Real Estate

Smells Sell

One of our strongest senses is that of smell.
When showing homes, I often hear, “This house smells good” or “Yuck, what is that smell”. Depending upon which statement was said I can usually determine how the rest of the showing is gong to go.
People are more interested in a home with pleasant smell than a house which smells of urine, pet, smoke or just dirt. Sometimes sellers will attempt to over compensate for one of these offensive smells and use strong cleaning products to mask the smell. That typically does not work either as the buyer wonders what the sell was trying to hide.
Make the smells in your house work for you….

–Clean the house or have a professional clean the house
—bake cookies or put dinner in a crockpot for showings. People like good smelling food.
–Have your carpets cleaned to take out odors and dirt.
–make sure to clean litter boxes.
—bathe your pets
–make sure you sweep pet dandruff up daily.
–smokers will need to smoke outside
–have your ducts cleaned
–wash drapes, sheets, and blinds
–sprinkle baking soda on furniture coverings to absorb odors
–wash walls with vinegar water
–clean all wood work
–flameless candles like Scentsy can enhance smells just don’t try to use them to cover odors.

If your home is pleasant smelling, buyers will want to stay longer to look at the rest of the house; otherwise they may not even want to look past the entryway. Many people are allergic to animals and smoke so if your house sells of either of these, the buyer may not make it down the hall to see your incredible bathroom or wonderful kitchen. It is sometimes hard for a Realtor® to tell their seller that their home has an odor,but it is important to know this information up front.
If you are looking to buy or sell please contact Sandi Walker at 405-213-2992 or visit my website at

Real Estate · Uncategorized

Ready set SELL your Home

Are you getting ready to sell your home? Right now in Oklahoma inventory levels are low which is great if you are a seller but there are still a few things you need to do to sell your home quickly and for the most money.
Cleanliness is paramount in selling a house. Buyers look at dusty vents, dirty toilets, stained rugs, etc. and determine that if the seller has not taken the time to clean the house, they probably have not taken the time to maintain the property either. If you are busy or do not like house work consider hiring a cleaning person to get the house clean to sell. It will be well worth the investment.
–In addition to cleaning, I tell sellers is to depersonalize and de-clutter the house. People want to imagine their belongings in the house which is hard to do if the counters are full and the closets jammed packed. Also people look at pictures displayed around the house. –In smaller communities, buyers and sellers may know each other. Do you want them looking at the house or at your pictures.
Neutral colors are best. Dark colors make a room look smaller than it may be. Lots of buyers are turned off by very personal color choices such as purple, hunter green or pink. You want to make the property appealing to as many buyers as possible. If a house has neutral color choices, the buyers can later add their own person tastes.
Curb appeal is also very important. If a buyer has to fight their way past the over grown bush, or watch to not trip over the bicycle or dog defecation in the backyard; it sets the atmosphere for the entire showing.
If you are thing about selling, please feel free to call me and lets talk. 405-213-2992 Website

Real Estate

What should I do if I am denied for a home loan?

It is not the end of the world if you are not able to buy a home today due to your credit score. But not learning how to raise your score can have harmful effects. Not only on your ability to buy a home but also the interest rate you pay for other items as well as the cost of insurance. In addition, some employers use credit scores in making hiring decisions.
Several lenders that I work with have programs to help buyers increase their credit scores in a reasonable time. In addition I also work with a non profit that can help you make a budget and give you ideas on improving your credit score.
Some of the ways that may help you to increase your credit score are:

1. Paying off or lowering the balances on your credit cards. Do not close accounts though, just pay them off.

2. Sign up for a secure credit card at a local bank. Make a small purchase each month and pay it off.

3. Sign up for auto pay on your reoccurring bill pay on your accounts that allow this option. Making sure the money is available in your account.

4. Make a budget and stick to it. This seems to be a difficult thing in our society but you need to see where your money is going in order to manage it.

5. Review your credit report. If there are any discrepancies, write to the credit reporting agencies to correct them.

6. If you have judgments or collections, contact the people you owe and see if you can make payment arrangements. Sometimes creditors will take less than is owed if you will negotiate with them. But you have to call and ask. There is no guarantee they will take less but if you don’t ask, you will never know.

Your credit score affects so many parts of your life. People who have low credit scores tend to pay more in interest for all sorts of things. So decide today to improve your credit score. If you need help improving your credit score, feel free to ask for a referral to a person who can help you. Just because your score is low today doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
If you have real estate questions, please feel free to call me at 405-213-2992 or visit my website

Real Estate

You want to be a property manager? part 2

Part 2
6. Document everything. Document when rent was paid and the form of payment. Document when tenants call with maintenance issues and the course of action taken. Document if you told the tenant to remove trash or vehicles.

7. Have the tenant fill out a check in list when they move in, noting any issues. The condition of the house should be fully documented and pictures are a plus.

8. If you allow pets, verify with your insurance company if they will cover all breeds. Get a pet deposit. You will want the tenant to remove the dog defecation when they move.

