Real Estate

Should you sell your home in January?

It’s winter time and it’s cold outside. You want to sell your house, but you are thinking it is winter time and nobody is looking perhaps you should wait until spring. While I hear this all the time, it is simply not true. People look for homes all twelve months of the year. In fact I recently listed a home a couple days after Christmas and sold it in less than a week.
I believe there are several reasons to list and sell your house in the winter. These reasons include having more serious buyers out looking. These buyers aren’t kicking tires thinking about buying, they are actually buying a home. Perhaps they are getting transferred, married, or their lease is up. They need to move now. Often times less inventory is on the market in the winter time meaning less competition. Buyers have fewer choices in the winter time. It is simply a matter of supply and demand. In addition, you may be able to negotiate discounts with movers and repair people who are looking for work during this time.
The majority of buyers begin their search for a new home on the internet. They look at pictures and google earth. They research neighborhoods and look online prior to getting out and actually looking at homes in person. While you may believe that nobody is going to look at your home in January because there is snow on the ground, think again. They may have time to look online because they had a snow day. The pictures and the advertisement may have got them to thinking this looks like the house. In a couple days the snow will be gone and they will call wanting to see your house, but only if it is available for sale. So don’t let people tell you that houses don’t sell in the winter, because they do.
If you are thinking about buying or selling real estate, please give me a call. I would love to help you make the move. Sandi Walker 405-213-2992 or visit my website

Real Estate

Hiring a contractor

The majority of homeowners at one time or other are going to want to make improvements to their home. Sometimes these will be small do it yourself improvements while others may be major renovations or repairs. In Oklahoma you are almost certain to replace the roof during ownership if you live in your house long enough. So what do you need to know about hiring a contractor.
First, ask your friends, family, or realtor for a referral. Having someone who has used the contractor before and had good success with them is worth its weight in gold.
Second, ask if they are licensed, insured and bonded. You want to know whether the person working on your largest investment has the correct education and insurance prior to hiring them. If not you still want to know this information so you can assess the risks you are taking by using non licensed people.
Third, ask to see their work. Have they done a project like you are wanting them to do? Do they have pictures of similar jobs or can they take you to a project that they are currently working on or have just finished.
Fourth, do they have a crew or will they do the work themselves. If they do have a crew, how long have the members of the crew been working for the contractor.
Fifth, what type of warranty does the contractor offer, if any. Make sure you understand the contractors policies prior to them making repairs. For example, you may find a plumber warranties his services for 30 days meaning if the sewer line gets stopped up on day 31 again you are going to have to pay to have it snaked out.
Sixth, get a couple quotes. If a price looks too cheap ask for more details as to what the contractor is going to do. Understanding what repair costs should be can help you determine whether the contractor you are hiring is trying to take advantage of you or not. If you are not familiar with what repairs should cost, ask around.
I am always happy to refer the contractors I use and trust. I feel that a referral is the best way to hire a contractor. And if for any reason, you aren’t happy with the contractor someone referred you to please by all means tell them. I only want to refer contractors who are taking excellent care of my friends and clients.
If you are interested in buying, selling or investing in real estate, please contact me at 405-213-2992 or visit my website

Real Estate

Flipping Homes–What does it take?

People who take old homes and rehab them for a profit are called flippers. Flipping homes can be a good way to make money; however, like every other business there is a risk. I believe that several tv shows have made flipping look like easy money which is not always the case.
In order to make a profit on a rehabbed house you need to have enough of a spread between the purchase price and the sales price. I believe the best way to estimate this is to work backwards from the potential sales price. I am also conservative on what this price will be. Let’s face it if you sell the house for more, then it is a bonus.
Working backwards looks like this.
Sales price when house is completed………………..$150,000
Cost to sell the property (10-12%)…………………….$15,000-$18000
Cost of repairs……………………………………………………$25,000
Holding costs (interest, taxes, utilities, etc)………..$2000 Can vary depending on how long you hold it.
Break even point……………………………………….………$108,000-$112,000
Cost of property including closing costs, etc………..$90,000
Sometimes people new to flipping will tell me it shouldn’t take 10-12% to sell a house, but by the time you pay an agent to sell it and the title work and give something to a buyer, it becomes this amount. And let’s face it if it is less then you put more money in your pocket.
Same thing for repairs, things come up along the way and cost more. So make sure you have a little slop in the amount and you are not figuring the cost so tight that you end up losing money.
Please know that today you are probably going to have to do more than simply paint and replace carpet to make a profit. You are going to have to update kitchen and baths, open floor plans. People will pay more for nice finishes but don’t forget to make sure the roof and foundation is good. They also want the mechanical systems of the house to function properly and be updated.
Having a realtor to guide you and helping you can be incredibly valuable. I have personally rehabbed several homes and helped several investors in flipping homes. If you are interested in investing in real estate and would like some help please contact me at 405-213-2992 or

