing Soon!  MLS#13653995

You can own this nice brick 3 bedroom 2 bath country home on 6 acres within the Van Alstyne ISD.  It is only 2.5 miles east of Historic Van Alstyne for easy access to Hwy 75 and Hwy 5.  Just 18 miles from McKinney or Sherman, Van Alstyne is located in the path of progress but still has that country feel.  There are three bedrooms, office, two baths and a room currently used as an exercise room in this 2370 sf rural home.

Porch swing at 8961 FM121 Van Alstyne, TX 75495

The neighbors won’t bother you here, it is surrounded by a large tract of country land to the north and a horse farm across the street to the south.  The pasture with seasonal tank is on the east corner of Hynds Ranch Rd. and FM 121.

Spread out in the expansive living room with wood burning fireplace, kitchen pass through and a mud-room big enough for a washer, dryer, freezer and folding space. The 15 x 15 master bedroom even includes a small sitting room to enjoy a good book, use as a mini office or perfect as a nursery.  The office and exercise room could easily be used as bedrooms by building a closet or using an armoire.

RV Storage at 8961 FM121 Van Alstyne, TX 75495Park your boat or RV under cover and make use of a 30 x 50 metal building split for storage and livestock. There is an additional small pasture on the west with access to stall area.

30 x 50 building at 8961 FM121 Van Alstyne, TXThe 30 x 50 shop is split for half shop and half livestock.  The livestock end has two dutch doors leading to a small pasture.

Contact Van Alstyne Realtor, Keith Laursen with Fathom Realty for your private showing today!

1783 Hackberry Rd. Van Alstyne, TX – Acreage Increased!

Front of 1783 Hackberry Rd. Van Alstyne,TX 75495The 15 acre listing at 1783 Hackberry Rd has increased to 18 acres including a 30 x 30 metal storage building with only a minimal price change.

This beautiful 4 bedroom home for sale is located close in and within the sought after Van Alstyne ISD. It is ready for immediate showings. The additional acreage makes it an even better value offering you more pasture, a nice building with concrete floor, electric and a roll up door on each end.  A nice home on acreage within the school district is getting very hard to find.

This land has it all including an Ag Exemption, 2 stocked ponds, cross fenced pastures, privacy and fantastic views. It is in an area of nice homes with a rural atmosphere but only minutes from town, Grayson Community College and Hwy 75. You can live in the country and be within apx. an hour of major lakes, Dallas and DFW Airport.  People don’t realize how close Van Alstyne’s location is to entertainment, airports, and recreation.  Let’s take a quick look at a map to show you where you can be in about an hour.

Put your toys in the storage building or three car garage and enjoy a cup of coffee on the east or west facing covered porches. Inside you will find 4 bedrooms with one upstairs off of a large den. Got mud on your shoes? Just take those boots off in the large mud and laundry room. This home is exceptionally clean and offers easy living. Get more information and take a look at a few pictures of this wonderful property.

Call Keith Laursen at 469.233.1234 for more information or a private showing.

1783 Hackberry Rd. Van Alstyne,TX 75495 Home and 15 Acres

1783 Hackberry – Van Alstyne ISD – Country Home on Acreage
MLS# 13595957

1783 Hackberry Rd. Home on 15 acres in the Van Alstyne ISD

Country Living in Van Alstyne

Leave the traffic and stress behind and live your country dream in this 2,830 sf. ranch home on 15 beautiful acres less that five miles west of charming Van Alstyne.  Properties like this are rare to find within the Van Alstyne school district.

Very peaceful setting with 2 ponds, cross fenced and comes with vast country views and sunsets for your relaxation. Bedrooms down with a large den and guest bedroom up. There is plenty of cabinet space, large mud room and 3 car garage.

This Van Alstyne,TX  property is surrounded by nice homes and large land tracts that make this a very desirable location with easy access to Hwy 75 via neighborhood roads and FM121. Only 18 miles to McKinney, Sherman or a little over an hour to DFW airport. In VAISD!

Texas Longhorn at 1783 Hackberry Rd. Van Alstyne,TX 75495Make your moo ve – included two Texas Longhorns! Buy the adjoining 8.44 acres before someone else does. – MLS # 13595045 for over 23 acres of country living!

This fantastic home for sale is listed by Fathom Realty Realtor, Keith Laursen.  Don’t wait to contact Keith at 469-233-1234

More Info

1783 X Hackberry Rd. Van Alstyne – 8.44 Acres

1783 Hackberry Rd. Van Alstyne,TX 75495 8.44 Acres 

1783 Hackberry 8.44 Acre parcel looking west.A hard to find nice level 8.44 acres within the Van Alstyne ISD for sale in a rural area of very desirable homes apx. 5 miles from the Hwy 75 and FM121 Van Alstyne exit.  Van Alstyne is a small rural community in the path of rapid growth half way (18 miles) between the cities of McKinney and Sherman,TX.

This land is made up of two parcels consisting of one 8 acre parcel and a .44 acre parcel for access with a little over 100 ft of road frontage.  Beautiful country view to the west and surrounded by nice homes with a country feel.  In addition to a nice level building site there is even a small metal shop building with two roll up door doors for equipment storage or use as a shop.

Virtual Tour

An adjoining 4 bedroom apx 2830 sf. home on 15 acres also for sale. Put them together to enjoy your country dream!  Contact Van Alstyne Realtor, Keith Laursen with Fathom Realty for information at 469-233-1234.

Shop building and overhead showing surrounding home for sale:
1783 Hackberry Shop PictureOverhead of 1783 Hackberry Van Alstyne,,TX 75495 8.44 acre parcels

Home Buyers, Interest Rates and Brexit

BREXIT: What’s the FIXIT for U.S. Home Buyers and Sellers?

BREXIT: What’s the FIXIT for U.S. Home Buyers and Sellers? | MyKCM

Now that much of the dust has settled and the panic has waned, let’s take a look at what impact Britain’s exit from the European Union may have on the U.S. housing market.  The most immediate impact of Brexit for home buyers will be on mortgage interest rates. Interest rates have remained at historic lows for the last several years. Contrary to what many experts believed, rates have remained low throughout the first half of 2016.

Possible impact of Brexit on mortgage rates?

In a recent article, the Washington Post explained:

“Brexit has spawned the recent bout of volatility in global financial markets. That has anxious investors scurrying for safety — and few assets are safer than U.S. Treasuries. High demand for government debt pulls down interest rates.

That all translates into ultra-low mortgage rates for American households. And with Britain voting for Brexit, they could go even lower.”

However, the lower rates caused by Brexit may be short lived as Trulia Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin pointed out in a recent post:

“While the departure of the UK from the European Union has driven down the 10-year bond, and thus mortgage rates, we expect them to rebound later in the year as uncertainty over the economic consequences of the departure lifts.”

Bottom Line

Rates are already at historic lows. The UK’s exit from the EU almost certainly guarantees they will remain low (and possibly go lower) over the next few months. If you were thinking of buying your first home or trading up to the house of your dreams, this may be the time to act. The cost of money may never be better for a potential buyer.

Some home buyers are concerned about paying to much in this multi- offer market.  While prices are being higher by supply and demand, the good news is home are still affordable due to these low rates.  Contact Keith Laursen, based in Van Alstyne when you are ready to find the home of your dreams.  I work all areas of Grayson and Collin Counties.

Property Tax Madness – Six Points To Consider

Property Tax Madness – Six Points To Consider

Guy mad about his property tax.It’s that time of year when the notices of appraised value go out and the tax madness begins!  Before you get your blood pressure up, consider these six points that can affect your real estate value and how you may have the wrong perspective about the notice.


