How to Rid Those Summertime Pests

Pest-NoBugsSignThey fly, crawl, bite, invade and annoy! And the word is that this summer, they’re coming in larger numbers due to the increased rain we’ve received this spring.

The cockroaches are sneakier, the fire ants are terrorizing from their sandy mounds, the ticks hide in unmentionable places, and the mosquitoes are the size of small hummingbirds. Then of course, with lots of rain, comes lots of pretty flowers with lots of buzzing bees!

Here are some tips to still enjoy the summertime, spend time outside, and not end up itching, burning, screaming, and picking.

  1. First and most effective is to have your local pest control company come and spray your yard and home. Then when your landscapers come, ask them to blow the dead ones away.
  2. On that note, be sure to keep your yard maintained and cut regularly, as insects will lay eggs in your lawn.
  3. Clean your house and reduce any clutter. This gives them places to hide. Cockroaches in particular will be drawn to food in your pantry or pet food. Keep those items tightly sealed.
  4. Check your screens. Even the smallest of holes is equivalent to a fancy written invitation to a pest to enter.
  5. Get rid of outdoor lights. If you do need them, use yellow lights. The bugs are less attracted to those.
  6. Check your yard for standing water, which is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, among other insects. Eliminate any standing water you do find.
  7. Plant onions in your garden. They HATE onions!
  8. Keep your trash covered or taken our regularly. Need I explain more?
  9. Use a Eucalyptus-based repellent or just plain old Eucalyptus essential oil (Walmart sells this) and rub it on your exposed skin. The bugs will stay far away from you.
  10. Don’t forget about your pets! Treat them and give them their monthly doses of flea and tick meds. Not only do we want them to be protected, but they provide a first-class ticket for these insects into your home.

Enjoy this amazing time of year, and don’t be bugged by the bugs!

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SELLER’S DISCLOSURE FORM

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This one form, filled out by the seller of a property, is more important than you may have realized. I compare it to a hard hat at a construction site. Seems overly precautious until a large piece of material falls from above and suddenly you’re awfully glad you had that protection!

In 1993, this form became mandatory, exclaiming that “Texans would be bound to truth in selling their homes…is designed to protect Realtors from the burgeoning number of ‘failure to disclosure’ lawsuits…the bill would require sellers to complete a disclosure form detailing the condition of the house, property and certain equipment within the house.”

What is it?

This statement is a disclosure of the condition of the property in compliance with the seller Disclosure Act. This statement is a disclosure of the condition and information concerning the property, known by the seller. Unless otherwise advised, the seller does not possess any expertise in construction, architecture, engineering, foundation, roof, or any other specific area related to the construction or condition of the improvements on the property or the land. This statement is not a warranty of any kind by the seller and is not a substitute for any inspections or warranties the buyer may wish to obtain. NOTE: For sale my owners are also legally required to provide this form.

Can your agent help you fill it out?

No. As Realtors, this would infringe on our duties to abide by the National Association of Realtors “Code of Ethics and standards of practice.” We are not lawyers and cannot give any advice or interpret any law regarding what the form says or means. If there are any questions, sellers need to consult an attorney.

Both TAR and TREC have a seller’s disclosure notice. Which to use?

Both forms are in compliance with the law. With that said, the TAR form is far preferred. It asks more questions, is far more thorough, is easier to fill out, spells out specific safety hazards the TREC form does not, is more useful for buyers and is designed to serve as a better risk-reduction tool for sellers. It is in your best interest as the seller to ask your agent to provide you with the TAR form.

Who is exempt from filling this form out?

There are 11 exceptions, but the most common are:

  • A builder of a new home
  • A trustee or executor of an estate
  • The lender after foreclosing on a property
  • Duplex owners

Even though these types of sellers (and a few others) are not required to provide a disclosure notice, they still must disclose any known material defects. Requirements of Section 5.008, all sellers have an obligation to disclose known defects about the property. Failure to do so exposes them to liability under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act or other civil laws.

What about previous death in the property?

The statute does not require disclosure of deaths by natural causes, suicide, or accidents unrelated to the condition of the property.

Previous Inspection Reports

If a seller bought the home within the past 4 years OR if a seller receives a copy of an inspection report from a buyer but the contract with that buyer falls through, the seller and brokers should consider sharing the report and they have a duty to disclose any known material defects. Possession of a prior inspection report may be evidence of the seller’s or broker’s knowledge of a known defect, although no law requires that the report must be provided.

Consequences When Sellers Don’t Disclose

A seller who doesn’t disclose known defects can be sued by the buyer after the defect is discovered. As a seller, you don’t want to look back after closing!