Real Estate

How will an increase in property taxes or insurance premiums effect my mortgage payment

The majority of buyers have an escrow account. This account collects money monthly so that when the property taxes and insurance is due the lender will pay the bill. I think this is smart. Especially since property taxes are due in December just in time for Christmas.
Taxes and insurance may increase or decrease over time. As these costs change so will the necessary amount needed in your escrow account. When taxes or insurance premiums increase they cause a shortage in your escrow account. The lender will perform a yearly escrow analysis to determine if you have enough money in your escrow account to pay your taxes and insurance. To do this they take your yearly tax amount plus your yearly insurance premium divide it by 12 and then add a certain amount as a cushion. Each year you will get a statement from the county regarding your property taxes. Do not simply look at it and throw it away. Go back and look at what you paid last year in property taxes. If the amount has gone up significantly, call the lender. You will need to either pay the difference (shortage) into your escrow account or have the lender recalculate an increase in your escrow account immediately. This will cause your payment to go up but may be significantly less than if you wait for the next escrow analysis. If you simply throw the notice away and do nothing you are going to have a large increase in your mortgage payment next year. How much more you ask? Well if your taxes went up $240 a year, this would cause a shortage of $20 a month. The lender will need to collect the shortage plus an additional amount for the anticipation of the paying this new amount again next year. If your escrow analysis is later in the year, you could have a larger shortage meaning your payment could increase $40-$60 a month. Now think if both your taxes and insurance increased, your payment could really increase. Of course with insurance you can always call around and look for cheaper insurance, not so with taxes.
My advise would be to compare your taxes and insurance premiums each year and be proactive. I personally prefer to pay the difference and have my payment remain more consistent.

If you need a realtor to buy or sell I would love to help you. Please feel free to call me at 405-213-2992

Real Estate

Property Taxes Increasing?

Did your property taxes go up? Mine did and significantly. Property taxes increase because of two things, valuations and the millage rate. Property values have been going up in Oklahoma for the past several years. The citizens of Oklahoma voted in 1996 that the tax assessor could not increase valuations more than 5% per year, so even if a property increased 10% in a certain year, the valuation would not increase more than 5% thus holding done property taxes. In 2013, the people voted to change the increase allowed to only 3% per year provided the property was homesteaded. If the property was not homesteaded it could continue to increase by the 5% maximum. The exception would be when a property changes owners at which time the property is to be assessed at fair market value. See below:

“Despite any provision to the contrary, on and after January 1, 2013, the fair cash value of any parcel of locally assessed real property shall not increase by more than five percent (5%) in any taxable year; provided, if such property qualified for a homestead exemption or is classified as agricultural land, any increase to the fair cash value of such locally assessed real property in a taxable year shall be limited to three percent (3%). The provisions of this section shall not apply in any year when title to the property is transferred, changed, or conveyed to another person or when improvements have been made to the property.” Treasures office

The valuation of a property is only part of the equation on figuring your property tax amount. The millage rate is the amount per $1000 used to determine the tax amount. If the millage rate goes up your taxes will go up even if the valuation stays the same. Example: The millage rate for the City of Moore rose from 116 in 2015 to 128.22 in 2016. Now multiply that by an increase in valuation and you can have a large increase in property taxes. You could easily see a 10-25% increase in property taxes.
The reason for the increase in millage rate for Moore in 2016 is bonds that were voted in by the residence of Moore. It could also be costs incurred by the city which cause property taxes to go up.
If you have a mortgage with an escrow account and your property taxes increase, your mortgage is going to go up. So what should you do? I will address this question in my next blog.

