Real Estate

Stability in Homeownership

Recently I have had the opportunity to be involved in a transaction where a tenant had been living in a home for 16 plus years.  That person felt like the home was their own. They raised kids there, entertained there, and lived a good portion of their lives in that house.  They did not however own the property. The owner had been renting this property to them at a rate which was far below the market value and they had become accustom to this rent rate. Unfortunately, for this tenant life came to a huge reality check one day.  The owner was getting up in years and decided it was in his best interest to sell.  He gave them more than the required time to move by law to help them locate a new home and yet when the tenant started looking for a new rental they quickly became aware that the rent they had been paying was half or less of what something else would cost them to rent.

The market value of the house these tenants were living in had appreciated out of their price range and the tenant who had not been saving or preparing for the day they may have to move did not have the means to purchase the house.

We look at home ownership as a way to build wealth.  People always assume property will appreciate and for the most part it does.  They want something  to leave to the kids, a legacy—the family home. Perhaps they are looking for a way to shelter income and save money on their taxes.  The new tax law may make it so fewer people can deduct the mortgage interest from their taxes. The freedom of renting does allow you the opportunity to move if you don’t like the area or the neighbor.  

I think people think less about stability.  The fact is that if this tenant had purchased the home on a fix rate mortgage 16 plus years ago, the house payment today may not have been much more than what they are currently paying and they would not have to move because someone else was making the decision to sell and now the current value of the home precludes them from buying it. They would be in control of this decision. I personally think the power to choose whether I sell and move or not, is priceless.

The value of being a homeowner is sometimes measured in things far beyond what is first presented.

If you are thinking about buying or selling, please feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992 or visit my website:

Real Estate

Floor Ducts should not be Rusted

Homes in Oklahoma with central heat and air have either have floor ducts or ducts in the ceiling.  Floor ducts can be made of metal or pvc.  Metal ducts in the floor sometimes erode, rust and deteriorate. They can deteriorate to a condition where there are holes in the ducts and sand in the vents. 

Once this happens, you can do one of two things to correct the problem.  You can fill in the ducts and take them overhead in the attic.  The other option is to have a company come in and line the ducts with a water based latex material to coat the ducts.  This option is usually more economical.

The company that does this will scope the ducts to see what they look like under the slab. This is the only way to truly know what is going on in the ducts.  They will clean the ducts of the sand, debris, and any other substances prior to putting the lining on the ducts. Then they will spray the duct boot and the ducts and perhaps the plenum if necessary.

It is important to make sure the ducts are in good condition to get good air flow through out your house. Also, you want the air to go through the vents and into your home and not be lost. And finally, you want to know you are breathing good clean air and not air which has dirt and sand mixed into it. 

When looking at houses to buy, I think it is a good idea to open the floor registers and look inside.  If you see holes, rust or sand, that is a good indication that their may be more problems.  If you are wanting to purchase the house still, I would suggest you get a camera inspection of the ducts as part of your inspection process.  You may want to negotiate the ducts being repaired upfront provided they appear bad.

I saw these ducts in a house the other day where I had the listing.  There was sand in the duct boots and a hole in the side wall of the duct. The home inspector did point out the damage to buyer and suggested he have them scoped.  The buyer chose to not spend the money to have them scoped so we don’t know what they looked like throughout.  Although my experience tells me they most likely need to be repaired.

As a realtor, I tell my clients we are inspecting the property, so we know what is wrong with it.  Every house has something that needs to be fixed. While we may not care about small things like sink sprayers not properly working or a loose toilet seat.  We do care about large ticket items which need to be repaired.  Rusted floor ducts are an expensive repair.

If you are looking to buy, sell or invest in real estate, I would love to help you. Please call me Sandi Walker at 405-213-2992 or visit my website

Real Estate

Monitor your foundation

The foundation of your house is extremely important.  It is what is supporting your house.  In Oklahoma our newer homes tend to be built on slabs. These foundations are built with a sand or gravel base which is used for drainage and then a cement slab is poured over that based. Dirt or sometimes a concrete walk way is placed around the house. 

People in Oklahoma have become very conscience about cracks in walls or the brick veneer as a sign that the house has structural issues. However, you also need to be aware of erosion around the house which can cause water to get under the cement slab and wash out the sand base underneath.

I took a picture of the house with this foundation. 

 The elevation of the house is higher than the neighbors house.  This house doesn’t have gutters and the grass is thin on this side of the house.  Over time it appears that water has eroded the dirt from the side of the house so much so that now water can enter in under the cement slab. 

