Let’s answer this question in chronological order. A buyer’s first out of pocket expense will be an earnest money deposit (or EMD). This represents some “skin in the game” from the buyer to the seller. Usually we are talking 0.5 percent to 1 percent of the sales price. The check is not given directly to the seller. It is either held by the seller’s title company or the real estate brokerage representing the seller. The EMD will be credited back to the buyer at closing and applied to closing costs and pre-paid expenses that are due. We will get to those in a minute.

Second, a buyer will need to pay for a series of home inspections, which can cost up to $1,000. For $1,000, a buyer will get to know their future home intimately. Inspections may include a whole house inspection, a termite inspection, a chimney inspection, a radon test — and, last but not least — a waste line inspection. In our experience, buyers who see inspections as an investment rather than an expense always get more value out of them. Our philosophy is that the more informed buyers are, the more comfortable they are with their purchase.

Once inspections are completed and both buyer and seller have agreed on the list of repair items, we arrive at step three: the appraisal. To arrange financing for a purchase, the lender will require an appraisal to make sure that the house is worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. The buyer pays for the appraisal at the time that it is ordered (typically using a credit card). Most appraisals run about $400.

We are getting towards the end — just two steps to go.

Next, let’s talk about down payments. I know this feels like it should be at the beginning, but a buyer’s down payment is not collected until closing. Some of you may have heard about 100 percent financing options that are available. Sounds tempting, right? Well, those days are pretty much gone with two exceptions: VA loans (for those who have served in active military duty) and USDA loans (for rural purchases). That said, there are still great financing options available. The two most popular are FHA loans (which require a 3.5 percent minimum down payment) and Conventional loans (which require a 5 percent minimum down payment). Consult a competent loan officer on which product is best for your financial situation.

And, finally, a buyer will have closing costs and pre-paid expenses (taxes and insurance) due at closing. As an example, a buyer purchasing a $200,000 home would pay $4,000 to $4,500 in closing costs and pre-paid expenses. In our market, however, it is not atypical for a seller to cover some or even all of a buyer’s closing costs depending on the price range.

Your Home: The ‘Coming Soon’ phenomenon

“Coming Soon” to an MLS near you! The words alone are exciting for most potential buyers. Especially in a low inventory market. As buyers drive the streets hoping to get the inside track on the market, a “Coming Soon” sign is sight for sore eyes.

But what does “Coming Soon” really mean? And what is the purpose?

Coming soon means exactly that- it means that a listing will soon be on the open market and advertised in the MLS. We use the coming soon strategy on all of our listings and I believe that it is part of the reason that our average days on market for the last 12 months rolling is 11 days versus our area market average of 35 days currently. As the lead listing agent for our team, one of my primary jobs is to create a pipeline of buyers for our listings prior to them going live in MLS. By getting a wave of buyers through on the first weekend that one of our listings goes live, we increase the chances of multiple offers and do our best to ensure low days on the market. recently ran a story about a Chicago-based real estate firm who has seen huge success from coming soon listings. In their market, homes that were advertised coming soon sold on average in 35 percent fewer days than listings that were not marketed as coming soon. That is a huge difference. Especially today as the holidays are knocking on our door.

In a nut shell, advertising a home as coming soon simply provides the listing agent with an opportunity to promote his or her upcoming listings to fellow Realtors and potential buyers in the area.

Now let me tell you what coming soon listings are not: They are not an opportunity for the listing agent to try to convert potential buyers by showing the property to them prior to it going active in MLS. Nor is it an opportunity for buyers agents to call the listing agent and see if they can get their buyer in early, before it goes live. Both examples break MLS rules and regulations and could set the listing agent up for not only a fine from the Kansas Real Estate Commission or the Missouri Real Estate Commission, but also a law suit. There are pending law suits currently that have resulted from the examples that I have cited.

As a seller, there really is no down side to a coming soon listing. With the exception of possibly being stopped by potential buyer while working in your yard (we have had this happen to clients of ours). Yet again, this is just another opportunity to showcase your home for the market before they can actually see it.

