Friday, December 20, 2013

Refinishing and refurbishing hardwood floors with coconut oil

Refinishing and refurbishing hardwood floors is something we do a lot of in midtown Tulsa, and I’ve discovered a miracle treatment for this project – coconut oil. Our hardwood floor are 100 years old and the 2nd story of our homestead was rented out for many years – so much traffic and much moving of furniture.  

The floors on this level of our home are much more used and show much more wear and tear. I saw on Pinterest one evening where a woman had refurbished a wooden desk with coconut oil, so I decided to try it on my hardwood flooring. I was pleasantly shocked at the results. And the reason I decided to refurbish them instead of refinish them is that the wood is now so thin, there’s really nothing left to sand off.

Here is the top of our stair landing where we shut the pups off when we have guests downstairs. So, there are more scratches from long nails and a lot of scuffling here. Enjoy the before and after photos.

Hardwood floor after coconut oil
hardwood floor after refinishing with coconut oil

cabinet before refinishing
 cabinet after refinishing with coconut oil
After this project, I was showing a rather large (and expensive) home in south Tulsa and the prospective Buyer commented on the wear and tear of the pickled wood built-ins. So, I ran over the next day with my trusty coconut oil and below are the before and after photos of one panel. Of course, then my Seller purchased her own coconut oil and went over all of her built-ins and kitchen cabinets – huge improvement.

So, refinishing or refurbishing hardwood floors just got a lot easier than when my Grandmother was on her knees with paste wax – and there’s hope for those than are worn thin. I’m sure a little extra buffing as the last step will preserve the work longer. More on that if I get that far.

It doesn't have to be expensive to prepare your home for sale. Sometimes a little coconut oil plus elbow grease will go a long way.

Do check out my Pinterest Boards for more helpful tips, and do please call if I can help with your real estate needs in the greater Tulsa area! 918-852-5036

Content written and published by Lori Cain.

Copyright 2013 Lori Cain All Rights Reserved - Originally Posted at: Midtown Tulsa Real Estate - Lori Cain

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

When to write a contingent offer in real estate

image for domino real estate transationsMy client relocating from Houston to Tulsa told me that he did not need to write an offer on his Tulsa purchase contingent upon his home selling in Houston. His closing date on his Houston home was scheduled a few weeks prior to a possible close in Tulsa. 

I asked him if he could proceed with a Tulsa purchase IF his home in Houston did not sell for some reason. Did he have accessible funds to purchase a 2nd home regardless if his Houston home sold?

Well, at first he looked at me like I was crazy, but admitted that he would NOT be able to proceed with a home purchase in Tulsa if his Houston sale fell through. What kind of predicament would he be in if the first domino did not fall?

“Then, you need to write an offer contingent upon the sale of your Houston home,” I replied.
A contingent offer is NOT a detriment if your home is already under contract. Yes, it slightly increases the unpredictability of the transaction, but it’s not the same as writing a contingent offer when your home is only listed for sale, but NOT under contract.

When you submit an offer contingent upon the successful sale of your home under contract, the Seller and Listing Realtor will want to see: (1) your executable contract; (2) that Buyer’s pre-qualification letter; and if available, (3) inspection reports and appraisal.

When to write a contingent offer in real estate

In this case, the inspections and appraisal had been completed, so no surprises there. Knowing that those two issues are out of the way will make them much more comfortable about accepting your contingent offer.

Everyone involved in a transaction deserves to know where everybody else is and what they’re dealing with. The quickest and surest route to a smooth transaction is 100% honesty and transparency when possible.

If you are relocating to Tulsa – whether selling a home elsewhere or not – I would love to welcome you to Tulsa and help you find the perfect home. Please call me to assist you! 918-852-5036

Content written and published by Lori Cain.

Copyright 2013 Lori Cain All Rights Reserved - Originally Posted at: Midtown Tulsa Real Estate - Lori Cain

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Consumer Beware

This week I received a floor call on a company listing from a young lady who wanted to know more about a vacant house she had seen for sale in Broken Arrow. There wasn't anything unusual about her questions until further on into the conversation when she said she had already talked to the owner about the house. Since our company has an exclusive right to sell agreement with the home owner and his name wasn't anywhere in the Broker's public information, that seemed a bit odd. She wanted to see the house so we made an appointment for her to take a look. But before the appointment took place, the rest of the story came out.

