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FAQ: Collin County Runoff Elections

 

Are you fully informed  and ready to vote in the runoff elections beginning Tuesday, May 28 in Collin County?

If so, congratulations! If not, you are not alone. Many (perhaps most) Collin County residents are unsure what runoff elections are, why they happen, and what candidate they support.

It order to ensure our member’s success, CCAR’s government affairs department developed a Runoff Election FAQ with everything you need to know.

Question: What is a runoff election?

In Texas, local, county, and state elections require a majority vote, meaning anything over 50%of the ballots cast in a particular election.   If no candidate for a particular office receives over 50%  a runoff election is called.  A runoff election is a second general election conducted to determine who of the two top vote-getters in the first general election will reach the 50% plus one bench mark. In other words, in the first general election with three candidates, and none of the three reach above 50%, a runoff will occur with the top two vote-getting candidates thereby ensuring a plurality of one candidate over 50%.

Question: What offices in Collin County are having a runoff election?

Here are the results of the May 5th Municipal Election for municipalities that triggered a runoff election. The table below does not indicate cities in which CCAR did not initially support any candidates:

May 4th 2019 Municipal Elections Results

Race

Supported Candidate % Opposition %

Result

Celina Place 6 Chad Anderson 44% Jason Poncio 42% Runoff
Lanford Rogers 14%
Plano Place 5 Ron Kelley* 46% Shelby Williams 44% Runoff
Byron Bradford 10%
Plano Place 7 Lily Bao* 47% Runoff
Ann Bacchus 36%
LaShon Ross 17%
Prosper Place 4 Meigs Miller 37% Steve Thomas 38% Runoff
Richard McGrath 24%

*Ron Kelly (Plano Place 5) and Lily Bao (Plano Place 7) are TREPAC supported-candidates


Question: When is voting for the runoff election? 

Early voting for the runoff elections begins May 28th – June 1 and continues June 3-4th.  The runoff election day is Saturday June 8th.  If you did note on Saturday May 4th, you can still vote in the runoff.

That’s it!

You are ready to vote like a rock star during the runoff elections beginning May 28. If you have a question about the election not answered above, email CCAR’s Chief Advocacy Officer at: [email protected].

CCAR Names Denaige Pizzutello Member Engagement Director

We are excited to announce that Denaige Pizzutello will be joining the CCAR team as Member Engagement Director beginning July 1, 2019. In this role, she will partner with CCAR’s departments to develop programs, resources, and tools aimed at ensuring extraordinary levels of success for our REALTOR® and Affiliate members.

Denaige is a known professional in the DFW real estate industry, having most recently served as Senior Vice President of Professional Development for Virginia Cook REALTORS®. Her past positions also include serving as Assistant Vice President for Real Estate Education/Regional Trainer for Republic Title, MLS Director for MetroTex, and Office Manager/Vice President of RE/MAX Columbia and RE/MAX Advantage in Columbia, Maryland.

Denaige prides herself in being an open book, and she held true to that when she shared her real estate journey. Read on to find out what motivates her, and what she envisions for the industry.

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Tell me about your real estate journey, what was your first exposure to the real estate industry?

I grew up in a small bayou town in Louisiana. My parents had seven children to care for and money was scarce. We lived exclusively in rentals, moving almost every year when the rent increased.

I vowed when I grew up I was going to get a job and buy my parents a home. Unfortunately, both of my parents passed away while I was in the Army, and I never got that chance.

Once married, buying a home was one of my highest priorities. My salary as a soldier in the U.S. Army was not enough to reach that goal, so I began working on the weekends as a receptionist at a large real estate office (with my commander’s approval of course).

Back then, receptionists scheduled all showings with the owners and managed pick-up and return of keys as needed using a manual card system (similar to the Dewey Decimal system). This was before the MLS books were printed to promote listings.

That was my first exposure to the real estate process. I loved the fast pace! I especially loved the idea of helping someone own their own home, a safe space to grow families and make memories. Something I always wanted for my parents.

This was my first “why”—the reason I became passionate about the real estate industry. My second “why” came later in my career, when I saw how hard agents had to work, the knowledge they were expected to retain, and all the roles they had to take on all without a promise of a steady paycheck.