If a court finds the seller responsible, they may be required to:

  • Repairs and other damages resulting from the undisclosed defect
  • Pay the buyer’s attorney’s fees and costs of the lawsuit
  • Take back the house if the court invalidates or rescinds the sale
  • Punishment for punitive damages of failure to disclose defects

 

A surprise birthday party is fun…a surprise moldy house is not! Use of this form may result in fewer surprises to the buyer after closing and less liability for the agents and the seller(s). Don’t make your home sale any more challenging than need be. A seller’s accurate and honest disclosure is worth it.

PREPPING YOUR HOME FOR A SPRING SALE

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Spring cleaning isn’t the only thing many people do in April here in South Texas – it’s also the beginning of the popular time of year to sell property! If you’re considering listing your home this Spring, my guess is that you want to sell quickly and get top dollar. Right? Well now that the sun is shining and the checkbooks are coming out of hibernation, consider these steps!

  1. Shop around. For an agent that is! A size 9 shoe will fit no matter which store it’s from, but not every agent will be the right fit for you. There are many options…many GOOD options. Ask questions that are important to you (do they host open houses, do they market their listings, do they provide feedback and advice). Find the agent whose vision matches yours.
  2. Price it right. This sounds like an obvious suggestion, but an overpriced home may not sell as quickly as one that is priced right. Sometimes the longer a home sits, the more buyers may wonder “what’s wrong with it?” A well-priced home is more likely to move, get multiple offers, get the sales price both seller and buyer desire.
  3. De-Personalize. When a buyer steps into your home, you want them to envision their own life there. As beautiful as your family portraits are, it may make it harder for a buyer to visualize – this goes hand in hand with STAGING. If a room is designed as an office but you use it as your exercise room, do your best to turn it back into an office.
  4. The heart of the home – it’s most likely the most important room for the majority of buyers. Anything you can do to upgrade or stage your kitchen will be beneficial.
  5. Mow! Or…rake your rock garden, or do whatever maintaining needs to be done to grab positive attention at the curb. Curb appeal is like the book cover – you don’t want buyers to not even open the door because the exterior is unappealing.
  6. Make your house shine, sparkle, smell of roses (or sugar cookies or bahama breeze or whatever lights your wick). There’s no bigger turnoff than a home that hasn’t been sustained. This is especially important if you have pets. Love the fur babies, but don’t want to smell them!
  7. All clutter and valuables. Any extra “stuff” lying around is distracting, and valuables are even more so! Clean out your closets, jewelry boxes, china cabinets, knick knacks, collectibles, etc. and stick it in a storage unit. It’ll make moving easier when that time comes, anyway!
  8. Lighten up! Your home is bigger, happier and brighter when blinds are open and all bulbs are working. Quickly changing out your burnt bulbs is probably the fastest task with the largest reward. Unlike your dancing partner at the nightclub, a home is prettier in the light!
  9. They will be opened. Not because buyers are snoopers, but because buyers like to see storage spaces. Best to tidy up those drawers, organize your pots and pans, alphabetize your spices. Ok, you don’t have to go THAT far, but you get the idea.
  10. Selling your home/memory keeper/safe haven, can be an emotional challenge. Start the detachment early! Think happy thoughts of your next journey, your next sanctuary. So when that offer does come in, you’re ready and it’s more about business than attachments.

 

 

Texas Home Prices Climb Likely To Continue, Says Real Estate Economist At Texas A&M

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COLLEGE STATION – Recent home price indices (HPI) all indicate another increase in Texas home prices, a trend that will likely continue for a while, says an economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

CoreLogic’s HPI, one of several key indicators that center researchers track, showed an 8.5 percent year-over-year increase in Texas home prices in February. Prices in Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown and Dallas-Plano-Irving increased 10.4 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively.

“As long as inventory stays tight, and as long as demand stays high relative to supply, we’re going to keep seeing these kinds of priceincreases,” said Center Research Economist Dr. Jim Gaines.  Center data show statewide housing inventory in February was at 3.1 months. Houston’s inventory was at 2.7 months in February, while Dallas was at 1.8 months. An inventory of 6.5 months is generally considered a balanced market.

While the shortage of pre-owned single-family homes on the market is contributing to the market’s tightness, Gaines said there’s also a lack of new product.

“Home builders have not been building houses as fast as they have in the past,” he said. “They’re doing the best they can, but that growth is not adding to the total inventory.”

Gaines said the demand for new homes is still there, thanks to economic growth, job growth and people moving to Texas. The biggest problem is the lack of lot inventory and land development.

