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Texas Property Taxes: How to File a Protest

posted by: Jeff Brand in Blog

Did you know that under the Texas Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights you have the right to protest your property value yearly?

 

About 1 in 5 taxpayers in Denton County (the numbers are even less in Tarrant and Dallas County) actually protest their property taxes, but with rates increasing drastically for many this year, it’s not a bad idea to give it a shot.

 

The deadline for a protest is coming up, so here are a few tips from The Jeff Brand Team on how to file a Texas property tax protest:

 

Step 1: Do Your Research

The tax appraisal office will let you file a protest on the basis of value over market value and equal appraisal value. Your goal is to prove that your property is not worth the said amount on your tax appraisal statement. Before you begin your protest, you must have the numbers to back up your claim:

  • Comps (Comparable Property Prices): Talk with a reputable realtor who knows the Flower Mound, Highland Village, Lantana, Lewisville, and surrounding areas well and ask them to pull comps of recently sold homes similar to yours in your neighborhood. If your appraised value is higher than these homes, then you’ve got a case for lower your property taxes.
  • Take Note of Repairs: What repairs or improvements would you need to make to your home to put it on the market today? Does your home need foundation repair or a new roof? Are bathroom and kitchen fixtures outdated? Take pictures of these flaws and use them as evidence of the lower tax bill. County tax appraisers have never set foot inside your home so show them where their numbers might be skewed.
  • Find Your Twin: Is there a home in your neighborhood that is just yours? Look on the county tax appraisal website to see their assessed value, and if it’s less than yours, use that as evidence for your appeal.

Step 2: File the Protest

Use the Property Owner’s Notice of Protest form that was mailed to you with your Notice of Appraised Value to determine property value. Make sure you take note of your property tax protest deadline and file before that date (May 17 in Denton County).

 

Step 3: Go to the Informal Hearing

After you file your protest, you will be notified of a date and time to appear for an informal hearing. Most cases are settled here within 15 minutes, with a determination of your property value at the end of the hearing.

Need more help understanding how to file a Texas property tax protest? The Jeff Brand Team is happy to assist you with all your real estate needs!

North Texas Homeowner’s Guide for Spring Lawn Care

posted by: Jeff Brand in Blog

By Jean Summers

Photo credit: DBarefoot on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

 

We’ve cleaned the barbecue grills, gotten out our bathing suits and dusted the cobwebs from the lawn furniture. We’re ready to enjoy spring in North Texas.

But the seasonal perks also bring some chores. As the mercury rises, so do grass and weeds – at sometimes-alarming rates. Staying on top of your lawn in the spring sets the tone for the rest of the year, so don’t cut corners. Follow this North Texas homeowner’s guide for spring lawn care, and your lawn will survive the Texas summer heat with no worries.

Spring Clean Your Yard

The yard’s lingering debris of fall and winter must go. That means removing leaves, branches, and twigs littering your landscape. Tidying up allows your mower to move unobstructed. Clearing out the debris gets your lawn looking good and lets the sun, air, and fertilizer feed your turf more efficiently.

 

Mow Right, Mow Often

 As the growth spurts of spring hit your lawn, mowing becomes the foundation of care. Improper mowing is one of the primary causes of unhealthy lawns. Never mow more than one-third the length of your grass height at one time. If you’ve let things go, don’t mow all in one go, but rather break it up into a few mows at a higher frequency than normal. Under normal conditions, you should be mowing your grass once a week and no less than every other week.

Know what type of grass you have, and mow it to the recommended height. Also, keep those mower blades sharp. Dull blades tear the grass rather than cutting, which can cause damage.

Leave behind the grass clippings so they can act as an organic fertilizer. Those clippings will decompose quickly and return nutrients to the soil.

Water Smart

Springtime is the right time for an irrigation audit. Check all the heads and lines to make sure nothing is broken or leaking, and test to confirm that rain sensors and moisture gauges are functioning. Now is also the time to reset your irrigation schedule if you had it doing light duty over the winter months. Remember to set the irrigation timer so it waters only in the morning. Watering in the evening is an invitation for fungus.

In watering the grass, don’t overdo it. Lawns should be getting one to two inches of water per week. One deep watering per week should be sufficient for establishing deep roots and healthy growth. Frequent, shallow waterings encourage weed growth and prevent roots from growing deeply.

 

Feed Your Turf

Fertilization is best done during the growing season. Now’s the time to feed the lawn and put in place a fertilization plan for the coming months. Bear in mind that different types of grasses require different fertilizers. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to lawn fertilization. Get it right and reap the rewards.

