Defining Homes • Ask the EXPERTS

With the economy still in a wicked mess, reports are that the latest trend in homebuying is not buying. Renters are on the rise. But are they? Real estate source Inman reported in January that it is cheaper to buy in the majority of the country’s larger cities. Keith Jurow reported last year on World Property Channel that a Harris Interactive survey found renting a better option. So which is it? We asked locals in the industry how the trends are swaying the Dallas housing market and the frustrations behind them.

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Michael Litzinger

Michael Litzinger
William Davis Realty Uptown

The trend has affected my business significantly. The firm I recently moved to seems to be more in tune with today’s market. Their streamlined, online process requires less paperwork which makes it better for the client, a much quicker turn around for me and better for the environment.

Leasing does move property these days, and I am just glad the industry moves in some fashion whether it’s leasing or selling.

I do think the trend has affected us locally somewhat, but not nearly as severely as in most other areas. I still feel good about the Dallas market.  I know Realtors in other areas that can’t say the same.

Buyers are decreasing to some degree. Even with low interest rates, I’ve had a lot of buyers come to me and then disappear.

 

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Derrick Dawson

Derrick Dawson
Texas Pride Realty

As an active and producing Realtor also working in property management, I’d say the rental trend has picked up significantly, but that doesn’t mean it’s been ideal for property renters/owners or for the multi-family industry. The rental market has been stable but faces some challenges based on broken leases due to financial hardship or unemployment. Many are playing it safe by downsizing or combining rental homes based on economic conditions, being fearful of keeping their jobs and saving for the future.
Today is a buyer’s market and an ideal time to get out of the rent race. The downfall to the buyer’s market that I have seen personally is buyers and investors taking advantage of desperate people in today’s markets, possibly causing detriment to individuals or families in their time of need but also bringing down values in those areas making it harder for others to sell.

 

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Dan Flynn

 

Dan Flynn
Dave Perry-Miller InTown

The trend of leasing over buying has changed the way I preview properties in my area. Leasing is so hot now, I’ve looked at rentals and try to know the different apartment communities close by. Now I am much faster to respond to leasing needs.

I process far more leases to build my future list of clients. I try to educate and prepare them for the buying process down the road. Using a Realtor to find the perfect place to lease makes a lot of sense for those wanting to buy in the future but also for those who don’t really want to do the legwork.

I recently represented a seller who could not sell his property for the amount he was hoping for. Finding qualified buyers in his market and price range wasn’t easy. Another Realtor’s client was interested in leasing the property so

I had to have that conversation with my seller. The seller decided to go with the lease. While sales are still going strong, leasing has increased. While this really is the time to buy, I think all the media attention scares buyers. Potential buyers need to know that the market is stable here and we are one of the cities leading the nation in sales right now.  Go buy a house now or pay more for it later both in price and interest rates.

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Keith M. Thomas

Keith M. Thomas
1111 Apartment Locators

Although the economy has definitely affected us here, it is worse in other areas of the country. Dallas continues to grow and so I feel the trend’s impact on Dallas has been positive.

My company is a fully licensed real estate brokerage company and we handle all residential and commercial real estate transactions yet, our primary business is apartment locating. We want to maintain focus on renters, but we’ve created strategic partnerships with other real estate companies and have a referral program with them. We work closely with our clients to help with all of their real estate needs.

For homes that have reasonable mortgages there is good news. In Dallas, the rental market has significantly gone up, especially from 2010 to present to a  94-97 percent occupancy rate.

Buyers become renters for two reasons: First, they are able to get a nicer home for a lower monthly payment. And second, it doesn’t make sense to buy unless you’re planning to stay. However, buyers are increasing, oddly enough. MetroTex Association of Realtors reported that last August 2010 there were 1,223 properties sold and this August 2011 there were 1,485.

It’s a landlords’ market. Rents are at a premium and good ones go fast. When I show my clients rentals, they want to think about it, I encourage them to act quickly, because the unit is gone within a day or two. Why should homeowners take a loss on waiting for a qualified buyer, when they can rent quickly and hold out for the market to improve?

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Local Briefs

CCGLA surveys candidates, sets meet-and-greet events

As municipal elections approach, the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance has sent an online survey to city council, school board and mayoral candidates in Allen, Frisco, Plano and McKinney, and “meet-and-greet” sessions for candidates are planned in Frisco, Plano and McKinney in April.

The organization will also create and distribute a voters’ guide.

The Plano “meet-and-greet” will be held on Friday, April 8, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at a private residence. For more information, go online to CCGLA.org.

