Saturday, June 27, 2009

Repairs – how much should Buyers ask the Seller to pay for when writing a contract?

By the time you and your Realtor select a property and sit down to write the sales contract, your Realtor has probably been pointing out some areas of caution, such as wood rot or a hot water heater that needs to be raised.

In the sales contract, we ask for a dollar amount for repairs, replacement or treatment for which the Seller will be responsible. This is the amount the Seller will obligate himself to pay and must be prepared to spend. However, if you agree that the Seller will be responsible for $1000 in repairs, but only $200 is spent, the Buyer does not receive the $800 that was not spent.

So, you want to be fairly accurate in the amount requested when you make an offer. Experienced Realtors can notice many things clearly visible while viewing a home. There are things that will come up during inspections that we could not possibly have foreseen or anticipated. Not every crack indicates structural damage and we have no way of knowing if there is water standing in the crawl space.

If I know that the hot water heater needs to be raised in order to be compliant, I will request that in the contract in the “Additional Provision” section, so that expense is not included in the repair amount.

If the Buyer and the Seller agree that $600 is the repair cap, and the repair estimates reach $1,000, there are several ways to resolve this. The Buyer can elect to make repairs not required by the Lender at a later date, for example. Or the Buyer and Seller may elect to split the $400 excess and make all the requested repairs. Good Realtors will negotiate together to reach a win-win situation for both Buyer and Seller.

At this point, the Buyer has already spent money on inspections and an appraisal, and the Seller has taken his home off the market for several weeks – don’t let a small amount in repairs kill the deal at this point – there’s always a solution!
Lori Cain, 918-852-5036;

Early Bird Tour Today

Don't forget to check out the Early Bird Tour sponsored by the Tulsa Home Builders Association. Some of our Associates will be out at StoneBrooke Neighborhood just behind the Tulsa Hillls Shopping Mall giving tours of all the beautiful homes on tour today. We're there 10 am to 1 pm! Join KVOO in a live radio remote and enjoy free hamburgers and hot dogs! Not to mention free Chinowth & Cohen water!!!!

See you out there today!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Plan before you SELL – and get your Realtor’s Advice

I have two listings almost ready to go on the market. One Seller is a previous client, so she knew to expect “assignments” from me. The other Seller is a referral, so at our first meeting, I was faced with the difficult task of itemizing what they needed to do to prepare their home for sale: paint this, re-carpet that.

Unless impossible from a financial standpoint, I like to get my listings move-in ready. The inventory of homes is so high that Buyers will not spend a minute considering a home that has dingy carpet, hot pink walls or outdated curtains. When Buyers walk into your home, you want them to say, “Oh my gosh, this is perfect and I don’t need to do a thing!” Your home must “WOW” the Buyers in the first ten seconds, which is why your front lawn/garden and entry way are critical.

Buyers also must see themselves living in your home. They must feel comfortable that their furniture will fit in your living and dining rooms and that your closets are large enough for their home. Realtors don’t ask you to empty 40% of your closets because we think you have nothing better to do – if your closet is crammed, the Buyer will think that there is not possibly enough room for their clothes. If your kitchen counters are cluttered with canisters, spices, toasters and mixers, Buyers will think that there is not enough counter space for them to prepare dinner.

Hiring a home stager for a consultation can pay off in the long run. We know that your favorite 20 year-old recliner is exactly where you want it to watch television, but is it making the room appear crowded? The National Association of Realtors reports that staged homes bring almost 7% more in price than homes that were not staged. So, while your furniture is arranged the way you want to LIVE, it may not be arranged in the best manner to attract a Buyer.

Yes, it’s an inconvenience to store that toaster if you are use to keeping it out, but wouldn’t you store it if it would decrease your days on market and increase the price you could get for your home? So, consult with your Realtor about what you need to do to prepare your home for market. Typically, fresh paint and new flooring will be the least expensive improvements that will immediately increase the value of your home.