9. Make sure your lease is legal and detailed. Seek the advise of a real estate attorney to write a lease.

10. Address pest control in the lease. Are you paying for bug spraying and rodent issues or is that the tenants responsibility.

11. The landlord’s hazard insurance generally does not cover the tenant’s belongings. Make sure you address this in the lease.

12. Check with your hazard insurance to see what exclusions need to be make as part of the lease. Address things like business adventures (ie daycare activities, etc), animals, pools, and trampolines. Not all insurance company coverage’s are the same.

13. Pictures are a great thing. They will show what the house looked like prior to the tenant moving into the property.

14. Save all your receipts for tax purposes.

15. Hire a good CPA that is familiar with investment property.

16. Use separate checking accounts. One for escrows and one for opporating capital and expenses. I do not mix my business accounts with my personal accounts.

I guess the best bet of advise I can give you is to be detailed orientated and document what is going on in your business. Treat property management like a business and it will reward you like a business. This is not legal advice. If you need legal advice on renting property please seek legal advice. If you’re interested in purchasing investment property, feel free to call me at 405-213-2992.


So you want to be a property manager? part 1

During the 1990’s my husband and I decided to obtain investment property. We wanted to use it as additional income and eventually as part of our retirement. We slowly added to our inventory learning as we went. I am continually learning and tweaking our lease to cover things that come up. The following is some of what I have learned over the years.


1. I always validate the references on the tenant’s application.

Reverse search the phone number to make sure it matches the name of the previous landlord. 

Check county records to verify the name of the landlord matches the name of the reference, unless you are calling a property management company.


2. Call the potential tenants prior landlord to the one they are currently renting, they may give more information than the current landlord.


3. Look in the court records to see if the potential tenant has been evicted from previous rentals, or if the potential tenant has felony convictions.


4. Drive by your investment property regularly. If you see cars parked on the grass, or trash in the yard. Stop and address the situation. If the outside looks bad, the inside is probably not much better.


5. The rent is due as per contract, follow the contract. If you allow the tenant to split the rent or pay late without consequence that is what they will always do. You need to make sure paying late is not an option.

There may be times that the tenant will call stating that they have an issue where they cannot pay rent on time. Always get some money, even if it is only a small portion. Tell the tenant up front that they must communicate and be truthful.

If you do not hear from the tenant and do not have rent by the 5th of the month, put an eviction notice on the door (in Oklahoma know as a 5 day notice to vacate). Do NOT wait. The longer you wait the more rent you will lose. When I have had to issue a 5 day notice, I usually get the rent within the 5 days required or the tenant moves out.

If you the tenant does not pay or move out, then take future action and go to court before you lose more rent and potentially have more damages.


While screening the tenant properly and monitoring your property will alleviate the majority of problems, it is not a guarantee you will never get a bad tenant or have issues.

If you would like to explore the possibilities of investing in properties, let me know. I would be happy to help you.

This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice on renting property please seek legal advice.  If you’re interested in purchasing investment property, feel free to call me at 405-213-2992.


I haven’t been able to sell my house, should I rent it?

The house has been listed for months and the realtor is marketing the home but it just is not selling and the seller needs to move, so what is a seller to do.
The seller could lower the price until a buyer can be found. But this sometimes will require the seller to bring money to the table that they do not want to bring or do not have to bring to the table. So the next logical solution is to rent the house. But is that a good idea.
Rental property comes with a certain amount of risk. Screening potential tenants is paramount to limiting potential problems but is not fool proof. Sometimes people look good on paper and still do not work out. If you do not have property management experience, you might want to hire a property manager.
The Oklahoma Landlord tenant act explains the responsibilities of the landlord and the rights of the tenant. If you are going to have rental property, you should obtain a copy of this publication and study it. Whether you hire a property manager or not, you need to know what the law says regarding tenants and landlords.
Tenants do not always pay on time. If they do not pay the rent in a timely fashion, you will need to follow the law by giving proper notice, and filing a forcible entry and detainer in court. During this time you will still need to make the mortgage even though you do not have rent being paid.
In addition, the tenant will probably not treat your property the same way you would. Be prepared to have repairs. If something breaks in the house, you will need to repair it in a timely fashion. If the tenant tears up your property, you can sue them for damage and garnish wages.
Deciding to rent your property that will not sell can sound like a good idea and may work out for you, but most of my experience shows me that it costs the home owner more in the long run and may cause additional stress if the tenant doesn’t pay the rent or tears up the property. Only you can decide if you are willing to take the risk of renting your property. But property management is not for everyone.
If you have real estate questions, please feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992 or


