Smart Appliances

What if your dishwasher knew how dirty your dishes are? What if your oven actually made you a better cook? Can your refrigerator help you surf the web, play music, or make a phone call for you? What if your cooktop regulated the heat under your pan for even cooking?

Whether you’re selling a home as a consumer or real estate professional, kitchen appliances are a big deal. According to ratings collected by CNET, here are the top five kitchen appliances in high demand right now:

1. Dishwasher:

Whirlpool WDL785SAAM – Want a dishwasher that knows how dirty your dishes are? This unit is included in Whirlpool’s line of 6th Sense Live smart appliances and includes a “sensor wash cycle” which uses Whirlpool’s Auto Soil sensor and the water clarity to determine how dirty the dishes are. Depending on the reading, it may automatically add more water and adjust the temperature accordingly. The WDL785SAAM is a tall tub, built-in dishwasher with two removable racks and a stainless steel tub, which holds heat better and is more energy efficient when compared to other dishwashers.

2. Microwave:
Panasonic NN-SD997S – For a solid, good looking microwave, this high wattage, mid-price range stainless steel unit with blue LED display gets good reviews and has a large capacity. The sensor functions are reported to do their job well and best of all, it’s a good deal.
Looking for more in a microwave? Check this Microwave Buying Guide. Newer options include a microwave in a drawer, super convection types for browning and new inverter technology so you can finally poach salmon and make fluffy omelets in your microwave.

3. Oven:
ovenDacor Renaissance 30″ Double Wall Oven – Can your oven make your a better cook? CNET’s taste testers unanimously preferred the food cooked this oven over all other ovens they tested! On the high end price-wise, this double oven is a critic’s fave. They say you’ll have a hard time finding one with a better and more powerful cooking performance.

4. Refrigerator:
Samsung 4-Door Refrigerator with 8″ Wi-Fi Enabled LCD – This refrigerator syncs with the Galaxy S5 and Note 3, your television or your wifi connection so you can browse morning headlines, search recipe sites, stream music, or watch TV. It will also keep your milk cold and your ice frozen with a 28 cu. ft. capacity, adjustable shelving, Twin Cooling
SamsungPlus” system, FlexZone” drawer with variable temperature control settings, along with the 8-inch LCD touchscreen.

5. Cooktops:
Bosch Benchmark induction and gas cooktops. The newest innovation to stovetop cooking, induction stovetops from Bosch feature “FlexInduction” cooking with two separate cooking zones that can be combined to fit larger pots and pans. The AutoChef temperature control supposedly holds a steady cooking temperature without fluctuating so food cooks more evenly. Plus, it’s a pretty good looking cooktop.
Whether you’re a master chef – or need all the help you can get, these hot appliances will add value to your kitchen and your home.

Posted on November 20, 2014 at 11:49 am by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Foreclosure Tutorial Part 2 – Why Invest in the Housing Market?

The Many Benefits of Real Estate Investment

The Many Benefits of Real Estate Investment

With so many different investment options available today, what is it that attracts so many investors and ordinary homebuyers to real estate, whether the real estate market is UP or DOWN? One of the primary reasons is that real estate investing is relatively easy to understand. Real estate investing, like any business that resells a durable good, is essentially in the business of buying low and selling high. The simplicity of this concept and the amount of wealth that can be created is what attracts so many individuals to realty. While buying low and selling high is the guiding principal to building real estate wealth, there are many other important benefits. Let’s take a look at these benefits below, and keep in mind that investing in home foreclosures and other distressed real estate can actually multiply some of these benefits.

Price Appreciation: This is the most widely understood benefit of purchasing real estate. Price appreciation is generally the result of the basic principles of supply and demand. When the demand for housing increases faster than the supply of housing, home prices naturally increase. While housing prices regularly fluctuate from market to market there is one very interesting fact to remember. Since 1969, the first year the nation’s average home sale prices were tracked by HUD, there has been a net increase in the nation’s average sales price. As the US population continues to grow, combined with the inherent limitations on land development, housing prices as a whole should continue to rise. Buying cheap houses found in foreclosure listings can provide instant price appreciation in the form of purchased equity.

Tax Savings: If you purchase a home as a primary residence there are significant tax advantages. One of the biggest incentives to owning a home is that the interest you pay on your mortgage is tax-deductible, up to a very high limit. Additionally, you can claim property taxes you pay as an income tax deduction. Another major advantage of home ownership is that, in most cases, you don’t have to pay taxes on any profit you make when you sell your home.

There are also tax benefits with purchasing investment property. The key tax benefit with investment property is called depreciation. The property can actually be appreciating in value while you are depreciating the asset on your tax return. The result is a reduction in your current taxable income while not reducing actual income.

Rental Income: Receiving positive cash flow from investment property is every entrepreneur’s dream. To have positive cash flow, the rent derived from your tenants must cover all expenses including your mortgage, insurance and taxes. While there are any number of investments that may offer this benefit, few can produce as much income relative to the cash invested as real estate. By negotiating a great low purchase price on a bank foreclosure or a government repossessed homes, your ability to generate positive cash flow as a landlord is greatly enhanced.

Leverage: Simply stated, leverage is the use of borrowed funds to increase buying power. The most common example in real estate investing is a mortgage. Investors use a small percentage of cash as a down payment and finance the rest through a lender. As long as the interest rate at which they borrow is less than the rate of return on the investment, there is positive leverage.

Now that you understand the key benefits of purchasing real estate, let’s turn our attention to the foreclosure housing market, which presents some of the greatest buying opportunities available.

Posted on September 16, 2014 at 4:14 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Foreclosure Tutorial Part 1 – Introduction

Foreclosure Tutorial -  Part 1

Foreclosure Tutorial – Part 1

The purpose of this foreclosure tutorial is to provide an overview of the foreclosure process and to help you get started in achieving your real estate dreams. Whether you are a first time buyer or a seasoned real estate professional, there is tremendous opportunity in learning how to buy foreclosure property and then using your knowledge to purchase undervalued distressed real estate.

The national foreclosure rate has continued to increase over the last several years. New mortgage loans are entering the foreclosure process daily. There are plenty of foreclosed or financially distressed properties available for purchase, typically at prices listed significantly below market median prices. On average, most markets price foreclosures at between 10%-30% below market median prices depending on the condition.

What causes foreclosures? The use of exotic loans, combined with higher consumer debt, changing bankruptcy laws and changes in employment levels all contribute to the foreclosure rate and are all likely to contribute to the continued flow of foreclosures to market. Due to these market conditions, I believe great opportunities still exist today to acquire homes at a discount, establish a preferred home lifestyle and/or make money and build wealth through foreclosures.

Unless you are already an experienced foreclosure investor, I recommend that you take advantage of the information presented in this tutorial. While it will not make you a leading expert on the subject matter, it does provide an easy to understand overview of the foreclosure process and how to purchase these properties.

There are few opportunities today that can be as lucrative and exciting as the hidden housing market of real estate foreclosures. We wish you the best of luck and hope to see you accomplish extraordinary success in your journey into distressed real estate. Remember …the harder you work the luckier you will get.

If you would like a list of foreclosure properties or you have already found some homes you would like to go visit, please let me know and I would be more than happy to arrange it for you.

Posted on September 12, 2014 at 5:13 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Watch Out for Some Red Flags When Buying a Home


When buying a home, keep your eyes peeled as you consider the potential of your new house, and hopefully you can avoid the costly mistake of buying a place that needs a lot of pricey repairs soon after closing.

Or at least, gain some leverage in negotiating costs and/or required fixes, so you aren’t stuck with a new mortgage—and new repairs.

Here are some tell-tale signs to look for when buying a home:

Signs of Deferred Maintenance

How do you discover the true condition of a sale home? Use all your senses.

Look at the walls: cracks can indicate a shifting foundation. Signs of water damage, like peeling ceilings, can indicate the need for roof repairs. New paint on a single wall could hiding mildew, mold or water damage.

Smell the basement. Do you detect a hint of mustiness? This could signify mold. Touch the electrical faceplates—are they warm? Is that an odd shadow on a wall? Or a bump that means a shoddy repair?

Ask yourself these questions, too:
◾Does the masonry have visible cracks or crumbles?
◾Are there broken fixtures?
◾Are there any barricaded spaces in attics, basements or corners of rooms?
◾How do the electrical outlets and vents look?
◾Do the doors and windows open and close as they should—with no sticking, uneven corners or drafts?

Get Help From a Home Inspector When Buying a Home

Thankfully, you’re not alone in determining the conditions of prospective homes.

Home inspections become crucial here, as they locate red flags. A qualified home inspector is trained to spot structural and system problems that layman won’t notice. They can advise on potential repairs. They’ll check the reliability of your heating and ventilation system, and they also can spot foundation problems your untrained eye may skip.

Your reliance upon the expertise of the home inspector allows you to mount a little offensive when buying a home. You can use the defects described in an inspection report as an effective negotiating tool to get a better price with the seller.

The lender’s appraiser may also have some thoughts. While they are tasked with ensuring the lender is making a good investment, they may also spot some issues. A new rule gives buyers the right to see the appraisal, which could note issues with the house.

Look Closely at the Neighborhood When Buying a Home

You are buying into a neighborhood as well as into a home. Check red flags in the area, too. Abandoned and boarded-up buildings or excessive amounts of garbage and graffiti are obviously not good signs.

Is there local industry in the form of factories or business parks? Do neighbors park on the streets or in garages? Are cars and debris filling adjacent yards? In other words, do people take pride and care in their community? And are there signs of stability and growth?

Of course, you may also see the good signs: senior citizens walking, children playing, clean school yards, parks, convenient shopping, places of worship and a public library. You know what you want in a neighborhood. Make sure you see it.

Resolving Repair Issues When Buying a Home

If you do find red flags, they may not tank the deal, as long as you bring them up. A good REALTOR® can help you with this.

Major issues—like plumbing, electrical wiring problems or structural concerns—could push a motivated seller to agree to fix the problems or lower the price of the home. Because if one buyers spots them, another one might, too.

