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.

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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!

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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. Realtor.com 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.
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Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval ~ What’s the Difference?

thYou need to make a change. You need a new home! Your first step in the home buying process should be a visit to a mortgage lender and get a pre-approval document. When you find your perfect new home and submit an offer, include your pre-approval letter and you’ll increase the chances of your offer being accepted.

At your first meeting with your lender, you will provide financial information and your lender will let you know how much house you can afford. A pre-qualification is a lender’s basic overview of your ability to get a loan. You can do this online or on the phone, but if you’re seriously planning to buy a new home, it makes sense to meet your lender in person because he is going to become your partner during the entire transaction.

A pre-approval is more in-depth and the document that will prove you are a serious buyer. This is where you begin getting your ducks in a row to prove your financial worth to a lender. The lender will look at your bank statements, tax returns, credit score, and other financial information, while also explaining various mortgage options that would best suit your needs.

While neither a pre-approval nor a pre-qualification guarantees you’ll get a loan, they’re reliable indicators of your ability to buy a home.

04 08 15 Don candid shotWe wholeheartedly recommend Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank. Don and his team of experienced loan staff provide top-notch service to their clients, and always look out for their best interests. An experienced lender can save you thousands of dollars on your new mortgage!

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STOP Renting!

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Nationally, rental rates are at their highest point ever and expected to continue their upward climb. Buying your own home is one of the best ways to create wealth. Paying rent does not build equity, but making a monthly mortgage payment DOES! In addition, you can enjoy all the homeownership perks: A place of your own and pride in ownership. Decorating freedom. The ability to remodel and upgrade. Your own yard–go ahead, plant a tree! Or a shrub. And yes, you can get a dog! You also gain important tax advantages. Enjoy privacy and security. Freedom from restrictive rules. And the list goes on…….
Savvy renters are making their first home purchase in record numbers, taking advantage of current low mortgage rates and spurred on by their high rents.

You may not be quite ready to buy your first home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing now. Here are three actions you can do while renting that will put you in a better position when you’re ready to buy. Courtesy of the Texas Association of Realtors.

While you can’t predict all homeownership costs, you can come up with a rough estimate of how owning a home will impact your budget. Every team member of the Brandee Kelley Group can provide helpful advice on things you might want to consider when it comes time to look for a home. They can advise you on types of homes available, and why neighborhoods, schools and a convenient location are important.
Before you apply for a loan, you should request a free credit report to find out what a lender would see. If your report has errors, you can correct them before they affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. And if you find legitimate flaws, you might be able to take steps to improve your credit before purchasing a property. Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank is an experienced mortgage advisor and he may be able to help you find resources to repair your credit. He can also help you figure out how much home you can afford and the mortgage payment necessary to pay for that home. Don’s website contains a wealth of information especially important to first-time home buyers. Check it out here: http://donkelly.com/
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There’s probably no single home that will offer every amenity you’re looking for, but you should have a general idea of what’s important to you. So while a home with fewer than two bathrooms may be non-negotiable, perhaps you’d see the potential in one with a smaller kitchen or a not-so-appealing exterior paint job.
It’s never too early to talk to a REALTOR® and a mortgage lender when you know you’re going to buy a home. The Brandee Kelley Group and Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank can answer your questions about the home buying process and help you avoid surprises along the way.

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Homeowner Safety and Security

safety photoThe Brandee Kelley Group enjoys publishing our Blog posts on all sorts of topics related to real estate. We hope that you find these posts informative and/or entertaining, but perhaps none of these posts are more important than homeowner safety and security.

No matter where you live, as a homeowner there are specific, preventative steps you can take to lessen the chance of falling victim to crime. The following tips and advice, courtesy of the National Association of REALTORS, are steps you can take to protect yourself, your family and your home.


Nothing compares to the feeling of being settled in a new home, but home security can sometimes be overlooked in favor of more pressing issues for new homeowners. While major safety issues such as fire alarms and working locks are top of mind, other important aspects of home security can fall by the wayside and go unattended.

Burglary and theft are two of the most common household property crimes, and they’re the easiest to prevent. There are many precautions homeowners can take to limit the chance of a burglary or theft that should be addressed soon after moving into a new home.

1. Maintain your yard and keep your shrubbery trimmed so criminals aren’t able to hide behind them.

2. Install outdoor lighting. A well-lit exterior discourages criminals from hiding in your landscaping. Lights with motion sensors are also a good idea.

3. Update door and lock hardware. It’s always a good idea to replace your locks and make sure that all entry points are secure when you move into a new home.

4. Meet your neighbors. The more friendly eyes watching out for your property the better. By introducing yourself to your neighbors, you’ll both be more comfortable alerting each other if something appears different.

5. Consider installing an alarm system. Security systems are a major deterrent for criminals. They don’t need to be expensive to be effective.

6. Homeowner crime is not your only safety concern. So is fire and carbon monoxide poisoning, so check batteries in your detectors to make sure you are protected.


Summertime brings an uptick in crime rates across the country. The following are important tips to protect your home during warm weather months:

1. Lock doors and windows, even when you are outside working in the yard or swimming in your pool. Unlocked doors and windows are just what criminals are looking for, especially while family members are busy outside the house.

2. Use specialty locks. Not only should doors and windows be locked at all times, but homeowners should make sure the locks they’re using are a bit more complicated than the average lock. Burglars want a quick in and out, so using a lock that will frustrate thieves is an easy way to prevent a break-in.

3. Lock and large items. Protect your larger items that you store in the garage or in your yard. Lock lawn mowers, bikes, grills, etc. and engrave them with your initials so that you can identify your property in case it’s stolen.

