Thursday, December 17, 2009

Home Buyer Tax Credits

So what? So, who can qualify for this and what does it look like when you get your check?

Well, the law qualifies a first time home buyer as a buyer who hasn't owned a principal residence in in the last three years. Those folk can buy a new or resale home and get up to $8,000 in a tax credit. Here's the part no one knows about: home owners who make a "move-up" may be eligble for a a $6,500 tax credit! That means that if you move from your existing property to a new one, Uncle Sam may pay over six thousand dollars to you via a tax credit. HUD may even allow you to use that money as closing costs. That's a lot of closing cost assistance! But the jig is up in April, so it's time to start moving TODAY.

For more information, call JTOden Realty, or
Some details were lifted from by the NAHB.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Toys, Toys, and More Toys!!!!

Go Murphy!


Murphy, Texas (Dec 10, 2009) -

The City of Murphy would like to extend a big thank you to our community. With over 1000 friends and families in attendance at the December 3 Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Holiday Event, the outpouring of kindness shone through.

Attendees were asked to bring and donate a new unwrapped toy benefiting the Collin County Children's Advocacy Center. The amount of toys donated that night exceeded all expectations and once again proved the strong sense of community in Murphy and coming together when neighbors are in need.

On Friday, December 4, staff delivered a truck load overflowing with generous toy donations from the citizens of Murphy. With excitement, hundreds of toys were unloaded at CCCAC and are on their way to children in need this holiday season.

"The children served by Collin County Children's Advocacy Center (CCCAC) need our help year round, but when it comes to the holidays, we work hard to do what we can to make it special for the kids," says Vanessa Gill, Holiday Project Coordinator of CCCAC. "We have many children who would otherwise have no gifts at the holidays and communities such as Murphy are a tremendous blessing." The mission of Collin County Children's Advocacy Center is to identify, protect and improve the lives of abused and neglected children in Collin County.

For more information contact Kristen Roberts, Assistant to the City Manager at (972) 468-4006 or For additional information on Collin County Children's Advocacy Center, please call Betsey DeVenny at (972) 633-6608 or visit

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Real Estate Sales Soar in Collin County

October sales of homes in Collin County and surrounding areas are projected to be 23 percent higher than in October 2008, reports the Collin County Association of Realtors (CCAR). In addition, "under contract" listings also increased by 27 percent from a year ago.

"This is a tremendous rebound for real estate sales in this area, especially for this time of year," says Steve Haid, CCAR member services director.

The CCAR Pulse, which delves into the real estate markets of 36 local communities, also reports that the time it took to sell a home in October decreased 8.2 percent from 100 days a year ago to 92 days.

Year-to-date, median sales price is approximately 1 percent less than the same time last year, which is mostly due to the large number of sales of foreclosure listings.

"As we continue to absorb the large number of lower-priced foreclosure properties that were listed earlier in the year, we can expect those sales to continue to impact the overall median sales price," notes Haid. "However, sales prices have held pretty steady because the prices of non-foreclosure listings has increased and offset the impact of the foreclosure sales."

In addition, buyers continue to enjoy record low mortgage interest rates and very affordable homes. In fact, the Housing Affordability Index is up 18.4 percent over the same time a year ago. This means that most people in this area could afford to purchase the median priced home -which is not the case in many other parts of the country.

Collin County and surrounding areas remain in an overall balanced market, as has been the case all year. However, there is a shortage of homes priced below $200,000 and an oversupply of houses priced above $500,000.

"Overall, we are enjoying a strong rebound in our local market," says Haid. "Closed sales and homes going under contract are very brisk for this time of year. And, homes in the area are very affordable with low mortgage interest rates. These are the right ingredients for a strong local real estate market."

Friday, October 23, 2009

The U.S. Metros Least Touched by Recession

The U.S. Metros Least Touched by Recession

A combination of stable home prices and sizable sectors in health care, energy, government, and education kept these metropolitan areas relatively stable

America's strongest economies have one thing in common—home prices that never got too hot or too cold.