If all of this is a bit overwhelming, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. There are professional services that can help you with any of the steps you’re unclear on or don’t have time for. With a little spring work and foresight, you can enjoy the benefits of a lush, green lawn all year long.

 

Jean Summers owns a flower shop and sprinkler company. She’s as handy with power tools as she is a pen. She writes how-to manuals in her spare time, hoping to teach women how to install and repair their own irrigation systems.

How to Improve Your Home’s Curb Appeal

posted by: Jeff Brand in Blog

Here’s a staggering statistic: buyers decide within the first 8 second of seeing a home if they are interested in buying it. (Barbara Corcoran)

 

So if your Flower Mound house is for sale – you better hope it looks good! But how do you look at your home with the eyes of a buyer? Here are 5 tips for The Jeff Brand Team on how to improve your home’s curb appeal and get it sold fast:

 

Look at the Front Door with Fresh Eyes

Chances are you walk in and out of your front door often without actually looking at your front door. Start by giving it a good clean with soap and water, and even give it a fresh coat of paint if needed. While you don’t want to spend a lot, front door replacement does also give you a decent return on investment if you choose to go that route.

 

Roof Condition Matters

Buyers will care about the condition of your roof and that condition will affect your sale price. If your roof is nearing the end of its usable life, then it may be wise to go ahead and get it replaced, knowing you can sell your home for more with a new roof.

 

Give Your Landscaping a Little TLC

A buyer will see your home’s landscaping before they see your home’s interior, so make a good first impression! Grass should be free of bare patches and neatly cut at all times. A fresh layer of mulch is a must in all flowerbeds. Lastly, pull overgrown vegetation, and even if you need to spend a little on fresh flowers to spruce up the beds, it’s money well spent.

 

Wash Away the Grime

You’ll be amazed at the difference a window cleaning can do to make your home sparkle! Don’t neglect to get your windows cleaned and the exterior of your home – particularly areas where bugs and cobwebs can live – power washed to improve curb appeal.

Repair the Driveway

Again, you probably don’t look at your driveway much, but a buyer will. If it has weeds growing in cracks, pull them. If there are cracks in the concrete, then do your best to have those repaired and cleaned up. Even a good power washing will make your property look well maintained and improve Flower Mound curb appeal.

 

Need help with curb appeal and getting your Flower Mound home ready to sell? The Jeff Brand Team is here to help! We’re the #1 agent for the #1 real estate company in the world, and we’d love to help you sell your Flower Mound area home for top dollar. The Jeff Brand Team specializes in Flower Mound, Highland Village, Argyle, Grapevine, and Lewisville real estate.

Landscaping Tips for Your Easter Egg Hunt

posted by: Jeff Brand in Blog

By Patti Walsh

Source

 

Nothing says spring better than a good old-fashioned Easter egg hunt … except maybe lawn mowing. Flowers are blooming, and trees are budding in preparation for the approaching scorching summer. Easter is usually the first holiday of the year that includes backyard dining, playing catch with the kids or finding Easter Bunny treasures. Make sure your yard is in top condition for the upcoming festivities with these landscaping tips for your Easter egg hunt.

 

Know Your Grass Type

You can host the best Easter egg hunt in the neighborhood by making sure your lawn is in pristine condition. It helps if you know your grass type. Many Dallas area homeowners have warm season grasses including St. Augustine grass and Bermuda grass. These grasses do well in the hot and humid climate of the DFW area, but each requires different care. St. Augustine grass should be 2-3 inches tall while Bermuda grass prefers a shorter cut at 1.5-2 inches. Knowing the type of grass in your yard will also help you prevent any kind of disease or fungi that could attack the lawn.

 

Feed It Well

The lawn is the epicenter of home Easter celebrations. You’ll most likely have your Easter egg hunt on the grass. And you’ll want to snap some pictures of those cute kiddos in their Easter outfits while sitting on the lawn. Make sure your photos are perfect by fertilizing the yard the week before Easter. Choosing a quick-release fertilizer will green up the yard in a few days and create the perfect background for all your Easter festivities. Be sure to spread the fertilizer sparingly, though, as too much of it in one spot can burn the lawn and create dead areas. Use as directed and don’t allow fertilizer to run off your property, where it can enter waterways and cause water pollution.

