Episode #015 - Mayor Pat McGrail, City Manager Mark Hafner, and Director of Public Services and Economic Development Trina Zais from the City of Keller join us for our 5th Community Highlight Episode.

Episode #015 - Mayor Pat McGrail, City Manager Mark Hafner, and Director of Public Services and Economic Development Trina Zais from the City of Keller join us for our 5th Community Highlight Episode. These episodes are specifically tailored to introduce you to our local leaders and to learn more about how they serve us. Join us as we get to know these folks and the city they serve!

City of Keller Bio:

A small town bent on, “Successfully Balancing Big-city Comforts with Small-town Charm”, Keller is one large residential community. Offering its residents 11 parks, 24 miles of hiking & biking trails, and a thriving school district; Keller promises an outstanding quality of life.

Since its start in the 1800’s as a small railroad community, Keller has maintained a reputation of consistent growth. Today, Keller is a fantastic platform for residential and business growth, and lots of folks are taking them up on that opportunity.

Links from this episode
City of Keller website:
Contact Page:


Episode #015 REN Podcast Transcription - Keller Mayor & Team

Jason: Hey everybody, Jason Reynolds here with the real estate now podcast. So today I'm  really excited, we are focusing on Keller Texas which is a town north of Fort Worth, a great area, been really growing a lot over the last few years and we have the pleasure of having the mayor, city manager and I believe the Economic Development Director joining us today, so, I just pulled up but wanted to jump on and give you guys an idea of what we're going to be doing today and also if you have any questions please comment below, we're always looking to engage with  everybody looking-- watching and  listening through the podcast and please feel free to like, share this podcast in this post as well. Thank you guys and welcome to the real estate now podcast.
All right, hey everybody, so I've got to set up here it's a GoPro, I've got the road mic here so it's recording our audio and you guys are actually the first group that wanted the whole team here, so I've got another mic back there recording you guys picking up your audio.

Trina: OK.

Pat: So we're kind of trendsetters.

Jason: You are trendsetters.

Trina: That's what Keller is all about.

Jason: That's what Keller is all about!

Pat: That’s what it’s all about.

Jason: Okay everybody, so I'm really excited, I did an intro you guys know who we have, but I want to walk through, we got Mayor Pat McGrail right here with us-

Pat: Hi there

Jason: -and in the back we've got Trina how do I pronounce your last name?

Trina: Zais.

Jason: Zais, okay she is a director of public services and economic development here in Keller, and then we've got Mark, how do you pronounce your last name?

Mark: Hafner.

Jason: Hafner, okay he is the city manager here in Keller, so we're going to drive around a little bit, you guys have seen the podcast or part of it, so I'm just going to drive around and if you don't mind starting introducing yourself.

Pat: So, before we get started now am I going to sing or not?

Jason: Well here, let me let me pull the radio really quick [laughter] -  you know we'll save that for the end.

Pat: So you know I’m Pat McGrail, and I am the mayor of Keller and I have been involved with the city for 20 something years and I’m probably pushing 25 so-

Jason: Okay, yeah.

Pat: I've been involved for a little while-

Jason: Just a little while?

Pat: - yeah, very proud of the city.

Jason: Okay, what was your career before becoming mayor?

Pat: I was with American Airlines, I spent 38 years with American in management and I traveled quite a bit over the years so, it was a good thing you know for me professionally and more importantly got to see a lot of cities, I learned a lot of good and a lot bad and hopefully I've been able to bring some of that to Keller you know since I have learned living in other cities throughout the country.

Jason: So how long have you lived in Keller?

Pat: I came to Keller in 1989, I was at the point in my career where I was ready to settle down because the company prior to that moved me every two-- the most three years and the kids started to grow you know you get a place you have to call home.

Jason: Yeah.

Pat: So at the time DFW was our major hub we just moved the headquarters down here and a matter of fact I was involved in the process of helping build the Alliance facility, I knew there was always going to be a future here so-- and I like Texas, so I thought you know what this looks like a place to call home. So I come down here and spent a lot of time looking around and settled on Keller, I just fell in love with the town.

Jason: Okay. Awesome, all right Trina you're up, how about you, what brought you to Keller?
Trina: Well I came to Keller as a consultant helping with the city’s development goal and after doing that for nine months Mark asked me to join the team in the position of economic development and public services director, and so I did and I'm enjoying every minute of it, it’s been well over three years full-time with the city.

Jason: Okay, and so how long have you been in the Keller area?

Trina: About four years.

Jason: Just the four years. Okay so before then where were you at?

Trina: So as a consultant I have worked all over Texas, before that I also had some other consulting experience, I have worked for non-profits, private and public corporations for 25 years in Texas.

Jason: Okay. Awesome, so familiar with Texas then.

Pat: But Trina let me add has very rare experience and we're really fortunate to have work she does fantastic job for us.

Jason: Perfect you're going to be the Guru on all the numbers when we start talking about that I bet [laughter]. Alright Mark you're up, tell us about yourself.

Mark: I have been in Keller since 2000, I came here for after nationwide search to be the police chief and I was police chief here for 14 years, moved my family from another state where I had a 20 year law enforcement career before-- like I said spent 14 years here as the police chief, loved every minute of it, then the city manager job I started doing it in from-- for and I tried it on for nine months and the council asked me to stay on permanently and I've been doing that now for four years being the city manager.

Jason: Okay.

Pat: And again doing a fantastic job.

Jason: Yeah, you've got a good team.

Pat: Yeah, and this guy in honesty, he was instrumental in making what we have today as far as our police department goes, and it is second to none here in the state of Texas matter of fact nationwide, we want to top 10 safest cities in the entire United States, so that says a lot about what Mark did.

Jason: Wow, that's great. So then, I think what we'll do is we’ll kind of popcorn around. You guys can kind of take the questions but-- you know so I moved here to the Fort Worth area roughly about five years ago and when I moved here Keller was already the place to go based on, you know, when I work with clients-- there are great schools, can you guys,  based on your knowledge-- I  guess you've (Pat) been here the longest, what's been the development of Keller just over the last-- you know since you've been here, how have you seen the growth, has it expanded just a lot in the last five to ten years-?

Pat: It has, and especially - we went through what I call high growth period back in the late 90s’, early 2000s’ and we had several major developments coming to town one of those being a community called Hidden Lakes, and Hidden Lakes is a master-planned community and it brings a lot to the city of Keller. It has its own 18-hole golf course which is open to the public, it has its own recreational facilities and all the amenities; three swimming pools, parks, playgrounds, a lot of things that didn't provide a drain on the city services themselves and actually Hidden Lakes is as big as some of our neighboring communities-

Jason: Wow.

Pat: - so that says a lot about it, but you know it started with that and it just continue since but what makes Keller unique is the quality of life, people come here because the quality of life which is our parks and our recreational facilities, schools-- you know and it still has we've been able to maintain that small-town charm-feel and that's what people like about it, so-- but it's growing a lot since I came here, when I came here we had about-- I think at about 6,400 people, now we're pushing 50,000, so we've seen a lot of growth, so now a lot of roads go from two lanes to four-lane in some cases six lanes, a lot of traffic lights, a lot of you know-- but it's all  part of growth, it’s inevitable, you can't stop us so you do the best you can to manage it and try and get good quality growth and I think we've done that.

Jason: Right. So then Trina maybe you could speak on; is Keller landlocked in some regard and-?

Trina: It is landlocked.

Jason: Okay.

Trina: Unless we do a swap with another city there is no more expanding the boundaries of Keller.

Jason: Okay, so then in terms of developer land is just dwindling here but--?

Trina: Yeah, the amount of green space available and by green I mean it’s never been developed on before, is reducing, however given the age of Keller there’s a lot of up and coming redevelopment opportunities so, even though we see our brand spanking new opportunities coming to a margin reducing availability, we’ve got investors, developers looking at, you know, what about if we took this particular thing, scrape it, rebuild.

Jason: Right. Okay, so that's kind of what's the main thing in Keller right now in terms of re-development.

Trina: Yeah, we seeing growth in that re-development opportunity.

Jason: Okay, so and is the population still growing exponentially though?

Trina: Non-exponentially, so 10 years ago we were growing at almost 16% and last 5 years we’ve dropped to little over 8%, so we are growing at a reduced rate.

Jason: Okay.

Pat: I'd say we're just about-- the build-out and what's left to build if you figure whom go forward is about 50,000 it's always been that case, about 50,000 was what people will call Keller home and being built out at 50,000 people.

Jason: Okay.

Trina: And today we are at 44,490.

Pat: And that plan has been in place for a long time and I think we have done a good job as far as that goes, I think we're going to end up exactly where we expect to be.

Jason: Yeah, so, I know in my opinion as a realtor, a lot of clients seek this area out for schools.

Pat: Yes, very good schools.

Jason: So great school ratings, but you know so that's usually what I always hear, but if you guys had a chance to speak to future potential residents, what are the new developments going on or that are down the horizon? I know behind the City Hall is the natatorium which looks like an awesome facility, can one of you guys talk more about that?

Pat: That belongs to the school district and when we created the town hall concept years ago, we created a TIF which the school district and the county participate in and as part of it the school district was able to build the natatorium and it’s for cold water, best for swim competitions, and any given weekend it’s packed ultra-full.

Jason: Yeah, it’s packed now.

Pat: They come from all over the state of Texas to freeze competitions and then right down the street from there we have what we call a counterpoint, which is a fun water pool and we have both indoor and outdoor water features there and-

Mark: Splash pad, the water park, indoor physical fitness, it's about 88-90,000 Sq. facility that is equal to any of the 24-hour fitness or any other private establishments that you can be a member at-- just by being a citizen of Keller.

Jason: So, I know when I've driven through and shown clients houses I've seen-- you know I've driven through a lot of great parks as I'm driving through can you guys kind of talk about-- I've only seen a few but how much how many parks are there in Keller in terms of how friendly it is for folks that love the outdoors-?

Pat: And as we speak we're approaching one right here is our sports-

Mark: The one coming up is our sports park that's the one people are probably most familiar with because we get more than 50% of people coming from outside the city of Keller in total playing the sports so, in that sports park we have soccer, we have baseball, we have softball tournaments and leagues, Keller youth association baseball and soccer leagues and that is jam-packed  every single weekend with the fields being used all the time, then we have passive parks we have Bear Creek Park, that place to stroll around through our trail system, and our trail system is unique in color, there's right now 26 miles of trails and-

Jason: Wow.

Mark: you can virtually go from one side of the city to the other side without ever getting off the trail.

Jason: Really?

Mark: And City Council is committed in the next 10 years to double that in size, so we have over 50 square miles of walkable trails and I'm talking about 8 to 10-foot-wide trails where people stroll, ride their bikes and it goes through all the different parks that we have in town, we have two parts of North Overton Ridge-- is up there and we-- so we continue to put emphasis, if you ask me what brings people here you're absolutely right, schools, parks and safety. Those are the-- if you ask me the three things, but it's also a complete package, we have some retail and some dining establishments, probably not as many as some other larger communities but just enough where our citizens don't get burdened with traffic problems and that's what I see that they really want is they want to come here and call this home and not be not-- there usually coming from someplace else-

Jason: Yeah, we don't want to go out of the city limits.

Mark: You are in Fort Worth now.

Jason: So is this the limit right here is this Walmart-?

Pat: We just passed it.

Jason: Okay.

Mark: It's actually the railroad tracks for most purposes except we've got our Sports Park that's carved out on the other side of the track.

Jason: So then Trina, what are the major employers in Keller that kind of feed the economy?

Trina: So the major employers are going to be the school district, the city and then your big bulk store like Walmart, probably Sam’s, and the mayor comments about quality of life, what we offer in Keller are unique boutique establishment, so boutique retail you need restaurants, chef owned restaurants that give you something that you can't find anywhere else-

Jason: Right.

Trina: - which is something we're very proud of and that's what we're continuing to develop, you know sometimes you'll hear I wish we had something like a La Madeline's, which is a nice place to go but the performer they’re looking for is counter purpose to what Keller residence is all about, they don’t want to have to deal with the traffic that La Madeline’s demands and we are [the captive areas?], so they are looking for free way run age, and in Keller they don’t want to have that traffic, we look for establishments that meet our goals, both in unique quality as well as low traffic demands.

Jason: Okay.

Pat: You want to make a right here, it’ll take you down straight to the west side of old town. Right here.

Jason: Oh, okay, I thought you were talking about that right there, I'll go back that way then

Pat: Sorry, well you can win the next street but basically this is our latest project that we just completed it’s about four and a half million-dollar investment into the west side of old town, and as we speak Mark can tell you more on training, but getting them ready we're doing a study now on the East side, see the enhanced entry way, you see Trina you've been instrumental, just you may want to talk a little bit about old tunnel what we've done down here.

Trina: So there are empathies behind this revitalization project was updating the infrastructure primarily, the water and sewer lines were antiquated and needed to be replaced, we also recognize that need for parking, so we added that and while we were doing that we added in public aired, landscaping, some beautification efforts to create a destination that retail and restaurants would want to come and while we were embarking on this, we did have interaction with seven mile cafe which is on your left, they actually bought the Old City Hall and converted it into one of our best restaurants in the city, at the same time Roscoe's Smokehouse which we’ve just passed also took the lead on this recognizing this was going to be the next up-and-coming area and they wanted to get on very early, as a matter of fact, they were under construction at the same time we were under construction, and since that time both have come out of the ground doing very well.
Since we finished the project, we have also now seen this new restaurant on your last issue the station ice house, they are expecting to open this fall, initially it was spring but they've got such a creative owner he has a new idea every now and then that sets them back just a little bit in their construction but they moving along and we're really excited to have them open up overall-

Pat: It’s just been real success.

Trina: Yes, and we're seeing a great return on investment already, we still got some parcels like this one on your left and the one across the street that are yet to be developed.

Jason: Okay, so this whole treat area right here is-

Pat: And there's two examples in a public art Trina was talking about.

Jason: Okay. Yeah, right here on the corners.

Pat: And as we were driving down in the back there, there was what we call promenade a walking area adjacent to all the businesses and it's online with public art, another two examples here-

Jason: Right here.

Pat: Yes.

Trina: This wide sidewalk is a continuation of the promenade and it connects to the trail heads straight ahead.

Jason: Okay.

Pat: You can actually walk under 377 to get to Bear Creek Park.

Pat: Really!

Mark: You can take this all the way to the-- all the other-- on the other side of our city, all the way up to Davis Boulevard.

Pat: See right down there it goes down under and it actually goes under railroad tracks, so you can walk to the sports park or you can go over to Bear Creek Park and then to the other end of town eventually, so you can actually work from one end of Keller to the other on our trail system.
Jayson: So how many-- in terms of tourists traffic from outside of Keller, is this driving a lot of that now making it a destination kind of location place to go?

Trina: We have seen an increase in activity here, now our retail trade areas is about 150,000 people, when we look at how much of available revenue is been spent outside of that bubble and what we can draw in, this has increased what we can draw in from the retail restaurant perspective.

Jason: Right. I love the fact that they're not maintained, like he said they're kind of local business owners.

Pat: And again, this was the Westside and now we've hired consultants within the last year and they’re doing the study as we speak for the east side and we're going to do something similar to the east side trying to revitalize it and make it more business friendly.

Jason: Okay.

Mark: We're going to try to connect the East and West together probably either with some type of walk-- a pedestrian device that can get across this heavily used roadway or even a walk over that maybe we can connect a parking garage or something, because we need some more surface and garage parking because there's a parking issue here on the weekends for people that want to go to a hotel and go to the restaurant.
So we've got a consultant right now that’s going to bring back a plan to say how can we connect the two and what should we do over here on this side, we don't think it’s going to look exactly like the other side but it's going to be with these boutiques in this small little shopping areas as well, but the key is how do we tie them both together and people feel comfortable getting from one side to the next as you can see right now-

Jason: It’s difficult.

Mark: Yeah.

Jason: Okay, what were you saying?

Pat: One of the things we accomplished was a prominent, was you can see the sidewalk is awful close to both the building front and the street itself, so when we put the prominent we took basically the front of their building and moved it to the back. So now people park in the back and they come in through the back of the building and it keeps the traffic off the 377 having deal with all the [unintelligible 00:19:01] traffic, so-

Jason: Right.

Pat: It’s been a real success story, one of our historic landmarks of Jersey, water tower and underneath that is our Veterans Memorial which honors all the veterans people who have lived in Keller, served in the military.

Trina: So, in anticipation of activity happening on the east side we've also had a turnover of this building up on the right, it used to be a capital one building now it has been purchased and will soon be occupied by the Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union, a lot of people are excited about having that credit union in the city. And I think it'll be a good entry feature for Old Town, every old town has a banker right?

Jason: Yeah, no that's great.

Pat: And we just passed a construction site where they're building another new restaurant about two blocks back, so, there's a lot of activity going on down here which were excited about so and a lot of it is an anticipation of the revitalization of this side, so we expect to see the same thing happen on the east side as what we did on the west, because I can guarantee you that all this new commercial activity on the west side wouldn’t have happened without the repolarization.

Jason: How much is-- you know there's all the development also happening on 35 up towards Alliance-

Pat: Yes

Jason: - Is that-- once that started happening did you also see an increase and folks doing business here and companies coming here?

Trina: No, that didn’t really have any impact on this because we are looking at two different things, they are looking at the National chains, look at that freeway traffic, so we are fishing out of two different ponds.

Jason: So then, you know as a team where do you guys-- you know so Keller is developing, you guys are focusing on bringing in the boutique shops and increasing quality of life even though it's great here, you know just making it even better. Where do you guys see Keller long term like the next five to ten years, what are some of the big things you know this was one thing down that was coming down the pike, it's done you guys are looking at this side and developing that, is there anything else that's in the works that your-?

Pat: Well as we speak our next council agenda we're going to be talking about a new Senior Center for our seniors, putting it to the voters come this November, we've got a parks master plan under review, we're talking about a major expansion of our Sports Complex to improve it and all the other parts throughout the city. We're currently just finishing up a flop is that correct Trina?

Trina: Yeah, we are about to take a look at the future land use plan draft, and get council input, get some more community input so the whole future use plan-

Pat: New construction-- I don’t mean to interrupt you but we've got construction going on everywhere as see as you drive through here, I’m sorry Trina.

Jason: It’s ok, we’ve been through an extensive community outreach to try to get everyone’s vision for what Keller would look like for the next 5 – 10 years, even longer years, and now that we have all of that, we took all of that input and put it together into a draft the consultant provided and we’re expecting to present that to the council in draft form and get some more feedback, and we go back out to the community and say we think this is what you sent, let us know what you think.

Jason: Okay.

Pat: The real opportunity is going to be north of here  from running on 377 that highway we were  just on, north to the West Lake town  border, West Lakes is right  next to us and they're having a lot of  growth in-- Schwab is coming, the financial  and that's going to help bring people  that would want to buy our homes in Keller, at  the same time I think we'll get that  corridor going and I think it'll define  itself once we start getting some more traffic on there, what that will look  like whether it'll be mixed juice with some residential and commercial or all  commercial, but it's definitely we see that-- we're also looking strongly for, we want to try to get some entertainment-- out reason for asking for some type of entertainment, will that entertainment be like a knock off top off or some type of tavern bowl, or-- it's a very young community with young families that like to get out and  do active things, that's why our trails  are active, but it's Texas and it gets  hot so they're also looking for some  stuff that they can do during midday  when it's too hot to be in our parks and  something like a tavern ball, an upscale  bowling facility or something that  has indoor components too, it would be  indoor volleyball or those type of things, so we're looking heavily in too for  that that corridor there, so maybe some  type of entertainment.
The other thing is that we have a  well-known beer brewery, Shannen  brewery which is in probers now and it-- they brew their beer right here in Keller and they use the water from Samantha's Springs, Samantha Springs is a bottle of water that from natural springs here in Keller and they  brew their beer with that and it's quite tasty and they're looking to expand too as well and maybe even look at a larger footprint where they are on north 377 and that's very popular on the  weekends people want to tour the brewery and sit down and have a cold glass of beer.
Jason: Okay, that's great. So they in terms of new residential building permits, is there much new building going on here in the area?

Trina: We have some trails of Bear Creek that they are right now actively building, and the we’ve got a couple that are coming down the road, over here next to Northwood Church, we’ve just recently approved plan development for another 96 homes.

Jason: Okay.

Mark: Most of the stuff left though is; in filling some small spots of land where they’re going to do custom homes, take down 10 or 11 Lots, I think our days of 300 lot subdivisions are gone, we just don't have that raw land available, and without some without some significant redevelopment I really don't see that in the next 10 years. So we're going to see some infilled, the price of homes is getting very expensive in Keller, if they haven't already for most people, our new homes are hitting the next to the million-dollar mark, so what we see latter, custom built homes for people that want to have that, they're moving from other areas of the country California’s, there’s a lot of California's come to Keller because they can afford to sell their house and move here.

Pat: And a lot of these new housing-- people are coming here are because of west lake and all the corporate campuses, it’s been a real benefit to us because they are creating all these corporate campuses, you know as fortune 500 companies but the executives all need a place to live in and they choose Keller, so it has brought a lot of good people of living righteous color so it’s brought a lot of good people to town.

Jason: That's great, well we are pulling back into town hall is there anything great about Keller anything I missed, anything we didn't touch on that you guys want to make sure that the listeners know about Keller or-?

Pat: Well, you know again you know the education itself, and our school district is in my mind second to none, very  highly ranked, quality life and again that’s what bring people to Keller, the quality life, but the most important thing, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention is our public safety and I see a compliance which makes me think of it, our public safety  post police and fire are again second to none and I’m going to let Mark expound on it a little bit because I think it's very  important that we give these guys the credit that they deserve, Mark you want to  talk about the-?

Jason3: Well, besides a very, very low crime rate which we continually to experience in this community, our medical services both the ambulances that we have, or our medical units which most of our calls on the Fire side, our medical calls for service it's actually an emergency room rolling up to your house. They have advanced life support, complete communications with Baylor hospital and all the surrounding hospitals, they have all the medications to revive you from any type of sudden illness and it really is a great tool and what brings people to this community, they feel so safe with the police and the fire that the quality of life is just unbelievable and puts it over the top that people want to stay here.
Along with that, that country rural feel but still have the amenities they need in driving distance or walking distance.

Jason: Right.

Pat: And Mark mentioned Baylor Medical Center which is right down the road here, the good thing about them is not only are they one of the best hospitals in the country but they’ve just now received accreditation for trauma center, so in the past if we had a really severe issue trauma case we would have to fly whoever into Dallas, or Fort Worth, now we take them right to Baylor which provides a trauma center, so-

Jason: Yeah right here.

Pat: - it's nice to have it at your backyard, makes a big difference.

Jason: That's great.

Pat: Yeah.

Mark: Very responsive city government too, I've worked on the city governments, this city government whether it be the council, the city manager all the way down to the  people providing the services on day-to-day basis, to the customer services over the top, no one will--  know what everyone's going to get a return on their email right away, the council member is going to call them back and there we have a very active community and they tell us what they want and we tried to exceed their expectations.

Pat: Did he say city management? [laughter] Actually he’s fantastic I tell you what, we're blessed to have him.

Jason: Perfect.

Pat: Does a great job for, [cemetery?] and everybody in our entire City Hall you know they're just fantastic people, they do a great job and like Mark says very responsive, to citizens, they're all here because they care about the city and the people who live in it, so a very special place.

Jason: Well, Mayor thank you, Trina, Mark, thank you guys very much.

Trina: My pleasure.

Jason: So, we're going to include-- I'll include a link to the city of Keller website in the show notes here and I believe there's a tab that I can link there too where they could get you all email or information in case you guys have any questions want to learn more about Keller, they’re responsive and they're helpful and they jumped on this podcast, so thank you guys so much for that.

Pat: Yeah, thank you so much, we appreciate chances to promote our city and—

Jason: You bet.

Pat: -let people know they're always welcome in Keller.

Jason: Yeah.

Pat: So, thank you sir we appreciate, good talking to you.

Episode #014 - State Representative DeWayne Burns joins us for our fourth Community Highlight Episode!

Episode #014 - State Representative DeWayne Burns joins us for our fourth Community Highlight Episode! As we continue to highlight leaders in our community, Representative Burns is an obvious candidate for this informal interview. DeWayne does an outstanding job of representing Johnson & Bosque Counties. Join us as we get to know DeWayne and the impact he is having on our community! (https://youtu.be/UKzZXDe3Fuo)

DeWayne’s Bio: Bio: DeWayne Burns was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2014 and was reelected this past March 2016. Raised in southwest Johnson County, he grew up on a small farm near the Bosque County line and the Brazos River. He attended public schools in Cleburne and graduated from Cleburne High School in 1990. After attending Texas A&M University, he transferred to Tarleton State University where he graduated in 1994. Representative Burns began his career with a stint at the Texas Grain and Feed Association before being hired as a legislative analyst for State Representatives Arlene Wohlgemuth and Gary Walker during the 74th legislative session. Later, he moved to the Texas Department of Agriculture under then-Commissioner Rick Perry where he was ultimately promoted to the position of Coordinator for Special Issues in the department’s Intergovernmental Affairs Division. Representative Burns also worked as an inspector for the Texas Department of Agriculture where he was responsible for weights and measures compliance, crop and seed certification, and enforcement of Texas’ plant and pest quarantine laws, among other tasks over a 10-county region which included Bosque and Johnson counties. Representative Burns is currently a property and business investment manager. DeWayne and his family are no strangers to hard work as they have a long history in farming, ranching and construction. The family ranch is still in operation to this day. Previously, DeWayne served as Vice President of the Cleburne ISD Board of Trustees, as President of the Johnson County Farm Bureau, as a member of the Johnson County Economic Development Commission, and as a Fire Commissioner for the Johnson County Emergency Services District #1. Representative Burns married his high school sweetheart, Jennifer, and they are the proud parents of two teenage sons and a daughter. The Burns Family are members of First Baptist Church of Cleburne.

Links from this episode
Texas State Representative website: https://house.texas.gov/members/member-page/?district=58
DeWayne’s campaign website: https://www.burnsfortexas.com/

DeWayne’s capital contact
P.O. Box 2910, Room E1.322
Austin, TX 78768
(512) 463-0538


Episode #014 REN Podcast Transcription - State Representative DeWayne Burns

Jason: All right, good afternoon everybody, Jason Reynolds here with the real estate now podcast, and we are lucky today to have state representative DeWayne Burns from district 58, how are you sir?

DeWayne: Man I'm doing great, thanks for having me.

Jason: Perfect, perfect, well excited have to have DeWayne on, he covers Bosque and Johnson Counties, the full counties correct? (0:38)

DeWayne: That is correct, I'm one of the lucky districts that's built around two specific counties, many folks have, chopped up areas and areas that look strange and kind of gerrymandered around but my area is all of Johnson County, and all of Bosque County.

Jason: That's awesome.