She had been looking on Craig's List for a rental property. Under rentals she had found pictures of this house. It looked interesting so she sent an e-mail to the contact in the ad and drove by to see the outside. The house is in very good shape so this only made her want to see more. But the "owner" who replied back to her via e-mail lived in another state. And he had no intention of coming into town to show her the house. If she wanted to rent it, all she needed to do was sign the rental contract and send money. Then she would get the keys and be able to move in.

By now you're probably warming up to the fact that she wasn't talking to the owner at all. And you are right. The person she had been talking to lived in Colorado. The true owner of the house lives in Dallas. And now you know about the latest scam designed to dupe unsuspecting people out of their money.

It's hard to imagine that someone would send money to anyone without seeing them in person or seeing the inside of the house they are supposedly trying to rent. But they do. And apparently enough people are willing to do it that it's become a nice cottage industry for unscrupulous individuals with no conscience. The pictures are easy to come by. They can be copied off of the original listing from any Real Estate website. An online search of the public records at the courthouse will give the perpetrator enough information to sound convincing, even to the point of passing himself off as the actual owner of the home, name and all. Fake rental contracts can be created to keep the fraud going. But if you send him money you will never see a key. And when you consider that it is normal to ask for a deposit equal to one month's rent and the first month rental payment in advance, we're talking somewhere in the neighborhood of $2500.00. Gone. Good-bye.

You hear this all the time. Never, never, never send money to anyone in advance for anything if you don't know who they are. Reputable businesses sometimes require it but if their only online presence is a listing on a garage sale website, guard your wallet.

Or better yet, stay local. Talk to people you can find after the deal is over. The internet has opened up a wealth of choices for consumers. But it's also been a gold mine for thieves and fraudsters. I cannot count how many e-mails I've gotten from the National Bursar of Nigeria wanting to send me $20 million. After all this time and no reply from me I would have thought he would have spent the money by now. But they just keep coming.

Incidentally, Chinowth & Cohen has a leasing department, too. And all of the houses we have listed are truly available. If you need to lease I can help you with that. Call me at 918-809-5199 and I'll get you in touch with the right person at no charge whatsoever.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

For Sale By Owner

Selling a house isn't something you do every day. In fact, the average family lives in a home for at least five years. But when it's time to move you want to get it done with the least amount of hassle possible. For many people that means placing a FOR SALE BY OWNER sign in the yard and waiting by the front door until the future owner drives by and falls in love with your castle. It can't be that hard, right?

How can I say this tactfully? Yes, it can.

There are many reasons why it's a good idea to use a Real Estate agent to sell your house. For sake of brevity let's discuss only three of them. The first one would be price.

Many people who try a FSBO approach use Zillow, Trulia, or any number of other internet home valuation sites to help them set their price. They don't realize that as trendy as those sites are, they are always behind the local market curve with their modeling. And no one from any of those internet sites has ever stepped foot into even one of the houses on their national list. Not one. So they have no idea what mitigating factors might exist, whether pro or con, in the pricing of that house. Pricing is a local phenomenon best done by someone who works in that local market every day.

Also, homeowners can tend to augment the value of their home by adding sentimental value to their sales number. That's the value someone might place on the house because it's theirs and no one else's. In reality sentimental value has absolutely no value to anyone but the homeowner. Buyers are buying the house, not the memories.

In addition, sellers can be just as prone to undervalue their house as overvalue it. It's just as bad to leave money on the table as it is not to sell an overpriced house at all. And when the house doesn't sell right away, since selling a home isn't something they do every day the homeowner may think the only way to change that is to lower the price. And of course, when showing the property every buyer will come up with some reason why the house isn't worth what the seller is asking. A professional can help maintain the integrity of price because local research was used to price it correctly in the first place. And he or she has been through the process before. But the issue of why the house isn't selling might be something else entirely. This brings us to reason number two: buyer pool.