Results of CCGLA’s candidate surveys will be posted on the CCGLA website prior to each event. The events are informal, non-partisan, and all candidates are invited.

Oak Cliff Earth Day to feature vendors, info booths and more

Oak Cliff Earth Day, which has become the largest all-volunteer-run Earth Day since it started five years ago, will be held on Sunday, April 17, from noon to 5 p.m. at Lake Cliff Park, located at the intersection of Colorado Street and Zang Boulevard in Oak Cliff.

There is no charge to attend the event, which will include art, food, plants and other environmentally-friendly products available for purchase.

There will also be educational booths on topics such as how to save energy and clean up the environment, along with locally-grown honey, animals to adopt and native plants for gardens.

Parking at the park is limited, however, free parking is available at Methodist Hospital, in Lot 10 only, located at 1400 S. Beckley Ave. across from the hospital entrance on Beckley Ave. Methodist Hospital is providing a shuttle bus from the parking lot to the event.

Participants are also encouraged to take DART to the event or walk or ride a bicycle. There are a number of bike racks, funded by Oak Cliff Earth Day, at the park.

Mayoral candidates to speak Sunday on animal issues in Dallas

Dallas’ mayoral candidates will participate in a forum on animal issues in the city of Dallas on Sunday, April 10, at 2 p.m. at the Central Dallas Library, 1515 Young St., in downtown Dallas. The Metroplex Animal Coalition is sponsoring the forum, with is free and open to the public. Journalist Larry Powell with Urban Animal magazine will moderate.

The mayoral candidates are former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, Councilman Ron Natinsky, real estate consultant Edward Okpa and Mike Rawlings, former Pizza Hut CEO and Dallas homeless czar.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

My self-assessment after reading the Glamour survey on women and “I hate my body” thoughts

Glamour breathlessly announced findings in its survey on body image and I’m not sure what there is to be stunned about – women are bombarded 24/7 with images of idealized bodies that don’t reflect the reality of the average woman’s size, shape, fitness level (or color for that matter):

Read these words: “You are a fat, worthless pig.” “You’re too thin. No man is ever going to want you.” “Ugly. Big. Gross.” Horrifying comments on some awful website? The rant of an abusive, controlling boyfriend? No; shockingly, these are the actual words young women are saying to themselves on any typical day. For some, such thoughts are fleeting, but for others, this dialogue plays on a constant, punishing loop, according to a new exclusive Glamour survey of more than 300 women of all sizes. Our research found that, on average, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily-nearly one for every waking hour. And a disturbing number of women confess to having 35, 50 or even 100 hateful thoughts about their own shapes each day.

…”That is a lot, yet I’m not totally surprised,” says Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., a Cincinnati psychologist who specializes in body image and helped Glamour design the survey. “It’s become such an accepted norm to put yourself down that if someone says she likes her body, she’s the odd woman out. I was in a group discussion recently, and when one woman said, ‘I actually feel OK about the way I look,’ another woman scrunched up her face and said, ‘I have never in my whole life heard anyone say that-and I’m not sure I even believe you.’ That’s how pervasive this negative body talk is. It’s actually more acceptable to insult your body than to praise it.”

And we seem to be well aware of how hard we are on ourselves. Nearly 63 percent of Glamour’s survey respondents said they had roughly the same number of negative thoughts as they expected. But few realized how venomous those thoughts were until they were down on paper. So how has this become OK?

Our unattainable cultural beauty ideals, our celebrity worship-those all play a part, says Kearney-Cooke. But another big reason is that we’ve actually trained ourselves to be this way. “Neuroscience has shown that whatever you focus on shapes your brain. If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts about your body, that neural pathway becomes stronger-and those thoughts become habitual,” she explains. “Imagine a concert pianist. Her brain would have stronger neural pathways that support musicality and dexterity than someone who hadn’t spent her life practicing.”

OK, so it’s our broken brains that we’ve trained to cycle in these self-loathing thoughts. You can read the rest of the article for more; I was just dropping this in as a topic. I’m sure that the level of harsh self-evaluation, particularly when it comes to gay men, may be disproportionally high, given all the hardbodies you see in magazines directed at that demo. Some of the actual comments by survey participants are truly vile:

  • “Fat-ass. Lazy bitch. I hate my thighs. I hate my stomach. I hate my arms.”
  • “Your stomach is fat. That is why you are alone.”
  • “I can’t imagine anyone wanting to have sex with this.”
  • “Huge legs, fat stomach, not pretty enough to attract anyone, ugly in comparison to others.”
  • “I look disgusting with my cottage cheese legs and stretch-mark hips. Nasty. No one would want to touch me.”

