Monday, January 31, 2022

Market Watch - 28 Jan. 2022


All for sale categories of the North Texas housing market decreased. The decrease is most likely a result of too few homes entering the market. 

Nationally, December saw the fewest homes available on record going back to 1999, according to the National Association of Realtors. There were about 910,000 homes available last month for a country with more than 332 million people. January 2022 is slower.

Anecdotally, I hosted an open house on Saturday which had more than 60 parties and probably more than 150 people over two hours. The sellers executed an astounding offer overnight.

The Lease Market has inverted again with more properties leaving than entering the market. Without the ability for tenants to purchase homes, lease properties have also been in short supply. Landlords can capitalize on the shortage and increase monthly rental amounts significantly when tenants leave. 


I've Got Your Six!

Mark M. Hancock, GRI, MRP, AHWD
REALTOR, New Build certified
214-862-7212
DFWmark.com


#DFWmark #REALTOR #MarketWatch #ResidentialMarket #LeaseMarket #RealEstate #BuyNow #SellNow #HousePrices #rental

Friday, January 21, 2022

Market Watch - 21 Jan. 2022


All categories of residential real estate for sale have increased while Properties Under Contract was relatively flat.

In the Lease Market, New Listings and Pending Properties decreased while Leased Properties increased. A decrease in Pending and increase in Leased is expected around the 15th of each month. 

I've Got Your Six!

Mark M. Hancock, GRI, MRP, AHWD
REALTOR, New Build certified
214-862-7212
DFWmark.com


#DFWmark #REALTOR #MarketWatch #ResidentialMarket #LeaseMarket #RealEstate #BuyNow #SellNow #HousePrices #rental

Monday, January 17, 2022

Select the Right Carpet

Different carpet textures and patterns are available
at Nadine Floor Company in Frisco on 15 Jan. 2022.
photos by Mark M. Hancock / DFWmark.com

Whether we live in a house or apartment, we’re all familiar with carpet. It’s at the office, hotels, movie theaters and businesses. Let’s consider some carpet options before you need to install or replace it. Use elimination to get to the correct carpet for your needs. Consider where you plan to use the carpet, how you live, how long must the carpet last and what you need the carpet to do.

Grades of carpet
Carpet can be purchased in dozens of grades. They’re broken down into “builder grade,” mid-grade and luxury.

Builder grade carpets are inexpensive and intended to last 3 to 5 years. These are often polyester at 22 to 30 ounces (see below) and start under $10 per square yard.

Mid-grade carpets are intended to last 6 to 15 years. These are 30 to 40 ounces. Prices start just below $20 per square yard. These often use nylon or Triexta materials.

Luxury grade carpets are intended to last 15 to 20 years. These are typically nylon or wool. These are the most durable options with much better backing systems and high pile densities. Expect prices to start just below $50 per square yard and rise rapidly.

Where do we put carpet?
The two most important considerations are location of the carpet and long-term intentions.
Heavily trafficked areas of a house are good for “hard” floors such as wood, ceramic tile, stone or luxury vinyl plank (lux). Kitchens and bathrooms are considered “wet areas.” These also typically need tile, stone or lux to repel water and other spills.

Carpet often costs less, so it’s placed in less-traveled areas like bedrooms, media rooms and closets. Areas that need sound absorption – like media or playrooms – use the carpet to muffle noises. Carpet is also a good option in some home offices to avoid heavy wear on a wood floor while providing less echo for phone conversations. Finally, carpet helps with insulation and can reduce energy use.

Colors

Neutral colors go with any d├ęcor. It’s often best to use one color or type of carpet throughout the house to tie the house together. However, areas separated by expanses of tile or wood can use different carpet options.

Carpets that match the walls tend to make the room look bigger. The floors visually carry up onto the walls. Darker carpets create contrast but may make the room feel smaller. Media rooms need to have darker neutral colors to avoid light reflections.


Parts of carpet
Face yarn is the top layer of the carpet. It is often called “pile.” Low cut pile tends to be easier to clean and doesn’t show traffic as much as longer pile, which is often softer and hides dirt but shows footprints and vacuum patterns. Each strand of the carpet is called a tuft because it is a collection of twisted threads.