 

Keep It Mowed

Mowing your lawn on a regular basis is a big part of maintaining the exterior of your home. Lawns not only provide a beautiful canvas for the house, but they also extend your living space to the outdoors. Mowing your yard to the optimal height is essential to its health. If a busy schedule doesn’t allow you to mow the lawn, consider hiring a local lawn care company that could service the yard while you’re at work.

 

Don’t Forget Landscaped Areas

Easter eggs hunts are all about finding the perfect hiding spots for those older kids. Pay close attention to the landscaped areas around your yard including the plants and edges near the home. Trim prickly shrubs and rose bushes to encourage new growth this year as well as make it safer for the little ones. Clear away the cobwebs and any spider nests that you see to keep everyone protected.

 

Get Rid of Fire Ants

Ants — especially fire ants — are unwelcome guests at any Easter egg hunt. They’re impossible to eliminate, but you can treat the most-infested areas, so the kiddos don’t get bitten. Apply the treatment and put out ant bait a week before Easter to keep the children and eggs safe.

 

Clear Taller Areas

Some of the best hiding spots for Easter eggs are in those areas that aren’t on the ground. Make sure to clear away any kind of debris or dirt from higher places around the yard. Clear out gutters and brush away any sort of buildup that appeared over the winter. Pay attention to the higher portions of the home exterior to check for activity from ants or other pests.

 

Enjoying your backyard in the DFW area is an essential part of loving where you live. You want Easter to be a celebration where you can enjoy the spring weather and entertain outside (while it’s still cool enough.) Now, let’s hope for sunshine. Happy hunting.

 

Patti Walsh is a home and garden writer who takes pride in her own organic vegetable garden landscape. When she’s not gardening in the backyard, you’ll find her firing up the barbecue for her friends and neighbors.

More Restaurants Coming Soon to Argyle, Texas                             

posted by: Jeff Brand in Blog

Talk to anyone who’s in the market for a new home, and you’ll hear “Argyle, Texas” come up like a buzz word. And anyone who’s driven around Argyle, Texas recently knows there are big things going on there!

And it’s no surprise.

Argyle, Texas continues to attract new growth with its stellar schools with smaller class sizes, wide, open horse ranches, and now – gourmet dining.

Until a few years ago, Argyle residents had to drive to Highland Village, Flower Mound, or Denton to get a good meal. But with the addition of Earl’s 377 Pizza, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, Bumbershoot barbeque, and Kimzey’s coffeehouse, good food is just a short drive away.

Restaurant Group Eyes New Possibilities

What you probably don’t know is that all four of those restaurants listed above are operated by Radical Hospitality Group. (They operate LSA Burger and Barley & Board in Denton too.) A few years ago, they jumped into the Argyle market and haven’t looked back since. In fact, those restaurants have been so popular that Radical has already been checking out other restaurant opportunities.

One such opportunity that opened this winter is the option to order across all 4 menus of the restaurants above, when dining at just one of the restaurants. You can also use Radical’s catering services to cater an event that includes barbeque, pizza, coffee, and more – you name it, they can do it.

Recently, Radical purchased land just north of Johnny Joe’s on 377, where they are entertaining the idea of a new shopping center that will include a gourmet burger, fast-casual restaurant. Another idea? Rooftop restaurants. As Argyle continues to grow, Radical’s goal is to make sure Argyle restaurants have gourmet restaurant options nearby, without having to leave town for great food and drinks.

Learn more here.

Looking for a home for sale in Argyle, Texas? Now’s the time to get in! Call The Jeff Brand Team today and learn more about all of the amazing qualities Argyle as to offer. We’ll help you find a new construction Argyle home, Argyle home with land, or an Argyle single family home. Let the #1 real estate agency in Argyle help you find the home of your dreams!

3 Ways to Get the Best Mortgage Rates On Your New Home

posted by: Jeff Brand in Blog

There are so many things to consider when purchasing a new home, and your mortgage rate is definitely something to keep an eye on! The lower the rate, the more you save on the loan over its lifetime…and when it comes to a 30-year fixed rate loan, that can really add up!

 

So how do you get the lowest mortgage rate? Here are a few tips from The Jeff Brand Team, the #1 real estate agency in Flower Mound, Texas!

 

Have an Excellent Credit Score

 

Most people are aware that there credit score pays a key role in any loan application. Generally speaking, if you’re FICO score is above 760, you will be considered someone with excellent credit and given the best rates. But what if you’re not in that category? Work toward the highest credit possible by paying bills on time, paying down revolving debts, and keeping your credit inquiries and new debt to a minimum.

