"I help people make good decisions regarding their real estate transactions."

Welcome to Ask Cheryl. This link is a forum for anyone with a question dealing with any aspect of Texas real estate. While I don't offer legal advice, I do understand many problems people face, and I help them to make more informed decisions. I hope you find this forum helpful, and please check back from time to time, to see what other people are asking.


If you have a question I can help you with
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Question:
Dear Cheryl, how can I reduce my mortgage payment?

Answer:

Many ways:
- Refinance
- Manage your own escrow accounts (that money sitting in escrow for a year isn't drawing any interest for you)
- Try to reduce your taxes and/or insurance

I have helped numerous clients ascertain if these options are in their favor. Call me for a one-on-one free consultation.




Question:

What does "under option" mean? I was visiting your website and noticed a listing with this notation.

Answer:

The state of Texas recognizes Option Contracts. The spirit of the option contract is to give a Buyer an opportunity to negotiate with the Seller, for a fee, a period of time to be under contract with "An option to terminate". It's like having a contract within a contract. My analogy is this: when a Buyer and Seller are in an option contract the Seller is "married" to the contract while the Buyer is only "engaged". During the option period the Buyer has the right to terminate the contract without forfeiting the earnest money. The fee and the time frame are both negotiable. Realtors will use the term "option" versus "under contract" to signal other agents buyers that the contract could terminate if the buyer chooses to exercise that "option".





Question:
Dear Cheryl, everyone is talking about trying to get rid of their PMI. What is PMI, it sounds like a disease? I'm thinking about buying a house and I don't want to get PMI in the first place.

Answer:

PMI is Premium Mortgage Insurance or MI, Mortgage Insurance. The insurance protects the lender in case the borrower defaults on the loan. If the only loan you are qualified to obtain requires PMI, then the benefit to you is that a lender will loan you money because the debt is insured. In today's financial market, there are many choices out there to avoid PMI. If you would like to hire my services, I can show you some options to do this.




Question:

How can I reduce my property taxes.

Answer:

Fight the good fight! That's right, if you don't fight the appraisal district, they will assume their guess is valid. Once a year they give home owners the opportunity to protest the tax assessed valuation. Here are a few basic guidelines.
Taxes are always in "arrears". Thus, in 2008 the evaluation is for the calendar year 2007. This means that when you are fighting to establish value, you must use comparable, comparative sales from the calendar year 2007. You need to find comps that are closer to or lower than the target value you seek. If none exist, then the appraisal district is probably acurate in their assessment. In your search for comps, you want to compare sold properties. Active listings or listings that didn't sell wont help you. For a fee, I can help you get comparative comp information for you to use in your arguement. You can also hire someone to fight the appraisal district for you. Photos of deferred maintaince, or economic obsolescense (views, railroads, commercial industry, power lines, busy street, etc...) can help your cause. Some counties have a website you can visit to obtain more information. Dallas is HYPERLINK "http//www.dallas.org". Call me if I can be of further assistance, and good luck.

Cheryl Drane Skipworth
Cheryl Drane Skipworth
Broker Owner