Denier is the thickness of the nylon strand in the tufts. Denier has to do with the carpet softness. Thicker carpets are often considered better especially when the actual fibers have a thin denier. Thin denier fiber breaks easier, so it isn’t as durable as heavier grades.

Carpet has both primary and secondary backing. Primary backing provides support for the carpet tufts while secondary backing provides a barrier from the padding and floor. Secondary backing is visible on the back of the carpet. It provides stiffness and stability to support the yarn. It helps the carpet remain in one place after installation. There are anti-mold backings.

Carpet is manufactured in the U.S. in either 12 feet, 13.5 feet or 15 feet widths. When a wider area is needed, carpet can be joined with a seaming iron and seam tape. It is affixed to the floor over a carpet pad with nails and tack strips.

Carpet fibers
The most important factor of carpet performance is fiber type. Carpet fibers are either natural or synthetic. Wool carpet is naturally soft, strong and fire resistant. It’s useful in high-traffic areas. It has excellent insulating properties. It’s often combined with synthetic materials to increase durability.

Because it has natural fibers, it is likely to collect dust mites and can exacerbate allergies for some people. Fiber will lift for about 12 months after installation. It stains easily. It is harder to clean – especially oily or greasy stains. It isn’t a good option for houses with small children and pets. It is relatively expensive.

The main synthetic options are nylon, polyester and Triexta (SmartStrand by Mohawk).

The top fiber type is nylon. Nylon is very durable and a more expensive raw material. Nylon is petroleum based and prices are tied to the price of oil. It has been available since the 1950s and has a proven record for durability. It isn’t as stain resistant as other options, so it must be treated with coatings to protect it from stains. It doesn’t clean as easily as the other options.

Polyester is a plastic-based fiber. It is not naturally durable but very stain resistant and less expensive than nylon. It doesn’t hold up to foot traffic like nylon, but food and beverage stains can be cleaned easier. Never use polyester products on high traffic areas – especially stairs.

Triexta is a proprietary product created by Mohawk around 2005 and became publicly available around 2009. It combines durability with stain resistance. It is not as durable as nylon, but better than polyester. It offers longer texture retention and stain warranties than nylon. However, it’s too new to verify the durability claims. Additionally, it’s generally less expensive to produce than nylon.

Corn glucose replaces some of the petroleum used in Triexta. This makes a product with fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than nylon, which can evaporate and have some known health risks. It is inherently stain resistant and needs no additional treatment to make it resist stains. It can be deep cleaned with hot water alone and is bleach resistant.

Buyers who plan to own the house a while and want a durable option should go with nylon or Triexta for durability.

Meanwhile, sellers are best served with a polyester carpet that will look great for showing. Aim for a high ounce weight that is comfortable to walk on and presents well to a potential buyer without the expense of a long-term commitment. It doesn’t matter much because the buyers are likely to replace the carpet with a different flooring type or simply another color.

Guest rooms and closets, which have very little traffic are also a good candidate for polyester carpet since traffic isn’t a factor. A higher weight polyester carpet will feel better and cost less for seldom-used spaces.

If stains and soiling are a concern, Triexta is a better option than nylon because it’s easier to clean. Ideally, this is a better option around young kids and pets.

Ounce weight is a measurement of how much yarn is in one square yard of the carpet. This is where material type matters. A higher ounce weight of the same material typically means a higher quality carpet. However, nylon is more durable than polyester and can have a lower ounce weight for the same durability level. Ounce weight often isn’t listed on the product to avoid confusion.

Construction of the pile can be looped or cut. When made of the same materials, looped carpets will have more durability. However, cut pile nylon will have more durability than looped polyester.

Pad or cushion selection
Pad measurements include thickness and density. Thickness is the pad’s depth. Density is the weight per cubic foot. The standard cushion is 7/16” thick, 6 lb. density.

A ½” thick, 8 lb. density is and upgraded cushion. It can be a rebonded scrap product or 100 percent memory foam that is also rebonded. It will typically have a moisture protectant layer or treatment. This treatment stops dirt just below the carpet to prevent the soil from spreading or pooling under the pad, which is the greatest benefit of this level of cushion.

