Do You REALLY Need A REALTOR® To Buy or Sell A Home?

With so much information readily available online, you may wonder why you need to work with a real estate agent. Can’t you buy or sell a home on your own?

Some buyers and sellers may have attempted this in the past and the transaction went OK. However, real estate is MUCH more complicated than it used to be, and each transaction is loaded with legalities, contracts, paperwork and potential problems that could cost you time and money.

So if you’ve wondered if working with a REALTOR® is worth it, here are just a FEW reasons why it’s the smart thing to do:

You don’t need to know everything about buying and selling real estate if you hire a real estate professional who does. Why would you NOT want to work with a REALTOR® who has training and experience backed up with a proven track record of successful real estate transactions? Hiring a pro saves you precious time and helps you steer clear of mistakes that could cost you money or lose the house of your dreams.

If you list your home with a REALTOR®, she will filter phone calls from prospective buyers and set appointments for and monitor showings of your home. Agents provide feedback on those showings and make recommendations about marketing your home based upon that feedback.

An effective REALTOR® possess intimate knowledge of the neighborhoods in which they work. If you are consulting with an agent to list and sell your house, she will provide you with comparable sales data based upon facts that you will not have access to. For example, you may know that a home down the street was on the market for $350,000, but your agent will know it had upgrades and sold at $285,000 after 65 days on the market and after twice falling out of escrow.

Contrary to what some people believe, a REALTOR® does not select prices for sellers or buyers. She guides her clients to make the right choices based upon market data. If you are a buyer and you submit an offer on a home, your agent will advise you with a negotiation strategy based upon the current market supply, the condition of the home, any other pending offers and other factors that influence a fair price to all parties.


Real estate agents can disclose market conditions, which will govern your selling or buying process. Data such as the average per square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on market and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria, will have a huge bearing on what you ultimately decide to do. An experienced and knowledgeable agent will provide all the relevant data, factor in your preferences and wishes, and improve your chances of having your offer accepted and/or listing your home at the very best price point.


REALTORS® network with other professionals and provide expert marketing exposure to qualified buyers and sellers. They also maintain an active database of clients who are looking to buy or sell, and will market your home to these qualified clients.


Top producing agents are skilled negotiators. They can remove themselves from the emotional aspects of the transaction, unlike most buyers and sellers who are trying to negotiate the terms of contracts by themselves. Effective REALTORS® are not messengers, delivering buyer’s offers to sellers and vice versa. They are professionals who are trained to present their client’s case in the best light and agree to hold client information confidential from competing interests.

One-page deposit receipts were prevalent in the early 1970s. Today’s purchase agreements run 10 pages or more. That does not include the federal- and state-mandated disclosures nor disclosures dictated by local rules. One tiny mistake or omission could land you in court or cost you thousands of dollars.

Even the smoothest transactions that close without complications can come back to haunt buyers and/or sellers. If a problem or question arises days or months after the closing, one call to your agent can straighten out the confusion. Good agents with excellent reputations stand by their clients, ready to assist before, during, and after the sale.

Referrals from previous clients are the lifeblood of any successful REALTOR® and it gives your agent strong incentives to make certain that her clients are happy. She’ll be there for you when you want to work with a professional agent again. A proactive agent who cares about her clients will maintain contact with you, either through occasional correspondence, a friendly phone call or periodically mailing market updates to keep you informed and to stay in touch.

The team members of the Brandee Kelley Group are committed to giving you professional representation when it’s time to buy or sell a home. We’ll serve you with integrity and top-notch support through every step of the buy/sell process.

Do You Love Your Open Kitchen? or NOT???

For years, the open-concept kitchen has been touted as the ideal kitchen arrangement. In fact, it’s rare to find newer houses that don’t have kitchens open to some kind of adjoining family room or living area. But……… is it right for YOU?

The basic argument for opening the kitchen to living areas is interaction between the family and the cook. After all, we spend a lot of time there! But some homeowners are having second thoughts about open kitchens, because they find they don’t multi-task well. Would you welcome a few walls and doors to keep your kitchen separate from the rest of the house?

