Whether you want to save energy to lower your carbon footprint or reduce your bills—or both—here are four things you can do as a tenant. Make it Darker One reason that tinted windows in cars are popular is that they help keep a car’s interior cool. You can benefit from tinted windows in your rental property, too. They offer a lower cost alternative to installing energy-efficient windows and can cut your air conditioner use. Unplug Devices Standby power, also known as phantom load and vampire power, refers to energy used by appliances and electronics that are plugged in but turned off or in standby mode. TVs, computers, and gaming consoles are prime examples of devices that continue to use power when not in use and can be unplugged without significant consequence, unlike a refrigerator. Consider plugging these into a power strip that you can switch on and off as needed. Change Bulbs LED light bulbs use significantly less electricity and last much longer than incandescent blubs. However, those improvements come at a higher cost per bulb. Depending on who pays for the bulbs and how long you intend to stay in the rental, it might make sense to swap out the existing bulbs. You can always purchase and install your own LED bulbs, save the existing bulbs, and reinstall the incandescent ones when your lease is done. Help the Dryer If don’t have a high-efficiency clothes washer, running a quick extra spin cycle cuts down on drying time. Keeping the lint trap clean can also make your dryer work fastest and use less energy.
Your real estate transaction isn’t the same as anyone else’s, and your REALTOR®’s services should match what you need. Lucky for you, REALTORS® offer many types of business models to guide you through your transaction. Here are three common examples. Traditional Brokerage With a traditional brokerage model, brokers and agents provide a full range of services in exchange for a commission. The commission is negotiable and covers the REALTOR®’s time and efforts on your behalf, whether it’s marketing your home for sale, finding a great space for your business, or locating the perfect home for you and your family. Flat-Fee Brokerage A flat-fee brokerage provides all the services of a traditional brokerage, such as advice on pricing, help with negotiation, and market analysis. But instead of charging a fee equal to a percentage of the sales price, the brokerage charges a negotiable flat fee for its help. A La Carte Brokerage With the a la carte model, clients choose what services they want the brokerage to provide—and only pay for those. For example, a seller may want a REALTOR® to include the home in the multiple listing service and to coordinate showings. However, the seller will handle contracts and negotiations on her own. While these examples are popular business models, they are far from the only ones. No matter what type of model your REALTOR® uses, you will get a professional who follows a strict Code of Ethics to achieve your real estate goals
It’s the holiday season, which for many means vacationing and traveling. However, traveling can leave your home vulnerable to burglaries. Here are some ways to protect your home while you’re gone. Securely Lock Everything You know to lock the doors, but it’s also important to secure the windows, garage, and sheds or other structures. Many burglaries occur because these things are unlocked or poorly secured, so this simple step can go a long way in protecting your home. Ask the Neighbors Another way to protect your home is to have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail and packages while you’re gone. They can also put out and retrieve trash barrels and check the inside of the house. It will appear like your family is home—or at least that someone is watching. Remove the Spare Key It’s convenient to stash a spare key or garage door opener outside. But those fake rocks and similar hiding places won’t fool criminals. Instead, install an exterior door lock or garage door opener with a keypad entry. Don’t Post Although you want to document your vacation by posting photos on social media, it is safer to wait until you return home to post. Posting that you’re away alerts potential burglars that your home is empty and a good target for a robbery. Install Smart Home Devices Everything from HVAC systems to lights to music can be controlled remotely. Whether according to a schedule or via your phone, you can make it look and sound as if you’re home. You don’t even have to make a big investment—a few old-school timers can create similar effects.