Remember that in addition to selling homes, we work with Buyers. So, we know what turns Buyers on and what turns them off. Get your home 100% ready to sell before your Realtor puts that sign in your yard! If you’d like me to preview your home and give you advice, call me: 918-852-5036 or e-mail!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Earnest money - what is its purpose?

Several Buyers have asked me lately WHY they have to write an earnest money check when submitting a contract or they question why it is cashed prior to closing.

An earnest money deposit is to show the Buyer's sincerity. Period. Once all the terms of the contract (sales price, repair cap, closing date, etc.) are agreed upon by all parties, the Seller will take his property off the market, the Realtor will discontinue marketing the property and the earnest money is deposited -- usually in the Listing Realtor's escrow account.

Should problems arise with financing or inspection results, the earnest money could be refunded to the Buyer. If the transaction goes through to closing, the earnest money amount is credited towards the Buyer's closing expenses.

The point of earnest money is to show the Seller that you are sincere in your intention of purchasing his property and moving forward in a diligent manner to ensure a successful transaction. I usually ask my Buyer's to write a check for 1% of the sales price for the amount of earnest money.

Other up-front expenses in your home purchase will include the cost of your appraisal and your inspections.

Good luck in your home search. Call me if I can be of assistance!
Lori Cain, 918-852-5036;

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Parade of Homes Early Bird Tour Saturday June 27th

You're invited to the Parade of Homes Early Bird Tour Saturday, June 27th from 10:00 am to 1:00pm in the fabulous StoneBrooke neighborhood. StoneBrooke is located at 81st St. South and Highway 75 just a half mile away from the new Tulsa Hills Shopping Center.

The tour will feature several homes throughout the 141-acre master planned neighborhood. Chinowth & Cohen Associates will be on hand at the clubhouse to personally assist visitors to and from the parade homes via golf carts. So don't worry about the heat or about walking between homes, we have you covered! In addition, KVOO-FM will be hosting a live remote from the neighborhood clubhouse.

StoneBrooke has over 30 acres of greenbelt throughout the neighborhood filled with mature trees, four lakes, natural creeks, and a timber framed covered bridge. Almost half of the remaining lots are on a greenbelt or a lake.

With it's easy access to downtown and major highways, not to mention being located in the award winning Jenks school district, StoneBridge Neighborhood is a sought after location in Tulsa. Don't miss touring this neighborhood! You'll be glad you came out!

See you on Saturday!

Custom Searches - how they work & why they're better than searching on your own!

I can set up a search through MLS to help you look for your dream home. I can search by geographical boundaries, school district, square footage, number of bedrooms, age of home, list price, etc. This sets up a web "portal" for you, and you are notified by e-mail when anything new comes on the market that meets your search criteria. Once you receive the link, you click on it to view the properties that meet your criteria. You can then view photos and virtual tours, and basically preview homes before ever getting in your car. You can rank homes as "favorites, "possibilities," or "not considering." There is an area where you can write notes, for example, if you want to know how old the roof is or how long the property has been on the market. I can respond to you via the portal.

It's a great way to shop for homes, whether you're in a hurry to purchase or if you are just "looking." It helps you be aware of what's available in your price range, what homes are selling for in the area you want to purchase, and most valuable of all, it provides a pressure-free way to shop. The search can be modified at any time if the search results are not producing what you are truly looking for. When you find something you would like to see, just call or e-mail, and we'll set up a time.

So, if you'd like to send me the criteria for your search, I'm happy to set it up for you. The feature that I like the best is that we can truly search from Lewis to Harvard and 21st to 31st - if geographical boundaries are an important criteria for you. I'm not a pushy Realtor, so I really like how this search works - it allows you to go at your own pace.

If you're interested in me setting up a search, let me know your criteria and which e-mail address(es) you'd like to receive notifications. Contact me at 918-852-5036 or!