If the neighborhood, the home layout and the price all seem right, it might be worth trying to push the seller to mitigate those flags. And once they’ve finished, you’ll have the home you’ve always dreamed about right in front of you.

Posted on August 27, 2014 at 3:09 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

What’s the Difference in Homeowner’s Insurance and PMI?

insurance Just as you’re required to have auto insurance when you purchase a vehicle, you’re also required to have insurance when you buy a home. Homeowners insurance and PMI insurance are two different types of insurance for homeowners, but you might not need both.

Here’s some basic information to help you better understand homeowners insurance and PMI differences:
•Homeowners insurance is the type that every homeowner needs to have. This insurance covers damage to your home’s structural features and your personal property due to several unpreventable causes, such as fires, theft or wind damage. Most policies don’t cover damage from floods or earthquakes, so you’ll need to purchase additional insurance for these natural disasters separately, depending on where you live. Homeowners insurance also provides liability coverage, in case someone is injured on your property.
•PMI insurance, or private mortgage insurance, is only required if you make a down payment of less than 20 percent on your loan. This type of insurance protects the lender in case you end up defaulting on your loan. The fees for this type of insurance depend on how much of a down payment you made and what your loan amount is. Keep in mind that when you hit 80 percent on the loan-to-value ratio, you no longer need to pay PMI premiums.

Knowing more about homeowners insurance and PMI differences is just one part of the home buying process. You’ll also need to know how to choose a mortgage, how much of a home you can afford and where to look for a home. Having a reliable real estate agent at your side can make this process much easier.

Ready to get started on the home buying process? Contact John Cantero at 918-313-0408. I’ll show you the way home!

Posted on August 20, 2014 at 3:07 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Rolling Your Closing Costs Into Your Financing

realestate closing cost Closing costs are a considerable expense when you’re buying a house. You can pay these costs upfront or include them in your mortgage.

Mortgaging your closing costs can be done in a number of ways, including the following:
•Having the seller help out. This is known as a “seller credit” and involves having a percentage of the selling price go toward the closing costs. This means that the seller doesn’t get as much money for the home, since roughly 2.5 percent or so of the price will cover the closing costs.
•Getting a bigger loan. This method involves paying a portion of the closing costs and having the rest covered in the loan amount.
•Paying a higher purchase price. You can include the closing costs in the home loan by offering to pay a higher sales price. This price would cover the closing costs, and the seller wouldn’t have to give up any money like they would with a seller credit.
•Paying a higher interest rate. With this method, you pay a higher interest rate while the lender helps out with the closing costs. Lenders can sometimes take as much as $4,000 off the closing costs, but keep in mind that you might end up paying more money in the long run with the higher interest rate.

There are advantages and disadvantages to mortgaging your closing costs. The best way to decide whether you should do this or pay the costs upfront is to discuss the issue with your real estate agent. If you’re having a hard time coming up with the closing cost money upfront, your agent can help you determine how to cover these costs.

Are you ready to talk to an experienced real estate agent about closing costs? Call or text me at 918-313-0408 I’ll show you the way home!

Posted on August 15, 2014 at 10:15 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Things to Avoid When Purchasing a Foreclosed Home

images Buying a foreclosure can be a great way to save money on a new home, but you need to exercise a certain amount of caution. Although foreclosure discounts can significantly lower the cost of a home, you can also end up in over your head financially if you’re not careful.

Avoid making these common mistakes when buying a foreclosure:
•Not hiring a realtor: Foreclosure transactions are much more complicated than the traditional home buying process. You’ll need the help of a professional agent who specializes in foreclosed homes.
•Not checking on state and local laws: To avoid legal issues, it’s important to know the laws on buying foreclosures. The contract has to adhere to these laws or it could be invalid.
•Not thinking long-term: Make sure the foreclosed home you buy will be a good investment ten years down the road. If you don’t think that far ahead, you could be investing in property that will decline in value.
•Not saving for repairs: Set aside at least 10 percent of the home’s cost for repairs. Don’t just look at the cost of the home when determining your budget. Repairs are commonly needed in foreclosed homes, especially ones that have been vacant for awhile.
•Not narrowing down your search: It’s easy to find foreclosed properties in any part of the country, but it’s best to focus on a specific area to avoid being overwhelmed. Work with a real estate agent in that area to find a home that suits your needs.
•Expecting significant foreclosure discounts: Don’t assume that the bank will take a big chunk off the price of a foreclosed home. You’ll still need to negotiate for that.

Need help buying a foreclosed home? Contact me and I will show you the way home. John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Posted on August 13, 2014 at 1:56 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

10 Things Today’s Buyers Look for in a Home

imagesHC9UXKPM The following list includes in no particular order 10 things that are important to buyers today, especially Millennials who represent a significant buyer niche in today’s market.
1.Quality of the neighborhood – The National Association of Realtor’s 2012 Profile of Buyers and Sellers revealed that neighborhoods are really important to buyers, but that neighborhood choice varies by household composition.
2.Convenience to job – Commuting is a necessary evil, but homes that are close to work enhance work-life balance, a growing priority for many Americans, especially Millennials.
3.Overall affordability of homes – With job markets tight and retirement funds depleted or eroded thanks to the great Recession, it has never been more important to keep housing related costs as low as possible, ideally no more than one third of your pre-tax income.
4.Quality of schools – A recent survey by revealed that nearly 45 percent of today’s buyers are willing to pay a premium for quality schools
5.Homes suited for the next 15 years – Just five years ago, buyers were looking to stay in their home about 10 years. Today, buyers expect to stay closer to 15, so it’s important to find a home that can support lifestyles as they evolve through that time period.
6.A mortgage – In today’s tight credit environment, getting a mortgage can be a challenge. Buyers should be willing to consider homes below what they may quality for in order to bump up the loan to value ratio.
7.Energy efficiency – The National Association of Homebuilders surveyed buyers to see what was most important to them in new home construction and energy efficiency topped the list. Four of the top most wanted features involve saving energy: 94 percent of home buyers want energy-star rated appliances, 91 percent want an energy-star rating for the whole home, 89 percent want energy-star rated windows, and 88 percent want ceiling fans.
8.Open floor plans – Spaces that are great for entertaining mean quality time with friends and family, something especially important to Gen Y.
9.High ceilings – Taller ceilings are not only aesthetically pleasing in that they impart a grandness to the home, they also promote greater air circulation and more natural light than lower ceilings.
10.Technology – Can you run your home from a cell phone? Then market to a Millennial, who prizes a homes’ technological amenities prized over curb appeal.

What are YOU looking for in a home? Let me know and I am sure I can help you find it.

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

What is Mortgage Insurance and Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP)

Mortgage Insurance – A contract that insures the lender against loss caused by a borrower’s default on a government mortgage or conventional mortgage. Mortgage insurance can be issued by a private company or by a government agency such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Depending on the type of mortgage insurance, the insurance may cover a percentage of or virtually all of the mortgage loan.

Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) – The amount paid by a borrower for mortgage insurance, either to a government agency such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or to a private mortgage insurance (MI) company.

These costs can be avoided with a 20% downpayment.

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 1:13 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

What is a HUD-1 Settlement Statement

HUD-1 Settlement Statement – A document that provides an itemized listing of the funds that are payable at closing. Items that appear on the statement include real estate commissions, loan fees, points, and initial escrow amounts. Each item on the statement is represented by a separate number within a standardized numbering system. The totals at the bottom of the HUD-1 statement define the seller’s net proceeds and the buyer’s net payment at closing. The blank form for the statement is published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The HUD-1 statement is also known as the “closing statement” or “settlement sheet.”

Posted on at 1:06 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

What are closing costs

Closing costs are various expenses (over and above the price of the property) incurred by buyers and sellers in transferring ownership of a property. Closing costs normally include items such as broker’s commissions, discount points, origination fees, attorney’s fees, taxes, title insurance premiums, escrow agent fees, and charges for obtaining appraisals, inspections and surveys. Closing costs will vary according to the area of the country. Lenders or real estate professionals often provide estimates of closing costs to prospective home buyers even before the HUD-1 settlement statement is delivered.

Posted on at 12:59 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Haikey Creek flood-mitigation project to affect traffic on 131st Street

Motorists driving 131st Street east of Mingo Road should prepare for a few months of delays.

Traffic along 131st Street between Mingo and Garnett roads in Bixby will be interrupted for the next few months as the city begins Phase 1 of its Haikey Creek flood-mitigation project.

The project includes construction and replacement of bridges on 131st Street and along a flood plain relief channel running south from 131st Street to the Arkansas River, construction of levees west of Haikey Creek, the widening of Haikey Creek, and construction of the flood plain relief channel west of the creek.

Currently, the relief channel is little more than a ditch. The bridges will be expanded to accommodate the widening of the channel.

Construction of the two bridges between Mingo and Garnett is scheduled to be complete by mid-July. A third bridge west of Mingo Road on 131st Street will be worked on from mid-July to mid-August.

“What we are trying to do is get 131st Street entirely done before school starts,” said Bixby City Engineer Jared Cottle.

The $12.2 million flood-mitigation project is being funded with Vision 2025 funds.

Cottle said the primary benefit of the project is that it will take property out of the flood plain.

“This project will bring over 900 acres of land for development out of the flood plain,” he said.

All phases of the project are expected to be completed within two years.

Kirby Crowe with Program Management Group, which oversees the Vision program for the county, said the project has been funded for a while but has been waiting for the city to acquire needed rights of way and to complete and obtain regulatory approval.

By KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 2:02 am by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Free Summer Fun in Tulsa Area

images tulsa Summer in Oklahoma isn’t for the faint of heart. Between the heat, the never-ending hours of sunshine, and the kids climbing the walls at home, it’s easy to start filling your calendar with trips to the nearest lake and evenings alone with your air conditioner. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But between road trip ideas, activities the kids will love, and opportunities for some adults-only fun, there’s just too much to do in Oklahoma this summer to fall into an entertainment rut. Whether it’s Bigfoot, dinosaurs, the stars, or even just some popcorn and a good movie that you seek, you’ll find the trail that leads to some of the best things to do in Oklahoma this summer right here. Free Summer Fun in the Tulsa area.
1. 5.2 million kids can’t be wrong. Like them, you can get bowled over—for free—at Andy B’s in Tulsa and Broken Arrow Lanes in Broken Arrow. Register at for two free games of bowling every day all summer long, a value of over $500 per child.
2. Indulge in a range of silver-screen classics, from King of Comedy to Clueless, shown free as part of the Movie in the Park series at Guthrie Green.
3. Meet some 500-year-old trees on a hike at the Keystone Ancient Forest Preserve, a section of the cross timbers open west of Sand Springs on the second Saturday of each month.
4. Listen to Tulsa’s Starlight Band as they play out the stars. All of the Concerts on the River are free to attend, with a new theme for each: the Greatest Hits of the Big-Band Era, Americana Night, A West Coast Jazz Evening, and more.
5. Scope out the various foo-foo pups and designer lawn blankets at the Summer’s Fifth Night free concerts series in Tulsa’s Utica Square. Featuring on stage every Thursday night are local mainstays from Mid-Life Crisis to Grady Nichols.
6. Trade the tennis courts and the running trail for The Gardens at LaFortune Park in Tulsa, the venue for the free First Friday Concerts. May through September, 7-9 p.m.
7. Take nature up on her offer for a summer stroll at Redbud Valley Nature Preserve, where admission is always free.
8. Tulsa is cut through with bike trails, and not a one of them is a toll road. Get a map of Tulsa trails. No wheels? Bikes rent free as part of the RiverParks Trails system.
9. Parking is scarce in the Brady Arts District on the first Friday night of the month—that’s because the monthly First Friday Art Crawl event blows open the doors of every museum, art gallery, and music venue in the district—but why would you care? You’ve got your sneaks.
10. Tell some stories and hear some new ones in return at the open-mic night at Gypsy Coffeehouse and Cyber Café in downtown Tulsa, probably the state’s longest-running weekly open-mic event.
11. Visit the grave of Bob Wills, the king of Western Swing, the man credited for putting Tulsa’s Cain’s Ballroom on the map. Find it in Memorial Cemetery Park.
12. Take a long lunch and hike the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area, where the trailhead is just seven miles from downtown Tulsa.
13. Sing the National Anthem before the first post time at the horse races at Fair Meadows in Tulsa. Your back-up singer will be Whitney Houston, whose cassette-tape recording crackles from the loud speakers just as the sun begins to set. Make Oklahoma better. Subscribe to This Land and support local journalism in your community.
14. Make sure the acoustics of the Center of the Universe, in downtown Tulsa just north of the BOK Tower, are in good working order. Be sure to visit the Artificial Cloud, too.
15. Eat too much popcorn with the kids at the free KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, held at Circle Cinema in conjunction with the Kendall Whittier Library Summer Reading Program.
16. Find a whole herd of flowers at the Tulsa Rose Garden and the neighboring Linnaeus Teaching Garden, home of the largest collection of roses in the state and a sprawling heirloom vegetable garden. Free Summer Fun in Oklahoma City
17. Second Friday Circuit of Art is a monthly, citywide celebration of art in Norman. Whether it’s dance, painting, photography, or music that’s your thing, it’s free at this monthly art crawl.
18. Drinks, music, shopping, and sometimes a Bigfoot-call contest. LIVE on the Plaza, a celebration of the revitalized Plaza District in OKC, serves it up once a month, free and open to the public.
19. Lend your ears as the Sunday Twilight Concert Series, held every Sunday, plays the sun to sleep. Bring blankets, chairs, picnic baskets, and the kids along.
20. Art is wherever you are. And thanks to the Art Moves series of daily art stops in OKC, it’s also free.
21. Whispers come in a world’s worth of accents at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Add yours.
22. Hum with the 8,000 bees who make their work and their home in Oklahoma City’s first observation beehive, at Martin Park Nature Center in northwest OKC. It’s said that, when content, they buzz in the key of A.
23. Petunia No. 1 is plugged, but what’s perhaps the state’s most famous drilling rig is still accepting visitors from her spot on the front lawn of the Oklahoma State Capitol building. 2300 N. Lincoln Boulevard is still the only state capitol boasting active oil rigs.
24. Stand under the flags of each of the 36 tribal governments with headquarters in Oklahoma, flying above Tribal Flag Plaza on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The bare flagpole represents the Kickapoo tribe, whose tradition prohibits the use of flags.
25. Admission is free on the first Monday of each month at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, home of the largest Apatosaurus skeleton, a bison skull that’s the oldest painted object in North America, and the skull of a Pentaceratops, the largest-known skull of a land vertebrate.
26. Ask to swim in the Oklahoma-shaped pool at the Governor’s mansion (hey, it never costs anything to ask).
27. Ogle a Van Gogh (and a Pissarro, a Renoir, a Monet, and a Giordano) at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, where admission is always free. 28. Admission and events are always free at the 45th Infantry Museum, home of artifacts from what General George S. Patton called “one of the best, if not the best division in the history of American arms.”
29. Ride on a real passenger train at the Oklahoma City Railway Museum. Rides are available the first and third Saturday starting in April and ending in August.
30. Go fish. Oklahoma anglers are invited to wet their lines free, without requirement of a fishing license, during Free Fishing Days.
31. Picnic under the monkey tree and swim in the waterfalls (there’s one called Little Niagra) at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, a national park which is actually two—the Platt Historic District and the Lake of the Arbuckles—in one.
32. Dip your toes or get wet as a lake at one of the 17 spraygrounds in OKC (they open Memorial Day weekend or one of the 29 splash pads and water playgrounds in Tulsa.
33. Walk the moonscape that is the Great Salt Plains State Park in Jet, the evaporated remains of an ancient ocean that once covered the state. It’s now a prime spot for birding and crystal digging.
34. See Kenton before it’s gone.
35. Retrace Oklahoma’s stretch of Route 66, where you’ll be able to drive more of the original road than in any other state. Make sure the Blue Whale, the Blue Hippo, and the Round Barn are on your list.
36. Make like Jesse James and Belle Starr and find the perfect hiding place at Robbers Cave in Wilburton, just off the Talimena National Scenic Byway.
37. See where one of northeast Oklahoma’s major natural wonders spreads and folds under the horizon around you. A drive through the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve doesn’t cost a thing. The buffalo sightings are free, too.
38. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers free summer fishing clinics. Kids and adults alike can learn how to catch, clean, and cook fish at the Jenks Casting Pond, the Arcadia Conservation Education Area Kids Pond near Edmond, and beyond. Be sure to pre-register.
39. Embark on a Saturday family-friendly hike through part of the 15 miles of trails at the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, where chances are good that you’ll see bison, elk, prairie dogs, or the endangered black-capped vireo.
40. Visit a waterfall. Oklahoma is home to several, but the ones at Natural Falls State Park near West Siloam Springs and Turner Falls Park in Davis are the largest, both measuring 77 feet.
41. It’s always free to argue. Debate the facts at Heavener Runestone Park, where the result of either a clever trick or a long-lost visit from the Vikings is carved into a cave.
42. Witness the birth of fresh ice cream, cookies, and milk on a free tour of the Processing Plant and Bakery on Braum’s Family Farm in Tuttle. Be sure to make reservations.
43. Settle your gaze on where the corners of four states meet, viewable from the state’s highest point at Black Mesa State Park. Black Mesa is also home of the best stargazing around.
44. Float the 60-mile Illinois River, a time-honored rite of passage for the youth of Oklahoma. The kayak is on your.
45. Visit the home of the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary. Find Sequoyah’s Cabin in Sallisaw.
46. See 10,000 guns daily at the J.M. Davis Gun Museum in Claremore, home of the largest private gun collection in the world.
47. Hike the trails at Ouachita National Forest.
48. Wet your toes in one of the three natural springs at Roman Nose State Park in Watonga, one of the original seven Oklahoma state parks. If you’re staying overnight, forego the cabins and rent a teepee for your lodging.
49. Touch the robe of Jesus, a larger-than-life statue of whom is perched over the Holy City of the Wichitas in the oldest mountains in North America.
50. See how many of the 600 miles along the shore of Lake Eufaula you can hike without having to scale a cliff, snorkel, or change shoes.
51. Sample Oklahoma’s largest (and the nation’s third-largest) collection of barbed wire at the Hinton Historical Museum & Parker House, which doubles as the home of the largest buggy collection.
52. Dorothy is now accepting visitors at Twister: The Movie Museum in Wakita. Dorothy was the star prop in the 1995 film, and the museum building itself served as the film’s production company on-location office, set dressing, and art department.
53. After scuba diving in the crystal-clear Broken Bow Lake, dry off under the canopy of oaks and 100-foot pines at Beavers Bend State Park.

Posted on May 2, 2014 at 9:43 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Our Bixby High School robotics team headed to world championship

The robotics team at Bixby High School headed to the Oklahoma Regional FIRST Robotics Competition last month with the goal of cracking the list of Top 25 teams.

They left as the champions.

The club’s 22 student members, along with their sponsors, are now headed to the world championship April 23-26 in St. Louis.

“It was amazing,” Alec Schalo, the team’s co-captain, said of their win. “We all lost our voices.”

Nic George, the team’s other co-captain, said the win was unexpected.

The team, which they’ve named the “Bixby Robot Mafia,” was ranked 24th out of about 60 teams before the finals. Then they were chosen by one of the top 8 teams as part of their “alliance” and went on to win the tournament.

George said he thinks part of the reason the team was chosen by one of the finalists was because it had been able to problem-solve well and practically redesigned its robot on the spot between rounds.

The challenge this year, called “aerial assist,” involved teams working together to get their robots to score in a game resembling basketball. A robot has to be programmed to play autonomously — on its own — for the first 30 seconds of each match. Then, for the remaining two minutes, the team can use controls.

The Bixby club has worked on its robot — which is about 50 inches tall, 112 inches in perimeter and about 80 pounds — since January, when the challenge was announced.

George joined the club in his sophomore year. When the seniors on the team graduated that year, he was one of three members remaining.

In the two years since then, George has recruited more members, and the team now has 22 students. He and Schalo, who are both graduating this year, intend to come back next year as mentors.