Be Happy About Your Property Tax Increase

Your Real Estate Investment Paid Off

You often hear that real estate is one of the best investments you can make.  You need a home to live in so it might as well be a good investment vs. a bad one. If the value always stayed the same or worse, went down, you would probably be a renter or calling the, We Buy Ugly Houses guys!  When the Central Appraisal District notice of appraised value lands in your mailbox, don’t despair, celebrate!  You made an excellent decision and your investment is paying off.  The tax man is just saying congratulations, the county, Jr. college, city & Van Alstyne ISD wants to share in your good fortune.  Life is Good!


Fight the Central Appraisal District

If you don’t agree your dream home is worth more, you can always fight it.  You have 30 days to explain why your home is falling apart, your neighbor is being charged less for the same model or the new power lines have fried your home value.  Seriously, if you are going to fight your appraisal don’t go in with an attitude that you have been singled out personally. Go in with documentation for needed repairs, pictures of your homes condition and data showing the value of your property like a Realtor’s market analysis (CMA), actual appraisal or other documentation vs emotion.  You can play Perry Mason before the review board but the easy thing to do is opt for the informal review.  Just arrange a meeting, lay out your position and in most cases you can win an adjustment.

Hint – Don’t go in with a Zestiment or other real estate portal estimate or an Ad for home for sale in your neighborhood.  To find out why, read my past article on Zestiments or just click on the Zestiment link at the bottom of Zillows page, then read it and weep.  Zillow hasn’t been in your home and since Texas is a non-disclosure state, they don’t have accurate information on what your neighbor’s house sold for.


Focus on the Tax Increase vs. your Home Value Increase

Most people dread the notice and go bonkers as soon as they see an increase in value.  I recently had a property increase in tax value by $16,395.  Call out the national guard, everything is a year older and I didn’t even buy those fancy appliances. What you need to do is multiply the increase by the tax rate to find the actual increase in tax payment.  Since this property is in Van Alstyne, the tax rate is higher (2.8049) due to city taxes vs. being outside the city limits (2.1923).   If you do the math, my taxes increased $280.49.  If this property was out of the city limits it would have been a $219 increase.  Now ask yourself, do you want to spend the time gathering documentation, taking pictures and take off from work to spend a pleasant couple of hours going to Sherman and talking about taxes?   Obviously there is a point where it is worth it but for most people, the amount of increase isn’t large enough to fight the battle.


Did You Slide By Undervalued?

People often forget about the years without an increase or they were happy because they were undervalued.  How many times have you heard someone gleefully remark about an addition the tax office isn’t aware of?  Home owners often finish an attic space, convert a garage or enclose a screened in porch for additional living space.  Frequently the tax office figures this out from building permits but in the unincorporated areas like most of Grayson County, building permits are not required. By law, the appraisal district is required to re-evaluate your property every three years. They normally do it every year but if you live in a rural area or an area of little turnover, you might escape the tax man’s eyes. So be happy if the central appraisal district just discovered that deck you had the last five years!


Let’s Build A High School Football Stadium

Don’t forget that there are various entities that make up your rate detailed on the notice. One of the most expensive of these is the school system and it’s the most likely to raise the rate.  The next time a 63-million-dollar high school football stadium like McKinney is building sounds awesome, consider where that money comes from when you vote. If you are buying a home in a development be aware that sometimes they form special assessment districts for infrastructure improvements. In that scenario you pay the normal taxes, the HOA assessment and also the special assessment.


Claim Your Tax Exemptions!

You would be surprised at the number of people who neglect to take advantage of their entitled exemptions like homestead, over 65, disabled veteran/person or agricultural.  Make sure you are taking advantage of these exemptions and they are being credited to you if you had them in the past.  I had a friend who was too lazy to file for his homestead exemption for over ten years. A few minutes of his time could have saved him hundreds of dollars.


The Bottom Line

Regardless if your value is up or down, it’s a good time to have a Realtor or appraiser do a market analysis of your homes current market value.  Most likely, it has increased significantly since the last time you checked.  Not only is this good information to use in fighting your tax appraisal but can also be used to evaluate your homeowner’s insurance and possibly eliminate Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) if your equity has increased enough. So you can see, getting that notice of appraised value from the Central Appraisal District isn’t really something you should dread.  Embrace it and then get a professional third-party opinion to either fight it, use it to your advantage or prepare your home for sale.  Contact Van Alstyne Realtor, Keith Laursen with Fathom Realty when you need help.

Selling Your Home? Key Reasons Realtors Hate Your Front Door

Key Reasons Realtors Hate Your Front Door

Selling Your Home? Key Reasons Realtors Hate Your Front Door - By Van Alstyne, TX Realtor Keith Laursen, Image - CanStock Photo

Don’t let Realtors hate your front door!  The key to selling your home starts at the front door. Many of today’s busy families come and go through the garage door but home buyers and their Realtors will take the scenic route via your front door.  What could possibly go wrong?  Click the plus signs to learn more.


Key Home Selling Problems

Do You Have A Front Door Key?
Does The Key Work?
Do You Have A Spare Key?
Do You Know Were Your Spare Key Is?
Do You Have A Key Hiding Place?


While we have covered the key reasons, don’t overlook other items that can hurt your home selling before you even get to the door.  An often overlooked item is your address. Regardless if it is on your curb, your mailbox or the home, make sure it is readable and in great shape. Not only does it look good and maintained but it ensures that the buyers tracking through your home are in the right place!

Buy a new doormat, replace the rusty porch light and make sure the doorbell works. If your front door looks like the picture, don’t cheap out, just paint it! Repair the walkway and address any trip hazards. Make sure you don’t have trees growing out of your gutters! Picture yourself fumbling with that key looking at the dirt daubers or barn swallow nests and take back that plant the nursery guaranteed wouldn’t die two years ago.  I cover more tips in my post about how your home showing is like a first date.

For other home selling tips, call me.  We have work to do but the key to selling your home starts at your front door and ends at the closing table when we hand that key to the happy new home owners.

1412 Canary Dr. Little Elm,TX 75068

1412 Canary Dr. Little Elm,TX 75068 For Sale | MLS#1329383

Front of 1412 Canary Dr. Little Elm, TX 75068Come home to a spacious open concept living area, light the wood burning fireplace or enjoy a beverage on the cool covered rear porch in this right size 1777 sf. 3 bedroom, 2 bath interior lot home in desirable Paloma Creek South. It can be yours if you act quickly.

In addition to this nice brick Horizon home, enjoy a relaxing summertime swim, workout, playground, bike or jog on the trails provided by the Paloma Creek HOA for only $335 per year.  In addition to the amenities there are many special interest groups and events sponsored through out the year that really make this neighborhood a fun place to live.

Your investment will only increase in this rapidly growing area with nearby restaurants, retail and Lewisville Lake within a few miles, Dallas North Tollway only 7.4 miles, I-35 is 11.4 miles.

The home features gas heat, range and hot water, a large island in the kitchen overlooking the living area with a fireplace that has barely been used.  The covered back porch is even better because it is shielded by the house from the afternoon sun. Everything is in good order and the shingles were replaced in 2011.

This home is conveniently located on a quite street near the front of the subdivision only a short distance from the clubhouse. To make things even better, new elementary and high schools are being built close to the Paloma Creek entrance.

North Texas Real Estate – Nov. Market Conditions

 North Texas Real Estate Market Conditions

North TX. Real Estate Market InforgraphicHow is the North Texas Real Estate Market?  Do you know where the sweet spot for pricing is? How long will it take to sell your home?  People will always tell you it is a great time to sell or buy a home but to be sure, look at the numbers in black and white or this Infographic in color!