I spoke to the homeowner after I saw this.  I explained to her that she needed to get some dirt around the house.  She proceeded to tell me that she lived on a limited budget and couldn’t afford to buy dirt or to fix the problem.  I explained to her that dirt was cheap compared to the structural problems she would have if the problem was not corrected.  Once the slab slips then she will need to have a pier company come raise the foundation back up and she will still need to add dirt around the house. 

Maintenance on a house is important.  It is the number one con to home ownership because you have to maintain the home if you own it rather than someone else maintaining it if you are renting and it costs money.  Taking the time to notice repairs and fixing them prior to them becoming large issues will help you save money.  This issue here could have been avoided with proper guttering and making sure grass was maintained in this area from the beginning. 

If you have real estate questions or are looking to buy or sell or invest in real estate, call me Sandi Walker 405-213-2992 or visit my website,

Real Estate

Neighborhood Housing Services has a Home with Down Payment Assistance for Sale.


Would you like to buy a house that is in great condition and has been updated?

Have you thought you might not be able to purchase a renovated home on your salary? Are you one of those hard-working people who has not been able to save a lot of money to buy a home and yet are tired of renting?  Do you live on a limited budget? Did you know there is a program that will allow you to purchase a home with little money out of your pocket? Usually 1% to 1.75% of the purchase price.  Neighborhood Housing Services and Community Action have grant programs for those who qualify.  These grant programs are federally funded assistance programs with the intent of helping low to moderate income families achieve the American Dream of home ownership.. 

The grant program will pay your down payment and closing costs not to exceed a certain dollar amount. Depending on the program, this could be up to $12,750, $14,299 or $40,000.  The grant programs change every year and so the actual dollar amount will most likely change.

Neighborhood Housing Services has some great homes that they rehab as well as some new construction. The homes they rehab are brought up to current code and evaluated so they are a good home for the new buyer. Older homes are tested for lead based paint and remediated as needed.  While not every home gets the same upgrades, you can often expect to see new plumbing, electrical, heat and air, roofs, kitchen cabinets, and counter tops as well as appliances.  These homes are then offered to the general public at a fair value.  The buyer does need to be an owner occupant to purchase these properties with the intention to live there a minimum of 5 years.  They will also need to qualify for the program based on income guidelines per family size.  As of this writing (2017) a single person will need to make $36,050 or less a year, while a family of 4 can make up to $51,500.  If your income is close, please apply.  Sometimes certain types of income are not counted, only the home buyer specialist can tell you for sure.

Currently Neighborhood Housing Service has a fabulous home at 2808 NW 14th Oklahoma City, OK 73107.  The neighborhood has been getting a facelift with several investors updating homes in the area.  This 2 bed, 1 bath home built in 1912 has almost everything new–new drywall, insulation, kitchen cabinets, counter tops, vinyl flooring, carpet, refinished wood flooring, new deck and wood fence, new wiring, plumbing, heat pump HVAC, roof, reworked windows, electric box, hot water tank, and carport.  The improvements in this house would cost the average homeowner a lot of money.  They are done for you and the house is ready to move in.  This house is currently priced at $105,000, with you the buyer receiving up to $14,299 towards down payment assistance and closing costs.

If you are interested in viewing this house or have questions regarding down payment assistance, please feel free to give me, Sandi Walker, a call at 405-213-2992 or visit my website

Real Estate

Affordable Housing in Oklahoma City

Affording a home of your own on a limited budget seems to be getting harder and harder. The cost of housing continues to increase faster than most people’s paychecks. This includes both to rent and to purchase. Part of this is the constant increase in taxes and insurance. In addition, as people continue to move here it increases the demand for housing. As demand rises the cost of housing goes up. So, what is a person to do. In most cases buying is still less expensive than renting provided you are planning on living here for a length of time. If you are planning on living her 3 years or less, renting may be a better option.
When trying to maximize your buying budget, find a Realtor who knows the market and can help you know a good value when you see one. You may be able to get a better deal on a home that needs some cosmetic updates versus one that has been all dolled up and staged. Be careful of large projects if you are unfamiliar with construction repairs as those could cost you more than you originally budgeted for.
Look around for insurance. Call three or four different insurance companies and get a quote. You may want to transfer your car insurance in order to get a multipolicy discount. Ask the agent how that would affect your policy. Make sure that you review your policy yearly. You may need to change insurance companies if the rate is going up too much. Just make sure you know your roof will be covered if you change. It would be awful to change carriers for $100 a year difference and then find out that the hail damage your roof received should have been covered under your old insurance company.
Review the property taxes. You will get a new assessment of the homes value every year, generally around March. Look at it. Does the county believe your property has gone up or down in value? This is the taxable value and not the amount of money someone will pay you for it. The county does get it wrong sometimes. I saw a lady’s taxes fluctuate year to year significantly because she lived near a golf course. The years when the homes that backed up to the golf course sold her taxable value would go up $10,000-$15,000. The next year homes on the gold course wouldn’t have sold and her taxable value would hold or go down a few thousand dollars. She was living on a small income and was having a hard time with the payment due to the increase in property taxes over the years. I advised her to review her assessment yearly and protest the increases with the county. You cannot wait until you get your tax bill in November or December to talk to the county. Do it when you get your assessment. You only have 20 days to protest. She was also older and would shortly be eligible for a senior freeze. This would freeze the valuation so that it would not continue to go up yearly.
Being diligent in reviewing your taxes and insurance is one way to help keep your payments affordable. If you have real estate questions or are looking to buy or sell or invest in real estate, I would love to visit with you. Feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992 or visit my website.