 

Put Down As Much as You Can

 

The higher the loan, the more risk it is for the lender. And higher risk = higher rates. While there are many loan options available for those who want to put 5% or 10% down on a loan, putting 20% or more down gives you less risk, and therefore, better rates guaranteed.

 

Explore Loan Products Available

 

Don’t just settle on the first 30-year fixed rate mortgage you see. There are many different loan products available, and this is where working with a reputable mortgage broker is vitally important to getting the best mortgage rate. He or she can help you explore shorter loan terms, variable rate loans, specialized loan programs, etc. A reputable, seasoned mortgage broker can find the loan products that best fit your individual needs.

 

April is a great time to buy, and The Jeff Brand Team is here to help! We will guide you through the entire home buying process, including recommending trusted mortgage brokers who will get you the best mortgage rates available.

Attn Home Buyers: Use These Tips to Get Your Offer Accepted

posted by: Jeff Brand in Blog

As we enter the prime selling season, many buyers are on the hunt for the perfect home. If you’re a seller, selling a home in Flower Mound, Highland Village, or Argyle is a breeze. Just sit back and wait for the offers to roll in.

If you’re a buyer – you know there is going to be competition when the perfect Flower Mound house rolls along. Don’t be left in the dust; use these tips from The Jeff Brand Team to get your offer accepted!

 

Say No to Contingencies

This may be a no brainer, but in a competitive market when there are multiple offers on a home, a contingency just isn’t going to win the day and get your offer accepted. Get your affairs in order and limit contingencies, whether it’s related to a current home that you must sell or you are a stickler on the date you take possession. Flexibility is attractive to sellers.

 

Go In With Your Best Offer

If you and your realtor expect the home to move quickly, go in with your best, most competitive offer. Don’t expect to go in lower and then have room to negotiate, because if the seller gets a better offer, you may never have the chance to counter. Strong offers show the seller you are serious and ready to close the deal.

Make a Personal Connection

It sounds cliché, but it can’t hurt to communicate why you love the house, neighborhood, etc. This can be in the form of a letter – or your realtor can pass along details as they communicate with the seller’s realtor. Chances are, the seller loves their home and an emotional connection, along with a competitive offer, can sway the deal in your favor and get your offer accepted.

 

Put Down More Earnest Money

Generally speaking, earnest money is between 1-3% of the purchase price of the home, and at the time of sale, it goes toward the sale price. If you’re serious about the house, consider increasing the earnest money up front, letting the seller know you are very serious and you take the offer seriously.

 

Take the Home with No Repairs

If you feel confident in the condition of the home, putting in an offer with “no repairs needed” can be very enticing to a seller. This means that when the inspector walks the inspection and gives you a report, you do not expect the seller to pay for any of the issues found. An experienced Flower Mound realtor can offer sound advice on whether or not this is wise for you.

 

Ready to find Flower Mound homes for sale? The Jeff Brand Team is the #1 RE/MAX agency in North Texas and we would love to help you find the home of your dreams. Let us guide you through the process of buying a home with ease!

5 Things You Should Never Do When Applying for a Mortgage

posted by: Jeff Brand in Blog

You’ve found the perfect Flower Mound home, your offer has been accepted, and now it’s time to breeze through the mortgage process – right?! Anyone who’s been through it knows it’s not a walk in the park, but don’t make it harder than it needs to be! Avoid the added stress – and risk to your loan – by avoiding these 5 things when applying for a loan:

 

Major Purchases

You know you can swing the new car payment, so why not get a new car while you’re getting a new Flower Mound home? It sounds good to some, but new purchases affect your financial situation, especially if you’re financing the new car. New financing affects your debt to income ratio, in turn, increasing the risk. Instead, talk to your loan officer before making a purchase and postpone the new car a month or two until after the closing.

 

Co-Signing a Loan

Co-signing on someone’s loan – even if you never intend to have any financial obligation to pay – by default means you do have financial obligation should something happen. The loan will impact your debt to income ratio, so proceed with caution.

Moving Money

When applying for a mortgage, mortgage companies want all your financial history – and they also want to be able to trace every dollar. When they can’t, that’s when things get sticky. Avoid depositing any cash into one of you accounts, opening new accounts, or moving money within your accounts without consulting a loan officer on the best way to do that.

 

Closing Accounts

It’s a common misconception that open credit accounts are bad and should be closed. In fact, It’s the opposite. Open accounts mean “available credit” to FICO, which is a good thing. Not to mention, FICO scores put a lot of emphasis on “length of account,” so by closing accounts, you are shortening the length of time on your account and hurting the overall credit score.