Although there are online options to utilize when buying and selling properties, REALTORS® offer services that you can’t get from a website. Human Connection REALTORS® offer a genuine, in-person connection. They will guide you through the process of buying, selling, or renting all manner of properties and be there for any questions or concerns you may have along the way. Expert Guide Most people don’t buy or sell property often. The process comes with numerous financial and legal documents that can be hard to understand and frequent changes. REALTORS® have the experience and up-to-date knowledge to steer you clear of mistakes and avoid delays. Online platforms can’t always provide that type of help. Ethical Advocate REALTORS® follow a code of ethics that mandates professionalism and puts the clients’ interests first. They want to help you succeed in your real estate transaction and will work to the best of their abilities to make sure you’re satisfied with your experience and result of the transaction. Websites can be a useful tool for real estate, but they are no match for the level of service a REALTOR® can offer. Find your REALTOR® at texasrealestate.com.
You may not be ready to buy your first home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare now. Here are three actions you can do while renting that will put you in a better position when you’re ready to buy. Test the Budget While you can’t predict all homeownership costs to the last penny, you can come up with a rough estimate of how owning a home will affect your budget. A REALTOR® can help you figure out how much you can afford, the potential mortgage payment you’d make, your local property taxes, and repair costs you might want to consider as a homeowner. Check your Credit Before you apply for a loan, request a free credit report to find out what a lender would see. If your report has errors, you can correct them before they affect your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan. And you might be able to take steps to improve your credit before purchasing a property. Create a Wish List There’s probably not a home that will offer every single amenity you desire, but you should have a general idea of what you’re looking for. So while a home with fewer than two bathrooms may be non-negotiable, perhaps you’d see the potential in one with a smaller kitchen or a not-so-appealing exterior paint job. It’s never too early to talk to a REALTOR® when you know you’re going to buy a home. A REALTOR® can answer your questions about the homebuying process and help you avoid surprises along the way.
The federal Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. Prohibited actions include refusing to sell or rent housing, setting different terms for housing or a mortgage, discouraging the purchase or rental of a property, and other discriminatory behaviors. Since 1968, all consumers have been protected by the Fair Housing Act from discrimination in housing transactions. Here’s how the act benefits you. It Protects Everyone The act protects you and everyone else from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability— those are called the seven protected classes. What the Act Means Sellers and landlords can’t discriminate in the sale or rental of property on the basis of someone’s race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. They also can’t tell their agents to limit the availability of property based on the same seven classes, establish terms or conditions in the purchase or rental that are discriminatory, or advertise that the property is available only to people of a certain race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. Where to Report a Violation If you suspect your federal fair housing rights have been violated, you can file a complaint at hud.gov. If you believe a REALTOR® has not upheld the standards set out in the Code of Ethics, you can file a complaint at texasrealestate.com.
A century ago, real estate leaders from across Texas formed an association dedicated to professionalism. They wanted to drive unscrupulous operators from the business. These pioneers of the industry pledged to put the interests of homebuyers, sellers, and property owners first. Though the times have changed, the organization’s goals have not. Pushing For Higher Standards and Working to Protect Your Interests You recognize that a REALTOR® is the professional best equipped to help you achieve your real estate dreams, but REALTORS® also work together to make your life better in myriad ways: REALTORS® were the driving force to require licensing and regulation of agents and brokers. Over the years, REALTORS® have fought for educational standards and minimum-service requirements. REALTORS® pledge to abide by a Code of Ethics that goes beyond what Texas law requires. REALTORS® have stopped countless efforts to tax real estate transactions and create real estate transfer fees and taxes. REALTORS® get involved in issues that matter to you, like ensuring local ordinances aren’t overly burdensome to property owners, buyers, sellers, renters, and landlords. REALTORS® pool resources to provide the best tools to real estate clients, such as contracts that improve real estate transactions and the best market data available. REALTORS® volunteer in local communities to make your area a better place to call home. Looking to the Future Members of Texas REALTORS® celebrated the association’s 100th anniversary in 2020 and are as dedicated as ever to serving you and shaping Texas for another century and beyond. Your REALTOR® Can Help You Achieve Your Real Estate Dreams. REALTORS® also work collectively to make transactions, property ownership, and life in your community better for you.