Learn from this quick post why you should be buying and selling NOW in today’s real estate market.  After looking over these statistics, call Van Alstyne Realtor, Keith Laursen for an in-depth evaluation of your home’s value or to spot your next dream home.  Complied by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M, Infographic by Republic Title.


  • Sales of single family homes are up 8% compared to last November and up 5% year to date.  This shows a continued strong market. You should expect vendors like repair contractors, inspectors, surveyors, appraisers and real estate agents to be very busy.  Without a Buyer’s Representation Agreement or Listing Agreement, you will be at a significant disadvantage competing with other home owners and home buyers that have made a commitment to professional services.  Demand in North Texas remains strong due to our economic conditions and favorable business environment.  Additionally, real estate transfer taxes have been banned in Texas!
  • The average price of single family homes are up 8% over November versus last year and 8% for year to date.  Home sellers of course will realize this gain in equity on a sale and home buyers must consider the cost of waiting another year as prices continue to increase.  To put this in perspective, sellers can easily make up the cost of selling a home in just one year.  Home buyers who sat on the sidelines last year would pay an additional $77 per month for principal and interest for the same 200K home today. (200K+8%= $16,000 @4%)   Is this a good time to buy?    Yes, because you are likely to see that same increase next year!
  • Days On Market (DOM) are down a whopping 20% for November and 16% for the year!  This is why Realtors keep banging on buyer clients to get pre-approved. Your dream home won’t last long so you need to be ready to go under contract before your competition does.  If you are listing your home for sale, you won’t have long to make repairs, start packing and looking for replacement housing.  Don’t put off doing these things or you will be under significant pressure before closing the sale.
  • The hottest price point for buyers in November was between $200,000 to 400,000 representing over 38% of all sales and inventories of just over 2 months.  If you are selling in this price range, you may have multiple offers if your home is in top condition.  Buying in this range will be a challenge so it is important to use a good Realtor and look at homes quickly.  Ask your agent about automatic MLS notice of new listings. This way you will know about new listings before other buyers do.


Summarizing, we have a very robust market. Both buyers and sellers need a professional on their side that understands market values, knows trustworthy and responsive vendors and can guide you on your way.  It can be easy to pay to much in this competitive environment and as a seller, you want to be sure your buyer can actually close the contract. Call Keith Laursen when you are ready to make your move, just don’t wait too long!


Rainy Day Home Hunting Can Pay Off

Should you go home hunting in the rain?

Rainy Day Home Hunting Can Pay Off - Article By Keith Laursen, Van Alstyne Realtor - Image Can Stock PhotosMany people forgo rainy day home hunting and miss out on perfect opportunities to judge the home condition without a lot of competition.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because your potential home isn’t in a flood plain that you won’t have a problem. It is absolutely one of the best times to call Keith Laursen, your favorite Realtor to schedule a showing! Click the plus signs below to find out why.

Limited Buyers Shopping
Roof Leaks
Street and Driveway Flooding
Creek Lots And Ditches
Black Gumbo Soil
Lay Of The Land
Flood Plain

I hope I have given you some things to think about.  Home hunting in the rain can save you lots of heartache and give you a leg up on other buyers.  Contact me when you are ready to find your next home in Van Alstyne or anywhere in North Texas.  Have umbrella, will travel!


Preapproved Home Buyer Tips

Money House

This is good common sense information and tips from top mortgage experts on how to get preapproved for a home mortgage from the Texas Association of Realtors.
In this competitive market buyers must be preapproved.  Sellers are demanding preapproval letters before they will consider an offer and in most cases expect it to even show their home for sale.  No one wants to waste time with an offer from a buyer that won’t be able to close due to financing problems.

I also recommend using a local vs. on-line lender.  While the Ads of the guy sitting at his PC in his under-ware look easy, when something goes wrong you want to be able to climb on someone’s desk to get it resolved.  Out of state lenders normally only like to do the cookie cutter mortgages vs. homes on acreage, barns with living quarters on other unique properties.  If you are one of hundreds of other loans trying to close on the last Friday in the month, you don’t want to hope someone in  California cares.

Be aware that what your preapproval says you are qualified for may not be the amount you want to go into debt for.  While its great to be preapproved for a half million dollar home, you want money left over for the finer things in life, like paying for healthcare!

For more information on the home buying or selling your home, contact Realtor Keith Laursen with Fathom Realty based in Van Alstyne, TX. Keith specializes in town and country properties and can spot the perfect home for you.


Plano, Anna, McKinney & Van Alstyne Market Comparison

Plano, Anna, McKinney, & Van Alstyne Real Estate Market Comparison

Money HouseHow many times have you heard real estate is local? This will give you an idea of how a few miles can make a difference in real estate prices and market conditions. We will compare median sales price, sold to list price, days on market and month’s supply of inventory for September & year to date.

Keep in mind, these are median or average values so there will always be unique situations.


Median Home Price  (Sept./YTD)

  1. Plano                                                                                                             280/291K
  2. McKinney                                                                                                     259/269,950K
  3. Anna                                                                                                              200,226/187K
  4. Van Alstyne                                                                                                  172/189K

Obviously, the further north you go, the home prices decrease. There can be many reasons for this but a big one is the perception of driving distance. There can also be a vast difference in the type of home as many are on acreage as you go north. There is a bigger pool of buyers for the cookie cutter homes in the suburbs vs. home buyers looking for elbow room in the country.

Sold to List Percentage

  1. Plano                                                                                                               98.3/99.5%
  2. McKinney                                                                                                       98.2/99.2%
  3. Anna                                                                                                                98.6/98.3%
  4. Van Alstyne                                                                                                    97.5/95.9%

This is a very important statistic. The next time someone tells you they are going to low ball a seller, take a look at the MLS home sold price vs. the list price percentage. This is where the rubber meets the road. Sure, there will always be homes that sell for more or less but this tells you the overall market condition which is very good for sellers at the moment.

Days On Market (DOM)

  1. Plano                                                                                                               25/26
  2. McKinney                                                                                                       26/29
  3. Anna                                                                                                                27/32
  4. Van Alstyne                                                                                                    40/60

You can see that Days On Market (DOM) is basically the same and hasn’t changed much until you get to Van Alstyne. We are just starting to catch up with the market and people are discovering they can get more for their money here. The recent highway construction completion will bring even more people to our area as commute times decrease.


Months Supply Of Inventory

  1. Plano                                                                                                                  1.8 Months
  2. McKinney                                                                                                          1.9
  3. Anna                                                                                                                   1.8
  4. Van Alstyne                                                                                                       4.0

Lack of inventory is a huge problem for the North Texas real estate market. As buyers continue to battle and lose over multiple offers in the suburbs, they will look further north. Few of them realize how close we are and how easy it is to commute to the south or to the north for more recreational activities like Lake Texoma and the Choctaw Casino.

As we come into the winter months, home sales will slow but so will the inventory. As long as rates remain reasonable, employment high and inventory low, you can expect price pressures to continue. If you are considering listing your home for sale, it is very important to price correctly. The sold to list price percentage and days on market is not only a reflection of the market, it is a reflection on Realtor market knowledge. We know where the sweet spots are in pricing to get the best price without appraisal problems and work with pre-approved buyers that can actually close in the shortest possible time.

Contact me if you need to list your property for the right price or find that home of your dreams.


Data complied from Collin County Association of Realtors – CCAR Pulse.