That is a powerful “why,” and evident in your passion for the industry. What is it you love the most about real estate? 

The privilege of helping others achieve their goals. While I am not the agent facilitating the actual transaction, my entire career has been dedicated to helping agents in any way that I can. They in turn, help others achieve their goal of home ownership.

While working so closely with REALTORS®, what has surprised you most?

The amount of information an agent is expected to know! The public is mostly unaware because good agents make it look easy. From contract law, to MLS systems, to inspections—agents are expected to have a basic knowledge of everything under the sun, all while taking care to not provide legal advice, tax advice, plumbing or electrical repair advice, etc.

If you could change on thing in the real estate industry, what would it be?

I would like a think-tank of industry professionals to get together and think outside the box on ways to increase real estate agents’ quality of life. Things like 401ks and healthcare benefits—that would be great!

Agents spend their life making someone else’s better. I would love to be involved in finding ways to make their lives better.

What do you look forward to doing most in your new role as Member Engagement Director of CCAR?

I am looking forward to making sure that when an agent needs a tool, they know exactly where to find it. CCAR already offers so many amazing tools! However, they may be under-utilized because members do not know where to find them, or are unaware that they exist. Along the way, if we find out there is an additional tool needed, I want to make sure we find it or create it for our members!

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

The first graduating class from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point that included females graduated in 1980. Just two years later, in 1982, I received a Congressional Appointment to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; an honor I treasure to this day.

If I had completed my time there, I would have been among those first females to graduate from West Point. But after a very short stint at the academy, I was reassigned to an Intelligence unit at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, where I met my husband, Michael.

While walking away from the opportunity to graduate from West Point was one of the hardest things I have ever done, the reward of meeting my husband of 33 years was my fortune. Our pride and joy, our daughter Franki, is graduating from Plano East in June.

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CCAR is dedicated to providing tools for its members’ success, and we are thrilled to have Denaige join our team and join with us in that mission.

When you see Denaige at the next CCAR event, say hello and share your real estate “why” with hershe is excited to meet you!

How to Make your Facebook Posts Successful

 

There is no doubt about it: in order to increase your sphere of influence, you must have an active social media presence.

This week, I spoke with CCAR’s Social Media Specialist, Kendall Crawford, to ask what Facebook users can do to make their posts (and presence) on Facebook successful.

Let’s start with the basics, what is a “post” on Facebook?

KC: It is great to start with the basics. So many people aren’t sure where to go to set-up a Facebook account, or what to do once they log in–and that is normal! I am happy that part of my job is helping our members bridge that gap, a service I am hoping to provide more and more of.

A “post” on Facebook is a one-time picture, sentence, message, or “sharing” of someone else’s content. Your post is then seen by your Facebook friends.

You mentioned “Facebook Friends”–are they only people who can see my posts? 

KC: That depends on the privacy settings you selected. If you choose to have a “public” privacy setting, then any Facebook user is able to view your posts. If you choose the “private” privacy setting, then only users who you have connected to by either accepting their “friend request” or sending them a request that they have accepted.

For the purposes of our conversation, let’s consider a post successful when it is engaged with. Does a Facebook user have any control whether their post is successful? 

KC: Engagement is an important part of having a social media presence. It indicates others have read and enjoy what you are posting, it also pushes your post back to the top of your friends’ feeds, keeping your smiling face and name in front of them.

I always tell people “you engage to get engagement.” When you “like,” comment, and share posts made by others, it increases the chances that they will do the same for you. It also let’s them know you are actively logged in and checking your account, making you fun to interact with!

Another thing users can consider is the time of day that they post. You are less likely to have engagement on a post you made at 8 a.m. verses a post you make at 12 p.m.

Business pages on Facebook do have additional options available to them. They can “boost” a post, a service business pages can pay for. When you boost your post, it is placed regularly at the top of other users’ feeds. At a price tag as low as $1 a day, I really believe this is marketing money well spent.

Do you recommend agents create a business page? 

KC: Yes! I think it is really important for agents to create and use their business page to promote their business. Too often agents use their personal page to promote their business, rather than posting things that make them approachable and more “known” to their Facebook friends.