“Historically, Texas housing markets have maintained a good balance of supply and demand because our building industry could build houses fairly easily, fairly quickly and fairly cheaply compared with other states,” he said. “Land costs and labor costs were lower. The Texas land development model simply worked. But financing for land development and lot development dried up between 2009 and 2013, so all of a sudden there’s this shortage, and it’s going to take several years for that to get unraveled.”

Another problem is the effect local regulatory controls and impact fees are having on builders.

“The demand for goods and services provided by local governments has increased along with the population,” Gaines said. “The cost of those goods and services has also increased, and governments are faced with the problem of how to pay for them.

So they’re passing some of those costs on to developers in the form of regulatory costs, permitting fees, platting fees, direct impact fees for roads and utilities and that sort of thing. So all of our costs are going up.”

VIA – For more from Gaines on the Texas housing market, listen to the April 8 episode of the Real Estate Red Zone podcast (“All Housing, All the Time”). It’s online at http://www.recenter.tamu.edu/podcast/

What is the true cost when a Real Estate AGENT Cuts their commission?

In today’s competitive real estate market in Corpus Christi, some agents are offering to cut their commissions in an attempt to attract more business. The truth is that they want to be listing agents. Here are some questions to ask before listing your home with an agent who’s willing to take a “pay cut” to work with you:

WHAT IS THE REAL ESTATE AGENT‘S PRIMARY MOTIVATION FOR CUTTING THEIR COMMISSION? In all likelihood, it’s because they are in a position where they simply need the business that badly. Do you really want to trust the sale of your property to someone who is desperate for your business? There is a difference between WANTING your business and NEEDING your business.

IF YOUR PROPERTY DOESN’T SELL, WHAT HAVE YOU ACCOMPLISHED? There is a difference between listing a property and selling a property. What the agent didn’t tell you is that they will make less money selling your property than if they sell another property on the market. You want an agent who’s going to be excited about bringing you an offer.

WHICH SERVICES ARE THEY GOING TO CUT? If you cut your commission, then you have to cut service. Many factors come into play in finding the right buyer who’s willing to pay your price. To get top price for a property, you need as many services for you as you can possibly get.

WOULD YOU REALLY BE EXCITED ABOUT A 15% PAY CUT? A 1% reduction in commission equals more than 15% of the total commission or 60% of the selling agents commission. How can the agent really be excited about working for you? Is the agent being honest with you when he or she tells you that they’re excited about getting the property sold?

ARE THEY GOING TO COOPERATE WITH OTHER BROKERS? What are they going to pay the other brokers? Why are those brokers going to be excited about taking a 15% pay cut? To get top price for your property, you need to have all brokers in the marketplace excited about selling it.

IS THE REAL ESTATE AGENT A SKILLED NEGOTIATOR? If the other broker is willing to let you negotiate them out of 15% or more of their income from the sale of your property, will they also let the buyer negotiate 15% or more from the purchase price of your property? What is that other broker’s sale price to list price ratio? You might be costing yourself tens of thousands of dollars by trying to save a couple thousand dollars in commissions.

What’s the most important thing to you in the sale of your home? Is it paying a lower commission, or is it getting “top dollar for your home?” We are in the business of “protecting” the financial interest of our sellers, and want you to receive top dollar for your property, at Coastline Properties it is our mission to insure that you receive the absolute best buyer for your home!

Oil prices drop, Corpus Christi’s rent prices don’t

corpus-christi-rentalsCORPUS CHRISTI – Plunging oil prices may be a relief for Coastal Bend residents at the pumps, but they’re having little influence on rents or mortgage payments.

Experts predict the falling price of crude will force housing costs in energy-dependent Corpus Christi to drop at some point.

That day won’t come in 2015, they say.

The housing market in Corpus Christi is perhaps the tightest it has ever been for both potential renters and those looking to buy a home. Things won’t change for the rest of the year, despite a rush on home and apartment construction, said Jim Lee, the chief economist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Oil field workers who lived in apartments in Corpus Christi are moving to Alice, Cotulla and other small towns within the energy play to be closer to work, said Melissa Gomez, a broker for AAA Apartment Locating in Corpus Christi. Others have been moving out of higher-end luxury apartments and into older, more-affordable complexes to cut costs.

The exodus has created hundreds of apartment vacancies since November, but rent prices remain unchanged. Instead of lowering rents, property managers have eased move-in criteria to insure occupancy. Applicants with credit and rental-history blemishes and those whose income is less than three times the cost of rent are no longer being disqualified for apartments.

“We’ll see a decline in occupancy rates here and there … but they (complexes) won’t empty out,” Gomez said.

The average price of homes in Corpus Christi hit a record high of $207,700 in December, according to the latest data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. That same month, the asking rent for a typical apartment in the city was 25 percent higher than it was just four years ago.