The following are REAL comments from REAL people on a recent home builder’s forum. Clearly, these comments reflect different points of view on this topic, and we thought you would find them interesting.

“An open concept kitchen is ideal for entertaining! You can chat with your guests and chop onions at the same time! You can monitor your children or watch TV while whipping up some homemade ravioli!”

“My open kitchen allows me to interact with my family when I’m preparing a meal. If my kitchen were closed, I would feel isolated.”

“I grew up in older houses with small kitchens that were totally closed off from the rooms around them. It always seemed like an open kitchen was the dream. When I bought my first house, the kitchen was open and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and I like being able to interact with my family when I’m there. My kitchen is a gathering place for my family.”

“My kitchen is open to my family room and I like it, but it’s definitely a distraction when you’re trying to watch TV or hold a conversation on the couch while the dishwasher is rumbling or pots and pans are clanking a few feet away.”

“My mom’s house has a kitchen that’s closed off to the rooms around it, and the biggest hassle, she says, is when she’s entertaining and has to carry all the dishes and things to the dining room down the hall. It’s not as convenient.”

“I knocked out a kitchen wall in my old house and built a family room addition. Instead of looking out my kitchen window and seeing trees, I created a view of my family room. I had young children at the time. I fell for the “I can be in the kitchen and see the kids” trap. Now that the children are grown and I downsized to a smaller home, I decided to keep my kitchen walls. I need my wall!”

“They used to design kitchens so the smell wouldn’t go through the house when you were cooking.”

“I know it is personal preference, but I just don’t like the huge, open interiors that you see in almost every home that’s been built in the last 10+ years. I love for a home to have rooms, real, separate rooms. A big kitchen is great, but I don’t want it open to the family room.”

“No, please, go sit down and watch TV or something and I’ll call you when dinner’s ready. I’m nervous enough trying to put the meal together, with everything cooked to perfection. I can’t talk, entertain guests and cook at the same time.”

“My kitchen is my personal space. Leave me alone!”

These comments clearly show that what’s right for one is not right for all! So tell us — do you love open kitchens? Or would you rather have some privacy?

No matter what your taste in kitchen design, the Brandee Kelley Group can help you find the home of your dreams with a kitchen that’s just right for YOU! Call us today at 817-635-1141 to start your new home search!

Tiny Houses – Are They Right For You?

You’ve probably heard of Tiny Houses. This new housing fad seems to be cropping up in the news almost daily. Designed as a backlash against yesterday’s McMansions, Tiny Houses are being marketed to homeowners who want to rid themselves of clutter and return to a more economical and easy style of living.

Tiny Houses typically are built on a chassis with wheels, similar to a mobile home, and transported to the owner’s site. Other houses are a bit larger and wider, constructed as modular units, and then situated on a standard block or slab foundation.
tiny house exterior
tiny house exterior larger

While most plans are well designed, everything is tiny! Kitchens are small and usually part of the abbreviated living area. Bathrooms are, well….. small. Tiny bedrooms are often situated as an open loft above the first floor and frequently accessed by a ladder! Interior storage space is limited, and every nook and cranny houses a shelf or cabinet in which to store your few possessions. And Tiny Houses typically do not have a central heating or cooling system.

As a primary residence, Tiny Houses seem to appeal to millennials, couples with one or no children, or empty nesters who want to trim back on material possessions and travel for extended periods of time.