Home prices in metros such as San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh, Rochester, Little Rock, Ark., and Baton Rouge, La., remained steady through boom and bust. Although no metropolitan area entirely avoided the economic downturn, the most resilient metros were protected by a potent mix of recession-resistant jobs.

The upstate New York areas of Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, and Buffalo suffered from declining jobs in manufacturing, but got significant boosts from sizable health-care, education, and government sectors. Construction is booming in Baton Rouge, Louisiana's capital, as firms take advantage of financing for post-Katrina hurricane recovery work and service-related companies expand to meet the needs of a growing population. Omaha and the state of Iowa have relatively strong insurance sectors.

Texas, the last state to enter recession, has been bolstered by its oil and gas industries—which have also helped Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Louisiana. Texas also has many other things going for it, including affordable home prices and relatively low wages, which attract corporations. used data and analysis from the Brookings Institution's new MetroMonitor to come up with the nation's 40 strongest economies. The MetroMonitor, which measures the nation's health on a quarterly basis, ranks the top 100 metros based on job growth, unemployment, gross metropolitan product, and home prices.

A relative boom in Baton Rouge

"No place has been untouched by this recession. This is a change from previous recessions," said Alan Berube, a senior fellow and research director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. "But there's a big difference in losing one-tenth of a percentage and losing 15% of jobs."

Baton Rouge, which was ranked No. 6, "grew jobs every month until August 2009 and in August it only lost nine-tenths of a percent, compared to 5.1% nationally," said Lauren C. Scott, professor emeritus of economics at Louisiana State University.

Scott said $5.1 billion of construction projects have been announced or are under construction in the Baton Rouge metro, including a new plant for French chemical company SNF and the expansion of an ExxonMobil (XOM) chemical plant.

"One nice thing after another thing happened that has countered what's happening in the rest of the country," Scott said.

Ernie Goss, an economist at Creighton University in Omaha, who studies much of the nation's energy and farm belts, said the strong dollar early this year hurt farm exports. "But the dollar has now weakened significantly and that will be good for the farm sector and energy commodities," Goss said. "I think 2010 is going to be much better than 2009. But we are still not going to have a lot of job gains.

A 22-year unemployment high in Texas

Although the metros in the ranking are strong by relative standards, their unemployment rates in many cases are now peaking because they entered the recession late. Texas, which had 5 metros in our top 10, including No. 1 San Antonio, is a good example.

The unemployment rate in Texas hit 8.2% in September, rising above 8% for the first time in 22 years. But that's a very low unemployment rate, compared to the national rate of 9.8% or to Nevada's 13.3% rate.

Texas is unlikely to face a prolonged downturn, said Terry Clower, an economist at the University of North Texas. The state's affordable cost of living make it attractive to new residents and corporations, the largest of which tend to be based near Houston and Dallas.

"It's perceived as a low-cost place to do business," Clower said. "Because housing is affordable, the wage rates reflect that."

Marisa Di Natale, a director at Moody's, said late arrivals to the recession will generally face mild downturns.

These metros "haven't had a big erosion in housing wealth, which has kept consumer spending stronger than it would otherwise be," Di Natale said.

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

Overall rank: 5

The sprawling, vibrant, and diverse metro has a major international airport, professional sports teams, and large corporations. It is home to ExxonMobil, J.C. Penney, and TXU Energy. Employment in the Dallas metro peaked in the second quarter of last year. Gross metropolitan product in the second quarter was down just 1.7% from the peak in the third quarter of 2008. Home prices grew 3% in the second quarter compared with the same period a year earlier. And the unemployment rate in June was 8.2%, up 3.1 points from a year earlier. (Please see below for the various criteria used by the Brookings Institution to determine the overall ranking.)

Job growth (since peak) rank: 13
Gross Metro Product (since peak) rank: 11
Unemployment change (year over year) rank: 32
Home price change (year over year) rank: 3

The link below will allow you to view the entire list of the 40 strongest economies

Have a Great Weekend.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why Business is Slow...