Finally, let me offer a quick word of caution. We have found that coming soon listings loose their luster after about three to four weeks of being advertised via the sign in the yard. After that point, the market seems to think of you as “crying wolf.” A best practice would be to place the coming soon sign two to three weeks prior to hitting the open market. Please remember that to meet MLS guidelines, you must have a signed listing agreement with a Realtor before he or she can place any signage in your yard.

Your Home: The Taylor-Made Team, 73 years in the making

Tyalor_Made_BillThis week I am going to ask for a little creative license. I ask because last week my grandfather, Bill Taylor, retired from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper after 73 years of dedicated service. That’s no typo folks: 73 years.

As I have considered his retirement over the last couple of weeks, it has been virtually impossible for me to look at my own business today and not see his influence. Not only does our real estate team bear his name, but it also bears his character and his standards.

Here is a little bit of his story. Bill Taylor grew up in Bearden, Ark., until he and his mom, moved to Little Rock when Bill was 12. He has always been an ambitious person and was taught not to be scared of a hard day’s work. Bill started at the Arkansas-Democrat at age 13 as a newspaper carrier and was married to my angel of a grandmother, Juanita Johnson, at the ripe old age of 16 on Christmas Eve 1944. Eventually they had six children including my dad, David Taylor. Papa Bill, as I call him, moved his way up the ladder at the Arkansas Democrat, which eventually merged with its competitor the Gazette, until he became the State Circulation Manager for the paper. Eventually he retired from that position to become the Gazette’s Credit Union President and treasurer.

Yes, my grandfather has worn many hats and has always gravitated towards leadership. In his leadership, however, he is a man of few words. I have never heard him say the quote, but I bet that he believes that “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. You should listen twice as much as you speak.” I haven’t quite perfected that one, and I am working on it daily.

As my wife, Leah, and I continue to grow our company and our business, we continue to focus on the standards that we believe in, many of which I learned from watching Papa Bill.

Instead of listing these standards, I would like to share with you some quotes from my grandfather’s co-workers that were recently cited in a commemorative edition of Between Editions, the Gazette’s employee newsletter.

  • “Thoughtfulness for others, generosity, modesty, and self-respect are the qualities which make a real gentleman. You are all of the above and will be greatly missed.” Debbie Chaney
  • “Bill is someone I have great respect for. Honesty, humility, kindness and someone that leads by example come to mind when I think of him.” Shawn Synco
  • “Mr. Taylor is the most sincere, compassionate person I have ever known. No matter how bleak the day is, I can always count on him to make me smile.” Joni Strike
  • “About 25 years ago, when I was a young Zone Manager, I approached Mr. Taylor about a $5000.00 loan to help me purchase a fixer-upper house that I planned to convert into a rental property. He kindly explained that the Credit Union did not do real estate loans but that he would be willing to loan me the money personally! I was stunned and asked him, ‘Why would you do that Mr. Taylor?’ He explained that he had some money saved up and wouldn’t mind helping a young fellow like me. I was totally surprised that he offered to do that for me. The world needs more Mr. Taylors.” Ron Forrest.

The world does need more men and women like my grandfather. He is one of a kind.

Leah likes to tease that I will put my name on anything and that I get a kick out of seeing our name out in the community. And she is probably right, like she is most times. But there is more to it. I grew up very proud of my Taylor name and due to the high integrity of Papa Bill and my dad, I don’t take the responsibility lightly. So, yes, I am proud to see the Taylor-Made name around our city. However, I am more proud of the legacy behind the name and please know that some day when I choose to leave this wonderful business of real estate, I only hope to have such kind words said of me by our friends and clients.

I value our partnership with and I am proud to continue my family’s legacy in the “news business.” You see my grandmother, Juanita, went on to become a writer and the Religion editor for the Democrat-Gazette, so I share her passion for writing and am proud to follow in her footsteps.