I’m racking my brain to think about how often I do this each day. I’ve inherited my mom’s side of the family when it comes to over-ample boobage and I’ve accepted “the girls” for what they are. My legs are short and muscular, I’ve accepted those. Honestly, I only think about where I express self-criticism is when getting dressed, usually on the problem areas for my apple-shape – abdomen, arms. I don’t carry it in my hips.

The hysterectomy, which causes “swelly belly” for some women, makes it uncomfortable to wear jeans (and it does for me), so it sort of exacerbated my issues on that front.

My operation also made me realize why a lot of women in midlife choose the often fashionista-decried “mommy jeans” that sit just above your natural waist, or those with elasticized backs (or now, jeggings) – many have had reproductive issues — hysterectomies, cancer, even multiple caesareans that make wearing low-slung tight jeans a thing of the past. Yet women who choose some level of comfort out of necessity are made to feel undesireable or the butt of jokes as a fashion outlier.

Anyway, from my POV I know I can be stylish and not a size 0, and choose things that flatter. Now whether anyone laughs at me or considers me “less-than” in terms of attractiveness – I can’t change what someone who doesn’t even know me thinks about whether I qualify for their personal beauty standard. But you do really have to figure out how to deal with your own internal critic first.

It seems like step 1 for some women would be to throw out all of the magazines idolizing the unrealistic standard.

Q of the day: So how often do you have self-critical thoughts about your body/body image?
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

How Jeh Johnson’s Survey Results Prove John McCain Cares More About Bigots Than National Security

Why didn’t the Pentagon’s DADT survey consider the question of should, not could the military handle openly gay troops — like John McCain wanted? Because, says Pentagon chief counsel Jeh Johnson yesterday to CNN, that wasn’t what they were asked to do. (Which is one of McCain’s big “problems.”) And thus explains the lack of rationale behind McCain’s central argument. The senator continues to say the military isn’t ready to repeal the law. Except tens of thousands of troops just told the Senate they are, in fact, ready to do just that. But should they? Should they?, is McCain’s continued (rhetorical) question. And at this point, with all that is known about the professionalism of servicemembers and their ability to follow orders and adapt accordingly, McCain’s core question can only be answered with this: Should the military continue needlessly enforcing discrimination? Or not?

Queerty

—  admin

The Department Of Defense Is EVER So Pissed About The Leaked DADT Survey

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is furious about the leaked DADT survey and has launched an investigation to find its source. In the meantime, today the Pentagon issued a super-annoyed press release.

Secretary Gates is very concerned and extremely disappointed that unnamed sources within the Department of Defense have selectively revealed aspects of the draft findings of the Comprehensive Review Working Group, presumably to shape perceptions of the report prior to its release. The Secretary launched this review in March to objectively ascertain the impact of potential repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law on military readiness, effectiveness, recruiting, retention, unit cohesion and families. He made it clear then and throughout this process that it was ‘critical that this effort be carried out in a professional, thorough and dispassionate manner.’ He has also stated clearly that ‘given the political dimension of this issue, it is equally critical that…every effort be made to shield our men and women in uniform and their families from those aspects of this debate.’

For nearly nine months the Working Group has operated in strict accordance to that mandate. Anonymous sources now risk undermining the integrity of this process. The Secretary strongly condemns the unauthorized release of information related to this report and has directed an investigation to establish who communicated with the Washington Post or any other news organization without authorization and in violation of Department policy and his specific instruction. The full report will be made public for all to review early next month. Until then, no one at the Pentagon will comment on its contents.

You gotta wonder how much of a hand Tony Perkins had in this response.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Crybaby Tony Perkins Demands Investigation Into Leaked DADT Survey

“We have criticized this study from the outset because the CRWG was forbidden to explore the central question before the country-not how to implement a repeal of the current law, but whether doing so is in the best interest of the armed forces. The surveys of servicemembers and their spouses which were conducted as part of this process shared the same flaw, since they never asked, ‘Do you believe the current law should be overturned?’