Sunday, someone asked me, "How's business, how's the market?" So I thought a second and replied, "Business is slow, but the market is fine!" **

So why is business slow? Because of my new addiction to I warn you, don't try it if you are responsible for running a business, being productive, or have any life apart from your computer.

**Actually business is brisk, but I do love that game!

Friday, August 7, 2009

$115,000 is the "new" $100,000

When I started my real estate career, you could still get a good house for right at $100K. Rowlett, Mesquite, South Garland were good neighborhoods with 1,500 sq. ft. or so and perfect for the starter-home-buyer. First time buyers ate those homes up and all an agent had to do was show them about 35 or so and BAMN! A Sale was Born!

Today, that market is very much the same, just a little more expensive. Becky and I sold our $100K home for about $115K and that's indicative of the starter-home market today.

Behold, one of JTOden Realty's best in that price range, the Flood's home at 809 Parker in Mesquite. MLS#11179085.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Two Cities in Texas are in the Top Five

By Forbes

Austin, Texas, is No. 2 on the list of cities where Americans are relocating. © Brandon Seidel/Shutterstock

Unemployment is on the rise, credit is tight and consumers aren't spending — which means they aren't picking up and moving much, either. Very few places in America saw significant population growth in 2008.

Despite the overall economic slowdown, some parts of the country keep on moving ahead, attracting more and more newcomers — even if it's at a slower pace than in more sound economic times. These places still offer a semblance of stability, as well as great weather, cultural life and, in many cases, affordability.

Behind the numbers

To determine the fastest-growing metro areas in the country, Forbes used 2008 population estimates for metropolitan statistical areas with a population of more than 1 million, released March 19, 2009, by the U.S. Census Bureau. MSAs are geographic entities defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for use by federal agencies in collecting, tabulating and publishing federal statistics.

Forbes then compared the 2008 population estimates to the previous year's data to see which areas had grown the most, percentagewise.

The cities that made the list share similar qualities: more business opportunities, better weather and more affordable housing. The top three areas according to the data are Raleigh, N.C., ranking first, which jumped 4.29% to nearly 1.9 million; Austin, Texas, which came in second, with a 3.77% increase to almost 1.7 million; and Charlotte, N.C., which moved up 3.36% to 1.7 million.

All these areas' increases were smaller in 2008 than they were in 2007 (Raleigh increased by 4.7% in 2007, Austin by 4.29% and Charlotte by 4.2%), but a slight slowdown is not necessarily a bad thing, says William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, an independent research and policy group based in Washington, D.C. "Part of the story here is the rapid rise in growth in the middle of decade," he says. "That growth was unnatural."

The in-migration that happened in the middle of this decade certainly had a lot to do with the housing boom. When that went bust, so did those crazy population balloons. But these particular places are still growing because instead of building an economy that relies heavily on one industry, most of the metro areas on Forbes’ list serve as headquarters for a diverse range of companies.

For example, Austin's biggest employers include the University of Texas, Advanced Micro Devices and Dell. That wide range might have something to do with the area's relatively low January 2009 unemployment rate of 6.4%.

This is the opposite of what happened in true housing boom-and-bust towns like Las Vegas. In 2004, Las Vegas — a foreclosure mecca — saw a population increase of 4.6%, followed by 3.66% in 2005, 3.98% in 2006 and 3.22% in 2007. In 2008, that number fell to 2%.

The power of business

When it comes down to it, a buzzing business community is a metro area's most important characteristic, says Sean C. Safford, a professor at the University of Chicago and author of “Why the Garden Club Couldn't Save Youngstown: The Transformation of the Rust Belt.” He studies the social economics of U.S. cities and metro areas.

However, that doesn't mean that these metros won't suffer from a slowdown in population growth when 2009's numbers are released next year. Charlotte, for example, reported a 10.5% unemployment rate for January 2009, likely related to the fact that Bank of America is headquartered there. That high unemployment rate almost guarantees stunted growth in 2009.

"We don't quite yet know what the impact (of the ongoing recession) will be for 2009 populations," Frey says. "But we do know it's not going to get any better."

Indeed, where Americans are relocating today has little to do with where they'll be moving tomorrow.

