Blue Sky Group News & Views

Check out our new listings, catch up on news you can use when buying or selling a home, and little tid-bits we found interesting!  Your comments are always read and taken to heart...so tell us what's on your mind!

Aug. 9, 2017

Remember When.....The Story of Us

 Remember when you were a kid, and you had your box of 64 Crayolas, and blank manilla paper....and you drew pictures of houses?

 

Then you grew up, got a job, got a house, and got kids....and watched them with their box of 64 Crayolas, and blank manilla paper.....drawing pictures of houses?

 

Ever noticed that all kids, from all places.....draw houses? And they all look pretty much alike? Start with a square, add a triangle for the roof, add a rectangle door (with a doorknob), 2 square windows, and a chimney with curly smoke....some kids add curtains, a path to the door, a tree or flowers, a sun and clouds....

 

All kids draw houses because they dream of having one someday....and the rest of us are just kids, grownup, and ready to make that dream come true....

 

Let Blue Sky Group Realty make YOUR dream home come true!

 

 

May 9, 2017

Be Like Mike!

 

Ever had an agent deny to show you a home because you weren’t pre-approved for a mortgage? It’s not because they’re mean, or they don’t value your business… it’s actually because they’re looking out for your best interests.

Let’s face it, shopping for a home before getting pre-approved for a mortgage is like walking into a grocery store without a wallet. You may have the desire to buy, but you lack the ability. Let’s cover some basics…

What is a mortgage pre-approval?

In a nutshell, a mortgage pre-approval is written assurance from a lender or broker that you’re able to borrow money to purchase a home up to a certain amount. It’s based on the income, employment and asset documentation you supply at the time of application, in conjunction with your credit history. So let’s look at the 6 reasons you should get pre-approved.

1. It carries more weight than a “pre-qualification”.

pre-approval differs from a pre-qualification. With the former, the lender has actually checked your credit and verified your documentation to approve a specific loan amount (usually for a particular time period such as 30, 60 or 90 days). A pre-qualification can be useful as an estimate of how much you can afford to spend on your home, but it’s a less accurate indicator of your ability to purchase. A pre-approval always carries more weight.

2. You’ll know how much house you can afford. 

Getting pre-approved before you begin house hunting allows you to know how much house you can realistically afford. Knowing this narrows down the options and makes the selection process more efficient. Not to mention, it protects you from the unpleasant surprise of realizing the home you fell in love with doesn’t fit your budget.

 

3. It adds clout to your offer.

In many markets, homes attract more than one offer. If the sellers are weighing one offer against another, they may lean towards the one accompanied by a pre-approval letter. That’s because pre-approvals instill confidence that the buyer is financially capable of purchasing their home.

4. It could increase your negotiating power.

In addition to strengthening your offer when compared to buyers who haven’t taken this step, getting pre-approved may give you the upper-hand when negotiating the price. If the homeowner is eager to sell, they may be more willing to accept a lower offer from someone they’ve been assured is financially capable of purchasing their home.

5. It saves time.

Obtaining a mortgage is a lengthy process. Getting pre-approved ahead of time shortens the time between contract to close — this way you’re ready to proceed with finalizing the mortgage once you’ve found the home you want to purchase.

6. Without it, most agents won’t work with you.

Makes sense, too. Right? Think about it: when you hire an agent, he/she will invest countless hours showing you homes over the course of your house hunt. If you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you want assurance that your hard work would lead to a favorable outcome for both you and your client?

 

 

May 4, 2017

Open House May-nia!

 

Come out to see 5 lovely houses, all special in their own way....."There's a house for every person, and a person for every house!"

This is going to be a beautiful weekend to look at houses, whether just for fun and ideas, or to find your special dream home!  The East Texas Builder's Association is holding it's Spring Parade of Homes this weekend and next....you'll have Friday, Saturday and Sunday for both weekend to see the fabulous new homes on Parade!

But we are also offering these 5 lovely homes for you to tour....one is new construction, 3 others are less than 10 years old, and one is vintage excellence!  Which style is your fave??

Here's the list (also available in the Real Estate Weekly and Sunday Longview News Journal):

All in the Bull Run subdivision in Spring Hill:

215 Strait Lane            $270,600       3/2/2        2050 sq ft    New construction!

216 Strait Lane            $365,000       4/3.5/2     2993 sq ft    built in 2014

208 Strait Lane           $379,900       4/3.5/2     3010 sq ft    built in 2012 (includes guest/mil suite)

 

In Pine Tree:

1013 Evergreen St      $229,900       4/3.5/2     3906 sq ft    custom built in 1990

 

In North Longview:

2409 Clayton St          $279,900       3/2/2        2169 sq ft   built in 2009

 

Oh, don't forget the prizes!  Sign up at each house for more chances to win our drawing for 3 $50.00 Lowe's gift cards!  Winners will be announced on Monday!  

 

 

Feb. 19, 2017

Could YOU go Tiny??

OK, I admit it:  I haven't wanted to pay attention to the Tiny House trend....after all, as a REALTOR and a former interior designer, I pretty much crave square footage!  It probably started with childhood, since I grew up in a family of 9 and bathrooms were always at a premium in terms of sibling bargaining ("I'll iron your shirts for a week if you'll let me get in the bathroom first every morning")  Our family always lived in large, old houses - since new ones at that time were ranch style "long and lows" and we needed square footage....thus began not only my appreciation for construction quality from a bygone era, but my absolute LOVE of LARGE houses with tons of rooms!  

 

Now why, I've wondered, are so many people seriously interested in Tiny Houses??  I mean....they're SO SMALL!

 

 

Having tried to ignore the trend....having ducked out of intense cocktail party conversations on the subject....having NEVER ONCE watched either of HGTV's tiny house shows, I was shaken out of my apathetic slumber by the Longview News Journal a couple of Sundays ago.  

Yes, our local newspaper finally caught my attention with a feature story about American Tiny House, a renowned builder of the little things, based right here in the Piney Woods of East Texas!  I vaguely knew they were here - I had heard one of my own agents talking about having seen the tiny houses under construction when the doors were open one day - but somehow it finally clicked for me when I ready the story about them.....and I suddenly wanted to know more!  I needed to get to the bottom of WHY tiny houses are all the rage!

 

tiny house on the prairie

 

Naturally, I started with Google; I quit counting at 12 pages, and consulted the all-knowing Wikipedia for some basic facts.  First, the definition:

 "The small house movement is a return to houses of less than 1,000 square feet"

 

Next, some interesting facts about relatively recent historical home sizes:  In the US, the average size of a single family home in 1978 was 1780 sq ft: by 2007, the average size had grown to 2479 sq ft.  (now we're talking!) - and the average size has continued to grow - to 2662 sq ft in 2016.  What makes this interesting is that the average home size has steadily grown while the average family size has steadily decreased!  Hmmm.....what does that say about the role of values in our society anyway?

 


 

 

So it seems the main reason for people really considering living in a Tiny House is an attempt to simplify their lives, and to focus on what they really love doing rather than working so hard and so long just to be able to afford their house and fill it up with ever-increasing things!  I must admit, that sounds enticing....but could you really do it?  

 

 

 

As I mentioned, I'm a REALTOR: as such I take couples through houses pretty much every day.  Though older houses often give much better ROI in terms of size, mature landscaping and location, the #1 complaint I hear has to do with the closet sizes!   If there happen to be 2 master closets, for example, the "she" always claims the larger one; if there is only one, well.....I wish I had $100 dollars for every time I heard this, "This would work for me but I don't know where you'd put YOUR clothes!"

 

 

As a result, builders are now making the master closet larger than the older bedrooms themselves!  The kids' bedrooms have shunk to be sure, but closet space throughout the newer homes is gargantuan!

 

 

Where will you put all this stuff if you have a Tiny House??

Ok, maybe that's going a little too far; obviously a real live hoarder wouldn't consider a Tiny House...especially because that would require a move!  But seriously, we are all purveyors of stuff 'n things....I rather like mine.   I like to have a wall space left when I happen upon a loved piece of art while traveling, for example.  I like to find a wonderful ceramic artist, and be able to ponder what I'll do with one more salad bowl or vase.  I suspect what I'd do (and what THEY do) is to have an increasingly large storage locker where I could just pull right up in my rolling house and stow a few things....to make room for more.  Or perhaps I'd just have an annual garage sale!  Now that could be fun!

On a slightly more serious note, I really do commend the brave souls who are experimenting with living small....I think there must be a great sense of adventure involved!  I especially love how creativity is not only encouraging fabulous design in these homes, but how it's causing people to think completely out of the box about their lifestyles - such as these 4 couples in Texas who built 4 identical Tiny Homes together in their own tiny community.....they can have their privacy, but I imagine they meet outside for barbecues, happy hour, or what used to be "chatting over the fence".  Love that - in a time when many people have no idea what their neighbors even look like, how wonderful to be able to see your best friends daily - take a look!

 

 

Or consider this Tiny House hotel in Portland Oregon; at 160 sq ft it sports 2 queen beds and rents out for $125. per night.  The other "rooms" all look different - how much fun is that?  Hopefully there is a food truck court next door...

 

Ever had a hankering to live on a lake?

 

 

.....or IN a lake???

 

The floating Tiny House actually brings up what has become the Tiny House-lover's largest problem to date:  it just isn't that easy to find a place to put them.  

The ones that are  built on a foundation must meet local building & zoning regulations, but many, if not most tiny houses are built off-site, sometimes without knowing where they will ultimately rest. That makes it difficult to know which building codes to meet, especially if owners plan to move them from place to place.  

“It’s kind of the Wild West of building,” said Tony Gilchriest, a builder based in Washington, D.C. But Gilchriest notes that the lack of clear standards makes some builders more cautious. That is especially true when the owners of a tiny house plan to move it frequently, and it must be sturdy enough to be driven down the highway at 60 mph.

Many municipalities are simply outlawing Tiny Houses within the city limits, for fear of bringing down property values....and certainly with an eye towards how to regulate anything about them, including utility usage.  More often than not, at least now, builders are choosing to build the house initially on sturdy trailers, so that it can be mobile.  This is the case with our local builder, Amercan Tiny House; the owner, Andrew Pleban, says they plan the structure and exterior materials to withstand all types of weather as well as time on the road.  Obviously this adds value to owners who might've chosen an RV to travel around in, but one wonders if RV parks will begin to looks like miniature communities soon!  I think that sounds delightful!

 

There are certainly instances where some of the larger Tiny Houses are being used to fill in small lots in urban areas, such as these:

 

I also love some Tiny Houses I've seen that are being built with upwards of 90% recycled materials, such as these in Round Top, TX:

 

 

And speaking of creativity:  check out this Austin 400 sq ft home that combines 2 separate trailers, and plenty of Austin down-home style!

 

 

and....if you're a big fan of Moby Dick, why not live in the Pequod (named for the ship)...this whimsical beauty measures 26' long and weighs 11,500 pounds!  Wouldn't you do a double take when passing this on the highway?!

Seattle non-profit uses Tiny Houses for the homeless

I have only touched on the high points of Tiny Houses, their construction and their uses...but one of my favorite food-for-the-soul stories comes from Seattle, where the non-profit Low Income Housing Institute is experimenting with building Tiny Houses for the homeless; they have put 14 of these safe and warm abodes on a city lot that used to hold one single famly home. Aaron Long, a communication specialist for the group said they can build a tiny house for about 2000.....and may be a viable alternative to low-income apartments, and certainly to tent cities they've tried to help in.  Click here to read more about this project.

 

So, has this research succeeded in changing my own mind about living in a Tiny House?  No, not yet; I still prefer room to stretch out...but without a doubt I have gained new respect for the movement, and all the people involved, from the ingenious builders to the adventurous souls willing to pare their lives down to the bare essentials, and to the civic leaders facing the regulatory ins and outs head-on to find ways to cooperate.  

 

Innovation in all things must be embraced!  I'll try not to hide from new ideas in the future, and I will now pay attention to this little thing called the Tiny House Movement...I hope you will too!

Feb. 18, 2017

Lake Cherokee Dream Home!

Lake Cherokee, where dreams live!

SP-33 Lake Cherokee has been completely remodeled and is now being offered for sale.....this could be your dream home!

If you've ever dreamed of living with a breathtaking view of nature surrounding  you....if you've often thought how wonderful it would be to go fishing or boating only steps from your door....if you've imagined yourself living in a glass house......the dreams could go on and on, but add your own dreams as you take in this wonderful home!

 

3 bedrooms, 3 en-suite baths, loft - $695,000

The home features a stucco exterior with window walls across the lake and street sides; all windows have sunshades that may be raised or lowered with remote controls; when fully lowered the landscape is still visible, but glare and fading UV rays are tempered.....the best of both worlds!  

Who wouldn't love puttering around in this cook's kitchen, surrounded by nature's beauty?!  All new stainless appliances include an ice-maker, wine fridge & under-counter microwave.  Enameled cabinets are dressed with upscale contemporary pulls; the huge center island is sure to be the gathering place when friends gather.  

Lake Cherokee is approximately 12 miles long, with over 100 miles of shoreline; it is a private lake owned by shareholders...and all lot/home owners are shareholders. The lake provides water for the City of Longview through the Cherokee Water Company.  Approximately 800 families now make Lake Cherokee home; while it is a perfect weekend/vacation home, many are now full-time residents.  

Located 120 miles east of Dallas and 60 miles west of Shreveport, Lake Cherokee makes a perfect weekend retreat for many....not too far, yet worlds away!

 

The one word that most describes Lake Cherokee is PEACEFUL.  It is a serene atmosphere through all 4 seasons.  One can see the fishing boats early and late each day, and often barges floating along for an evening stroll...but noisy watercraft are seldom seen or heard on this lake.  Only the owner's watercrafts are allowed on the lake, which keeps harTmful vegetation reaching the waters from other lakes.  There is an active social life on the lake, with various clubs and activities available; however, it is also a wonderful place to lead a quiet life if that's what one desires.  

The Cherokee Water Co maintains over 50 miles of lake roads; Lake Patrol is there constantly to watch over the roads, the homes, and the lake itself.  All in all, it's a world unto itself...the perfect escape!

 

Interactive 3-D Tour!

 

Each of  3 bedrooms has an en-suite bath; the master bath features twin sinks, a wall of storage, double closets, and a walk-in shower to love!

Enjoy the bird's-eye view of the lake from the loft - possibly the perfect home office?  

 

To enjoy complete photos and info on SP-33 please click here

 

 

For your private showing, please contact Blue Sky Group Realty at 903.241.6109

 

Interactive 3-D Tour

 

Posted in Featured Listings
Jan. 21, 2017

Erika Tamassy, more than our photographer!

Here at The Blue Sky Group, we are so lucky to have a wonderful photographer who teams with us on our listings! Erika poses with the team! There is not much that is more important to selling real estate in today's world than to have stellar photography...and Erika Tamassy delivers that for us and for our clients.  She makes everyone's home look beautiful! 

Here, we asked Erika to 'get in the shot' during a recent photoshoot of our team....she's the cute one up front with her hands in her pockets! This is a quick glimpse of her fun side, (and believe me, she makes our photo shoots fun every time!) but I want to show you what else Erika Tamassy does besides fabulous REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHY!

 First, a little background:  Erika was born and raised in Hungary, where she attended the university and graduated with a degree in International Business Administration, with minors in both French and Spanish.  She says "I still speak some French, but really no Spanish!"........but I can attest to the fact that she now also speak perfect English, albeit with a strong Hungarian accent!  

After graduation, Erika traveled quite a bit while working for a pharmaceutical export company; her favorite country to visit was Columbia.  After meeting her husband while he was attending medical school in Hungary, they moved to Canada, then to Rochester MN where he did his residency at The Mayo Clinic.  It was during that time that Erika began to take art classes while working at an art gallery; she didn't speak much English yet, so learning ceramics and drawing gave her time to absorb the language.  Next they lived in Rochester NY where her husband Andrew did a fellowship in Pediatric Neurology at the University of Rochester.  There Erika worked in Parkinson's research and took silversmithing classes....further expressing her artistic repertoire. 


 Finally, they came to settle in Longview Texas in 1997; here she took sculpture classes at LMFA, learning how to make glass beads and bobbin lace.  Have you heard of the ancient Japanese jewelry-making technique called Kumihimo?  It involved braided horse hair, then made into jewelry....and you guessed it; Erika Tamassy learned that technique in Longview as well!  Here are just a few examples of Erika's beautiful creations!  Click here to see her full gallery!

 

     

Posted in In our community
Aug. 3, 2016

Gray....beige.....or greige?!

June 23, 2016

Who is Fathom Realty?

If you’re wondering “who Fathom is”, click below for just a few facts!

Fast Facts about Fathom

Fathom Realty’s Mission Statement:

“Fathom Realty was built on biblical principals and exists to serve our agents and clients through unparalleled support, superior innovation, and next generation technology. With servant’s hearts, we believe in giving 100% to our agents and achieving 100% satisfaction from our clients.”

The main question we at The Blue Sky Group hear about Fathom is this:  Where is the main office?!  Fathom allows each independent agent to either work at home or choose to maintain an office. Realtors have long done much of their work at home; Fathom's founder Josh Harley decided most of us would rather keep a higher percentage of our commission than help pay for bricks & mortar locations seldom used.  This system works well in today's fast-paced internet society; oftentimes offices are not necessary to a Realtor's business.  It's a paradigm shift for many to understand, but once you think about it, it does make perfect sense!

I worked out of my home for years, and loved it!  It was only in the last couple of years that I found it easier to maintain my own office in which to meet clients.  Then in 2015 I was blessed with an opportunity to open up a beautiful office on Judson Rd in Longview, and it's a good thing as The Blue Sky Group continues to grow and fill it up!  Our office at 2401 Judson Rd is not the local Fathom office, as many think, but the offices of The Blue Sky Group, a real estate team working under the Fathom brokerage.  We welcome you to stop by and see us sometime!

OH, AND BY THE WAY....FATHOM REALTY IS OFFICIALLY THE FASTEST GROWING REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE IN THE US! 

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