However…… most Americans love their spacious homes and don’t want to lose the advantages that space provides. Historical statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau bear that out: In 1973, the average square footage of homes was 1,525 square feet. That figure rose to 2,277 square feet in 2007. And in 2014, average house size rose to 2,463 square feet, indicating the preference for larger homes by the majority of homeowners.
large house exterior
It appears that large homes are indeed in demand! And what’s not to love!!! Large homes offer:
– Great entertaining space for friends and family
– A guess room or extra space to house overnight guests
– “Breathing room”, providing a private space to busy family members
– Large kitchen with plenty of pantry, storage space and food preparation area, often open family living areas with a breakfast bar for informal dining.
– Spacious kitchens also offer plenty of storage space to house all the cookware, utensils, small appliances, china and serving dishes.
– Large and abundant closets, and who doesn’t need that!!! American’s have a lot of stuff, and a livable home offers plenty of space to store it.
– Spacious laundry area
– Large bathrooms
– Roomy bedrooms, offering privacy and usually accompanied with private bathrooms
– A spacious yard, patio and/or deck area, porches and pools
– A garage! Tiny Houses do not have garages.garage_Fotor
– Kids—and all the stuff that comes with them! Sports equipment, hobbies and crafts, trophies,
collections, digital equipment, clothing and footwear—you name it, it comes with kids and
you need a place to house it all.

For some American families, Tiny Houses might be an acceptable weekend get-away spot, but they can’t possibly offer the convenience and pleasure that a larger home brings.

If your home is feeling a bit cramped and you realize it’s time to make the move up to a larger home, call us today. The Brandee Kelley Group will help you find the perfect home that meets your needs and we’ll get your current home sold, all in one seamless transaction. Visit our website HERE.

For information on current mortgage rates and products, please contact Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank. Don is the Brandee Kelley Group’s preferred lender because he delivers expert knowledge and service to his clients.Affiliated Bank w Don Kelly Info

4 Qualities of a GREAT Real Estate Agent!

According in real estate industry experts, these qualities are the things you should be looking for when selecting a GREAT agent!

Estate Agent Showing Empty Office Space To Clients
#1A – Great Communication Skills

In order to develop an effective working relationship with a real estate agent, communication is the most important factor. Good MUTUAL communication will result in your agent saving you time, frustration and stress in the buying process, because an experienced agent will ask all the right questions. She will learn what your “hot buttons” are in your home search, and which features are turn-offs. She’ll find out what schools are important to you, types of neighborhoods, and lifestyle amenities you want in your perfect home, and she will only show you homes that fit your criteria.

Honest and open communication is the foundation of trust between an agent and her clients.

#1B – A Great Agent Listens

An important component of great communication is an agent’s willingness to LISTEN to their client’s needs, desires, and concerns, so this issue is listed as another components of communication skills! An effective agent will be asking you key questions for the sole purpose of establishing a course of action that serves YOUR needs.

#2 – A Great Agent is Client Motivated

An outstanding real estate agent will always have their client’s needs as their top priority. Buying and selling houses can be stressful, and a great agent always keeps her clients as her #1 focus by delivering service above and beyond the usual agent representation. If you’re working with a great agent, you will always feel your Realtor is truly working for YOU, understands your needs, and is delivering the support and service you expect.

#3 – A Great Agent Will Share Previous Client’s Recommendations

The best way to get a great agent is to review their past client’s comments and recommendations. These comments tell the real story, and are an excellent indicator of the service and representation you can expect from your agent.

Spend a few moments and read the Brandee Kelley Group’s client’s recommendations here: You will see phrases such as these below, repeated over and over again:

“They went above and beyond…”

“They take care of your every need and leave no detail unturned.”

“I knew we weren’t their only client, but they made us feel like we were.”

“…quick to respond and answer your questions. Loved the customer service!”

“Their communication was great, they stayed on top of all the details.”

“They were great! A comprehensive team that took care of every detail.”

#4 – An Experienced Administrative Support Staff

No matter how good an agent is, in today’s complicated real estate industry, no single agent can handle all the myriad details of a real estate transaction effectively by herself. Look for a great agent to have a staff committed to supporting their buyers AND sellers every step of the way–with the ultimate goal of bringing about a successful closing.

Every team member of the Brandee Kelley Group is committed to providing all of the above, and they do this with every real estate transaction. They are truly a GREAT real estate team and the team you want to work with.

The Brandee Kelley Group—delivering professional real estate representation with integrity!
BK Preferred Group Photo Outdoors

How Do You Find a “Good” School?

