Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Legacy of Service

When real estate pioneer Judge B. Fite founded his real estate, mortgage and insurance company in 1937, he launched a tradition that spans over 73 years of service and commitment to the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. Throughout its rich history of growth, expansion, mergers and acquisitions, the Judge Fite Company has remained consistently true to its founding ideals. Today, at the helm of the company are Judge Fite’s children, Jim Fite, President, and Jan Fite Miller, Executive Vice President, both who are equally committed to the legacy of service and integrity that was established 73 years ago by Dene and Judge Fite.

Jan Fite Miller has been compelled to leave her mark on the industry and to support and encourage higher ethical standards in every real estate transaction since she first joined the company in 1969. From the marketing of the property to closing the loan, Jan will insist on the proper handling of every aspect of the real estate transaction from the company’s many associates as well as its partners. This is part of the edge that CENTURY 21 Judge Fite offers its clients and the communities it serves. “We train our associates to carefully perform their duties being fair and honest with all parties, giving full disclosure of all pertinent facts, and strict adherence to agency guidelines. It is in this manner that I work to maintain a continual improvement of professional standards in the real estate industry.”

Serving as the spokesperson for CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company since 1977, Jim Fite has seen his father’s company grow from one office with eight associates to a diversified firm of 21 offices and more than 800 associates and staff. Like his sister, Jim Fite is passionate about his responsibility to not only his clients, but the real estate industry as a whole. His high profile in professional leadership through the years has held his company in good standing by providing
an opportunity to develop leaders and successful systems during some of real estate’s toughest times. Still, his motivation comes from serving people.

“What wakes me up every morning and gets me going is the responsibility to the thousands of people who depend on us to provide an environment for them to flourish and succeed”, states Fite. “And not just the people who are part of our organization, but the individuals in our industry – from the buyer’s agent to the escrow officer; the appraiser to the mortgage counselor, I want to make a difference. Judge Fite has the opportunity to be a catalyst for success at the center of every real estate transaction we are a part of, and I don’t take that lightly.”

With an unparalleled commitment to heart-driven service, this first family of DFW real estate has continued to thrive and expand when many others failed, and continued in its tireless dedication to serve the Metroplex real estate market with new products, technology, and services. The success attitude of its leadership, shored up by unmatched business acumen, has propelled CENTURY 21 Judge Fite to continue broadening its horizons, both geographically and with the kinds of products and services it incorporates to meet the needs of a continually changing marketplace.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Working with Mobile Real Estate Technology

Going online for real estate information is a fun and new way to go house hunting and locate information about neighborhoods, school, parks, communities…and more! Just imagine putting that information into the palm of your hands via your BlackBerry, iPhone or other “smart” phone? It’s possible now with the new mobile technologies that are available in the real estate market.

The purpose of all these gadgets, when it comes to real estate, is to provide the customer with streamlined information so that you can make a more informed decision. It also enables your real estate agent to provide you with almost immediate service and answers to questions, before and throughout the transaction. Here are a few helpful hints to get you started using mobile technology.

  • Buy the perfect phone – choose the phone that has all the options you want and more
  • Get connected – make sure your mobile service has a broad network with GPS
  • Learn to text – subscribe to a generous “texting” package with your mobile network provider
  • Visit iTunes.com to browse, purchase and download real estate applications from the “Apps” store
  • Set up accounts for your real estate apps so you can easily log in, browse homes, save them, and make notations
  • Trulia’s iPhone app is a great real estate application where you will quickly learn how to “house hunt” using your iPhone

When you are ready to buy or sell your property, engage a mobile real estate agent who is connected through a lead router service and will be able to receive your online inquiries and emails instantly and respond with the answers you need!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How do I use the new real estate mobile apps?

Real Estate 411 – The MOBILE Real Estate Agent

Mobile technology enters the real estate market to make house hunting convenient and put the information in the palm of your hand!

With the rise of the second smartphone generation (iPhone, Android, and BB touch screen), people are using their mobile phones in completely new ways. The most significant trend is the usage of mobile applications or “apps”, led by the game changing iTunes App Store. Applications are easy to find and download to mobile device, making the user experience both rewarding and entertaining. With the availability of real estate apps, consumers now have access to property information in the palm of their hand and know where to find homes in an area they want to be in.

Fact: With GPS available on your cell phone, you can navigate applications to search for a home in your location, view photos and details of the property, and contact an agent or an office.

Fact: Through mobile lead routing technology, the mobile real estate agent can receive your inquiry about a property within minutes and respond. You will soon be touring the home of your dreams. Mobile real estate technology also has the power to push your listings out across multiple mobile apps to be seen by thousands of potential homebuyers.

Fact: Using a mobile application is better than browsing the mobile web. It is much faster! It takes only one second to launch a mobile application versus up to several minutes for a mobile web in a bad reception area. Your smartphone goes with you wherever you go and can get reception where your mobile web cannot. You can even house-hunt when you are sitting at a football game!

Contact your CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company MOBILE real estate agent today! Call 800-451-8055, or email 411@judgfite.com.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Insurance and the Internet

We hear the statistics all the time. “9 out of 10 homebuyers start on the Internet.” “75% of Americans use the Internet.” While these statistics are true, a vast majority of these “internet shoppers” end up working with a licensed real estate agent at some point during the process, either to show them homes, help them negotiate, assist with the paperwork, or just be there to guide them. Most people recognize that when it comes to making one of the most important financial decisions of their life, they need an expert who can offer advice and keep the process moving along to the closing table.

When it comes to purchasing insurance for your home, auto or business, the same concept applies. Insurance is a very complicated business, just like real estate. Each person, family and business has different exposures and therefore has different needs when it comes to insurance. Carriers offer so many different options to meet people’s individual needs. When a person buys their insurance from a website, there is no way to know for sure that all of their exposures are covered. More often than not, policies that are purchased online by consumers are stripped down, have limited coverage, or are underinsuring the risk. While the premium might be attractive (which is the primary selling point of these online offerings), coverage can suffer tremendously. When a claim occurs, there can be severe consequences in terms of limited or no coverage or a reduced payment on the claim. Most Internet insurance shoppers don’t realize this at the time they purchase the policy.

The best solution, both in terms of having adequate coverage and peace of mind, is to use a licensed insurance agent. A good insurance agent can never be replaced by a website, just like a good real estate agent can never be replaced by a website. Your agent knows the right questions to ask to identify your risks. He or she can answer your questions with knowledge and expertise. When you have a problem, he or she is there for you, to assist you and stand up for you, if need be. They are there to look at your exposures and suggest solutions that fit your needs. Your agent is there to make sure you are not underinsured. As long as your agent is an independent agent, he or she is there to look across the rates of several carriers to make sure you are getting the best rate available. Your agent is there at renewal time to shop your policy, ensuring you get the best rate every year. Show me a website that can do all of that.

The bottom line is this: Even though they usually start on the Internet, consumers hire a real estate agent to assist them through the process of buying or selling real property because of the agent’s expertise and skill. When it comes to protecting that real property or other assets from unforeseen events, consumers should work with a licensed insurance agent, preferably an independent agent, so that they have peace of mind in knowing that their assets are properly insured.