Sunday, June 21, 2009



Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009 Parade of Homes

Parade of Homes

Saturday, June 20 - Sunday, June 28, 2009

- What -
2009 Greater Tulsa Parade of Homes(TM)
Presented by the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa, and sponsored by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

- When -
Saturday, June 20 - Sunday, June 28Homes open 1 to 7 p.m. daily
- Where -
The Parade includes 150 homes in Bartlesville, Bixby, Broken Arrow, Claremore, Collinsville, Coweta, Glenpool, Jenks, Kiefer, Owasso, Pryor, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Skiatook and Tulsa. A complete guide of homes will be available in the Friday, June 19 at participating QuikTrip locations.
- Who -
Those in the market for a new home or improvements for an existing home will want to shop 150 of the area’s most beautiful homes for features, floor plans and decorating ideas.
- Cost -

Free - Look for the Official Parade of Homes sign in the yard!

- Events within the Parade -

Tuesday, June 23, Twilight Tour, Forest Ridge in Broken Arrow, 6 to 9 p.m.;Thursday, June 25, Twilight Tour, Stone Canyon in Owasso, 6 to 9 p.m.;Saturday, June 27, Early Bird Tour, StoneBrooke in Tulsa, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

- Participating Subdivisions -

Broken Arrow - Forest Ridge and Rushbrooke

Jenks - Carlisle at Yorktown and Brook at Stone Bluff

Owasso - Stone Canyon Tulsa - Riverview Park Estates and StoneBrooke

- Highlights of the Parade of Homes -

- Free advice from homebuilders and real estate professionals on achieving the dream of owning or building a new home.- A wide range of home styles, prices and locations.- The latest materials and technology in today’s new homes.- Ideas on floor plans to fit your family and lifestyle.

Dont's Miss Out on the Opportunity to tour Fabulous Tulsa area Homes. If you need more info don't hesitate to call:

Talena M. Floyd
Chinowth & Cohen Realtors
"Make My Hometown, Your Hometown"

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Over time our homes, especially if they are smaller homes, have a tendency to accumulate and collect all kinds of treasures, gems and keepsakes...otherwise referred to as "junk". Now we all know that one person's trash is another person's treasures, but our homes can only hold so much "treasure!!!" I have listed below several ways of going about the process of decluttering or decontamination, whichever term applies. Of course, this process will not be done in one day, after all it took years to make it this way. Start slow and take the time needed to follow through. You will find that decluttering is not as hard as you thought it would be.

1. Cupboards - Go through all your kitchen cupboards, one at a time of course, and you will be amazed at what you find that can be thrown out.
2. Bedroom Closets - The saying goes, "If you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it." I am not sure I agree with that statement totally, but it is a good guideline to follow. I am always amazed at the clothes I get rid of (and how many I still have) when I clean out my closets!
3. Bookcases - We've all hung on to books for years that we knew we'd never use again. It's time to let go of your 1980 College Algebra book! Also, go through knickknacks, papers, magazines, or anything else filling up those bookcases.
4. Kids Room - This is something that needs to be done about twice a year. Go through their clothes, toys, video games, etc and out goes anything they are no longer interested in or doesn't fit.
5. Bathroom - We know how cluttered and overflowing those vanities and medicine chests can get. Go through all those goodies and if it has hardened, softened or changed color, get rid of it!
6. Linen Closet - Towels, sheets, curtains, etc, are also things that need to be periodically sorted and tossed.
7. Under Your Bed - This part of the decluttering can be quite scary. Proceed with caution and always have a weapon, such as broom, vacuum cleaner or bug spray with you! Who the heck knows what you will find under there, but I can bet a lot of it can go.
8. Organize - There are so many great products these days. Get some inexpensive plastic boxes and neatly store all your items that are not in display or not used daily.
9. Throw Out the Old - One thing you must absolutely remember when decluttering is you have to THROW AWAY the NOT USED or WANTED. Do not just take everything out and rearrange!10. Everything in its Place - Once you have everything decluttered and organized, get everyone to keep everything in its place and your home will remain organized and clutter free forever! Yea, right - nice dream, but decluttering and organizing can give you a sense of control and achievement. This might not mean much to some folks, but think a moment...if you can get control over this part of your life, maybe taking control of the big things will not be so hard!

The Butler Team
Tina & Mike Butler
(918) 740-1000

Saturday, June 13, 2009

So you’re thinking of buying your 1st home? Step by step directions!