What Makes a Good School…. and how can you find one?
adapted from

another classroom
Homebuyers flock to certain neighborhoods because parents want to send their kids to good schools, and certain schools have a reputation for being superior to others.

What makes one school system rank higher than others? Is it really all about test scores?

Well, not really. Important factors that contribute to schools getting high marks are more intangible goals, such as fostering social and emotional intelligence and the ability to plan, focus, remember instructions, and multitasking skills.

How can you decide what’s best for your family? Here are some tips:


No matter what kids are required to learn, there are different ways to get them there.
Kids often have strikingly different learning styles. Some are visual, and fare better when things are illustrated rather than spoken; some learn better in groups; some are better able to focus if they’re alone. And some simply learn best by doing. While no school caters entirely to one kind of learner, you may be able to find a school whose approach works better for your child by talking to the principal and teachers about how they accommodate different learning styles.


Traditional school ratings such as class size, student-to-teacher ratio and test scores still matter and are great for evaluating a school district’s academic foundation. Another consideration is the school’s record for chronically absent students. Those with a high attendance rate usually indicate a positive school culture in which the staff, students, and parents are all committed to success.


In addition to solid academics, experts increasingly cite the importance of a holistic education, which cultivates students’ moral, emotional, physical, and psychological aptitudes.

Schools with programs that teach empathy, self-motivation, and adaptability—or emotional intelligence—equip students with life skills proven to foster success. Students with high EQ (emotional quotient) indicate that they can be flexible and understanding, and successfully interact with all kinds of people–skills that lead to future success.


A “good” school today is one that helps foster 21st-century skills such as creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. Skills needed to prosper in tomorrow’s multinational, dynamic workforce require expansive ideas and creative thinking. These might be schools with highly developed music programs, team sports, and extracurricular clubs with broad contemporary focus such as environmental protection or community service.


Since the “best” schools in town could have problems with overcrowding and wait lists, parents may want to consider previously overlooked schools–ones that may have a new principal, an increasingly active PTA, and/or an attendance rate that has steadily risen, even if the school itself doesn’t have the most stellar reputation or highest rankings.

creative young kids
Themed charter schools or magnet schools with specialized courses or curricula that draw students from across school districts or zones infuse their offerings and activities with a specific emphasis.

At Expeditionary Learning schools, for instance, students study a single topic from many angles. Heavy emphasis is placed on the importance of nature, reflection, and service, and classes can involve Outward Bound–style excursions.

Schools that take the multiple intelligences view recognize that intellect comes in many forms (e.g., word smart, people smart, numbers smart) and teach to individuals’ strengths.

Plan a personal visit to the school, where you might discover what you thought was important isn’t so important after all. Test scores and state rankings don’t convey the important yet difficult-to-quantify vibe of a place. A school visit is the best way to inspect the vitality of the work, the energy of the teachers, and the rapport between the staff and students.


What do you want from your school? Racial and economic diversity? Sports and arts programs? A campus? Leadership/internship opportunities? Is your No. 1 criterion a neighborhood school that you can invest and create community in, even if it means sacrificing a few things like class size or an emphasis on the arts?

If traditional academics and high test scores really are the most important things, you’re lucky: Those are the easiest things to find.

Bottom line, finding a good school requires parents to do their own serious homework, figuring out the best fit for their family and zeroing in on schools that are equipping students with the skills and experiences that will lead to a broader definition of success.

Brandee & KW Logo

4 Lessons for Second-Time Homebuyers

So, you’ve already purchased your first home and for many reasons have decided it’s time for a new home. The following are ways in which your perspectives have probably changed from being first-time homebuyers to second-timers.



You’ve learned that wall colors or décor are not as important as number of bedrooms, closet and storage space, outdoor living space, convenient location and school system, etc. Décor can be changed, but features and amenities that cannot be changed become your priority in your second home search.