DeWayne: Yeah it is, good place.

Jason: Perfect, well today we're going to talk to you-- Dwayne a little bit get to know him and then also talk about his role as a state representative, what that means for our district, a lot of you folks live in these areas so it's good to get to know him and we'll just take it from there, so tell us about your family, are you married, you got kids? (1:17)

DeWayne: Man that's a great question, yeah, you bet I am, I am married-- have been married now for 23 years-

Jason: Alright.

DeWayne: - and to my lovely wife Jennifer who is also a Kleber night-

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: You know it’s funny, I I've known Jennifer since I was about 5 years old, we-

Jason: Wow!

DeWayne: - we started-- we both attended the same church as children.

Jason: Was it First Baptist? (1:45)

DeWayne: it was-- no it’s actually New Hope Baptist Church, it's out in the country about so 15, 20 miles southwest of Cleburne, little-- small congregation, if we have a full church on Sunday we would have had maybe you know 30 or 40 folks and-

Jason: It's not bad.

DeWayne: - yeah, yeah, no-

Jason: Sometimes that's good having a small group.

DeWayne: It's a great-- well you grow up feeling like everybody in the area is your aunt, uncle, or cousin, and I couldn't tell you which ones really are or really aren't, but it was fun so, but I've known Jen since then, and we've-- we never dated in high school or anything like that, but once I went off to college I guess I became okay enough to date and-

Jason: What you left the city? (2:30)

DeWayne: Yeah that's right, that's right, that's right, it got away, and so we began dating and then after we both graduated from college we tied the knot and it's been marital bliss ever since.

Jason: All right.

DeWayne: I only made-- only it made better and enhance by the fact that we have three great kids and Parker, Austin and Emma, and there-- they're-

Jason: They still now at home? (2:57)

DeWayne: Yeah, well one of them is at Tarleton State University right now, which is where Jennifer and I both graduated from, and then we have Austin who will be a senior this year, Cleveland High School.

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: Emma who will be a freshman this year, Cleveland High School, so it's a busy, busy time but a fun time and hate to see them grow up, if I could freeze them right where they are I would man, but it's all good things, it’s all part of life and-

Jason: Yeah.

DeWayne: - so it's fun.

Jason: Okay, so you graduated from Cleburne high in 1990, but what-- you were born in Bosque County, what was kind of your heritage in terms of where you were raised-

DeWayne: Sure

Jason: - there in Bosque county.

DeWayne: Okay, so actually, believe it or not I was born in Corpus Christi, so well we've had-

Jason: Really?

DeWayne: - yeah, so while we've had family and we've had our farm, it has been in the family for generations, for-- in fact my kids would be generation six, there have been times and periods when you know, because of economic situations and jobs and different things we've moved around a little bit, and at that particular time my mom's family was in Corpus Christi working and my dad's family is from Corpus Christi so, they were down there and met and I was born in Corpus Christi, but we moved back up here when I was young, in fact preschool age and pretty much stayed in in Cleburne my whole my whole life.

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: Yeah.

Jason: Awesome, so did your parents have a farm in Bosque County? (4:34)

DeWayne: Okay, so the Bosque County comes into comes into play because I had a-- and I can't remember his name right off the top of my head, but I had a great, great uncle that was a county commissioner in Bosque County, but our farm-- and actually Jennifer my wife's dad and granddad her-- my in-laws they have a ranch-

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: - that are kind of next to each other right there on the Bosque County, Johnson County line, there on the Johnson County line-

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: - on the Johnson County side I mean, but that's where our farm and their ranch-- our ranches are located, and we used to always sell cattle in Bosque County and you know, travel to Clifton or travel to you know, Meridian, wherever to sell cattle.

Jason: Okay, so when you grew up, went to Cleburne and then went to A&M, and then Tarleton, what do you get a degree in, and kind of what was the steps after that? (5:28)

DeWayne: Sure, I was-- when I went off to A&M I was going to be an engineer, and I think that's a great career for anyone to pick and choose, but I transferred to Tarleton and got a degree in agricultural services and development, it's just kind of a general ARG. Degree, with a minor in business, and as part of my education there, but one of the things that Tarleton does a great job with is preparing students for careers, and we had to do an internship.

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: So I was required to do an internship, I did an unpaid internship with the Texas Department of Agriculture and at that time a fella by the name of Rick Perry was the Commissioner of Agriculture.

Jason: That sounds familiar.

DeWayne: Yeah, and so I moved to Austin, stayed with some relatives down there in Pflugerville and work-- did my internship with the Department of Agriculture. The internet had just been invented you know, so it was a new time, a new era and I was the kind of the young guy that knew a little bit about that and how to research bills the session, we were-- it was the fall, so we were preparing for this session and I helped them do Bill analysis and create a tracking system for our bills that would affect rural Texas or agriculture-

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: - and did that, I think you know pretty successfully and then graduated that December of 94 right after that.

Jason: Okay, so did you stay working in with the legislature after that, how did that turn out? (7:06)

DeWayne: Yeah, so, all right, left Tarleton didn't have a job at-- but I got a job pretty quickly with Texas feed and grain association-

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: - and they said you can work here till you get worked somewhere else, luckily it wasn't too long, I stayed there and then the local state representative for this area at that time was Arlene Willkommen.

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: And she had hired one of my high school FFA buddies who was a leader in our high school, and officer in the FFA state officer in FFA Chris Britton, and he hired me to work for Arlene Willkommen, now because she was a good frugal fiscally responsible Republican, she also had-- she shared me with her colleague Gary Walker, so they split me I worked for two state representatives at the same time during that session, and it was incredible and-- but it was a great experience, so I worked with state in the legislature, worked for those two members, but the great thing and maybe one of the greatest things that happened to me and I really didn't have anything to do with it was, Rick Perry they decided they wanted me to come back to work for the department, so I can help keep doing that bill tracking and analysis and keep up with that system, so they talked to Gary and Arlene without me knowing it and I'd-- they just kind of all had a meeting with me one day and said guess what? you get to go back to work for the Department of Agriculture and Rick Perry and I was thrilled about that-

Jason: Yeah

DeWayne: - and so I did, and to make a long story longer Jason, I stayed with commissioner Perry at the time you know, worked my way up, I was you know just kind of devoted to it, I loved it, and had a passion for rural Texas and for property rights and all the things that commissioner Perry believed in, before you know what I've become coordinator for special issues, and so I worked my way up from kind of an internship to that coordinator position where I was able to travel from the state with commissioner Perry, I still call him Commissioner Perry forgive me for that.

Jason: Yeah

DeWayne: You know, but I was able to travel the state and brief him on issues as he was dealing-- you know as he was helping rural Texas and deal with who knows what, pesticide issues, drought issues.

Jason: Yeah.

DeWayne: You name it and we would do research and help him with that, and maybe even weigh in on legislation if we were asked, it was a great experience.

Jason: Okay, and then at some point you've been with the Texas Farm Bureau as well, is that correct? (9:50)

DeWayne: Okay, yes sir. So when Rick Perry decided to run for lieutenant governor.

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: My wife Jennifer had-- she's a schoolteacher and we were we had our first son Parker, he was already on the ground as they say in AG terms and we wanted to get back their family, that's an important part of our lives, so we moved back to Cleveland.

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: When I did that, I stayed with the Department of Agriculture but I started getting involved locally and stuff going on, and Farm Bureau was a natural thing for me, so I became a board member of our local Farm Bureau-- County Farm Bureau of Johnson County Farm Bureau and I'm still on the board there.

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: And I've been on the board and a member of our Johnson County Farm Bureau's I guess now since 2000.

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: So for 18 years, 18 years this July as a matter of fact, and you know my job with them it's an unpaid deal, I'm just a director but I've served as president for you know 10 years during that period but it's really to promote agriculture and the things that we as Texans hold there and fight for property rights, and promote local youth and make sure that-- we're doing our job to make sure folks are fed, and there's a safe and abundant food supply, Yeah, so it’s awesome.

Jason: You’ve got a history with them then?

DeWayne: Yeah, I do, yeah, sure do.

Jason: So, I had a slogan for you that I was going to propose but we can't do it anymore if you born and raised in 58.

DeWayne: Oh yeah.

Jason: So, I guess you weren't born, so you say raised to 58?

DeWayne: Raised to 58.

Jason: [laughs]

DeWayne: That's exactly right, that's right.

Jason: So district 58 we talked about how it covers Johnson and Bosque County, can you kind of walk through maybe the major cities that that includes, just so folks, maybe they don't know exactly what you know that includes? (11:38)

DeWayne: Sure, sure, yeah, and of course Jason, they're all major cities right in my heart.

Jason: Yeah.

DeWayne: Yes, but you know, district 58 and there's so much to say about it but we-- you know Johnson and Bosque counties, and so I represent all the you know the southernmost town in our district is Valley Mills, all the way up to Burleson, and then there's so many great cities in between you know represent Cleburne and Grandview, Ra Vista, I say Ra Vista because I was raised down there. Yeah, that's the right way to say it, you know godly christen, you name it, Joshua, Alvarado, Venus, and all of which areas that are growing and have things going for them, great things going for them, but-- and then down in Bosque County of course there's Iredell and tramples Gap and Meridian and Clifton and you know it's just a-- it's a great area to represent, you know all the way to Lakeside Village and corporal small towns, that a lot of folks have never maybe even heard of but each unique and they're their own little paradise in Texas if you go visit.

Jason: Yeah, you still got a lot of communities that are a part of that.

DeWayne: Yes, we have a-- we have several school districts, we have several cities, you know some representative, state representatives may only have one school district for example, if they live near Dallas or Fort Worth, but you know we've got dozens and that presents challenges but it's a good thing too, because they're all different and they all add value to kids in their own ways, and it's a good thing, I like it.

So, if I were to design a district, I like it-- we have the suburban and urban area, we have great production, we have the industrial area, obviously as you get north, we're growing exponentially Burleson is just incredible-- growing incredibly, and as you go down the Chisholm Trail Parkway and I-35 corridor, you know, Alvarado, Cleburne and Joshua, they're all going-- they're all seeing that growth now and Venus is seeing growth and so that's exciting but then, you know some of the cultural, you know things that are special in our district are amazing, you know Clifton has really got a lot to offer for folks that are interested in Western arts and museum, you know they're Norwegian heritage, some of the things-- and they're really well kept secrets, but the music and the art, they go down on down in Clifton, Texas and in that area in Bosque County is really amazing too, so we've got it all here in district 58.

Jason: Okay, awesome, so what made you decide to run for state representative? I know you had representative or was in this seat prior. (14:37)

DeWayne: Yes.

Jason: Was the district the exact same or was it-

DeWayne: Yeah.

Jason: - being the same for a while?

DeWayne: Yeah, it's been the same for a while, you know the district has changed and it could as we, you know Roche 2020 you know, the lines get redrawn based on population, right now 175,000 people or so or when the lines were drawn that's kind of where it was set, and you know that could change, I don't expect it will and I'll fight to keep it like it is, but it should-- Lord will and I'm here at that time there-- you know at one time I think when representative Willkommen was in place, she also had Somerville County and Hood County and didn't have Bosque County at the time, but as you know things move in population shifts so did the lines-

Jason: Yeah.

DeWayne: - but I think most of the time-- for most of Rob's term or maybe all of it that it was Johnson and Bosque county.

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: And, but the question you asked, you asked me why-- why I do this, and that is-

Jason: You make it sound bad.

DeWayne: No it's not, it's a-- I tell you what, there are-- there's so many good things about doing this, there's some crummy things too, but you know the good way outweighs the bad and-- but I'll tell you what, the reason why I do this and it's-- I don't want to sound corny or anything like that but, I believe we're all on a mission each and every day, I'm a-- I personally and I don't  impose or force my faith upon anyone, I wouldn't do that but, personally I'm a Christian, I take Jesus as my example and I'm taught by his example in the Bible that we are all in a constant state of witness and ministry, and we're here to serve and love others and if you look at the life of Jesus that's what he did, where there was a need he filled it right and appropriately.

So, when this-- you know this is something that I never really thought I would do I enjoyed being associated with the legislature all those years ago, but when the opportunity came about and Rob had decided not to run again and I was approached by folks in the community, folks in the Farm Bureau, folks in the AG community, friends and neighbors and about running and saying you've got some experience, you've got the heart to do it, and really just boil down to praying with my family about it.

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: We accepted this-- that opportunity as a mission, win or lose it was a mission.

Jason: And it takes a lot of work even if you win or lose. (17:18)

DeWayne: It does, yeah, you're exactly right, you have to be prepared for that, and I told the folks that were campaigning for me at the time, look, you know, we've got a mission and the ultimate mission is to spread the light of Christ, and in doing so if we win the election man that's awesome.

Jason: Yeah.

DeWayne: And-- so we did that but you know, here's the deal I'm one of those old-fashioned Texans and I believe in personal responsibility, I believe in personal freedom, I believe that there is no one too big to fail, but we're all big enough to succeed if we try, and you know I believe in the things that Texans hold dear, you know their property, and their families, and God, and that's why I'm here.

Jason: Okay, so then say going into that, what's your favorite part about running, at least about running for state representative, not necessarily being a state representative but running for state rep? (18:03)

DeWayne: Okay, running for State Representative, wow! You know, campaigning is tough.

Jason: Yeah

DeWayne: I'll tell you that, that is the hardest part of the job is campaigning because you put yourself and your family out there.

Jason: Yes, that’s true.

DeWayne: And they-- and it's difficult on the family too but, probably just visiting with people,  you know we walk a lot-- we walked a lot of blocks if you've been around folks, they've probably seen me walking the streets, I'm not-- you know I promise I'm not a vagrant, I'm just out there looking for your vote, looking to meet you, but you know that's probably the best part, it's the hardest part but it's the most rewarding, is staring people in the eye, giving them a firm handshake and saying, you know here's Who I am, what's important to you-

Jason: Right.

DeWayne: And then having their wherewithal and to listen is an important thing too, and I think that's my favorite part, is just getting to know people, getting to know the issues.

Jason: Okay, so the elements of being a state representative, you're in session every two years, so you're not in session right now obviously.

DeWayne: Correct.

Jason: When will sessions start again for you? (19:21)

DeWayne: Starts in mid-June, second week-- I'm sorry January, second week of January, coming up in 2019.

Jason: Perfect, so then-- Dwayne and I were talking before we jumped on, but he's so-- he'll actually-- the chances are high that you will be in session, because right now you don't have anybody that's running against you.

DeWayne: That is correct, that's correct, I was-- I did not have an opponent in the Republican primary and there was no one involved in the Democratic primary, so I ran unopposed and the primaries and now will run unopposed in the general election coming up in November, so yeah the odds are with us this time, we’re going to win this election, the odds are better than ever.

Jason: Yeah.

DeWayne: That we're going to actually win this one, so you know if nothing crazy or catastrophic happens whatever, Lord willing I'll be there in January to start my third term.

Jason: So that an element of being a representative as you sit on committees, now I just realized this-- your committees’ kind of change as you go into next year potentially? (20:15)

DeWayne: Yes sir, they will, so the last-- my last-- my first two terms I served on the same committees, I served on a house Natural Resources, I was the only freshman on that committee.

Jason: Right.

DeWayne: Yeah, which is kind of a big deal, and deals with all of the water issues, groundwater, surface water issues in the state, and then also served on Homeland Security and Public Safety which of course has responsibility for law enforcement, or anything that has to do with guns, any law that has to do with guns also, you know protecting our borders and those issues.

So yeah, it's been a-- and then this last session I was also appointed to the Rules Committee-

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: - and rules and resolutions committee, but next session that could all change, we're going to have a new speaker, don't know who that's going to be, nobody does, if they tell you they do they don't know, and so all of that could change but, you know I'm going to work hard wherever I'm at and do my best to represent my people that's for sure.

Jason: Okay, so then for Johnson and Bosque County I mean you're on these committees, what are some of the biggest issues that have come up you know in our district, and maybe what do you see as big issues coming up with the future, from the things you kind of deal with on hand, when you're in session? (21:31)

DeWayne: You know, there are so many issues-

Jason: Yeah.

DeWayne: - Jason it's so hard and-

Jason: You didn't bring your list?

DeWayne: I know I wouldn't-- it couldn't fit

Jason: Yeah, but you know, and I hear about all of them.

DeWayne: And I hear about them all often, and I like that, I need to, that helps me do my job but you know, some of the issues that I focused on have been like our pastor Protection Act, that was an important thing I think we did, protecting our closely held religious beliefs, protecting our pastors from their sermons becoming a-- subpoenaed-

Jason: Yeah.

DeWayne: - for example, that was a big deal but, I would say on a broader scale though, we've got some issues when it comes to budget that's always the big issue, is where we going to spend our money and how much money we're going to have and what are we going to do to stop the growth of state government and to return some of that money if we can to the taxpayers.

Jason: Right.

DeWayne: I think beyond that, some of the specific issues that I get-- that folks talked to me about all the time are you know teacher retirement and teacher pay and how are we going to do that-- how we're going to fund schools, probably taxes the best way to do that, I'm not convinced that it is, but what are the alternatives, like I said eminent domain authority and private property rights are a huge deal, I was honored to carry the comprehensive eminent domain reform bill last session, we weren't able to get across the finish line, but it was a an effort to really improve the position of landowners when they're being faced with condemnation proceedings.

Jason: Right.

DeWayne: So, I think-- I look to that to be a big issue again, another deal is unfunded mandates, I don't believe that it's right for the state to continue to pass cost to our counties in our cities which then in turn raises your property taxes, if we're going to-- if we think that something is worth funding and worth doing at the state level, I think we ought to fund it and do it from the state level, I don't think we ought to just pass that through and then let the local taxpayers pay to pay for it through property taxes, so those will be some of the issues that I-- that I'll continue to work on and we'll have specific issues like you know, things that help our community and that are specific to our committee, for example the highway we just drove on was the deputy Clifton Taylor Highway-- Memorial Highway and I was honored to carry that bill with Senator Burn last session to designate that portion of I-35 the deputy Clifton Taylor Memorial Highway in honor of his service and so you know there's issues all over the map-

Jason: Yeah,

DeWayne: - and we just-- when we don't-- when we're not sure or where we are-- when we have questions we go back to the folks here, because there's folks here that know and I think that's the important thing.

Jason: No, that's great, that's great, so one thing I-- you know we've just got a few minutes left, but there's a lot of cool things happening in the district too, you know every time I-- how unique everything is you know, there's so many rural pockets that have their own kind of community and personality, but just before we met you were talking about a neat business that's in between Burleson and Cleburne.

DeWayne: Yeah.

Jason: Can you talk-- I mean that's interesting, can you talk about that and maybe elaborate on businesses like that kind of what you do on a daily basis, what you said you didn't even know this was here you know but, you are kind of learning more about these businesses. (25:03)

DeWayne: Sure man, that's a huge part of you know, where I see my role is making sure that governments out of the way so that we can have economic development and economic growth and folks will move to our area and want to continue to move to our area, and one of the great things I've seen is because of our proximity to the Metroplex but also because we have great towns and cities to live and work, that we have more industrial and corporate partners moving in, one of those that I was telling you about is US poly Co and when I met their president today and they showed me around and their facility that is using state-of-the-art technology to make the ingredients that go into high-impact shingles, but they make them better, and they've copyrighted some polymers and they've patented some processes but, in doing so they also came up with a process by which they're going to use and they do use recycled tires in the making of asphalt for pavement, and it has shown to be stronger, and it's got increased-- almost double the longevity of current methods and current polymers, and they're really excited about that, their facility is going to be growing and they've already got more orders to fulfill the making, fill and demand for them to come and produce in different parts of the world, and not only just in Texas but in-- across the United States and in-- and across the ocean and to have that kind of technology and development in and incorporation here in Johnson County I think is excellent, it's awesome, you know for the jobs, for everything that comes along with it, and you know we've got F wave right here in Burleson just up the road that's doing great things with solar technology and shingles and high impact shingles as well and made out of recycled pellets and different things that technology, yeah that

Jason: [laughs]

DeWayne: - I don't even-- you know I don't know the process but I know it's good, and they're filling orders too left and right and can't meet their demand and it's incredible what's going on, I'm just-- I'm glad that other parts of the state in the country are seeing what we've always known, this is a great place to live and work.

Jason: Right, yeah.

DeWayne: Because it's not-- that's not just one story like you said there's-- did you go down 35 with the Industrial Park, I mean there's businesses plopping out right and left over there. (27:39)

Jason: That's correct.

DeWayne: In fact, the F wave, the company I was just talking about, that's really a shingle company but we'll wind up being a solarforce, you know, in a solar industry before it's all said and done as we move forward they're going to be right here in the industrial park, and you right, the industrial parks filling up here and in Cleburne and all over, and a lot of great things going on in our area.

Jason: So, for those that are watching that maybe, you know have concerns or issues and they want to get their voice heard, how would they get a hold of your office and you know especially if they're a resident of Johnson or Bosque County to voice those concerns to maybe see if there's anything that can be done? (28:13)

DeWayne: Sure, well, for the most part anybody can see us on the web, we have a website, it's burntforTexas.com.

Jason: Okay.

DeWayne: And you can go there and that'll give you access to our Facebook page and what's going on in the district and news and events and then has contact information there as well, but you can always call our capital office and of course that number is 512-463-0538, we've got staff in Austin, we also have staff in the district that answered those phones and-- but anyway it but-- I'm also just as accessible, if you see me out somewhere and need to talk about something, well say something! Yeah, that's part of the job, that's part of the earnest, honestly what happens you know, I shared my cell phone with everyone, I put it on the-- on our mailers and you know, I'm just a guy here just like everybody else.

Jason: Yeah.

DeWayne: And I want to be approachable, and i want people feel like they can talk to me about their issues and if we can help them or if something needs to change we'll get on it.

Jason: Perfect, okay, we'll link everything in the description below, so that way you guys can see that number, the website and also a link probably to your state rep website-

DeWayne: Okay.

Jason: - through the capital, so thank you for joining us today.

DeWayne: Yeah.

Jason: Representative, and we'll look forward to maybe next time we talk.

DeWayne: Yeah man, I appreciate it, thank you very much.

Jason: Thank you!

Episode #013 - Granbury Mayor Nin Hulett joins us for our third Community Highlight Episode!

Episode #013 - Granbury Mayor Nin Hulett joins us for our third Community Highlight Episode! Just Southwest of the DFW Metroplex lies a small city with a big personality. Join us as we get to know Mayor Hulett and the city “Where Texas History Lives”. (https://youtu.be/G_4JZRZtupw)

Mayor Hulett’s Bio: Growing up on a farm in Bethany, Missouri, Nin learned about hard work and responsibility. When Nin finished high school, he joined the U.S. Army paratroopers so he could afford an education through the G.I. bill. After the Army, Nin graduated with a BA in Business from Park College in Missouri after which he led a successful career in General Motors. After expressing concern for some of the city operations his peers challenged him to run for City Council. Now Nin is two years into his first term as mayor and working hard to make Granbury a greater community!

Links from this episode


Episode #013 - REN Podcast Transcription - Nin Hulett

Jason: All right, good afternoon everybody this is Jason Reynolds with the real estate now podcast and I am excited today to have mayor of Granbury Nin Hulett today with us, how are you sir?

Nin: Yes, actually I'm doing well, how you doing?

Jason: I'm doing great, so mayor Hulett has been the mayor for seven years now, got one more year left coming up in the term, and so we're just excited to have him on we're going to talk a little bit-- get to know him a little bit through just asking some questions and then I really want to talk about Granbury and just you know learn more about it and also the growth that we're seeing here, so to start off how long have you lived in in town? (0:47)

Nin: Actually Jason I came to Granbury like everybody to enjoy the lake and I worked for General Motors Corporation and I spent two times twice I was transferred to Texas and my second time around I looked for a lake community because I like boating and this and that and everybody said go to Granbury Texas, and so I moved to Granbury Texan in a 1999-

Jason: Ok.

Nin: - built a house here and was still working for GM and I commuted back and forth which was-- I also had a place up in the Metroplex there in Arlington that I'd stay when I was doing project work or flying out of town and this and that but, I landed in Granbury and actually knew nothing about Granbury and the fact that it had a lake, a body of water here that I could put my boat in and that's exactly what I did for many years, so, I come to Granbury in last part of 1999 first part 2000.

Jason: Okay, so then I did a little bit of research, and there's a really cool article in one of the Matt local magazines that kind of goes through your history, so you're from Missouri is that right? (1:52)

Nin: I grew up in Northern Missouri as a child and then we moved to-- my parents were farmers and-

Jason: Okay.

Nin: - and farming you know wasn't one at all-

Jason: That it’s cracked up to be.

Nin: Cracked up to be and so they had an opportunity to move to the Metroplex, I call it the Metroplex Independence Missouri home of Harry S Truman-

Jason: Okay.

Nin: And they did-- they ventured into factory work-

Jason: Okay.

Nin: - and kept the farm co-opted you know, and share co-opted and kept most of the farm going also, so we still had that going on-

Jason: Okay.

Nin: - but my lad-- my senior years, my high school years, I spent up in the-- what I call the Metroplex and graduated from a high school there in Independence Missouri which was a little bigger than where I was from up in northern Missouri which was a small community similar to Granbury, it was the county seat but it was a farming community and that was it basically.

Jason: Okay, I also saw in there that your family had a knack-- had a musical inclination is that correct? (2:55)

Nin: Yeah we-- when we sat around and had family reunions we didn't talk much but when we drag out the guitars and the pianos and all that, then we started communicating so we-- and I still continue to do that around Granbury actually, I played a-- it's good that I can just-- when I'm downtown or I'm around and I walk in somebody's playing music they would say hey Nin, come and sit in or hey give me-

Jason: Or start playing

Nin: - a bathroom break so I can sit in so, I will end up playing with most of them out here because I have done it all my life and probably something I enjoy doing but it was one of those things that you couldn't-- I couldn't make a career of it because everybody's-- there's always somebody better than you so-

Jason: Yeah.

Nin: - but I enjoy—yes, my whole family we played the instruments and sang and did all that, my dad would enter us in the hometown fairs, and we won a few of those and everything so it-- i grew up doing that.

Jason: Wow! Okay, so then what was the transition between you graduating and then eventually working for GM, how did that kind of line? (4:01)

Nin: Well, like I said, we went to the Metroplex there and I graduated high school, my sister was already going to college and I could tell my parents were kind of struggling with that and I wanted to continue my education and go to college but-

Jason: Okay.

Nin: I joined the Ma-- I joined the army, I joined the army, went in the army, served three and a half years in the army, and when I got back out of the service, I wanted to continue my education there and Uncle Sam was going to be paying for it naturally.

Jason: Very good.

Nin: And as I was doing that I was looking for work and I landed-- I was actually playing music on a country western show up in the Metroplex there in Kansas City.

Jason: Okay.