You’re already shopping online. I know that, because you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you weren’t. :-)

You are going to need a good Lender and a good Realtor. You really should contact a Lender first, but if you’re unsure of where to go, choose a Realtor, and take his/her recommendation of Lenders. Realtors know from experience which Lenders are reputable and responsible.

You’re likely going to use FHA financing, which requires a 3.5% down-payment. This can be gifted from a relative, but the Seller can not pay it. You can ask the Seller to pay your closing costs, but they can not assist with your required down payment.

How much money do I need to have saved?

Your up-front out-of-pocket expenses will include (1) earnest money -typically 1% of sales price; (2) appraisal ($350-$400); and (3) inspections ($400-$500). For a $100,000 homes, that’s possibly $1900, PLUS your $3,500 down-payment, PLUS closing costs (unless you ask the Seller to contribute to your closing costs ($3,500 to $4,000).

You need to speak to a Lender FIRST to know how much home you can afford. No decent Realtor will take you house-hunting until you are pre-approved with a Lender. Plus, you don’t want to look at $125,000 homes, only to discover that you can only afford a $110,000 home. Trust me – there’s a huge difference in that $15,000 and you don’t want to begin this adventure with a disappointing start.

PLEASE DO NOT check your credit scores on the internet!! These scores are rarely accurate and will only adversely affect your score due to multiple inquiries. Your Lender can help you prepare if you provide all required information up front. You will not make it through the Lender’s Underwriter if you have had an insufficient check in the last two months, regardless of how high your credit score is. Your Lender can guide you and advise you so that you can prepare for a smooth transaction.

The $8,000 stimulus package is a great incentive to purchase your first home now, but it’s not worth it if you’re not ready. Is your job secure? Do you intend to use that $8,000 to buy new furniture for your home or can you set some of it aside for when your hot water heater unexpectedly breaks?

Once the Lender tells you it’s time to shop, select one Realtor to help you shop. Realtors can set up custom searches that are much more efficient than the searches you can do on We also know what to look for as far as homes being compliant with FHA guidelines. We are experienced negotiators and will walk you through the process.

I remember my first home purchase with the fondest of memories. It became my treasured money-pit and wonderful haven. Educate yourself, surround yourself with professionals, and have a great time!

Lori Cain

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I was retelling this story to a young agent that I'm in a transaction with and decided it was one of those uplifting stories that's worth repeating. The chain of events begain with a casual friend of ours referring their friends to us...we'll call them The Parents. After meeting with them, I learned their single adult daughter had been diagnosed with cancer during the early stage of being pregnant. She refused to be treated for the cancer until the baby was born. The baby boy was born healthy and The Daughter immediately went into aggressive treatment. Unfortunately the delay, then the agressive treatment, took a toll on her body. It left her on oxygen, in a wheelchair, and numerous serious health issues, at times close to death. She already had a young son, plus the newborn son. Here's where I came into this heart wrenching story. The Parents wanted to sell their home and The Daughter's home, then build a wheelchair accessable home for their combined families. Like a well divised plan (by God) The Daughter's home sold first, we began construction, then The Parents home sold in time for them to close on the new one. Myself and the builder felt alot of satisfaction on accomplishing these results. However, Someone wasn't exactly through with the story.

A few years later I get a call from The Daughter. I didn't recognize her voice, because by the time I had met her years before she couldn't speak much due to the oxygen. As soon as she said her name, I knew who she was and was wondering what's up? She informed me that she wanted to by a house and had seen a cute 2-story home that I had listed. WHAT!? Wanting to buy a 2-story house, when she'd been in a wheelchair the last time I had seen her! The Daughter filled me in on how her health had turned around, she was back to her old self, and ready to be on her own again! She did buy my listing and move in with her 2 sons.

THEN, about 18 months later, The Daughter calls me again. "Tina...I need to sell the house (big gulp on my end) and buy a bigger one. I'm getting married!" Well alrighty then! These are the calls I like to get! We got her home sold and found them a new construction home that was perfect for their new family.