Premium grade cushions are ½” thick, 8 lb. cushion with a moisture barrier, but are a pure foam construction rather than rebonded from scraps. The greatest benefit is additional comfort with some added durability and additional warranty coverage.

Patterns are sheared from the tuft loops.
Types of carpet
Plush carpet is a soft carpet. It often has long fiber strands. It shows footprints and vacuum marks as directional patterns also called “shading.” The long strands are more likely to mat and don’t wear as well as lower-cut carpets. It will hold more dirt and soil than lower cut carpets.

A twist pile has the benefit of a plush carpet without the directional patterns. The fibers are raised, but because they are twisted, the fibers hold themselves up rather than laying down and showing directional patterns.

Shag or frieze carpet are longer strands. Shag carpet will lay down and can mat. Frieze is a modern version that is a twist pile variation. Frieze carpet is durable due to the high twists. Both carpets “flop” and can both be patterned with a carpet rake and tend to hide dirt and seams. However, it is more difficult to clean than shorter pile carpet. Often it’s best to remove the beater bar from vacuums over these carpets.

Textured carpets have crimped yarn and use multiple colors to hide vacuum marks and footprints. This is a good choice for family rooms and heavy traffic areas. It’s good for children and pets.

Berber or looped carpet is good for high traffic areas. Low looped carpets don’t show any pattern markings. It’s much easier to maintain and clean. Seams will be more easily seen, so stairs and hallways are perfect while a large family room might not be.

Pattern carpet is a combination between a loop and a plush. It’s made as two different loops with one set sheared during manufacture. It’s often monotone with the pattern resulting from the shear pattern of longer loops while keeping shorter loops. It’s more formal and often used in bedrooms. It wears well and shows less pattern markings from foot traffic and vacuums.

Carpet used in commercial settings can use double loop patterns to reenforce durability and cleaning ease while including style.

Carpet warranties
Carpet manufacturers want you to keep the original installation invoice, a copy of the sample label and cleaning receipts. These are the basis for their product warranty.

Warranties are often printed on the back of store samples at the time of purchase. Make cell phone photos of these labels and keep them in a specific folder with other warranty items for rapid recall if needed. It’s also a good idea to keep a large sample from the installation for future repairs. Use Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) trained installers to ensure warranty coverage.

Carpet life depends on the quality of the carpet itself. Quality is considered in terms of abrasion, fade resistance, texture retention and manufacture defects. The lowest grade carpet is often called “apartment” or “builder grade.” While some apartments do have upscale carpets, most intend to replace the carpets every few years as a matter of wear and tear. However, “builder grade” is a misnomer because quality builders use quality products.

“New carpet smell” results from latex used to lock tufts in place. This smell is expected to dissipate within three days after installation.

Large areas will have carpet seams. They will be visible. If they run perpendicular to windows, it minimizes light reflections off the seam.

Some manufacturers include additional or extended warranty coverage if specific cushions are purchased simultaneously. Check with the carpet dealer to verify the selected products conform. When possible, spend a few bucks extra to get a few more years of warranty coverage, make warranty transferrable, and include stairs.

“Lifetime” isn’t your life The “lifetime” of a carpet is stated at the time of purchase. The “lifetime warranty” is predicated on the lifetime of the specific carpet. Any warranties are prorated according to the lifetime of the specific carpet.

For example, a carpet with a 20-year lifetime is 100% covered for manufacture defects through the first 7 years. Then, prorations may begin affecting the warranty. Meanwhile, a carpet with a 5-year warranty will be rated at 50% by year three and have no warranty past the five-year mark.

Crushing on your carpet
Heavy objects will bend and crush carpet to leave indentations. Furniture coasters distribute weight to mitigate some of the pressure. Heavily trafficked areas will also exhibit carpet crush. A vacuum with a beater brush will assist in getting the carpet to retain its shape in high traffic areas.