It is awesome when an agent uses their business page to promote their business 80% of the time, taking care to still post fun memes and “hellos” the other 20% to keep the page playful. The inverse is true for the agent’s personal page. I recommend their personal page is 80%  fun and light with posts about their interests, funny jokes, and pictures and the other 20% is business/industry tips or knowledge. Both pages need to be fun and not too serious, Facebook is supposed to be fun.

Another great benefit of having a business page is the “business insights” report it provides. It shows how many people are reading your posts, clicking to your page, etc.

How often do you recommend posting? 

KC: I suggest, if you want to get engagement, that you post daily. Consistency is really important on social media, and being seen via a daily post and engaging with other people’s posts, will do wonders for your social media presence.

Do you have any other tips? 

KC: Something that I think is important for Facebook users to hear: You need to know and be aware of who your audience is, who is reading your posts, and take care to not post something that would be offensive. The last thing you want to do is offend someone, and on social media that can have really negative effects.

What the Digital Age Means for Romance and Real Estate

This article was originally published February 2019 in North DFW Real Producers Magazine

For many Americans, the romantic progression from stranger to spouse involves a computer. No longer does the hunt for love require awkward pickup lines, unknowing if the recipient is single or in a committed relationship. The initial interaction can now begin on a forum with others who are already open to and seeking love. The result is a form of prescreening prior to meeting a potential partner.

In the same way, Americans have made a computer an essential part of their home buying process.

Google and the National Association of Realtors completed a joint study, finding real estate related searches on google.com grew 253% in 2008-2012. In 2015, more than 140 million unique users visited Zillow and its associated apps every month.

In their book, ZillowTalk, Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries, creators of Zillow, describe home shopping prior to 2006 as “…being in a dark room where only the agent was holding a flashlight. She’d shine it on two or three home listings or ‘comps’ she has chosen for you but all your wanted to do was grab the flashlight and wield it yourself. Or, better still, just flip on the darned light switch to see it all.”

Rascoff and Humphries turned on that light switch February 8, 2006, and one million people visited their site in its first three days of operation, crashing Zillow’s servers.

However, the digital age has not lead to the extinction of the professional REALTOR®.

It is reported that while nine in 10 home buyers rely on the internet as one of their primary sources, 87% still use agents to sell their home. Yet, the interaction of client/professional has undoubtedly been altered.

Colleen Frost provided us with a top producing agent’s perspective on the changes the digital age has brought to the real estate industry. Colleen is consistently a top 1% agent in all of DFW, top 10 in Collin County, and #1 in Murphy. Colleen sells $50+ million every year and has a robust social media presence with over 3,400 followers.

“When I was approaching my first home purchase 20 years ago, I called a friend and asked what real estate agent they used and if they liked that person,” says Frost. “Now I think all generations are more likely to use their mobile phones to start researching homes, communities, schools, and taxes way before they’re ready to buy a house”.

Frost notes that “consumer is much more educated before contacting an agent than they were 20 years ago…although, similar to WebMD, you have to be careful what is reported online and have a
professional protect you and preform their due diligence to make sure you are making a smart investment.”

Along with the flood of home buying information the internet brought danger for the consumers.

There are little safeguards to ensure information is accurate, and professionals must be vocal and vigilant to educate consumers regarding the importance of qualified professionals verifying digital information. “If a consumer digitally fills out a loan application online and uses the tool to submit an offer without any communication with a professional, they could potentially enter into a contract without truly being capable to purchase a home, and not be aware of the contractual implications,“ says Frost.

Despite the risk, it is safe to assume consumer’s digital interaction will only increase.

For some, the hunt for “the one,” the “forever home,” and the “dream home” becomes addiction-like. What does this mean for agents? It is critical you make being a social media presence part of your work day and marketing plan, and stick to it.

“Having a strong social video presence is crucial in sales of any kind. There are so many agents now, and we are forgettable. I think that being top of mind to the consumer is critical for survival. You need to make sure to have reviews on as many social platforms as possible, where people can read about the wonderful traits you show as a leading professional in your industry,” advises Frost.