Moving to the country? Consider Liability Issues

Country Living Liability - Two Appaloosas fighting in Van Alstyne, TX. Image By Keith Laursen - RealtorMoving from McKinney to Van Alstyne or another rural town and getting horses, cows, chickens and other animals?  Have you considered what may happen when your horse Deadhead throws a guest or Toro the Bull hops the fence and is hit by a minivan?

Most people only think about how happy their children will be with a horse of their own, raising a few cows or having farm fresh eggs.  They can’t wait for their city friends to visit so they can show them what it is like living in Green Acres, put them on Deadhead or show off their new longhorn bull.

There can be serious liability issues with farm animals that you should discuss with your insurance agent. Fortunately, there are some protections that we have living in the great state of Texas.



Equines, Cows and Assorted Other Creatures

In most cases, you should have some decent protection if someone is injured on Deadhead as long as you are not negligent in your advise, surroundings and equipment.  To have the maximum protection you should post a sign like this one:


For more information, check out a great blog article written by Tiffany Dowell discussing the Texas Farm Animal Liability Act that will give you more information.  She covers many questions related to rural living from a legal outlook in her Texas Agriculture Law Blog.  Another great resource is the Animal Law section of The Texas State Law Library.


Farm To Market Roads

You may have noticed FM (Farm To Market) roads.  You should be aware that you will come across slow moving vehicles like tractors, hay wagons, animals and country folk just moseying along. See a little tongue in cheek post I wrote about Farm To Market roads.

If your livestock gets out and is hit by a car, you may have some protection if your county has not instituted a stock law.  In a nutshell, most of rural Texas is considered open range, allowing cattle and other farm animals to be driven, grazed or moved along the roadside.  It is not uncommon for cows to break through fences, horses to be on the road (with or with out riders) or a big John Deere Tractor lumbering along.



Moving to a rural area an enjoying country life is great. We all want to show others how we live and let them participate in our rural farm activities.  There are some protections and responsibilities to be aware of to avoid excess liability.  You should always consult an attorney for legal advice and your insurance agent to learn how you will or not be covered.  Besides liability for others, you should also be concerned and informed about the laws if you should become injured while participating in traditional farm and ranch activities.  While it may be fun to go horseback riding, showing a cow, driving or attending an event like a rodeo in the country, be aware that you shoulder much of the risk and may have limited recourse in the event of an injury.



Home Buyer Info – Annexation Costs

As a rural property home buyer, you should be aware that there could be the potential of annexation and with it increased taxes and regulation. Where you live is very important in terms of the taxes you pay, the schools, land use and the services you receive. You should independently verify the city limits, ETJ (Extra Territorial Jurisdiction), school districts, building permit process and the provided services.

Taking the City of Van Alstyne for example, buying or having a $200K home annexed into the city limits will cost you an additional $1,225 per year or $102 more per month due to the .612639 city tax rate. Of course there are city services that you will receive so you have to weigh the importance of this and the particular home you are considering. Other Grayson County cities in the area have similar rates. This is just to show how living in an unincorporated area affects your mortgage payment positively and why you should be concerned about any possible annexation.

In the big scheme of things, annexation doesn’t happen very often but when you have high growth cities consider expansion of the tax base. Be aware of the ETJ as property in it will be the first subject to annexation and can affect your current use. Basically, it gives cities the right to exercise some control over land adjacent to the city limits from a minimum of one-half mile up to five miles away depending upon the city’s population. At least they don’t have taxing authority in the ETJ.

Most home buyers only look at the purchase price and interest rate without considering how the tax rate or how any future annexation could affect their mortgage payments. This is an example I did showing how the tax rate affects the Collin County cities of McKinney, Frisco, Little Elm and Prosper.

When considering your new home’s location, work with a knowledgeable Realtor and learn how future growth and tax rates can have an effect on your monthly payment.  For more general information for buyers check my past articles or request a copy of TAR 1506, General Information And Notice To A Buyer.

News Flash – Lake Levels Fluctuate!

News Flash -Lake Levels Can Change - Hay Bail Sitting in Stock PondIf you are buying a lakefront home the Texas Legislature now requires the real estate contract to notify you that Lake Levels Fluctuate!  This is another example of the government protecting us from ourselves and lawyers making money.  My opinion is if you so ignorant that you didn’t know this by the third grade, you probably shouldn’t buy real estate. In case you were wondering, here is a list of lakes that would be affected  from the lakes and reservoirs section of the Texas Almanac. There could be others but the point is,  the sun shines causing droughts, rain falls causing flooding and sometimes a city or other entity pumps water out like crazy, especially during a Texas summer. 

Statutory Notice of Water Level Fluctuations Contract Language

House Bill 1665 enacted by the 84th Legislature adds Section 5.019 to the Property Code. This section requires a seller of residential or commercial property that adjoins a lake, reservoir, or other impoundment of water with a normal operating capacity of 5,000 acre-feet or more to give the buyer a statutorily prescribed form of notice on or before the effective date of the contract.

If the notice is not given, the buyer may terminate the contract for any reason within seven days after receiving the notice from the seller or information described by the notice from any other person. After the date of conveyance, the buyer may bring an action against the seller for misrepresentation if the seller failed to give the notice before the conveyance and had actual knowledge that the water level fluctuates. This provision becomes effective September 1, 2015.

Until revised contract forms addressing this statutory requirement are adopted by the Commission, license holders may insert the following language in the Special Provisions paragraph of a contract if a property adjoins such a body of water.


The water level of the impoundment of water adjoining the Property fluctuates for various reasons, including as a result of: (1) an entity lawfully exercising its right to use the water stored in the impoundment; or (2) drought or flood conditions.

For more common sense concerning Texas real estate contact Van Alstyne Realtor, Keith Laursen.

Undelivered Option Fee

Van Alstyne Homes Real Estate Question of the Week


Graphic of Option FeeUndelivered Option Fee

 If I cancel the contract, do I still owe an undelivered option fee? 

Yes!  If you have included an option period in your real estate contract (and you should), part of your obligation and agreement is to pay the option fee within 3 days of the executed contract.   Terminating the contract is normally done by use of the promulgated Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) form, Notice of Buyer’s Termination of Contract. (TAR 1902)

Most home buyers have paid the option fee and terminate accepted real estate contracts due to problems found during an inspection or other due diligence. However, recently buyers have discovered they can tie up multiple properties and bail out on them cheaply.  Remember, if you wish to terminate prior to delivering the fee within the three days you don’t have the unrestricted right to terminate.  The option fee is still owed and forfeited by exercising the option as agreed.

Realistically, will a seller come after you for the unpaid option fee?  That depends on how large the fee is, their opportunities with other potential buyers and if someone has done this to them in the past.  In most cases the answer is no but your word is your word and you should live up to it.  A buyer’s agent may decide if you don’t have integrity over this issue, you may not have it on other issues and find a new client.


Multiple Property Offers With Options  

In a hot market, some buyers have resorted to placing multiple offers on different properties and tying them up with the option fee.  In our area, it has been customary for some time to offer $100 as the option fee for 7 to 10 days. If more than one is accepted & executed, you will owe the option fee for ALL accepted contracts.  Contracts not yet accepted should be withdrawn immediately or you will also owe the option fee on those.

Sellers who have been burned by this tactic are requiring much larger option fees, less time and/or delivery of those fees with the contract.

Contact Me

For help buying or selling a home in Van Alstyne (75495) or anywhere in North Texas, call or text Keith Laursen at 469.233.1234.  We will discuss appropriate option fees and other ways to structure offers as the home buyer or evaluate a presented offer if you are selling your home.






The answers to these questions are the opinion of the author only and should not be considered legal advice.  Always consult a legal professional on matters concerning real estate contracts and the legality of steps you would like to take.