“I just like making things, coming up with the designs, building the robots,” he said.

Ryan Harris, a sophomore in the club, said he was drawn to it because of the opportunity to design and build robots and “how cool it is to make something from nothing.”

Many of the students in the club are interested in entering the engineering field and say the club either helped spark or solidify their interest.

Jordan Fox, a senior, said she joined the club because she likes math and robotics is a way to apply math concepts.

“I like using my skills to create real-world experiences,” she said.

Fox said the competition itself is a big part of the club’s appeal. “Competition is amazing,” she said. “It’s so different then anything I’ve ever done.”

Fox, who also plays soccer, said being a part of the competition is “kind of like watching sports.”

Thor Gunnarsson, a junior on the team, said the club is a great place to learn a variety of skills, such as budgeting and teamwork.

Way to go Bixby!

By NOUR HABIB World Staff Writer

Posted on April 11, 2014 at 8:38 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

The Five Biggest Turn-offs For Homebuyers

images6UVGFFZAA lot of sellers don’t listen to their real estate agents, so I’ll tell you what your agent wants to say, but can’t say to you and this is it – your agent can’t get you the price you want unless your home is in pristine move-in condition.

That means no sticking drawers in the kitchen. No leaning fences. No rust-stained plumbing fixtures. I could go on, but maybe I need to make it clear. If you have even one of following “turn-offs,” your home will be difficult to sell at full market value.

Buyers can get instantly turned off. Here are their five biggest turn-offs:

1. Overpricing for the market

2. Smells

3. Clutter

4. Deferred maintenance

5. Dark, dated décor

Overpricing your home

Overpricing your home is like trying to crash the country club without a membership. You’ll be found out and escorted out.

If you ignored your agent’s advice and listed at a higher price than recommended, you’re going to get some negative feedback from buyers. The worst feedback, of course, is silence. That could include no showings and no offers.

The problem with overpricing your home is that the buyers who are qualified to buy your home won’t see it because they’re shopping in a lower price range. The buyers who do it will quickly realize that there are other homes in the same price range that offer more value.


Smells can come from a number of sources – pets, lack of cleanliness, stale air, water damage, and much more. You may not even notice it, but your real estate agent may have hinted to you that something needs to be done.

There’s not a buyer in the world that will buy a home that smells unless they’re investors looking for a bargain. Even so, they’ll get a forensic inspection to find out the source of the smells. If they find anything like undisclosed water damage, or pet urine under the “new” carpet, then they will either severely discount their offer or walk away.


If your tables are full to the edges with photos, figurines, mail, and drinking glasses, buyers’ attention is going to more focused on running the gauntlet of your living room without breaking anything than in considering your home for purchase.

Too much furniture confuses the eye – it makes it really difficult for buyers to see the proportions of rooms. If they can’t see what they need to know, they move on to the next home.

Deferred maintenance

Deferred maintenance is a polite euphemism for letting your home fall apart. Just like people age due to the effects of the sun, wind and gravity, so do structures like your home. Things wear out, break and weather, and it’s your job as a homeowner to keep your home repaired.

Your buyers really want a home that’s been well-maintained. They don’t want to wonder what needs to fixed next or how much it will cost.

Dated décor

The reason people are looking at your home instead of buying brand new is because of cost and location. They want your neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean they want a dated-looking home. Just like they want a home in good repair, they want a home that looks updated, even if it’s from a different era.

Harvest gold and avocado green from the seventies; soft blues and mauves from the eighties, jewel tones from the nineties, and onyx and pewter from the oughts are all colorways that can date your home. Textures like popcorn ceilings, shag or berber carpet, and flocked wallpaper can also date your home.

When you’re behind the times, buyers don’t want to join you. They want to be perceived as savvy and cool.

In conclusion, the market is a brutal mirror. If you’re guilty of not putting money into your home because you believe it’s an investment that others should pay you to profit, you’re in for a rude awakening. You’ll be stuck with an asset that isn’t selling.

Posted on April 3, 2014 at 2:20 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

How to Calculate a Home’s Square Footage (Tulsa Real Estate Information)

Question: Is there a standard formula to calculate a home’s square footage? I have seen different publications with different square footage for the same house. For example, the county land records will say a house has 3,000 square feet, but a sales brochure will say the same house has 3,500 square feet. Are finished basements allowed in a calculation? What about hallways? I don’t know what or who to believe. It seems misleading.

Answer: I doubt if anyone is purposely trying to mislead the public, but it’s true that not everyone in the real estate business calculates square footage the same way. In fact, it may be different from one geographic area to the next.

The square footage listed in the city and county records for condominium units are typically not questioned. These numbers are taken from the original condominium documents and are generally accurate. Unlike detached homes, square footage is less likely to change on a condominium as a result of additions and improvements.

For attached and detached single family homes, there are different ways you can calculate square footage.

Most real estate appraisers measure the exterior of the home to calculate the gross living area. For example, a two-story home that measures 25 feet by 25 feet would have 625 square feet on each floor, so the appraiser would say the house contains 1,250 square feet. Since he is measuring from the exterior, the calculation includes hallways, stairwells, closets and wall space.

The appraiser will also consider the size of the basement and determine how much of the basement has been finished as living area. Instead of totaling the square footage of a basement’s living area, he will make value adjustments based on other comparable homes. For example, a home with a full finished basement that includes a den, bathroom and bedroom might be credited $15,000 or $20,000 in value compared to a similar house with an unfinished basement.

In some cases, even if the lowest level is completely above grade, an appraiser may treat it as a basement. Consider an attached townhouse that has a lower level used as a garage and a den or mud room. An appraiser might consider such a room as a basement.

It gets more complicated. What if the house in our example has a vaulted ceiling in the family room with a second story balcony? This would clearly result in the second floor having less than 625 square feet of actual floor area. Most appraisers won’t subtract the space left out of the second floor to make room for the vaulted ceilings. Why? Because such a floor plan often enhances the market value of the home because it’s a popular feature to have. Remember that an appraiser’s job is to determine the market value of the home. The total size of the living area is only part of the equation. Imagine a 3,000 square foot house that contains 20 small rooms each consisting of 150 square feet. Such a build out would not be very popular for a typical family.

Many real estate agents and builders will include all finished “walkable” areas when totaling the square feet of a house. It’s certainly not misleading. A lot of prospective home buyers would want to know the total living area, regardless of whether some of it is below grade.

Other real estate agents will use the square footage that’s listed in the county tax records in their marketing materials. Unfortunately, this information is often incorrect, especially with older homes. Over time, basements get finished and additions are constructed, increasing the chances that tax records will be outdated and inaccurate. It’s for this reason that some agents simply choose to omit the square footage in the listing report. You’ve probably seen a disclaimer similar to this on a house listing: “Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Buyer to verify square footage.”

The bottom line? Calculating the square footage of a home is more of opinion than exact science. If you’re interested in buying a particular house and want to know the size expressed in square feet, my advice would be to make an appointment to visit the home and bring your tape measure, pen, paper and calculator.

Posted on March 5, 2014 at 11:31 am by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Why You Should Work With a Real Estate Agent That is a REALTOR®

Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here are five reasons why it pays to work with a real estate agent that is a REALTOR®.

1. You’ll have an expert to guide you through the process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multi-page settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
2. Get objective information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
3. Find the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR® to find all available properties.
4. Benefit from their negotiating experience. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
5. Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
6. Real estate has its own language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.
7. REALTORS® have done it before. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. And even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.
8. Buying and selling is emotional. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, home buying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.
9. Ethical treatment. Every member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® makes a commitment to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a customer of a REALTOR®, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. It is mandatory for REALTORS® to take the Code of Ethics orientation and they are also required to complete a refresher course every four years.

Posted on February 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Top 10 mortgage tips for 2014


These 10 mortgage tips can help you with your mortgage decisions in 2014.

1. Document your finances

Lenders will be extra diligent when underwriting home loans in 2014, as new mortgage regulations go into effect in January. The rules put pressure on lenders to verify that borrowers have the ability to repay their loans.
Keep good records of your finances, including bank statements, tax returns, W-2s, investment accounts and any other assets you own. Be ready to explain any unusual deposits to your accounts. Yes, the $500 that Grandma deposited in your account for Christmas could delay your loan closing if you can’t prove where the money came from.

2. Lock a rate as soon as you can

Rates will likely climb in 2014 as the Federal Reserve is expected to reduce the pace of the economic stimulus program that has long helped keep rates low. If you are planning to get a mortgage, lock in a rate as soon as you are comfortable with the numbers.

3. Refinance now — if you still can

Many homeowners lost the opportunity to refinance at a lower rate when rates jumped in 2013. But those who are still paying more than 5 percent interest on their home loans might still have an opportunity. If you think you may be able to save with a refinance, but you are not sure, it doesn’t hurt to try. Speak to a loan officer and take a look at the numbers to see if refinancing still makes financial sense for you after you consider how long it will take to break even with the closing costs.

4. Buyers, use your bargaining power

As mortgage rates climbed, lenders lost a big chunk of their refinance business. In 2014, they will turn their attention to homebuyers and will fiercely compete for their business. Buyers should take advantage of bargaining power they gain with that increased competition. Shop around for the best deal and look beyond the interest rate on the loan.

5. Learn your rights as a borrower

Mortgage borrowers will get many new rights as consumers this year when new mortgage rules created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau go into effect in 2014. If you run into issues with your mortgage servicer in 2014 or fall behind on your payments, make sure you are aware of your rights and put them to use.

6. Take good care of your credit

It’s nearly impossible to get a mortgage without decent credit these days. That will continue to be the case in 2014. If you are planning to get a mortgage, monitor your credit history and score until your loan closes. The best mortgage rates usually go to borrowers with credit scores of 720 or higher. You may still get a mortgage with a score of 680, but lower scores will mean higher rates or higher closing costs.

7. Don’t overspend

Lenders don’t want to give out loans to borrowers who will have little money left each month after they pay their mortgages and other debt obligations such as credit cards and student loans. If that becomes the case, the lender will tell you that your DTI (debt-to-income ratio) is too high and you don’t qualify for a loan. Try to keep your monthly debt obligations, including your mortgage and property taxes, below 43 percent of your income.