Maintenance
Foot traffic drives soil and other particles deeper into carpet. High traffic areas need to be vacuumed daily while medium trafficked areas should be vacuumed twice weekly, and the remainder of the house should be vacuumed weekly.

Larger and oily particles will cling to carpet fibers. Manufacturers recommend carpets should be professionally cleaned at least once each 18 months with products and procedures certified with the CRI Seal of Approval.

Stain removal
Use a spoon or dull butter knife to remove solid materials from the carpet strands. Work from the outside to the inside of the stain. Use a towel or paper towel dampened with warm water to blot up liquid spills.

For stains caused by oil-based or greasy products, make a solution of ¼ teaspoon of clear dishwashing detergent and 1 cup of water. For most other stains, mix ½ cup of white vinegar with 1 cup of lukewarm water.

Apply directly with a cloth. Wipe gently and turn the cloth frequently while trying to lift the oil away. Never brush, scrub or rub. If necessary, use your fingers to work the cleaning solution to the base of the carpet strands.

Use lukewarm water to rinse the area. Cover the wet area with a dry towel or paper towel and apply pressure to blot away moisture.

Carpet is a filter

Carpet is a large secondary filter. The primary filter is in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system. It directly filters air. Carpets are a secondary filter that collects heavier particles.

This is both good and bad. It’s good because the carpet holds dirt in place until it’s vacuumed. It’s bad for the same reason.

I've Got Your Six!

Mark M. Hancock, GRI, MRP, AHWD
REALTOR, New Build certified
214-862-7212
DFWmark.com

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Texas Homestead Exemptions 2022


Homestead Exemptions remove part of your home’s value from taxation, protect against some creditors and more. In short, they lower your tax payment. Here’s what you need to know to claim your exemption:

• There is no fee to file through your county’s tax appraisal office. Don’t pay a company to do this for you.
• The home must be your principal residence.
• You must have a valid copy of a Texas driver’s license or identification card that matches the homestead address.
• Homestead exemption applications are due by April 30.
• Application for homestead exemption is available at the county appraisal district (CAD).
• You can now file for the exemption immediately after purchasing the home and obtaining Texas identification with that address to get a prorated exemption.
• Homestead owner must be an individual (not a corporation or business entity).
• If the individual lives in a dwelling, a homestead can be a separate structure, condominium or mobile home located on owned or leased land.
• You only need to file once unless you move or get a notice from the chief appraiser.

Additional information from Designated Title
Starting January 2022, Texas homeowners who qualify for a homestead exemption will become immediately eligible to receive a property tax reduction when they purchase their property. Those buyers will receive the exemption allocated proportionally from the time they purchase the property. For example, if the buyer purchases the property in February, they will receive the homestead exemption on that year’s tax bill for February through the end of the year.

Texas homestead exemptions from counties, schools, cities, and special districts reduce the property taxes for the homeowner. The amounts vary from county to county. All Texas homesteads receive a $25,000 exemption on their home's value from school property taxes. Other local entities, like cities and counties, offer a separate residence homestead exemption. A homestead exemption can typically save a homeowner 10% to 20% on their property taxes.

Take Advantage of Homestead Exemptions from the Texas Comptroller

One of the easiest ways a homeowner can lower his or her property tax bill is to file a homestead exemption. A homestead is generally the house and land used as the owner’s principal residence on Jan. 1 of the tax year.

Homestead exemptions reduce the appraised value of your home and, as a result, lower your property taxes. To apply for an exemption on your residence homestead, contact the (NAME) Appraisal District.

Available homestead exemptions include:
• School taxes: All homeowners may receive a $40,000 homestead exemption for school taxes.

• County taxes: If a county collects a special tax for farm-to-market roads or flood control, a homeowner may receive a $3,000 homestead exemption for this tax.

• Age and disability exemptions: Individuals 65 or older or disabled as defined by law may qualify for a $10,000 homestead exemption for school taxes, in addition to the $40,000 exemption available to all homeowners. Also, any taxing unit may offer a local optional exemption of at least $3,000 for taxpayers age 65 or older and/or disabled. Older or disabled homeowners do not need to own their homes on Jan. 1 to qualify for the $10,000 homestead exemption. They qualify as soon as they turn age 65 or become disabled.