Top 5 cities where Americans are relocating

1. Raleigh, N.C.

2. Austin, Texas

3. Charlotte, N.C.

4. Phoenix

5. Dallas

This article was written by Lauren Sherman for Forbes.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mortgage Rates Continue to Fall

Freddie Mac reports a drop in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to 4.82 percent during the week ended May 21 from 4.86 percent the prior week. Meanwhile, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate dipped to 4.5 percent.

The Federal Reserve is working to hold down rates by purchasing upwards of $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and $300 billion in Treasuries. Mortgage rate premiums have declined substantially over the last couple of months even as Treasury yields climbed. 

(Source: Investor's Business Daily (05/22/09))

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Very Important Information !!!

At JTOden Realty, we take the business of home sales, purchases, and real estate investing very seriously.  
But that doesn't mean we take ourselves very seriously!  
We prefer big profits over big egos.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Who's Paying YOUR Mortage?

Senate Defeats Mortgage Cramdown Bill

The proposed law allowing bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages, known as the cramdown bill, was voted down Thursday by the U.S. Senate.The financial industry opposed the bill, arguing that the change would drive up interest rates and make the market less stable.

Some senators also were concerned that their constituents who pay their bills on time would resent this measure.Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who led the opposition, says the vote "ensures that homeowners who pay their bills and follow the rules won't see an interest-rate hike at the whim of a bankruptcy judge."The reform was a key part of President Obama’s foreclosure prevention plan, leaving some to question ultimate likelihood of its success."It won't render the loan modification program useless, but it removed an important ingredient that would have helped realign everybody's interests," says Barry Zigas, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America.

Source:, Tami Lubby (04/30/2009)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Texas Real Estate II

Happy San Jacinto Day!
As a result of the Battle of San Jacinto, almost a third of what is now the United States of America changed ownership. (Non-native Texans can read about the Battle of San Jacinto, here...)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Blogger's Despair

I blog about real estate elated stuff for one reason: because Amber Boyd, Ninja Real Estate Business Coach Extraordinaire tells me to.

Oh, sure, it's a good discipline, it occasionally helps my clients reflect on some important stuff like the post below on home improvements. But mostly I do so because Amber tells me to. And after all, when Amber was selling she sold the entire metropolitan area of Kansas City. I mean ever square foot of land. So... she oughta know.

Then she sends me this link...

What do I do now? How can I ever face the three people who regularly read my blog?

What do I wanna do with my life???

This post brought to you by JTOden Realty. We take the business of real estate sales and our clients very seriously. But do we take our selves seriously? Nah, not so much.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

For REALTORS: Builders and Developers Who Don't Pay

Developers and builders who will not work with REALTORS are alarming and frustrating. Obviously, agents are in this industry to make a profit. Additionally, an unrepresented home buyer is at risk. Who is their fiduciary? Who represents their interests? Who is on their side? What does a successful, financially liquid builder have to fear from the presence of a REALTOR?

Agents, please submit the names of Developers and Builders who refuse to pay for your services to your clients.

This is a list of Builders and Developers in the North Texas area that are reported to not pay or cooperate with buyers' agents:

Stone Canyon East, LP
Sunnyvale, Texas
The Stone Canyon development in Sunnyvale will only sell to buyers who are underrepresented.

Monday, March 30, 2009

What Projects are Worth the Money?

"We want to get the house ready to show. It needs some work, what should we fix first?"

This week I had the same conversation with three different clients. They want their homes to sell quickly and for full price. So do I! They each recognize that they need to get their homes in the best possible condition to garnish the best possible sale price. Where to begin and on what to spend their precious time and money is not always clear to homeowners.

Fortunately, your Friendly Neighborhood Real Estate Man has the answer!

in the summary charts to the right and below, the higher the percentage of return the better. So, if you spend $1,000 updating your kitchen, you can count on that adding value to your property at sale in an amount close to $795.00. The bathroom remodel (esp. the master bath) will come back to you at 74%. After that, the percentages drop off slightly with most returns centering in the mid-sixties percentile.