People who try going the FSBO route do not have the resources that a Real Estate company does to get the word out about their property. In Tulsa there are 4500 Real Estate agents that are members of the Northeastern Oklahoma Real Estate Services. When you hire one Real Estate agent to sell your house, by extension you get all 4500 agents and their clients. That's a far site better than a weekly ad in the Sunday paper, Craig's List, or an internet listing on a FSBO website. Visibility for your house will result in more views by prospective clients and less need to respond to a slow sales cycle by dropping your price. In Tulsa, our company also has a full color magazine and weekly television show in addition to all of the newspaper and internet advertising that is available for every client on our list. And the homeowner doesn't pay for any of this up front or in addition to the sales commission. It's included in the listing agreement signed between the homeowner and the listing agent.

Finally, there is the issue of security. In this day and age there's no getting around it. Opening your house up to strangers is a security risk. FSBO listings are at a greater risk because they don't know who is entering their house under the guise of being a buyer when their true motives may be less than honorable. Real Estate professionals understand this and use every tool at their disposal to reduce that risk, from high security lock boxes and pre-screening to accompanying and recording every home visit of every one of their client buyers. Let’s face it. Letting strangers into your home entails risk. Real Estate professionals do everything we can to reduce that risk as much as possible.

Here’s a bonus reason. FSBO properties can take longer to sell. In Tulsa ninety percent of the properties sold here are sold through the Real Estate system. An additional 5% are properties that started out as FSBO and ended up going with a Realtor after having no luck on their own. FSBO properties in this market have at best a 1-in-4 chance of selling if they sell at all.

These are a few of the more apparent reasons why a Real Estate professional is the better idea. But there are many others that are just as important that I didn’t mention here. If you need to sell your house call me and we’ll talk about it. My number is 918-809-5199. I look forward to talking with you.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rule #47

Every Realtor has a war story or two- stories about that buyer who for one reason or another became a memorable experience for the agent who helped them find the home of their dreams. I have a few. But two of my favorite stories are about a young couple who was buying their very first home. One of the stories is about him. The other one is about her.
We had found a house they both loved in a gated community in south Tulsa. The owners had been transferred and we would be dealing with a relocation company. That’s important to know for later. But before we got to the negotiations we made several trips to the house to look it over. Notes were taken. Rooms were measured. Questions were asked. And asked. And asked again. It was mainly because the husband was nervous. This was a big decision and he was desperate to make sure he wasn’t making a bad one. 

In the master bath we encountered an “issue”. There were stains all along the top of the walls at the ceiling. We would later be told by a contractor that the stains were caused by the repeated presence of steam from the shower that would drift up and condense on the wall at ceiling level. Over time it had caused the oil based sealer on the crown molding to bleach through the water based paint that covered it.  The solution was to repaint  and all would be well. This was enough for the wife but not enough for the husband. In each subsequent visit he would always drift back to the master bath and stare at the stains on the crown molding. He finally convinced himself that the contractor was wrong. There must be a leak in the roof.

On the next visit to the house after this epiphany he brought a flashlight. He headed upstairs to a bedroom closet that had an access doorway into the attic. Before it dawned on me what was happening he was in the attic making his way across the joists toward the area above the master bathroom. And before he had taken four steps across the joists his foot slipped and he fell through the ceiling into the bedroom below.

He didn’t actually fall all the way through. It was exactly like you see in the movies. His arms caught him on the way down so that the upper half of him was still in the attic while the lower half of him was dangling from the bedroom ceiling. It’s funny to think about now; not so much when it happened.

We got him out and only his ego was hurt. But now there were several hundred dollars worth of damage done to a house that wasn’t his and he decided that he didn’t want to go any further with the purchase. It seemed that to him falling through the bedroom ceiling was a bad omen. Nothing good could come from this situation now that the house had shown its true colors to him.

So we stood in the master bathroom with the stains and I explained that he was liable for the damage anyway and that what we needed to do immediately was fix the hole. Then we would back up, take a deep breath, and look at it again later. He agreed to do this and as we walked out of the bathroom the wife looked over and whispered a quick “thank you” under her breath. She really wanted that house.