Nin: And one of the guys I was working with ran the show and I was going to have to quit the show because I was going to take on another job and continue to get my education too, and I mentioned that I had applied at General Motors and this, and he said was General Motors hiring? And I said yeah, they were but they were a big long line of people and he said well could you continue to play music for me if you worked for GM, and I said probably so, because it was like a day shift thing, you know.

Jason: Yeah.

Nin: And he said let me make a phone call, I was the chief engineer at the plant [laugh] I said Wow, so sure enough I got a call the next day to come in and fill out another application, I don't know what happened to my original one but fill out another application and they had hired all the assembly line workers but he said I see that you're going to school would you consider being a co-op student for GM, and that's what does that do, and they said well, a co-op student we will sponsor you, we'll send you to school, we'll pay for your schooling and we'll also pay you to work here at the plant-

Jason: Wow.

Nin: and so at that time I was working in labor relations so I was going to be working with different managers and going to school too so I always tell people that was my two scholarships, was GM as a co-op student and Uncle Sam was also-

Jason: The other GI bill right.

Nin: - The GI bill, so I said you know absolutely I'll do that and so that's what I did and the rest was history, I started traveling around with GM and so one of the things that brought me to Granbury too.

Jason: Okay, great, so then you're married correct? (6:20)

Nin: Yes.

Jason: How long have you been married?

Nin: My wife and I we've been married now for eight years and I have two kids on my side, she has two kids on her side and between us we have five grandkids-

Jason: Wow!

Nin: And they're stretched all the way from Odessa to League City-

Jason: Okay.

Nin: - the city, let me give a shout-out to my grandkids-

Jason: All right!

Nin: - yeah Bryson and Jimmy and Taylor and Brooke and Jenna-

Jason: I love that.

Nin: - Say hi to all of he's out there.

Jason: That's great, that's great, so you know I read in that in that article, did you try and woo your wife with the song but you didn't know-- you made up lyrics?

Nin: Yes, that was-- and they still talk about that year, but I made up some-

Jason: You pretended to know the— (7:08)

Nin: - I pretended to sing it in Spanish and I made up the Spanish words which went okay up in Missouri, because people thought I was speaking but I wasn't you know actually and so when I tried it here, I was criticized severely and said you are not speaking in Spanish.

Jason: She caught you.

Nin: She said don't ever do that again, you're in Texas now-

Jason: You can’t fake it.

Nin: - you can’t fake it, so i have-- i don't try that song anymore.

Jason: [laughs] So you know, now you're the mayor, what led you to want to be mayor, you know what was the chain of events, because this was your kind of getaway community for a while and I assume you retired here? (7:38)

Nin: And I went through actually my wife and I and you know a lot of people hold a divorce but we separated the-- my previous wife and she continued to work in the corporate world I want to stay right here in Granbury and there's a kind of a mutual agreement and I was-- I was around town here and still working and getting ready to retire actually and sitting around with some folks and they got to talking about the different things going on in this community, now you know I mentioned to you earlier when I moved to Granbury all I thought about was the lake and here again I had-- I don't even know that I'd been downtown yet.

Jason: Okay.

Nin: And so I'm sitting around with some folks at the golf course that I live on now, and they've talked about these different things and I said-- why don't-- sounds like some of you guys ought to be one of these council members you're talking about that could make a difference, and you know you need to serve and be one of those and they said well, why don't you do that Nil you're fixing to be retired and you know, you got the time to do that, and I said well is there an opening, they said no you'd have to run against someone. I said I don't want to out somebody or run against somebody, if there's an opening yeah.

A couple weeks later they come to me and said you're in luck, one of the council members is not going to run this next term and there's an opening, now are you going to run? and I said well I'll tell you what, if you all get out and support me, I'll get out there and run.

Jason: Okay.

Nin: So I did that and it was basically to serve the community because that's what it was all about and as I listened to them and I said you know, I can serve as a council member and have a have a voice-

Jason: Yeah.

Nin: - and I'll have a voice for these folks.

Jason: Yeah.

Nin: And so I did that and I won the election, and the following year they made me the mayor pro-tem, now here again I thought well you know, I have look, the mayor pro-tem doesn't do anything, than take over when the mayor's not here, and the mayor's here every day, you know he is here all the time, so that’s no big deal, well a month after I've got selected as the mayor pro-tem the mayor that was currently serving had some healthy-- he had a severe stroke and-

Jason: Okay.

Nin: - and was not able to serve out and so the next thing I know they're calling me City Hall, says you need to come up here and put your name on all the documents because you're going to be signing these for a while until what time he either comes back or we have a special election.

Jason: Right

Nin: Well he never did come back and—matter of fact I go talk to him on occasions, he lives in Dublin but he was never able to fully recover and come back how to do that job as mayor, and his term was up and so I've been serving on as a mayor on training as you might have said for one whole year, and so they asked me to go ahead and run for the mayor job.

So I had to give up my seat as a council member.

Jason: Okay.

Nin: And I ran for the mayor that year and was selected as merit for the community so, it's kind of how the chain of the events happened and then since then I've really gotten involved in it and really understand what the importance is of serving your community basically, and being able to be the person to take this town, to take these things, these issues that the communities have and to do something with them.

Jason: I think that's great, so then, when I've done my research you know the last census in 2010 the population of Granbury was around 10,000, you've got updated number so if we have a new one in a few years what is the population of Granbury roughly now would you say? (11:00)

Nin: I would have to say-- and you know a lot of people say it's-- you know, even when you brought-- driving to town I think it's what 97, 79 something like that, so it's, I'm sorry 79, 79 it's something somewhere in the range of 10,000 from the last census, now the last census was closer to 8,000 in my State.

Jason: Okay.

Nin: So I would say that we are above-- I've sat down with the county judge and we've talked about this a lot I would say that we're going to reach over the 10,000 mark okay and that's a growth of over a thousand people and you know just that short five year or two-year period of time.

Jason: Yeah, and are you seeing a larger influx, you know because here we are we're driving on 377, before we're going into town and there's just tons of development, so when businesses are coming in they're doing their research, is that-- are we seeing an upswing now and in people coming into Granbury? (11:55)

Nin: There's definitely an upswing in the residential,

Jason: Okay.

Nin: And there's-- if we do it way on up the road here there's a huge one going on up there, there's-- we've got probably five big developments going on right now.

Jason: Okay.

Nin: And of course as you well know that takes-- that takes a lot of infrastructure, that takes roads, that takes water-

Jason: Right.

Nin: - that takes you know, the different things that they need to make it a quality of life here in Granbury, and so we want to make sure we have that form, especially the water and we've taken that challenge on, but yes I do see a large increase even in the area that I live at there's a-- it's taken under-- taking on a lot of construction out there and there's a lot of new homes being built, and as I talk to builders around town most of these homes are sold homes, so people are coming to Granbury to live.

Jason: Yeah.

Nin: And before it used to be considered a tourist community and it still is, it's-- that's one of the biggest industries probably here in Granbury is to tourism,

Jason: Okay.

Nin: But people are coming here the first time to visit Granbury, the second time to live Granbury.

Jason: Okay.

Nin: Because they just-- they fall in love with that quick as I did.

Jason: Yeah, yeah, so then in terms of what's driving the economy are there certain-- what are the largest employers in town that you would say in Granbury and in some of the bigger businesses? (13:25)

Nin: Some of our bigger businesses in Granbury and a lot of communities have these but our school is a bigger opening employer, we have a hospital that's is growing, and it's a-- it's a large employer, we have a the HEB outside of town, HBN, Kroger both are big employers here in Granbury, Granbury itself, the city Granbury employs a lot of employees, and Hood County, the county does, and then we have the United co-op which-- the United co-op supplies the electricity for probably over half

Jason: Okay.

Nin: Granbury also has their own Electric Company and we supply within the city limits a certain amount of electricity for the community also, so we have that ourselves, so those are some big employers that here in Granbury that are pretty major, and then we have our big box stores, Home Depot, Lowe's, Walmart, all Mart's big, they're probably big employer also here in Granbury.

Jason: Yeah, one thing I noticed recently too, is there a new gas power plant that came in a couple years ago? (14:38)

Nin: Yeah, that's a wolf hollow, they built two new ones out there, I'll connect in the county they're actually, but they have-- Exelon has increased that out there, and there's two big one, that was a big project, that was a major project out there and the county worked with them really well to get them-- to help them out there with some incentives and stuff so it's a big one.

Jason: Okay, so then I know how has Granbury changed, you know there was a period of time, was that about three years ago that the lake was really low? (15:14)

Nin: We went now about three years without it being low, and you know I guess I was-- I want to say I'm fortunate to experience that.

Jason: Yeah.

Nin: Because you always want to-- you always wonder what would happen if something significant like that would happen and it happened on my watch you might say, but—

Jason: Why'd you empty the lake?

Nin: Yeah, and I got accused of that.

Jason: Really?

Nin: No, but there were several things that went into that and you know, but the thing that was really positive about it, the community came together and to continue to do the things they needed to do, and actually our sales tax number did not decrease hardly at all during that time.

Jason: Really?

Nin: And that I credit the community coming together and knowing that they didn't have that Lake to lean on but they also-- they continued to do extra things with the community as far as events and things like that, that they could do with the downtown area in the outskirts of Granbury and not have the lake to rely on.

Jason: Yeah.

Nin: The lakes back, and I think that's a big driver of people coming to Granbury, but you know there's so many different lakes around as I know, around Texas that if you live close to one you're probably going to put your boat in the closest one, so we're trying to make some unique things with our lake that would draw people that do like to go to lakes to Granbury-

Jason: To this lake.

Nin: - to this lake, and so you-- and I think you have to do that to get the people to come to a certain light, because like I said if you're just going to get in the water and float your boat-

Jason: It doesn’t matter.

Nin: You going to go to the closest one, you know so.

Jason: So what are those things that you guys are working on to make it more appealing? (17:06)

Nin: Well we're working on more restaurants.

Jason: Okay.

Nin: On our lake where people can come and have what they call poker runs and different things like that, we're actually working on our conference center one of the things that I'm supporting is that we have a really beautiful conference center and if you went by it or not, but the conference center is right on the water and a lot of people at the Metroplex they have their meetings conventions and whatnot there because it's a great place to have a meet, and it's a great view of the lake, but we-- it's right on the water and we want to put some additional docks there to where we can have more like boat shows and things like that, small ones have the fishing terms and have things that are involved in the lake there and have some vendors that can set up on our docks, there on our balcony you might say out there of our conference center.

Jason: Okay.

Nin: And so we're working on that and we're actually working to encourage other businesses on the water you know, like the restaurants and things like that, and there is still some property that's available to do that kind of stuff so, there again that takes a lot of time but those-- a lot of the folks say they choose to build their homes on the lake and that's good too because those are really-- those homes are pretty expensive homes, but you went on a main body or canals and this lake has a lot of canals on it, but we do encourage-- you know we do want to make sure that we don't lose fact that we need to do some things that would draw people to Granbury too, and we’ve started to get them, we have a new restaurant just up here, it's called right across the bridge here, and they just opened this year and it's really a nice restaurant and they have live music in it and they rent boats, they rent kayaks, they rent different water works-

Jason: Oh wow! okay.

Nin:  and things like that, and so you know you'd think that would be odd-- just a give me for the lakes, but you got to find those people that are willing to-

Jason: It takes a bit of effort.

Nin: - bring out some money to do that.

Jason: Yeah, right, do you know off the top of your head how many folks that live in Granbury, work and live here, versus live and then commute to the Metroplex? (19:14)

Nin: You know I don't know the exact number, but I will say that there's a-- there's still a large percentage because if you get on the road early in the morning, and I'm one of them I commuted back and forth for general motors that plan up here for probably five years and I have seen all these people, I've seen people-- my neighbors, I've seen people driving to work every day and then coming back home, and so I would say-- and to put a percentage on it, I-- you know, I hope it's not over fifty percent and I say it's below that, but there's still a lot of them that are leaving, because here again you know I mentioned our tourism is a big industry here, we don't have big-- we don't have any big factories but we have some industry here but let's face it they don't pay the wages that they pay up in the Metroplex, and when you've got big places like General Motors, that you'll never compete with that one because it's huge and they pay a big-- nice big wage, but we're working to get something that fits Granbury and we've had the leads on several factories and we've even had an opportunity to look at what their pay scales were, and the pay scales were above what maybe the average is here in Granbury

Jason: Okay.

Nin: And so we were hoping to get some of those and some reasons you know some of them they didn't fit Granbury totally, you know as you know, you rely on the governor's office to give you some of those feelers or-- and you do some of your own with your own EDC and try to capture some of those, and try to entice them to come to your community and stuff, but we want them to be a community based company, we want them to be a part of the community-

Jason: Yeah invest in the area.

Nin: - and I think we’ll get that.

Jason: Yeah, okay, we are the thing is too for people that live here, you can live and work in Granbury and have everything you need, you guys have all the major stores, you have all the major amenities, and so that's a great thing.

Nin: And that's what I tell people when they talk about our sales tax was, well how is your sales tax keep growing? I said well we far enough from the metro place that people don't want to drive to Fort Worth to buy a refrigerator.

Jason: Right.

Nin: And if we have we have that here so you're right, we have accommodated all the different needs, I mean all the way to building homes, we have all-- we have lumber yards, we have Home Depot, we have lows, we have the Walmart's, we have the furniture stores, we have all those things that people need for-- to start their home

Jason: Yeah.

Nin: And so we're getting that sales tax right here, and then naturally we have the restaurants, and the retail, and we have the stores that people want to do, so if they go to the Metroplex it's just because they want to venture out or they're there and they want to you know, just have a change-

Jason: Just go out.

Nin: Yeah, exactly.

Jason: So then you know, I'm not sure if you plan on running again, but you know so I'm sure you'll decide at some point-

Nin: Just a shout out to my wife right now.

Jason: Yeah, but just based on you know, you and the City Council now where do you see Granbury, kind of what's the vision for Granbury over the next 5-10 years, whether you're a mayor or somebody else takes over where's the kind of the overall vision going? (22:31)

Nin: Well that's always a tough one and I get asked that question a lot you know, what's the toughest part about being the mayor, and one of the toughest parts about being the mayor of Granbury is that exact thing is getting that vision out and getting the buy-in not only by the council but the community have a vision that is a little further out than two years.

Jason: Yeah.

Nin: Because people are in a be like this they're okay with what's happening.

Jason: Yeah, yeah.

Nin: And they're saying hey, just let's, just slow down but you can't slow down, you have to continue to try to do the things that you want for 20 years out.

Jason: Right.

Nin: And some of our big vision every things is, for instance our Airport, there's lots of folks said what do we need to expand our Airport, you know I don't fly, there's that you know, our airport’s okay. We have already done some research and we're fixing to expand our Airport now and this has been going on for 15 years, but we already know that we can attract corporates, we can attract new businesses, we can attract a lot of things with the expansion of our Airport. So that's a vision right there that we're working on presently and to get these businesses to come to Granbury and we've already got the grant through the Texas aviation and we've got right away to work, we should be turning dirt next year on this expansion and it's going to be great, it's going to be a nice Airport and we've already got people that want to start their businesses out there, they want to-- and these are, these are businesses that have a lot of money, you know because they're into the aviation part, so that that in itself is a vision that I think our Airport is going to expand, we're going to have-- you’re going to see a lot more of that type of business, and that type of people in town, and also you know our water needs we just built a new reverse osmosis water plant-

Jason: Okay.

Nin: - it has probably five phases to it we just opened-- we just started it up phase one, and we're already into Phase two now, and putting the infrastructure in because we want-- we’re trying to provide water for additional customers and to reach out to where we can have these developments come in I mean, I don't want to be turning developments down because I can't provide them with water-

Jason: The infrastructure.

Nin: Right, right, and so we've got that, and now we're looking to naturally what goes in must come out, we've got to get us a new-- a wastewater treatment plant, and ours is up to 65 60 percent and with the TCQ, they say you know you should be at this phase right now, you should be looking at land, you should have your engineers’ studies, we're at that-

Jason: Just so you’re prepared.

Nin: And so that we can get it-- well you actually get penalized, you get fined, if you're not doing them-

Jason: Those necessary preparations.

Nin: Exactly, so we're doing that right now and we've got-- we're ahead of the game there so we're working to get a much better and bigger, and put one on this side of the lake also as a wastewater treatment plant, so, and I want to continue to do all those to where we can get those industries, those factories here and to continue to have the quality of life that the people in Granbury you know are that want.

Jason: Right.

Nin: You know, and we're-- one of the other things it's sometimes small but it's big to the community, is what we're doing with our parks and our bikes to hike trails and things like that, and we are continuing to improve those and we have a master plan that's out there over five years now that this is what it's going to look like-

Jason: Okay.

Nin: - and so we want to continue to do that also.

Jason: Yeah, just as we’re driving around the square right now, this was redeveloped within the last couple of years- (26:34)

Nin: We just finished it last year and that was a-- this was a long-term vision they started it with some prior Council and stop doing it for what reasons I don't know, and so the council took this back on and basically finished it, we put the new sidewalks, we put the new streets, and it was twofold though, and as we were doing this and we've got- we got some money granted us to do this but, when we did it we were actually able to replace old 75 year old infrastructure that was-- that was going to need to be replaced anyway and wouldn't have got grant money because it wouldn't have fall in the same category as beautification and-

Jason: Okay.

Nin: - and that kind of stuff, so we were able to tear up the old streets, and we did it in phases where it didn't impact the merchants so much and they worked really well with us and the construction people did too, but we were able to do that and put in the new infrastructure that was needed here-

Jason: For downtown.

Nin: - for future growth also and for the downtown areas so.

Jason: Are there any other big projects that are kind of in the works now besides what you've already talked about? (27:46)

Nin: Well, those are some of my major ones right there, we do have-- like I said we've got some big developments that are not only home developments at developments for future homes, but they're also going to have some retail and stuff like that you know with some of the missing hotels, we got some plans to put some developers in there that have the hotel - retail shops and stuff like that in them, and those would be big, we're expanding, they’re expanding the hospital, again we're going to add to that, and the school went through a 86 million dollar renovation just last year, two years ago and there pretty much completed on that, we also have some Weatherford colleges here, and get Weatherford College wants to expand into Granbury also a bigger here, and colleges-- in a college in a community is almost like having a factory.

Jason: Yeah.

Nin: It draws a lot of folks here, it brings in the right people and stuff and so we're excited about that, and we work hand-in-hand with Tarleton now Stephenville, we actually have some facilities here that they have donated to the city over there, we operate them as arts and culture things like that. Granbury is big on arts and stuff around you know in this community here, so you have a-- it’s pretty burst you know you have that, and you have when you go downtown you have the Granbury Opera House that we sent over three million dollars on about four or five years ago and it's just phenomenal people come to it and they just think it's great you know, I'm just-- you know I was on the council then and actually I was a mayor pro-tem acting as a mayor then and I was I was concerned about the price tag on this thing.

Jason: Yeah.

Nin: But it has paid off and it's doing a great job for the community and people love to utilize that to opera house here in grand area so.

Jason: That's great, that's great well guys we just wrapped up our run and as you can tell there's tons of great things happening in Granbury, lots of development, lots of growth a great area to come to, so if you haven't been, come check it out and it's a great place to just spend a weekend or maybe just it's only a 40-minute Drive roughly from the Metroplex, but we would really like to give a huge thanks to mayor Hulett for joining us today.

Nin: Thank you.

Jason: In taking the time out and we just wish you all the best.

Nin: And I would like to give a shout out and once more to my lovely wife, it's her birthday today and she said really you're going to go ride around with this guy-

Jason: - with this guy

Nin: But I took one for the team here, but it's her birthday and so happy birthday baby.

Jason: Awesome, perfect, thank you sir.

Nin: You bet.

Jason: Alright.


Episode #012 - How does insurance work for investors? In this episode we visit with Michelle Pepper. Michelle has extensive experience in the field of insurance.

Episode #012 - How does insurance work for investors? In this episode we visit with Michelle Pepper. Michelle has extensive experience in the field of insurance and she is highly qualified to discuss that question and many more. Join us as we get an insider’s opinion for this specific aspect of the insurance world. (https://youtu.be/woag6sCnItg)

Michelle’s Bio: Michelle has years of experience with both State Farm and Davis Dyer Max, and she is adept at serving her clients whether locally or across the country. As an advisor to her clients, she helps them achieve a well-rounded plan to protect their assets and manage their risk. She works with businesses and individuals to prepare a customized risk management plan including insurance coverages, loss control recommendations, and risk tolerance assessments.

Links from this episode
Davis Dyer Max: http://www.davis-dyer-max.com/

Michelle’s contact
Phone: 972-202-3947
Email: Michelle.Pepper@davis-dyer-max.com


Episode #012 - REN Podcast Transcription - Michelle Pepper

Jason: Good afternoon everybody. This is Jason Reynolds with the ‘Real Estate Now’ podcast. Today, I am excited because I have Michelle Pepper with Davis Dyer Max insurance. How are you doing Michelle?

Michelle: I am good.

Jason: Good, awesome. Michelle has been working for all my clients in the past that are specifically investors and she has done a great job. So, I wanted to bring Michelle on and we are going to get to know her a little bit and we are also going to talk about specifically insurance for investors and some topics in that arena. But first, I did a little research but there is not much about you online, so I guess that is a good thing. There are only two things; you were with ‘State Farm insurance for a little over 29 years.

Michelle: Yes.

Jason: And then, you have been with Davis Dyer Max for 10 years.

Michelle: That is correct.

Jason: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Do you live in the area? How long have you been in the area? Are you married? Do you have kids?

Michelle: I grew up here in Garland and I am married. We just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and we have one daughter. 

Jason: Awesome. All the family lives in the area then.

Michelle: We do.

Jason: When you were with ‘State Farm’, was it in the area as well? Was it in Garland?

Michelle: Yes, it is actually in the same building. We did not move far.

Jason: Then you jumped over to ‘Davis Dyer Max’.

Michelle: Yes.  

Jason: What is the difference between ‘State Farm’ and ‘Davis Dyer Max’? What would you say is the difference between them? (1:39)

Michelle: ‘State Farm’ is a direct writer and ‘Davis Dyer Max’ is an independent agent. The difference between them; ‘State Farm’, you work for ‘State Farm’. ‘Davis Dyer Max’ we have the ability to go out and shop the market.

Jason: So you are quoting multiple types of companies.

Michelle: Yes.

Jason: Okay, that makes sense. Jumping into the topic itself, you deal a lot with investor properties.

Michelle: Yes.

Jason: Is that the majority of your portfolio?

Michelle: Yes it is.

Jason: So what is the difference when you are looking at policies? What is the difference between a rental dwelling policy versus an owner-occupant type policy. What are some of the main things that are different? (2:15)

Michelle: Probably the largest is; you don’t typically have contents on this investment type properties. It will help with the pricing number one but, if they are going to have a deductible in there cost wise, it is not to me cost effective. I just tell them, “I will probably do without it. You are going to have a deductible involved”. That is probably your main difference; you if course got the structure coverage, you got the liability. We write all of our placement cost type policies and you kind of pick and choose deductibles and everything. But as far as the coverage type, they are pretty similar.

Jason: When you are looking at deductibles, I know for personal homes it can vary. What is the highest deductibles a person can have versus the lowest and what you maybe see on a typical policy in range? (3:23)

Michelle: Right, there are usually two deductibles. The first one is for ‘wind and hail’ and it is usually in percentages and it is 1-5% and that would be the percentage of the dwelling structure limit is.  Then you would have the ‘All other Peril’, which would be in any other type of claim except wind and hail. Which would be fire, lightning.   

Jason: Tornado.

Michelle: Tornado would be under the ‘wind and hail’. That would be wind.

Jason: Okay.
Michelle: Water damage and things like that. Those deductible start at 1,500 and go up to 5,000.

Jason: Okay. If somebody decided to get a 5% deductibles on similar premiums can be pretty low because they would be taking a lot of risks if something happened? (4:20)

Michelle: Certainly right.

Jason: Versus the 1% deductible you are going to be paying for a much higher premium.

Michelle: Right.

Jason: On average, what do you see a lot of your clients doing? Do they pick the middle road or does it always depend on what their…

Michelle: It is all about your comfort level.

Jason: Right.

Michelle: In this day and age, I see more of the investors wanting higher deductibles.

Jason: Okay.

Michelle: But it is all about if you are comfortable and probably whether you have 5 properties or 10 properties, that might make a difference also. But I have a lot of investors that have gone with the higher deductibles to help save the premium. 

Jason: They are almost self-insuring in some ways to cover that. (5:14)

Michelle: Yeah, you want to make sure that you got the coverage for catastrophic. I tell people, “It is not always wise to turn in the smaller claims because those are strikes against you”. I think it is better to save it for the larger loss.  

Jason: Okay, that makes sense. You mentioned some seconds ago about actual cash replacement; actual cash value versus replacement cost.

Michelle: Right

Jason: When I have done research before, it is very important to figure out what policy is on that because it can make a difference when you file a claim.

Michelle: It certainly can.

Jason: Do you do different policies for different options or do you… (5:51)

Michelle: I really stay away from the ones that are actually cash value. If there can be coverage, I want there to be coverage there when you do have a claim. Replacement cost is much different than the actual cash value policy especially if it is an older home. It is very important to have the replacement cost coverage on there.

Jason: Okay, if they were to call you to get a quote on insurance, are you always going to be quoting them for policies that have the replacement cost?

Michelle: Yes.

Jason: Okay. Even if they are contacting anybody else, it is important to ask that question.

Michelle: Yes, it is because there are a lot of policies. I deal with many investors and there are a lot of different policies out there.

Jason: Okay, got you. That makes sense. When you are talking about policies, this is a big area because you cover pretty much the whole Metroplex and I have seen you go even out of the Metroplex. (6:45)

Michelle: I do, I go all over the United States.

Jason: Okay, what areas do you cover?

Michelle: When I came here into the agency, they had never had so many licenses that they had to get for all these different states.

Jason: Chances are you cover it.

Michelle: One coast to the other and if we don’t have our license and we can get it, we will get licensed for that state.

Jason: Okay, if you are looking say, in this area, when you are looking at premiums. Do you see a difference in terms of older properties versus newer properties? (7:20)

Michelle: Definitely. The newer properties, you are going to receive a better wright on, same with the roofs. If you have an updated roof, you are going to see credit given to that quote. Even if you are issued a policy the next day, they would even get credit for one day out and when it needs to be effective. Lots of different types of credit that you can develop on these quotes and we try to ask all the questions to be able to get you the best pricing out there.

Jason: You mentioned having a newer roof can help. It is more of a shot at the dark based on areas like in the Metroplex or those it change on a yearly basis? (8:12)

Michelle: It’s changing all the time.

Jason: Okay.

Michelle: I do so much of the quoting and I can typically tell you and if an area changes, I can tell you that. Within a month or two, we will start seeing the change and it’s like, Oh! This is a really good wright for this carrier or with another carrier. They really have good wrights so it changes.