How is the Real Estate Market? | June 2015

July Real Estate Conditions

Courtesy Republic Title


How did the North Texas Real Estate market do in July? Why should you sell your home now? Learn the sweet spot of home sales, how many Days On Market and the direction home sales are headed from Van Alstyne Realtor Keith Laursen.


Should you Sell Your Home Now?

If you are selling a home in North Texas all the news is good. This is definitely a great time to sell because we are in the summer months when your home shows best. The MLS statistics show  single family home sales are up 14%, prices up 7% and days on market down 14%  over this month last year.  This means it’s a very competitive market and multiple offers continue.  While you always want to make your home easy to buy and be in top condition, there is less pressure to give closing assistance or do upgrades.


Home Buyer Strategy

For buyers, it means forget about low ball offers and expecting every little thing on an inspection report being fixed. Your best strategy is to be pre-approved, know what you want and have your Realtor set you up on automatic MLS e-mail notice of new listings.  Also realize that agents are working long hours with many serious buyers. You should be working with a Realtor under a buyer’s representation agreement if you expect quality and responsive service.


Where is the sweet spot?

Home Sales Stats By PriceThe sweet spot for home sales in North Texas is in the 200K to 400K range.  That is where the home buyers are with almost 40% of all sales in this range.  If you are considering selling, this is where you want to be to sell quickly.

Home buyers will of course face fierce competition in this range.  As an example, the 300K to 400K range has a market share of 13.3% but the 400K to 500K range has only a 6.2% market share.  If you can bump your budget just a little over the 400K range there will be considerably less competition for the same home.

The lower end is even more dramatic. By dropping your search just below 200K you will go from 15.7% of the sales to only 3.4%!   Of course you want the right home for your family, not necessarily one you don’t have to fight so hard over.  There are many choices but being armed with this type of data from your real estate agent can save you a considerable amount of time and money.


Days On Market

The days that a home sits on market before going under contract is the gold standard in telling the market condition. The majority of homes selling in our area are on market less than 90 days but many selling in a little less than half that.

There will be some slow down in the months ahead. School is starting soon and we will be coming into the holiday season. That is traditionally a slower time for home sales.  Interest rates are also trending up but not enough to make a significant difference.  Remember, in the DFW area it’s all about lifestyle and jobs.  Large companies continue to relocate here and new home inventory remains low, so DOM (Days On Market) will increase but very slowly.

 Year to Date Home Sales

Year to date home sales chartIf you think July could just be out of whack, take a look at the year to date MLS statistics.   There are more sales and the average prices are running 8% higher than a year ago with an average home price of $261,417.   Even rentals are up 7% at $1,599 for an average single family home.  This is where you should be thinking, I should have bought a year ago!

What should you do?

You know the answer!  Contact a good Realtor, one that understands the overall real estate market as well as the local Van Alstyne and surrounding rural markets. I specialize in properties from McKinney to Sherman but have helped home buyers and sellers all over the metroplex acquire and market homes in the suburbs or homes on acreage. See what my clients say about my service – Call Keith Laursen today!

Home sales statistics complied from Ntries – North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.

Home Warranties – Good or Bad?

Home Warranties – Good or Bad?  

Are you afraid of buying or selling a home and having major repair issues?  I have clients who have had thousands in repairs taken care of by home warranty companies but they don’t always make sense.  Get a list of state approved companies and learn what is good or bad, especially in a hot real estate market.

Home warranties (aka Residential Service Contracts as the industry calls them) have benefits for both buyers and sellers but while a home warranty may sound like a good thing, there are times you may not need one or requesting one could cost you acceptance of your home offer

It’s Like Ragu, The Home Warranty Is In There

In Texas, the home warranty lobby must have been effective because it’s basically written into our contracts.  “If buyer purchases a residential service contract, seller shall reimburse buyer at closing for the cost …..not to exceed X.” Optional of course but ask yourself, why not request one if someone else is paying for it?

Marketing Your Home For Sale

Home warranties are often used by sellers in marketing their home.  If two homes are similarly priced and one is offering a home warranty, that makes the home more attractive to potential buyers.  You will often see sign riders displaying that the home for sale is covered by a warranty.  Home buyers get the piece of mind and often times the home warranty company will cover the seller’s home for free during the listing period.  Obviously, they are hoping the buyer will go with them and keep renewing.  However, don’t expect the warranty to cover pre-existing conditions so if you water heater leaks now, replace it.

Reduced Liability

A little unknown secret to the general public is real estate firms push their Realtors to tout home warranties for reduced liability. No one wants to buy or sell a home and then have major systems break down and real estate firms don’t want you dragging them into a fight. The two biggest items that can reduce seller and agent liability and give reassurance to buyers are home inspections and home warranties.  Sellers and agents with concerns may be looking to reduce liability by offering a home warranty.  This could because they want you to be reassured and have a marketing point or because they know something has been problematic and is likely to break soon.

What Buyers Should Know

So these residential service contracts sound great, what is bad about them?  They cover a lot of things that don’t often break. Do you need coverage on dishwasher racks or garage door openers?  There is still a call out fee so if you have a simple problem it may make sense to fix it yourself.  You must use the companies designated repairmen vs. being reimbursed for someone you choose.  Home warranty companies hire contractors that offer them the lowest rates and sometimes the contractors may not have been properly vetted.

Horror stories can be found all over the internet but you should really take most with a grain of salt.  These companies cover millions of homes so there are bound to be some unsatisfied customers.  The thing to consider is do you see a pattern of complaints against a company you are considering.

Choosing A Home Warranty Company 

If the seller has offered home warranty coverage, you can still choose any company you like but most people just go with it without further investigation.  The sign may say the home has a home warranty but it will probably be very basic coverage, like for that dishwasher rack.  You should investigate further and considering upgrading the coverage.

Residential Service Contract companies are regulated by TREC (Texas Real Estate Commission) and a list of qualified companies is posted on their website.  You should ask your Realtor, neighbors and friends what their experiences have been and who they recommend.  Some real estate agents don’t like to refer companies but others have close relationships and can get results if you are dissatisfied.

Don’t Have A Rejected Offer!

In a seller’s market, requesting the owner to pay for a home warranty may cause your offer to be rejected.  Don’t lose out in a multiple offer situation by requesting a $500 home warranty when you can buy one yourself or take the hit when the garage door opener breaks.  Home sellers are refusing to pay for all kinds of things that used to be considered normal sales expenses, including home warranties.

Consult with your Realtor about requesting a seller paid home warranty depending on the age, condition of the home and the type of market you are in. It might make sense if it is an older home with major systems like HVAC and water heaters or pool equipment long in the tooth.  However, don’t risk an offer rejection if the home is relatively new or has had recent upgrades to those type of systems.

Contact Keith Laursen when you are buying or selling a Van Alstyne home or any home in the surrounding North Texas areas. There are many things to consider when marketing your home for sale or buying your dream home. Home warranties are just a small part of the overall consideration.



Selling Your Home? – Two Overlooked Secrets

Know Your Real Estate Market Sweet Spot

Selling Your Home? – Two Overlooked Secrets By Keith Laursen, Van Alstyne Realtor - Image CanStockPhotosTwo overlooked secrets to selling your home are knowing the real estate market sweet spot and the current area showing activity. In every market there is a price range of homes that are in the most demand. Knowing where that range is and adjusting pricing accordingly can make a huge difference in the time it takes to sell your home and if buying in that range, you will find less competition just outside of the range limits. Your agent can determine this information by looking at past sales.