Now on to her story. Once it was decided that they would make an offer we discussed the price. It was a relocation home that they needed to sell quickly and it had already sat on the market longer than it should have. They weren’t willing to make any repairs (that included painting the master bathroom molding) so we took that into consideration in our offer. The relocation company danced back and forth with us verbally  about what they would be willing to do with the price and from my viewpoint it was already priced competitively for the area. As I and the husband discussed our final offer the wife sat quietly. We added and subtracted this and that and worked out an offer that took into consideration the cosmetics that needed to be addressed. I was proud of the final number because I felt like we could get the sellers down to our level on the price. After the husband and I agreed the wife spoke up. “Go five thousand lower,” she said.

I looked over at her. She said it again. “Go five thousand lower.”  I looked at him. He looked at me. “Okay, ” I said. “Five thousand lower.” I didn’t believe for a moment that we would get that to work. But we did. Three days later we had a signed contract at the wife’s price. It just goes to show that you never really know until you ask.

That was five years ago. To this day every time I see a water stain on an interior wall I think of my friend and his flashlight saying, ‘there is a leak.” And every time a client wants to try to negotiate just a little bit more I think of his wife. It’s a fun business that teaches you something new every day.

Today, it’s a hard and fast rule that I never let a buyer with a flashlight walk into an attic.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Saving money by DIY

Not long ago a client told me they wanted to build a house and to save a little money they decided that instead of having the house completely finished upon move-in, they would leave portions of it unfinished and do the work themselves. I’ve heard this thought process before. And while there would have been a time when I might have thought it was a good idea, today I can honestly say it’s not a good idea. And there are three reasons why.
First of all it limits your choice of builders. Most of the good ones won’t agree to it. They look at it like it’s their house even though you’re paying for it. Since their name is on it as the builder the finished product either adds to or subtracts from their reputation. If you don’t do such a good job on the finish work it might reflect on them later. And chances are pretty good they’re right. Unless you hire someone to come in and do the work it will probably be amateur hour at the home improvement store when you get around to doing it. It would be like going to the assembly plant at Ford and asking to paint your own car. That’s never going to happen.

Second, you might never get around to doing it at all. I had another client who owned a home that had been built in the late ’60s. It was a four bedroom two story house that had a completely unfinished upstairs. The floor plan called for two bedrooms and one full bath. The studs were up, A/C ducts were in, and electricity had been dropped in all of the rooms. There was even a bath tub. But now, 50 years later the house remains unfinished. Fifty years of wear and tear on the house has made the option of finishing it out financially unreasonable. And the value of the house is severely reduced.

Third, you’re probably not going to save as much money as you think you will. Builders are able to build houses at a certain price because they get contractor prices on their supplies. As a home owner you don’t have those connections. On average you’ll probably spend more for the materials because you have to buy them “one off”; or in other words, in very small quantities. And if you can’t do it yourself you’ll need to hire someone else to do it. Their charge for coming in after the fact and finishing the project is generally going to cost you more than if you had just let the builder do the job in the first place while he was constructing the house. The thought process for the home buyer is that if they’re able to reduce the cost of the house by, say, $3000.00 and finish the room later, it’s a savings. My suggestion would be to increase your down payment by the same amount and have it finished to start with.

The thing to consider is what you’re actually saving by trying to do some of the work yourself. How much will it actually shave off the cost of the house? What does that mean in terms of your monthly payment? If all you’re saving is $20 or $30 a month it may not be worth it. And if you’re at the point where that $30 a month really makes a difference in your budget you may be buying too much house in the first place.

Once you’re in your new finished home you’ll be happy that you aren’t staring at a project demanding your attention every time you walk by it. After you’ve lived there awhile you may want to do upgrades or improvements. But that’s a different story. For now, enjoy your new home.

Now about that new leather sectional that would look great in the family room…

Monday, October 7, 2013

Renting vs. Buying

I was talking to a client not long ago who was pleasantly surprised when she discovered that her home, which she had lived in for quite some time, was worth quite a bit more in today’s market than she had anticipated. When she shared this with a financial advisor friend of hers he was quick to remind her that she had spent a lot more money living in that house than only what showed up on her mortgage statement each month. Taxes, insurance, repairs and maintenance, when all factored in, he said, wiped out any gains she might have made as the value of her home rose over time. Talk about stealing the ornaments off a person’s Christmas tree. It left her wondering if owning her home was really worth it. Here’s my reply: you’ve got to live somewhere. And you have two choices: rent or buy.