Five recently completed apartment complexes have been cleared since March to take in tenants. Another dozen are in various stages of construction and are due to open in coming months.

The Corpus Christi area’s apartment occupancy rate was 92.5 percent in December, according to ALN Apartment Data, a Carrollton-based firm that tracks rental property trends. That’s down from 94.3 percent in November and the record months of December and April, when occupancy hit 95.2 percent.

Average rent in Corpus Christi in December was between $842 and $880, an ALN report said, though it’s not uncommon for newer complexes to ask for more than $1,100 for a one-bedroom home.

Corpus Christi’s low unemployment has been a magnet for thousands of job seekers in the past three years, most of them eyeing work in the Eagle Ford Shale energy play. The trend has slowed recently as energy companies have scaled back shale production, even shaved jobs, trying to remain profitable.

Falling oil prices and cutbacks in shale oil production by energy companies will put “downward pressure” on the local housing market, Lee said. However, the majority of newly constructed apartments are likely to be absorbed by students at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and personnel from the nearby Naval air station.

“The overall housing market in Corpus Christi, including single-family rental houses, will likely soften up after reaching its current peak, but the market for apartments might continue to be tight at least the rest of the year,” Lee said.

Apartment occupancy in Corpus Christi in January 2010 was 89 percent, and average rent was about $700.

Warren Andrich, CEO of the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors, was optimistic about the home sales market, while conceding more rental property was needed in the city.

The Real Estate Center reported that 375 homes were sold in Corpus Christi in December, typically a slow sales month.

The Coastal Bend’s economy, though heavily influenced by the energy industry, is diverse enough to support an increase in housing, Andrich said.

Although homes values are increasing and are being sold at or near their asking prices, Corpus Christi’s inventory of affordable homes — those priced between $125,000-$165,000 — is less than 300 units.

“These are all indicators that we were in need of the additional rentals coming on the market,” Andrich said.

Twitter: @Caller_ChrisRam

Corpus Christi Apartment Market (December 2014)

Occupancy Rate: 92.5 percent

Asking Rent: $880

Effective Rent: $873

Average Apt. Size: 850 square feet

Average Market Rent Breakdown By Floor Plan

Efficiency, $671

1 Bedroom, $753

2 Bedroom, $944

3 Bedroom, $1,084

4 Bedrooms +, $2,181

Source: ALN Apartment Data

Housing Activity (Annual figures)

Year No. of sales Average price Median Price Months of inventory

2004 4,745 $132,100 $113,800 4.6

2005 4,894 $147,300 $125,200 5.0

2006 5,192 $153,300 $130,400 6.2

2007 4,510 $162,000 $136,500 7.4

2008 3,773 $162,200 $138,900 9.0

2009 3,444 $155,500 $134,800 10.2

2010 3,445 $152,300 $136,500 10.3

2011 3,396 $157,500 $135,700 9.5

2012 4,058 $169,900 $142,300 7.1

2013 4,589 $180,700 $152,200 5.3

2014 4,721 $197,100 $168,600 4.5

Source: Real Estate Center, Texas A&M University.

via @callertimes

Construction Resumes on Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi

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Exciting News going on over at Schlitterville.  Progress continues after partnership negotiations have concluded.

KIII News Video
KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Dale Rankin – “Work at the moribund Schlitterbahn Upper Padre waterpark is kicking back into high gear after a refinancing of the 75-acre waterpark and resort went into slowdown in the middle of 2015 due to a redesign of the project which doubled its size.
“We are fully funded and getting back to work,” Project Manager and part-owner Jeff Henry said from his crowded and cluttered office on the site on Tuesday. “ Our self-imposed goal is to have the waterpark finished in 70 days.”
As part of the new deal local businessman Willard Hammonds sold his one-third interest in the project to the Henry family, who own the Schlitterbahn chain and will now own a 67% interest in the local park, with the remainder continuing under the ownership of a group formed by Developer Paul Schexnailder. Estimated cost of the park at the beginning of construction was set at around $50 million, while park officials would not give a final figure for the cost of the park, sources place the number between $75 million and $100,000 million, depending on further changes in the design.
“We will concentrate first on getting park finished,” Henry said, “Our goal is to have the entire park ready to open by Memorial Day.”
But Henry said that while his goal is to have the entire park ready to open this summer, it will be actually be operated under a “brown out” system, in which portions will be opened to the public while others may remain closed.
“When we increased the size of the park,” Henry said, “it now will take 8000 people to fill it up and there is not enough time to do the advertising and planning for that many people this summer, and there is not enough time to hire the staff.”
Checks began going out this week to contractors who were owed back fees, and hiring for the project has now begun.
“We have about 1000 yards of concrete left to pour,” Henry said. “In spite of how it may look we don’t really have that much left to do.”
He said the first priorities will be the Downhill River, an 8000-linear foot waterway that will convey park visitors from one ride to the next, along with the Flow Rider feature which produces a standing wave. He said work on the 90-room hotel at the site will have to wait, however the exterior of the building is expected to be finished by the end of September to meet the deadlines set for $117 million in tax incentives from the City of Corpus Christi.
“We can’t there this summer on the hotel,” he said. “We will have the first floor and possibly the second floor open this summer.”
The fourth floor of the building has been redesigned to include a music venue large enough for about one thousand people.
As a side note, the machinations of building the park and the re-financing have all been captured on camera by the Travel Channel which has scheduled a special on Henry and the project for July 1.
“We still have some surprises in store,” Henry said. “But we are back on track and back to work. When we are finished this is going to be a great park.”