Where Is Our Sweet Spot?

  •  The sweet spot in the North Texas market is between $200,000 and $400,000 .
  • These homes account for 40% of the homes that have been selling year to date.
  • There are only approximately 2.3 months inventory of homes currently in this price range.

If you list your home in this price range, you better start packing! Be prepared for buyer’s agents falling all over each other to show your home! You can see that if you are just a little lower than the range it would be beneficial to bump your price, especially in a hot market. In the example above, homes selling between 200 – 249,999K account for 15.1% of the sales but just under 200K, it falls to 3.5%!

My tag line is, “It won’t sell if it’s not spotted!” Agents will tell you to never over price including me but if overpricing a small amount puts you in the faster selling range, why not do it? You want as many eyeballs on your home as possible and this is the one time going against the conventional wisdom makes sense. Of course, if you are just a little higher than the top the same applies in lowering.


What Is The Showing Activity?

The second overlooked secret to selling your home is understanding your areas showing activity. What price range are the buyers looking at?  I am sure you have heard that investment disclaimer that says, “past performance is not a guarantee of future returns”. One would expect more showing activity for homes in the sweet spot but what if the market is changing?

Look at the showing activity in addition to homes sold when pricing your home for sale or when evaluating an offer, regardless of the sweet spot.  Homes sold is past information but showing activity is current and will show you the number of available buyers. Remember, without showings there will be no offers so if your showings are lacking, ask your agent about your market showing activity.

In our MLS area, most agents use a showing service and in addition to providing a means for showing feedback, the service tracks showings booked by zip code and price range. Just like the sold price sweet spot, you want to know where buyers are looking now. This is another useful real estate market indicator when listing or adjusting pricing.

If the pool of available buyers is small there may not be many showings. For example, there is a much smaller group of luxury buyers in the upper price ranges. If you own a million dollar home in the North Texas market it could take almost a year to sell. The showing service data can be useful to prove how many serious buyers are actually there. Finally getting an offer and learning from the showing report that your home was the only one shown or one of two homes shown in that range could be very useful in evaluating the offer and your competition.

This is a sample of a nearby cities showing report for the last 31 days.  Note where the most buyers are and at how being just over or under priced at the 160 – 180K level could make a big difference in who sees your home.

Home Price Not In The Hot Range?

As mentioned, if you are close to the hot range you may want to raise or lower your price to fall into it. Not having to pay several more months of mortgage, insurance, taxes and maintenance may save you a lot of money in the long run. Your neighbor may brag that he got his price but how much more holding costs did he have verses you pricing right, attracting more buyers and selling fast?

If your home price can’t be in the sweet spot or where the most showings are for your area, then you have to look at other alternatives. You need to attract eyeballs to your home so consult with your Realtor on the best way to market your home. It could be anything from freshening up the outside for curb appeal to offering concessions to attract buyers. In rural areas, it could be as simple as splitting up the acreage so the price could be lower, then stating more acreage available. There are numerous ways to market a home depending on your unique situation.


 Wondering About Van Alstyne Real Estate?

This is where you have to call me! I can tell you that the Van Alstyne,TX sweet spot is considerably lower but the percentage of homes selling in our sweet spot is a little over 35% so your price could make a big difference.

We have many things favorable to buyers including our small town atmosphere, good schools within the Van Alstyne ISD, great Texas weather, nearby lakes  including Lake Texoma, a vibrant business district and nearby recreational activities like horseback riding and casino gambling within a short drive.

Realtors have many tools, knowledge and experience that enable us to sell your home faster and for more money or ensure you find your dream home without overpaying. We have access to current and historical market data and understand how a subtle price change or listing price can make a significant difference. When you are ready to buy or sell your home or acreage, contact me through my website or call/text 469-233-1234 and I will use these tools for you. I will evaluate the location, competition, and condition of your home. Together we will develop a plan to market your home so it will “get spotted” by as many potential home buyers as possible!



How Is The Real Estate Market At Mid Year ?

How Is The Real Estate Market?

Everyone’s favorite question is how is the market?  You may have heard the North Texas real estate market condition is red hot. It is indeed a very good time to list your home for sale and the mid year MLS year to date statistics back it up.  This year to date summary for the entire MLS area shows the following:

  • The average price of a single family home is $260,710
  • Prices are up 9% year to date
  • It is taking an average of 48 Days On Market (DOM) to sell a home, a decrease of 11%
  • Active listings are down 15% so price pressure will only continue.

Remember that these statistics are for the overall area served by the North Texas Real Estate Information System (NTREIS) vs. the Van Alstyne area. There are many areas like McKinney where quality homes are selling in several days for above list.  One comment I get a lot is, “we will just rent until the market cools down”. Notice that rentals are also up 7% at $1,588 so you may find that perfect rental property is also a hot commodity.

If you are thinking of selling your home or buying a home in any of the cities close to Van Alstyne give me a call. I will explain the current market for exactly where you live and answer any questions you may have on how to structure an offer or preparing your listing.

Real Estate Market Condition Snapshot May 2015

Infographic showing market conditions reported by MLS in the North Texas

Data compiled from Ntreis MLS

Learn how the North Texas real estate market is changing from this Info-graphic provided by Republic Title. This is not representative of the Van Alstyne, Anna, Melissa or McKinney market condition specifically but will give you an idea of the overall North Texas market conditions.  For more in-depth analysis of your home value, contact Keith Laursen of Fathom Realty.

The days required on market to sell your home continue to go down and as you might expect, prices are increasing. This is a great time to list your home for sale in our area.  Buyers are bidding up prices and many homes receive multiple offers.

While that may sound easy, there are still homes with long days on market that are not selling. These homes in the Van Alstyne area tend to be in the upper price ranges due to the much smaller pool of available buyers for those properties.  Some homes regardless of price range are clearly overpriced or may need updating and maintenance.  A good Realtor can advise you concerning how to market these homes, price them to sell and things you can do to make your home more attractive to buyers.

Think about why you live here.  That is what many of these buyers also want. They are sick of HOAs telling them what they can’t do. They want a small town atmosphere, friendly people, well run schools like those run by the Van Alstyne ISD,  little traffic and room between them and the neighbors.  If you have a home in good condition on small acreage your home will be in demand!

Call me today to discuss the possibilities and how the market has changed for your benefit. If you are a buyer, you need to be ready to go, have pre-approval and be prepared to submit a clean offer quickly. I can help you structure an offer that has the best chance of acceptance.  To learn more, contact me through the form or call/text me at 469-233-1234.

Who Pays The Closing Costs ?

Who Pays The Closing Costs?  Image CanStockPhotosWho pays a home sale closing costs can be complex.  Each type of loan (FHA, VA, Conventional) and cash can have the home seller and buyer paying different items. Additionally, there may be other costs for HOA documents, surveys or other real estate related closing costs.  This chart provided by Hexter-Fair First American Title shows who “customarily” pays various costs.

As with everything in real estate, these things are negotiable or can be off-set by a seller assist in whatever amount is agreeable. However, in our current very hot seller’s market it seems like what was normal is not normal anymore.  Seller’s are digging in, expecting list or above asking price and expecting the home buyer to pick up a larger share of the transactions cost.

For example, while always negotiable it was pretty common for the seller to pay for the title policy and any home warranty and buyers often paid for the survey.  The logic was the seller is proving he has good title & wants to relieve any repair fears. The buyer wanted to be sure that acre was really an acre so they each paid accordingly.

That can be completely out the window in today’s market. Seller’s with multiple offers are in the driver’s seat and are demanding that buyers pay for everything.  This will all change when the market become more balanced but for now just remember that price is only one consideration of many when submitting or evaluating an offer.