I guess the moral of the story is that you never know where a simple referral is going to take you. Yes, to date I've had 6 transactions from this one family, but that's not what comes to mind when I think about's their story. It's the miracle. It's getting to play a part in a happy ending.

The Butler Team
Tina & Mike Butler
(918) 740-1000

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Here are some great ways to spruce up your patio and make it instantly more attractive to you and prospective buyers.
John Sawyer
918-289-7065 cell

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Real Estate Outlook: Recovery Underway

The pattern gets clearer week after week: We are looking at a slow-motion housing recovery that is itself feeding into a broader economic recovery that should have us out of recession later this year.

Now that's not to ignore the fact that there are markets in the country that still face very challenging economic dynamics - with no real turnaround in view yet on housing sales, prices and unemployment. But the national numbers are telling us something important, and they increasingly look positive.

Take the last new home construction starts and permits reports. Your local paper or the network news may have said housing starts dropped again, but that was misleading. The facts are that the Commerce Department found that apartment starts - new multifamily units - took a drop in April, but starts of new single family homes were up by 3 percent, and permits for future construction of detached single family homes jumped by nearly 4 percent. That's the second straight month of increases . Home builders themselves are seeing a turnaround - more shoppers in their models and showrooms, more contracts, fewer cancellations.

The latest survey of builder confidence - released last week by Wells Fargo and the National Association of Home Builders - found sentiment up again for the second straight month. So this is for real. Consumer confidence in the economic outlook also continues to get better and better.
The latest University of Michigan consumer sentiment poll took a three point jump overall…and a 6 percent jump in terms of consumers' expectations for economic improvements ahead. There are other, less widely publicized signs that we've digging out of the recession as well. For example, economists at Northwestern University say the fact that new weekly claims for unemployment insurance peaked last month - and have been dropping ever since - is a sign that the national economy is past the worst. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told a congressional panel about other, more technical indicators of growth ahead -- such as narrowing spreads on corporate and municipal bonds, smaller risk premiums on short-term inter-bank loans and decreased credit protection costs at the largest U.S. banks.

Finally, consumer interest rates continue to be about as stimulative for economic expansion as they possibly could: Mortgage rates dropped last week by a tenth of a percent -- 30-year fixed rate mortgages are at 4.7 percent with an average one point, and 15-year rates are at 4.4 percent.

Remember back to how you felt last September and October when the global financial system was falling apart? Now think about how you feel about the economy today. It's a refreshing comparison.
Bill Whitescarver
Whitescarver & Associates with
Chinowth & Cohen Realtors
Cell: 918-691-7653
Fax: 918-392-0989

Friday, June 5, 2009

First-time home buyers: step it up!

I was scheduling showings yesterday and THREE out of the five properties my Buyers wanted to see had just received contracts. Today, two out of ten just went under contract. The deadline to qualify for state bond money is fast approaching, and the deadline to close to qualify for the stimulus incentive will creep up as well.

So, does this mean it’s a good time to sell? You betcha! Five people I spoke with in the last two days just SOLD their home, so the Buyers are out there writing contracts.

It’s a great time to buy/sell in Tulsa, Oklahoma! Call me and let’s sell or shop!

Lori Cain, 918-852-5036,,

Tulsa Area Home Sales Rising

Tulsa area home sales rising Number of sales and prices both continued their upticks. -->
Source: Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors By ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer

Tulsa area home sales improved for the third straight month in April, though the pace didn't quite match last year's. The 908 homes sold represented a 1.3 percent rise from March, but the level was 8.9 percent below April 2008, according to the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors. Harriet Dunham, president of GTAR, said the performance shows that the metro market continues to strengthen. "Consumers are out looking, and we're starting to get busy," she said. Dunham said the boost was a combination of increased consumer confidence, the first-time home-buyer tax credit and the typical springtime sales surge. Both the average and median sales prices climbed significantly for the month and year, with the median at $128,000 and the average hitting $151,876. Gloria Allred, president of Northeast Oklahoma Real Estate Services — the multiple-listing service that compiles local home sales data — said the rise in home prices is due to improvement in the upper price ranges after months of relative softness. "People are coming out to buy, and we're seeing an increase in people wanting to trade up houses," she said. Dunham said pending contracts have held mostly steady, which is a possible indication of strong May sales.