What about the exterior?
Drive up appeal is important right? WAY important it appears.

If the house was built prior to 2002 it's likely to need some or a LOT of attention to the siding. Wood fiber siding is fine until it looses the protection of it's coat of paint. Then the stuff turns into a sponge. As it swells with water it cracks, deteriorates, then abandons ship! A good carpenter can make replacing pieces of siding affordable, call J.T. for a referral.

Fences are very expensive. I've had clients replace whole fences before calling me. That's THOUSANDS of dollars, guys. Sometimes it might be necessary, but often a few hours of pay to the Handyman, some new pickets, a post or two, a gallon of stain and you're set! See why Your Agent Matters? On the other hand, I've had clients who were sure that everyone would like the linoleum their mom picked out for them and look at me like I'm nuts when I suggest that some affordable ceramic tile might be worth the expense. Seriously.

The bottom line is this: unless you've meticulously updated and maintained your home throughout its life, you're going to have some work to do in order to make the impact on the market you desire. Where to drop the big bucks and where to just plant some Pansies and Marigolds, that's where your Friendly Neighborhood Real Estate Man comes in!

This article by G.M. Filisko was a great source for this post. Next... the value of a pre-inspection (an inspection provided by a TREC licensed home inspector). The punchline? How can a inspection by All Pro Inspections, Inc. turn a $275.00 GFCI Outlet replacement into a $10 trip to the hardware store! Yes, I put the decimal in the right spot...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Charitable Giving

From the Tonight Show, with Jay Leno, as published by the White House:
Mr. Leno: Now, are they going to put a basketball –- I imagine the bowling alley has been just burned and closed down.
Mr. Obama: No, no. I have been practicing all –- (laughter.)
Mr. Leno: Really? Really?
Mr. Obama: I bowled a 129. (Laughter and applause.)
Mr. Leno: No, that's very good. Yes. That's very good, Mr. President.
Mr. Obama: It's like -- it was like Special Olympics, or something. (Laughter.)
Mr. Leno: No, that's very good.
Mr. Obama: No, listen, I'm making progress on the bowling, yes. ...

Another great cartoon by Michael Ramirez!
How about something helpful to say about Special Olympics?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fannie and Freddie: The Next AIG

It's been a while since we had a good editorial cartoon about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If Dodd and Frank (and any other elected officials that contributed to this mess) survive unscathed, I'll move to Barbados.

Michael Ramirez is my favorite cartoonist right now...

More Blogs on Freddie and Fannie...

More Blogs on Freddie and Fannie...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

On what would you spend it?

DISCLAIMER: this is not a political blog. This is a real estate blog. Sometimes that focus broadens to include economics. Economics is unfortunately laden with politics. I hope that justifies the apparent crossover. Thanks.

The President says that tax cuts are not going to help our economy. Wow. Apparently I could have gotten into Harvard and earned a law degree because today, I am smarter than President Obama.

Let's say you earned $100,000 in 2008. On 15 April of this year you better be ready to pony up at least what... $25,000? Now, to illustrate the point, let's say that Harry Reid called you tomorrow and said, "Hey dude, just keep the $25K." What would you do? Shove it under the mattress? I bet most folks would spend all or most of it. Heck, even Dave Ramsey would spend it on a "growth stock mutual fund."

Want to know what the Odens are putting off as we wait for revenue to increase?

  • $6,500 in new fencing for our cool Murphy pad
  • $3,500 in Granite-type counter tops for our cool pad
  • $11,000 in a new used car for J.T. to peal around the City in style
  • $4,500 on a nice domestic vacation
So, there's $25,000 I'd love to pour into the local, state, and regional economy. Now, if I'm right, how much of our economic woe would that effect alone cure?

Nope... tax breaks wouldn't have any positive effect on the economy, Mr. President!! Respectfully, sir, that's a worse misunderestimation than anything Geo. Bush EVER did.

This post was inspired by this article:
Obama warns of need for stimulus bill right away

P.S. Better Ideas:
Dave (pdf file)

FACT: Folks are still buying and selling everyday.
FACT: Lenders I work with have plenty of money left to lend.
FACT: We are in fact still in a buyers market--prices are steady to flat, inventory is respectable, but foreclosures are up.