Time will tell if the industry, now infused with digital shoppers, will weed out the agents who do not take time to have a social media presence or who have not exhibited great customer care and consistently receive poor reviews. But one thing is for sure: The consumer is changing, and agents must adapt.

How to Attend the 2019 REALTOR® EXPO “Like a Boss”

Have you been wishing for a convenient opportunity to network and connect with industry-related professionals all in one place?

Your wish has come true! On Friday, May 10 from 1-5 p.m. the CCAR Banquet Room will house up to 30 real estate exhibitors who want to join your contact list.

We have created a comprehensive check list of how to prepare and what to bring, so you can be sure and attend the 2019 REALTOR® EXPO like a boss.

like a boss
To do something like a boss is to do it with stylish confidence or authority.
Definition from www.dictionary.com

2019 REALTOR® Check List:

  1. Bring lots of business cards.
  2. That’s it.
  3. No, really. Come and go as you please, grow your contact list, and drop your business card inventory at all the vendor tables to be entered to win prizes galore!
REALTOR® members who attend are eligible for $1,500 in gift card drawings, including a grand prize of $500!

March Home Sales Provided a “Happily Ever After” for Both Buyers and Sellers in 2019

PLANO, Texas — The Collin County Association of Realtors (CCAR) reports that buyers and sellers hit their stride in March 2019, resulting in more projected closed sales, fewer days on the market, and an increase in percent of original listing price received.

In March 2019, there were 4.9% more new listings than March 2018 and 25.2% more inventory of homes for sale than the year prior.

Homebuyers were ready to purchase the increased inventory, resulting in 4.5% more listings under contract than March 2018, 6.9% more projected closed sales than March 2018, and the fewest days on market (60) for the CCAR Pulse area since November 2018.

The increase in sales may be in part to the housing affordability index of 106 in March 2019; signifying that the median household income is 106% of what is necessary to qualify for the median-priced home under prevailing interest rates.  The index may have been boasted by a 1.1% decrease in the median sales price of homes in March 2019 ($313,854) compared to March 2018 ($317,500).

However, the decrease in median sales price should not discourage sellers. When compared to February 2019 ($300,000), the median sales price increased a significant 4.4% in one month’s time, continuing a two-month trend of month-over-month median sales price increase.

Sellers also received 96% of their original list price in March 2019, continuing a three-month upward trend of original list price received. An indication of well-informed sellers setting competitive prices, an additional factor contributing to increased projected closed sales in March 2019 and decreased days on the market.

The months supply of homes for sale is one data figure that continues to remain steady for the CCAR Pulse area. March 2019 reported 3.1 months supply of homes for sale—the median months of homes for sale for the past 11 months. This represents a steady sellers’ market, despite increased inventory and slowing of sales prices.

“Spring is historically thought of as the peak season for real estate and the March market performance in Collin County has indicated this year will not be the exception,” remarked David Alan Cox, CCAR President.

As sellers prepare their homes for the market and buyers qualify for their home loans this spring, signs indicate a happy ending for all parties involved.

Investing Your Money Wisely First Requires an Investment of Your Time

Sarah Kerr, Future Financial Securities, LLC, CCAR Affiliate Committee Member

Do you have a 401k? If so, did you know…  
  1. You are being charged fees you may not know about in your retirement plan? Yes/No
  2. You may not understand the extent of the fees you are paying? Yes/No
  3. How much you will really be paying in fees over the lifetime of your 401K? Yes/No
If you answered yes to one of the above:

You are not alone. Most Americans are unaware that their 401ks have fees.

Fees can range from legal fees, trustee fees, transactional fees, stewardship fees, book keeping fees, finders fees and more. A fee a small as 1% can cost an individual two years of their retirement savings. Because of this, it is important that Americans are aware and monitor the fees that they pay.

The US Department of Labor encourages Americans to:

  1. Take advantage of the fee information provided by the plan
  2. Be actively involved in your retirement account investments
  3. Make informed decisions

As you review your retirement plan, it is important to compare numerous investment opportunities. Each investment approach will have its own cost, benefits, and required taxes- be sure you understand each component of your financial strategy.

