Pumpkin-Spiced Everything!

Welcome to Texans favorite season: fall! That’s right, while the northern states celebrate the end of winter with something called “Spring” (meh), we here in the south lose our collective minds when the heat breaks. And who can blame us? We finally get to walk outside again. Walk. Outside. Without frying. We get to wear clothes that may not be sweat-soaked by 10am. We can actually order warm beverages. 

In celebration, there are events almost every day of October.  Here are a few favorites to kick things off.

October 1–Kessler Pumpkin Patch

10am-4pm at Kessler United Methodist Church, 1215 Turner Ave, Dallas, 75208

Games, rides, and bounce house for kids. Pumpkins galore for purchase and awesome photos. Marketplace and food for all. 

http://www.kesslerpumpkinpatch.com/

October 15-16–Oak Cliff Fall Home Tour

noon-6pm, various locations. $20.

For architecture and interior design lovers…this annual tour gives a peek into private home throughout Oak Cliff. 

ooccl.org

October 21–Rosemont Boo Bash

4:30-7:30 at Rosemont Elementary 

Fall festival supporting Rosemont Elementary, with face-painting, booths and fun for all ages.

now through Nov 23–Autumn at the Arboretum, 

Dallas Arboretum, 8525 Garland Rd, Dallas, 75218

Dozens of events, and great fall color, make this a must this month.

http://www.dallasarboretum.org/visit/seasonal-festivals-events/autumn-at-the-arboretum

Enjoy!

Making Sense Takes Work

Look. 

I know this is a weird time. I live in Dallas. As in #wearedallas #onedallas and #prayfordallas. That Dallas.

For the last three days, I’ve ghosted on FB, IG, Snap. I needed time to process the violence from last Thursday night. What I did instead, was talk. I talked to friends, neighbors, acquaintances. I asked “what needs to be done to make a real difference?” Then I listened. Some people feel lost. And some have strong ideas. Great ideas for real change. Here’s what I’ve learned in 3 days.

First and foremost, action is called for.  Some I heard from said “yeah, but nothing works.” To that I respond, did you try EVERYTHING? Sure, not each action will get the response you want. But for me, I can’t stomach living a life where I sit on the sidelines because I might fail. I would rather work the rest of my days for any small amount of change to say I tried. To say “I gave my hours and my passion and my life in the name of all that is good in the world.” Don’t give in to fear and hate and disillusionment. You’re better than that. I know you are.

So what action is best? What can one person do?

The truth is, I have no idea what YOU should do. Just do the thing that calls out to you…that thing that makes your gut rumble.  If you need a place to get started, here are 5 heavy hitters that could make for real change in the US.

Policy: If to you, these attacks seem like an issue with guns and you want direct impact, start here: http://momsdemandaction.org/ or here: http://www.hrc.org/ Two strong forces for real change in the gun laws of America.

Education: You see this as a class issue…how about equal education for all. Get moving with Head Start in your area, or Girls Inc, or one of the hundreds of other educational non-profits that are out there, doing good. EVERY DAY.www.hsgd.org or www.gimd.org

Parks: Wha?!? you ask. Yes…parks. There is so little that is free in our city (and yours too, most likely). Parks are a great equalizer. All people can enjoy them. They also give us a place to gather in times of joy and grief. In Dallas, we have a giant expanse which holds the Trinity River, that may become a well-used park one day. http://www.nrpa.org for a national non-profit or help on starting your park.

Prisons: Our prison system is becoming privately-operated. And if you didn’t know that, this is your announcement. Incarceration is a big, profitable business. Like any other business, prisons require “customers” and “growth models”. Guess where the customers come from. Our nation’s poorest and least-educated. 

And the number one way to take action: try ignoring your phone/computer/tablet/gizmo for just 30 minutes a day. That alone is over 100 hours a year. You can make a difference with that!  Sure, if you’re a blogger, blog on. If you’re a social media star, be that, do that. But if you’re like me, a normal put-your-shoes-on-and-go-to-work Joe, get in action.