• Taxing units may offer a local option exemption based on a percentage of a home's appraised value. Any taxing unit can exempt up to 20 percent of the value of each qualified homestead. No matter what percentage of value the taxing unit adopts, the dollar value of the exemption must be at least $5,000.

• Partial exemption for disabled veterans: Texas law provides partial exemptions for any property owned by disabled veterans, surviving spouses and surviving children of deceased disabled veterans. This includes homesteads donated to disabled veterans by charitable organizations at no cost or not more than 50 percent of the good faith estimate of the homestead’s market value to the disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. The percentage of service-connected disability determines the exemption amount.

• 100 Percent Residence Homestead Exemption for Disabled Veterans: A disabled veteran awarded 100 percent disability compensation due to a service-connected disability and a rating of 100 percent disabled or of individual unemployability from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs is entitled to an exemption from taxation of the total appraised value of the veteran's residence homestead. Surviving spouses of veterans who qualified for this exemption or who would have qualified for this exemption if it had been in effect at the time of the veteran’s death are also eligible with certain restrictions. The residence homestead application must be filed if this exemption is claimed.

• Surviving Spouses of Members of the U.S. Armed Services Killed in the Line of Duty: The surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty is allowed a 100 percent property tax exemption on his or her residence homestead if the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the armed services member.

• Surviving Spouses of First Responders Killed in the Line of Duty: The eligible surviving spouse of a first responder killed in the line of duty is allowed a 100 percent property tax exemption on his or her residence homestead if the surviving spouse has not remarried since the death of the first responder.

For more details on homestead exemptions, contact the Central Appraisal District (CAD) at the links below. The homestead exemption application is available online at:
comptroller.texas.gov/forms/50-114.pdf

 
You may file an exemption with your appraisal district for the homestead exemption up to two years after the taxes on the homestead are due. Once you receive the exemption, you do not need to reapply unless the chief appraiser sends you a new application. In that case, you must file the new application. If you should move or your qualification ends, you must inform the appraisal district in writing before the next May 1st. A list of appraisal district addresses and phone numbers is available online.

These are the Comptroller links to DFW counties:

Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant

* Many counties allow the exemption to be filed via email.

I've Got Your Six!

Mark M. Hancock, GRI, MRP, AHWD
REALTOR, New Build certified
214-862-7212
DFWmark.com

Market Watch - 14 Jan. 2022


New Listings, Properties Under Contract and Pending have increased while Sold properties decreased as a lagging indicator from the holidays. A rebound of Sold properties is expected.

While there has been an increase in the number of new listings this year, nothing indicates that there will be a sharp increase resulting from pandemic forbearance foreclosures.


New Lease Listings and Pending have increased while Leased Properties decreased as expected after the initial new year surge. 

While inventory increased in the lease market, landlords are still rewarded with prices increases, few days on market and some offers exceeding the asking price.

I've Got Your Six!

Mark M. Hancock, GRI, MRP, AHWD
REALTOR, New Build certified
214-862-7212
DFWmark.com


#DFWmark #REALTOR #MarketWatch #ResidentialMarket #LeaseMarket #RealEstate #Rebound #BuyNow #SellNow #HousePrices

Friday, January 7, 2022

Market Watch - 7 Jan 2022


New Listings and Properties Under Contract have increased while Pending and Sold properties decreased largely due to the holidays.

All Lease indicators increased with the beginning of the month and year.

I've Got Your Six!

Mark M. Hancock, GRI, MRP, AHWD
REALTOR, New Build certified
214-862-7212
DFWmark.com


#DFWmark #REALTOR #MarketWatch #ResidentialMarket #LeaseMarket #RealEstate #Sold #NewListings #Pending #Leased

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Volume of Price Decreases

This post is part of the continuing Market Watch review. Please visit the first Market Review post to access other information.

Let’s start our market analysis with the Price Decrease trend. It’s the easiest chart to understand. It’s an indicator of certainty. Sellers must be certain that the asking price of their house will result in a sale.