Jason: Does that change because say, a year ago, a storm blew through certain areas and there are claims. So that they are changing based on a region.

Michelle: Yes, all by storm, the county, zip code, a lot of that.

Jason: Jumping into that, there is a question that you and I have a gotten a ton from out of state investors. Are there certain areas to avoid for hailstorms or tornados? What is your response on that? (9:10)

Michelle: If you live in the North Texas area, you will. It is not if, it’s when. We just have hail and we just need to be prepared for it. The newer risks that we are seeing put on the house anymore seem to be holding up better because the new material is just a better quality. Some of these people are putting the UL hail resistant roofs on them that is helping with it. That is the only time that if you have a new roof and we have a huge hailstorm. If it is soft ball-sized hail, there is probably not anything that is going to live through that.

Jason: So are the reductions and premium… if they are to get a hail resistant type roof, are they getting a replacement?

Michelle: They have not done that on the rental side, they do that on the rent over home policies but they have not started the other. I would love to see them do that because a lot of the insurance companies on these landlocked rental homes policies are changing a lot of the hail resistant, the regular roofs. They are changing their stances on them and getting better wrights for different things so I see that in the future.

Jason: Okay, if somebody were to call you today, they were getting ready to buy a property and they needed quote for insurance. You worked different in ‘State Farm’ in that you were shopping multiple policies. (10:58)

Michelle: Correct

Jason: To kind of advise your client on the best fit for them.

Michelle: Right.

Jason: How many carriers would you say that…

Michelle: It goes through multiple. There are two of them that we use a lot but I have 4-5 that we can typically go to. just from seeing the address, that would guide me and give me the top 2. 

Jason: You will know the type of wright would be the best policy for that area.

Michelle: Right

Jason: That makes sense. A lot of investors as they grow their portfolio would own multiple properties. We were talking about the umbrella policies. What are the purposes of umbrella policies and when do you typically see your clients moving into that arena to give you an umbrella policy? (11:41)

Michelle: Okay, let’s say you start out with 2. We probably would put 500,000 liability on each policy.

Jason: Policy itself.

Michelle: When they are up to 4 or 5, that is when I really start encouraging them to go ahead and move into a general liability policy, which if we end up doing will be to split off the liability charge that is on the dwelling policy itself. Then, we would create a separate policy that would be a commercial general liability policy, which would give you the amount to 1,000,000 over 2,000,000. That would amount to whether they had two 1 million dollar claims in an annual term, that is when the policy will pay. Instead of just having the 500,000, then you will have the option…

Jason: Additional coverage.

Michelle: Of a million.

Jason: You are offering mainly more protection in that situation.

Michelle: Yes.

Jason: You mentioned it might actually save them a little bit on their actual premiums? (13:05)

Michelle: Yes, if you have just the regular dwelling policy, you will be looking at anywhere from $50-100 deleting the liability coverage.

Jason: Off the bat.

Michelle: Off the bat. And then putting it on to a regular commercial general liability policy for a million dollar coverage and that pricing starts. We usually can put 4-5 properties on it and it gets you $400 a year.

Jason: Okay.

Michelle: Then, if they continue to build that portfolio, I really encourage them to look for an umbrella also. The umbrella typically runs $400/million. Depending on what amount that you feel that you need, I would really encourage that once you get to the commercial general liability.

Jason: Okay, that makes sense. Say Joe is insured under you and a hailstorm came through yesterday and he knows he has to file a claim so he calls you. What is the process like moving forward from the moment he calls you to getting a roof? What is that process typically like and how soon does it usually happen? Obviously, it depends on if it was a huge area and you got a lot of insurance in the area. (14:10)

Michelle: Yes, if it was a huge hailstorm, I will just tell everybody to be patient, they are getting this type of care of as quickly as they can. Depending on if it is a huge storm, we will know the date of loss but a lot of times, the tenants don’t call and tell us when there has been a hailstorm in a certain areas and we might not find out about if for 6 months, the date of loss is critical. Usually, your roofers that will go out will know. So we will need that and whoever is going to be in the contract, whether there is going to be property management or directly to the insured and then we get I turned in. You will usually hear from somebody within a day or so.

Jason: An adjuster.

Michelle: There will set up a time to meet whomever and they will go out to do the estimate. I tell people, if it is an area where there has been hail, the chances are you probably have a totalled roof.

Jason: Okay.

Michelle: Usually, when go ahead and write the estimate, a lot of the adjustors email them to you now. You can look it over and the next day, they typically go ahead and send out a check minus the deductible. Sometimes, there is depreciation on it depending on how old the roof is. Once everything is repaired, then you can send the invoices in and if there is extra due to you from that depreciation, they will send you a second check. 

Jason: Okay so it will be prove that the work was done.

Michelle: Yes.

Jason: Okay, that makes sense. That covers everything that I have if somebody that is watching this has additional questions or they want to look into getting a policy with you, looking to get quotes. How do they get the contact with you? What is the best method? Email or phone number? (16:21)

Michelle: My email is michelle.pepper@davis-dyer-max.com and if you want to call my cell number, 214-212-6423 and I will be happy to answer any questions that I can.

Jason: We will link all that below and there will be a transcript of this podcast as well. Again, if you have any more question, reach out to us, reach out to Michelle. She has done great with my clients in the past so hope it creates some business for her as well. Thank you so much Michelle.

Michelle: Thank you.


Episode #011 - Is your house standing straight? This episode is the first in the “Insider Tips” series, where Jason shares his experience in various aspects of real estate transactions.

Episode #011 - Is your house standing straight? This episode is the first in the “Insider Tips” series, where Jason shares his experience in various aspects of real estate transactions. Join us as Jason discusses different foundation issues and how they affect the sale or purchase of real property. (https://youtu.be/ykLEOrVwmFc)


Episode #011 REN Podcast Transcription (Jason Reynolds)

Hello, good afternoon everybody. This is Jason Reynolds with ‘The Real Estate Now’ podcast. So I made a mistake and thought I was recording when I was doing my Facebook live, but I wasn’t. So, you, famous podcast audience and YouTube audience get a one and only second video on foundation issues and repair, super exciting. 

Before I start today’s episode, we are actually starting a new series, it’s going to be insider tips. So we are going to focus on specific aspects of real estate that I think is good to talk about for clients, whether it is buyers or sellers. Anybody that is out there this is just good knowledge that I have learnt over time that I want to share. 

That being said, I do want to provide a disclaimer to everybody.  What I am sharing today is based in personal experience and research, it’s not meant as a guarantee, I am not an engineer, I am not a foundation expert. So, if you guys are making any decisions or have any specific questions, I recommend A, that you talk to an engineer. B, that you talk with a foundation company and C, if you are looking for advice that you speak with a real estate agent that you have hired to help you either buy or sell a house. That could be me, but I always recommend that you talk to that person that you have specifically hired to give you advice. Everything that I am saying here is just personal advice from my time in real estate.

That being said, I wanted to quickly give an overview on the types of slabs that you typically see in Texas. There are two main types that you see; one is going to be slab and the other is going to be pier and beam. Slab is actually just a slab of concrete and the, pier and beam is going to be different points of support throughout the house. Pier and beam house, those are the types that have crawl spaces underneath the floors that you can access as maybe a foot or two and then it’s dirt and you have different support areas. So, your plumbing runs underneath there and things like that.  Mostly what you are going to see here in Texas in the DFW area are slab foundations, so those are your main foundations types. Now, foundation issues, the way you typically find out about them is going to be a few items. (2:47)

  1. Cracking on the walls. You may see settling in houses and that is totally normal and settling can just be separation areas in the drywall. Houses are so large and the slabs do just naturally settle but when you start to see diagonal cracks at the corner of door frames or windows, that could indicate a greater problem.
  2. Sloping floors. I have actually walked through houses before where you could tell you were walking downhill. So that can be a clear indication as well that there is a foundation issue.
  3. Cracked bricks on the exterior. You can actually see through the mortar crack all the way up or you can also see crack through the bricks themselves. So if you ever see that, it’s good to have it checked out. It may not mean it’s a large problem, sometimes I have seen cracked bricks and there is no problem at all. That usually can be a sign that you have foundation problems.
  4. Another is doors not closing or opening, getting stuck easily, it maybe during different seasons. I know I have looked at a house before where the doors were opened and closed easily during a certain part of the year and then the other part, you couldn’t even close it and if you did, it was extremely hard to open the door. That can be a sign as well. The reason that you typically see for foundation problems is going to be the consistency of the soil rapidly changing. In Texas, it tends to get very hot in the summers and we can have wet periods. But what happens is that soil when it is wet would compound but, when it’s dry can expand. If it is doing it in different areas by or underneath your foundation, then that can create a lot of stress and eventually create foundation problems. 
  5. Another reason is pooling of water so, if you have an area that when it rains really hard, it just pools in a certain area by your house, that can create problems as well. Erosion of soil, if you don’t have gutters, then it could be coming right off the roof and eroding the soil right next to your foundation and therefore, removing the support that is there. 
  6. Next is obstruction from trees and roots, so if you have trees or bushes close to your house, long term that can cause problems. So, it’s always best to try and keep those away from your house so that way, it doesn’t interfere with your foundation at all. Another can be plumbing leaks, so if you ever see water pooling around your house but you haven’t watered the house and it hasn’t rained in a long period of time, that can be a sign that you have a plumbing leak somewhere maybe in the foundation, it could be in the house. Again, you would have to hire a plumber to look at that but that can be something to check out because, that can cause foundation issues as well. 
  7. Lastly, it can just be poor construction; it could be that the ground wasn’t compacted properly when it was built and it could be that the slab was not poured correctly when it was poured.

All these are issues that a foundation engineer would be able to really evaluate and give you advice on but those are a few of the things to look out for. Ways that you can prevent foundation issues: (6:02)

  1. Timed sprinklers: a lot of homes that are newer have water systems that water the yard but that also waters the area next to the foundation. So that is considered to be a sprinkler around the foundation. There are other systems that are specifically to water foundations so, it is a water system for the foundation but it only waters that foundation itself and not your yard. A lot of folks would dig maybe a small trench and put a soaker hose in the ground and then, put it on a timer to water every once in a while. That also works but you are going to have to replace that fairly often because that hose would deteriorate being in the ground.
  2. Another way to prevent foundation issues is to drain water away from house. So if you see water pooling after it rains and staying there, you want to make sure that that soil slopes away from the house and any water that is hidden is actually leaving the house everywhere around the perimeter.
  3. Avoid having trees and shrubs close to the foundation, we talked about that being a reason for foundation problems.
  4. Keeping the area moist: that is done through the sprinkler system or the foundation watering systems.
  5. Cleaning out gutter and downspouts. If you end up having a backed up gutter or downspout, then it’s just going to pull over and create the same issues. You want to make sure that is all clear so that way, you will drain the water and make sure that the spouts are directing that water away from the house and not just directing it to your foundation and creating a pool.

So, those are the main issues. Foundation issues typically come up when you are selling your house. So, if you already know about foundation problems, you need to disclose these items in your seller’s disclosure. Otherwise, it can create issues for you in the future. Again, it is always important to disclose this on your seller disclosures and disclose any inspections you might have, any reports, any estimates, you want to be completely transparent. 

Another issue is you may not know until you have a potential buyer and they get an inspection and then they find out that there may be foundation problems. Rely upon your real estate agent to walk you through that to get additional opinions but again, it’s always best to address the issues and figure out the best way to resolve it. Whether that is moving forward with that particular buyer or not. Again, visit with your real estate agent about how to do that. 

Another aspect of that is if that buyer is getting financing whether it is conventional, FHA or VA. Lenders to the best of my knowledge, would not close on a property that has an active foundation problem. They have to have proof that that work has been completed and the foundation is now within it’s limits and has a passing structural engineers report.

If it’s cash transactions, then that is all negotiated and it could be purchased by the buyer as long as they are aware of the issue but, when it comes to financing, that is something that you are going to have to talk to your agent about as you are walking through that. Your options when you find out that you have foundation issues is going to be: (9:19)

  1. Contact your foundation company. There are plenty of them in the DFW Metroplex and they typically offer inspections at no charge. They will come out to your house and they have devices that measure the levels of the areas of the foundation and they give a recommendation for the work that needs to be completed. They often provide an estimate as well, that is one option.
  2. Another option is to get a foundation engineer’s report. That is going to be a formal report that is a third party report. They do not do foundation work themselves, they are simply giving an in-depth opinion of how the foundation is operating, where piers might need to be placed and what issues are causing the foundation problems and what can be done to help prevent them in the future. Those do cost and I did have an example here of one that was about a year and a half ago that a client of mine purchased. That was $650 for a 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom house, it was roughly 2,700 sq. ft. those do cost, but again, an important thing to think about is that it is a third party opinion and the person that is giving the opinion isn’t doing the work. There is no conflict of interest there based on my experience.  But it does cost, $650 versus nothing is a big difference depending on your budget. Again, visit with your agent in terms of how to walk through that and what might work best for your personal situation.

When you do hire a foundation company, I put together some questions that are great to ask them as you are doing your research: (10:50)

  1. Is the company insured? Obviously, you want them to be insured.
  2. How long have they been in business? You want a company that has been in business for while.
  3. What type of piers are you recommending? There are different types, there are; steel piers, concrete piers. So you want to ask them what type they are recommending, what is the reason for that type that can be relied upon.
  4. The type of soil there around your house. Make sure they are knowledgeable about what they are talking about and they are not afraid to inform about that.
  5. Ask them if they are a member of the ‘Better Business Bureau’ and check their ratings with today’s technology. It’s always great to go online and look at Google reviews, look at Facebook reviews, look at Angie’s list. There are many ways that you can check the reputation of a company and actually look at real reviews from clients that have used them in the past.
  6. Do they pull permits for work? It’s a great question. To my knowledge, all cities require a permit to be pulled when work is being completed. You want to make sure that is actually happening, you need to verify that because that can cause problems for you in the future. You want to make sure the permit would work through the city and that the work is being done properly.
  7. Does the estimate include a post engineer’s report and post plumbing report? Not all companies include that in their estimate, so you want to makes sure that that is included and you are going to need that documentation. Especially, if you have a buyer that is getting financing on the property. For the ability to verify that the work was completed and the reason there is a post plumbing test as well is because sometimes, when you are moving a foundation all the plumbing is typically going through your slab, both your sewer lines and your water lines. So, when you are moving that, sometimes pipes can crack and it can be damaged and have to be repaired. It is always best to be potentially prepared for that to happen. In terms of cost, it can vary greatly, you can go all the way from a few thousand dollars and I have an estimate from client spending roughly $20,000 re-doing most of the plumbing underneath the house. It was very intensive work, they had to actually tunnel underneath the house, replace piping and then re-compact all that dirt. So, it is a very intensive process and can be very expensive as well.
  8. Do they offer post-job clean up? Very important. Foundation work is a very dirty job so you want to makes sure that they are planning to clean up the area and make sure it’s nice following them completing the work.  
  9. Is there warranty included? You want to make sure there is a warranty, you want to make sure it’s a transferable warranty, you want to be able to transfer that when you sell the house in the future. Sometimes, there is a cost associated with transfer so, it is very important to makes sure that you know all the details about the warranties, whether you are buying the house that had had foundational work or you are a seller. You want to make sure that you get a warranty that is transferable because, most buyers are looking for that. Always read the fine print in those contracts as well. In terms of cost, I was able to pull from Home Advisor, they said the average fee associated with it is $4,008. Based on all the estimates, just a few that I have pulled from the work that has been done on the houses that we have helped sell or buy, it ranges anywhere from $2,000-$8,000. That is the most that I have seen for foundation work itself. I would say that that estimate is pretty accurate and it seems that would maybe be your range.

Again, it always depends in how extreme the foundation issue is, how soon you have caught it and the amount of work that has to go into it. It just all depends so you have to rely upon the other foundation engineer to really guide you through that along with your real estate agent. In terms of payment, lots of folks can pay in full but maybe a lot folks don’t have that cash sitting around. So, I have seen a lot of foundation companies offer financing. I believe they use third party companies that finance that amount so you end up paying a monthly balance when the work is completed. Another option is if you are selling the house, I have had foundation companies bill the title companies so that way when the property closes, the seller is actually paying out of their proceeds at closing for the work that was competed. Sometimes, that makes it easier if the sellers don’t have any liquid funds to pay for that at the moment but, they know they are going to have it when they sell the house. Usually a foundation company will allow that, it just always depends on which company you are using.

Overall, foundation issues are fairly frequent in the state of Texas and especially in the DFW area so I wouldn’t be very scared of it, it is all about being educated. So, it is very important that you look at your options and just what I recommend you to do, if you see anything, consult with a foundation engineer if you will like to get that third party report or call a foundation company or work with your real estate agent for the specific situation you are in. Because, most real estate agents have helped many clients through these types of transactions, I know we have and so, we have a wide range of knowledge of different scenarios and different levels of work that need to be done and different ways it can be completed, paid for and things like that. With the education, it’s not as scary of a topic, just go and makes an educated decision when you are running into any problems. If you guys have any questions at all that maybe we didn’t focus on, please be sure to comment below on this video with your questions. We will be focusing on anybody that posts questions, we will address it and we will be glad to answer it.

If you are on the podcast listening to this, please just grab the email address, I am glad to answer those questions via email. You can reach me at jason@visionsrealty.com thank you guys for joining us today and we look forward to catching you on the next podcast. Thanks!

Episode #010 - Why are photos such a big deal in real estate? We’ll answer that question and more! In this episode we visit with Eli Jones. Eli leads a team of professional photographers.

Episode #010 - Why are photos such a big deal in real estate? We’ll answer that question and more! In this episode we visit with Eli Jones. Eli leads a team of professional photographers who specialize in showcasing properties in the DFW area. Join us as we get to know Eli, learn some tricks of the trade, learn tips for how to prepare your home for a photography shoot, and discover why photography plays such a key role in real estate. 

Eli’s Bio: Eli grew up in Alaska where he started learning photography on the ski slopes outside of Anchorage. When his family moved to the DFW area and his Mom started her own real estate business. That’s when Eli started photographing properties. So, what began as a side hobby has now turned into a full-fledged, cutting edge business employing four other photographers. As a team they serve realtors across the metroplex providing stunning shots which highlight the features of each unique property. Eli and his wife, Kasidee, run the business together. 

Links from this episode:
Norman & Young Website: https://www.normanandyoung.com/
Maggie Walton Design: http://www.maggiewaltondesign.com/


Episode #010 REN Podcast Transcription (Eli Jones)

Jason: Hello everybody, Jason Reynolds here with the ‘Real Estate Now’ podcast and I am excited today because we have the one, the only Eli Young with ‘Norman and Young Photography’ and for the first time, we got Bryan in the back. So we are all going to team up here, visit with Eli and go from there. Eli does all the photos, his company does all the photos for any listing that we have. He helps make them look great, I could take photos with my phone but they do not look good. Eli, I know you started the company or you co-founded it with your brother. Can you explain that a little bit? (1:00)

Eli: It’s actually an interesting story, something that we get asked about a lot. I actually grew up in Anchorage, Alaska.

Jason: Sweet.

Eli: Got into cameras up there. I was really heavy in the freestyle scene, which is the jumps, rail and skis flip, that kind of stuff.

Bryan: And you’re still alive?

Eli: Yes, I am still alive fortunately. Part of the culture there is that if you didn’t have it on film, you didn’t do it. Got into that for that reason. I guess in about 2011, my family moved back down here, I was 16 at that time so I came with them. I left the skis there because there is no snow here but I still had the camera and that was about… I didn’t know anyone here and that was kind of what I had to do. I played with that and my mom became a part time real estate agent.

Jason: In Alaska? (1:42)

Eli: Down here actually to buy their personal house and it just happened that I was her with one time, and her broker asked her to take cell phone photos of the house. I had my camera so I was thinking, “all right, I got this”. I took some photos and spent way too much time editing them. Delivered them, and they were terrible. I would never deliver them to a client now but it kind of got the ball rolling and I guess I was by myself for about two-and-a-half years and then roped my brother Aaron. The company is ‘Norman & Young’ and Norman is my middle name and Young is his middle name, so that is where that came from. I roped him in and in then in the last 2 years, we have grown to 4 photographers and myself and him.

Jason: That is awesome. Are you based in Cleburne? Where are you based in?

Eli: I live in Cleburne and our office is in Cleburne.

Jason: Always been in an office out there or how does that work? (2:22)

Eli: Out of my house in Cleburne and then into an office, an official office there in Cleburne. We thought about moving to Fort Worth-Arlington but for where we shoot, it is very central in the Metroplex, jump on 67, go to Dallas and over to Granbury where we first started, we are still there for now.

Jason: Awesome, some things about you. Are you married? Do you have any kids?

Eli: No kids yet but I got married in August 2016 to Cassidy my wife who certainly puts up with a lot, running the business but we have a lot of fun doing it. 

Jason: Is she involved in the business too?

Eli: She is kind of in the behind the scenes aspect, she handles some of our accounting stuff as well as our behind the scenes stuff that it takes to keep it running.

Jason: Okay, cool. Then, when you jumped in the business and you got everything started. How did it kind of evolve into what you… I am sure when you were first offering services it was just photos but now, I see you guys do videos. What do you do now? (3:15)

Eli: So it started with just photos of course and it has kind of grown lowly since then. We added videos, I think it was about a years and a half ago. Our videos really started to kind of change how they are now when we hired one of our guys Mark because he is a very skilled videographer.

Jason: Did he just jump on recently?

Eli: He jumped on I guess a little over a year ago.

Jason: Does it say new photographer on your website by chance?

Eli: We just got a new guy Trent, the fastest guy to learn everything so far. So we are really happy with that, he picked it up quite quickly so it’s been good.  

Jason: That is awesome. Are you guys using the most up-to-date state-of-the-art kind of stuff? (4:00)

Eli: What we do is we all shoot with the same gear and one of the burdens if you will when we scaled, we wanted to make sure it wasn’t “Oh, I want Mark because his photo looks like this”. Training played a really making sure we are all on the same page, and of course, part of that is all having the same gear.

Jason: We just drove past my wife.

Eli: Was that her?

Jason: Yeah, she knows we are doing the podcast so she was waving. I am assuming you use DSLR? (4:26)

Eli: We do, they are all full frame DSLR cameras because we all use the same lenses. We use the 16-35, which kind of gives us the ability to zoom in when we want to bring a subject a little closer but it also gives us those nice wide shots. So, you can actually see the whole room. 

Jason: In terms of video, do you guys use the same camera.

Eli: We don’t actually, I am sure you are familiar with DJI, the drone company. They make a stabilizer called Ronin. We shoot with a Sony A6300 on that Ronin, that is on the ground level portion of course. For the aerial portion, we shoot with the DJI drones. 

Jason: Is that like a Gimbal?

Eli: It is, yes. It is just an electronic Gimbal.

Jason: Pretend to know what I am talking about.

Eli: There you go.

Jason: You use the DJI for all the aerial shots.

Eli: Yes, for all the aerial shots.

Jason: How has that turned out? When you are doing real estate photography and what you have seen over the period you have been in it, how have video changed the market? (5:16)

Eli: I think both on the photo and video side it has changed a lot since I started. Of course, I was able to get into it not having the best quality photos at the time because I was competing with cell phones so that made it easy. The internet and how it has changed has played a part in your business just as much has it has played a part in mine. Photos and videos have become really important because no longer does someone call an agent and ask them to see properties. For the most part, it is call an agent and ask him to see ‘that’ property because they are seeing it first online. That has played into my hands very well because our business now becomes fairly important in that aspect.

Jason: Another equipment I wanted to ask you guys about. I Saw you do 3D tours, that’s a totally different… (6:03)

Eli: Yes, that is our newest addition. I think we picked up that service about a year ago, maybe slightly more than a year ago and that is through a company. Everyone uses the same for that, it is Matterport. They really hit the ball out of the park in terms of 3D tours, they don’t have any competition that is anywhere near the quality, it is all through Matterport.

Jason: They have kind of monopolized it. 

Eli: They have for now, and there is nothing even close. We looked because their cameras are really expensive there is nothing else, so there we are with those things.  

Jason: Do you have to purchase the equipment or you rent it?

Eli: You purchase it from them, you pay a huge upfront fee, you have the camera and then, you continue to pay fees per model they produce as well as a monthly fee. So they have you pretty well nailed down.

Jason: I am assuming you get whatever the data is and then it uploads.

Eli: Exactly, we upload it to their servers and it does all the fancy processing and sends back to us the completed model. 

Jason: Awesome, any other equipment you can think of that changed that you are using or that you see coming up in the future? (7:02)

Eli: Mirrorless cameras versus digital. They are still digital but they are kind of the newest in the terms of advancement of camera technology. We have not adopted them yet because some of the technology is still catching up for some of the important things that we use. I do see that being a change. Not necessarily, it is something that everyone will notice, just that they are a lot better at capturing what is called dynamic range, which is the ability of the spectrum of light it can capture in terms of exposure. So a mirrorless camera can get way more light into one photo and what that means is when you and I visit a house, we can see out the windows clearly and see the darkest shadows in the house clearly but a camera isn’t that advanced. The more you get, the better it looks for the eyes so we are anticipating a change sometime in the near future with those, but we will see when that technology gets to our area of expertise.

Jason: I have been there a couple of times when you team is taking photos that there was an iPad but also the cameras. What was happening there? (7:59)

Eli: We shoot everything tethered. Basically, the advantage for us is that one, we have a lot more control on the iPad in terms of the brackets we are capturing everything in that regard. We can also see the photos on a bigger screen, not on a tiny DSLR screen. That is that advantage there and also a big thing that will happen is that if you are touching a tripod, starting a shutter, you can vibrate the camera and it will misalign the layers. So that is another advantage there.

Jason: That makes sense. That is all I’ve got, Bryan you take it over.

Bryan: I’ve got a couple of questions. 

Eli: Go for it.

Bryan: When you are walking up to a property or one of your employees is, and you want to showcase that as much as you can. What are the things you focus on? Whether that is the interior, or exterior. (8:38)

Eli: The thing we do, and we talk about this in the meeting every Thursday as a team. it gets really easy when you shoot 4 properties a day per employee to go on auto-pilot and stop paying attention to the house. The big thing we do is to always try and take a second, not just to just jump straight in. to kind of look at the house and see what we think is going to be the selling features or the features that we really need to capture. That helps us not get into the exact same things every time. Of course, we want to have repeatable results but we want to take the character of the house into account. We always stop and walk around and part of that is we turn on the light first and at that time is when we make an impression of what we are going to be shooting and it helps us figure out our game plan.