Contact Keith Laursen at 469-233-1234 for guidance on buying or selling your dream home and structuring the transaction in your best interests.


May MLS Stats

May MLS Stats Infographic posted by VanAlstyneHomes - courtesy of Republic TitleInterested in buying or selling a home in North Texas?  While the Van Alstyne home market is different, this graphic will give you an overall view of what the real estate market is doing compared to a year ago.

You can see that single family homes are up while active listings are way down.  Obviously, this home inventory shortage is driving prices up and days on market down.

In some areas of the Metroplex, homes are selling in days with multiple offers.  That is why Van Alstyne is an attractive area.  We have similar conditions but on a much smaller scale. Homes are moving very fast and prices are up and we do have multiple offers but at least you are not fighting a huge crowd.  A good Realtor can advise you how to structure your offer in this competitive market.

You should expect this situation to continue throughout the selling season and beyond. Rates are still at all time lows but are projected to go higher, employment is robust, companies are moving to North Texas daily and the builders are way behind historic levels.  The recent wet conditions have delayed building ever further.

Call me if you are considering selling and I will consult with you concerning the best ways to maximize your home sale.  While it is a seller’s market, you still have to be positioned correctly versus the competition, have your home in show condition & know how to sort out which offer is best.  The highest price is not always the best offer, especially if your home won’t appraise for what it offered.

If buying, I can help you have the jump on upcoming listings and structure your offer to be the most appealing to the seller.  Pre-approval is a necessity so if you need contacts for mortgage loans I can refer people I trust and know can get the job done  on time.

Contact Keith Laursen, your Van Alstyne Realtor at 469-233-1234.


Buying A Home As Is – Ten Things To Know


Picture of an old house for article Buying A Home As IsIs buying a home As Is a good deal? Does it mean no repairs will be made? Like everything in real estate, it depends and regardless of which side you are on a good agent should walk you through the possibilities.

While these homes may not be in great condition, they can offer the potential for considerable gain or enjoyment if proper repairs and updates are made. These handyman specials tend to fall in one of two extremes. Either they just need a little paint, clean up and landscaping or they need a full rehab with major systems like HVAC, wiring or foundation problems requiring repair or replacement.

Frequently buyers try to low ball these properties due to the condition not understanding they are already discounted & expect the seller to make repairs after a professional home inspection. While you can ask, don’t be surprised when the seller says no. Unless it is a safety, financing requirement or undisclosed structural problem, asking for repairs on As Is listed property normally won’t be successful.

Ten Things To Know About Buying A Home As Is

Know The Market Condition
Recognize the market condition. We are in a huge sellers market. Asking for repairs and low balling is setting yourself up for disappointment. You might even get in a bidding war with investors or other home owners due to the lack of inventory. During a buyer’s market, everything reverses.


Get An Inspection
Get a professional inspection. Often sellers have deferred home maintenance or major systems need repair but sellers don’t have the means or the time to fix them. This can be a really good deal or a money pit so savvy buyers should do their due diligence and set their expectations accordingly. Many investors forego the inspection process because they self inspect and are good at it. The general home owner should never self inspect. There are far too many items you will miss and the cost is minimal compared to the potential loss.


Have Financing Or Cash Ready
Have your financing or cash ready. A home in this condition will probably be sold for cash because most lenders will want some repairs done. If financing, get the loan officer to advise you on the various financing programs that allow for repairs, the process, limits, contractor choices and ask what the normal loan deal breakers are. If you are a cash buyer, be prepared with proof of funds when you submit your offer.


Be Prepared For A Surprise
Be prepared for a surprise expense. Always figure the ARV (After Repair Value) but allow a contingency fund for the unknown. Allow for a $5,000 surprise. Unrecognized old wiring, plumbing replacement, foundation and septic problems can easily turn into unexpected 5K bills. Simple kitchen cabinet painting may turn into a kitchen gut job.


Plan For Delays
Plan for delays and be flexible. If you have a lender involved, expect a delay while they obtain more information or approve your chosen contractor. The city may look into past building permits, code violations or request changes to your plans. A number of things from contractors, materials, rework, last-minute changes and weather can affect your repair and move in schedules. Always figure in your holding costs. While delayed, mortgage, taxes, utilities, equipment rental and insurance cost continue.


Make A Clean Offer
Make your offer as clean as possible. This means your offer should be as simple as possible. In a low inventory market there are many people looking for these properties. Some will even buy them sight unseen. Cash is always king as is a quick closing date. Don’t ask for the seller to pay for repairs, home warranties, accept an offer contingent on your home sale, assist in closing costs or long time frames on contract terms.


Recognize Emotional Attachment
Understand emotional attachment. Realize that some of these properties are the lifelong home of the seller or an estate sale. While the condition may be less than ideal, the seller and their family may have a strong emotional attachment. Estate properties can be excellent finds if the surviving relatives live out-of-state and just want to liquidate. The problem is that one sibling out of four that thinks mom’s house is worth much more regardless if it is stuck in the year 1940 and full of termites. Ask plenty of questions to see if that will be an issue or if the owners just want to unload it quickly.


Know The Neighborhood
Know if the neighborhood is going down or poised for a comeback? A good deal in an undesirable neighborhood isn’t a good deal for resale or rental. Check with the city, county and state concerning road, utility, employment and private industry plans. If a power plant, airport or freeway is going to be built nearby in the next few years that may be the reason the owner stopped maintenance. You may have an easy As Is purchase and remodel only to find out no one wants to live there.


Hire A Competent Realtor
Hire a competent and experienced Realtor. Ideally your Realtor should not only have market knowledge but also have experience in working with investors or rehabbing homes. They will be a wealth of knowledge on what to expect, know the good contractors and know how to make the purchase go smoothly. Ask them to set up an alert for frequently used listing key words like As Is, Handyman Special, HUD, REO, etc.

For help buying or selling As Is or any property in North Texas, call Van Alstyne Realtor Keith Laursen at 469-233-1234. I have done rehabs and understand the pitfalls.

Grayson County Real Estate Up 15.5%

Are you wondering if you should buy or sell your home? Take a look at the latest Grayson County Real Estate Market Update. In case you haven’t heard, it’s a seller’s market.  You can see that listings are down and prices are up!  If you are ready to sell your Van Alstyne home or property in the surrounding cities you are in the driver’s seat. For those that bought in the last year, how does an average 15.5% increase in equity feel?

Prices are being driven by low listing inventory, low mortgage rates, high employment and the lack of new homes being built to meet the demand. It’s great to live in North Texas. Call Keith Laursen at 469-233-1234 if you are ready to move or buy before rates start creeping up. The demand will be there for the foreseeable future.

Seven Things To Know About Real Estate Teams

Don’t be deceived; real estate agent teams are no better and sometimes worse than independent agents.  They will have listing and buyer agents, transaction coordinators, closing experts, staging experts, and various other administrative people dividing up the work. It all sounds so efficient doesn’t it?

Does having all these people and their overhead help sell your home faster and for more money or better serve you in finding and buying a home?   What these teams are best at is making life easier for them  by dividing up responsibility.  Choose wisely because not all teams are created equally.


Not All Real Estate Teams Are Created Equally
 Often the John or Jane Doe Team is nothing more than a name.  Behind the name is one agent, a list of vendor contacts and maybe a virtual assistant to handle the paperwork. The assistant does things like enter your home’s details into the MLS or be a long distance project manager tracking the process toward closing. Independent Realtors have the same resources but don’t tout themselves as a team.