#bettertogether

xo

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Emily Ruth’s Getting Dorky With It

I’m an unabashed technophile. I am constantly looking for ways to allow technology to make my life easier (excitedly awaiting my Roomba I  bought myself for Mother’s Day). I had an experience that inspired this blog post this weekend.

While getting ready for a party at my house I dropped my phone and shattered the screen. I started to worry about the expense and inconvenience of not having my phone for a few days. Then, I went onto icracked.com and within an hour a tech was at my home fixing my phone and giving me a new case to boot! That went so simply, I also decided to have some coconut tequila and lime juice delivered to add to the party! Yay!

So, here are a few of my favorite technology finds:

·      TryCaviar.com and UberEats: great food that is just a click away in North Oak Cliff! My favorites are Pakpao (thanks Jenni for turning me on to this great restaurant) and Spice In The City.

·      MiniBar.com: spirits, wine and beer delivered for your last minute coconut tequila margarita needs. Also, if you want to send champs to your best gal pal to celebrate her promotion, they can do that too as long as someone over 21 is home!

·      Apple Watch: my son has a health issue and my husband and I cannot be more than 30 minutes away from him and the hospital at any given point. I hate to be the person that is constantly checking their phone with every text or call. I find that the Apple Watch actually makes me more present and attentive to whomever I’m with while also allowing me to conspicuously monitor for emergencies.

·      BF Dallas: for your on the go home details, this app is great!

·      Open Houses: it is great weather for open houses and the market is in full swing. This is my favorite to get the scoop on open houses.

·      Strides: I’m a goal girl and my friend turned me onto this app. Every time I read (or listen) to a book I swipe and I can see how close I am to my goal of 50 books this year! Every workout, swipe! Every date night or girls’ night, swipe!

·      Audible.com: I’m in my car a lot and I work out a lot. I can only watch so much silly TV before I can feel my brain completely turning to mush. I have listened to some of the best books in the last two years thanks to this app. It actually makes my time in the carpool lane enjoyable.

What are your favorite technology go to’s? Anything that you love that I am missing?

for the blog

this is my “look ma no hands and still connected” photo

xoxo

Emily Ruth

You’re Paying What?!?!

If you bought a home in the last few years, there is good chance you could save some money, starting now. Buyers who purchased with less than 20% down are often paying private mortgage insurance or PMI. The amount of PMI paid monthly depends on the size of the loan, but can be anywhere from $50-300+ of your monthly note.  And just in case you were wondering, no, PMI is not insurance for you. It’s insurance against you in case you default on your loan. Nice, right?

In all fairness, PMI allows borrowers to bring less money to closing. So if you don’t have the 20% chuck of change to get a conventional loan, PMI encourages banks to take the risk instead of just denying you loans. Additionally, the insurance drops off automatically, when your principle balance is at 78% of value. Wait, did I just say 78%? I thought the magic number was 80%?? It IS when you’re purchasing, but lenders are allowed to collect PMI until you contact them or until you reach that additional 2%. Whichever comes first. This matters because, depending on how much of your payment goes to principle, you could clock in 2-5 extra PMI payments. I bet you could find way better things to do with $1500.

What can you do???

1. Know your LTV. Loan-to-value ratio. In simple terms, this is loan principle you have remaining vs your original purchase price. For example:

You got a loan for $180,000, and your original sales price was $200,000. So the LTV is 90%.  

As you make monthly mortgage payments, the principle goes down. So in our example, let’s say in 2 years, your principle is now $160,000. We use your original sales price of $200,000. Now your LTV is 80%. Tada!

What to do if this is your scenario: Contact the lender and ask for the PMI to be removed.

2. Know your appraised value. Appraised value is the amount that your home would sell for in today’s market. For example:

You got a loan for $180,000, and your original sales price was $200,000. 

A year has passed and you still have principle of close to $180,000, but now the homes in your area seem to be selling for about 10% over last year.  Now your home’s value is $225,000. In that case the LTV is 80%. Tada tada!