Bryan: Right on. With different types of properties, whether you are shooting a condo, single family residence. Does that change? (9:32)

Eli: Sure, especially when we are shooting ranch properties or anything with more acreage. We kind of have a number we go in with. If we are shooting 36 photos, typically we want 11 to be outside and the remainder interior. But, if it is a ranch, we would probably shoot more than 36 and also more maybe outside highlighting features like round pens or barns or whatever they may have on the property.

Bryan: Because if they are buying property with land…

Eli: They want to see the land not just the farmhouse.

Bryan: Last one, is there a particular time of day that you find to be the best for showcasing a house? (10:15)

Eli: Kind of like today. I know you won’t be able to pick this up on camera, but big puffy white clouds generally work the best. A lot of people think that midday, the light is the harshest and we don’t want to shoot then but it actually isn’t the case for real estate photography. We like to shoot between the hours of 10 and 4 and I really try to cluster all the shoots because the sun is nice overhead. So that we don’t get a shot of the front of the house with the sun right behind us and washing out the house and alternatively, we do the same thing at the back where the sun is overhead so we can get a shots of both. Because otherwise they’re probably gonna be really overexposed.

Bryan: Which is really important, one of the things I do on the Visions Team is to analyze potential properties for investors. There are a lot of properties that are cell phone pictures and they are not paying attention to the time of day.

Eli: It does make a difference

Bryan: You have photos that are either completely washed out or have heavy shadows. Photography is a huge aspect in that. 

Eli: We have a lot of realtors that like to shoot at 6:30am and it comes across like I am lazy so I’ll do it at 6:30am and that was the last time they asked me to shoot at 6:30am because midday is best by far.

Bryan: That makes sense.

Jason: Anything else? I am trying to think if I had any more questions you were going to ask.

Bryan: I guess just like an observation; a property is going to perform a lot better on the market if it is showcased property through the right kind of photos and videos.

Eli: Our job more than anything is we just want to get people there. The house will take over at that point but with the heavy competition online, we just want to make sure it stands out for you to be able to get shown and get those people into the house.

Jason: Diving the little deeper into not doing dusk or dawn shots. 

Eli: Sure.

Jason: I know those can be extra features that you can add on in terms of night shots. Are there certain properties that that works for in terms of doing a night session? (12:18)

Eli: Sure, typically they are considered twilight photos in our industry and we recommend those when one or two things. One, the property has a ton of incredible landscape lighting, something you won’t be able to see in the day and if you showed the house in the day time, they might not know it is there. Also, big windows, if we can see any property especially when it is a more modern properties that have huge windows. Twilight shots are actually best because we will be able to see in those windows. In the day time, with the lighting difference between inside and outside, you can’t see that.

Jason: Do you see a lot of people doing that more or is it kind of a hit or miss?

Eli: It is kind of a hit or miss but we have noticed is we offer two twilight options. A real twilight, which is us showing up at sunset or sunrise and shooting the photos and then, a virtual twilight option, which a lot of people at first are like, what is that? What we do is take a daylight photo and edit it to look like a twilight. We drop in a twilight sky, brighten the windows up, make it look like it was taken at night and the purpose of that is when you are looking at listings on Zillow or realtor.com where your buyers are, everything kind of looks the same. By having one of those virtual twilights, which you kind of preference whether you like it or not, the data shows a really sensitive part. Listings always get more traffic, whether or not people love the quality of those photos or the way they look, they certainly get more traffic.

Jason: We are going to get controversial here.

Eli: Go for it.

Jason: One thing people always say and I want you to debunk this. We go and look at a house and someone says, “Oh, they made the photos for this room look bigger than it really is!” Can you debunk? When you are editing photos, do you enlarge the rooms to make them look better? (13:57)

Eli: The reason we shoot with the 16-35 lens that we do is that 16 is about the widest that you will get without starting to distort the room. So, that is one of the aspects that gives it the larger than life look. The other thing is that you can adjust the aspect of the photos in post productions. So, you can actually widen or enlarge it that way. We consider that to be misrepresentation so we don’t do that. If you look at our photos, the room looks the same as it is. We try to shoot the angle that is farthest back to show the most of the room but we are never going to stretch the photos in any way.

Jason: Right, part of it too is that when you look at photos online, they be more vibrant in some ways but that is because it is capturing such a wide range. 

Eli: Exactly, in essence yeah. The shadows to a person’s eyes may come out differently than a camera and it’s not necessarily because we are trying to enhance those, is because when we are editing the photos, we don’t remember exactly what the house looks like. So, we try to give it the best representation of what it was like when we were there but it is really important to us that we don’t misrepresent anyone. We want to get as many showings as possible but getting people out there that are out there for a reason that is not actually real - that will waste everyone’s time. It’s a fine line in improving the look and saying, “Come and see this mansion that is 1,200 Sq. Ft.”

Jason: When you guys are taking photos of some of our listings, you guys are great at maybe moving some things that are in the way, you guys have the eyes for that but, do you guys have a partnership with anybody for home staging? (15:35)

Eli: Nothing official. I will shoot a name out there because we don’t have any ties with them. Maggie Walton does a very good job, makes our job easier and she does the Fort Worth area and I know the Granbury area.

Jason: Does she have a website?

Eli: She does, I think it’s Maggie Walton Design. We have no ties with her but we like shooting her houses because it makes our job a lot easier.

Jason: I am sure there are plenty of homes that we have gone to and depending on how they are on the inside, anything you do doesn’t matter. (16:09)

Eli: Yeah, there is only so much that you can do. What we do is that in our schedule, we block out an hour or so to shoot a home and in 10 minutes or so is what we would spend preparing it. Some companies just jump in and start shooting, the 10 minutes we spend makes all the difference in the world. We will move things, our protocol, which is trashcans, we will adjust the blinds, we clear clutter off counter tops when possible. But the more of course, that’s done ahead of time - especially when it is comes to a fully staged homes - makes a big difference in photos.

Jason: I want to jump back to the company ‘Norman & Young’. In terms of when we hire Norman & Young, we as a realtor company pay for that service. So the buyers or the sellers don’t incur this cost, we pay for it to be done but you started this company 3 or 4 years ago, what is your plan for the future for Norman & Young? (16:50)

Eli: Still evolving. Often, we have made plans whether it is to get into staging or other aspects of real estate like that. It is not our area of specialty, so we are really focus on growing the photo side of the business. Our core three services, which would be photos, videos, and 3D tours, still a lot of clients trying to get in the Metroplex, so we still have a really good future here.

Jason: Do you guys do anything out of the real estate realm? (17:39)

Eli: We don’t actually, thaw was one of the areas we milled about growing in but when that happens, we lose the focus on real estate that we need to have in order to be the best.

Jason: The professional.

Eli: Exactly, so we will rather just grow that side of the business than branch out into other services.

Jason: Okay, I think that makes sense.

Bryan: So, you don’t just do real estate photography, but that is what you specialize in.

Eli: That is all we do. Really, it is so much different than shooting portraits or anything like that. We get requests like that all the time, like “Hey, can you shoot my daughter’s wedding?” you don’t want me shooting your daughter’s wedding, I can tell you that. It is not going to end well.   

Jason: Be like: “It would be great, but really I’m booked that day.” 

Eli: Right, so real estate only. 

Jason: Then in terms of your service area, I know you have gone all the way to Granbury for us, I has one listing in Gainesville but I think it was too far. What is your threshold for the areas you cover? (18:23)

Eli: We try to go anywhere you want, we will just give you the distance fee but without the distance fee, we service most of the Metroplex. We do Fort Worth, all the cities north of Fort Worth, Arlington, Dallas, we do without a distance fee out to Granbury. We actually started out in Granbury, so a lot of our clients are out there. Really, anywhere in the Metroplex and surrounding cities.

Jason: Kind of jumping around here. When your mom moved out here, was it to Granbury?

Eli: Long story is my dad started the company in Alvarado. They didn’t want to live in Alvarado. So we went to Granbury, that was where we first moved and they live in Cleburne now.

Jason: Okay, got you. Does your dad still own the company?

Eli: He does, yeah. He is coming up here in a couple of miles, he is actually on the way.  

Jason: What we got? What is it?

Eli: It is a steel company, they do everything from selling their own brand of skid steers all the way to steel buildings, barndominiums, that kind of thing. 

Jason: Okay, so you got a family of entrepreneurs here.

Eli: I do, I am lucky to have that too because it has come in handy when I had questions of how things needed to be done.

Jason: I think that kind of wraps up this portion of the video. You guys know, Eli’s team has taken photos, I remember one listing we had, the lock was broken I think, was it you that took the photos? (19:38)

Eli: It has happened multiple times. I hate to say yes but it may very well have been.

Jason: They hopped the fence out back to try and get inside and it was like a 7 Ft. fence and it was maybe a 100 degrees out and the back lock didn’t work. You guys probably spent 45 minutes trying to get into this place!

Eli: We try to make it happen.

Jason: Clearly, I was expecting you to say, “You guys should figure this out and we will be back”

Eli: Tell our photographers not to wear tight pants so they can get where they need to, that is how we roll.

Jason: Got to be prepared with an extra pair of clothing. We are going to jump into a different session of this video, it will be a different video. I know that we are the ones that really connect you to your clients. Say there is anybody that needs real estate photography or videography in some real estate they own. How can they get in contact with you and your team and maybe enquire about that? (20:36)

Eli: The best way is through the website. We have a contact form there, we have our email and phone number, you can call or text. The website is www.normanandyoung.com

Jason: Perfect. We will put those links in the show notes, YouTube links, etc. for people who need them. 

Eli: Alright, cool!

Jason: Thanks Eli!

Episode #009 - Join us for our second Community Highlight episode! In this episode we visit with Burleson Mayor Ken Shetter.

Episode #009 - Join us for our second Community Highlight episode! In this episode we visit with Burleson Mayor Ken Shetter. Ken was elected as Mayor in June of 2004, while serving his second term on Burleson’s city council. Join us as we get to know Mayor Shetter and learn about how he serves our city. (https://youtu.be/V4AnPsM8bes)

Ken’s Bio: Mayor Shetter was born and raised in the Burleson, Texas area, and is a 1990 graduate of Burleson High School. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Baylor University in 1994, followed by a Master of Arts degree in applied sociology from The American University in Washington, D.C., in 1995. While attending The American University, Shetter was a Dean's Scholar and a Sociology Department fellow. In May 1998, he graduated from Baylor Law School with a Juris Doctorate degree. As a 3rd-year law student, he was a member of Baylor's prestigious Mock Trial Team. Following graduation, the mayor practiced law for 7 years, concentrating in the areas of civil litigation and real estate transactions. Shetter is active in regional public policy planning and advocacy. He is a former member of the North Central Texas Council of Governments Executive Board and Emergency Preparedness Planning Council. He is a former chairman and current Executive Committee member of the Tarrant Regional Transportation Coalition and currently serves as Vice Chair of the Greater Johnson County Transportation Coalition. He is currently promoting initiatives to support Burleson families in the areas of health and wellness, a safe and vibrant community, and child and youth development. Shetter is also a former Co-Chair of the National League of Cities Council on Youth, Education and Families. In addition to being mayor of Burleson, Shetter currently serves as President of One Safe Place, a non-profit corporation focused on preventing crime and violence. The mayor and his wife, Ashley, have 3 children, Lexi, Hogan, and Olivia. 

Links from this episode:
Coffee purchased from Dwell Coffee & Biscuits: http://www.dwellcoffeeandbiscuits.com
City of Burleson Website: https://www.burlesontx.com/


Episode #009 REN Podcast Transcription (Mayor Ken Shetter)

Jason: All right, good morning everybody and welcome back to the ‘Real Estate Now’ podcast. I am Jason Reynolds and today we are lucky.

Ken: Are we live.

Jason: No.

Ken: Okay.

Jason: Sorry.

Ken: It’s alright.

Jason: It’s unfortunate.

Ken: No, it’s okay. It is probably a good thing.

Jason: I used to but there are technical reasons. So we are not live.

Ken: You don’t trust what I am going to say, you might need to edit it out.

Jason: I am already going to edit it. So if you don’t know, this is Burleson mayor Ken Shetter who I have here with me today. Thank you for being with us mayor.

Ken: You are welcome, thank you for having me.

Jason: I did some research on the mayor here and that is a lot to read. So, I am not going to read it.

Ken: Please don’t

Jason: He was elected in June 2004. Born and raised in Burleson. 1990 graduate of Burleson high school. Nothing against Centennial, right?

Ken: No, it wasn’t there when I…

Jason: It wasn’t right?

Ken: My two youngest kids go to Centennial. So I have absolutely nothing against Centennial.

Jason: Okay, perfect. He earned a Bachelor of science degree in Education from Baylor in 1994.

Ken: Sic ‘em Bears!

Jason: Alright, Gig ‘em! Also a Master of Arts degree in applied sociology from the American University of Washington, D.C in 1995. In 1998, you were in Baylor law school and you got you Juris Doctorate degree, is that right? (1:23)

Ken: Right

Jason: And you practiced law for 7 years. Former co-chair of the National League of cities Council on youth Education and Families. You are now the president of ‘One Safe Place’.

Ken: That is right.

Jason: We are going to jump on the road and get to know the mayor. We just had coffee from ‘Dwell’s’ so we are trying to support a local business here. Tell us about yourself? Obviously, you live in Burleson. 

Ken: Right.

Jason: Does your family live here, are you married? How long have you been married? (1:27)

Ken: Yes, I am married. My wife Ashley and I have been married for 17 going on 18 years. We have three kids. Our oldest Lexi would be a senior at Oklahoma state university. I am not sure how she ended up there but there she is. She would want me to point out that she has gotten a 4.0 for 2 semesters in a row. She goes by 4.0 now.

Jason: That is her nickname?

Ken: She wants to be called 4.0

Jason: Okay, what do your other kids think about that?

Ken: The don’t participate in that. She is studying speech pathology. We are super proud of her.

Jason: That is awesome.

Ken: As you were saying, my other two Hogan and Olivia are sophomore and freshman respectively at Centennial high school. Lexi graduated as an elk so that makes for a very interesting sibling rivalry. Hogan’s passion is the band; he plays the trumpet. In fact, this last weekend, we went to Austin because he made the state for solo and ensemble and band.

Jason: That is awesome.

Ken: At the state competition so we are really proud of him and Olivia, is an accomplished singer in the choir and she is also very active in theatre. So we are…

Jason: Very diverse.

Ken: We are all about the fine arts in our family right now.

Jason: That is awesome, that is really cool. You are the mayor of Burleson Texas and you are also the president of ‘One Safe Place’.

Ken: Right.

Jason: So, you are probably a busy guy.

Ken: Most days.

Jason: Most days.

Ken: Right.

Jason: What does the mayor do to relax to kind of get away from being the mayor? (4:08)

Ken: I like to run.

Jason: I do see you post it on Facebook.

Ken: Most mornings, I like to go for about a 4-mile run, which helps to keep the stress level down and helps me be reasonably healthy I guess. Then, I love to read and I love to go hiking. I don’t get to do that as much as I like but we go to Santa Fe a lot. I love to get away to the mountains and go hiking whenever I can and we all love to travel so we do that as much as we can. That is about it.

Jason: Okay. What would you say as being a mayor do you enjoy most about that because you are doing the president of ‘One Safe Place’ and you are doing the mayor too?

Ken: Right.

Jason: What do you enjoy most about it and what has made it most frustrating, not in a bad sense but just maybe… (4:57)

Ken: Sure, I really enjoy the interaction with citizens and I know every politician might say that but I really do. I love talking to people and the more we can do that in a context where people have the opportunity to engage. So, you are not just talking to people but you are listening as well, that is really important. I would say that is probably the most important we do because, if we are not talking to people,  how do you know what people’s perspectives are and how they feel about where you are and where you are going. I think it is important as an elected official on any level, to have a vision for your community. Whatever community you are serving it’s important to have a vision for it and to clearly communicate that vision to people so that when it is time to vote, they know what they are voting for.

Jason: For sure.

Ken: I enjoy public policy generally so I love the ideas of understanding issues, problems, challenges, opportunities and developing policy to address those and try do the best job of taking advantages of opportunities. I really like public policy. I have been interested in that my whole life and studied it for most of my life. When I was in law school, I really tried to have a perspective of understanding how the law applies to public policy. That was my main purpose of wanting to go to law school. I really just like policy development, policy making.

Jason: Okay.

Ken: In terms of challenges, I think right now, the thing that frustrates me the most is the culture of division. We are really lucky on local government that we govern on a non-partisan basis. So we are not elected as democrats or republican. So that makes it a joy to serve in so many ways but one of the things I am seeing is that country is so divided right now and that often can trickle down. I have my opinions on national and state politics too and I am not afraid to express them. So, that gets brought on. I really don’t mind if people want to argue is in partisan way, thoughts about national and even state issues. But, when some of that gets brought down to local level, it is really irrelevant and why would you want to pollute local policy making, which is non-partisan? Why would you want to add an element of division? That just makes no sense to me. Right now, it is particularly bad, we are seeing something that we’ve never seen out of our state, some of our state law officials.

There is really a desire to diminish local control, which I think is really troubling. There seems to be this effort to really make local politics more partisan on the part of some of those who were elected statewide. I think that is really offensive so, that is the most frustrating by far I think. 

Jason: I think that makes sense. As a mayor, what does your typical day look like? And you are president of ‘One Safe Place’. How does that intertwine? (9:09)

Ken: Today is a pretty good example of how I kind of go back and forth. I am starting today with this awesome podcast interview.

Jason: Keep going.

Ken: Which I think is a really great way to interact and talk about the community. Then I go to my office in Fort Worth and I kind of get caught up. I have been out of the office for a couple of days, we had a golf tournament yesterday. So they would be some catching up and I will be back down in Burleson at noon at Huguley for a community health assessment meeting.  That the folks at Huguley are leading. That is a great opportunity to wear both hats because a lot of the work we do at ‘One Safe Place’, particularly as it involves childhood trauma. It really involves public health issues. I love to get opportunities to war both hats. That is also an opportunity to promote this tie between public health and community buy-outs, which I would definitely do. Because that impacts Burleson as well as all the other communities I serve in Tarrant county.

Then I would head back to ‘One Safe Place’, I have an important meeting this afternoon with some folks from Verizon. This is really cool. Verizon has really taken on the issue of domestic violence and particularly childhood exposure to trauma, which is a big part of the domestic violence issue as a cause. So we are part of a national alliance of organizations that receive really generous funding from Verizon. So, we have a representative of Verizon that is going to be at ‘One Safe Place’ this afternoon and we are going to be doing a tour and be talking about issues that we have in common.

Jason: We are going to talk more about Burleson near the last half of this but, I think it is really neat the ‘One Safe Place’ and how that plays a role in you being a mayor. Can you elaborate on what ‘One Safe Place’ does and how you got involved in it? (11:23)

Ken: I have two of the greatest jobs in the world and one of them happens to pay so that is very helpful. I actually earn a living at ’One Safe Place’ so that is nice. But, we are a comprehensive crime prevention agency and I was lucky to be hired as one of the first… that time, it was executive direction of the organization and we serve Burleson too. We serve all of Tarrant County and in most part of our programming, we have reached into the Johnson part of Burleson too. That is nice, it makes it easier to wear both hats sometimes. We operate the ‘crime stoppers’ program in all of Tarrant County, which includes campus crime stoppers programs and all the high schools and middle schools now even in a few elementary schools.  We have a really cool art program called ‘Imagine no violence’. Every year, about 40,000 students across Tarrant County participate in our program. They create original artwork. This year, our theme was ‘Creating pathways to hope”. So we got some really amazing artwork. We sent two kids and their families to Disney world as part of our prize winners for the year.

Jason: That is awesome.

Ken: Which is why we have tens of thousands of kids participating every year, but the artwork is really great and inspiring and we use it as part of our public education throughout the year. We do a lot of education and training for law enforcement and other crime prevention professionals. We have a project called ‘Project safe neighborhoods’. Right now, we are in the Poly stop 6 neighborhood Fort Worth and the Las Vegas trail neighborhood, Fort Worth. It is funded through the department of justice so we go into neighborhoods that have been hard hit by gun and gang violence and we develop strategies that include a network of community agencies and law enforcement agencies to develop innovative strategies to reduce gun and gang violence and we have been really successful with that.

Then, we have something we call the ‘Bike patrol support group’, which provides specialized training and equipment to the bike control officers, which I really like because I consider the bike control to be one of the purest forms of community policing.  

Jason: It is right out there in the community.

Ken: Our biggest program is the ‘Family justice center’ and the ‘Family justice center’ is one location where you bring together all of the services that victims of domestic violence and their child need in one place. We have 22 partner agencies that are providing services on site in ‘One Safe Place’. There are two things about us that are really important. One is, the co-locating of these services is important because domestic violence is really about power and control. It is not about anger management, it is power and control, which means that abusers really set out to control every aspect of their victim’s lives and part of that is mobility. abusers really do everything they can to prevent their victims from being able to get around. A lot of times, they just simply won’t allow the victim to have a car of their own and even if they do, it is pretty common that they will keep an accounting of the miles that are driven and want to know where they are coming from, from what those miles were everyday. The idea that someone could go to multiple places and get the help they need is unreasonable and unsafe.

Because, when a person is reaching out and is trying to begin to be independent and be safe, they really have to do that in secret because what they are doing is essentially taking control back in their life. That is the trigger for the escalation of violence because an abuse would escalate the violence in order to take back control. Very often, when you see a homicide that is related to domestic violence, the victim either has left or is either in the process of trying to leave. It is critically important that we try co-locate those services. Before there was ‘One Safe Place’, there were 32 different geographic locations across Tarrant county where services were provided to victims of domestic violence.

Another important thing in addition to co-locating those services is integrating those services so that these agencies are working together. We do the best we can to share information and work on cases and clients together. We work really hard not to duplicate services to be really efficient. When someone comes into ‘One Safe Place’, we always do a danger assessment so that we understand what kind of danger a person is in and they understand. I think that is probably the most important thing that we do because typically, it is the first time somebody understands what kind of danger they are in.

Jason: Wow! They have been blind to it.

Ken: Exactly. Then we will develop a safety plan and we will develop a service plan and connect folks to the service that they need. It is all based on what the person is willing and able to do at that particular time. For our clients who have children, we work a little hard to access the needs of the kids because when you are exposed to domestic violence as a child, as a witness, it has a lot kind of the same impact that child abuse has. That child is more likely to have a lot of horrible things happen to them in life but, if we can address their needs, we can reverse that cycle and end that cycle of violence. One of my favorite things we do is called ‘Camp Hope’. We are part of a national alliance of camps called ‘Camp Hope America’ and we are ‘Camp Hope Texas’ and it a week long summer adventure camp, it is pretty traditional. We have a special curriculum. In addition to doing all the cool stuff like rope courses and water sports and that kind of thing. We also have a hope based curriculum. A whole week is designed to increase the hopefulness in the kids, which is the key to being resilient and to overcoming trauma. That is next week.

Jason: That is awesome.

Ken: We will take 160 kids this year, this is our 5th year, the most we have ever had. We will spend a week at the campground called ‘Carolina Creek’ and it is right on the shore of lake Livingston, near Huntsville.

Jason: Awesome. That will be really cool.

Ken: No mayor in that week.

Jason: You have to be gone that week.

Ken: Yes.

Jason: What I really like is in our last episode, we had Chief Cornell on and he was talking about Burleson is the first city in the nation in regards to the strangulation law that we have. (19:02)

Ken: Absolutely. We have 2 offenses that we are the first in the nation on. The most recent one is the strangulation protocol. This is one really big focus area for us at ‘One Safe Place’. About 60% of our clients report to us that they have been strangled as part of their abuse and it turns out this is very common within domestic violence. It is this thing that has always existed but people really don’t know about it. It turns out that strangulation is particularly dangerous. A victim who has been strangled by their abuser is 700% more likely to ultimately more likely to be killed by their abuser.

Jason: Wow!

Ken: It is one of the most significant danger factors. It also turns out that someone who survives strangulation often thinks that they are fine and they didn’t suffer permanent damage but, they did. For example, you could have a partially crushed carotid artery and not know it and be at severe risk for a major stroke. It can be debilitating.

Jason: Down the line and they might not even know it.

Ken: It could be in the near future or a distant future thing. Our ordinance does a lot of different things. Luckily, the state of Texas had one of the best laws on strangulation in the entire country. So, we didn’t have to address that. Our ordinance attempts to address the response to strangulation. We require our first responders to go through a protocol and ask particular questions and to take evidence, the ordinance require training among multiple disciplines because this is a real emerging trend areas where there is a lot of information available today that was not available 5 or 10 years ago. Perhaps, the most important thing that the ordinance does is requires an emergency medical response if they is a suspected or alleged strangulation. This is really important because most law enforcement officers are really good now about talking to victims about how dangerous and significant strangulation is and encouraging them to seek medical help.

Victims think that are often fine and don’t need it just intuitively. The other thing is very often when you respond to domestic violence on scene, the abuser is right there on the scene and so there is either implicit or explicit. Sometimes, the abuse is standing there and applying pressure to the victim to not seek medical help and even if they are not, that pressure is implicit because the victim feels that there are potentially consequences. That have already perhaps called law enforcement and there are already consequences to that and they don’t want to compound that by asking for medical help. Now, it is already easy.

Jason: It is already part of the process.

Ken: We don’t put that pressure on the victim. We have to call for medical emergency, it is the law, we don’t have a choice. We are excited about this. I am absolutely certain that, that ordinance is going to save lives. It is going to save more than just victims lives because people who would strangle and intimate partner are more dangerous to the entire community too. They are the ones that are more likely to commit other community violence. A lot of our mass shooters, an outstanding percentage of mass shooters have a documented history of intimate partner strangulation. There are multiple studies that show that more than half of cop killers have a documented history of having strangled an intimate partner. We are the first in the country to do this.

Jason: There is one other that you mentioned, right? (23:25)

Ken: Yeah the other is child witness law so we are the first city that makes it against the law to commit… we call it ‘unjustified violence in the presence of your child’. This is aimed at what we know to be true, which is that when a child witnesses violence, particularly when they witness domestic violence, it causes them tremendous harm. There are at least 19 other states in the country that have laws on the book that do this but Texas doesn’t. So it works be much more better because in the city, we can’t make a felony. It is supposed to be a felony but we have to make it a misdemeanor but what we have at least established as a matter of public policy is that not only is a crime when you harm somebody else physically in an unjustified way. In other words, not self-defense but when you are doing it in the presence of the child, the child is a separate victim in their own right. That should be recorded, the law should recognize the harm that has been done to the child.

The other thing is that it is very common. Particularly in the domestic violence scenario, that it is done with purposeful event. In other words, it is not an accident that that accident is committed in front of the child. The abuser is willing to make a point and communicate something to the child.

Jason: The abuser maybe.

Ken: Something to the victim.

Jason: Something to the victim, sorry.