8. Consider alternative mortgage options such as ARMs

Mortgage rates are rising, but there are alternatives to grab a lower rate, depending on your plans.
A homeowner planning to keep a house for seven to 10 years could take advantage of lower mortgage rates by choosing a seven- or 10-year ARM instead of the 30-year traditional fixed-rate mortgage. Rates on adjustable-rate mortgages can be as much as one percentage point lower than on fixed-rate loans.
If you are not sure about how long you plan to keep the house, a fixed-rate loan is probably the better choice.

9. Considering an FHA loan? Reconsider

FHA loans have long been popular among first-time homebuyers because they require low down payments and have somewhat less strict underwriting standards than conventional loans. But they come at a price. Mortgage insurance premiums on FHA loans are likely to continue to rise in 2014, and after recent changes, the borrower is now required to pay for mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. Try to qualify for a conventional loan before you apply for an FHA mortgage

10. Don’t panic

Yes, mortgage rates will likely climb in 2014. But don’t panic, thinking you have to buy a home now to grab a low rate. If you are shopping for a home, do your best to move quickly, but remember that this is one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. Get your mortgage and buy your home when you feel ready.


Posted on February 17, 2014 at 3:38 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Design Tips for Any Home (Tulsa, Ok Homes For Sale)

Here are some tips for you to get you started on incorporating universal design features in your home.

One of the basic principles of universal design, also called ageless design, is that it makes homes more practical and safer for everyone — not just the elderly or people with limited mobility.
These days, universal design features are an everyday fact of life for many households, with architects and other professional designers adding universal design ideas as a matter of course.
You don’t have to be a pro designer to incorporate this smart thinking into your own home. If you’re remodeling or simply adding a few upgrades, be sure to keep universal design features in mind. There are lots of resources that’ll give you some great starting points.

1. Switch out doorknobs for lever-style handles. Doorknobs require lots of dexterity and torque to open; with levers you simply press and go.
Makes sense for folks with arthritis, of course, but think about an emergency situation when everyone, including small kids, needs to exit fast: A lever handle is a safe, foolproof way to open a door.
A big plus: Levers are good-looking and can contribute to the value of your home. A standard interior passage door lever in a satin nickel finish costs about $20; you’ll pay $25 to $30 for a lockable lever set for your bath or bedroom. Replacing door hardware is an easy DIY job.
2. Replace toggle light switches with rocker-style switches. Rocker switches feature a big on/off plate that you can operate with a finger, a knuckle, or even your elbow when you’re laden with bags of groceries.
Rocker switches are sleek and good-looking, too. Ever notice how conventional toggle switches get dirt and grime embedded in them after a couple of years? No more! You’ll pay $2 for a single-pole rocker switch, up to $10 for multiple switch sets.
3. Anti-scald devices for the bathroom will prevent water from reaching unsafe temps. An anti-scald shower head ($15-$20) reduces water flow to a trickle if the water gets too hot. An anti-scald faucet device ($40-$50) replaces your faucet aerator and also reduces hot water flow.
Anti-scald valves — also known as pressure-balancing valves — prevent changes in water pressure from creating sudden bursts of hot or cold water. An anti-scald valve ($100) installs on plumbing pipes inside your walls. If you don’t have #DIY skills, you’ll pay a plumber approximatly $100 to $200 for installation.
4. Motion sensor light controls add light when you need it. They come in a variety of styles and simple technologies for indoor and outdoor lights to provide added security. I like the plug-in sensors ($10 to $15). You simply stick them into existing receptacles, then plug your table or floor lamps into them. When the sensor detects motion, it turns on the light.
They’re great for 2 a.m. snacking, or if your young kids are at that age when they migrate into your bed in the middle of the night. The lights turn off after about 10 minutes if no more motion is detected.
Got an easy, low-cost universal design tip? Let’s hear about it!

#designtips #remodeling #homeimprovements

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 12:16 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

What You Should Know About Home Appraisals ( Homes For Sale in Broken Arrow )

Understanding how appraisals work will help you achieve a quick and profitable refinance or sale.

1. An appraisal isn’t an exact science

When appraisers evaluate a home’s value, they’re giving their best opinion based on how the home’s features stack up against those of similar homes recently sold nearby. One appraiser may factor in a recent sale, but another may consider that sale too long ago, or the home too different, or too far away to be a fair comparison. The result can be differences in the values two separate appraisers set for your home.

2. Appraisals have different purposes

An appraisal being used to figure out how much to insure your home for or to determine your property taxes may rely on other factors and arrive at different values. For example, though an appraisal for a home loan evaluates today’s market value, an appraisal for insurance purposes calculates what it would cost to rebuild your home at today’s building material and labor rates, which can result in two different numbers.
Appraisals are also different from CMAs, or competitive market analyses. In a CMA, a real estate agent relies on market expertise to estimate how much your home will sell for in a specific time period. The price your home will sell for in 30 days may be different than the price your home will sell for in 120 days. Because real estate agents don’t follow the rules appraisers do, there can be variations between CMAs and appraisals on the same home.

3. An appraisal is a snapshot

Home prices shift, and appraised values will shift with those market changes. Your home may be appraised at $150,000 today, but in two months when you refinance or list it for sale, the appraised value could be lower or higher depending on how your market has performed.

4. Appraisals don’t factor in your personal issues

You may have a reason you must sell immediately, such as a job loss or transfer, which can affect the amount of money you’ll accept to complete the transaction in your time frame. An appraisal doesn’t consider those personal factors.

5. You can ask for a second opinion

If your home appraisal comes back at a value you believe is too low, you can request that a second appraisal be performed by a different appraiser. You, or potential buyers, if they’ve requested the appraisal, will have to pay for the second appraisal. But it may be worth it to keep the sale from collapsing from a faulty appraisal. On the other hand, the appraisal may be accurate, and it may be a sign that you need to adjust your pricing or the size of the loan you’re refinancing.

Posted on March 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Don’t-Miss Home Tax Breaks ( Homes For Sale in Tulsa )

From the mortgage interest deduction to energy tax credits, here are the tax tips you need to get a jump on your returns.

Mortgage interest deduction

One of the neatest deductions itemizing home owners can take advantage of is the mortgage interest deduction, which you claim on Schedule A. To get the mortgage interest deduction, your mortgage must be secured by your home — and your home can even be a house trailer or boat, as long as you can sleep in it, cook in it, and it has a toilet.

Interest you pay on a mortgage of up to $1 million — or $500,000 if you’re married filing separately — is deductible when you use the loan to buy, build, or improve your home.

If you take on another mortgage (including a second mortgage, home equity loan, or home equity line of credit) to improve your home or to buy or build a second home, that counts towards the $1 million limit.

If you use loans secured by your home for other things — like sending your kid to college — you can still deduct the interest on loans up $100,000 ($50,000 for married filing separately) because your home secures the loan.

PMI and FHA mortgage insurance premiums

The government extended the mortgage insurance premium deduction through 2013. You can deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance as mortgage interest on Schedule A — meaning you must itemize your return. The change only applies to loans taken out in 2007 or later.

What’s PMI? If you have a mortgage but didn’t put down a fairly good-sized down payment (usually 20%), the lender requires the mortgage be insured. The premium on that insurance can be deducted, so long as your income is less than $100,000 (or $50,000 for married filing separately).

If your adjusted gross income is more than $100,000, your deduction is reduced by 10% for each $1,000 ($500 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return) that your adjusted gross income exceeds $100,000 ($50,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return). So, if you make $110,000 or more, you lose 100% of this deduction (10% x 10 = 100%).

Besides private mortgage insurance, there’s government insurance from FHA, VA, and the Rural Housing Service. Some of those premiums are paid at closing and deducting them is complicated. A tax adviser or tax software program can help you calculate this deduction. Also, the rules vary between the agencies.

Prepaid interest deduction

Prepaid interest (or points) you paid when you took out your mortgage is 100% deductible in the year you paid them along with other mortgage interest.
If you refinance your mortgage and use that money for home improvements, any points you pay are also deductible in the same year.
But if you refinance to get a better rate and term or to use the money for something other than home improvements, such as college tuition, you’ll need to deduct the points over the term of the loan. Say you refi for a 10-year term and pay $3,000 in points. You can deduct $300 per year for 10 years.
So what happens if you refi again down the road?
Example: Three years after your first refi, you refinance again. Using the $3,000 in points scenario above, you’ll have deducted $900 ($300 x 3 years) so far. That leaves $2,400, which you can deduct in full the year you complete your second refi. If you paid points for the new loan, the process starts again; you can deduct the points over the term of the loan.
Home mortgage interest and points are reported on IRS Form 1098. You enter the combined amount on line 10 of Schedule A. If your 1098 form doesn’t indicate the points you paid, you should be able to confirm the amount by consulting your HUD-1 settement sheet. Then you record that amount on line 12 of Schedule A.

Energy tax credits

The energy tax credit of up to a lifetime $500 had expired in 2011. But the Feds extended it for 2012 and 2013. If you upgraded one of the following systems this year, it’s an opportunity for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability: If you get the $500 credit, you pay $500 less in taxes.

  • Biomass stoves
  • Heating, ventilation, air conditioning
  • Insulation
  • Roofs (metal and asphalt)
  • Water heaters (non-solar)
  • Windows, doors, and skylights
  • Storm windows and doors

Varying maximums

Some of the eligible products and systems are capped even lower than $500. New windows are capped at $200 — and not per window, but overall. Read about the fine print in order to claim your energy tax credit.

  • Determine if the system is eligible. Go to Energy Star’s website for detailed descriptions of what’s covered. And talk to your vendor.
  • The product or system must have been installed, not just contracted for, in the tax year you’ll be claiming it.
  • Save system receipts and manufacturer certifications. You’ll need them if the IRS asks for proof.
  • File IRS Form 5695 with the rest of your tax forms.

Vacation home tax deductions

The rules on tax deductions for vacation homes are complicated. Do yourself a favor and keep good records about how and when you use your vacation home.