For a foreclosure list that is updated several times an hour, go to the Powerpage on my website at

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Greatest Mortgage Rates in a Generation

One of my lender buddies, Donna Hambek sent me this information about loans for buying homes in Murphy, Richardson, and Plano. She and I think this is good information to get out to everyone with regard to where rates may be going. For anyone waiting for rates to go down further, they may want to consider the commentary below.

Market Commentary from Larry Baer:

Another day – same old story. The direction of mortgage interest rates is being dictated by trading action in the stock markets. Since Friday, February 20th I have been writing in this space about a stock market plunge and the resulting support for the prospects of steady to fractionally lower mortgage interest rates it would create. In my judgment we are currently in the “sweet-spot” in terms of the amount of support mortgage interest rates can expect as a result of the swoon in global stock markets.

Before the month is over I believe the worst of the sell-off in the stock markets will have passed As you undoubtedly know, markets are made up of both buyers and sellers. No matter how strong the desire to sell or buy may be -- the transaction can not be completed without the opposing party directly participating in the transaction. The “so what” factor here is extremely important … consider this … once all the sellers have been indentified and satisfied … that only leaves one component in the market place … active and aggressive buyers … who suddenly realize they have the opportunity to acquire stocks at the low point in the market cycle. This market dynamic has never failed before … and it will not fail this time around. (My personal opinion is the stock market as indexed by the Dow will put in a low on or about March 23rd.)

Against this backdrop the Treasury department will be looking to issue a river of $2.5 trillion of debt. Without the “flight-to-quality” support of capital fleeing the volatility of the stock markets for the relative save harbor of the Treasury market – treasury yields will rise and drag mortgage interest rates higher as they go. My sincere hope is that an increasing number of your clients will come to see the greatest mortgage financing opportunity in a generation is now available.

There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “Ever banquet must come to an end.” The same can be said for cycles favoring lower mortgage interest rates.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Real Estate Ghosts of Future, Past, and Present

Are these spooky times to you?

I guess they are to a degree. I mean, 7% unemployment is nothing to sneeze at. Some of the gray-haired friends I have in the real estate industry are starting to sound like jaded upperclassmen. You know, "We had to take our licks too, you Freshmen can't be exempt!"

What are they referring to? Well, take a look back to 1985-1990. In Texas, real estate sales were in the dumps. Dallas office buildings were largely vacant and doom and gloom was everywhere. Buyer's market? Too many days on market? Businesses folding and leaving Texas? Not good, friends. How'd that pan out?

Well, by 1995, Jim Mitchell reported that office space occupancy was like 89% in Texas! Apartment complexes were full, and even industrial occupancy was only 4% vacant. That's very healthy. But there had been about 5 years of economic uncertainty--specially in Texas. The old timers in my industry, see that the last two years in Texas real estate sales are merely a correction from a hyper-prosperous response to the pre-9/11 market. We all know that new home builders lost their stinking minds in some of the DFW suburbs and built like homeowners and their money both grew on trees! Of course we hit a more bearish market and of course profits in DFW real estate went down and inventory went up!

In other words, it was great in the mid-1990's, so folks got a little over confident, many racked up too much debt, and too many were greedy. Then, the Islamofascists swine attacked us on September the 11th, 2001 and burst the economic bubble we had enjoyed.

So where ware we? How bad are things, today? Well, find someone who owned a business in the 1970's and they'll have tales to scare you into feeling better.

Mr. Debt-Free, Dave Ramsey writes,

Yes, many people have lost their jobs and houses. You may be one of them. But
guess what? People have lost their jobs and houses even in a bull market. About 93% of people are still employed. That is pretty good! I was alive in the 1970s when unemployment hit double digits, and we’re nowhere near that right now! I’m not making light of the fact that some people are struggling; I’m just putting the situation in the proper perspective. (Read More from Dave)

I remember 1986 in Texas. My Dad's law firm represented Savings and Loans and they all died or had their DNA rewritten by the Feds to a degree that even the honest, sensible S&Ls went the way of the Dodo. I remember either me or Mom worrying that we'd starve. We didn't. In fact, my sisters graduated from $MU and since then, Mom and Dad built and sold two new houses. So, I think we made it.