Please know that when the time comes to hire a real estate team to help you with a home purchase or sale, our team will do its best to provide you with a level of service that Bill Taylor would be proud of.

Congratulations Papa Bill! Words cannot describe my level of pride.

Your home: Short Sales and Foreclosures

During the recession, buyers were excited about short sales and foreclosures. If I had a dollar for every first time home buyer who met with us and said, “I want to buy a short sale or a foreclosure,” I would be retired by now. And in most cases, it only took one day out actually looking at distressed properties for them to say “never mind,” because they realized how much work it was going to take to bring them up to good condition. Or sometimes just the long timelines associated with negotiating with an overwhelmed lender would do them in.

That said, on occasion we would find a diamond in the rough. A home whose owner had fallen into hard times but who had continued to maintain the home up until they were asked to leave. These homes were every buyer’s dream! A ton of instant equity and just some cosmetic requirements to turn them into a show stopper.

These so called “diamonds in the rough” are few and far between these days. And for a good reason. The distressed property market as diminished significantly. Just the other day, I shared with some clients that in 2011 almost 40 percent of the sellers that we worked with were in a negative equity position. Translation: They had to write a check at closing to sell their home. It was brutal. I have had selling clients of mine write $20,000 checks to sell a home so they could get to a job opportunity that they could not pass up. Just consider that for a minute. For generations, we have been told that real estate is one of the most sound investments. And it still is, for the long term. But for that 40 percent in 2011, it was hard to believe.

According to Keller Williams Realty International, in 2011 40 percent of all sales nationally were either a short sale or a foreclosure sale. Compare that to the end of 2014 with distressed properties only representing 9 percent of all sales nationally and you can see why those previously mentioned “diamonds” are hard to find these days. And the distressed properties that are for sale these days are generally in pretty bad shape. Take a look at the following chart to see how distressed sales are trending downward:


During the recession, many Americans were affected by the failed economic conditions. Many of them lost their homes. And it seemed that many of them still maintained their homes. Conversely, today it seems that as the economy has improved dramatically, the distressed properties that are available for sale are in much worse shape. They are not for those with a weak stomach that is for sure.

Today’s distressed property market is dominated by investors for either a remodel or, in some cases, a tear down and rebuild. Professional investors more often have the skill set and the resources to tackle even the nastiest distressed property. During the recession, thanks to HGTV, it felt like everyone had decided to “flip this house” and it was a mess. I cannot tell you how many homes that we showed during that time that were what I call “lipstick on a pig.” Essentially the investor who purchased the home threw on some new paint and installed some cheap fixtures and tried to resell the home for a HUGE profit. I am so glad those days are over.

Thankfully the market purified itself thanks to the recovery, and there are really only a handful of flippers around that operate a successful business in our area with a consistently good product. For these select few, the demand today is certainly high for a properly remodeled home. And buyers are glad to pay a premium to get one.

Distressed properties will always be a part of our real estate market. They are not going away. If you would like more information about the benefits and challenges with distressed properties, feel free to email me with your questions.

Your home: Commodity vs Consultant

Royals Game Day

Last Wednesday our team had the privilege of hosting a client appreciation event for over 150 of our clients on the Pepsi Party Porch while watching the Royals beat the Pirates 5-1. It was awesome! Two home runs landed not 30 feet from the porch. Our clients had a blast, as did we.

That night and the following day, we watched as our friends and clients posted comments about the experience. One comment from a great client (and friend) Darcey Schumacher really summed up the purpose of such events. Darcy posted to Facebook, “Wow, Taylor Made Team is too amazing! Leah Taylor and Chad Taylor – thank you for inviting us to the Pepsi Patio VIP section at the Royals Game. Almost 4 years since we bought our last house and we still value the relationship and everything you did for us to land our dream home.”

Thank you, Darcey!

Our business has been built upon great relationships with our clients. And not just when they need to buy or sell, but all the time. We see ourselves as not only their friends, but as the consultants for their real estate portfolio. Even if their portfolio consists of simply their primary residence.