  • If you’re the only one using your vacation home (you don’t rent it out for more than 14 days a year), you can deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes on Schedule A.
  • Rent your vacation home out for more than 14 days and use it yourself fewer than 15 days (or 10% of total rental days, whichever is greater), and it’s treated like a rental property. Those expenses get deducted using Schedule E.
  • Rent your home for part of the year and use it yourself for more than 14 days and you have to keep track of income, expenses, and divide them proportionate to how often you used and how often you rented the house.

Home buyer tax credit

There were federal first-time home buyer tax credits in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

  • If you claimed the home buyer tax credit for a purchase made after April 8, 2008, and before Jan. 1, 2009, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years, with no interest.
  • If you used the tax credit in 2009 or 2010 and then sold your house or stopped using it as your primary residence, within 36 months of the purchase date, you also have to pay back the credit. Example: If you bought a home in 2010 and sold in 2012, you pay it back with your 2012 taxes.
  • That repayment rules are less rigorous for uniformed service members, Foreign Service workers, and intelligence community workers who get sent on extended duty at least 50 miles from their principal residence.

Members of the armed forces who served overseas got an extra year to use the first-time home buyer tax credit. If you were abroad for at least 90 days between Jan. 1, 2009, and April 30, 2010, and you bought your home by April 30, 2011, and closed the deal by June 30, 2011, you can claim your first-time home buyer tax credit.

The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe.

Property tax deduction

You can deduct on Schedule A the real estate property taxes you pay. If you have a mortgage with an escrow account, the amount of real estate property taxes you paid shows up on your annual escrow statement.

If you bought a house in 2012, check your HUD-1 Settlement statement to see if you paid any property taxes when you closed the purchase of your house. Those taxes are deductible on Schedule A, too.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice; tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

Posted on February 9, 2013 at 1:08 am by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

How to Use Comparable Sales to Price Your Home (Tulsa Homes For Sale)

Knowing how much homes similar to yours, called comparable sales (or in real estate lingo, comps), sold for gives you the best idea of the current estimated value of your home. The trick is finding sales that closely match yours.

What makes a good comparable sale?

Your best comparable sale is the same model as your house in the same subdivision—and it closed escrow last week. If you can’t find that, here are other factors that count:
Location: The closer to your house the better, but don’t just use any comparable sale within a mile radius. A good comparable sale is a house in your neighborhood, your subdivision, on the same type of street as your house, and in your school district.
Home type: Try to find comparable sales that are like your home in style, construction material, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, basement (having one and whether it’s finished), finishes, and yard size.
Amenities and upgrades: Is the kitchen new? Does the comparable sale house have full A/C? Is there crown molding, a deck, or a pool? Does your community have the same amenities (pool, workout room, walking trails, etc.) and homeowners association fees?
Date of sale: You may want to use a comparable sale from two years ago when the market was high, but that won’t fly. Most buyers use government-guaranteed mortgages, and those lending programs say comparable sales can be no older than 90 days.
Sales sweeteners: Did the comparable-sale sellers give the buyers downpayment assistance, closing costs, or a free television? You have to reduce the value of any comparable sale to account for any deal sweeteners.

Agents can help adjust price based on insider insights

Even if you live in a subdivision, your home will always be different from your neighbors’. Evaluating those differences—like the fact that your home has one more bedroom than the comparables or a basement office—is one of the ways real estate agents add value.
An active agent has been inside a lot of homes in your neighborhood and knows all sorts of details about comparable sales. She has read the comments the selling agent put into the MLS, seen the ugly wallpaper, and heard what other REALTORS®, lenders, closing agents, and appraisers said about the comparable sale.

More ways to pick a home listing price

If you’re still having trouble picking out a listing price for your home, look at the current competition. Ask your real estate agent to be honest about your home and the other homes on the market (and then listen without taking the criticism personally).
Next, put your comparable sales into two piles: more expensive and less expensive. What makes your home more valuable than the cheaper comparable sales and less valuable than the pricier comparable sales?

Are foreclosures and short sales comparables?

If one or more of your comparable sales was a foreclosed home or a short sale (a home that sold for less money than the owners owed on the mortgage), ask your real estate agent how to treat those comps.

A foreclosed home is usually in poor condition because owners who can’t pay their mortgage can’t afford to pay for upkeep. Your home is in great shape, so the foreclosure should be priced lower than your home.
Short sales are typically in good condition, although they are still distressed sales. The owners usually have to sell for less than they owe because they’re upside down, divorcing, or their employer is moving them out of town.

So you have to rely on your REALTOR’s® knowledge of the local market to use a short sale as a comparable sale.

For a free comparative market analysis (CMA) please feel free to contact me.

John Cantero
Real Estate Specialist

Posted on February 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Home Financial Plan (Home Buyers Tips)

images11Your home is most likely your biggest investment. To manage it, create a financial plan that takes into account repairs, upgrades, mortgages, insurance, and taxes.

Use this home financial plan budget worksheet, and start by writing a list of expenses, such as:

  • Mortgage
  • Taxes
  • Home insurance, including liability
  • Repairs and maintenance, such as new furnace, roof, painting
  • Voluntary upgrades, such as a swimming pool, a premium range, a new powder room

What will you learn from this home financial plan weekend exercise?

  • How much you have to spend
  • How much you need to allot in the short- and long-term for necessary maintenance and voluntary improvements

With this newfound grip on your home’s expenses, you can create a home financial plan that’ll help you there for years with maximum enjoyment and minimum anxiety.

Here’s how to manage other aspects of your home finances:

The mortgage: Pay it — and then some Insurance: Protect your property Repairs and renovations: By choice or necessity Taxes: (Almost) no way around them

The mortgage: Pay it—and then some

Yup, you already shell out a lot for your mortgage, but can you pay more? Even a little extra each month can add up to an earlier payoff. Let’s say you have $200,000 in outstanding principal and a 20-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5%. Your monthly payment is $1,319.91. But if you can manage to pay another $100 a month, you’ll save $14,887 in interest.
Run the numbers yourself for your home financial plan.
Advantages of an early payoff, says Alan D. Kahn, a financial planner in Syosset, N.Y.:

  • Less debt means more money to spend later.
  • It feels darn good to own your house outright as soon as possible.
  • Minimal tax loss. Toward the tail end of the life of a loan most of your payment goes to the principal, not the interest, so you’re getting only a small tax break anyway.

Of course, if you’re still saving for retirement, put the 100 bucks elsewhere:

  • A retirement plan
  • An account for the inevitable home repairs
  • An account for discretionary improvements, which can raise your home’s value

Insurance: Protect your property

Your vegetable garden is pointless without a fence to keep out rabbits; likewise, your home financial plan will come to nothing without an insurance “fence”:
Homeowner’s insurance. Basic coverage for your home and everything in it. The average cost is $636 per year but this varies widely by state.

Liability coverage. Protects you from a lawsuit if someone gets hurt on your property, for example. Your best bet: An umbrella policy.  For about $300 a year you can by a typical $1 million policy.

Various disaster insurance policies. Optional policies cover flood, earthquake, and hurricane damage. As part of your home financial plan, you have to research to see what disaster coverage, if any, you need in your area, and what your standard policy already covers. For $540 a year you can buy flood insurance, for example.

Don’t under- or overbuy insurance

For your basic policy, get homeowners insurance with full replacement coverage in case your house burns to the ground.
That sounds simple, but heads up on calculation. Remember that you own a house as well as the land on which it sits. So even though you bought your home for $300,000, it may cost only $100,000 to rebuild it. Your policy limits should reflect this. This difference will vary widely by region.
Another heads up: Don’t make the common and potentially disastrous mistake of thinking that because your home has fallen in value you need less insurance. If you bought a $1.2 million townhouse in Florida during the boom, it’s true it now may only sell for $600,000. But the replacement cost of the townhouse hasn’t changed much, so you can’t improve your home financial plan by cutting insurance costs that way.
Other ways to cut your insurance budget:

  • If you make structural improvements, such as adding storm shutters, your insurer may give you a break.
  • If you belong to certain groups, such as AARP or veterans’ organizations, your premiums may be lower.

Repairs and renovations: By choice or necessity


You own a home, so you’ll be spending money on everything from a new faucet to — surprise! — a new roof. Freddie Mac and other authorities say as part of your home financial plan, you should be prepared to spend 1% to 3% of the market value of the home annually on maintenance. To be extra-prudent, open a savings account and make regular payments until your account reaches 1% to 3% of your home’s current value.
To help you budget:
Start with the inspection report you received when you bought the house. Did the inspector indicate that you would need a new roof in five years? A new furnace in 10?
Keep a log of your major appliances’ age so you can estimate when they’ll need replacing. Some estimated life spans:

  • Roof: 20-25 years
  • Heating systems: 15-20 years
  • Range/ovens: 11-15 years
  • Water heaters: 8-13 years

Then get estimates on what replacements will cost and start saving.
Consider ongoing non-emergency maintenance, too. Do you live in New England? Price a snow blower and get bids from plow services.
Resist the siren call of the home equity loan to take care of everything. That just defeats your efforts to pay off the mortgage early.

Separate out what you want from what you need. Does it make more sense to do a $50,000 to $60,000 kitchen remodel, which recoups about 69%, or a minor remodel, which recoups about 75%, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2013 Cost vs. Value Report?
If you can afford to redo, go for it. Just don’t confuse your necessary repairs (new oil furnace — about $4,000) with your discretionary upgrades (Viking range — $6,000 and up).

Taxes: (Almost) no way around them

Even if your lender handles your property taxes from an escrow account, you need to budget for them in your home financial plan. They creep up almost every year, it seems. Take responsibility for tracking the changes in your area: Look over past tax bills to get a sense of how quickly they’ve risen in the past.
Or if your lender handles escrow and you haven’t saved your bills, ask for an accounting. The median annual property tax payment is $1,812, but that hides the enormous range in medians from state to state.

You can generally deduct property taxes on your federal return. A tax pro can tell you how much of a tax break you’ll get, to help you fine tune your home financial plan.
You may be able to reduce your tax burden by getting a reassessment. Do your homework first: Are comparable houses taxed less than yours? Ask the local assessor what formula is used to set tax rates. You can challenge the assessed value and get yourself a rollback.
If you’re in a special group, you might get some help from state or local programs. Check around to see what’s available in your area. New York State, for example, has its Star Program for giving senior citizens some relief from school-related property taxes.

