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.

SECURITY TIPS FOR NEW HOMEOWNERS

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.

SUMMER SAFETY

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 VACATION CHECKLIST: MAKE SURE YOUR HOME IS SECURE WHILE YOU’RE GONE

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!

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!

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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.
Affiliated Bank w Don Kelly Info
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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Essential Guide to Watering Your Lawn

Keeping grass green in Texas is a challenge, but here are 8 tips on the proper way to water your lawn, courtesy of the landscape experts at House Beautiful Magazine.

Let’s face it—THIS is what you want!

Unfortunately, this may be what you’ve got!
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Here are some tips from the experts:

1. Water in the morning.

Between 4:00 am and 10:00 am is best, since the air is cooler and there’s usually not much wind to blow the droplets. In the middle of the day, water evaporates too quickly. And in the evenings, water can cling to the blades of grass overnight, which can cause lawn diseases, mold and fungus. In fact, the experts say that watering at night is about the worst thing you can do for a lawn.

2. Soak 6 inches into the soil.

Water long enough to moisten the soil about 6 inches down, which is the depth of a healthy grass root system. To see how far the moisture has reached, check the soil every 15 minutes the first time you water. The best way to test is to take a shovel and lift up the sod.

Time how long it takes the water to work its way 6 inches into the ground, then water for that duration every time you turn on the hose.

3. Use pulsating sprinklers, not oscillating ones.

Built-in lawn sprinklers are the best systems for watering the grass. An irrigation system is the most efficient and will pay for itself in the long run and it’s worth the investment.

But for homeowners who don’t have an in-ground irrigation system and don’t want to invest in one, a pulsating, revolving sprinkler hooked up to a garden hose is the next best choice for an established lawn. (For a new lawn, see the next tip.) The sprinkler shoots out the water horizontally at a high velocity so it’s not as vulnerable to wind and evaporation as oscillating types, which spray the water straight up.
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4. Go easy on newly planted grass.

Pulsating sprinklers work great for lawns with mature grass, but for new yards, the intense water stream can wash away the seeds. Oscillating sprinklers are a better choice for new lawns and won’t wash away seed, allowing the grass to take root.

5. Water twice a week, max.

For clay soils, which is prevalent in north Texas, the experts recommend watering about once a week. Overwatering can lead to fungus and lighter, more frequent watering encourages a shallow root system. Fewer waterings that reach the 6 inch soil depth encourage the roots to grow deeper. You actually train the roots to go down deep into the soil. The best advice is to water every 3 (for sandy soil) to 7 days when summer heats up. It’s much better to water deeply but less frequently.

6. Get a timer.

If you’re watching the clock and trying to remember to shut off the water on time, chances are you’ll forget that the sprinklers are running. So get a timer. They turn off the water automatically after a designated time to ensure the lawn gets the proper amount of water. The timer connects to the spigot, then the hose connects to the timer.

7. Go all in, or don’t go at all.

If homeowners don’t want to water their lawn, it will go dormant just like it does in the winter. Not watering won’t harm the grass unless there is a drought lasting longer than about 30 days. But letting the lawn go dormant, then watering, and then discontinuing the watering again is hard on the grass.

Don’t half-water and go back and forth between dormant and watering because this stresses out the grass. And hope for a good rainstorm, which brings your lawn back to life.

8. Let water soak into hard soil.

Lawns in new housing developments where the topsoil was removed often have a soil so hard water won’t sink in. In that case, homeowners need to water in stages to soften the ground so the water can work its way down. It’s recommended that you water for 30 minutes, let it soak in, then water for another 30 minutes. If you water it all at once, after 15 to 20 minutes, the water will run off.
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Hopefully, these tips will help you have an inviting and green lawn–where the grass is greener in YOUR yard!
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Honoring the Past Presidents of the Junior League of Arlington

Brandee Kelley and team member Georgann Puddy (among others) were honored this week as past presidents of the Junior League of Arlington.
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Brandee stated, “Honored to be part of an organization that has given so many volunteer hours and well over $1,000,000 to support women and children in need. This group of women sees a need and works to create solutions to meet these needs.”
group_FotorGeorgann Puddy is 3rd from left, and Brandee Kelley is 3rd from right.

JLA’s Mission statement is:
The Junior League of Arlington is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

This wonderful organization is comprised of women who generously contribute their time and talents to this Mission. The following is a list of just a few of the projects that the JAL participates in:

COMMUNITY IMPACT PROJECTS:

BACK-TO-SCHOOL FAIR
back_to_schoo_fair_smJLA hosts a back-to-school fair for Arlington and Mansfield Independent School District students in a qualifying limited-income family.

GLASS SLIPPER BOUTIQUE
glassslipper_smJLA hosts the Glass Slipper Boutique each year to make prom affordable for area high school girls.

FUNDING AND VOLUNTEER PROJECTS

ALL STAR EQUESTRIAN FOUNDATION
allstarequestrian_smAll Star Equestrian Foundation is a non-profit therapeutic horseback riding organization that offers services to physically, mentally and emotionally challenged individuals of all ages.

BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF ARLINGTON – T.E.A.M. PROGRAM
girls-inc-tarrant-county-logoThe Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves Meaning) Program focuses on teaching positive, healthy habits in the areas of nutrition and personal hygiene to adolescent girls, and gives girls the knowledge, decision making skills, self discipline, self esteem, and peer support needed to help them make positive life choices while building positive peer relationships with female peers.

COMMUNITY ENRICHMENT CENTER – EDUCATION & EMPLOYMENT MINISTRIES
community_enrichment_centerThe Community Enrichment Center’s programs consist of Job Club, GED preparation, and Literacy for Life. Job Club helps participants improve their job opportunities and earning power by assisting them with resume preparation, interview skills, job searches, and college financial aid assessments, workshops, and classes.

GIRLS INC. OF TARRANT COUNTY – SUMMER SMART CAMPS
girls-inc-tarrant-county-logomake-a-wish-logoMake-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization granting the wishes of children in Arlington who suffer from life-threatening medical conditions.

Congratulations to Brandee and Georgann and all the Past Presidents. Thank you for your service to positively impact the lives of so many.  If you would like to be part of the organization, contact Brandee at 817-635-1141.BK & KW Collage

Changes are Coming to Real Estate Closings

On August 1, the closing process will change forever.

The familiar HUD-1 settlement form, the Good Faith Estimate, and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) disclosure forms are going away and will be replaced with the Closing Disclosure and the Loan Estimate forms.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has taken over administration of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) from HUD. The CFPB’s goal in discontinuing the familiar closing documents and replacing them with these two new documents is to increase consumer’s understanding of mortgages and disclosures and to make it easier to compare loans. In practice, however, these changes will make the steps leading up to closing more complicated.

How will these changes affect your closing procedures when you buy or sell a home after August 1?

If you are securing a mortgage to purchase your new home, timing will take on critical importance in getting documents to your mortgage lender and title agent. Timing truly will be of the essence in closings. One of the new rules requires all forms to be ready three days prior to closing. The National Association of Realtors is recommending home buyers actually get all closing documentation finalized seven days prior to closing, so when you go into the three-day period, you don’t have to make any changes.

In conjunction with the timing element, making any changes to documents as the clock winds down comes with a cumbersome set of hurdles that will most likely hold up a closing.

Now, more than ever, you need the expertise of a real estate team and mortgage lender who are on top of all the new rules and regulations regarding purchasing a home, mortgage applications and closing documentation. The team members of the Brandee Kelley Group have established a close working relationship with Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank. Together, we offer our clients the benefits of our training, on-going education, experience and knowledge to expertly guide you through the entire process and insure a successful closing.
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You can count on us to guide you, our buyers and sellers, effortlessly thru the new mortgage and closing regulations that will soon be imposed by the government.

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8 Things Organized People Have In Their Homes

If searching for your keys is a part of your morning ritual, it’s time to break the cycle. Being organized is more than just a personality trait. It’s a lifestyle decision that’s easier to achieve if you stock your home with the right tools. These 8 organizational and clutter-busting essentials will make your daily routines at home more convenient and, yes, even more fun!

Acrylic shelf dividers keep your folded items neatly stacked. Available at organize-it.com
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Glass storage jars are chic and you can see the contents at a glance. These jars are available at World Market.
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A catch-all for keys eliminates the question “Has anyone seen my keys”!!! If you think key hooks are unattractive, there are many solutions for a perfect place to toss your keys. This handmade leather tray is attractive, but you could also use pretty baskets or decorative open top boxes.
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Get convenience and control of all your spices. This attractive storage idea is fun and — well, kind of spicy! Even if you’re not crafty, you can make it yourself with just a few inexpensive supplies. Visit A Beautiful Mess on this link for an easy tutorial on how to create this spicy display, but don’t be surprised if your friends want one too! http://bit.ly/1dpVi6p
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Labeled boxes for storing almost anything, almost anywhere! Available at Linens N Things. lnt.com
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Makeup brushes stored upright in pretty jars, glasses, mugs, vases, etc.
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If you don’t have an installed closet system, these wall-mounted mesh drawers may be the perfect solution to closet clutter. Available at containerstore.com
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Inexpensive oval tension rods offer a perfect solution to organizing those hard-to-store lids, cutting boards and trays. Tension rods are available at home goods stores everywhere. Install them in minutes, and those storage problems disappear instantly!
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For garages, playrooms, hobbies and crafts, steel shelving units create quick and inexpensive storage. Check out Lowe’s and Home Depot for a variety of shelving systems.
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The Brandee Kelley Group loves to bring you fresh ideas for making your home and your life more pleasant and less stressful, and we plan to implement some of these essentials in our own homes! If the chaos in your home is the result of just too much stuff squeezed into a too-small house, perhaps it’s time to make a move to a larger home. Feel free to contact us at 817-635-1141 to discuss your housing options.
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