Chinowth & Cohen Realtors
(918) 361-3404

FSBO - For Sale By Owner

Selling your own home might sound like a good idea at first, but many sellers quickly realize they’ve gotten in over their heads or may have sold their home for much less than they would have had they worked with a Realtor®. The 2008 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found that two-thirds of "For Sale By Owner" sellers found some aspect of the home sale to be difficult. Twelve percent of sellers who knew the buyer thought that getting the price right was the hardest task. Among FSBO sellers who didn’t know the buyer, 16 percent found it difficult to sell within the time planned, 15 percent found fixing up the home arduous, and 12 percent found it difficult to get the price right.

Not as easy as it looks…Did you know 25 percent of FSBO sellers took no action to market their home and 72 percent didn’t offer incentives to attract buyers? Talk to a Realtor® about other missteps FSBO sellers risk when attempting to go it alone.

The Butler Team
Tina & Mike Butler
(918) 740-1000

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Buying & Selling at the same time: How is it possible?

I have two clients in this dilemma: one is down-sizing from a 3-story condo to a one-level home, and the other couple needs to leave their starter home for something larger to accommodate their growing family. Both are nervous about how it is possible to buy/sell at the same time, so I thought I would address the steps.

First, you have to put the home that you want to sell on the market. Unless you can afford two mortgage payments at the same time, you have to shop while you sell. Your Listing Realtor should be able to estimate the amount of time your home will be on the market, but because we don't have crystal balls - the best laid plans will sometimes surprise us. The custom searches Realtors are able to set up now allow you to view prospective properties comfortably from your home so that you can rule out what you don't like and identify homes that meet your needs.

Ideally, you and your Realtor will be out shopping on Saturday and Sunday while cooperating Realtors are showing the home you wish to sell. Yes, it's entirely possible that you will find a home that you fall in love with before your home sells, but that usually works out. Every Buyer I've worked with in that situation wound up finding a home later that they loved more, so I remind my Buyers that if it wasn't meant to be, there's probably a good reason.

Once you receive an offer on the home you are selling, you hopefully have your choices of homes you would consider purchasing narrowed down to a few. Now, shop fast! As you negotiate the details of the home you are selling, you will be preparing an offer on the home you'd like to buy.

In a perfect world, you will wind up at the closing table selling your home at 10:00 am and be back at the closing table at 1:00 to purchase your new home. You may have your household belongings in a moving truck while all the paperwork is being signed, but it CAN be a smooth transition.

Remember that Buyers and Sellers don't have to be adversaries - and a GOOD Realtor will do all he/she can to keep a transaction together. I am remembering a transaction where the Seller needed two additional days to close on the home they were purchasing - my Buyers were moving from a rental, so in trade for extending the closing date two days, we asked the Sellers to pitch in additional monies on repairs. There is always a solution and a possible" win-win" for all.

So, yes, you can shop and sell at the same time. Jump in and start the process!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Front porches conjure up images of enjoying warm summer days, drinking lemonade, and relaxing with family and friends. A porch makes any home seem more inviting to guests, and lends an extra punch of curb appeal that’s sure to be noticed by passersby. Front Porches and porticos can dramatically improve the curb appeal of your home. An expansive front porch adds more livable space for entertaining and relaxation. Porches are making a big comeback, with more screened-in, side, and rear porches featured in traditional and contemporary homes. Offering as much of an emotional element as practical, a front porch is more and more part of the home because it enhances curb appeal, expands living space, transforms quality of life and impacts the value of the home. Homeowners want deeper, wider, and bigger porches than ever before. For real porch enthusiasts, visit Front Porch Ideas & More.

The Butler Team
Tina & Mike Butler
(918) 740-1000


South Tulsa 918-392-0900 | Mid Town Tulsa 918-392-9900 | Broken Arrow 918-259-0000 | Owasso 918-392-9990

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