I have always said that any industry that is easy to enter (like real estate), typically has a low bar when it comes the level of service provided. It is up to each individual Realtor to set their own standard of service and to choose to provide a great client experience along the way. To me, this choice will determine whether a Realtor is seen as a commodity or as a valued consultant.

Here is the difference, as I see it, between and Realtor (commodity) and a Real Estate Consultant


  • Waits for you to call them
  • Is surprised by market trends
  • Is available 24/7
  • Sets you up on an auto search on MLS and lets you do the work of narrowing down
  • Is not a resource for you outside of the sale
  • Will tell you what you want to hear
  • If prompted, will give you an idea of your home’s value
  • Is a sales person

Real Estate Consultant:

  • Calls before you need them
  • Is aware of a shifting market and keeps you aware
  • Respects a work/life balance and is in high demand
  • Pre-screens all searches based on your criteria to ensure that you receive only the best properties
  • Is always a resource to you for any referrals that you need
  • Will tell you what you NEED to hear
  • Like your financial advisor informs you of your investments, will keep you informed of your home’s value
  • Is truly a consultant with your best interest in mind

Although the National Association of Realtors has a Code of Ethics and a minimum expectation when it comes to service, they are exactly that — the minimum. We are trusted daily to orchestrate one of the biggest life events for most people, the sale and/or purchase of a home. It is a huge responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly. Thus we are charged to be more than just a facilitator. We are charged to be a consultant when you really need one, and even when you think that you don’t.

As our market continues to shift, as it always will, I hope and trust that you have a real estate consultant to keep you informed of and ahead of the trends. And to be a resource for you for all things pertaining to home ownership. An advocate, if you will.

Your home: Only two months left until the rate hike

With the Federal Open Market Committee scheduled to meet on Sept. 16 and 17, they seem to be poised to announce an increase in the federal funds rate. This would be the first interest rate increase by the Fed in nine years. An increase has been a long time coming. It feels like the real estate community has been anticipating an increase for years now. Not because of any facts that support an increase. Simply because we all could not believe that rates could stay so low for so long. But they have. Until now.

At the June meeting, the committee confirmed that they are on track to raise rates based on the improving economy. Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve Chair, is maintaining her mysterious position as it pertains to when exactly rates will increase. “It would be wrong if we were to provide you a road map,” Yellen said following the June meeting.

I was curious what the word on the street was in the lending world, so I had a conversation with Mike Miles of Fountain Mortgage here in Prairie Village. I asked Mike if his sources were telling him that rates are going up this year. He said, “It is well known that the Fed will raise rates in 2015. Once the increase is announced, the bump in rates that we feel could be smaller or larger depending upon how individuals and institutions respond to the news and to what degree they react.”

We discussed Greece and other international turmoil and if he felt that could delay an increase in rates. “I would choose to base my decisions on information from domestic sources. Waiting to see if economic turmoil overseas could have an effect on a rate increase is a huge risk.”

So let’s back into this for a minute. If rates are going to increase in mid-September and here it is mid-July, then we only have two more months of historically low interest rates. That is not much time. With the average real estate transaction taking approximately 45 days from contract to closing day, there is not much time to find a home first.

And what if you need to sell your current home first? You have even less time. If you need to sell before you buy, you are on borrowed time at this point. Not only might you have to pay a higher interest rate when you turn around and purchase a home, you may also have the size of your buyer pool affected by an increase in interest rates. Historically when rates increase, it can cause a stall in the market. Some buyers, who are currently renting, may choose to stay in their rental as opposed to purchasing a home. This stall cannot only have an affect on the size of your buyer pool, it can also cause downward pressure on pricing. Talk about a one-two punch. Not only might you have to pay a higher interest rate on your purchase, but you may have to sell for less as well.

When asked what interest rates might look like in the foreseeable future, Miles had this to share from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Here is their forecast for the rest of 2015 and the first half of 2016.

30 year fixed mortgages
Q3 in 2015 = 4.1%
Q4 in 2015 = 4.4%
Q1 in 2016 = 4.6%
Q2 in 2016 = 4.8%

The moral of the story is that whether you are considering a home purchase in the near future or perhaps a refinance, now is the time to act. Based on the MBA’s predictions, almost 10 percent of your buying power could be eroded by the second quarter of 2016. Don’t wait. Act now.

Your home: 5 things your first home teaches you

As I write this, I am celebrating ten years of marriage to my wonderful wife and business partners, Leah. More than once this week we have discussed how time has flown by, and how we have changed through the years and, most importantly, what we have learned from the last ten years. While discussing our early married life, our first home in Prairie Village has come up several times.

We loved that house. We put a ton of sweat equity into that home, as do most first time home owners. That house taught us a lot as well. Leah and I like to say that, “Your first home is like your first major relationship. It teaches you what you like and what you want to do differently next time around.”

Here are five things that our first home taught us:

  • 1. Home improvement projects will take twice as long as you thought. And in most cases, they will be more expensive. It is easy to underestimate the time it takes to complete almost any project. Err on the side of caution, and at least estimate 1.5 times what that you originally thought should be set aside for completion.
  • 2. A home requires maintenance at all times. Period. There will never be a time when something in your home does not require attention. Whether it is a repair or simple deferred maintenance like cleaning your gutters or trimming your trees seasonally.
  • 3. You learn where you spend most of your time while at home. For some, a living room or a family room is the most important. Or perhaps a spacious master bedroom. For our family, the most important room is the kitchen. Leah and I cook a lot and our first home taught us that we need a highly functional kitchen. Our current home has an older kitchen, but it is a very efficient space.
  • 4. Location, location, location. Our first home was in PV right across from the Prairie Village pool and the police station. This was a great location for us one Cinco de Mayo when a former neighbor of ours drove his car into our front yard and within 30 seconds there were seven police cars there to assist us. Yet as the years went by, it became increasingly clear to us that we wanted to be within walking distance to our elementary school. I grew up walking to school and I wanted that for my boys. It might surprise you, but many home buyers look for a home either conciously or subconciously like the home or neighborhood in which they were raised. It all comes full circle it seems.
  • 5. It’s not a house, it’s a home. This is why I love my job. We get the opportunity to see our clients move into perhaps their first home, or maybe their second or third. Whichever it may be, we get to hand them the key to start a new chapter in their lives, and it is very personal. And we don’t take this honor for granted. It is a big deal to them and us.

I don’t look back on my first home and think about the windows that we changed out, or all of the hours that Leah and I spend painting every single square inch of the interior of that home (although I still sound a little bitter.) Instead, I think about how proud we were when we closed on our first home. Or how terrrified I was as I drove home from the hospital with our first son, Ben. Or how for some reason I installed about twenty smoke detectors in our home before he was born. I must have been nesting. I often think about our early Christmases in the house with both boys. They were magical to say the least.

We can learn a lot from our first home, and the second and third for that matter. Our home becomes a part of our story through the years and is constantly teaching us something. I am fortunate that I am reminded of this fact as I drive down Mission Road every day of the week and I glance over east of Mission at 77th St and see good ole 7701 Howe Drive. That home was a good teacher for nine years of my life and for that I am grateful.

Your home: Keep it secure while on vacation

Key in Lock

‘Tis the season for weekend getaways and family vacations. I love this time of year, as do most people — including thieves. Sorry to sound so gloomy, but it’s true. It is reported that over 2,000,000 homes are broken into each year in the United States. And the highest percentage of home break ins occur during the summer months. Some neighborhoods see anywhere from a 10-18 percent increase in break ins during the months of July and August according to the FBI.

So how do you keep your home safe while you are traveling?