For more information about insurance for your home, investments, vehicles, or business, contact Judge Fite Insurance today at insurance@judgefite.com or 214-446-2571. We are here to serve you!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The GREEN Home - What is SEER? EER? and HSPF?

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is most commonly used to measure the efficiency of a central air conditioner. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the system. SEER measures how efficiently a cooling system will operate over an entire season. In technical terms, SEER is a measure of equipment the total cooling of a central air conditioner or heat pump (in Btu) during the normal cooling season as compared to the total electric energy input (in watt-hours) consumed during the same period.

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) is a measure of how efficiently a cooling system will operate when the outdoor temperature is at a specific level (95oF). The higher the EER, the more efficient the system. In technical terms, EER is the steady-state rate of heat energy removal (i.e. cooling capacity) by the product measured in Btuh divided by the steady-state rate of energy input to the product measured in watts. This ratio is expressed in Btuh/watt.

Both SEER and EER are included in the ENERGY STAR specification because each rating indicates the energy efficiency of the product under different operating modes. SEER rating more accurately reflects overall system efficiency on a seasonal basis and EER reflects the system’s energy efficiency at peak day operations. Both ratings are important when choosing a product.

Heat Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) is the most commonly used measure of a heat pumps heating efficiency. The higher the HSPF, the more efficient the heat pump.In technical term, HSPF represents the total heating output of a heat pump (including supplementary electric heat) during the normal heating season (in Btu) as compared to the total electricity consumed (in watt-hours) during the same period. HSPF is based on tests performed in accordance with AHRI 210/240 (formerly ARI Standard 210/240)1.

*Source energystar.gov/taxcredits

For more information on going GREEN, visit the Green Home Guide.

Contact CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company to find your GREEN agent! 800-451-8055, or visit www.CENTURY21JudgeFite.com.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The GREEN Home - 6 Things You Can Do NOW!

"Going Green" is no longer just a slogan, it's becoming a strategic imperative for those who are concerned about what energy means for our future and our environment. Most companies and households are looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption, while seeking suppliers/products that offer energy-efficient solutions to the environmental impact of their energy needs.

Too often we think that it is too expensive, but going green doesn't have to break the bank! There are baby-steps you can take in your existing home that will make a difference. Here are 6 AFFORDABLE things you can do NOW to reduce your energy consumption starting at home:

1 - Change your air filter – A clogged filter blocks airflow, preventing the air you’ve already paid to heat or cool from reaching you, which means your system must work harder to reach your desired temperature. Replace your filters monthly during peak seasons.
2 - Check for leaks – You could be losing 25% of your homes air through leaks and holes. Why spend money heating or cooling your attic? In the summer, check for leaks by feeling around ductwork with you’re A/C on. If you feel cold air, seal the leak with aluminum tape (not fabric duct tape, which will rot). Pay special attention to duct connections around junctions and any dampers installed by previous homeowners.
3 - Dial it up or down a few degrees – Each degree you raise your thermostat above 78º in the summer or below 70º in the winter can make a difference in your energy bill. To dial in the perfect temp, try placing a piece of tape over the temperature readout on your thermostat, then keep adjusting until you’re comfortable. You’ll likely find you can stand it a few degrees warmer or cooler than you thought. (Fix any leaks in your home first so you’re not wasting air.)
4 - Install a ceiling fan – A ceiling fan doesn’t actually change the temperature of a room, but it does make it feel hotter or cooler by moving the air around, creating a windchill effect in the summer and circulating rising warm air in the winter.
5 - Balance your airflow – If one room seems consistently warmer or cooler than others, try keeping all your interior doors open so air can move freely around rather than constantly adjusting your thermostat. If you want an advanced project, install manual duct dampers to change the airflow to certain rooms. Just cut the duct, insert the damper, and tape it in place. Put them close to junctions and in easy-to-access locations.
6 - Manage your windows – Close curtains or blinds of south-and west-facing windows in the summer to reduce solar heating and keep your home cooler. Open them in the winter for the opposite effect. For windows without curtains or blinds, consider installing sunshades or reflective film to achieve a similar effect. And check your windows for leaks: missing or damaged weather-stripping can have you air-conditioning the countryside!
For help on "going GREEN" in your home, contact a real estate professional at http://www.century21judgefite.com/.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Everything but skiing in Dallas/Fort Worth!

Jim Fite talks about the diverse real estate market and the many property types available - just about everything you could want...except skiing!

Finding the right house is about more than bricks and mortar, it’s about choosing a lifestyle!

A home and a neighborhood tailored to your personality
One of the joys of owning a home is the creative aspect of tailoring your new environment to your personality, your lifestyle, and your needs. From decorating and painting to landscaping to location, your home tells a story about you! The variety of home types in Dallas Fort Worth supports a highly diverse Metroplex of retail and business professionals, craftsman and artisans, teachers, health professionals and civil servants. There is not just one housing answer! Maybe that’s why DFW is one of the most sought after markets and job growth centers in the nation – there is something here for everyone.

Here is a list of things to think about when choosing your DFW real estate lifestyle:

Personality type – City-goer or country lover? Quiet or party lover?
Work requirements – work in an office downtown? From your home? What is the commute?
Family – Do you have kids? Is your family active in sports? Weekend activities? Weeknight activities?
Entertainment – love the movies? Like to listen to live music? How far are you willing to drive for your fun needs?
Hobbies – Do you need a hobby room? Place for a garden? Pool or gym access? Golf?
Physical limitations – are you physically limited? Do you want stairs? Need easy access?
Schools/Church/Shopping – Involved in PTA? Teach Sunday School? Do you want shopping easily assessable?
Time Management – How much driving do you want to do? Can you handle traffic? Do you have daycare time requirements?
Budget – what can you afford? What area can you afford? How dependable is your car? Gas mileage? School? Taxes?

Think about these things, discuss them with your partner if you are buying a home with someone else. Write down the answers and use this as a guide to start your search for the perfect real estate lifestyle you will enjoy for years!

To find a real estate professional who can help you get started with your real estate transaction, contact CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company today! Call 800-451-8055, or email 411@judgfite.com.

Let's talk about why you need a Realtor

Jim Fite talks about "Why use a REALTOR"?

Century 21 launches new iPhone app for real estate

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why SELL Now?

Why now is a good time to sell you home:

- more buyers because of $8000 tax credit for first time homebuyers

- historically low interest rates

- more inventory to choose from for your next home

Think about it, you can upgrade for less!

Contact CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company to help you prepare to sell your home and get you into your dream home!

Why BUY Now?

Why now is a GREAT TIME to buy your dream home:

- first time home buyers may be eligible for $8000 tax credit

- historically low interest rates

- more inventory to choose from - housing prices are down

- financially a smart move

Contact CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company to help you find the perfect home and see if you can qualify for the $8000 tax credits.