You May Never See Your Agent Again
Teams are formed when the Realtor is overwhelmed or they want to make more money by bringing in other agents. The theory is other people can handle the minutiae while the main agent just does listing appointments. The problem is that may be the last time you see your agent because they are more focused bringing in new listings versus giving personal attention to yours.

Congratulations, you have been handed off to the office help.  You see, bringing in more listings is good for the team leader but not necessarily for you.  Sometimes, the agent you hired to look out for your best interests doesn’t even show up to closing. If you are lucky, a closing coordinator may attend.


Inaccurate or Delayed Information
You are now dealing with an office administrator who may never see your home or understand your buying needs or home selling urgency. They may be wonderful handling the teams back office but not necessarily putting your needs first.

Recently, I called a listing agent for information on utilities cost and the best closing date for the seller to make our offer more attractive. The agent didn’t want to be bothered taking calls so I ended up with the transaction administrator. She had no clue about the property or seller’s situation and had to get back to me.  When a buyer is considering multiple properties, you don’t want them writing an offer for your competition vs. yours because of information delay. 

Remember that old game where you tell one person something and that person passes their version on to the next until it’s nothing like the original at the end? That is the problem with a lot of real estate teams, things get delayed and garbled in the translation.


Who Is On First?
I had a client make an offer on an active home on market over 300 days. After an appropriate time without an answer I investigated to find the MLS revealed the listing was cancelled!  The team dropped the ball . The agent thought we were notified. My buyers could have been looking at other properties versus cooling their heals. Who knows if the seller ever saw the offer before cancelling the listing?

Strangely you would think husband and wife teams would be the best. I haven’t found that to be true either. In one case the husband sent me a withdrawal while the wife team member sent me a counter offer.


Unreachable Agents
Frequently a simple discussion between the listing and buyer’s agent can give you insight in how to structure an offer or to easily obtain additional information. Team listing agents can be unreachable and don’t always return calls.  It is not unusual to encounter full voice mail boxes  as well as agents who just seem too busy courting the next seller to return calls.
Declined Showings
On a recent week-end showing request the seller declined. There are legitimate reasons to decline a showing from sick kids to Fido just ate the couch. Since my calls weren’t returned I tried a text to the team listing agent inquiring about an alternative time. The reply was it must not have been a good time, completely ignoring my request for an alternate. When I asked again I was assured he would check and get back to me but I never heard from him again.

This was a second showing for a 300K home.  They lost a sale by not offering an alternative time and the agent’s lack of follow-up.  The buyer moved on, offering on another property they could actually see.

Lack of Showing Feedback
Part of effectively selling your home is getting agent and client showing feedback. While this is not a problem only specific to teams it is an important consideration. Team buying agents must burn and churn to meet the goals set by the team leader. Often they have shown so many homes to different clients that they don’t have time or care to provide feedback. Some even say, “the only feedback that is important is an offer”.

While an offer is the ultimate feedback, many times buyer’s agents can float trail balloons with feedback. They may say something like their client liked the home but needs closing cost assistance, or wishes the refrigerator was included. Sure they can write that into an offer but knowing beforehand that it will be acceptable goes a long way to quick offer.

Sellers have had strangers poking around their home and the least they deserve is some feedback, even if it is negative.  Team members often are not as vested as independent agents in offering feedback that doesn’t further their cause.  Most independent agents operate at a slower pace and consider providing feedback part of their duty in consideration for tromping through your home.


Your Home, Your Choice
When making the decision to hire a listing or buyer’s agent consider if they have your interests in mind or theirs. There are great real estate teams and great independent real estate agents. It is your choice if you want personal attention and a close relationship with your Realtor or the specialized services of various team members.

Consider the availability of the main agent and if they answer your questions or have to pass you off, and how busy with other clients they may be. A team can run like a well oiled machine or it can be a confusing mess.

I provide my clients with responsive personal service. There is no buck passing or apologizing for the inconvenience. If something goes wrong I won’t be unreachable. I will be there as your trusted adviser and real estate consultant all the way through the closing process.  You won’t be a number to discuss in next week’s sales meeting, you will be someone who deserves a dependable Realtor to lean on throughout one of the most important processes of your life. 

It’s your home, your choice – choose wisely.  Check out my testimonials. Reach out to Keith Laursen at 469-233-1234 for the service you deserve.

Cancelling The Contract – Undelivered Option Fee

Van Alstyne Homes Real Estate Question of the Week

 Cancelling The Contract – Undelivered Option Fee

 Cancelled real estate contract If I cancel the contract, do I still owe an undelivered option fee?

Yes!   If you have included an option period in your real estate contract (and you should), part of your obligation and agreement is to pay the option fee within 3 days of the executed contract.   Terminating the contract requires the use of the promulgated Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) form, Notice of Buyer’s Termination of Contract. (TAR 1902)

Most buyers have paid this fee and terminate executed contracts due to problems found during an inspection or other due diligence.  However, if you wish to terminate prior to delivering the fee you do not have your unrestricted right to terminate unless delivered within the three-day delivery period.  A buyer thought they were off the hook because they were terminating due to financing issues but that only lets you recuperate the earnest money. The option fee is still owed as agreed.

Realistically, will a seller come after you for the unpaid option fee?  That depends on how large the fee is, their opportunities with other potential buyers and if someone has done this to them in the past.  In most cases the answer is no but your word is your word and you should live up to it.  A buyer’s agent may decide if you don’t have integrity over this issue, you may not have integrity on other issues and find a new client.

Multiple Property Offers

In a hot market, buyers sometimes put in offers on multiple properties.  If more than one is accepted & executed, you will owe the option fee for all accepted contracts.  Contracts not yet accepted or should be withdrawn immediately and unwanted accepted contracts should be terminated. Sellers who have been burned by this tactic may require larger option fees and/or delivery of those fees with the contract to be considered.

 Contact Me

For help buying or selling a home in Van Alstyne (75495) or anywhere in North Texas, contact Keith Laursen at 469.233.1234.  Note –  I do not take calls when driving or with a client but will return you call as soon as possible.  Don’t text and drive!





The answers to these questions are the opinion of the author only and may not apply to your specific situation or state. They should not be considered legal advice.  Always consult a legal professional on matters concerning real estate contracts and the legality of steps you would like to take.


2 Carey – Lucas,TX – Home SOLD

Listings to Leads – eFlyers


Under Contract

Lovejoy ISD Horse Property

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2 Carey Ln. Lucas, TX 75002

Bedrooms: 3 | Bathrooms: 2 full | List Price: $ Get Current Price
Keep your horse at home, ride the nearby Trinity TrailsonLakeLavon and enjoy city amenities all within the sought after Lovejoy ISD. This 1694 sf. brick home on a cul-de-sac is set up for horses and is an easy keeper!Yard work is minimal as is care of the home. If features granite kitchen countertops, hardwoods and tile in the traffic areas, carpeting in the living areas and a warm wood burning fireplace. Enjoy the shady screened in porch or have breakfast while watching your horse frolic in the pasture.There is plenty of concrete parking for your trailer, toys or guests,24’x30′ of covered parking and you can drive through the30’x50′ insulated shop directly into the pasture for safe loading and unloading. Shelter your horse in the loafing shed and feel secure with pipe fencing and an alleyway between adjoining property pastures to eliminate fence fighting. The covered area could easily be enclosed if you need more shop.You can have it all – keep your horse at home, Lovejoy schools, ride the trails and shop your heart out at the Villages of Fairview less than 7 miles away. Make an offer today!

Get the Sales Price!

Keith Laursen
Fathom Realty
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Licensed In: TX
License #: 0498249

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