Here are some security tips to keep in mind:

  • 1. Don’t close all of your window treatments before you leave. If you typically have your curtains and blinds open, then leave town with them in their usual state. By closing them, you not only alert any criminals of a potential change in occupancy, you also prevent any neighbors from being able to monitor your home while you are away. Which takes us to number two.
  • 2. Tell a trusted neighbor (or two) that you will be out of town. This is one of the best systems to protect your home. Your neighbors know your routines and how things typically look at your home. A trusted neighbor can tip off the police before a break in ever occurs. Also, if a neighbor is taking out your trash in your absence, make sure that they put the cans back in their usual place the same day as trash pickup. Empty cans sitting out for days is a dead giveaway that no one is home.
  • 3. Don’t turn off the A/C. Although it may sound like a good way to save money while you are away, a silent air compressor on a hot summer day is a clue that the homeowners are away. Consider setting your thermostat to a higher temperature or your thermostat may have a vacation setting that you can utilize.
  • 4. Lock your garage door. If your automatic garage door has a lock, then use it when you are out of town. If it does not, simply unplug your garage door opener. In a world of universal remotes it is simply too easy to drive down the street hitting the button until you come up with a winner.
  • 5. Alert the police. If you are going to be gone for an extended trip, it is not the worst idea to alert the local police department. The more eyes on your home the better.
  • 6. Don’t leave all the lights on. Unless you just want to showcase all of your belongings for the criminal world, don’t leave the lights on 24/7. Invest in some inexpensive light timers that can kick the lights on in the evening and turn them off after bed time. Again the goal is to replicate your normal routine. If you are usually up late, then set the timer to stay on later.
  • 7. Share your vacation pics on social media after you are back in town. Posting up to the minute status updates on social media can be a mistake. Think of it as placing a sign in your yard that says, “We are on vacation. Help yourself!”
  • 8. Not safety related, but still important. Before you leave town, turn off the water supply to your washing machine, especially if it is on the bedroom level or main level of your home. The same should be done for your water supply line to your ice maker (if a shut off is in place). A leaking water line can wreak havoc on a vacant home and can make for an unhappy surprise upon your return.

We at the Taylor-Made Team wish you all safe travels and many happy memories during this vacation season.

Photo Credit:  Håkan Dahlström on

Your home: Are 30 day closings a thing of the past?

calendar 30

That’s right. Thanks to a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 30-day closings may become a thing of the past for financed purchases. The “know before you owe” rule, formally known as the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID), is designed to protect the consumer from any last minute changes in the costs associated with the loan. Any minute changes to the costs must be redisclosed to the consumer prior to the closing and the lender must allow three business days for the consumer to review the changes.

Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Probably not. Although last minute changes can cause problems in a real estate transaction. They can even cause the transaction to come apart. Imagine for a minute that you are selling your home. You have completed everything that has been asked of you and it is the week of your upcoming move. Then at the last minute, your buyer’s lender must redisclose a change in the buyer’s costs thus delaying the closing date. You have movers scheduled. All of your utilities are scheduled for transfer. And the seller of the home you are purchasing is counting on the funds from their sale to purchase a new home. Can you see how this could get messy pretty quickly?

Or let’s say you are a buyer out there in today’s market and you are ready to compete for a home. A great home comes on the market and you write an offer. A strong offer. But the seller needs a 30-day closing and your lender cannot accomplish that timeline due to TRID. It is already hard to compete against a cash offer. It may be even harder now because cash buyers may be the only ones who can accomplish a 30-day or less closing.

Although the new TRID regulation will cause some challenges, lenders and title companies have been aware of this new regulation since the fourth quarter of 2014. Therefore, they should be prepared. The new regulation was scheduled to start as of Aug. 1, 2015. However, the CFPB announced this week that they would be delaying the roll out until Oct. 1, 2015.

“We made this decision to correct an administrative error that we just discovered in meeting the requirements under federal law, which would have delayed the effective date of the rule by two weeks,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We further believe that the additional time included in the proposed effective date would better accommodate the interests of the many consumers and providers whose families will be busy with the transition to the new school year at that time.”

Isn’t that sweet.

As you are making real estate plans for the future, please take into account the additional time that it may require to get to the closing table. It may also require a little patience as well.

Photo Credit: Dafne Cholet on