Ken: Here again, there is an intended but not obvious consequence, which is it is now a matter of practice and policy that officers are identifying children who witness domestic violence in their police reports. which creates a systematic method for us to identify children that are suffering a particular type of trauma, which is the first step to doing something about it. I am hopeful that we could get a state law passed in the next session that makes our city ordinance irrelevant and we could just do away with that and have the state law, which would be stronger. It was one of the things that I was hopeful if we could set a city ordinance…

Jason: It will set an example.

Ken: It helps prove that it works and gives it a better chance to be successful in the legislature.

Jason: Great stuff in terms of the city and how we are addressing issues. Not great topics but great in terms of what we are addressing.  

Ken: We are doing something about it.

Jason: Let us do a shoot from the hip; a bunch of quick questions.

Ken: Okay.

Jason: First, Burleson is…

Ken: I want to compliment you first, you are a very safe driver.

Jason: Thank you, I appreciate it. I was nervous about the chief when I was driving him around.

Ken: I can’t get you out of a ticket if we get stopped so just you know.

Jason: Well if it the chief, he would probably give me a ticket. 

Burleson is growing, we all know that. Can you give viewers an idea of how much we are growing on a yearly basis? (26:32)

Ken: Just to put it in some historical context, I have been on the council for about 17 years I guess. Something like that. During the time that I have been on the council, the city has at least doubled in size in terms of population.

Jason: What would that be when you join…

Ken: We were on 22,000 when I was first on the council. By the way, I remember as a kid because I grew up here so I remember Burleson as a city of about 10,000. So the growth is not new, it is not a new thing. It has happened now over multiple generations and it feels like in certain years, the growth is more than the other. We have had a pretty steady growth rate of anywhere from 3-6% annually, which is pretty healthy. That is challenging but it is not overwhelming. The only thing we have to remember is that it is interesting that a lot of people are even angry about the city growing.

Jason: Yeah, I have seen that. I have seen that stuff before.

Ken: When people say, “No more people”. I will say, “When should we have shut the door would that have been before you moved here or right after?”

Jason: That is a good question, not for me, you should have let me in.

Ken: Right, no one else. When I moved here, what was a good thing. It is not a good thing for other people to move here. I was born in Burleson but I certainly went away to college and when I came back, I lived in Fort Worth. I first got a job and an apartment. I spent the first 7 months of law school living in Fort Worth before I bought my first home here. But I chose to move back here too and so at some level, almost all of us are part of that growth. I think what we have to understand and what I want everybody to understand too is; in terms of division for the city, it is not about growth. Nobody ever decided…

Jason: Our number one goal is…

Ken: Our goal at all is growth for that matter. That we want to be a city of a certain size. I don’t think you need to be a city of any particular size to be a great city. I think you can be a great place to live, you can be a community of consequence that contributes to the region and to the world around you without being a big city. I think we have established that, I think Burleson fights above its weight and above its class. We have been able to so some really great things and have an influence regionally that is really greater than our population. It is not a goal particularly to grow but the reality is Texas is one of the fastest growing states in the country. Our region currently, the Dallas Fort Worth metropolitan region is the fastest growing metropolitan region in the country. Think about that; Burleson is a great place to live, we have a great quality of life, we have a great place to shop and eat. We have outstanding parks.

Jason: Minutes away from the metroplex.

Ken: 15 miles from downtown Fort Worth, it is convenient to get to the airport we have great schools and you have a lot of room to grow. You put all those thing together and we are going to continue to grow. We could theoretically develop policies that slows the growth by limiting….

Jason: Development or something like that.

Ken: We can say, we are only ever going have one acre lots. If we decided not to extend wastewater facilities for example. We would leave developers with a choice of either developing one acre lots or they will have to build their own water and sewer facilities, which really is not a very sustainable way to grow. A lot of developers would choose to do that because the market would demand it and what that would leave is this patch work development all over this part of the world and a lot of infrastructure that is bound to fail.

Jason: A lot of different qualities.

Ken: It is also economically a great way to build a sustainable tax base and economic base. We have chosen to try to employ the desk theories of development and the most sustainable patterns of development and grow the…

Jason: Smartest way possible.

Ken: Smartest way possible.

Jason: With that growth, I notice more bike lanes popping up. I think if someone moves here and is really an average bike rider and starts riding around and they realize that the city was not built upon “This is going to be an easily bikeable, walkable community”. (31:56)

Ken: Right, very few places were, particularly in this part of the world.

Jason: The city is actively trying to change that from what I see.

Ken: Yes, we decided several years ago that we really have vision to be a more walkable, bikeable city. Now, we realize that you are not going to go bike lanes in sidewalks and all of a sudden, they are just going to be filled with people. That is not the way that works.

I am one that loves the part of a walkable community and it turns out that there is a lot of research on this. That real estate that isn’t a walkable community is more valuable. There even is an app that is walk score app that will give you a walk score for your neighborhood. It turns out and I am proud to say that old town is a very walkable area according to the app.

Jason: That is awesome.

Ken: There is real market pressure to develop walkability. You made a great point with millennials because younger generations are particularly likely to want to live in more walkable, bikeable places. What we said is that we are not just going to be a great community today, we are going to be a community in demand well into the future. We want to be a community choice for people of any age. There is a great book called happy city and they talk about what makes people happy. People that live in more walkable and bikeable places tend to be happier people. A lot of that is not just magic, walking is good for your body, it is good for your mind, it is good for your soul. But in places that are walkable, you have more human interaction.

Jason: More community.

Ken: Yeah.

Jason: That makes a lot of sense. Well, we are running on 10 o’clock. That is our time schedule but if people have question or want to look up resources, I jumped online. There are a lot of great resources online in terms of… (34:14)

Ken: The city’s website in very helpful and user friendly. Most things are one click away. www.burlesontx.com. the city’s Facebook page, Diana Philips does a great job at managing the city’s external communications. It keeps people really informed on Facebook and Twitter, if you put a question up there, you will get an answer very quickly. You can communicate with me at mayorkenshetter@gmail.com or you can find me on Facebook or on Twitter @kenshetter. I will say Facebook messages are the least efficient way to get an answer from me just because it takes me a little longer but send me an email and if you got a question, a question, a concern, a frustration, let me know, we really want to know those things. 

Jason: Perfect. Thanks for joining us today!

Ken: Thank you. I appreciate it.

Episode #008 - Join us for our first Community Highlight episode where we introduce you to local leaders throughout the metroplex! In this episode we visit with Burleson Police Chief Billy Cordell.

Episode #008 - Join us for our first Community Highlight episode where we introduce you to local leaders throughout the metroplex! In this episode we visit with Burleson Police Chief Billy Cordell. Chief Cordell joined the Burleson Police Department as Police Chief in 2014 and has extensive experience in law enforcement. Join us as we get to know Chief Cordell and learn about our local Police Department in Burleson, Texas. (https://youtu.be/cDzrShg0DrM)

Chief Cordell’s Bio: Billy J. Cordell was sworn in as Burleson’s tenth police chief on June 2, 2014. He retired as a deputy chief from the Fort Worth Police Department where he served since 1985. The Burleson Police Department consists of sixty-four sworn officers and twenty-one civilian support staff. Chief Cordell has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master's degree in Criminal Justice from Tarleton State University, holds a Masters Peace Officers Certificate from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, and graduated from the FBI National Academy in 2000. Chief Cordell is a strong advocate for building community partnerships and believes these relationships form the foundation for trust and accountability. He embraces the Community Policing philosophy and understands the servant role of law enforcement. Chief Cordell notes, “It is an honor and a privilege to serve as Burleson’s Police Chief.”

Links from this episode: 
Coffee purchased from Dwell Coffee & Biscuits: http://www.dwellcoffeeandbiscuits.com
Link to Burleson Police Department Website: https://www.burlesontx.com/76/Police-...
Information for Burleson Citizens on Patrol: https://www.burlesontx.com/281/COP-Pr...
Information for Community Resource Officers: https://www.burlesontx.com/269/Commun...
Information for Citizens Police Academy: https://www.burlesontx.com/267/Citize...


Episode #008 REN Podcast Transcription (Chief Billy Cordell)

Jason: All Right. Good afternoon everybody. This is Jason Reynolds with the ‘Real Estate Now Podcast’ and I know you guys have been watching some of our recent podcasts and we decided to start doing a community edition of this podcast and try to interview local leaders. That way, you can get to know folks and we are lucky today; we have Burleson police Chief Billy Cordell with us. How are you doing?

Billy: I am doing great Jason, thanks for having me.

Jason: Yeah. You bet. So I have got a really long bio and there is way too much here but, you jumped in as the Burleson police chief on June 2nd 2014.

Billy: That’s correct.

Jason: So it would be running up on 4 years just coming up in a few days. He got his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Texas Wesleyan, master’s degree in criminal justice from Tarleton. Masters Peace Officers Certificate from the Texas Commission on Law enforcement and then, you graduated from the FBI National Academy in 2000.

Billy: That’s correct.

Jason: I just noticed too that you have a lifesaving award from the Fort Worth PD in 1989.

Billy: Yes, I had a few things in Fort Worth. I actually started my law enforcement career in Everman as a reserve back in 1983.

Jason: Okay.

Billy: I went to Fort Worth full time in 1985. I retired out of there and came here technically May 31st 2014 and took over.

Jason: Came over here?

Billy: Yeah. Burleson is a great community, great citizens, great place to work and awesome team of people.

Jason: Perfect. To get to know you a little bit you just mentioned that you were in Everman. How do you end up in Burleson, Texas? What is your quick track of being in Law enforcement? If there is a quick track. (1:46)

Billy: 30 years is not necessarily a quick track but I started as reserve in Everman and really enjoyed law enforcement, I decided to go into it full time. I wanted to go into a large department so I went to Fort Worth and was fortunate enough to get selected to go. I spent 30 years there working uniformed or undercover back in uniform, undercover and different things. I got to work in K-9 for four-and-a-half years. I got a German Shepard that I worked with every single day, which was a lot of fun. I started promoting up, I was a detective for a little while then I promoted up to supervisor and then lieutenant to captain and retired as a deputy chief.

Jason: Are you from the DFW area originally? Were you born here? (2:42)

Billy: No, I wasn’t born here. My dad was in the military so I was born up in Oklahoma. Don’t hold that up against me but I was born up in Oklahoma and I moved here when he got reassigned back when it was Carswell Air Force base. I was about 2 years old so I went to Weatherford high school and we lived there. I moved to Fort Worth to start my law enforcement career.

Jason: What inspired you to get to law enforcement? What it your dad being in the military? Or was it some other thing? (3:06)

Billy: That is weird. I don’t know that I had a clear path, I was always kind of fascinated by it. I was around a few officers growing up and I liked what they did. Really, it’s more about service and serving the community. I decided that I wanted to do something and I felt like I can make a difference in people’s lives, help them when times were tough and we get called when things are not going good. That evolved from there and I thought, “Well, I would just ease into this as a reserve officer” once I got into it, I thought, “This is what my life is about. This is my career”, that is what inspired me to go into full time at Fort Worth.

Jason: Awesome. We just left the new Burleson PD headquarters. I did a Burleson leadership academy and when we held that, it was at the old headquarters downtown. When did you all move? What has that done for you, in terms of the department? (3:55)

Billy: Fort Worth is no different than Burleson to the world. Usually, you have a place that has been around for a long time and I think that there were in this building for 30-something years. It used to be a post office prior to that.

Jason: Really?

Billy: I had been added onto a few times and we had people that were in closets and making offices out of those.

Jason: Yeah, I remember how small those were.

Billy: Those was small spaces. Our elected officials and our city management looked at it and said we need to expand. They did all sorts of funding for these projects and I appreciate everything that they did. This vision began before I got here but they put everything on hold and when I got here, we went back to everything with the plans, made a few changes, added a community room to the building. It was just time to expand and we have got some really nice spaces in there; we have a community room that our community can come in and reserve. Let us say you have a neighborhood association or a group of folks that we partner with. We do our citizens police academy training in there or our cops training and faith-based partnerships and so many other things that we do.

The facility itself has given us a lot better space. We have a training room in there, we are partnering with a lot of other agencies to advance training in there. The facility is phenomenal and we are just really blessed to have it.

Jason: For those that don’t know, can you remind us where the new headquarters are at? (5:36)

Billy: Yeah. It is on Wilshire. It is very visible. Wilshire & Elk 1161 southwest Wilshire Boulevard. You really can’t miss it, it has got a 27-something foot tall edge.

Jason: And a huge badge on the front.

Billy: And the front windows, which obviously is a very visible location. From that regard, we have a lot of visitors that pass by every day and can stop there and ask questions or drop of prescription drugs. We have a ‘drug take back’ box in there and a lot of different things to interact with our community.

Jason: It is definitely more visible than the last one.

Billy: Absolutely.

Jason: Next door used to be Wells Fargo but I noticed that it has changed to a municipal court.

Billy: Yes.

Jason: Is that open now? (6:16)

Billy: It is actually open January this year. January 1st or 2nd, whenever they came back from the new year. Around the time we started construction, we got wind that Wells Fargo was closing that location so the city was able to purchase that, which gave us a pretty big amount of land behind there. It gave us that whole block so it really has worked out well. They have got a phenomenal facility over there and really is much more visible and user friendly for them as well.

Jason: Where was that before?

Billy: It was actually in a lease space out in a county building across from Burleson high school. Where you go get your license plate renewed, that is where it was.

Jason: Okay, so it’s since moved. 

Billy: That’s correct.

Jason: For folks to know the size of the department here in town, can you talk about what the size was when you jumped in? Has it grown since in terms of the amount on the force? (7:06)

Billy: It was 62 when I got here and it’s about 64-65 sworn and 21 civilian employees. The departments in Fort Worth are obviously a much larger organization. Burleson and every other law enforcement agency is expected to do the same things that you would expect in a large city. You just have to do it differently and for me, that was a transition of coming in and learning how we don’t have 3 SWAT teams that you can call for something but we have a great SWAT team and they are all patrol officers.

Jason: Double duty.

Billy: So everybody there wears a lot of hats. You get the same thing accomplished, you just use less people.

Jason: I was going to ask you; how many motorcycles? (8:11)

Billy: 4.

Jason: I noticed that sometimes I see the SUV driving around as the citizen’s patrol.

Billy: Yes.

Jason: What do you have to do to be on that? What do they do? (8:18)

Billy: There are two different groups of people; citizens on patrol and the citizen’s police academy alumni association (CPA) as I refer to them. If you want to know a lot more about our department, you come in and sign up. I think it is a 7-week course. What we do is that we have our community resource officers getting together and they teach this class. It really gives you a more in-depth look at our department so that you understand some of the things that we do. We have people from SWAT come and talk to you. Formal negotiators, we take you over - Mansfield lets us use a simulator house - a shoot and don’t shoot simulator. We go over and do things like that. We would do simulated traffic stops and we really get to see things from the eyes of our employees, who are out working the streets. Talk to them, get to know them better. That is an in-depth look.

Then the cops program is our ‘citizen’s on patrol’ and that is the SUV that you see. They go through a little extra training and they go out, check out that car and drive through the neighborhoods and work with our community resource officers to be able to say, “We have got some crime trends in this neighborhood or this neighborhood, can you give me some visibility in there”. They become the eyes and ears of our department in working closely with the officers and you see them a lot. All those groups out at. Hot sounds of summer, all the different events that we have. They are out, very visible and are doing charts and helping people, directing traffic.They put in an enormous amount of volunteer hours every year and it is just a tremendous benefit to our city.

Jason: If anybody wanted to do the police academy. I am assuming you have to be a resident of Burleson to apply or how does that… (10:03)

Billy: That is preferable for us in turning the benefit around but I don’t think that is absolute. For the CPA, if you want to come out, I don’t think anyone is going to worry too much about it.

Jason: Got you. Is there a cost associated with the time?

Billy: No.

Jason: What is it usually?

Billy: It is really a time cost, that is what it is to them. Usually, the classes are on Thursdays, you go through 7 of them. They are probably about 2-3 hours depending on what we are doing that night. People walk away with a much better appreciation and understanding of what our officers do every day and you can come and ride in with our officers and see different shifts. You can ride on day shifts and then you can turn around and ride on midnight shifts. The midnight shifts are very different.

Jason: You see a whole different…

Billy: Yeah. They can learn a whole lot about what goes on within the city, talk to our officers about the city but it is building relationship for us. It is just building great relationships.

Jason: I am assuming that there is information on the Burleson PD website.

Billy: Yes. The Burleson PD website. You can go into the community groups and look for our ‘citizens police academy’ or our ‘citizens on patrol’. Our community resource officer is Tiffany Bauereisen who coordinates all of that and does a tremendous job at it.

Jason: We will make sure to include a link in the description for folks.

Billy: Thank you.

Jason: Talking about Burleson crime. One thing I have always loved, I have heard the mayor say this many times - our population is increasing, yet our crime is still decreasing. Is that still accurate? (11:23)

Billy: Last year, we had a little bit of an increase in our part 1 crime. Crime is categorized into two different ways. Part 1 is considered the more violent crime and thefts and things like that as categorized by the FBI. The part 2 crime still categorized by the FBI. These are things like, drugs, fraud, forgery. Those types of offences, they are different types of offences. The more serious ones are the part 1. We had an increase in the part 1 offenses last year, which is the first one we have had in quite a while. This year, right now, crime has backed down, we are having a decrease. When you talk about the mayor and I listened to when he was talking to the chamber at a different event about the population going up. You should been seeing a compatible rise with the crime when the population increases but we have not been seeing that. We have been fortunate but there is always room to improve on things.

There are things that we have control over. When I say control, I am talking about prevention as opposed to things that you might not have as much control over. Thefts, burglary motor vehicles, I would talk about burglary motor vehicles as an example. You park your car in front of your house and you leave property in it. There is always someone out looking to take advantage of opportunities. They are going to come in there and they are going to burst your window. In Burleson, it drives me nuts; they’ll leave a car unlocked and they would leave a laptop, a purse, a gun and all kinds of things in there. Those are things that we can have an impact on. It is kind of like fishing; you never go back to a place where you never caught fish. You always go back to where you catch fish. If they continue to be successful and coming in and burglarizing…

Jason: They are going to keep coming back.

Billy: They are going to keep coming back. That is on us to try; we put videos out, we are going to look at making another one and try to educate people. While Burleson is still a very safe community, we don’t want to open that door.

Jason: You don’t want it to have a reputation.

Billy: Right.

Jason: In terms of talking about crime rate. As you said, it is not increasing as much as the population is increasing overall. What are the things that the police department is doing to stay on top of this? Also, with current times, trying to stay on top of culture and some of the things you were talking about before. (13:50)

Billy: We have a crime analyst. We hired one. We had a crime analyst retire so we hired another lady that used to work for Arlington PD. She comes in and she evaluates our crime every day. Whatever offenses come in, she would evaluate what is going on. We meet every Wednesday morning at 9 am. We meet in the morning to look at the previous weeks crimes. We are all discussing the crimes and where we are seeing the increase. If we have a trend in burgles motor vehicles, thefts or somethings. We can re-adjust where are resources are. On occasion, we bring people in on overtime that are dedicated to that particular neighborhood that we have seen an increase in burgled motor vehicles. We do that often.

We would push that information. We would come out earlier to our cops groups and say, “We are seeing some increases over here” whether it be a theft. People leave their garage doors open and people would come in and steal their alarm or something. That is part of what cops look for when they get a call to the house. “Your garage door is open. You know that” most times, they just forgot. We are always looking at our crime and trying to redeploy resources in direction that help us with our crime trends.

Jason: You were mentioning training as an addition to what you are already receiving. Can you go on to what that development is? (15:30)

Billy: About a year-and-a-half ago. I met with a few of our city leaders, citizens. I said, I have this vision of starting a Burleson police foundation. I threw a pitch out to them and they embraced it wholeheartedly. All 5 of them that originally met are still on the board and we have increased that board. They raised money for mainly three goals; one is to support our entire department officers and civilians in our annual award banquets, which honors outstanding service from our staff. The second things is training. The third thing is equipment over and beyond, what you would expect the normal city budget to purchase. To give an example, we just put together for our open house, we out together a board that shows some kinds of things that they paid for.  896 hours so far, they paid for in training. This is like the de-escalation of mental health issues, autism and law enforcement, violence against women, mental health, peace officers courses and so many other things that we are training over and beyond what you would expect.

Our society doesn’t always have the answers for mental health issues and we have got plenty of mental health issues. You heard it after the Dallas shooting when the then chief David Brown said a lot of larger societal issues are laid at the feet of the law enforcement because they don’t have anybody else to handle it. We spent an enormous amount of time dealing with people that have challenges in mental health. There are people that have PHD’s and they deal with these issues in a sterile environment. We are going out when someone is spiraling at a bad time in their life and we are dealing with it out in a raw environment. In their house, they probably have access to weapons and things like that; it can be a knife, a gun or something. In the academy, you get 40 hours roughly of mental health training. That’s nothing compared it to PHD. We got to get better at what we are doing and to deal and de-escalate situations like this, that is where the foundation comes into play.

Jason: I think that is great. How can people support the foundation? (17:57)

Billy: You can go to the Burlesonpolicefoundation.org. It is a website, there is a donate button on there. The board of directors, if you live in Burleson and shop in Burleson, you probably recognize a lot of these folks. Great business leaders within our community and they do so much for us in raising money. They got a great understanding of our department and we meet on a monthly basis. On the first Tuesday of the month, we meet and discuss issues. The latest thing they have purchased is, we just purchased a ‘DJI Matrice 210 drone. That thing was a little over $11,000 and they raised the funding to purchase that.

Jason: Wow!

Billy: That is really going to help our department in a lot of ways. It’s fun stuff they are doing.

Jason: Is it a drone program that you have? (18:45)

Billy: Yes.

Jason: What do you use that for?

Billy: With the purchase of that drone, I just finished deploying. It is a lengthy process about a week ago through the FAA. You have to have a certificate of authorization to be able to have within, like we have Spink’s Airport to be able to fly commercially like we’re doing as a law enforcement agency. A lot of rules on that. We would send our folks through the drone pilot school and they would go through the testing, a knowledge based testing on the part 107 through the FAA. We would start a drone program. Drones are so much more popular in law enforcement. They are everywhere but in law enforcement, they get somebody that is lost. It has a real gamble system, it has a nice camera and it has a flare on it that can pick up heat signature.

Jason: Oh wow!

Billy: You get someone that leaves and goes from a stolen vehicle for example out into a field, hiding. You can out that drone up and locate them very quickly. Lost kids, lost adults too. The technology is phenomenal and it keeps evolving. If you had a homicide in the field area for example, you can take that drone up and map that same… I am being told, there is software now for mapping accidents. Let’s say you had a fatality accident on I-35, you can take that drone up and map that accident scene.

Jason: Take a photo.

Billy: Yes. You don’t have to close the freeway down and that is awesome because usually when we have a fatality accident, the freeway is going to be closed for 2-3 hours.

Jason: Wow! We were talking about this beforehand; the drone is $11,000 versus how much is a helicopter now days? (20:25)

Billy: It depends on what you want to buy and how much you want to spend. The last I checked, it was about 1.5 million for the bell jet ranger. It maybe more than that now. Then you pay…

Jason: Operational expenses.

Billy: Operational expenses, personal expenses and things. For a smaller department, there is just no way you can afford that. The drone gives you some advantages that you did not have in clearing fields and things like that. It is a neat program. Law enforcement agencies across the country are getting involved in the drone programs.

Jason: One thing I saw on Facebook maybe a year ago. A lot of people do transactions on Facebook or Craigslist in terms of exchanging goods. I thought I read something about the police department parking lot being a safe zone for that. (21:11)

Billy: Yeah. As safe as safe can be. We put an exchange zone up there. There are cameras that monitor it. 

Jason: The whole front area?

Billy: The front left side of it in particular is where we want you to come in and do your exchange. That goes for if you are buying something off a social media site and coming there and exchange it. If they don’t want to meet you at the police department.

Jason: There is something wrong.

Billy: There is a red flag. Also, we have the child custody issues. We have several people that have come in there and exchange their children on their days to have the children for the week. We actually made an arrest off of one. They came in to do an exchange and I am going to give you a little hint; if you are coming in to exchange children, number one, don’t hit. Never ever hit your spouse but don’t do it in a police parking lot on camera because it is going to get you arrested.

Jason: Yes, quick response time at that.

Billy:  Absolutely.

Jason: That is under 24/7 surveillance?

Billy: Yes.

Jason: Say an altercation happened there, there is somebody in the police department?

Billy: Communications is always in there, they can get an officer. There is not always someone in the department. They may be doing reports and things. A lot of times they are but for the most part, we want them out in the communities and driving out on the street and things but the communications is always there.

Jason: Always there. Okay. Alright guys, we are going to hop out and support Dwell and get a cup of coffee and we will be back in just a minute.

Okay guys, we got our Dwell fix back in the car. We are going to continue on for just a few more minutes. Another question that I had written down and is interesting is… I have never known the answer to this. Say somebody needs help or is in a situation and they need to call 911. They call from their cell phone, is there a way that you guys can tell a location from a cell phone? Are you reliant upon the person at the other end to give a location? (23:11)

Billy: Great question. We are still at this point reliant upon them giving us the information of where they are. So it is important to always know where you are. We can ping phones but that is not an easy process. An easy process is you being to explain to us where you are. The other thing with cell phones depending on where you are as to what tower that hits. You maybe in the county and it goes to the county but you are needing Burleson PD but that can be transferred through technology. That phone number can be transferred to the appropriate agency depending on where you are. Especially if you are out in a rural area, it is extremely important to know where you are.

Jason: To know where you are.

Billy: Absolutely.

Jason: Say you are in a rural area, is it possible to pull up your maps app on your phone and give GPS coordinates.

Billy: You can do that and communications can narrow that down. You should be able to do that.

Jason: My other question was; do you know off the top of your head what typical response time to any type of altercation or anything in the city? (24:32)

Billy: Not off the top of my head can I give you the exact time. It depends on the nature of you call, as to how it is prioritized. Everything has a priority to it so if you calling and it’s a life threatening event, somebody has a gun or is trying to kick into your house, shots are being fired, a knife or something like that. That jumps to the top of the list on prioritization and we get there very quick. Then goes down from there if you had a burglary at your home.

Jason: And they are no longer there.

Billy: And they are no longer there. A burglary on your car, theft or something like that. It goes down. That just makes common sense. We are not going to send somebody to a theft call when there is no suspect on the scene when all of a sudden, you have a major incidence a shooting or something like that. That is what is always going to take priority.

Jason: That is usually when you see the sirens on. If there is a life threatening type of emergency? (25:39)

Billy: We are initially different from my past experience. We still respond lights and sirens to major accidents. Especially those on the freeway because you look out on 35 speed limits 70, you get somebody coming in from across a hill over in Renfro area - that can really compound and it’s very dangerous. So we send people to major accidents that are blocking the roadway, we will send those codes. We try to limit the number of times we run lights and sirens because it is dangerous for officers, it is dangerous for our citizens that panic a lot of times when that happens.