If you are looking for a Realtor to help you buy or sell that cares and is looking out for your best interest, call me Sandi Walker 405-213-2992. I would love to help you.

Real Estate

How to Find the Best Realtor for you.

Let’s just face it, there are lots of real estate agents in your area.  Some just received their license and some have been selling for 25 year.  Some work on a team while others are single agents. You may know a Realtor from work or church.  Perhaps your best friend is a realtor. So how do you choose. 

1.  Get a referral if you don’t personally know a Realtor.  

When you begin your search, you should ask your friends and family who they have used in the past. You will most likely get several names of people that various friends have used.  When getting a referral I suggest you get a referral from a friend who has bought a similar house to one you would want to buy.  If your friend bought a $500,000 house 30 miles away from where you want to buy your first home for $100,000, you may not get the same experience as your friend.  Not because that Realtor isn’t a fabulous realtor but because they are use to selling in a different part of the city at a different price point. They may not know all the programs for first time buyers in your part of the city. However you won’t know unless you ask. 

2. Ask questions

Is Real Estate your full time job or do you also have another job?

Where do you sell (area, city, neighborhoods)?

If you are wanting to buy a foreclosed home, have they sold these types of properties? Are you familiar with HUD properties, VA repos and auction sites?

Do you specialize in certain segments of the market?

How many homes have you sold in the last year?

If you need down payment assistance, what does that agent know about local programs?

Will you personally show me homes or will you have someone else showing me? Are you part of a team?

Do you have time to show me? What are your business hours and days that you show homes?

3. Make sure you feel comfortable with the realtor.  

 This is a large purchase. You should feel like the Realtor has your best interest at heart. You should be able to feel confident in providing confidential information to your agent.

4. Mutual trust and respect for time and knowledge

Both the realtor and the client need to trust each other.  This is a relationship and if you don’t have mutual respect, it will not work.  You should expect your agent to be working with multiple clients. Therefore it is important that you make and keep appoints and that they do the same. They may not be able to drop everything and show you a house with 20 minutes notice but you also shouldn’t have to wait 3 days to see a house either.

If you are interested in exploring how my team and I work with buyer at a high level, please feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992.



Home Inspections add value to Home Buying

Buyer’s buy homes with emotion.  In order to institute a little logic into the equation, they hire a home inspector to advise them on the items that are not in normal working order.  It does not include cosmetic or decorative items.

Last year our contracts in Oklahoma changed some of the verbiage, by removing a repair cap.  Up until this change, a buyer would list a dollar amount that the seller agreed to repair up to at time of contract. Now there is no dollar amount. The contract leaves the buyer and seller to determine what they will repair or replace after inspection.  This is sometimes called a second negotiation. 

Since the elimination of the repair cap, I have advised my buyers that this is an “as is” contract.  What you see is what you get.  Now don’t be scared. We are still going to do inspections. We are going to see what is not functioning in the property and then we will ask the seller to make those repairs–these repairs might include roof, foundation, heat and air, electric, and plumbing.  I do not believe the intension of the inspection was to have the seller repair maintenance items like chalking, fence latches and alike.  In addition, I do not necessarily think that it is in the best interest of the buyer to ask the seller to repair every nickel and dime item on the inspection report, since the seller is not obligated to make any repairs.

On the other hand, the seller needs to disclose any known defects once they are learned to any and all buyers.  If defects requiring major repair costs are learned such as a foundation concern or a roofing issue, the seller would be wise to remedy this issue.  Buyers will either want large repairs corrected or a considerable adjustment in price to adjust for the defect.

 Inspections are for the knowledge of the buyer as to what they are buying.  There is no pass or fail. If buyer and seller cannot agree on the repairs requested, the contract will bust. The buyer will still have to pay the home inspector.

If you are considering buying or selling a home, my team would love to help you.  Please contact me at 405-213-2992.