If a seller is certain the house will sell at the listed price, there’s no need to reduce the price. If there is uncertainty about the price or buyer’s ability to purchase the house at the listed price, a remedy is a price “correction” (reduction). Price always wins.

The highest price certainty appears to be in the winter when there are traditionally the fewest houses for sale. Supply is low, so demand is high. The “buying season” typically starts at spring break and kicks into high gear after school lets out for the year. Buyers accelerate until just before school starts and then hit the brakes. Since school starts in September, houses need to be under contract in August or July for peak volume prices.

When nothing else interferes, home prices tend to follow the same cyclical pattern. Listing prices increase as demand increases. As prices increase, certainty decreases. As availability decreases, certainty increases.

I’m getting ahead of myself, but the Price Decrease chart shows the balance between increased prices and uncertainty about those prices in this market. Most price decreases hit the market as the school enrollment window starts to close. As folks settle for the school year, 1) fewer houses are listed and 2) supply decreases while prices remain stable in this market. These two factors create certainty for sellers. There’s not much price flexibility when sellers are certain to sell the house.

I've Got Your Six!

Mark M. Hancock, GRI, MRP, AHWD
REALTOR, New Build certified
214-862-7212
DFWmark.com

#DFWmark #REALTOR #RealEstate #MarketWatch #PriceCertainty #MarketCertainty#PriceDecreases #ResidentialMarket #HowWeGotHere #WhatsHappening

Market Review


Let’s look back at the North Texas (and northeast Louisiana) housing market. The distant past can’t predict the future of this market, but we’ve had more than a year of the pandemic. The last year is revealing. Rather than one giant post, I’ll make a few smaller posts and link them together on this post. This post is the basic starting point.

Please also see:
Luxury Market Watch

I track several trends for my clients each week. I started tracking the residential market shortly after the pandemic started. I added Price Decreases immediately before “Snowvid 21.” I included the lease market last year when a wheel fell off, and the market got wobbly. I’ll add a monthly peek at the LUX (luxury) market this year. LUX homes are $750K or more.

We also face some unknowns. Namely, 1) will there be a “glut” of forbearance foreclosure homes in this area? [UPDATE 3/9/22: Nothing noticeable.] 2) how much and how often will the interest rates rise this year? 3) how badly will the expected insurance increase on 1 Feb. 2022 affect house affordability (and debt to income ratio)?

A “market value” is the amount a seller is willing to accept AND a buyer is willing to pay. We don’t know this market value until it happens. This year has been unpredictable to all of us. The factors at play in market value are 1) location 2) condition 3) price.

For example, an overpriced house in poor condition but in the right location may still sell. A perfect house in the wrong location won’t sell until the price is right. In the end, price always wins.

At its core, the housing market is about supply and demand. Too few houses have been built since the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008. The housing collapse also reduced demand for trained construction workers and employment has remained stagnant while the age of those workers has increased and pushed some into retirement.

The pandemic put a strain on the supply of building materials. Primarily, mills and companies that produce building materials saw dramatic cost increases in labor, transportation and associated material prices. The pandemic also affected the health of many remaining construction workers.

Meanwhile, more office workers found ways to work from home. For some, crowded city life was not compatible with social distancing. Home became their sanctuary, their workplace and more. Often, they needed more space. Simultaneously, the government reduced the federal funds rate to near zero and bought billions of mortgage-backed securities to spur the economy. Mortgage rates hit historic lows in 2021.

The pandemic and historic low interest rates finally spurred an unprecedented demand. Consequently, housing supply will remain short for the foreseeable future as labor and materials remain low. Meanwhile demand may be tempered by availability and affordability.

I've Got Your Six!

Mark M. Hancock, GRI, MRP, AHWD
REALTOR, New Build certified
214-862-7212
DFWmark.com

#DFWmark #REALTOR #RealEstate #MarketWatch #HowWeGotHere #WhatsHappening #ResidentialMarket #LeaseMarket #LuxMarket #PriceDecreases

Welcome to the DFWmark Blog!

Welcome to the DFWmark Blog! This is a collection of content by Mark M. Hancock, a REALTOR with Keller Williams North County in Celina, Texa...