Real Estate

What is a Mortgage Inspection Cert (MIC) and why does the seller pay for it?

A mortgage inspection cert is a drawing of the property that is being conveyed between two parties. It is often called a survey. It is not a pin survey and should not be used when determining actual lines to say install a fence. It is a useful to know easements and encroachments. It will also show whether a building is actually on the property it is supposed to be as per the legal description.
The seller pays for the MIC to prove that they have a marketable title. Sometimes I get sellers who rebuke the idea of needing a survey. Yet it is important. They are disclosing to the buyer that the title of the property through the survey is clear of encumberment and encroachments.
I have seen gas line easements which have run down the middle of a property, pools in easements, driveways that are over property lines and other easement issues. The most common easement violation are sheds in the utility easement. Just because there is an easement violation doesn’t mean you should stop the sale. You should investigate more to know what you are purchasing and to understand how it will affect the usefulness of your property.
The worst MIC I saw was one where the house didn’t actually sit on the property being sold. The seller and the previous seller had done a quick claim deed about 20 years ago and then did a corrected deed and then another corrected deed all to get the property correct. Unfortunately, they still did not convey title correctly. When the seller refinanced the property 12 years ago, the lender didn’t do a survey since the borrower owned the property. Had the borrower ever defaulted on the loan, the lender would have had a driveway as collateral. We had to go back and correct the deed in order to sell the property. It took about 5 weeks to accomplish, but my team did it. The other option would have been to quiet title the issue. The seller had been living in the house for 20 years paying taxes and would have won the quiet tile suit; it just would have cost attorney fees.
If you are purchasing property, always get a survey so you know what you are buying. You will want to know exactly what you are purchasing.
If you have real estate questions or are looking to buy, sell or invest in real estate please feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992. Feel free to visit my website

Real Estate

Can I get Down payment money?

There is a huge misnomer in the world that if you have never purchased a home before that you will get some free money to help buy a home. And if you have already purchased a home, you are out of luck. This is simply not true. Let me explain.
Down payment assistance programs were created to help low to moderate income families purchase a home of their own. If you make too much money, you will not qualify. There are two types of down payment programs referred to as —bond loans and grants. Today most of these programs do not require you to be a first time homebuyer. In addition, if you have not owned a home within the past 3 years, you are considered a first time home buyer.
Bond loans generally carry a higher interest rate than the prevailing rate. While both bond and grant programs both have income guidelines, bond loans allow you to make significantly more money and still qualify. Bond loans will usually pay the buyer’s down payment only. The buyer will need to negotiate closing costs with the seller or pay them themselves. These programs require that live in the property for a set period of time generally 5 years and you are not usually allowed to refinance or rent the property during this time. If you have your own money saved for down payment, you are generally better off using it than getting a bond loan due to the higher interest rate.
Grant programs allow you to get a loan using the prevailing interest rate. They do not increase the amount of the interest premium. These programs usually require borrowers to make less than the median income or perhaps 80% of the median income for the county. Currently, the grant program in Cleveland county allows a family of 4 to make up to $51,600 a year. This particular grant program will however pay the buyer’s closing costs, down payment and up front MI. This is a fabulous help for a home buyer. These programs generally require the buyer to have a percentage of their own money invested (1% of purchase price as of this writing in Cleveland county), a home buyer education class, and a property compliance inspection. Grant programs also require you to live in the property much like a bond loan.
If you are thinking about buying a home and would like more information on grant programs in your area or you are thinking about selling and you like to know how I can help you market your home using down payment assistance, please call me Sandi Walker 405-213-2992.