How to choose a Realtor

People find a realtor to represent them by various means. And while there are lots of people who have a real estate license, you should choose the person you believe will represent your interest the best. If you have a friend who has recently purchased a home similar to what you are looking to purchase, ask them if they liked their realtor. A referral is a great way to find a great realtor.
I think you should ask the realtor some questions before hiring them.
1. Are you a full time Realtor?
2. What price range do you usually sell?
This should be in the price range you are purchasing. A realtor used to selling half million dollar homes is not going to be as excited to help you find the $50,000 fixer upper.
3. If you are interested in a repo, how many have they sold previously?
4. How many homes do they sell in a year?
5. What neighborhoods have you sold recently? Feel free to ask for addresses.
6. Does the Realtor live near the area you are looking to buy in?
7. What hours do they work? Do they take certain days off?
8. If you are a first time buyer, do they know about programs that might benefit you? Or if you are moving up to another home, do they have advice about selling one house while purchasing another.
By asking questions, you will be able to determine if the realtor you are considering to represent you is your best choice. I personally do not believe that all people can be all things to all people. I think the best realtors are those that specialize in certain areas and with certain buyers.
If you have real estate questions, please feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992 or

Real Estate

Garage conversions

Garage conversions add much needed space to a home for a minimal cost.
There are two ways to do a garage conversion. One is to remove the standard garage door and seal up the opening. This allows the opportunity to add a window. The other way is to leave the existing garage door and add a false wall in the garage at some point to create a room. The garage floor may be raised to the house floor, if desired. Either method creates more living space. However I think that by leaving the existing garage door you do not advertise to the neighborhood that you have changed the structure of the house. I also think that the curb appeal of the house with the garage door looks better. However, this does not allow a place for a window to allow light. In addition, it may not be safe to create a bedroom in a garage without a window in case of a fire.
It seems in Oklahoma that people want garages and are not anxious to purchase garage conversions. Often times it takes longer to sell a home with a garage conversion than one with a garage.
But if you are looking for a lot of square footage at a lower price, a garage conversion may be the answer. Appraisers tend to value the square footage of a garage at half value. Meaning if the value of the home is priced at $100 a square foot, the value to the garage square footage would be priced at $50 a square foot.
If you have real estate questions, please feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992 or

Real Estate

Should I give a carpet allowance or replace the carpet

When going on a listing appointment, I often will make suggestions to sellers about upgrades or improvements that they should make in order to get their home sold faster and for more money. While fresh paint is at the top of the list often times, carpet is usually close to the top of necessary improvements. Lots of times the carpets are soiled beyond repair or have cigarette smoke or animal smells in them. If the carpet is not in good condition, it can have a real negative impact on the buyer.
Lots of times sellers are more willing to give an allowance rather that to simply replace the carpet. They rationalize that the new buyer may not like their color choice or that they may want to lay wood or tile in place of carpet. I can understand that thinking. But in my experience, buying a home is an emotional decision. If the buyer is met with hunter green carpet or pink carpet or stained carpet, their entire first impression is different from if they are met with new neutral colored carpet.
Sometimes price is a concern for the seller. There is enough money in the equity of the home to pay for the carpet but they do not have the available funds to purchase the carpet now. Working with a local carpet company (I know one) may allow you to do some in-house financing where the carpet company allows you to pay for the carpet out the proceeds of the sale of the house. The company I use does not charge interest if the house closes in a reasonable amount of time.
I always suggest that people replace the carpet rather than give an allowance because it tends to lead to a higher sales price and the house sold in a faster period of time. I once had a listing that had pink carpet. The seller was offering a $3000 carpet allowance, after 3 months on the market and no offers, I convinced the seller to replace the carpets. We had two offers within one week of changing the carpet. To me this illustrates the importance of the first impression and the power of the emotion that seeing the new carpet installed (which actually cost less than the amount that the seller was offering in an allowance) than the promise of new carpet in an allowance.
If you are considering buying or selling a home please feel free to call me at 405-213-2992 or visit my website at

Real Estate

My credit is good, so why should I get preapproved?

One of the first questions I ask a new buyer is whether they are pre approved or not to buy a house. Lots of times they will say they are just getting started or they know they will be fine to buy and want to see what is out there in the market before they start the loan process.
While I can appreciate that they may have good credit, there are several other factors that go into purchasing a home.
The lender is going to look at your debt to income ratio, the length of time at your employment, the amount of cash on hand to close as well as reserves. In addition they are going to look at your credit score and the number of trade lines you have open as well as how long those lines of credit have been open. They will ask for your bank statements to see if you have insufficient funds. I have had clients who have been on their jobs for a long period of time and do not have any real debt but don’t have the credit history to purchase a home.
In addition, the lender can explain the types of loans available and the fees involved. This way you can make an informed decision on what type of home to buy.
Without being pre approved you are simply window shopping and potentially wasting your time as well as anyone else involved in the transaction. In fact, most realtors will not show you multiple properties without the buyer getting preapproved for a loan. In addition, most sellers will want to see a preapproval letter prior to taking their property off the market for 30-60 days. HUD requires a preapproval or proof of funds letter in order to submit an offer; and all other bank repos will require one for acceptance.
I personally believe a local lender is the best place to get preapproved but you may choose from a variety of lending institutions.
If you have questions about real estate please feel free to call me at 405-213-2992 or visit my website at http://www.sandi walker. com