There is still time to get in on the $8000 Tax Credit*

If you are a first-time homebuyer, or a move up buyer ready for a larger home, or you are ready to downsize your home, now is the time to get on the path to federal tax credits of up to $8,000. Ask us how. Contact CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company today and get started on the path to your first dream home!

* Home Buyers Extended Tax Credit, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009. Contact a tax professional for details.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Real Estate Lifestyles

Property types serve a changing and diverse culture
Today choosing a home is not just about deciding if you want a yard with trees or a pool, or exterior wood or siding, rather, it is about what type of property can best serve your situation and goals. Which property type will make the right home for you? What are your personal, daily living needs and requirements? Here is a list of the most common property types available on the market today; perhaps understanding more about each can help you make a better decision as you search for your dream home.

A condominium is defined as the individual ownership of a building with access to common areas owned by all residents within the complex. Association fees must be paid to maintain, repair, and improve the common areas shared by residents, which typically include a pool, spa, tennis courts, walking paths, and more. Banks and lenders often finance condominiums at higher interest rates.

Condos are great for retirees since there is little upkeep, and in most markets, they cost less than single-family homes. Young singles and professionals do well in condos since most are located in high traffic areas close to jobs, entertainment and shopping. Keep in mind that there will be rules, so be sure you can live with them before you buy. Be sure you ask about the HOA fees, how much they are, when and how you pay them, and how often the fees are assessed.

Investment Properties
A property that is non-owner occupied, owned for the purpose of financial gain either through renting and/or appreciation. Even if the property does not generate income, if the owner does not occupy the home, it is considered an investment property. Investment properties include single-family residences and multi-unit properties. Multi-unit investment properties are among the most expensive to finance.

Manufactured Homes
Often referred to as “mobile homes” or “trailer parks”, these types of properties are constructed on a non-removable steel chassis which allows them to be transported. These homes are often located on leased land, such as in trailer parks and adhere to the Federal Construction Safety Standards Act (HUD/CODE).

On land a mobile will often cost less than half of what a similar-sized house costs, and will appreciate in value (because of the land). This can be a great way to get into home ownership. They do generally have lower-quality construction compared to houses, so be prepared for a few repairs and annoyances.

Modular Homes
Modular homes are similar to manufactured homes, though they adhere to building codes required by the specific state, county, and locality, and do not carry building or zoning regulations. They also differ from manufactured homes in that they don’t have an axle or frame, and must be transported on a flat-bed truck or like vehicle. Financing may be in the form of a personal property loan, and at a premium to mortgage loans.

Multi-Unit Properties
Multi-unit properties can be primary residences or investment properties. A 2-unit property (duplex) for example may be occupied by the owner in one unit, and a tenant in the other unit, defining it as a multi-unit primary residence. Or a 4-unit property may be solely occupied by tenants, defining it as a multi-unit investment property. Multi-unit properties carry additional financing adjustments to fee, more substantial for 3-4 unit properties.

Second Homes (Vacations Homes)
Second Homes, also known as “vacation homes” are residences typically found in recreation areas or resorts that serve as seasonal accommodation. These properties are in owned in addition to a primary residence, and can be condominiums, townhouses, or single-family residences. Vacation homes are common in ski resorts and near the beach, and may be rented out to other vacationers while not in use. Financing is more expensive than single-family residences, but less than investment properties.

Single-Family Residences
This is the most standard property type which is designed to support just one dwelling. This type of property does not include a common area as you’d find in a condominium complex and similar developments. They do not share walls with neighboring properties, and should have land separation from all sides of the property, as well as above and below. These are the cheapest properties to finance, as they are the norm.

Single-Family home is great for families with children. Whatever the style, the idea is to have room for everyone and preferably a yard for the kids to play in. One advantage of buying a basic three bedroom, two bathroom house is that this is the easiest type of home to sell. One disadvantage is that these "regular" homes can take a lot of work and money to maintain.

A single-family dwelling typically made up of two floors that shares side walls with nearly identical properties. It differs from a condominium in that no neighboring unit is above or below, and usually features an outdoor space in front and behind the property. It’s similar to a condominium in that tenants have access to a common area such as pool, spa, tennis courts and more. Many banks and lenders consider townhouses as a single-family residence, making mortgage financing more affordable.

Whether they're one, two or three stories tall, townhouses (also called townhomes) are typically vertical in design. Some even come with attached garages. They blend the privacy of a single-family home with the benefits of the exterior condo maintenance, which is usually done by the homeowners' association. Many townhouses are built in what are called planned unit developments (PUD), clustered communities that have areas for residential and commercial/retail use, and public areas such as schools, parks and the like.

If you would like help in finding the right property type for your lifestyle, visit http://www.century21judgefite.com/ to search over 50,000 properties of all styles and to find a qualified real estate professional in your area, or call 800-4518-8055.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Can I manage my own rental? How hard could it be?

Yes, you can manage your rental yourself. You will waste a lot of money, do a partial job, and loose a lot of rent due to mismanagement and a lack of knowledge. You will most likely have greater liability and expose yourself to greater risk than a Professional Property Manager.

These are the questions you no doubt will ask - What do I do when the tenant stops paying rent? How much rent do I charge? What is the market rent rate? How do I start the eviction process? Which Justice Court do I go to? How do I truly qualify a prospective tenant?

Who do you think knows the laws better, you or your tenant? What can you legally withhold from the tenants deposit after they move out? How do you document the property prior to tenant move in? What do you do when the tenant doesn’t mow their yard and the HOA is fining you as the owner? How do you handle a pauper’s appeal? What is coding the locks and do I have to re-key and code after I the owner move out? How soon do you have to make a repair? Do you have to repaint every two years? Do you have to do a walk through with the tenant? Which lease do you use? Do I have to clean the tenant’s carpet every six month? When do I have to send the tenants deposit back? Who do you hire to do your repairs, and are they charging me a fair rate? How do you handle a tenant breaking their lease by moving early?

You probably would not hire your Heart Surgeon from the Yellow Pages and you do not want to hire your Property Manager based on commission alone. I had an owner hire us to assist him with his non-paying tenant. The tenant had lived in the home for five years yet the tenant owed the owner two and a half years of rent. The owner was charging less than half of the market rate rent for five years. The owner only collected one half of the rent due for those five years. With no mortgage, the owner could barely pay the annual taxes and insurance with the collected rent. The tenant had no intention of paying. We had him out of the house and the house “broom-clean” in three weeks.

We were recently hired by a mortgage company to handle the management of a home where the tenants were behind in their rent and that they could not kick out (their attorneys could not successfully remove the tenants). We handled the eviction, had the home empty in three weeks and re-rented the property. Our job is to manage the situation, correct previous qualifying errors and create an opportunity for the property to cash flow. Hiring a Professional Property Manager has made a positive difference on the number of rentals my family own.