Jason: Are there any other things that you mentioned where the crime that was seen in the area is unlocked cars and maybe that is where Burleson used to be. It’s was a quiet little town and it is changing. Are there things that when you are talking to the Burleson community, you would recommend just people to stay at watch for? (26:22)

Billy: Knowing your surroundings and understanding parking if you are out at night. Parking in a well-lit area and paying attention to who is maybe in a car or does not look like they have a purpose. They come up and try to make small talk. Those are some red flags, you gotta be cautious. The bottom line is; if your stomach makes you feel like this isn’t right then go with that gut feeling and don’t put yourself in a bad position. Educate your kids because your kids are vulnerable.  A 16-year old is out driving, they are vulnerable. I used to tell my kids, “Nothing good happens after midnight, go home” they did a pretty good job. As they got older, they got…

Jason: Nothing good happens after 9.

Billy: Maybe on the news maybe but that is about it. You have to be aware of your surroundings. Use good common sense. If you are female, don’t go out…. This is for males too but especially females, don’t go out jogging out in the night by yourself in a secluded area. You elevate your risk of being a victim and I would be amiss if I didn’t talk about domestic violence. We talked about part 1 offenses and domestic violence is such a serious problem in this country. It is a whole lot more prevalent than gets reported to police. It starts simple, it may start with verbal abuse and then it turns into physical. What you see in domestic violence is an escalation; there is a history, you can point this out to the Mayor that you are going to be visiting with tomorrow. There is an enormous amount to statistical data to support domestic violence and it escalates.

I would give you an example; Burleson is the first city in the nation to pass a strangulation ordinance. You might say, “That is kind of weird. Why is that?”  The ordinance isn’t imposing sanctions on the suspect, it is imposing sanctions on our city. The difference in this is that is that this ordinance forces our officers when they are out on the scene and they find that strangulation has occurred, the ordinance kicks in and they have to call the medical team, the fire department and the ambulance to that scene. Because the history is showing that when you are strangling someone, the lethality of that… I cannot get the numbers of the top of my head but the risk of being seriously injures goes way up.

What is interesting about police and how we have been training. The re-acclamation for us is; show me the bruise, show me the abrasion, show me the blood and that is how I categorize the level of offense against you. A broken arm is a different category than a bloody nose. What we are finding out with strangulation is that so much damage can be done. Some of it, permanent damage and it won’t even leave a mark because it doesn’t take a lot to damage the throat area. We call the medical professionals out there to do the medical evaluation to make sure you are trying to help that because there has been some very serious cases that occurs a few days later off of strangulation.

Jason: It wasn’t noticed

Billy: It wasn’t noticed, so we are trying to bring awareness to a strangulation and if you are willing to put your hands around someone’s throat and strangle them, you are a very dangerous person. I would give an example, last year, we had 4 homicides and Burleson does not have many homicides. We had 4 homicide last year and 50% of those, 2 of those were strangulation offenses.

Jason: Really?

Billy: You don’t realize and we are looking at that and going, Wow! What can we do to make a difference and protect primarily women and anybody. Trying to protect and educate. They might start out small and punch you and you think, “I am not calling the police” and the suspect gets away with it or they get a hand slap or something like that. Then you come back and they escalate that. We are trying to intervene at that smallest level, trying to get help to people and route them to services like ‘women’s haven’, ‘one safe place’ and so many other partnerships that can help intervene and not let these escalate because they often escalate into homicides.

Jason: One thing I just thought about as you were talking; does Burleson have a problem with folks calling 911 for non-emergency calls? (31:29)

Billy: No. it is amazing what people define as emergency.

Jason: The dispatch kind of determines that.

Billy: Yeah. Really, it goes into the same place. Our community resource officers are great a great resource for our citizens. We have 4 of them, when we are fully staffed. We are not fully staffed in that area right now but we have 4 of them that are responsible for geographic areas; north, south, east and west. Then they have big ticket items; one of them is over faith-based partnerships. Our ministers and officers for greater Burleson. The rest of them help to support but this one is the lead on that. One of them is over the ‘citizen’s police academy’, cops and so forth and so on.  Get to know you CRO and your community resource officer. Get to know them in your neighborhood because they can become and invaluable resource for you in trying to find out the non-emergency things as opposed to even having to call the dispatch. 817-426-9903 is our non-emergency number. It is answered by the same folks.

Jason: You are talking about the CRO’s (community resource officers) and they have different regions that they cover. How would somebody look whomever that person is up? (32:48)

Billy: You can do a couple of things; you can go to the website and there is information on the website. Again, you can go into community resources and you will see the information on the CRO’s and what they do. When we put them together and they has 2 CRO’s before I started here and we expanded that to 4 when I got here because I know the value that they can bring to the community as a resource. In being able to say, “Hey, help me with this problem going on. Help me with these issues we are having in our neighborhood” that is where they become invaluable. You know, it is not something you will call 911 on but it is something that we need some help and we need some guidance on this. That is what the CRO is all about. They are a great resource. If you have community meetings, if you are not connected with this already and you have got neighborhood meeting and community meetings, invite our CRO’s to that. They can talk to you about crime, hey can pull stats for your neighborhood and talk specifics with you. 

Jason: Okay. That is great and it is probably a whole lot easier for folks who live in HOA because they have a connection to a CRO; versus neighborhoods that don’t, those are the people who want to look up. 

Billy: I don’t remember this as a statistics quote a some time ago but it talked about… when I was getting my masters degree at Tarleton. It talked about when a neighborhood is organized, when they know their neighbors and when they have a relationship with the police, their crime rate in that neighborhood is a lot lower. 

This is your area; this is where you live. You want to be connected with the police department. We have the community room that sits about 35 people. If your HOA wants to come up, reserve this and say, “We want to meet with our CRO. We want to meet with a crime analyst. We want to meet with the chief” we would set that up; you can count me in and we will all sit together and talk about your community in particular. We can pull up the stats on your community. What are the driving forces behind that and we can show you some of the things that we are trying to do in that area. This is all about serving the public. That is what we do; we don’t sell widgets, this is what we do. We want to partner with our community and be able to reach. All the different demographics, age groups, man these kids, partnering with them and we are going to set up a video in the distant future of being stopped by police. That is applicable to anyone especially our youth. You are going to get nervous; a police car gets behind you and those lights come on, you are going to be nervous but there are some things you can do to de-escalate that situation.

If it is night time. You are reaching under a seat and trying to find a wallet. You are trying to get a wallet for the driver’s license and stuff or insurance. What our officer back there sees and perceives is; you are either hiding dope or you got a gun, a knife or something. That automatically puts us on edge. Turning that interior light on, getting your hands up at 10 o’clock and just leave them on the wheel. If you have the license to carry, which plenty of people in Burleson have, and you got your weapon with you before you ever reach it, let that officer communicate. ”I have a license security and my wallet in my console and so is my gun” de-escalate that not all of a sudden you open up that console and start reaching for a gun.

Jason: And he sees a gun.

Billy: It can put a bad situation and make it worse real quick.

Jason: We are running on 40 minutes and it’ll probably 30. It’s about time but based on our conversation, we will include some links in the podcast. That way, folks that are watching this, if you want to access to be able to reach your CRO and look at the citizen’s police academy. All that would be in the notes. We are right off from memorial day so we want to be sure to thank you and your team for your service, and what they do for Burleson. (36:24)

Billy: Memorial day, a lot of people look at it like a holiday but it is such an amazing day when you think about it. Our military, over a million people sacrificed their lives in protection of this country and protection of our freedom that we get to enjoy today. We always want to remember our debt to the military. My dad, retired out of the air force so I always have a special place for the Military in my heart. That is a great group of people.

Jason: Thank you for taking for taking the time chief.

Billy: Absolutely.

Jason: Appreciate it.

Billy: Absolutely.

Jason: Thank you sir.

Episode #007 - Do you want to know the in’s and out’s of property management? Well now is your chance! In this episode we visit with Jay Hartley. Jay is the Co-owner of Frontline Property Management.

Episode #007 - Do you want to know the in’s and out’s of property management? Well now is your chance! In this episode we visit with Jay Hartley. Jay is the Co-owner of Frontline Property Management and he has extensive experience in real estate investing/managing. Join us as we get to know Jay and learn key insights in the world of property management. 

Jay’s Bio: Jay is a seasoned investor and has been a licensed Texas Real Estate Agent specializing in rental investments for nearly two decades. He is an active and contributing member of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) and has served as the Fort Worth/Mid Cities Chapter’s President, Treasurer and Secretary in recent years. He is a sought-after speaker for multiple Realtors boards & advisory panels, investment training seminars and several nationally syndicated radio programs focused on single family real estate investments.

Links from this episode:
Coffee purchased from Starbucks: https://www.starbucks.com/
Frontline Property Management: http://frontlineproperty.com


Episode #007 REN Podcast Transcription (Jay Hartley)

Jason: Good morning everybody. Jason Reynolds here with the ‘Real Estate Now Podcast’ and I have Jay Hartley with ‘Frontline Property Management’ he is the COO and co-owner of ‘Frontline Property Management’

Jay: Hey everybody!

Jason: How are you doing today Jay?

Jay: I am awesome, how about you?

Jason: I am doing great. Okay guys, so obviously, in the real estate business, we work in investments as well. ‘Frontline;’ is actually a sister company to ‘Vision Realty and Investments’. So I want to bring Jay in to talk a little bit about property managements and his role there. Let us get to know Jay a little bit, how long have you been in the area? (0:37)

Jay: I have lived in the DFW metroplex for about 20 years.

Jason: Okay. So quite a while then.

Jay: Yes.

Jason: Where are you from? (1:06)

Jay: I was born in El Paso, so Texas native but shortly after I was born, our family moved from place to place. I think the longest we ever stayed was about three years. Mom built shopping centers, they call then strip centers.

Jason: Okay.

Jay: Not to be confused with the other kind of strip centers. She built shopping centers and dad was in the military. Between mom and dad, we moved about every 2-3 years on average.

Jason: Is that how you got the bug into being into property management and around the business? (1:39)

Jay: Yeah. For as long as I can remember, my mom has been in some form of real estate. She is what they call an abstract officer originally, which is what we consider now as a title officer. Metes and bounds, when you want to buy a property, she is the one that pulled out a big book and figured out exactly what you were buying.

Jason: Okay.

Jay: How it measured and so forth. Then she got into really full-fledged real estate selling, leasing and property management and has been doing it for so long. I swore to myself, especially my brother and I. I swore to myself that we were not going to get into real estate because, it was the business that took mom away from us, late nights, weekends and all that kind of thing. But after I got out of college, I was in the hospitality industry and mom called me up one day and says, “Hey, I need some help. Please come help me in my office” as family does, you pitch in whenever you are needed. So I went into her office and kind of helped out. The first person I met was someone that needed a house and to make the long story short, it was an eye-opening experience for me because I was so energized by one person’s reaction to being able to get a home.

It just pumped me up. I was excited and I wanted to do it again. I wanted to replicate that feeling for somebody else and replicate the feeling I had. Then I got a check and I was like, “Oh! You make money at this”. Shortly then after, I got my real estate license and I was off and running.

Jason: Cool. Are you married? How long have you been married? (3:33)

Jay: I am married. Just over 10 years. My wife and I just celebrated 10 years. We have 3 beautiful dogs, we are doggy parents so my wife’s career is in real estate as well but on the other side of it, she does HOA management , she has got a blossoming career so we find time for the dogs, but that’s about it.


Jason: Cool. I know this but not everybody else. You have recently jumped in to ‘Frontline’ so how long have you been with this officially? (4:01)

Jay: I started January 1st actually January 2nd. I don’t think any of us work on January 1st. yeah, I started January 2nd, I have been in real estate for 17 years now. I had been running another company for someone else for 15 years. I decided to make a change and the original owner of ‘Frontline’ was somebody that I have done many deals with in the past. We decided to partner up and move forward.

Jason: That is Steve Fithian.

Jay: It is.

Jason: We interviewed him on the last one. I have got a bunch on miscellaneous questions that are in no particular order, these are questions that I have had owners ask.

Jay: Putting me on the hot seat.

Jason: One question is; a lot of people ask about the eviction process in Texas. It is pretty strict in California. Can you give a short version of what the eviction is like in Texas? (5:00)

Jay: Texas is a landlord friendly state so it is awesome. We do not want to have to evict anybody but if we are actually going it have to go through with the eviction process. It is great for it to be easy. I never really understood how easy it was in the beginning for us anyway. Until, I started working with a lot of out of state investors in California, New York, Florida and so forth. To actually find out the difficulties that they go through; time constraints, the issues that they run into is mind boggling for me because it is so foreign to me.

In Texas, it takes us about 23-25 days depending on how many weekends fall in there to actually get a tenant out from start to finish. There could be a little more of a delay if the tenant appeals it but that is pretty rare. Texas is pretty cut and dry with the tenant’s inability to pay being the primary reason for eviction. When you go before the judge with the case, it is pretty much cut and dry with the judges and the tenants. The tenants hadn’t paid and they can’t show that they have paid. It is pay to stay and if you can’t pay, you have to go.

Jason: So pretty easy compared to other states.

Jay: Yes.

Jason: Another one is, when people are doing the research of property management companies, you are going to see the fees range all over the place. One thing that I have noticed is some companies may have really low fees but then there is a maintenance fees on top of things, so they are making the same amount but just in different ways. (6:40)

Jay: They actually make more.

Jason: They actually make more?

Jay: Yeah.

Jason: Can you kind of dive into that?

Jay: Sure. There are companies out there that still do what you consider all inclusive prices. It is the way that ‘Frontline’ is set up. We do not charge for maintenance, coordination, answering the phone or whatever it might be. There are a lot of fee based structures that are out there. It is kind of that introductory rate if you will. The comparison is that 5% credit card that you can get also when it jumps to 20 or 25% after you introductory period so it is comparable to that. A lot of companies are switching to a low monthly management model because it is a set stagnant fee, if you will because the rate never changed. But, the variable fee is the one that they put on top of your maintenance coordination. If you have a toilet repair and it is $200 and they charge you 10%, that is an easy $20 that they made just for coordinating that and sending it out a vender.

That is not so bad one time, but if you are replacing a water heater and doing a roof, replacing a roof or a major remodel. Anything like that and if it is expensive, those fees can really add up. Me being an investor myself, it is hard for me to calculate a variable fee. I don’t want to have what-if’s. I know some things are going to break and I am going to have to fix and that kind of thing but I budget for that kind of thing. If I happen to budget and extra 10% on top of that or whatever that number is. I am not saying that everybody charges 10, I am not saying that it is but something on average like that. Then, you have to budget for those extra fees.

Jason: Right.

Jay: It is not a model I like, it is not a model that I am interested in pursuing. It works for some people and some investors are okay with that. If they are, more power to how you want to handle your business. I just think that all inclusive is a better pricing model.

Jason: Right. I think that is a good comparison. Let us say, John, a new investor comes into town and buys a bunch of properties and gets set up with a property manager and some of them are already vacant. What is the process that ‘Frontline’ uses to market those properties and get them filled as soon as possible? (9:10)

Jay: Good question. Initially, we are going to hope that John contacted us before we actually closed on the deals. I know you and ‘Frontline’ we work really well with investors. Introduction up front and putting together a deal and evaluating properties. We are going to hope John contacted us ahead of time so we can prepare and have a chance to put everything on paper and get it scheduled out. Once we get a piece of property that an investor has taken on. First, we are going to run the comps on it. Whether it is occupied or vacant, we are going to determine what the rate should be and compare it to what they are paying now, what they were getting before. From that, if it is vacant, we are going to hop to and make sure we are getting it ready for leasing, showing and make sure it is ready to show and ready to move in.

From that, get it on the market, out it is in MLS, start showing through our multiple different websites. Put a sign in the yard and pictures online and all that good stuff. Vacancies are the kiss of death for investors. I hate it when one of my properties goes vacant - if it is not my choice. I don’t want people’s properties set there because a house sitting in a ground empty is not making me any money so I am losing money. The passive of cash flow is…

Jason: Gone.

Jay: Yes, it’s gone. You have a month of vacancy, two months of vacancy, you lost everything that you were going to be making for the year.

Jason:  Jumping off of that, how does that look for the investor? Do they have any type of fees when a property is not leased out? (11:04)

Jay: No. we don’t charge anything for the vacancy itself. There I no handling fee or anything like that. Obviously, if there is anything that we need to do work on, we are going to pass that through… we will ask that they cover make ready cost or the rehab cost or whatever but we are going to know what those would be upfront before we dive into it. But let’s say you have one that a tenant moves out and you have to get it ready. Hopefully, we have stocked a little cash away in the reserve so that we can absorb that expense relatively easily. Once it is leased, we are going to charge you a fee once you have leased it because that includes all the screening, background checks and that kind of stuff. But, no fee while it is sitting empty like that.

Jason: I just realized my windshield is cracked.

Jay: Oh dude.

Jason: That is funny.

Jay: That sucks.

Jason: New car, new windshield.

Jay: I wonder if the warranty covers that.

Jason: I don’t know, I have to check.

Jay: I don’t see any.

Jason: Yeah, I don’t see a rock or anything. I want to jump off into that. You mentioned tenant screening. What does that look like for ‘Frontline’ once you find a tenant? What is that process for how they get screened? What are the parameters that you look for? Does the owner have any influence on anything there? (12:19)

Jay: We try to make the application process as easy as possible for the tenants. We want them to go online and fill out an online app. Complete the application relative easy and pay online for their app fee.

Jason: They do everything, it is pretty quick.

Jay: Yeah, they do everything online, they log in and we don’t want them to have the facts and all those other stuff. We make it as easy as possible.

Jason: Okay, now we have got our Starbucks fix and we are ready to go again. So back to the eviction, not the eviction question. The tenant screening process.

Jay: Yes.

Jason: So you got an online portal for everybody to do quickly and easily, which that is awesome because I have had people apply for properties. You have to print out paperwork, you have to try to and coordinate with the landlord and the property manager, I mean, it is just a mess. Then it all gets immediately process. What is the review process?

Jay: Once a tenant applies online, I am not saying ink is dead but we want to make it as quick as possible so the online process make it a lot easier. Once a tenant applies, it automatically goes to our background check, it runs credit check, criminal check and then they start the employment verification and the past rental and mortgage payment verification, the biggest delays that we run into is going to be… oh, hello, how are you doing? Is going to be the employment verification and then also the rental history. Those are the things that delay an approval. The credit checks is instantaneous. The criminal checks takes a minute. Those are relatively quick and we can look and see what kind of perspective tenant we are talking to. Of course, we want to make sure all the ducks are in a row, no skeletons in the closet. So we wait for the employment and rental history and mortgage payment history to come back in.

It usually takes about a day and sometimes 2 days to get everything in processed depending on the employment and the rental. From that, it’s basically a clear-cut point system that approves or declines a tenant. There is always a possibility that the tenant can be conditionally approves. Some of them maybe borderline, they fell just below the approval process. Sometimes, there is an opportunity for them to still lease the property and make an additional deposit. Maybe a co-signer, it depends on the scenario. If they fall below that then it is a done deal. Unfortunately, we have to decline them.

Jason: Say it is a popular property and it got a lot of attention and there are three applicants that are approved and there is really no difference among them. Is it based on priority, maybe whoever applied first? (15:32)

Jay: No, actually Texas is a great state that does not require that I take the first applicant. I know that is going to be a strange things from some of the California and Florida listeners because they are required to consider the first one. I am not, I would take the best applicant that we have. Let us say we have three applicants who have applied for the property, we don’t tell anyone of them that they are approved. We want to consider them all; we are going to run the backgrounds, we are going to check them all and I am going to pick the best one. I want the best candidate that we have available for our owners. There are a multitude of factors. How long have they been in the company? How much money do they make? Obviously. How good is their credit? A bunch of different factors. If someone is really questionable they went to the bottom of the pile automatically.

Jason: Okay, kind of going off that as well. How do you deal with pet scenarios with certain properties? Because I know some owners are asking, “Do we have to allow pets? Can we say we don’t want pets? Could there be a case-by-case basis. What’s that process like? (16:42)

Jay: I mean the easiest answer is case-by-case but I will caution anybody that says they don’t want to have pets. That the potential tenant pool just shrank remendously. The national average is 2.5 kids and a dog. I don’t know if the cats get left out of that one but that average is… a lot of people have dogs so. Little Timmy and his dog, you want them as a tenant.  Sometimes, they can be the ideal tenant not to say that dogs aren’t bad. This is coming from a dog lover but I know that there are bad dog owners out there, I don’t think any dog is bad, I think it is trained to be bad. Rottweilers and Pitbulls, they get a terrible name. The insurance company has now labelled them so that is a whole different story, they don’t allow those.

I think that there are bad dog owners out there. I know some owners of rental properties think that it would be better not to have dogs. We would have that conversation but we would allow an owner to say, “Look, no dogs” if that is the status quo then that is the way it would be. We want to caution them against that because we will diminish our tenant pool.

Jason: That makes sense. Once you have a tenant, how is the rent collected from them? I know they can drop it off at ‘Frontline’ but is there a direct deposit of it available? (18:24)

Jay: Yes, they can pay online, there are multitude of ways they can pay. They can pay online via ACH or direct deposit, which is probably the easiest E-checks and that kind of good stuff. We also have this ‘pay near me’ option. Let us say someone for some reason does not like using computer and electronic transfers of money or what have you. They can go to a bunch of different venues; convenient stores, check cashing place and they can take cash in there if they want.

Jason: Really.

Jay: Give it to them. They have an account number and everything is set up ahead of time so they know specifically where to go and who to sign to and so forth. But a tenant can go into some 7-Eleven and say, "Hey, here is my account number. I want to pay this bill" and we get a notification shortly after the payment is made that this account has paid the rent.

Jason: Is there a fee associated with that?

Jay: Yes. There is a fee. Obviously, there are certain services that..

Jason: I mean you are going to a 7-Eleven to pay your rent!

Jay: It is a similar fee amount if they went elsewhere and purchased a money order. I mean, it is comparable to that. We really talked about this option ahead of time and what it would cost and what would it look like to a tenant in utilizing this service. We wanted to make sure that it was relatively inexpensive but it is another option. If they are worried about their rent being on time, they can run over here and pay a couple of dollars in addition to the rent payment and the rent is tabbed in at whatever time they dropped it off or went and used this service. If someone is really scrambling to pay rent on time and they are waiting till the last minute. Procrastinators, you have got to love them. In that scenario, a couple of dollars hopefully won’t hurt.

Jason: From the owner’s side of things. Once they have a tenant. What kind of services does 'Frontline' have in terms of owner portals, being able to see their property? Obviously, they are in different time zones. A lot of clients are in California. Whenever they have the time, they have the access to look at their properties. (20:40)

Jay: They do. When they first set up the account. We would have what we call the owner portal access. They would be given a log in. They an look at their statements anytime. There are some history notes that are in there and are made available to them. Access to payment information and so forth. The most important thing is that it is stored in the cloud so they don't actually have to download their files or worry about emailing us or calling us and saying, "I need a copy of last year’s January's statement" or whatever it might be. They can easily log on to the portal and access those statements at any time. It makes it easy and every month, we get a new statement and a new log in, not log in. New statements and notifications that your statements are ready. A little bit of communication if anything has happened that month or if it is just status quo. You are going to get a note that all is good and here is your statement and your money is in your bank.

Jason: Yes. That is typically, what we get. Once a month, we get a statement that all is good and we go from there. If there is a tenant is on the property, how often do the property managers do property inspections? Like an actual walk through. (22:06)

Jay: Texas has a licensing for inspectors. None of our agents are inspectors.

Jason: Not inspections, just a work through.

Jay: Work through, we do them minimum once a year. Sometimes a property may warrant a more frequent visit. Pending a bad tenant or a couple of violations, HOA slap on the hand or whatever it might be. Minimum, they are going to walk it once a year. We encourage our  owners that if they want more frequent visits to the property. We offer a service where it is roughly $119 and they have a professional inspector go out there as often as they want and truly inspect the property. Take pictures, check the smoke detectors, walk through and test the HVAC or check the water heater and all that good stuff and negotiate a little bit for the special price for the inspection company to go out there and do it. They can do it as often as they want but keep in mind that having an inspector go by once a month, you are going to irritate your tenant.

Jason: I agree, and you’re eating up your passive cash flow.

Jay: Sure. We usually encourage them maybe once or twice a year and they have the inspection done. I do have a couple that had it quarterly in the beginning then when they get to comfort level they back it down. We don't want to inconvenience the tenant, but it is the owner's property I understand if they want to have it checked more frequently but once a quarter that is really pushing it.

Jason: Information for this new market, what do you see as the average for a property that has been made ready for the recommendation of the property manager? It is at the price that the property manager recommended. It is everything that 'Frontline' that has recommended. What do you see based on the market? (24:01)

Jay: Days, Literally 7-14 days.

Jason: Not long at all.

Jay: A week to 2 weeks is about the average. Some properties move within the day. Some properties move before we actually put them on the market. We would get neighbors that would see us working on the house and doing the paint or whatever. They’ll come and ask the maintenance crew, "Is this going to be for rent or is it going to be put back on the market?" Or what have you. The managers get those calls from time to time. Of course, they love them because they don't have to do much to them other the regular turnover make ready type of deal. Some of them may take a little longer and those are averaging about a week to 2 weeks. We are seeing them move really fast. We are seeing rents climb, which is great, but we have to be conscious about overpricing something. If you over price it and hope that someone is going to pay whatever you are asking. Sometimes those will shoot you in the foot.

Jason: Right. What is the leasing season? Just for a new investor. Typically in this area. When does it pick up and when does it slow down. Are there a few points during the year when it does that? (25:26)

Jay: Yes. Great question. The majority of our tenant base is going to be families. So kids that are in school and a majority of people that have children and want to try and plan their move, plan the move when the kids are out of school. So the busy time for us is summer. April through August is really rock and roll. We try to position the leases to where they come up during that period. Even if the tenants are going to stay, we want to renew them within that time frame and keep them on a one year basis. In the beginning,  we get something that is offered for lease. They bought it in December or what have you. We don't want the lease to come up in December every year so rather than a traditional 12-24 month lease term. We are going to try and position it to where it comes up in the summer. We do an 18 or 36-month lease so that when the first term comes around they are offered a renewal option and then at the point, they are going to be renewing on an annual basis or every 2 years. The more work we can do in the beginning to make it easier it is on the back end, the better.