Some first-time home buyers overlook important facts about the home they buy. Once they’ve become seasoned homeowners, these second-time home buyers pay much more attention to items they missed the first time around! Items of concern are the age and condition of the mechanicals, the roof, HOA regulations that may be too restrictive, convenience of location relative to schools and road access, nearby parks and community amenities, etc.

When you work with the Brandee Kelley Group, we will help you prioritize the “Hot Buttons” that are important to you and that contribute to a happy lifestyle in your new home.


community-pool1The criteria that lead you to your first home may not be what you seek in your next one. For instance, you may have thought a formal dining room was a priority, only to find you didn’t use it. Now you want a home with a large and open living space. Perhaps you wanted a pool, but hated the cost of upkeep and now want to enjoy the convenience of your private community pool.


In your first home search, you may have faced disappointment when a seller did not accept your offer because you didn’t have a mortgage preapproval letter to submit with your offer. This time around, you’ll be prepared and minimize the chance of losing the home of your dreams! Now you know it’s critically important to have your preapproval in place before you even begin your home search.


When you work with the Brandee Kelley Group, you are getting the experience and knowledge of a professional real estate TEAM to help you find the PERFECT home that fits your needs. Our skilled buyer’s agents, Georgann Puddy and Laura Van Meter, will save you time, stress, and prevent you from overlooking important features that you may regret for years to come.

Lfor blog

When considering the services of a mortgage lender, you need an experienced mortgage team to help make your home purchase a reality. Our preferred lender, Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank, is the mortgage expert you want on your side!

Don Kelly website banner

Brandee & KW Logo

Things Your Home Stager Wishes You Knew

houseWhen you’ve decided to put your home on the market and think it may need a major refresh, hiring a professional stager to prep your home and make it more marketable may be a wise decision. A professionally staged home will get the best possible offer when it’s competing with similar homes on the market.

Generally, stagers remove much of your personality from rooms, walls, floors, and ceilings so that potential buyers can imagine themselves in your place. Stagers favor neutral walls, simple layouts, and minimal artwork. (No purple living rooms or gallery walls allowed!)

Remerchandising a home to sell is quite different than decorating a home according to your tastes. recently published comments and suggestions made by a group of professional home stagers to help you navigate the process. Some of these tips may not pertain to you and your home, but all are worth your consideration!

They know you love the way you set up your living room. That eclectic collection of wicker baskets from all your European travels stacked up in the corner? It’s the perfect detail for you—but not for your stager. Not even close.

So here’s the thing: When they tell you what to change (and they absolutely will), don’t be offended. It doesn’t mean they think your style is awful or whether they like it or not. It’s all about how your home will be presented to the public and how it will look in photographs.


Home staging can be stressful to sellers, so it’s important that you detach and disconnect your emotions. Family pictures come down, the sofa goes into storage, personal mementos get packed away, and suddenly this place you called home is losing your personality.

Keep your eye on the prize: selling your home at the right price, to the right buyers, within the right time frame.

To ease the transition, try to remove as much of your stuff as possible before the stager comes. By tackling decluttering and packing, you will get used to the idea that this will no longer be your home.


Over 90% of buyers begin their search for a new home on the internet. Consequently, the photos posted with your listing become critically important in getting your home noticed—and sold. One of a professional stager’s biggest goals is to make your home appeal to buyers through these photographs.


Staging should not be a last-minute action before your home officially goes on the market. Meet with a professional stager as early as possible, to allow time to make recommended repairs and renovations.
And don’t forget that curb appeal is an important factor in making your home inviting to prospective home buyers. A stager will also make suggestions for some quick fixes to spruce up the exterior, and this can take time for a homeowner to accomplish.

Fees charged by professional stagers vary, but if you home is woefully outdated, it’s a good investment with a very high return.

The good news is that most of the homes the Brandee Kelley Group lists for sale don’t need any staging! Many of our listings present beautifully in person and in photographs. Brandee is adept in making staging suggestions to her clients as part of the services she offers, alleviating the need to hire a professional stager. And the Brandee Kelley Group uses a professional photographer for our listing photos to ensure your home is presented in the best possible light.
new bk