Renting has an advantage. You are much more mobile. If you anticipate that you could be relocating soon or if your lifestyle is such that you know you need the ability to respond quickly to geographical changes, then renting is a good choice for you. If you’re just starting out renting may be your only option for the time being. But understand that just because you’re not responsible for the repairs if something breaks doesn’t mean you’re not paying for them anyway. And the insurance and taxes on the apartment are also factored into your monthly rental payment. And of course there’s the profit margin that the landlord figures in for his trouble. And it’s almost always true that the amount of your rental payment, if paid toward the purchase of a home, will buy you much more room to live in than your apartment. And no one lives on the other side of your wall, your car is in your garage, and you will never find someone else’s underwear in your washing machine.

But let’s go back to the costs. Currently, even though interest rates are rising, it’s still cheaper to buy your home than it is to rent your home in every one of the 100 largest metro areas of the US. And as we even consider this argument in some ways it’s rather comical. Today we’re talking about a national 30-year fixed rate of 4.8%, up from a historic low of 3.5% earlier this year. How quickly we forget that it wasn’t all that long ago that everyone was running to refinance when the rates fell from 7.5% to 5.5%. Personally, my first home loan back in 1979 had an interest rate of 13% (!). Those were the Carter years. We don’t talk about them now. Currently in Tulsa, according to Trulia’s Tara-Nicholle Nelson, the interest rates on a home loan would need to top 15% before renting would be less expensive. Rates are going up. But we can be reasonably sure they’re not going up that much. And what’s interesting about Nelson’s numbers is the fact that even if you don’t itemize your taxes and take your deductions for the interest paid on your home mortgage it’s still cheaper to own than rent by far.

A personal home is the only consumer item you can buy that increases in value over time. The basic reason is simple. We can’t make any more land. But we can make more people. That doesn’t mean there won’t be expenses involved in home ownership. But as I said before, you have to live somewhere. The expenses are going to be there. You should try to recapture as much as you can when you move. Only home ownership allows you to do that.

In the Tulsa area if I can help you buy or sell, please call me at 918-809-5199.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Upsized Homes on Down-Sized Lots - Home Trend Watch

A frequent question asked at new construction open houses  is "Why are most of the new construction homes on such small lots?"  I came across this article today that addresses that very question.  What it boils down to, is affordability in getting the maximum amount of square footage for the price of the home, the amenities, design  and the geographical area.  Read on.......
More Americans are showing preferences for bigger home once again, even if it means squeezing the home on a small lot, according to the first quarter Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey. The most recent survey focused on home layout and the use of interior and exterior spaces.
During the recession, more Americans showed a preference for smaller homes, setting off speculation that the downsizing trend could be a lasting one as more Americans searched for less upkeep and lower utility bills. But since 2010, the number of Americans showing a preference for larger homes has gradually been on the rise, architects report. Home volumes are increasing, with ceiling heights and two-story entryways making a comeback, according to the AIA survey.
Despite strained lot sizes, more Americans are wanting to invest in larger homes and in more outdoor amenities in trying to blend their indoor and outdoor spaces.
Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist, speculates that lot sizes haven’t increased along with the desire for larger homes because Americans are still looking for ways to keep homes affordable. The trend may also be a reflection of location preferences too (with home owners opting for smaller developments in more desirable locations).
“Because lot sizes don’t show any signs of increasing, it’s clear that home owners want to maximize their current square footage to its highest potential. … Smaller lots have not kept households from investing heavily in [outdoor] space,” Baker writes. “Creating outdoor living space — outdoor rooms, covered outdoor space, as well as more traditional decks, patios, and porches — continue to be the property enhancement growing the most in popularity.”
More households are looking to add space inside their homes too, with an increase this year in more home owners finishing attics and basements for added living space, the survey notes. More Americans are continuing to show a stronger demand for flexible layouts, with open space plans. Designs are gravitating toward more open space layouts, with partial wall divisions that allow more flexible use of space, Baker notes, as well as a trend for greater sense of informality in the home.
Linda Smalley,  South Tulsa Office         918.630.8431
Source:  Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

Monday, July 22, 2013

WHAT IF? If only we had purchased a home in 2012......