As there is no singular investment option, there is not one singular solution. It is common to feel overwhelmed. However, an hour of your time now evaluating the fees your current financial strategy includes can add years onto your retirement. An hour that is  undoubtedly a wise investment of your time.

Serving at the Local Association Level Spurs Business Success

This article was originally published January 2019 in North DFW Real Producers Magazine

To become a top producing agent is no small feat. Traits of the elite may vary from outgoing, well connected, passionate, knowledgeable, and so on. But have you ever considered service to your local association as a catalyst to high volume sales? To learn more, we spoke to two top producing agents in North DFW, who also serve in leadership roles at the Collin County Association of Realtors (CCAR).

Nina Bhanot of RE/MAX Premier Properties wanted to put her thoughts and ideas into action and help shape the future of the industry. She views her appointment to the CCAR Board of Directors as a chance to make positive change in the industry.

“Getting involved is probably one of the best things you can do,” Nina notes. “The Real Estate industry is changing so quickly due to all the disruptors coming into it, getting involved is the only way to truly impact the future of our industry.”

While actively impacting the future of the industry, an unexpected byproduct has emerged; the knowledge, network and relationships that Nina has formed with other local Realtors while serving at CCAR. This byproduct has yielded smoother and more successful real estate transactions. When asked directly if her time at CCAR has impacted her success, she replies without hesitation “Yes, absolutely. Service at CCAR may be overlooked since it is not directly client related or revenue producing, but what you have to gain is so great.”

Shana Acquisto, Broker of Acquisto Real Estate, is the 2018 Chair of the Collin County Association of Realtors’ Independent Broker Network. Shana noticed the association growing and Independent Brokers becoming a large percentage of that growth. “I felt a desire to unite this growing group of Brokers together to network, discuss, share and support one another,” she says.

Her desire led her to her current position, where she keeps the Independent Brokers informed of the current trends and topics that affect their business via regular meetings with guest speakers and relevant topics, as well as social media pages and group emails. Shana feels passionate about the Independent Brokers she represents. “I am very passionate about our industry, serving our clients and bringing people together. I truly feel by uniting together, we have become a very informed and powerful group.”

Passion may have brought Shana to her local association, knowledge and community may be what she found, but a push to the next level of success may just be what keeps this top producer around. “My involvement with CCAR has guided me to achieve great things including being a top producer,” says Shana. “CCAR pushed me to get more involved which has allowed me to become more informed, better educated and more connected with other Realtors, which has taken my business to another level. The staff at CCAR is always willing to support and are truly amazing folks and the resources they provide are invaluable.”

As you compile your goals, revisit your marketing strategies, and establish new success-driven routines, don’t overlook serving at the Collin County Association of Realtors. It may be the spark your business has been looking for.

To learn more about the volunteer opportunities available to CCAR members, visit www.ccar.net/about-us/committees, email [email protected] or call 972-618-3800.

CCAR Announces TREPAC-Supported Candidates for May Municipal Elections

Each election cycle, the Collin County Association of REALTORS® (CCAR) conducts candidate interviews in order to better understand candidates’ ideas and visions for when they may be elected to public office. The Texas REALTORS® Political Action Committee (TREPAC) may then choose to support the candidate who champions private property rights and upholds our REALTOR® members’ values.

In order to ensure transparency and participation from our members, CCAR invited you to join the Government Affairs and TREPAC Committees during these interviews by observing them. Over 20 CCAR volunteers interviewed over 50 candidate for local elected office for the May 4th municipal elections. CCAR understands the importance of public service and sincerely thanks all candidates at all levels of government for their willingness to serve and their involvement.

As a result of the interviews, the following are the official TREPAC-supported candidates:

Chris Schulmeister Allen City Council Place 4
Baine Brooks Allen City Council Place 6
Bill Webber Celina City Council Place 1
Chad Anderson Celina City Council Place 6
Shona Huffman Frisco City Council Place 2
Bill Woodard Frisco City Council Place 4
Rainey Rogers McKinney City Council District 2
Frederick Frazier McKinney City Council At Large
Rick Franklin McKinney City Council District 4
Rick Grady Plano City Council Place 3
Ron Kelley Plano City Council Place 5
Michael “Mike” Korbuly Prosper City Council Place 1
Meigs Miller Prosper City Council Place 4
Ray Smith Prosper Mayor
Keith Stevens Wylie City Council at Large 3
Jeffrey “Jeff” Forester Wylie City Council Place 6

PIDs, PUDs, and MUDs, Oh My!