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 2:29 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Homes For Sale in Broken Arrow, Ok (How to Get Kids to Save Energy)

Kids have more important things to think about than turning off the lights. But discovering the lights blazing in an empty room for the umpteenth time is enough to make any parent scream, especially when the power bill arrives.
The good news is, you can train your kids about the importance of saving energy right from the start. Here’s great advice from some of our favorite bloggers who know a thing or three about kids.
1. Let them take charge.
Jenn Savedge, who blogs at The Green Parent, practices a little reverse psychology — she urges her kids to remind her to turn off the lights.
“They get such a kick out of ‘telling Mommy what to do’ that it’s first and foremost on their minds,” Savedge said. “If I walk out of a room without doing it, they’re happy to point it out and then dash back and do it for me.
“Works like a charm and keeps the whole thing from becoming just one more thing that Mommy nags them about.”
The key to getting children to do anything is to make it “theirs,” says Monica Fraser, a mother of two who blogs at Healthy Green Moms.
“I get them to police me because they get inspired to turn off the lights ‘better than me,’” she said.
2. Find their motivation.
For Sommer Poquette’s 8-year-old son, it’s money.
“If I have to ask more than three times for my son to do anything in particular, he loses $1 out of his piggy bank,” says Poquette, who blogs at Green and Clean Mom.
“I do this so he learns that leaving the lights on costs me money, but also because he’s very motivated to earn money and spend money, so I hit him where it hurts the most: the wallet! Amazingly, he listens very well and never lets me get to the fourth ask!”
Fraser’s kids are motivated by the idea of helping out friends and neighbors.
“Because my children are quite young, I have said that we must remember to turn lights off and shut water off when brushing so that our neighbors have enough,” she says. “They know their neighbors, and certainly wouldn’t want to use all the water.”
3. Incorporate non-verbal reminders.
Gentle reminders, such as stickers on the light switches, help kids remember to turn off the lights when they leave a room.
“They’re each in charge of shutting off their bedroom lights each morning and during the day,” Poquette says. “We have stickers above the light switches to remind them. As a family, we all offer each other friendly reminders.”
Sticky notes don’t just apply to light switches, either. Tiffany Washko, who blogs at NatureMoms, places Post-It Notes labeled “Turn Me Off” and “Unplug Me” all around the house as reminders.
“Putting them by the light switch, on the side of the TV, on the wall next to the power bar that controls game consoles, etcetera, is a great visual reminder,” Washko says.
“We also require each child to do a walk-through each morning before they leave for school and turn off anything that may have been left on. Once they consistently remember, we stop requiring it … that is, until they have a few lapses, then we rinse and repeat.”
4. Explain to them why it’s important.
The full implications of saving energy may not immediately be clear to kids, but they’ll be more likely to remember to turn off the lights if they understand why it’s important.

“To teach them about the importance of turning off the lights and saving energy, we’ve read them several children’s books,” says Poquette. “My son understands the value of a dollar, so I’ve shown him our energy bill and explained to him what this means and how energy is produced.
“I think being up front with your kids, and explaining things to them in simple ways they can understand, is the best policy.”

Posted on January 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Homes For Sale in Broken Arrow, Ok (Save 20% to 40% on Your Kitchen Remodel)

Below are 7 great recommendations for ways to shave costs off your kitchen remodel. Each recommendation includes a percentage of the savings you can expect to trim off the overall cost of your kitchen remodeling. Because of variables, such as the price of materials in your area, the percentages are given as a range.

If you do all the recommendations, you’ll knock 20% to 40% off the cost of your project.

1. Skip the custom cabinet shop. All of the major cabinet manufacturers offer a range of styles and finishes in their stock product lines. The only compromise you’ll make is that you can’t get cabinet widths sized to the exact fraction of an inch.

“Stock cabinets come in 3-inch increments, so you may need to get something slightly smaller than the space you have to fill,” says Cambridge, Mass., kitchen designer Jean Courtney. But nobody will ever notice. “Your contractor will use matching filler pieces and moldings to hide any gaps and make everything look custom fitted.”

Your savings: 5% to 12%

2. Keep the sink and appliances in their current locations. That avoids having to run new electrical wiring, natural gas lines, plumbing pipes, and hood-vent lines, knocking thousands off your construction costs.

Your savings: 5% to 10%

3. Select a simple cabinet door design. A classic shaker door, which is plain and elegant, comes at about half the cost of something more complex, such as an arch-top panel with intricate moldings. And you’ll get a more timeless, never-go-out-of-style look.

Your savings: 2% to 4%

4. Choose a stock stain or paint finish on the cabinets instead of a trendy two-tone glazed finish. Most cabinet manufacturers offer an array of good-looking, durable stock finishes.

Your savings: 3% to 4%

5. Keep the existing window locations. Using the current openings — and resisting the temptation to increase window size — reduces construction costs considerably because the contractor won’t have to frame out new openings.

Your savings: 3% to 6%

6. Simplify the edge profile of your countertops. A waterfall, ogee, or other fancy edge choice can add hundreds to the fabrication costs of your countertops. Trim that cost by opting for a square or simple round-over treatment.

Your savings: 1% to 2%

7. Shop for discontinued hardwood flooring and backsplash tiles. “When a particular line of subway tile or oak flooring is going out of production, stores slash the prices to move the merchandise — but it’s perfectly good stuff,” says Courtney.

Another option: Look for salvaged building materials, such as sinks, faucets, and lighting fixtures.

Your savings: 1% to 2%

Posted on January 25, 2013 at 10:19 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Homes For Sale in Tulsa, Ok (Design Tips for Any Home)

Here are some desighn tips to get you started on incorporating universal design features in your home.

One of the basic principles of universal design, also called ageless design, is that it makes homes more practical and safer for everyone — not just the elderly or people with limited mobility.
These days, universal design features are an everyday fact of life for many households, with architects and other professional designers adding universal design ideas as a matter of course.
You don’t have to be a pro designer to incorporate this smart thinking into your own home. If you’re remodeling or simply adding a few upgrades, be sure to keep universal design features in mind. There are lots of resources that’ll give you some great starting points.

1. Switch out doorknobs for lever-style handles. Doorknobs require lots of dexterity and torque to open; with levers you simply press and go.
Makes sense for folks with arthritis, of course, but think about an emergency situation when everyone, including small kids, needs to exit fast: A lever handle is a safe, foolproof way to open a door.
A big plus: Levers are good-looking and can contribute to the value of your home. A standard interior passage door lever in a satin nickel finish costs about $20; you’ll pay $25 to $30 for a lockable lever set for your bath or bedroom. Replacing door hardware is an easy DIY job.
2. Replace toggle light switches with rocker-style switches. Rocker switches feature a big on/off plate that you can operate with a finger, a knuckle, or even your elbow when you’re laden with bags of groceries.
Rocker switches are sleek and good-looking, too. Ever notice how conventional toggle switches get dirt and grime embedded in them after a couple of years? No more! You’ll pay $2 for a single-pole rocker switch, up to $10 for multiple switch sets.
3. Anti-scald devices for your bathroom prevent water from reaching unsafe temps. An anti-scald shower head ($15) reduces water flow to a trickle if the water gets too hot. An anti-scald faucet device ($40) replaces your faucet aerator and also reduces hot water flow.
Anti-scald valves — also known as pressure-balancing valves — prevent changes in water pressure from creating sudden bursts of hot or cold water. An anti-scald valve ($100) installs on plumbing pipes inside your walls. If you don’t have DIY skills, you’ll pay a plumber $100 to $200 for installation.
4. Motion sensor light controls add light when you need it. They come in a variety of styles and simple technologies. I like the plug-in sensors ($10 to $15). You simply stick them into existing receptacles, then plug your table or floor lamps into them. When the sensor detects motion, it turns on the light.
They’re great for 2 a.m. snacking, or if your young kids are at that age when they migrate into your bed in the middle of the night. The lights turn off after about 10 minutes if no more motion is detected.
Got an easy, low-cost universal design tip? Let’s hear about it!

Posted on at 1:46 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

To keep your household from becoming a holiday fire statistic, here are some safety tips to follow.


Cooking is the top cause of holiday fires, according to the USFA. The most common culprit is food that’s left unattended. It’s easy to get distracted; take a pot holder with you when you leave the kitchen as a reminder that you have something on the stove. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires, and check that smoke detectors are working.
If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.


The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve. (The fifth is Halloween.)
To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.

Christmas trees

It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames, according to the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Standards and Technology. “They make turpentine out of pine trees,” notes Tom Olshanski, spokesman for the U.S. Fire Administration. “A Christmas tree is almost explosive when it goes.”
To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources.
No matter how well the tree is watered, it will start to dry out after about four weeks, Olshanski says, so take it down after the holidays. Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame-retardant.

Decorative lights

Inspect light strings, and throw out any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don’t run more than three strings of lights end to end. “Stacking the plugs is much safer when you’re using a large quantity of lights,” explains Brian L. Vogt, director of education for holiday lighting firm Christmas Décor. Extension cords should be in good condition and UL-rated for indoor or outdoor use. Check outdoor receptacles to make sure the ground fault interrupters don’t trip. If they trip repeatedly, Vogt says, that’s a sign that they need to be replaced.
When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples, which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers. And take lights down within 90 days, says John Drengenberg, director of consumer safety for Underwriters Laboratories.  “If you leave them up all year round, squirrels chew on them and they get damaged by weather.”

Kids playing with matches

The number of blazes–and, tragically, the number of deaths–caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. From January through March, 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire, the USFA reports; in December, that percentage doubles. So keep matches and lighters out of kids’ reach. “We tend to underestimate the power of these tools,” says Meri-K Appy, president of the nonprofit Home Safety Council. “A match or lighter could be more deadly than a loaded gun in the hands of a small child.”


Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote, so before the fireplace season begins, have your chimney inspected to see if it needs cleaning. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet, and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood–no wrapping paper.
When cleaning out the fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal.