We’ve probably all said or at least thought “if I knew then, what I know now, I would have done things differently.” We should have stayed in school longer. We should have listened to our parents. We should have bought Apple stock in 2002 for $8.50 that sells for $400 today. Or we could have bought gold in 2000 for under $300 for a four-fold profit today.

Years from now, if we look back at 2012, we may say that it was the best buyer’s market ever. Even now, in 2013, it’s apparent that both housing and mortgage prices are going up and they may never return to the record low levels.

The housing affordability index, which is considered to be good at 100, had increased to over 200 this past December, January and February. Shrinking inventories and rising prices in most markets have caused the index to fall to 172.7 for May 2013.

This market applies equally to acquiring a home to live in or a home to use as a rental. It is estimated that about 30% of the property purchased last year was done by investors. It is understandable because the positive cash flows far exceed most other investment alternatives. HAIndex.png

Homeowners moving up in a rising market may sell their home for more by waiting but it will also cost them more for a new house. Typically, a person buys a 50% larger home when they move up. If they wait for prices to go up 10% on the $150,000 home they're selling, they’ll realize $15,000 more but will pay $22,500 more for the new home purchase. They’ll actually net $7,500 less by waiting for prices to go up and may have to pay a higher mortgage rate too.

The question home buyers and investors alike are faced with today is whether they will be saying years from now that they seized or missed an opportunity of a lifetime.

Want to know more about the Tulsa housing market? 2013 is slipping away as  interest rates are on the rise and home values are increasing.  Next year you may not be able to buy as much home as you could in the last two years.  Call me to schedule an introductory appointment today at 918.630.8431.

Linda Smalley, Realtor Associate
Chinowth & Cohen Realtors.
3912 E. 91st Street, Tulsa, OK 74127

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What IS midtown Tulsa?

Midtown Tulsa - the best little corner in Tulsa 

Midtown Tulsa is not just a geographic area – it’s a culture, a mind-set, if you will.

Yes, we love our historical neighborhoods and the architecture of our older homes, but midtown is more than that.

We have the highest walkability score in our city, and we have multiple public parks. Within two blocks of my midtown home are four parks: RiverParks, Veterans Park, the Creek Stickball park and the Creek Council Oak Tree site, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
We want to walk to our jobs and cycle to our activities. The expansion of the Riverparks has been a huge aid in these endeavors. In fact, our city officials are currently discussing plans to make our roads more bike-friendly.

We have the highest concentration of locally-owned businesses, and we support those businesses. Whether in Utica Square, downtown, Cherry Street or Brookside, we have many restaurants, groceries, pet supply stores and a variety of retail stores owned and operated by fellow Tulsans. We take pride in keeping our money local. 

We love our farmer’s markets and local diners. Our farmer’s market on Cherry Street on Saturday morning has become quite the gathering place with opportunities to purchase locally-grown, organic produce¸ dairy products, meats, breads, soaps and more.

Ask Chinowth & Cohen REALTORS about midtown and enjoy our video - We GET it!

Most of the city’s 5K runs begin at Veteran’s Park and our ethnic festivals are found on the RiverParks, the Greek church at 13th & Guthrie or the German American Society which is on the border of the historic Gillette neighborhood.

But midtown is STILL about our historic neighborhoods and older homes with beautiful architecture - often still containing knob and tube electrical wiring. We regularly clean out tree roots from our sewer lines, because we refuse to eliminate our beautiful old oak and maple trees. We restore our homes steadily and patiently - always a project on the horizon.

And you'll get different answers from different people as to the boundaries of midtown. I consider midtown boundaries to be Riverside to the west; Yale to the east (with the exception of White City and Lortondale); Tulsa University area to the north; and 41st Street (maybe 51st Street) to the south.
Midtown is a community within a community - the best little corner of Tulsa!
If you'd like to learn more about midtown Tulsa, give me a call - I LIVE here!! 918-852-5036

Content written and published by Lori Cain.
Copyright 2013 Lori Cain All Rights Reserved - Originally Posted at: Midtown Tulsa Real Estate - Lori Cain

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Celebrate America! Happy 4th of July!