Melissa Condensa (NMLS 1149324), Guild Mortgage, CCAR REALTOR®/Lender Committee Member 

Everyone is likely familiar with PUDs (Planned Unit Developments), so let’s focus on the other two: PIDs and MUDs.

What are PIDs and MUDs?

They are both mechanisms developers use to raise funds for utilities and/or amenities needed in a new community.  The decision whether or not to use a PID or a MUD to fund development can have long-term implications for buyers and sellers, agents and lenders, and impact the marketability of a neighborhood. Having a basic understanding of the two financing mechanisms is important to help clients make educated decisions and avoid surprises.

A MUD is a “Municipal Utility District” or an officially classified political subdivision of the State of Texas

MUDs are created under the authority of the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and provide water, sewage, drainage or other utility-related services to new developments. MUDs are likely to exist in large master planned developments that, when started, fell outside city limits or outside the area where a city was providing utility services. A few recent North Texas developments that are classified as MUDs are Light Farms in Celina, Artesia in Prosper, and Trinity Falls in McKinney.

MUDs use the sale of bonds to raise funds needed to build out infrastructure for new development. The homeowners within the MUD pay off the bonds and pay for utility services through a MUD tax. A MUD tax will be in lieu of a city tax. In theory, a MUD tax will go down over time because the initial infrastructure costs are eventually repaid, so only money to maintain services would be collected after the original bonds are paid. The only way a MUD tax is eliminated is if the MUD area is annexed by the city. If this happens, the city pays off the MUD debt and the utility payments are paid to the city.

A PID is a “Property Improvement District”

A PID is a special district created by a city or county under the authority of Chapter 372 of the Texas Local Code. This law allows a city or county to charge a tax against properties within the designated area, or district, to pay for improvements. PIDs can be used to finance the same infrastructure a MUD would finance but are more commonly used to fund additional infrastructure items such as sidewalks, landscaping, parks, and recreation. Some developers will use a PID instead of an HOA to fund infrastructure within a development. One reason for using a PID rather than an HOA is that PID assessments are tax deductible whereas HOA dues are not. Most PID assessments run 20-40 years and payments end when the bonds are paid. PID assessments can also be paid in full up-front by a buyer. Two Collin County neighborhoods that include PIDs are Mustang Lakes in Celina and Creeks of Legacy in Prosper.

So now that you know what PIDs and MUDs are, how do you know if a property has one?

Buyers of new construction are informed if a property is in a PID or MUD, but will this be the case for resales? As resales in newer neighborhoods become more common, identifying a PID or a MUD will become more important.  Sometimes “NO MUD or PID” is placed as the start to a property description for homes in areas where PIDs and MUDs are common. If not provided in the listing description, how will buyers and their agents know if a property is subject to a PID or MUD?

While the seller should be disclosing a PID or a MUD, it is wise for agents not to rely on sellers as their primary source of information. Because of this, it is important agents view the tax certificate provided by the title company to determine if a property has a PID or MUD tax. Below are examples of a MUD and a PID from Denton County tax records.

MUD Tax Example – Artesia, Prosper

PID Example – Winn Ridge, Aubrey

Knowing whether a property has a PID or a MUD tax is important in the qualification process because the inclusion of a PID or MUD tax very often results in higher overall property taxes. Higher than expected taxes can cause a buyer who is stretching their budget to no longer qualify once the higher taxes are identified.

Higher tax rates can also impact marketability and home prices and should be a consideration for buyers whether they are buying new construction or resale. A home in a PID or a MUD might be less expensive than a home in a competing development that does not include a PID or a MUD.

Bottom line, the more we know, the better we can help our clients make smart buying decisions, whether that means buying in a PID, a PUD, a MUD or none of the above–which is probably the hardest thing to find in North Texas!