“Despite this critical flaw, Secretary Gates had at least pledged that the effort would be ‘carried out in a professional, thorough and dispassionate manner.’ That effort is gravely undermined by leaks to the media which are unprofessional, selective and blatantly biased. I urge Secretary Gates to have the DOD Inspector General launch an immediate investigation into the source of these leaks, which have seriously damaged the credibility of the CRWG process.” – Family Research Council douchebag crybaby Tony Perkins, saying it’s “laughable” that the leaking party wouldn’t have a pro-gay bias.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Pentagon DADT survey leak: majority of troops don’t object to serving alongside gay soldiers

Of course they are already serving alongside gay and lesbian soldiers, so the point of this leak is not to surprise anyone. Clearly someone at the Pentagon (or the White House), in planning to push for doing something in the Senate before all hope is lost on DADT repeal, is floating this balloon for all of the Senators who have been hiding behind the fig leaf of “I’m waiting for the study.” This development was reported tonight by NBC’s Richard Engel (via The Wonk Room):

ENGEL: The findings are that for most soldiers, and this wasn’t the sum total of all soldiers, it wasn’t that big of a deal…The majority – the number one answer, first answer was ‘I don’t care.’ That’s significant.

MADDOW: Predominant answer is ‘no big deal.’

ENGEL: Most common, number one. Number two was, ‘I would deal directly with the person involved.’ So when you put the two of those together, it is the majority. Now, there were some people who said, three, they would go to the chain of command and some four, who hated it, hated it. But the answers one and two are considered positive. So these studies show a relative if not positive outlook, at least an accepting outlook.

MADDOW: So the military study is, as you said, the survey of the troops is part of it. It’s an overall study of the feasibility of the issue….this survey of the troops, what you’ve learned is that a majority of troops it’s not going to be a major deal.

ENGEL: Not a deal breaker, that they they’re not going to be running from the army in droves. A key thing this study kept coming back to is that it’s very important about the chain of command. What commanders say. How far commanders act. What tone they set. The marines were the most negative out of the services. They had the most people who were – with negative responses. And the marine corps leadership has taken a stance and has been very vocally against this issue. And the study found that most soldiers and sailors and all different service members follow a chain of command. So if the chain of command accepts this as the law, the data is that so will the soldiers.

Igor Volsky at The Wonk Room has a nice collection of quotes from Republicans who have been waiting for “what the troops have to say.”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

New Survey Shows Majority Support for Equal Workplace Benefits

As we released our new Corporate Equalty Index yesterday, the Out & Equal Workplace Summit was kicking off in Los Angeles.  According to their recent survey, nearly four our of five – or 78% — of heterosexual adults agree that how an employee performs at his or her job should be the standard for judging an employee, not his or her sexual orientation. Also, three out of five – or 62% — of heterosexual adults agree that regardless of their sexual orientation, all employees are entitled to equal benefits on the job, such as health insurance for their partners or spouses.

When it comes to particular workplace benefits offered to spouses of married heterosexual employees, 74% of heterosexuals think both spouses and same-sex partners should receive leave for employees who experience the loss of a spouse/partner or close family member. Also, seven out of ten – or 70% – of heterosexual adults think both spouses and partners should receive leave rights for family and medical emergencies as outlined in the Family and Medical Leave Act. And, a majority, 63%, of heterosexuals also think both spouses and partners should receive untaxed health insurance benefits.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Survey: Acceptance Growing for Gay Families

GAY DADS FATHERS FAMILY X390 (THINKSTOCK) | ADVOCATE.COMThe majority of Americans are widening their view of what it means to be
a family — and same-sex couples with kids fit the definition.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

GLSEN Releases LGBT Student Survey – School Safety Still a Serious Concern

Today, GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, released its National School Climate Survey, which documents the experiences of LGBT students from across the country. The 2009 National School Climate Survey shows that while progress has been made in providing safe schools for LGBT youth, much work remains to be done. Among the report’s key findings:

• 84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed and 18.8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.

• 63.7% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.2% reported being physically harassed and 12.5% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression.

• Nearly two-thirds (61.1%) of students reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and more than a third (39.9%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.

• The presence of a gay-straight alliance, supportive teachers and staff members, and a school anti-bullying policy all contributed to an improved climate for LGBT students.  Click here for the full report.

HRC thanks GLSEN for its extensive efforts on this report, which included gathering data from over 7,000 LGBT students, and for its pioneering efforts to improve the climate of schools for LGBT youth. As the report indicates, much work remains to be done to ensure that safe schools become a reality for LGBT youth across our nation.

HRC, along with GLSEN, is currently supporting two bills in the U.S. Congress that would foster a safe and inclusive environment for LGBT students – the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA, H.R. 2262, S. 3739), which would require school districts receiving federal funds to adopt codes of conduct prohibiting bullying and harassment, and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA, H.R. 4530, S. 3390), which would prohibit any school program or activity receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating against any public school student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Let your Members of Congress know that you support the SSIA and SNDA because all students deserve an education free of discrimination, harassment and bullying.

Thanks to HRC staff counsel Aaron Welo for his contributions to this post.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright