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: 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

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

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 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:,,,,,,,,,,,,

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

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 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 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:

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!

How do I buy a home?

We all know the old adage about real estate: Location, Location, Location. It’s true, but it is also very subjective. The companion adage is a bit harsh, but also true: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Only you can define your perfect location. Make a list. What’s important to you? Quality of schools? Distance to work or schools? Proximity to your place of worship? Reputation of your city? Does it seem to always be in the news for squabbling council persons or crime rates? What are the plans for future expansion? What will that cost you in property value and future taxes? Much of this “homework” can be accomplished through your own research on the internet, at local schools, city hall and the Chamber or Commerce. Much more can be accomplished by hiring a competent professional real estate agent who knows the local market.

This professional will also guide you through the negotiations and explain the contract. The first thing to know is that the contract is a legal and binding instrument! What have you agreed to do? What has the Seller agreed to do? Are they paying for all of the repairs you want? How much earnest money should you put down? Is it at risk? Will you get my option money back? When can you really move in? Do you want a Residential Service Contract? What is that? Can you name the Title Company for closing, or do you have to take one you don’t want? Is everything here routine, or should you seek competent legal advice for this particular point?

By now, or maybe even before, you should be approved for a loan. Get a letter from your lender that says something like “Joe and Anne Smith are approved for a loan of X-thousand dollars at Y-percent for Z-years subject only to the appraised value of the property. Anything less is NOT an approval.

The next step is to have the property inspected by a Licensed Inspector. Don’t “brother-in-law” this one! This is you and your family’s future both economically and emotionally. You still remember where you grew up, don’t you? An inspector will look at the components that make up a house and issue a report. It will include an opinion on the condition of the roof, the foundation, the plumbing system (if the water heater about to go), any evidence of termites or other wood destroying insects, and the list goes on. Remember that buying a pre-owned home is similar to buying a pre-owned car. You need to expect a few dings. If you don’t want dings, buy a new home. But get that one inspected, too! Nobody has lived there yet…. How do you know everything works and was built or installed properly?

Simultaneously with the inspection, apply for homeowner’s insurance. Insurers are becoming increasingly picky about which properties they will insure, and for whom. Credit scoring now effects the rates quoted from many insurers. So does the claim report history of the property. Have the policy in place prior to closing! You don’t need this last minute snag when the moving van is in your driveway.

Finally, be prepared to submit last minute documents to the lender or title company. This has sadly become routine, but necessary to complete the “paper trail” for the lenders and investors who ultimately buy your loan.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Buying Real Estate in Today's Economy

By Dan Hamilton, Director of Training for CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company and Manager of the Flower Mound, Texas office.

This is the perfect time to buy real estate. Lots of properties to choose from and some of the best deals real estate has seen in years. It is also an investor’s paradise. The buyer who can purchase a home today is likely to see that home appreciate over the next few years.

To find the best deals a buyer of real estate should consult a professional Realtor® associated with Century 21 Judge Fite. This professional can find the best properties, at the best price with the least inconvenience to the buyer. Here are a few advantages of letting the professionals at Century 21 Judge Fite represent you in your next real estate purchase:

• Able to conduct a “Wants and Needs” analysis to determine the perfect property
• Access to all the available price range in a given area
• Recognizable national real estate company with a multitude of services directed at helping with the purchase of real property
• A company that provides award winning customer service
• Access to in-house mortgage services with the best financing methods
• Highly trained and experienced management staff
• Experienced with HUD properties, short sales and foreclosures
• Connected with ancillary real estate businesses to handle repair and remodeling
• Fees for buyer representation typically paid for through the transaction

Now is the time to buy. The market is ripe for the best deals now or anytime past or future. Don’t wait the opportunity will pass by quicker than you will think. Make arrangements today to speak with a real estate professional.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ashley thinks you shouldn't wait till the "deals are gone"

Ashley Conlon, the Parker County Regional Manager for CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company, is excited about the possibilites real estate offers today. Here are her TOP REASONS why now is a great time to invest in Real Estate in the DFW area.

For Buyers
#1 Low, low, low interest rates
#2 Nice inventory from which to choose
#3 Pride of ownership… you get to choose paint colors, etc. and quit living in a white box
#4 Lots of special loan programs that allow you to put 0% down (VA and Rural Land Board), 3.5% (FHA), or 5% (Conventional)
#5 Great tax benefits in owning property that put money back in your pocket
#6 Great long term investment… this is a great time to build wealth through investment properties to secure your financial future.
#7 Wonderful incentive for first time home buyers allowing them to receive up to $8,000 in a tax credit that they can save, use to pay off credit cards, or whatever else they desire

For Sellers
#1 Your “shiny penny” house will stand out from the distressed inventory… greater salability
#2 If you take less for your house today, you will make it up on the purchase of your new one – it’s a great time to upgrade for a similar monthly investment
#3 There is an increased number of buyers on the market who are looking at real estate today
#4 Your house should sell quickly if it is priced and staged properly
#5 Waiting creates more of a challenge, when the market is “good,” per the media, that often means the ‘deals’ are gone.

Ashley Conlon
Parker County Regional Manager
CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company
817-458-5104 direct

Chuck sees a positve turn in our market and 4 other reasons to buy or sell now

Chuck Edwards, Assistant Manager of the CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Arlington, Texas office gives his top 5 reasons for buying or selling real estate in today's market.

1. Top officials and industry leaders have stated that “When our market’s financial recovery begins, it will be seen up-front in real estate and it will be strong.” These comments are reflections on the sales activity during the early days of June. Buyer activity has been astoundingly strong in our direct markets here in Dallas and Fort Worth and we’ve noticed that mortgage rates are starting to climb slightly. Both of these events signal a positive turn in our market.
2. Buyer reaction to the $8,000 Tax Credit stimulus move has been an unquestioned success. More buyers are making offers now than we’ve seen in months. In fact, agents representing anxious buyers have complained that prime, well-staged, competitively-priced listings are going under contract under multiple offer situations where more than one set of buyers are interested in the same listing.
3. Specialized industry services such as showing services report a marked increase in the number of agents calling in to arrange showings and the number of showings has increased in recent weeks as well.
4. Mortgage firms are adjusting to new procedures and the major lenders are working hard to get deals closed within the time frame outlined in the contract. A redirection of appraisal procedures, a stabilization of credit guidelines and a general eagerness on the part of various levels of the lending community are helping get the buying process back to normal.
5. Given the encouragement from the brisk buying activity, the inventory levels are at their peak just now. As the buying activity continues to build, the inventory will be expected to be markedly reduced and rates and pricing will predictably rise. Overall, we have an ideal time to buy a home in mid-year 2009.

Chuck Edwards
Assistant Manager
CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company Arlington

Joe's Top 5 Reasons to Buy or Sell in Today's Market

Joe Picardo, Manager of the CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company office in Cedar Hill, Texas gives his top 5 reasons for buying and selling in today's market:

For Buyers
#1 There has never been a better value to price ratio, ever!
#2 Interest rates are very, very low
#3 Lots of nice homes to choice from
#4 Lots of special programs for various people, i.e. first-time homebuyers
#5 Great tax benefits in owning property.

For Sellers
#1 In this market if your home is priced right and staged right, it will sell fast.
#2 A good listing will stand out compared to all the distressed inventory.
#3 Any hit you might take in selling your home you will make up on the purchase of a new one.
#4 With all the special programs out there we have seen lots of buyers in the market
#5 If you hold off you may have a lot more competition once the potential seller comes off the fence

Joe Picardo

Century 21 Judge Fite Company

Cedar Hill Branch Manager


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Positive Developments sought for the Real Estate Industry

Here is a report issued by Tom Kunz, CEO of Century 21, LLC on the positive development for the real estate industry that was announced earlier today by the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. corporations. Specifically, the Business Roundtable’s Housing Working Group – which is chaired by Realogy CEO Richard A. Smith – issued a set of recommendations for the White House and Congress that are aimed at jumpstarting the housing market in order to stimulate a broader economic recovery.

The Business Roundtable’s recommendations are as follows:

· Keep mortgage interest rates at historically low levels (below 5 percent) for at least one year;

· Expand the current First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit incentive from the lesser of 10 percent of the purchase price of the home or $8,000 to a higher limit of either 10 percent or $15,000 for all homebuyers, remove the income restrictions and include all primary residence purchases for one full year;

· Conduct a thorough review of current foreclosure mitigation and loan-modification programs in light of rising loan-modification re-default rates;

· Make permanent the current temporary conforming loan limits; and

· Continue to review and strengthen government efforts already underway to review and refine mortgage lending practices.

“We believe targeted, demand-side solutions – such as the ones Business Roundtable is recommending today – will provide a critical next step for a housing recovery that will help create jobs and boost the economy as a whole,” said Smith in the Business Roundtable’s press release.

To obtain a copy of the Business Roundtable press release and its Housing Working Group’s detailed recommendations, click here. To read an article that appeared in today’s online edition of The Wall Street Journal containing an interview with Richard Smith about the Business Roundtable’s recommendations and why they are crucial to jumpstarting the housing market, click here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What to look for when buying a home

Jim Fite, President of CENTURY 21 Judge Fite Company talks about what to look for when buying a home.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How does a real estate agent help me buy a home?

Choosing the right real estate agent can save you time and headache!

Working with the right real estate agent will be one of your most valuable resources. Trying to do it yourself these days can lead to issues not being handled and problems not being discovered. It is great to start your search for homes online and save yourself time by finding the properties you like, but once you find a home you are interested in, contact the agent, it will make the process much more fun and save you time! Here are a few things that a real estate agent does to help you through looking for and purchasing a home:

• A real estate professional can help you determine how much home you can afford and even suggest ways to accrue the down payment and explain alternative financing methods. In addition to knowing the local money market, also can tell you what personal and financial data to bring with you when you apply for a loan.

• A real estate professional is already familiar with current real estate values, taxes, utility costs, municipal services and facilities, and may be aware of local zoning changes that could affect your decision to buy.

• A real estate professional can usually research your housing needs in advance through tools and automated search engines that can pinpoint properties right in the location you want

• A real estate professional often can suggest simple, imaginative changes that make a home more suitable for you and improve its utility and value. Remember, they are in hundreds of homes a month, use their expertise to help you find the perfect home that suits your needs

• A real estate professional is sensitive to the importance you place on this major commitment you are about to make. Look for a real estate professional to facilitate negotiation of a win-win agreement that will satisfy both you and the seller.

Find a great site to search for homes like or and pinpoint the location, price range and homes that you are interested in, then contact an agent for more information, that will get the process started. Interview a few agents to see if there is a chemistry there and that they have the credentials needed to represent you.