Realtors are trained in the art of negotiating, disarming hostile owners & tenants and reasoning with two parties. Property Managers are grounded on truth and having a strong work ethic. A professional Property Manager will assist you in maximizing your cash flow, minimize the expenses. We will help get the property rented faster at market rate. A professional Property Manager will continue to receive education and training in order to do you, the owner, and tenant a better job. Professional Property Managers are not likely to be side swiped by a tenant who quotes laws that do not exist. Professional Property Managers are the World’s Best Problem Solvers.

For more information about property management, contact William Ferguson, President, Judge Fite Management Company at 214-232-4118, williamferguson@judgefite.com, or click here to visit our website for detailed information and to view our properties for lease.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Why use a Realtor in Commerical Real Estate?

Realtors are not just real estate agents. They are the true professionals and experts in the industry. There are many reasons to use a Realtor in commercial real estate transactions. Here are several real examples that will show how using a Realtor benefited some of the clients of the CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Commercial Division:

A retailer has always done his own site selection for his new locations. Our Realtor Agent met with him 12 years ago and showed that he could research the site selection and negotiate the lease as well as the client, saving the client valuable time that he could use running his business. 15 locations later (and counting) this is still working effectively for both the client and Realtor.

A developer/contractor did his own leasing of the shopping centers he built. Our Realtor Agent convinced the client that he was capable of handling all aspects of the leasing of the center, allowing the client to spend more time working on his construction business and procuring additional construction jobs. The Realtor leased up one center, prompting the client to ask him to find another site for purchase and development. Now, the Realtor is pre-leasing that soon to-be- built shopping center. The client now spends his time and energy growing his construction business, knowing that his Realtor is handling the leasing of his center in a professional and effective way.

The owner of a dry cleaning business wants to build and own his own retail center. Our Realtor Agent researched areas, helped negotiate the purchase of land and then helped the client with development, leasing and eventual sale of the center while allowing the client to spend his time successfully running his other four stores.

A banker with a property in default wants to sell it before it goes to foreclosure. The banker calls a Realtor to help him. The Realtor contacts one of his investors and is successful in quickly negotiating a sale of the property before foreclosure. This allows the banker to remove the property from his “bad” loan list, provides the investor the opportunity to pick up a valuable property and both parties obtain a mutually satisfying ongoing lender/borrower relationship. A win-win for all sides because the banker knew the value of using a Realtor.

I you would like help with your commercial listing or are interested in a career in commercial real estate, contact Larry Harbour, Manager, Commercial Division for CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company at 214-446-2575, or email LarryHarbour@judgefite.com. Be sure to visit http://www.c21jfcommercial.com/ to view all our commercial property listings.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Top Ten Suggestions for Selecting a Real Estate Agent

In order to find a real estate broker or agent who meets your needs and makes your buying or selling experience a positive one, Century 21 Real Estate Corporation recommends you:

1. DO NOT blindly walk into or call a neighborhood firm and ask for an agent at random.
2. Ask friends and family for recommendations.
3. Interview several real estate agents:
- Find out their history with the brokerage, their experience and background.
- Gauge their knowledge of your favorite towns.
- Ask for a list of previous clients and their phone numbers.
4. Pay attention to whether a potential agent is listening closely to what you say.
- Is he or she asking follow-up questions which prompt further explanation and help him or her understand exactly your needs and wants?
5. Give a potential agent the opportunity to educate you.
- A good agent should walk a customer through the buying or selling process before ever showing properties or discussing a specific transaction.
6. Have a good idea of what you expect from an agent and communicate those expectations.
- How often do you want to hear from your agent?
- Do you want to hold meetings at your house rather than the real estate office?
7. Weigh the benefits of working with an experienced agent versus a novice.
- An experienced agent may have more insight, but a new agent may have innovative ideas or more energy and time.
8. Find an agent who complements your personality.
- If you like to start your day at 7:00 a.m., don't choose an agent who arrives to the office at 10:00 a.m.
- If your preferred method of communication is e-mail, don't choose an agent whose most advanced technology is a fax machine.
9. Evaluate the agent's firm and/or office.
- Look for a real estate organization whose agents can empower you with real estate expertise and resources and provide first-rate customer service.
10. Look for an agent who will be your partner.
- Find someone you trust, who will give you the facts, help you make intelligent, well-informed decisions and work with you throughout the entire process.

To find a CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company agent or office near you, click here.

Located at 1140 Empire Central, Suite 520 in Dallas and in 21 other convenient locations across the Metroplex, CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company is a full service brokerage specializing in residential, commercial, recreational, investment and luxury properties. CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company celebrates over 70 years of real estate service and was recently named one of the “Best” Companies to work for in the state by Texas Monthly Magazine.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Real Estate is GREAT! at CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company

Working with an Insurance Pro

One of the main reasons that buyers and sellers choose to work with a REALTOR® is the peace of mind that comes with hiring a professional that knows the business and has experience in solving problems and helping people with their needs.

The same reasoning applies when looking for insurance. Working directly with a licensed agency is much more rewarding as a policy holder than other methods of obtaining insurance. When you work with an agent directly, they will identify your needs and offer you a product that meets you needs. When you order insurance off of a website, you don’t get the opportunity to ask questions about coverage, service or price. How do you know, with as complicated and different as policies are today, if this is the right policy that fits your needs? Are there gaps in coverage that exist because there wasn’t a live person to make sure that your exposures are covered? When you order insurance by calling an 800 number and sitting on hold for 20 minutes, you don’t know the person that will answer, they don’t know you or your account, and when you call back, you will most likely talk with a different person every time. Allowing an agency to look at your account offers more personalized service and avoids potential gaps in coverage.

Not only is it important to work with an agent to ensure you are properly covered, but it is also critical to make sure it is an independent agent. An independent agent is defined as one that represents multiple insurance carriers and can shop the market to find the policy that meets your specific needs at the best price available. When your independent insurance agent gives you a quote, you can have peace of mind in knowing that your coverage was shopped with multiple carriers and that you are being presented with the best solution and the best price. Also, when it comes time to renew your policy, your agent should be automatically shopping for you to make sure that the renewal is the best out there. Carriers change rates constantly, and just because one had the best rates last year does not necessarily mean their rates are the best this year.

Lastly, working with an independent agent allows for much more flexibility in what can be offered. Many insurance companies do not like homes over a certain age, or with a certain roof type, or if that owner has a certain kind of dog. However, working with many carriers allows independent agents to have other markets to go to for those hard to place risks, and they can successfully find a solution for your needs more effectively than a direct writer.

Make sure that when you are looking for insurance that you use an independent agent for the same reasons that a buyer or seller would want to use a professional REALTOR. The level of service, expertise and variety of products that is offered is far superior when you have an independent agent looking out for your needs. Thank you for your support of Judge Fite Insurance Agency. We are a member of the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas because we pride ourselves on being able to offer our clients insurance solutions that meet their needs at the best price in the market. Allow us to being working with you and your clients today!

For more information about insurance for you home, investments, vehicles, or business, contact Judge Fite Insurance today at insurance@judgefite.com or 214-446-2571.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Why should I use an agent, I don't even know what they do!

You could do it yourself, but…..

With more real estate resources available on the internet, it may seem as if buying and selling a home is an easy task. Here are 30 reasons out of 101 (to see the entire list click here) that will show you the extent of knowledge and experience that an agent provides to help you through a real estate transaction. This list reflects some of the actions, procedures and processes that a real estate agent may typically perform during a residential real estate transaction – and are all things that you could avoid doing yourself.

Typical Pre-Listing Activities
1. Research Current Properties
2. Research Sales Activity from MLS and public records databases
3. Provide Average Days on Market Assessment
4. Review Property Tax Roll
5. Prepare a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA)
Selling the Property Activities
6. Review Title Details
7. Order Plat Map
8. Create Showing Instructions
9. Obtain Mortgage Loan Information
10. Review Homeowner Association Fees and Bylaws
Advertising and Marketing a Listing
11. Enter a Profile Sheet into the MLS Listing Database
12. Take Additional Photos for MLS and Marketing
13. Create and Advertise Property Listing
14. Coordinate Showing Times
15. Create and Mail Flyers
Handling Offers and Contracts
16. Receive Offer(s) to Purchase
17. Counsel and Mediate Offer(s)
18. Deliver Seller's Disclosure
19. Obtain Pre-qualification Letter
20. Negotiate Offers on the Seller's Behalf
Home Inspection and Home Appraisal Activities
21. Coordinate Buyer's Home Inspection
22. Review Home Inspector's Report
23. Interpret Loan Limits
24. Contractor Preparation
25. Confirm Repair Completion
Closing Preparations and Actions
26. Coordinate Closing Process
27. Coordinate Closing Formal Procedure
28. Assist with Title Issues
29. Perform Final Walk-through
30. Verify Tax and Utility Preparation

If you are thinking about buying or selling real estate, visit http://www.century21judgefite.com/ to find a real estate agent in your area, or contact us at 800-451-8055, email: 411@judgefite.com.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What are the advantages of using a REALTOR today?

Having a good real estate transaction or experience really depends on your agent

Finding the right agent is the basis for a great real estate transaction. And success comes from the consumer’s perspective, no one else’s. Make sure that you feel comfortable and can communicate easily with your agent, and that they have the knowledge you need to help make a good decision. Carefully choosing a Realtor will definitely give you an advantage in the home buying or selling process!

QUICK TIP #1: Look for the agent who has the LOCAL ADVANTAGE
When you are choosing a Realtor to help you buy or sell real estate, look for one who is an expert in the community where you are selling or interested in buying. Here are a few ways to determine how “local” your agent is:

- A community resident (preferred)
- Has community memberships in clubs, boards, chambers, associations, PTA, etc.
- Ask to see their “PR” or press related announcements about their local activities
- Ask how long they have been in the area and where their office is located
- Do you see their “FOR SALE” sign in the area?

QUICK TIP #2: Look for the agent who has the TECHNICAL ADVANTAGE
One of the key assets you want in a Realtor is one who has knowledge of their industry and of the local market. You want them to understand the technical side of the real estate transaction so they can help you navigate through the process, eliminating errors and getting you to the closing table successfully and on time.

- Look for experience. How many years in the business?
- What is their background?
- Check to see what real estate “designations” they have. There are many education hours required for an agent to receive one single designation such as CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) or REALTOR® (Graduate of the Realtor Institute). This indicates specialized training in a certain area.
- When you identify the agent’s areas of expertise, make sure this compliments your particular needs.

QUICK TIP #3: Look for the agent who has the MARKETING ADVANTAGE
One of the greatest advantages in working with a real estate professional is the marketing opportunities they bring to the table. For the buyer, they are more knowledgeable on homes from marketing through their vast referral network. And for the seller, a Realtor’s “marketing toolbox” and referral network has the potential to expose your property to thousands more interested buyer prospects.

- Check out their website, is it up to date with community and property information?
- Are they Internet savvy? Connected?
- Do they participate in social networking, and do they have pages on Facebook and other sites they are using to market their listings and provide pertinent real estate information to the online community?
- Ask for an example of their marketing plan for your property or a listing of their referral networks where they can match your real estate needs up to sellers.
- When and how will they deploy their marketing plan? How will it benefit your objectives?

These tips get you thinking about what qualifications you want in a real estate professional. The bottom line is that you want to find an agent who possesses most, if not all, of these qualities while having a comfortable working relationship with you. You are choosing someone you will be spending many hours with and hopefully will build a solid, long-term relationship over time. Selecting the right real estate agent will make a world of difference in the outcome of your real estate transaction.

To find a real estate professional who can help you get started on your next real estate transaction, visit http://www.century21judgefite.com/ today! Call 800-451-8055, or email 411@judgfite.com.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Staging your Home Quick Tips

Everyone appreciates a lovely, well cared for home!

QUICK TIP #1: Remember the three “C’s”

You have probably heard, “there are a million reasons for people to be poor in this world, but there is no reason not to be clean.” No one wants to move into someone else’s filth. Your home should be sparkling clean – bathrooms, appliances, windows, mirrors, cabinets and countertops, etc.; floors should be shiny, dust-ball free and squeaky clean; and furnishings that don’t look shopworn are just the beginning of clean.

Get rid of it. This is probably the biggest challenge in any home. Not only is it messy, it makes the house appear to be smaller. In the process, de-personalize the home. Family photos on the bureau and awards on the wall make buyers feel that they are invading a seller’s privacy. Go for a simple, streamlined look and put away the personal items.

“Paint and Petunias”. Studies from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University show that minor landscaping and new paint actually return 109% of the dollar cost. Color is very subjective, so make sure when you are painting to make rooms look fresh that you don’t overuse strong colors. It is best to keep the colors subtle and mellow. Remember, you want the prospective buyer to visualize THEIR style in YOUR home.

QUICK TIP #2: Follow the basketball rule*

It's no secret that America is a nation of consumers. And all of that stuff we buy is strewn about our homes. In the living room of one luxurious homes that staging guru Barb Schwarz * staged, she unearthed a grand piano beneath mounds of clutter - something she did not notice when she first visited. So while you might like being surrounded by your collection of trophy fish or glass figurines, these items can be a real turnoff to a potential buyer.

Here's a rule of thumb: Remove all items that are smaller than the size of a basketball. Pack up at least half of your books. And stash the photographs of you and the kids on your Hawaiian vacation. You want the buyer to be able to envision himself in your home -- not you.

*Source: Ellen Florian, FORTUNE. Barb Schwarz is the CEO and founder of StagedHomes.com and has personally staged more than 5,000 homes over the past 33 years.

QUICK TIP #3: Set the scene

Just before a showing:

• Just before the agent arrives with the prospects, open the drapes and window shades to let in as much daylight as possible. Turn on lights throughout the home. If it happens to be night, be sure that all of your outdoor lights are on, especially landscape and pool lights.
• Open all the doors between rooms to give an inviting feeling. Have soft jazz or easy listening music playing. It will put people in a buying mood.
• Pick up any newspapers or magazines that may be lying around. See that the counters are free of unnecessary items and that any dirty dishes are put in the dishwasher. Empty the wastebaskets, put the toilet lids down, hide your laundry and grooming items, and place baskets of new, color coordinated hand towels in the bathroom.