Guess what? We're going to make it through this too.

If you need a reboot on your psychological, financial, occupational, and spiritual outlook on all things economic, check out my financial guru, Dave Ramsey =>: Seven action steps if you’ve lost your job (or think you might)

If you think you might lose your house, call me. And yes, I am able to do more than just sell it.
For a foreclosure list that is updated several times an hour, go to the Powerpage on my website at

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Battle for Texas Real Estate

Today, February 23, 1836 (a leap year), was the day the Texians barricaded themselves in the mission building and began the 13 day siege.

It still chokes me up to think about it and the outcome. I have never seen, but I am sure it exists somewhere, a "what if" history that speculates what would have happened if Bowie and Travis had obeyed the commander of the Texas Army to abandon San Antonio. All of the historians I have read say that the delay caused by the Alamo siege and attrition of the Mexican army was crucial to the organization of the Texas government and army that was in chaos when the Alamo battle began.

Tip your hat to a Mockingbird today and Remember the Alamo!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Texas Real Estate Broker License

Did you know that the only real estate designation that the general public recognizes is "Broker"?

I learned recently that Champions School of Real Estate® wants guys like me to become a Texas Real Estate Broker by obtaining our brokers license. Why? A real estate broker license is the only designation the general public recognizes and they claim it gives me instant credibility.

A 2007 National Association of REALTORS® Member Profile study shows the median gross income for real estate agents with a broker license is $39,100 more than an agent without one. It is only an additional $7.67 per week or $33.33 per month ($400 annually) to renew with the state as a broker-associate versus a salesperson.

It is now a national trend in every state. Why? All of the above reasons and then some! I'm ashamed to say that NO COLLEGE HOURS ARE REQUIRED TO BECOME A TEXAS REAL ESTATE BROKER! What? That explains a few things...

Well, I'm off to school. I hope my bottom is ready for the next two days!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Got $500,000? Move to Murphy & Plano!

Where to Live on Less Than $500,000. I mean, if you work for GM, Citibank, etc. you'll have difficulty cashing checks for much more than that. That's right, Uncle Obama has just capped your salary at $500K. So, what are your options?

Matt Woolsey, with Forbes magazine has compiled a list of cities where $500,000 will still buy an exceedingly comfortable lifestyle. Yup. Apparently it takes a guide to live comfortably on $500K. I am SO in the wrong business.

To choose these 10 locations, the gurus at Forbes examined the cost of the "typical" four-bedroom, two-bath, 2,200-square-foot home. They also factored in the amount of patent and venture capital activity, average commute, and an average cost of living below $100,000.

The top cities were:

  1. Irvine, Calif.
  2. Raleigh, N.C.
  3. Bellevue, Wash.
  4. Portland, Ore.
  5. Sunnyvale, Calif.
  6. Redmond, Wash.
  7. Austin, Texas
  8. Chandler, Ariz.
  9. Rochester, N.Y.
  10. Plano, Texas
So... as I've said before, it's a great time to move to Murphy!

Source: Forbes, (02/12/2009)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Good News? Can it Be True?

The News: Nationally, inventories are down which means properties are selling and the market is less stagnant. That's great news if you are trying to sell a home. Of course, here in Texas, we've been able to do that all along--but even our local buyers have lacked confidence in the real estate market. Progress!

Housing Inventories Fall in 29 Major Markets
The inventory of existing homes for sale in 29 major markets covered by ZipRealty declined an average of 2.5 percent in January 2009, compared to December 2008 and down 13 percent compared to January 2008.

This is a good sign, especially when considering that typically inventories rise in January after the holidays. In the last 25 years, the average increase in inventory in January has been 8.7 percent, according to Ivy Zelman, CEO of research firm Zelman & Associates.