 

Job Change

A new job – particularly one that involves owning your own business or receiving the majority of your income from commissions – will be a detriment to your overall loan viability. Instead, wait to switch jobs, or if you must make a move, ask your loan officer about the best way to handle the job change.

 

Have more mortgage questions? Call the Flower Mound real estate experts, The Jeff Brand Team! We work closely with the area’s best loan officers to get you into your new home with as little work as possible.

5 Things that Must Stay When You Sell Your Home

posted by: Jeff Brand in Blog

Have you become attached to those drapes? Did you pay big money to have a playset installed in your backyard? If you want to keep them, you better disclose them!

 

While you may think that because you paid to install something it can be taken with you, in fact, there are many things that are considered a part of the house that are not yours to take unless you fully disclose those exclusions in the contract. Here is a list of 5 things that must stay when selling your home:

 

  1. Curtains, Drapes, Window Coverings

 

A good rule of thumb is that if it’s bolted to the wall as a “fixture,” then it’s a part of the home. This includes drapes, shades, curtain rods, blinds, and plantation shutters. If they are something you absolutely want to take with you, it’s a good idea to take them down before listing your home.

 

  1. Backyard Amenities

 

Not sure if you can take your firepit or child’s playset? Here’s the question you must ask: is it bolted down? If it is bolted down, then it’s a part of the home. If it’s not, then you may take it with you. This could also apply to trampolines, storage sheds, basketball goals, and barbeque grills – to name a few.

 

  1. Light Fixtures

 

Any light fixture in the home – that the buyer saw when viewing the home – is a part of the house. Because exclusions can become unnecessary hassles in the contract and can ruin a sale, make a plan to replace a light fixture you want to keep before the buyer sees the home, or just learn to live without it.

  1. Plants & Trees

 

By law, all shrubs, greenery, and trees are to remain with the home, so don’t think you’ll dig up your favorite plants before leaving. For ornamental flowers or plants, you can often take a cutting off of your favorite plant to replant in your new yard.

 

  1. TV Mounting Fixtures

 

Many people assume that because the wall mounting fixture was used for their TV – and they are taking their TV with them – then the fixture is theirs to take too. Because it’s considered a fixture that is bolted to the studs, it is in fact a part of the home.

 

Have more questions about what stays when you sell your home? Call The Jeff Brand Team in Flower Mound, Texas today! We are the best realtor in Flower Mound, Highland Village, Lantana, Lewisville, Grapevine, and we’d love to help you sell your home with ease – and for top dollar.

Home Buying 101: Watch Out for these 4 Red Flags Before Buying in a Neighborhood

posted by: Jeff Brand in Blog

You’ve found your dream home – but is the neighborhood everything you hope it will be?

 

Real estate experts will tell you that location is everything; you can change your home, but you can’t move it.

 

Instead of hoping for the best, enlist a top real estate agent to help spot these 4 red flags in a neighborhood before you buy:

 

  1. Lots of Homes for Sale

 

Especially in the hot selling season of late Spring, you’re going to find quite a few homes on the market. And you’re fine if there are a few sprinkled into your neighborhood – or even onto your street. But if there seems to be a disproportionate amount of homes for sale, then ask yourself, why? This can be a sign that something bigger is going on and there is a reason everyone is selling.

 

  1. Empty Retail & Commercial Buildings

 

Drive around your neighborhood and assess the local retail and commercial areas. Do they appear to be thriving – or are there quite a few “for lease” signs? Again, a few is fine, but if there are many, then this is a sign that the neighborhood is on the downturn. And if residents of the local neighborhoods can’t afford to support these businesses, then they likely can’t support keeping up their home either.

 

  1. Industrial or Unsavory Businesses Nearby

 

Again, the businesses nearby matter. In addition to looking for empty storefronts, look for other businesses that might be unappealing to have nearby. Gas stations, industrial parks, and bars are all businesses that reduce resale value.

 

  1. Parking Issues

 

Don’t only look at the homes in the neighborhood, take a look at the street. Are there a ton of cars parked on the street? This can equate to congestion, noise, and added stress in your neighborhood vs. another neighborhood without as much traffic. Definitely something to consider when looking at Flower Mound area homes.

 

Need help finding the perfect Flower Mound neighborhood? The Jeff Brand Team is the best realtor in Flower Mound, and we can absolutely guide you to the best homes in the best neighborhoods! Call us today!