For help on staging your home for sale, contact ROI Staging at www.roistaging.com. To help find a real estate professional in your area, visit http://www.century21judgefite.com/ or call 800-451-8055. You

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Help me understand the CREDIT SCORING lingo

Talk their language - Know the credit-scoring lingo.

Credit will always be a driving factor in real estate transactions. For the home buyer, you need good credit to purchase a home, and for the home seller, you need good credit to relocate and purchase another dwelling. To help you manage your credit reports and scoring, here is a list of 25 “need-to-know” credit-scoring terms that are commonly used in the financial industry:

Algorithm: A complex mathematical model. In credit scoring, it is used to compare data in millions of credit reports and predict a person's likelihood to repay debts.
Bankruptcy: A legal proceeding designed to help people in financial difficulty get a fresh start by relieving them from having to pay their current debts. Bankruptcies usually stay on a person's credit report for 10 years.
Charge-off: An unpaid portion of a bill that a lender has accepted will never be paid and has recorded on the books as a bad debt. It is a serious negative item on a credit report.
Collection: A creditor's attempt to recover a past-due payment by turning the account over to a collection department or company. Having a debt in collection is a serious negative item on a credit report.
Credit bureau: A credit-reporting agency that is a clearinghouse for information on the credit rating of individuals or firms. Often called a "credit repository" or a "consumer reporting agency." The three largest credit bureaus in the U.S. are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Credit history: A record of a person's use of credit over time.
Credit limit: The most that can be charged on a credit card or to a credit line.
Credit report: A document containing financial information about a person, focusing on his or her history of paying obligations, such as a mortgage, car payment, utilities, and credit cards. Also includes current balances on outstanding debts, the individual's amount of available credit, public records such as bankruptcies, and inquiries about credit from various companies.
Credit risk: The measure of a person's creditworthiness. People who are more likely to repay their debts on time are considered a better risk by lenders, and will be charged lower interest rates for borrowing money.
Debt-to-available-credit ratio: The amount of money a person has in outstanding debt, compared to the amount of credit available on all of the individual's credit cards and credit lines. The higher a person's debt to available credit, the more risky the individual appears to potential lenders.
Default: A designation on a credit report that indicates a person has not paid a debt that was owed. Accounts usually are listed as being in default after several reports of delinquency. Defaults are a serious negative item on a credit report.
Delinquent: A designation on a credit report that a person hasn't made the minimum payment on a loan or a credit card on time. On credit reports, delinquencies are usually shown as being 30, 60, 90 or 120 days delinquent. Delinquencies are a serious negative item on a credit report.
Equifax: One of the three major credit-reporting agencies.
Experian: One of the three major credit-reporting agencies.
FICO scores: The most commonly used credit score. The name comes from the Fair Isaac Corporation, which developed the scoring model. They are used to predict the likelihood that a person will pay his or her debts. The scores use only information from credit reports.
Hard inquiry: An item on a person's credit report that indicates that someone has asked for a copy of the individual's report. Hard inquiries are requests that result from a person applying for credit, such as a mortgage, a car loan, a credit card or a rental application. They are included in the formula for determining a person's credit score.
Installment credit: A type of credit in which the monthly payment is the same every month and the loan has a set time period. The most common forms of installment credit are mortgages and car loans.
A decision from a judge on a civil action or lawsuit; usually an amount of money a person is required to pay to satisfy a debt or as a penalty.
Lien: A legal claim placed on a person's property, such as a car or a house, as security for a debt. A lien may be placed by a contractor who did work on your house or a mechanic who repaired your car and didn't get paid. The property cannot be sold without paying the lien.
Public record: Information on your credit report that has been obtained from court records, such as bankruptcies, judgments, and liens. These are never good.
Rate shopping: Applying for credit with several lenders to find the best interest rate, usually for a mortgage or a car loan. If done within a short period of time, such as two weeks, it should have little impact on a person's credit score.
Revolving credit: An account that requires a minimum payment each month plus service charges on the remaining balance. As the balance declines, so does the service charge.
Soft inquiry: An item on a person's credit report that indicates that someone has asked for a copy of his or her report. Soft inquiries can be from current creditors reviewing the file, prospective creditors who want to send out an offer such as a pre-approved credit card, or a person's own review of their file. They are not included in the formula for determining a person's credit score.
Trade line: An account listed on a credit report. Each separate account is a different trade line.
TransUnion: One of the three major credit-reporting agencies.

For more information on understanding credit scoring, contact an experienced Loan Officer at http://www.centurionmortgage.com/ or call 214-638-0228

Don't let CREDIT drive you! Here are 2 smart tips

It’s a credit driven society we live in, but don’t let CREDIT drive YOU!
The first step in managing your credit is to know what your credit report says about you.

QUICK TIP #1: It’s not ERROR free
Find, look at, double check, and MONITOR your credit reports. Obtaining copies of your credit reports is easy. The 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act guarantees everyone one free credit report from each of the main credit reporting agencies. You must request your free credit reports through a centralized source. To order online, visit www.annualcreditreport.com. By phone, call (877) 322-8228. Or you may request it via US Mail by writing: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105283, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5283.

2 more ways to receive a free copy of your credit report
• If you applied for a loan and were turned down, you can request a copy by writing the correct credit bureau within 60 days of the rejection. With your request, you should include a copy of the declined loan application.
• You can also get a free report if you are unemployed; planning to apply for a job in the next 60 days, receiving public welfare assistance or believe the credit file contains mistakes resulting from fraud.

If you wish to purchase your credit report (beyond your free copies), request a copy from each of the three credit bureaus:
• Equifax – 800-685-1111 www.equifax.com
• Experian – 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742) www.experian.com
• TransUnion – 800-916-8800 www.transunion.com

NOTE: If you are about to apply for a home mortgage, it's important to give yourself time to correct mistakes or make good on delinquent accounts. You should check your credit at least three to six months before you apply for a mortgage. Make sure the following information is correct:

• Your name or names, if you are or were married
• Social Security number
• Date of birth
• Addresses of places you've lived
• Names of places you've worked
• Pending accounts and accounts that have been closed
• Records of delinquent payments or other problems (i.e., make sure they're not mistakes)

Next, make sure nothing has been on the report longer than is allowed by law:

• Bankruptcies must be taken off your credit history after 10 years
• Suits, judgments, tax liens and most other kinds of unfavorable financial information must be dropped after seven years. If unpaid, tax liens can remain on the report for up to 15 years*.

Fixing Mistakes
If you find mistakes on your credit reports, you can dispute them. You will need to fill out the form that comes with the report. The process takes time because the creditors have 30 days to respond to a
charge of a discrepancy, or 45 days if the dispute regards data in your free annual credit report. As long as a charge is in dispute, that dispute will show up on your report. Long-time lenders say it's common for reports to have errors. Some estimate that as many as 80 percent of all credit reports have some kind of misinformation.

Now, that you've read your report, dispute any mistakes you find by contacting each of the credit bureaus that report the error. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax allow you to do this online, but you may also submit your dispute by phone or mail.

If you suspect fraud, get a fraud alert placed on your credit file by contacting the fraud department of the credit bureau and explaining the situation. Alert other appropriate agencies as necessary. While you can't delete negative but accurate and verifiable information, you can submit a 100-word consumer statement that explains the reason for the negative data. Your explanation will remain on your credit file until you remove it or until the data in dispute gets removed.

*Source: www.bankrate.com and The Fair Credit Reporting Act

QUICK TIP #2: Get in the Driver’s Seat
Tips for improving your credit scores. Credit scores, along with your overall income and debt, are big factors in determining whether you’ll qualify for a mortgage loan and what your loan terms will be. So, take the driver’s seat and keep your credit score high by doing the following:

- Monitor your credit report and dispute errors. Errors in your report will usually translate into a low score. (See information above on Tip #1 on how to dispute errors.)
- Pay your bills on time even if it means you can only pay the minimum amount due.
- Low balances are a positive factor in scoring models. Don't use all your available credit.
- New credit applications can detract from your score. Even an application for a department store card can lower your score. Multiple applications can have a devastating effect on your score, especially around the time you are applying for a mortgage. So wait to charge that new fridge or furniture until after the loan is approved.
- Old accounts (even those you haven't used for a long time) can help your score. Scoring models look at not just how to use credit today but also how long you have used credit.
- Consolidating balances or moving debt around may make for one easy payment, but this can have an adverse effect on your score. Shuffling of balances could be especially harmful to your score if you close established accounts and open new accounts to consolidate your debt.
- Know the going interest rates. Current rates for mortgages, car loans, and other consumer credit are published in daily newspapers or can be found online at such sites as www.bankrate.com. If you have a good credit score but are not offered a good interest rate, ask questions, negotiate, or shop elsewhere.
- Wait 12 months after credit difficulties to apply for a mortgage. You’re penalized less for problems after a year.
- Shop for mortgage rates all at once. Too many credit applications can lower your score, but multiple inquiries from the same type of lender are counted as one inquiry if submitted over a short period of time.
- Avoid finance companies. Even if you pay the loan on time, the interest is high and it will probably be considered a sign of poor credit management.

*Source: Fannie Mae Foundation www.homebuyingguide.org and NAR

To contact a mortgage professional that can help you get started preparing your credit for a mortgage, contact www.CenturionMortgage.com or call 214-638-0228.

Monday, June 29, 2009

the FACTS on Staging your home to SELL!

Ok, I want to sell my house, but there are several things in need of repair and/or updating. Is it worth my time and money?

QUICK FACT #1: Staging your home for sale saves you time and money
Professionally staged homes sell in 80% less time than non-staged homes, according to a survey conducted by ASP* (Accredited Staging Professional). The money spent on staging will always be less than your first price reduction and statistics also show that 94.6% of staged homes sell on average in 35 days or less. *Source: Stagedhomes.com and based on today’s market

QUICK FACT #2: Simple cleaning and staging can return $1,000’s
The following is a summary of the results of HomeGain’s national survey, based on areas of home improvement identified by real estate agents.

PROJECT - COST - PRICE INCREASE (+) - ROI (Return on Investment)
Home Staging: Lighten and brighten - Costs: $233 – 370 Price +: $1,178 – 1,566 ROI: 355%
Clean and de-Clutter - Costs: $190 – 318 Price+: $1,505 – 1,937 ROI: 578%
Landscape Front/back - Costs: $378 – 546 Price+: $1,718 – 2,158 ROI: 319%
Stage Home for Sale - Costs: $403 – 584 Price+: $1,938 – 2,431 ROI: 343%

QUICK FACT #3: Living in your home and marketing your home are two different things!
Staging can be as simple as spiffing up your home in a number of small ways…it’s all in the presentation! The way you live in your home and the way you market your home for sale are two different things…you have to think of your house as a product. You want the prospective buyer to visualize your home as THEIR home, they need to be able to SEE their stuff in your house!

To download your FREE “10 Steps to Staging your Home”, please click here or email marketing@judgefite.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Planning to buy a home? Here are 6 easy steps to purchase your dream home.

Most Americans do not pay cash for their largest investment, a Home. Plan today for your future. If you don’t someone else will.

STOP going to those back room, cousin and brother-in-law deals that sound too good to be true. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it most likely is. I sat with a couple in the conference room yesterday who had given a man$ 5,000 for their down payment only to learn he was not the owner, they lost $5000!

First step on how to get a great mortgage is to call a Centurion Mortgage Company loan officer at one of CENTURY 21 Judge Fite offices. I personally refinanced 20 mortgages with Centurion Mortgage 6 years ago and they took care of me throughout the entire process. My interest was protected from beginning to closing.

Second step is to pay for them to run your credit from the same three credit agencies that will be used to qualify you for the loan. Once the loan officer views your credit that will allow them to identify any challenges that exist. Never lose sight that Real Estate Builds Wealth. Have the Loan officer go over with you any derogatory issues that may exist and write down a plan to clear them up.

Step three - begin with the smaller balances and work up to the larger ones. When you clean up issues on your credit the end result is you get a cheaper interest rate which affects the monthly payment for the next 15 to 30 years. Allow the loan officer to explain the different types of loans available to you and which one fits your financial situation. The loan officer will identify how much you need for a down payment and closing costs ahead of time, avoiding those last minute emergencies of trying to locate additional monies for closing. Plan ahead is always the best and cheapest approach to buying big ticket items.

Step four , organize your financial information and identify all of your recurring expenses, car loans, credit cards, existing mortgage loans, child support, gym memberships, etc.

Step five, identify your gross income including child support if you are the recipient. Have check stubs for the present and previous pay periods. If you are gaining financing through a traditional bank you will need to follow the same procedures. If you are going through a bank it is better to have established a relationship a year or two in advance of needing a loan. Shop Bank rates as you would have the Centurion Loan officer do for you on their loans.

Step six, once you receive a letter of pre-approval from a reputable mortgage company, you can now move forward and select a Professional Realtor at CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company (the number 2 CENTURY 21 Agency in the World) to assist you in finding the right home for you and your family. Judge Fite himself said it well “Begin the rest is easy”. You are in charge of your future wealth, do not leave it up to fate or you will go homeless and hungry. Take action today to change your future for the better.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How do I get the right insurance for my new home?

Ask lots of questions!

Question: I am purchasing a home and my mother will be living in it. Does that change the insurance that is appropriate for me?

Answer: Yes. You will have to change you insurance from homeowners to a landlords/fire policy. By the way this policy is for your protection, for your mother she should get a renter’s policy.

Question: I am purchasing a Town Home and I am getting conflicting information from everyone. What is the right insurance for me?

Answer: To be sure what coverage is right for you we would have to check with the Home Owners Association and maybe even review their By-Laws. In some cases you will need to only cover the inside of you home, while in some you need to cover the structure including the roof of the unit.

Question: When I purchase my new home, I will be renting my current home. Will my current policy cover my tenant?

Answer: No, what you have is a home owner’s policy and you must be the occupant. You will need a fire/landlord policy that provides you the proper coverage, while your tenant will need a renter’s policy.

Question: I am buying a foreclosure and I am getting a great deal. That should save me a lot on my home insurance right?

Answer: Not really. The replacement value that your policy is based on is the cost to fully replace the home if you have a total loss. Many times what people are paying for foreclosures does not come close to the cost to rebuild it.

Question: I have heard that if I have my home and auto insurance on the same policy I can save money.

Answer: Yes. Having your insurance with Judge Fite Insurance gives you the added benefit of this discount even if we have you with two different insurance carriers not just with one company. By the way auto and a home policy are never on the same policy but some times they are with the same insurance carrier.

Question: With all the rain and storms we have been having, I was wondering if I am covered for floods.

Answer: No, flood insurance is a separate policy and that coverage is not part of your home owner’s policy. Give us a call and we would be glad to give you a quote. You may be surprised how affordable it can be.

Question: What is the rating of the insurance company you will be quoting?

Answer: All of the insurance carriers we work with for home and auto are rated in the “A” category. If you should have questions about the process of the rating of insurance companies you can visit www.ambest.com.

The above examples are just a few of the reasons why you should select an Independent Agent like the Judge Fite Insurance Agency instead of an agency that only represents one insurance carrier work for you. We have over 30 appointments with insurance carriers and a service level to provide you more options, competitive quotes and answers to your questions.

For more information about insurance for you home, investments, vehicles, or business, contact Judge Fite Insurance today at insurance@judgefite.com or 214-446-2571.

Eric Fite, VP Judge Fite Insurance

Friday, June 19, 2009

Can you build wealth in this real estate market?

WOW what a subject, my favorite!

In my earlier years at Judge Fite Company, my wife and I bought a home for $32,000 in the Kessler Square subdivision, invested $40,000 in it and sold it for $155,000.00. We bought the next home for $140,000.00 and sold it for $235,000.00.

That might sound great but NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY…the $32,000.00 home is now worth $300,000.00 and the $140,000.00 home is worth $565,000.00!

I mentioned in a previous article that the only regret I have over my lifetime is that I ever sold any of the Real Estate we have owned. We started accumulating rental properties 25 years ago, today we have 27 rentals and our homestead. The difference between what we owe and what they are worth is approx $1.5 Million. Had we NOT sold any of our acquisitions that equity would be approx $2.9 Million.

You have the same opportunity at your finger tips. It is our plan to continue to buy rental properties and let the rent pay them off. We plan to live off 60% of the gross rental income if we ever choose to retire. If all rentals were paid off today, the monthly rent role is $25,000 a month. At a 60% ratio, that would be a monthly income of $15,000.00 while saving the $10,000 a month for taxes, Insurance, upkeep, remodel and vacancy. We can live on $15,000.00 a month easier than we can live on $2,100 a month in social security. Social Security is a bonus to retirement, not the sole basis to retire on.

Instead of buying diamonds and new cars, we buy rental properties and drive nice used cars. Real Estate is our main focus of growing wealth. MILLIONAIRES will be made in the next 18 months by buying investment properties during the low interest price dip that we enjoy today. There is a silver lining in every situation. Selling investment properties will make you a lot of commissions this year!

William Ferguson, President, Judge Fite Management Company

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Marketing 411: A practical guide on using Twitter and blogging in your real estate marketing

Straight from the Marketing Director, Sandy Wright

With all the options we have to share our information online, it can be a bit confusing on where to start first. In marketing your real estate listings emails and newsletters are great and shouldn't be left out. The many web feeds available to real estate search engines are a plus, but what about the new social networking sites? Did you know that about 200 million people accessed Facebook today? Millions are tweeting on Twitter everyday and YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, following Google. It is time to incorporate social networking as part of your marketing distribution! It isn’t hard, but it will take some time. So set aside a few hours this week to get set up.

To help you get started, here is my simple “How To” on posting your listings online to the top mainstream social networking sites. But take note, you have to have your tools in order FIRST so you can rock and roll with the postings!

How to Post your Listings to the Top Social Networking (SN) Sites -Feeding your Twitter, YouTube and Facebook Content

A: Tools Needed:

1 – A great listing – or if you don’t have a listing yet, an article about your niche area

2 – MLS listing information and MLS number

3 – At least 15 beautiful photos of the listing, interior, exterior and detail

4 – Well written copy for the description, no more than 135 characters

5 – A powerful headline, something with searchable keywords in it

6 – Accounts set up for:

Twitter.com, Facebook.com, Youtube.com, LinkedIn.com, Plaxo.com, Animoto.com, Friendfeed.com, igoogle.com,
myspace.com, blogger.com, wordpress.com, Trulia.com, Addthis.com

7 – A good mail list of your contacts, SOI, clients and their email addresses

B: Feed your listing to the world of SN sites

1 – Upload your listing as usual to MLS using the well written copy for the description and the beautiful 15 photos

2 – Create an out of the box video of your listing using the 15 photos on Animoto.com

3 – Download the video and save it to you harddrive

4 – “Share” the video on Animoto with your social networking sites

5 – Upload the video to your YouTube.com page and be sure to use your well written copy describing the listing, use your headline in the title section of YouTube, “share” and/or invite your database to view the YouTube video

6 – Go to your blog account and post a blog entry of your listing, write about the listing and include details, give community, school and shopping info and a nice description of the property area, add your photos as a gallery

7 – Copy and paste your blog entry into your Trulia.com blog and upload your video, “share” with your other sites and / or email page to friends

8 – Add blog entry as an “article” on linked in, and set up your Linkedin account to “feed” your blog postings directly to your Linkedin home page

9 – Feed Facebook your blog entry using one of the property photos as the thumbnail, be sure to use your catchy headline for your “status” or “what are you doing”

10 – Tweet out on Twitter your catchy headline with a URL to your blog, YouTube or Facebook, add your database to the “find friends” and invite them to join you on Twitter

Remember, that Twitter allows no more than 140 characters, so if you have a long URL to your blog or video, get a shorter one at: www.tinyurl.com.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You can set up your SN sites to feed each other. For example: I can set up my SN sites to feed each other. So one blog posting can be “shared” to Twitter then Twitter will feed Facebook and Plaxo, etc. Also, I can share from my blogger to most all popular SN sites. Here is how I make a posting, in this order:

  1. Post complete informational or entertaining article or video to blog
  2. Share blog post to Twitter which feeds my Facebook and Plaxo, and all other sites via the “addthis” button on my blog. Some blogs like Trulia will have to be added individually.

I know I can make it sound easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard, it just requires you to have your tools in order and be organized with your information. Oh yea, and it requires a little bit of your focused time. But for the potential exposure, I think it is well worth it!

My motto is this:

The more you communicate with your market, the more you will thrive!