4. Light things up. Outdoor lights are a great deterrent to criminals who don’t want to be seen. Focus especially on the rear and sides of your home.

5. Be aware of neighborhood activity. You know your neighborhood better than most, so be a good neighborhood watchdog, and alert your neighbor and police to unusual activity.

6. Protect yourself. Be aware of con artists running home improvement scams and deception burglaries, and don’t leave personal information lying around.


Your bags are packed and you’re about to head out the door for a vacation, but preparing your home for your absence is just as important as remembering to pack your toothbrush.

Just like you create a packing list, homeowners should have a home safety checklist they follow before leaving their home for any extended period of time.

1. Lock doors and windows.

2. Make the residence look occupied. Try to make things look as normal as possible while you’re gone. Keep your blinds in their normal position, hire someone to mow your lawn, ask neighbors to park in your driveway, place a hold on mail and newspaper deliveries.

3. Use timers. Placing lights, TVs, radios, etc. to turn on and off at normal times is an easy way to make it seem like someone is home. Nothing says you’re away like a dark house multiple nights in a row.

4. Beware of social media. Don’t announce your vacation plans on Facebook or social media. Don’t broadcast the dates that you’ll be away from home. Share your photos and travel stories AFTER you return from your vacation. If you have a landline, leave a normal message on your answering machine, and don’t share that you’re out of town.

5. Tell select people that you’ll be away. Ask neighbors to keep an eye on your property, and leave a phone number where you can be reached in case of emergency. Notify police if you’ll be gone longer than a week and consider asking a friend or neighbor to check in on things while you’re away.

6. Remove your spare key. If you keep a spare key hidden outside your residence, either take it with you or leave it with a neighbor. A criminal will often check for a spare key if they’re trying to enter your home.

Enjoy your summer and enjoy your home! And be SAFE!
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7 Reasons NOT to Test the Market with Your Asking Price!

When you sell your home, you naturally want to get the highest price possible. It’s tempting to overprice your home when first listed, but pricing a home above what it’s worth is not good strategy, and here are 7 reasons why:

1. You won’t get offers (but your neighbors might)
When you price too high, you’re helping sell the other homes in the neighborhood that have listed for less. After seeing your high-priced home, buyers may be eager to get the better-value house nearby — even if they liked your home better.
2. You lose credibility
Buyers are savvy. They’ve done their research and know what homes in your neighborhood are worth. If you price too high, potential buyers are going to skip even looking at your property.

3. Not everyone wants deep negotiation
A common reason that sellers price high is the belief that it leaves room for negotiation. The problem with this tactic? If buyers overlook your house because it’s priced higher than similar homes in the neighborhood, there won’t be anyone to negotiate with!
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4. You squander the early days
Sellers are in the driver’s seat the first 30 days a house is on the market. The listing is new, so you have buyers’ attention and buyer’s agents are also aggressively looking for new listings for their buyers. If you price your home to sell when it first goes into the MLS, you’ll likely get multiple offers. If your home is priced too high, you waste this valuable time during which you have the most leverage with potential buyers.

5. People won’t even see your listing
Potential buyers set up search parameters by price when looking online for a home. As an example, if the realistic market value of your home is $320,000, but you’ve listed it for $330,000, you won’t capture buyer’s attention if they’ve searched for houses within the $300,000 to $325,000 range. You will be placing your overpriced home in competition with other homes that offer more features and amenities.
6. The house won’t appraise at the high price
Let’s say you manage to get an offer for your over-valued price. When the buyer seeks mortgage financing, the lender will schedule an appraisal. If comparable home sales don’t support your sales price, your buyer will not get lender approval for your property.
7. If your house is really great and priced right, you may receive multiple offers and consequently sell your home well above your asking price
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When you list with the Brandee Kelley Group, we will deliver a carefully researched suggested listing price for your home. We bring into the equation comparable sales; your home’s features, amenities and upgrades; and our expert knowledge of your neighborhood and the market. We strongly adhere to the policy that pricing your home right brings results.

Our sellers receive the highest price in the shortest amount of time possible because WE KNOW HOW TO PRICE HOMES TO SELL!

We have an established track record in correctly pricing the homes we sell and our statistics back up our claim. From January 1 thru December 31, 2014:
• 61% of our listings sold AT or ABOVE the listing price
• 32% of our listings sold in LESS THAN 10 days
• 56% of the homes we listed sold in LESS THAN 30 days

And we’re on track for similar statistics for 2015. Remember, the listing price determines how long a home stays on the market. The time it takes to sell your home is up to you!

Want to see what your home is worth in the current market?
Click here It’s quick and free! Then call us at 817-635-1141 to discuss selling your home.

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When Contract Problems Delay Closings

The National Association REALTORS® recently surveyed agents regarding problems with sales contracts and the impact these problems had on closings.

The graph pictured below clearly shows issues that can delay closings and/or terminate a sales contract.
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What does this mean to you? If you are a buyer and anxious for your new home to close on time, these relatively common problems can mean the difference between getting your dream home at your locked-in interest rate—or watching the whole transaction fall apart.

This also clearly illustrates the importance of working with an experienced real estate team. Mary Sprague is our Closing Coordinator, and she brings a wealth of experience to the closing process. However, every member of The Brandee Kelley Group are prepared to jump in and resolve problems if they arise. If it can be fixed, we FIX it! Our team approach truly provides our clients with the very best real estate representation.

Our high client satisfaction record indicates our pro-active approach to meeting these types of problems head-on and working for you to pave the way to a successful closing.
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For mortgage and financing-related issues, we love to recommend Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank. Don and his team are highly skilled in problem resolution in all matters relating to financing issues.

We LOVE happy clients! Our experienced team approach always puts our clients FIRST! Let us go to work for you!
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