Posted on December 21, 2012 at 10:35 am by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Tulsa Ok Homes For Sale

Things To Do In December If You Want to Buy or Sell in 2013


1.  Handle your credit horrors.  Maybe you don’t have any credit horrors – kudos to you! But let’s get real,  this year will be a year in which many post-foreclosure,  post-bankruptcy, post-layoff Americans will find themselves sufficiently recovered, post-recession, to get back into the real estate market and  buy a home. If you count yourself among the number of 2013 wanna-be  buyers who experienced a financial glitch of any degree during the  recession, December is the right time to start pulling your credit  reports and doing a damage assessement and control campaign.

  • Visit (the only website through which you can access  your government-mandated free reports) and order your own credit reports from all three reporting bureaus.
  • Review them all, line-by-line, checking for errors and discrepancies. It is  extremely common for paid-off accounts to still be reporting as  delinquent, for foreclosed mortgages to still be listed as open and  past-due and for bills that were settled in collection to be reported as behind. Follow the instructions to dispute any such errors you see.
  • When you talk with your mortgage broker (see #4), go over the reports with  them again, getting a read on precisely when your foreclosure,  bankruptcy, delinquencies, gaps in employment or other credit woes will  be sufficiently “seasoned” (i.e., long ago) to allow you to qualify for  another loan, and get their advice on any action items, like paying a  particular debt or set of credit cards down to $X amount will be  important for you to complete before you try for a legitimate  pre-approval next year.

In fact, this last point applies to everyone – whether or not you think you have any dings on your credit report. It’s essential to get clear  on any of the work you’ll need to do to optimize your credit standing  now, as the payoffs, disputes and other credit work that can move the  needle on your score may take some time.

2.  Purge.  It’s time.  Time to get rid of all that things you know qualify as clutter – all of the stuff you know buyers won’t want to see when they tour your home, and all the stuff that you won’t want to move to your next place. If you donate your junk before the end of the year, you might be able to get a receipt and deduction for the taxes you file in 2013.  And tax break or not, getting all that stuff out of your attic,  your closets, your shelves and your rooms will clear up loads of mental  space and energy, minimize some of the overwhelm latent in the prospect  of moving – and might even surface a few things you can sell to boost  your down payment savings or your home staging budget. Clutter clearing gets overwhelming when you simply lack the time, in the face  of everyday urgencies, to invest a few hours or days to go deep, pull  out all the minutae and memory-laden How better to spend those wintry  days between Christmas and New Year’s than to clear out the clutter in  your home – and your mind?

3.  Plan your prep. If you’re thinking of selling your home in 2013, now is a great time to  start organizing your list (or spreadsheet, or Evernote file) of home  preparation tasks that need to get done before you put the place on the  market. Things like painting, carpeting, landscaping and other  preparation tasks can be less taxing and less disruptive to your life if you have plenty of time to collect bids, sock away the cash to cover  the costs and arrange projects at your family’s convenience or during  off-seasons, when contractors might be wiling to charge a bit less.  Talk with your agent before you put a plan in place; they can help you make  good decisions which projects to do (and which to forego), as well as  choosing finish materials and colors that will appeal to the broadest  segment of buyers – to boot, they often can refer you to the most  cost-effective contractors in your area for these sorts of pre-listing  projects.

3.  Save. More. There’s no such thing as saving too much cash up for your down payment. If you  have a home to sell, you have no idea how much you’ll take away from  that transaction until it closes. And even if you’re currently renting,  having maximum savings set aside allows you maximum flexibility in terms of selecting homes, competing with other buyers, covering closing costs (which can run as high as 3-4% on average for an FHA loan) and even handling post-closing repairs, appliances and property personalization.

4.  Collect your gift money.  Buyers who get gift money from a relative to apply toward their down payments  are often subject to seemingly strange and definitely invasive  documentation requirements – the most onerous of which is to produce  copies of the gift GIVER’s bank accounts proving the source of the  funds. If you know Mom, Dad, Granny or Aunt Bernie is going to chip in  some cash toward your down payment in the Spring, consider asking them  to go ahead and give it to you now, so you can put it in your own  accounts and begin “seasoning” it as yours, which will help you avoid  all those documentation demands.  Your benefactor should check with their financial and tax advisors to be  sure the gift is structured so as to avoid any tax implications, before  they give it.

5.  This is where I can help. Connect with an agent and a mortgage broker – stat.  Don’t wait until the month before you want to buy or sell to ring up your  trusty agent and initiate the conversation. Ask around for referrals or you can  find agent recommendations on Trulia, you can read all of  my clients reviews about me here…

Also you should get a mortgage broker (or 3) on the phone, and ask them to help brief you on topics like:

  • Whether your market is a buyer’s market or seller’s market, and how that  translates into what you can and should expect when you plan to buy or  sell next year
  • Whether there are any area-specific timing issues you should factor in as you map out your timeline
  • What – given the specifics of your financials, your savings, any past credit or other issues you have – you should be doing now in terms of paying  bills down, settting savings targets, and such
  • What changes, if any, you should plan on making to your property before listing it
  • What sort of property you can get for your money in the areas you’re  targeting as a buyer, and what kind of money you can expect to command  for your property in your local market (this, obviously, will change  over time – even over the few months or so between now and the time you  list your home, but it still helps to have a general ides of the current market values).

6.  Go Open House hunting.  If you’re selling next year, it’s essential to get a real-life read on  what the competition’s like, everything from what sorts of houses in  your area are listed at various price points to what your target buyers  are going to be seeing on their way into or out of your house.  There’s  no reality check on your own home’s preparation and staging – its  overall readiness for listing – like putting on a buyer’s shoes and  taking a tour through similar homes in your area.  And there’s no time  for this reality check like right now: when Open Houses are still  a-plenty, you have more time to attend them, and you still have plenty  of time to process your takeaways and incorporate them into your own  property preparations. Open House hunting is also helpful for those who have home buying on their  2013 to-do lists.  It’s the only way you can start understanding how to  decipher the listings you see online into a reality-based set of  expectations about a property.  It’s also the best way to get  indoctrinated deeply into the realities of what you get on your local  market at various price points, and it’s the most impactful strategy for starting the process of negotiating compromises with your co-buyers. Feel free to give me a call.

7.  Think hard about your deductions, if you’re self-employed. In the wake of the recession, most mortgage guidelines for  self-employed borrowers changed, so that your income for purposes of  qualifying is assumed to be the average of your last two years’ Adjusted Gross Income, as reported on your federal income tax returns.  That  means lenders calculate your income after all your business-related and other deductions, not before. So, yes,  this does mean that maximizing your deductions may impact your ability  to qualify for a home loan in 2013.  But them’s the breaks – better to  know this before you file your tax return, in the event it might change  something about how you file.  Loop your tax advisor, business  bookkeeper and mortgage broker into your decision-making process about  your 2012 taxes before filing, if you’re self-employed and plan to buy  or refinance your home next year.

I look forward to hearing from you and helping you find the perfect property.

Posted on at 10:10 am by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Recently Listed Homes For Sale in Broken Arrow

See all Real estate in the city of Broken Arrow.
(all data current as of 12/21/2014)

  1. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
    Home size: 2,786 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,755 sqft
    Year built: 2002
    Parking spots: 3
    Days on market: 2
    Walk Score®: 63
  2. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,899 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,189 sqft
    Year built: 1983
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 2
    Walk Score®: 19
  3. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,480 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,276 sqft
    Year built: 2011
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 2
    Walk Score®: 0
  4. 5 beds, 4 full, 1 part baths
    Home size: 7,672 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.42 ac
    Year built: 2001
    Parking spots: 4
    Days on market: 2
    Walk Score®: 3
  5. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,496 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,058 sqft
    Year built: 2000
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 3
    Walk Score®: 4
  6. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
    Home size: 2,478 sq ft
    Lot size: 10,454 sqft
    Year built: 2000
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 3
    Walk Score®: 4
  7. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,888 sq ft
    Lot size: 7,492 sqft
    Year built: 2006
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 3
    Walk Score®: 0
  8. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
    Home size: 2,351 sq ft
    Lot size: 13,242 sqft
    Year built: 1990
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 3
    Walk Score®: 57
  9. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
    Home size: 2,724 sq ft
    Lot size: 10,062 sqft
    Year built: 2001
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 3
    Walk Score®: 30
  10. 4 beds, 3 full, 1 part baths
    Home size: 3,215 sq ft
    Lot size: 12,283 sqft
    Year built: 1996
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 3
    Walk Score®: 17
  11. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
    Home size: 1,962 sq ft
    Lot size: 26,397 sqft
    Year built: 1979
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 4
    Walk Score®: 9
  12. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
    Home size: 2,244 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,407 sqft
    Year built: 1992
    Parking spots: 3
    Days on market: 4
    Walk Score®: 23
  13. 4 beds, 3 full, 1 part baths
    Home size: 4,539 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,490 sqft
    Year built: 2003
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 4
    Walk Score®: 18
  14. 4 beds, 4 full, 2 part baths
    Home size: 5,601 sq ft
    Lot size: 34,020 sqft
    Year built: 2012
    Parking spots: 5
    Days on market: 4
    Walk Score®: 20
  15. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
    Home size: 2,462 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,058 sqft
    Year built: 1988
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 4
    Walk Score®: 19
  16. 5 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 2,166 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,537 sqft
    Year built: 1988
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 4
    Walk Score®: 14
  17. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 part baths
    Home size: 3,313 sq ft
    Lot size: 16,204 sqft
    Year built: 1980
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 4
    Walk Score®: 9
  18. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,847 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.00 ac
    Year built: 1991
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 4
    Walk Score®: 0
  19. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 2,180 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,712 sqft
    Year built: 2003
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 4
    Walk Score®: 2
  20. 4 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,950 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,272 sqft
    Year built: 2010
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 5
    Walk Score®: 22

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Posted on December 19, 2012 at 12:19 am by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

Homes For Sale In Broken Arrow Ok

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Posted on December 18, 2012 at 11:56 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

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Posted on June 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm by John Cantero (918) 313-0408

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