Celebrate America this Fourth of July!

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.”                              
President John F.Kennedy

Home ownership is still a great, thriving American Dream!

God Bless America!

Linda Smalley, South Office

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Home Buyers: It's the Monthly Payment that matters!

Home Buyers: It's the Monthly Payment that matters!

Home buyers are distracted by interest rates and mortgage insurance when they should only be focused on the monthly payment and whether or not that's affordable. If you can buy a house today and keep your monthly payment under $800, that's absolutely going to be less than you would pay in rent - and the most solid investment you can make. 
 monthly payment for home 
Yesterday my first-time home buyers Matt and Sarah closed on a lovely home in midtown Tulsa, and their monthly payment, including property taxes and hazard insurance, is less than $650 per month.  

It's a beautiful and spacious 3-bedroom home built in 1935 - with beautiful hardwood floors, large lot, partial basement and detached garage with a work area. Not only is the neighborhood established and attractive, this particular home had everything on their wish list except a second bathroom. 

With FHA financing, the Seller contributing to their closing costs - and good ol' Mom helping out with the 3.5% down-payment, these young adults made their first home purchase and a lasting investment. Their daughter Annabelle will grow up in the bedroom that has the window seat with the cushion on top and storage below - well, because that's perfect for a little girl. Family meals will be prepared in the large kitchen and served in the formal dining room, as they have for the past 75 years.
And it will be their home where they will build lasting memories. All for less than a $650 monthly payment.
What was the sales price, you ask? Does it matter? We did indeed get a good deal on the house - a gem that we jumped on quickly. It appraised for $10,000 more than the list price, which probably made ME feel better than anyone else involved.  

Interest rates are rising and there's no reason to believe that they shouldn't or that they will drop at some point. NOW is a good time to buy.

If you are considering home ownership, call a local Lender and ask how much you can spend to keep your monthly payments at $800 per month or $2,000 per month - whatever fits your budget. Stay within your comfort zone and don't over-spend.  

Don't wait until you get your credit score up ten points in order to get a better interest rate. It will be a wash at best and may actually hurt you to wait. Don't linger until you have more money saved up for closing costs. Don't put off calling a Lender. Don't be embarrassed to ask family for help.  

If you are qualified to purchase a home, contact a Realtor and start shopping now. And, if you're shopping in the greater Tulsa area, give me a call - I pick out great homes! 918-852-5036

Content written and published by Lori Cain.

Copyright 2013 Lori Cain All Rights Reserved - Originally Posted at: Midtown Tulsa Real Estate - Lori Cain

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tulsa area housing market on rebound

TULSA - The area's housing market appears to be solidly back on track, according to analysts. Unlike many U.S. cities, Tulsa stayed far away from the gloom and doom accompanying the U.S. housing bubble, but the metro area's housing market still experienced a decline in 2011. "That's when we hit bottom," said Paul Kane, executive vice-president and CEO of the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa. Kane describes the down cycle as one of the worst he has seen. He says 2012 was the turnaround year. "It was almost like somebody flipped a switch. We could just start seeing it month by month get better and better and better," said Kane. Area realtors say housing prices are up, and according to their latest report, the average number of days a home sits on the market declined by nearly three days, to 60. The positive news is not just for existing homes. Homebuilders like Allen Jenkins, with Celebrity Homes, Inc., says new home construction is also up. "Sales have been good through the month of November, December, January even - normally times that we would be down," said Jenkins. Tulsa realtor Carol Rippe, with Chinowth & Cohen, says consumer confidence and low interest rates explain much of the recovery. "Jobs are pretty stable," said Rippe. " With the low interest rates staying low, I think people are now deciding that this is the time to take advantage of that." Industry analysts are optimistic about the future. "The housing market should be in great shape for several years," said Kane. The only question many are left with now: How long will it last?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Oklahoma: Art Deco, Style, Music and More in Tulsa

Oklahoma: Art Deco, Style, Music and More in Tulsa

Tulsa's famous Art Deco architecture, fine museums,  wonderful art collections, trendy dining and shopping venues along with our great local music scene were recently featured in the New York Times. 

The article spins a litte Tulsa history and showcases our incredible downtown buildings and churches. It mentions the newest housing and the fabulous Juniper fine dining restaurant in the Blue Dome District.  The chic and esoteric shops and dining venues of Cherry Street, and two of our most famous music venues, the legendary Cain's Ballroom and the historic Brady

The Gilcrease Museum and Philbrook Musuem of Art are also touted as great venues for fine art and beautiful settings.  You can read the complete article by clicking on the link below.

So I ask you this.  Why wouldn't one want to live in Tulsa?  There's always something to do, a place to dine, wonderful local music as well as seasoned performers and fun events throughout the year. 

And where to live in Tulsa? Thoughout Tulsa are wonderful neighborhoods from historic to new construction homes.   Call me to find the home that suits your lifestyle and budget and start living on Tulsa Time!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tulsa County Homestead Exemption Deadline

The deadline to file your Homestead Exemption with Tulsa County is rapidly approaching. The final filing date is March 15, 2013.  More information can be found at the Tulsa County Asesssor's Office at

A Homestead Exemption is an exemption of $1,000 of the assessed valuation of your primary residence. In tax year 2012, this can be a savings of $86 to $136 depending on where you live in the county.

To Qualify
You must be the homeowner of record who resides on the property by January 1.
• The property deed must be notarized on or before January 1 and filed with the County Clerk's Office on or before February 1.
• You must be a resident of Oklahoma. Homestead Exemption applications are accepted at any time throughout the year. However, the application must be filed by March 15 or within 30 days from the date of issue on the "Notice of Change in Assessed Value of Real Estate" to be approved for the current year. Any application filed after these dates cannot be approved until the following year.

To Apply
• Online—You may fill out and submit the Homestead Exemption application online. • In Person—You may apply for Homestead Exemption at the Tulsa County Assessor's Office between 8:00–5:00 Monday–Friday (excluding holidays) or within 30 days from the date of issue on the "Notice of Change in Assessed Value of Real Estate". Our office is located at Tulsa County Administration Building, Room 215, 500 S. Denver, Tulsa, OK 74103.

• By Mail—You may download and fill out the Homestead Exemption Application and return it by mail to this address: Ken Yazel, Tulsa County Assessor Attn: Taxpayer Services Tulsa County Administration Building, Room 215 500 S. Denver Tulsa, OK 74103

• Field Office—In January a list of field offices will be set up to provide greater convenience for filing a Homestead Exemption. Please refer to the Community Outreach Events Program and Calendar for a list of times and places. This list will also be published in the Tulsa World and other Tulsa County newspapers. •

Renewal • You are not required to apply for a Homestead Exemption each year if you have been granted a Homestead Exemption and continue to occupy the homestead property. However, if you change your deed or move you will need to file a new application. • If the application is denied, the property owner has the right to appeal to the Tulsa County Board of Equalization. (Title 68 O.S. §2895) •

My clients received the "Black and Gold" Standard of Exellence from start to finish whether they are Sellers or Buyers.  Contact me to for information on how I can help you with your home buying process or to get your home "SOLD"! 
Linda Smalley

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tulsa Home Construction Jumps

Tulsa home construction jumps 31.7 percent A partially built home awaits completion in Jenks on Friday. Local home builders reversed their years-long slump in 2012, as the number of new homes erected shot up 31.7 percent. Approximately 2,341 homes began construction in the last year, according to figures from New Orders Weekly. Not only is that much better than the 1,777 that began construction in 2011, it’s the best year for home construction since 2009. The year-end total was helped along by a strong December, which was the fifth-highest construction month in 2012 with 205 homes starting construction even though building traditionally slows in the winter. Tulsa took the crown for new homes from traditional construction leader Broken Arrow, with 410 built in Tulsa compared to 403 in Broken Arrow. Owasso, Bixby and Jenks rounded out the top five with 222, 221 and 209 starts respectively. By ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer Published: 2/1/2013 11:27 AM Last Modified: 2/1/2013 3:45 PM

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

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