The Art of Negotiating

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Whether you’re trying to get the best price at the flea market, ask for a higher salary, or buy a new car, having good negotiating skills is important. Luckily, during a real estate transaction, you have a hired professional to do the tough stuff for you! Whether you are buying or selling, your agent should be representing your needs and wants through this fine art of negotiating.

Some may believe that negotiations are “all or nothing.” That one party wins over the other. This could not be further from the truth. While the goal of negotiation is most certainly getting what you want, the fact is that the best deals incorporate terms from both sides.

First, think about what you want to achieve from the process. Make a list of what you want from the negotiation and why. This helps determine what would cause you to walk away so you can build your strategy within acceptable terms. Try, also, to understand what your counterpart’s motivations are as this is equally as important. By studying the other side’s goals, it may help you frame your own by realizing that there’s a solution for you both. The single most important tool you and your agent have is preparedness. Communicating with each other the main goals and why they’re the goals gives your agent the best negotiating power there is. Follow these steps:

1.      Establish a fair sales price. Your agent should run a comparative market analysis (CMA) for you to assess what a fair asking price is based on other sales in the area.

2.      Establish what you can afford. If you’re buying, your agent should be able to help you with this a bit, and if you’re working with a lender they will be invaluable here. If you’re selling, what is your bottom line?

3.      Decide what other things would be a deal breaker. Price is typically the most important factor. However, it may also be a deal breaker if you’re selling and you cannot afford to pay the buyer’s closing costs at their request, or you’re the buyer and your insurance requires a windstorm certificate that the home doesn’t have.

4.      As a buyer, when it comes to inspections, negotiating repairs can become just as important as presenting the offer itself. If the home you’re seeking isn’t advertised as being sold “As Is” then you likely have some negotiating powers when it comes to repairs.

5.      Try not to get emotional. This is a tough one as a home is personal. And if you get too emotional, you may make an exception to your goals. But your agent is there to represent you, your goals and to make it about business so this doesn’t happen.

From there, your licensed Real Estate Agent should be able to clearly communicate your desires.  It’s your agent’s job to ensure you are represented correctly, fairly, and your voice is heard! It’s all about collaborating to meet both ends, making it a “win/win” situation.

What should you look for in an agent? These characteristics may be beneficial: An active listener, someone with a reputation of getting along with others, someone with a mild-mannered and optimistic personality, and a clear but firm communicator.

So sit back, and let US work for YOU. If you’re feeling like your agent is trying too hard to convince you to forgo your main goals, then perhaps it’s not the right fit. There’s a solution to every problem. Think outside the box, discuss rather than argue, and don’t forget, it never hurts to ASK!

Corpus Christi City Council Votes Unanimously for 7 Month Extension to Schlitterbahn Upper Padre

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KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Jeff Henry, Schlitterbahn Owner

City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to grant a six-month extension to Schlitterbahn, allowing them to continue to qualify for millions of dollars in tax rebates.  The extension to Sept. 30 means some $117 million in rebates will go back to developers as long as the park is finished by that time. At last word, developers hope to open the park by summer, after a year of delays due to an unplanned expansion of the facility on their 550-acre plot of land on Padre Island plus Partnership challenges they are set to move forward!

Coastline Properties knows that great things come to those that are patient, things don’t always go as planned and masterpieces take time.  We can’t wait to see you all poolside this summer.  Have a beautiful Week!

~ The Team at Coastline Properties!

Latest on Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi

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Schlitterbahn will look to get their extension for the tax incentive package by Tuesday 2/3 evening, but things look very good for an Opening in May just as summer starts to roll in. We are still so excited to see it in full operation!

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