What to do if this is your scenario: Contact the lender and ask for a new appraisal to be done. Once complete, the PMI can be removed.

3. Know your options. If your lender doesn’t seem to want to to help with either of the above, you can refinance your home. In this scenario, you will pay closing costs again, but you will be done with PMI. It will be important for you to review the potential savings with the new lender, to make sure the cost is worth it.  But if rates have shifted downward since you purchased, the additional savings or switch to a loan without PMI can make it worthwhile.

The good news is that home values are on the rise. So much so that if you purchased over 12 months ago, you could be in a good place to see about getting the PMI removed from your loan.  It will take some persistence, but use the steps above to get you on your way. And as always, we are here to help with comparable analysis to see what you home is worth in today’s market. 

XO

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Casa de Shannon

I love it when a client introduces me to a new-to-me neighborhood. Especially in Oak Cliff! That’s exactly what happened when we went on the hunt for a home for Shannon, one of the owners of Oil & Cotton. After a couple of close calls in Elmwood and El Tivoli neighborhoods, we ended up at an offer-market property in Ruthmeade Place. Never heard of it? Me either, but it is definitely worth a visit. Just south of 12th St, between Tyler and Zang, it’s a quick jog to Bishop Arts and all the great stuff popping up on Jefferson Blvd. The neighborhood itself is made up of smaller wood and brick cottages, with a few larger Victorians. 

As for Shannon’s home, it’s a great bungalow, with a cozy porch. And you better believe that she has a way with making a space look amazing. The photos below are before/after, and show what a difference good paint and floors can make. She also did wonders in her kitchen with a counter and backsplash refresh.

This hidden gem of an area has tons of potential, especially for homeowners like Shannon. Those with a little vision, plus a willingness to roll up sleeves. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear more about Ruthmeade Place in the near future. 

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Happy Changes

As we begin the second month of 2016 (what! already?), I wanted you to know about some happy changes on team jennisto. 

For starters, we have a new assistant, Stephen Holmes. He’s awesome! Husband, dad of two sweet boys, Winnetka Heights resident. Stephen comes from an accounting background. And, as I have already learned when he share a cool real estate podcast with me, he has a voracious appetite for knowledge. You may know him as DJ Mini Figs from the 2015 Boo Bash. And just in case there’s any question, he’s the one with the beard in the photo below. 

Next up…drum roll please…Emily Ruth has made the transition to Realtor. Full stop. So the team jennisto sales force has grown by 100% this year! She’s a woman of many talents (bread-baking, surfista, mom-extraordinaire, research maven), which she will of course bring to bear with her clients. And, as 2015 was our biggest year yet, this expanded capacity lets us serve you, your friends, and family, as we have now for 12 years. 

To celebrate these great changes, and to thank our clients, we are throwing a party THIS week. If you didn’t get your invite via email, let us know. We want to see you!

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Let the Good Times Roll in Oak Cliff

We are fast approaching the funnest, busiest weekend in Oak Cliff…Mardi Gras!

Things kick off with the Dash for the Beads on Saturday, February 6th. You can walk, jog or run to your heart’s content, with your dog, if you so choose! And there’s a bunch of entertainment pre- and post race. The starting line and stage are at Kidd Springs Park.

Then it’s fancy-time that night, at the Masquerade Ball. Put on your dancing shoes and your mask and meet up with friends and neighbors at the Kessler Theater. Always a blast to see the range of costumes, not to mention the awesome bands.  

The grand finale is the parade on Sunday. This year the start time is moved up to 2pm, for the football lovers out there. Be on the look out for the OCBC bicycle patrol, who start the whole thing off, followed by tons of homemade floats and neighborhood groups. The scooter-ing Elivs’ are always a hit. 

Whether you’re new to the area, or you’ve been here since George Kessler got his start, Mardi Gras weekend is not to be missed. And, you’ll know you’re a true fan if you make it to any of the neighbor’s parties (or throw your own) between events. 

Happy Mardi Gras y’all!

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