Housing-market analysis Altos Research reached similar conclusions, saying that the listings in its 10-city composite index declined 3.3 percent in January compared to December 2008.

This data doesn’t include New York City, where appraisal firm Miller Samuel Inc. reports that inventories were at the highest level in the last decade, up 6 percent from December and 36 percent from January 2008.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, James Hagerty (02/10/2009)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

NAR Mourns the Loss of Habitat for Humanity Founder Millard Fuller

WASHINGTON, February 04, 2009

The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Charles McMillan:

“The National Association of Realtors® mourns the loss of Habitat for Humanity International founder Millard Fuller, who died Tuesday, Feb. 3 at the age of 74. We extend our sincerest sympathies to his family and friends.

“Mr. Fuller’s tremendous contribution to increasing decent, affordable housing and helping more than a million individuals achieve the American dream of homeownership will live on as a tribute of his life’s work and passion.

“NAR has worked together with Habitat for Humanity for the past eight years to build a home in the host city for NAR’s annual conference and in a major city abroad. Realtors® have also contributed to Habitat for Humanity’s post-Katrina homebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast as well as in Southeast Asia following the 2004 tsunami.

“Although we are saddened by this news, Realtors® look forward to continuing our work with Habitat for Humanity and helping even more families on their path to homeownership.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Realtors® Recognize Importance of Keeping Big Banks Out of Real Estate

From My Friends at

WASHINGTON, February 02, 2009

Allowing large national banks to enter into real estate brokerage and property management could be devastating to the safety and security of the nation’s economy, which is why the National Association of Realtors® has been calling for legislation that would permanently ban banks from entering into real estate transactions.

“We thank Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., for their leadership in introducing legislation to prevent big banks from expanding their business to act as real estate brokers and managers,” said NAR President Charles McMillan.

During the introduction of the Community Choice in Real Estate Act on Friday, Sen. Boxer said, “Permitting banks to engage in commerce could compromise their lending decisions and create conflicts of interest while restricting consumer choice and competition among mortgage lenders.”

Some national banks had petitioned the federal government for the power to own and operate local real estate brokerage or property management companies. Since 2003 language has been included in annual appropriations bills to temporarily block implementation of these actions. The Community Choice in Real Estate Act would make the prohibition permanent.

“Imagine how much worse the crisis in the financial sector and our overall economy would be if banks had been permitted to enter into commercial activities such as real estate,” McMillan said. “We hope that Congress will work quickly to close any loopholes and pass laws that maintain the separation of banking and real estate and protect our nation’s economy from unnecessary and avoidable risks.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Recipe for a Great Year!

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Talk to God about what is going on in your life. Buy a lock if you have to.

3.When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to__________ today. I am thankful for______________'

4.Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

5.Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.

6.Try to make at least three people smile each day.

7.Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

8.Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

9.Life isn't fair, but it's still good. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

10.Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

11.You are not so important that you have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

12.Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

13.Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is allabout.

14.No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

15.Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'

16.Forgive everyone for everything.

17.What other people think of you is none of your business.

18.GOD heals everything - but you have to ask Him.

19.However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

20.Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch!!!

21.Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

22.Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for__________. Today I accomplished_________.

23.Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

24.When you are feeling down, start listing your many blessings. You'll be smiling before you know it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

December Sold Stats

Happy New Year!

This report on home sales in area communities for the month of December 2008 is brought to you courtesy of JTOden Realty.

City -- Average Days on Market, Number of Homes Sold
Murphy -- 168, 19 homes sold
Sachse -- 69, 10 homes sold
Rowlett -- 117, 40 home sold
Rockwall -- 139, 39 homes sold
Dallas NE -- 122, 159 homes sold
Dallas Lake Highlands -- 94, 31 homes sold
Garland -- 93, 128 homes sold
Plano -- 92, 140 homes sold
Richardson -- 80, 60 homes sold

Mesquite -- 111, 104 homes sold

What about your specific subdivision? Curious?
What about that house down the street? Interested?
Just ask J.T.! You don't have to be moving to talk to your REALTOR(R).
Just ask J.T.