Jason: Perfect. Jumping out of the property management side and more on the market. I know a lot of investor that come into town and they know ‘Frontline’ and ‘Visions’ we focus on the west side of the full metroplex. What areas does 'Frontline' like to cover? What area do they like to specialize in with the property managers? (26:57)

Jay: What do we cover? What do we specialize in? North Texas is what we like to cover. There are 6 counties around the DFW metroplex that we cover. Obviously it big ones are going to be Tarrant county, Dallas county and then we also have Johnson, Elis, Dimmit, Collin.  So allover. We are expanding our footprint as we kind of get bigger but. That is also really following the trend. Obviously, the big push originally was properties that were in the nucleus if you will. The metroplex itself for the short commuters. You also see a lot of suburban expansion. A lot of the commuters are going further and further out. Investment opportunities. You want to follow the opportunities. No house is too far as long as someone is willing to pay the rent that we need for it. We are looking at the entire metroplex as a whole.

Jason: What do you say to those investors? Because I know that a lot of clients that I have recently had. They came in and they were looking at Plano area. We had to coach them and show them that there are opportunities in other places as well that make them more money plus there is room for appreciation. We help them buy a home say in Granbury, Texas or in Weatherford or Azle Texas.  If someone is listening in from California you probably don’t know but if you do pull it on the map it is maybe a 40 minutes drive from downtown Fort Worth. What are your thoughts on those? Are those still good places? Are the tenants typically commuting in or is it a variety? Do they work in town too? (28:32)

Jay: The easiest way to compare it. Let us get off real estate entirely for a second. Let’s say you are going on vacation. Where do you want to go?  When you go on vacation. Obviously, you are going to a popular spot or what have you. The first thing that jumps into my mind is where do the locals go when they hang out. Where are the best bars? Where is the best dance club? Where is the best beach? The locals know that. Now, translate it back into real estate. What do the locals recommend?   Where are the locals living? Where do the locals go? Where do the local professionals recommend that you buy? That is first and foremost. The metroplex is expanding rapidly. What is the average? 1,100 people a week moving to the metroplex. We cannot for them downtown Dallas and Fort Worth. So everybody is looking... not everybody, but the majority are looking at the suburbs. There are a lot of opportunities. We want to try and make sure that we are capturing that. It is the commuters that are living further and further out of course our freeway system is just crazy. The rents aren't as high as Plano but the cost of purchase is comparable. It is lower price points, lower entry points.

Jason: Lower taxes.

Jay: Lower taxes. A little bit lower rent but that is all in comparison on ROI basis. When you show people that if you go a little further out you are going to pay a little bit less. They are going to get a little bit less but the ROI is just as good. Why wouldn't you?

Jason: Another thing for those listening that are maybe in California. If we are 40 miles away, it typically means 40-50 minutes. 40 miles doesn't equal 2 hours of a commute time because the freeway system is so good here. Usually, it moves pretty well, you just have your traffic hours. (31:17)

Jay: I thought we had bad traffic. I actually went to LA to attend an educational event to meet some people. Literally, it took me half-an-hour to go 4 miles. I could not believe that. I thought our traffic was bad. It is not. California is hand down some tough traffic.

Jason: Alright guys. We are kind of run up on our time. For those that are interesting in property management and have questions. Where can they go to and how can they reach you and contact you? (31:59)

Jay: FrontlineProperty.com is our website or give us a call 817-377-5190. I would be happy to talk to you an answer any questions or you an email me JHartley@frontineproperty.com. Happy to help.

Jason: Okay. Perfect. Thanks Jay.

Jay: Thanks Jason.

Episode #006 - What does investing look like in DFW? In this episode we visit with Steve Fithian. Steve has a wealth of experience in all levels of real estate.

Episode #006 - What does investing look like in DFW? In this episode we visit with Steve Fithian. Steve has a wealth of experience in all levels of real estate. Join us as we get to know Steve and dive into the world of investing with one of the best! 

Steve’s Bio: Steve Fithian serves as Senior Advisor and Managing Director for SVN | Trinity Advisors. With over 30 years of commercial real estate experience, Fithian specializes in selling and overseeing investment property sales that include multifamily, mini-warehouse, office, retail, undeveloped land and finished lots. He also organizes, manages, and acts as the general partner in property partnerships.

Fithian holds the designation of Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and is the former chairperson of the North Texas Chapter CCIM Membership Committee. In 2011, he was named a counselor to the Society of Exchange Counselors. The Society of Exchange Counselors is a marketing group consisting of approximately 100 investment brokers from various parts of the country who have proven their skills at solving clients’ problems.

Links from this episode:
Coffee purchased from Dwell: http://www.dwellcoffeeandbiscuits.com
Frontline Property Management: http://frontlineproperty.com
SVN Trinity Advisors: https://svntrinity.com


Episode #006 REN Podcast Transcription (Steve Fithian)

Jason:  Alrighty. Hello everybody! This is Jason Reynolds with the Real Estate Now podcast, and I've got the one, the only, Steve Fithian - broker of Visions Realty and Investments and also partner with SVN Trinity advisers here in Fort Worth. How are you Steve?
Steve:   Are we glad there's only one?
Jason:  Only one what?
Steve:   Steve Fithian. I'm doing great. It's a beautiful Friday afternoon.
Jason:  Perfect, perfect. Well, today what we're going to talk about- hey Don. Nice to see you. You know Steve, Don Lauer?
Steve:   Yes.
Jason:  Yeah, he just jumped on, he's watching right now.
Steve:   Super. Alright Don, hello!
Jason:  So what we're going to do is - I brought Steve on today to talk a lot about, or mainly about single family properties, he's been in the area a very long time. And so we'll be jumping on that, but before we do that I want to get to know Steve a little bit, so I researched you a little bit even though we've been working together a while. So you moved to Texas in 1990, is that right?
Steve:   Correct.
Jason:  Okay. So you are a certified commercial investment member.
Steve:   Actually that time I wasn't. I was in the process of getting a-
Jason:  But now you are.
Steve:   Now I am. 1993 I received that designation.
Jason:  Okay. You are a former chairperson of the north Texas chapter CCIM membership committee?
Steve:   Yes.
Jason:  Okay. See, I'm doing good! In 2011 you were named a counselor with society of exchange counselors. So what does that mean?
Steve:   It's a national organization, it's invitation only and it's a group of everything from developers to owners of real estate, brokers, and it's a way of getting together and trying to produce transactions amongst ourselves.
Jason:  Okay. Okay, awesome. Last thing I have here is in 2008 you received the Charles D. Tandy commercial realtor of the Year award?
Steve:   Correct.
Jason:  So did you have to do anything special for that? Was that for a certain transaction?
Steve:   That one was not, no. It was just voted on by my peers at the Fort Worth Border chairs. So...
Jason:  So there is an award that you won for transaction?
Steve:   Yes. It's in my office.
Jason:  What was that one?
Steve:  That was for a transaction in Arlington where we purchased an existing apartment complex in one phase, a condo complex in the second phase, converted them both to individual condos and then sold them off individually while maintaining it as a rental property for cash flow during that period of time.
Jason:  So a little complicated.
Steve:   It was pretty complicated. Also it was purchased from a wreath that kind of made it a little bit more complicated as well.
Jason:  Okay, alright. So we're gonna go ahead and do a coffee shop- Hey James! And in the midst there, I'll be asking questions. So Steve tell us a little bit about yourself. Are you married? How long have you been married? Do you have kids, grandkids?
Steve:   Been married for 35 years, have 4 kids. All of them are out of the home, so it's kinda lonely at home right now. And we have 2 grandsons, they are in North Carolina, and so unfortunately we don't get to see them as often as we'd like.
Jason:  Okay. Wife is Vicky?
Steve:   Vicky, yes. Like I said I've been married to her 35 years. She's a sweetheart.
Jason:  Okay. And now grandkids?
Steve:   The 2, the 2 in North Carolina.
Jason:  The 2, okay gotcha.
Steve:   Right.
Jason:  Well awesome. And so you've been in Texas since 1990, but where did you, were you in California prior to that? (3:34)
Steve:   I grew up in California, went to most of my schooling there including college and then worked there for a number of years until we relocated here.
Jason:  Okay. So then kind of using that segway, let's jump into the single family investment arena. So did you start that in California? Like when you graduated, did you go straight into working in real estate or were you in a different business first? (3:59)
Steve:   My first career was as a CPA, and so I was working for a big 6 accounting firm. But I had an interest in real estate starting in college, just didn't know how to make a living in real estate coming right out of college. I graduated with student debt and so you know I needed to have a good job and accounting provided me a good job. But I started investing- the first house I bought was 6 months after graduating from college.
Jason:  So did you go into that alone or did you go in with a partner for the house? (4:30)
Steve:  I got a partner. Again I was paying on debt, and was making okay money but I needed a partner to be able to do that, and found a good friend of mine who was same thing- graduated from college and we actually both stayed at home rather than getting an apartment after college. We stayed at home for a year. So in 6 months we bought our first home and then 6 months later we bought our 2nd property and that's when we moved away from home and moved into that 2nd property.
Jason:  Okay. So you still had the first one, and then you moved into the second property?
Steve:   Correct.
Jason:  When you moved out, did that become an investment as well, or did you...?
Steve:   Well I was living at home with my parents-
Jason:  Okay.
Steve:   And so we moved into the 2nd home that my friend and I purchased.
Jason:  Okay.
Steve:   And so we had one rental, and then we lived in the second home.
Jason:  So when you bought that first property, you leveraged it? (5:18)
Steve:   Yes, got a FHA loan at that time and investors to get FHA financing.
Jason:  Really?
Steve:   Yes.
Jason:  Okay! With favorable...what was the down payment of that?
Steve:   20%.
Jason:  Okay so you still had to do a pretty high down payment on it.
Steve:   Right.
Jason:  Okay. And how did it perform? Do you remember just- what kind of cap rate or return you were getting? (5:33)
Steve:  I don't remember the cap rate at that time, and I can tell you - I mean I was just in Southern California last week and that property - we bought it for $43,000 and I would guess that that property's worth is probably $400,000 now. Maybe 300,000-400,000. 
Jason:  Why didn't you keep it?
Steve:   Well, we did keep it for a while. We actually ended up buying a 3rd home, and moving into that. And so then we kept the first 2 as rentals and then we got 7 units. So it just got to the point where as we were, you know, continuing to expand we sold some of the earlier properties. I did keep it for quite a while. I'm trying to remember- it was probably about 1988 or so. So which would've been about 9 years hold before I sold it.
Jason:  Okay.
Steve:   And at that time I was- you know we were making the plans to move to Texas, and so I was starting to do exchanges, sell the properties that we had in California and exchange into properties in Texas.
Jason:  So when you bought that first property, so people that are- want to get into your mindset, were you looking to make x amount of dollars per month profit on it? Or were you just mainly wanting to get a property in your portfolio? (6:44)
Steve:  Coming from California, if you look at statistics there's a huge amount of people that have done extremely well with real estate. And so that was pounded into my head from an early age and in college I did a lot of research on it. And so I was just looking for gaining net worth through real-estate ownership.
Jason:  Okay.
Steve:  I was not flipping properties. I was strictly just wanting to accumulate a long-term portfolio of real estate.
Jason:  Okay. So did you eventually, was it 4 homes that you had in California before you moved to Texas? (7:26)
Steve:   Oh no, no. I partnered up with another and we bought a lot of houses. I mean... I don't know, 30, 40 houses and then started buying residential units, multi-family units.
Jason:  Okay. Did you self-manage first? (7:45)
Steve:   At that time I was still working in accounting. I had changed jobs and was controller of Coldwell banker. And so it's my job to locate the properties and then arrange the financing and then again due to my accounting background I purchased Yardi software and so I was doing all of the accounting. 
Jason:  Okay.
Steve:   And then I had a partner at that time that his job was to manage them in the physical leasing of the properties, arranging for the maintenance. He did all of that side of it.
Jason:  Okay. So was that- when you were in California, you had all those properties, did you ever hire out management or was it always between and your partners? (8:22)
Steve:   No, I never hired it out. When I left Coldwell banker at 1988 and started full time doing this, I did start self-managing other assets in addition to the assets that I had with this one partner, so the ones I have with that partner he was managing the other properties we did start managing at that time.
Jason:  Okay. So then what was the catalyst to come into California? Or to Texas, sorry. (8:49)
Steve:   The values in California were very high, the returns were low. The cycles were pretty short, and in the market in Texas at that time there was a unbelievable opportunity because the market had adjusted, and so there was some fantastic buying opportunities. And so I came strictly looking for the buying opportunities that Texas had. And originally, frankly I wasn't planning on moving there, I was just planning on investing there and I moved a management partner there to start managing the assets, and so my kids at that age, my oldest was 4. Wasn't in school yet, so we would go back there, spend a month, month and a half at a time. I would use that as a buying opportunity, meet with my management partner, go look at all the properties, etc.
Jason:  Okay. So how long was it before you started? Was it just a year or two before you started investing that you decided to move here? (9:44)
Steve:   We bought our first properties at May of 1990. It was on, we were here on a business trip in February of 1991., and on the drive back I mentioned that my wife and she was frankly astatic about the idea and so on the drive back we made all the plans, went back home, put our house on the market, and started making firm plans and by May of that year we were back in Texas.
Jason:  Oh, wow great! Okay, so pretty quick.
Steve:  Yes. 
Jason:  So then, over your period of time, when you moved to Texas and you started investing in single family here as well, what are the things that you used- what are the things you used to look at in an investment property to determine whether you wanted it or liked it, and has that changed over time or has it stayed the same or are there different factors that have played the part? (10:21)
Steve:   Well I need to back up before that.
Jason:  Okay.
Steve:   The very first thing that I do is evaluate the market. I mean, is there that a market that I don't even want to own the houses, so I don't buy houses just indiscriminately across the country. I do own property at other states, but I start with evaluating that local market- is it a long-term market, is it an opportunity just for the short-term. In Texas I did intense investigation into the market, and found out that in my opinion it had really long-range prospects. And in retrospect I was absolutely correct, and that's why I stayed because originally I thought I would come here and stay during the market cycle and move back to California.
Jason:  Okay.
Steve:   But that market cycle lasted far longer than any market that I've ever seen in California. And by then I was entrenched in the local market and believed in why they're creating the jobs here and was convinced that was going to continue. And so that's why I've stayed.
Jason:  Was there a period of time in the downturn of 2006, 2008 that you thought about leaving or was it still good at that time? (11:48)
Steve:   No, not at all. And in that downturn it was much more modest than what you saw, for example, on either coast or a lot of the other areas. And if you look a lot of the statistics, for example, the residential market in Dallas it did soften, but it was far less than any other part of the country, and again I attribute that to the long-term dynamics of this economy. The things, the pro business outlook with what Texas does and that that's carried through to the local municipalities as well.
Jason:  Okay. So then what are your, as you're here, you're doing a commercial side as well, what are you personally see the market being like in Dallas Fort Worth area over the next 5 years for both residential and for commercial? Just in your personal opinion. (12:35)
Steve:   I still think that we have an outstanding economy. I'm still very proud of it, I'm still investing here. I think that there are some areas that for example Houston- I'm actually investing in Houston but it's had the hurricane, the storms there, and then Houston has a little bit more of an impact from oil prices, but nonetheless I'm still in Houston because I know long-term that that market is going to do very well. And on a lot of their commercial markets like industrial, it's extremely strong because you have contractors that have relocated to that area to help in the rebuilding process. So long-term I believe that, I study demographics and the amount of incoming both from out of the country, from other states, people are coming here because of our consistent job row that's been consistent over many decades.
Jason:  Right, right.

Steve:   And it's still very affordable, even though we've had great price appreciation on residential, it's still extremely affordable when you compare it to other cities across the country and people with the salaries that they get here can afford not only a much better home but cars, and can play more etc. than they can't in another, a lot of other locations.
Jason:  Okay. So then when you started in California you self-managed with your partners, and then now you're, you have front line property management that you started. As an investor, what about property management made your life easier? What made you decide to get in that business and then, do you recommend that to investors and what does that do in terms of helping them maybe free up time to invest in more product? (14:16)
Steve:   Well I own a management company that I'm extremely proud of and I feel that we achieved some fantastic results, but on the other hand we cannot compete with somebody that is hands-on, that has the time to do their own maintenance that has the time to do their own leasing. But, the front line is not marketed to those types of people. There are so many people that have busy careers and are professionals, and they want a piece of real estate, but they don't have the time or want to deal with the headaches that come with management. So I would say it depends on who that investor is. If that's somebody that has the talent and the expertise and is willing to deal with the headaches, then they'll save the management fee and so that can add to the bottom line. But for most people, I would say that management is not the best use of their time.
Jason:  Yeah, okay. So then, if you were to come up with maybe just a few pointers of the biggest, some of the lessons you've learned in owning investment properties, is there anything that stands of that you think of when either purchasing properties, investment properties that you've learned over the years that has stuck in your mind? (15:51)
Steve:   Well due diligence is just up there at the top. And due diligence, that can be a very broad term so again that starts with selecting the right area, and then I would say it extends to the team that you have. I mean I was fortunate enough that I was doing this for a living, and I was trained to do proper due diligence etc. So when I was buying our houses etc, we always thoroughly checked them out and likewise on the commercial side as well. We checked them out professionally. So I would encourage everybody to do that, and so the other thing is you've got to have a great team whether it'd be everything from your broker, your financing, your attorney. That whole team is very, very important and I feel that I've been very fortunate that we have developed a good team and it's helped keep me out of trouble, you know? Then again some of the scars that I have, I would say legally, talk to an attorney as far as planning, the proper vehicle to hold title. Be properly insured. And so I would say those are some of the top tips that I would have. And then I guess I would also say that, do your homework but then don't be afraid to engage. I mean I meet a lot of people that are, I would say they're the gurus of the circuit. They go to the latest seminars, they get the latest tapes and the books and they just keep going over that process and spending more and more money getting more and more education, and they don't pull the trigger and buy their first asset. So I would just highly encourage people. Do your homework, but then engage. Go buy a property.
Jason:  So in terms of your personal journey, a lot of new clients that I work with have questions about "Okay, should I start in LLC if I'm purchasing 10 properties to put those into? If I only have a couple, should I worry about that?" Obviously they should probably talk to their attorney, but in your personal experience did you start out right with an LLC or did you with those few properties just have in your own, you and your partner's name? (18:07)
Steve:   We had them in our personal name and we had, what I refer to as a 'joint venture agreement draft' that was not recorded or record, but it was drafted. It, I would say it depends on the person's goals. It does get expensive to do entities like that, especially if you're doing one house, but certainly if you are planning to do this on a repeat basis, then I would get good legal representation and whether that advice- it would be cost prohibited frankly to put every single single-family home in a single asset entity, but certainly on the commercial property that's what I do. Every single one is a brand new entity.
Jason:  Okay. So, I had another question I was going to ask you but I just forgot. 
Steve:   Should I turn it around and interview you a little bit?
Jason:  No this is all about Steve Fithian.
Steve:   Well that'd be boring. Hopefully going to talk about some things that are going to interest the investors.
Jason:  So in your, I was going to ask you- in terms on investing now, I know we talked a little bit before we jumped on in terms of, you had more commercial opportunities that have been popping up so you've been selling out of your single-family investments due to appreciation. But, when you do purchase single-family investment properties and you're analyzing say cap rates, things like that. What do you factor in, your analysis for costs when you're trying to get an accurate picture about how the property performs? (19:59)
Steve:   Well I try to be as conservative as I can in forecasting what the accurate cash flow is going to be. So obviously property taxes, insurance. What if it's going to be managed, the management fee, and then your maintenance. You also have to factor in what the vacancy is going to be. But I will say for me, my goal again back to some people that are in some of these investors, a lot of that I see that read or some of the books and tapes or thinking "Well I want to retire in 3-5 years." And so, they, to do that they're looking at some very creative ways to do that whether it'd be extreme leverage or whether it'd be very lofty estimates of rental increases etc.
Jason:  Right.
Steve:   I don't do that. I'm more patient, I want to look about building a network over a period of time. I'm still working, I enjoy what I do and so I don't have to live on the cash flow. I want to build passive income and believe the passive income is there, but I'm more looking at rather than flipping properties, I'm wanting to accumulate properties and that cumulative cash flow from a lot of different properties and a lot of different sources in my opinion that gives me more of a stabilized and diversified portfolio income. And so that's what I've tried to do over my career.
Jason:  Okay. So I want to give you two different scenarios and tell me when you were just jumping in as a new investor, which property you would've picked then versus if it popped up now what would you pick now. So you say I have 1 property that was built in 1960 and both of these perform the same in terms of cap rates. So one is in the metroplex and, but was built in maybe 1960, and or you could maybe purchase another property that's maybe in Weatherford which for those of you that don't know Weatherford is about 25 miles west of Fort Worth. So say you had to go out of the metroplex but you got a newer product. Say it was built after 2000. What are you- or maybe you got a little bit of a higher cap rate on the older property. Would you take more risk when you're younger, or do you think is that a question you can even answer without seeing all the numbers? (21:41)
Steve:   No I mean if you go back to in California, part of what I was doing there was acquiring distressed houses through foreclosures and some REO's and so I was less picky about the houses, I was less picky about the locations. We got some homes that were fantastic value, but after doing that starting in 1979 and doing that up through about 1990. What I found was that, for example frame houses, so older houses that were, I would say inferior to new construction. And also I'll say not the prime areas, and so specifically like Riverside county, San Bernardino county as opposed to Orange county. During the cyclical downturns in California, I found that the less desirable areas, the values got softer decreased more, likewise the rentability of those was a little more challenging, and the houses that I had held in in Orange county, they survived those downturns better. So when I came to Texas, I tended to buy more quality homes, you know 3 bedroom, 2 bath. Brick homes, and better school districts, tried to look for newer homes. And so I kind of tried to learn from that experience and from my opinion there can be some differences between looking at strictly just the cap rate. When you're looking at holding two different houses over a period of time, the higher cap rate property in maybe a less desirable area, older property versus the newer property brick in a better area. The cap rate is a lot less on the better property but holding that property over a period of time from my expertise, I frankly would rather take the better property.
Jason:  Okay.
Steve:   And part of that, it's not just the return, it's the less headache. And so, and the appreciation potential over that period of time. So I've turned out to be a little bit of a different investor then when I started 30 years ago.
Jason:  Okay. So somebody, coming to this area, obviously there's a lot of appreciation going on in Dallas and Fort Worth so it's harder to find that type of product that's pulling in a good cap rate. But part of what I'm finding is, you can find still some good properties, say side of the metroplex in the town such as Granbury or Burleson or Weatherford. What are your thoughts, just yourself as an investor. I think some investors are maybe nervous about towns like that, they are maybe 25 miles away. What are your personal opinions on investing in a home or a duplex in Weatherford with it being a little bit further out of the metroplex? (25:02)
Steve:   Well I've had good experience with that here in Texas, and so I've been investing in Granbury for over 10 years. I've had investments out in Weatherford that have done very well. I guess the difference that I would make, and this is really going to only make sense to somebody from both California and Texas but San Bernardino and Riverside counties, those areas are not as attractive as say for example Orange county in my mind because of things like the beach, and the weather and smog. At that time when I was there, those areas San Bernardino and Riverside county, they were hotter they were a lot bigger, longer drive to the work centers. They had more smog, and so it wasn't just- I mean there were multiple factors why I think when the economy went down that people decided "I'd rather live in Orange county than make that drive from Riverside or San Bernardino." Whereas here the areas that I'm describing like Weatherford and Granbury and Burleson- those are very desirable areas to live. They have very good school districts. The weather is not any different in those areas so it's not a negative for a weather pattern. And yet you can commute into the heavy job sources. But there's also job sources in those local areas, and those are I would say up and coming areas where the growth rates have been phenomenal both on the residential side but also for commercial purposes, retail etc. So like I said I've done very, very well in those areas and have been glad that I've invested in them.
Jason:  Okay. So just jumping a little bit, I think we've talked about single-family and gotten some tips on that. But can you tell us a little bit about more of what you're doing now in what you're focusing on with your commercial business and what kind of opportunities you're jumping into and what your focus is? (27:26)
Steve:   Well I'm always looking for houses, but frankly most of my effort has been on the commercial side. So because of that I'm looking for very good deals with the houses. And they come far and few between. But if they pop up, I'm ready to jump on it immediately.
Jason:  So when you say a good deal, do you have a cap rate- I mean aside from the property meeting your criteria in terms of condition, location. Are you looking for a cap rate in your mind for a deal? (28:03)
Steve:   No.
Jason:  No?
Steve:   No I'm not.
Jason:  You're kind of-
Steve:   My parameters, Jason, have changed. I mean you know, when I was buying houses on the courthouse steps, I used to like to get properties 70% a value then it got to where you couldn't do that. And so increased it to 80%, and then when it increased past that, I quit going to the sales. Then as our market continued to improve and you can put almost any house on the market and have multiple offers, then if a deal came to me higher than 80% I was still willing to buy it because I knew the value of it was higher than that in the rental market was very, very strong. So for me it's not just kind of a formula that stays the same, it depends on what's going on in the economy and where I'm at.
Jason:  It always fluctuates.
Steve:   Right. So I am currently in the market for single-family, but I'm looking for deals. Really my focus is more on the commercial side, and the reason is is because I mean for what I've found houses right now if you were to buy it on a cap rate you're looking at 6% or maybe 5.5% cap. And I can find cap rates higher than that right now on the commercial side significantly higher than that. So I'm focusing more of my daily activities on the commercial market right now.
Jason:  Okay. So you have the Visions company that you started. Did you start that in 1990? (29:37)
Steve:   Well it was actually started in southern California in 1988.
Jason:  Okay. So then at what point did you start your own commercial brokerage?
Steve:   Well 'Visions Realty' in California did a residential as well as commercial. And then when I came to Texas in 1990 the focus was strictly on multi-family. And so we did multi-family from '90 to about 1993. And then the multi-family market, the deals started kind of evaporating so then we went into office and retail and self-storage. And so that play was ending by about '96 or '97 but the single-family still had opportunities. So that's when we started going into single-family and Texas was in the late 90's. And so then by the late 90's we were very involved in all factors of that. I mean 'Visions' was doing the residential side, and then we had the management business, both the residential and commercial management business and we were very actively involved on transactional brokerage business on the commercial side, and as well as on the residential side. It was more like about 14 years ago that we affiliated the commercial side with 'Sperry Van Ness' and really separated the two so that 'Visions' was doing the residential brokerage and 'Sperry Van Ness' was doing commercial brokerage. And then 'Sperry Van Ness' evolved into SVN.
Jason:  Okay. So are there any other tips, advice, anything like that that you can think of for maybe investors that are thinking of coming to Texas to invest their money and invest in single-family even though it's harder to get maybe even though it's still 5.5 cap, 6 cap. Do you think it's still a good area to invest in? You're still here, so… (31:20)
Steve:   I do and I'm still investing. When I go, I travel a lot and I travel for real estate and so I'm going to meetings across the country, seeing different areas, talking to investors in different areas and I still feel that our opportunities are really unsurpassed. And so I have no plans on leaving, have no plans- I mean I could say I am buying property in other locations but Texas is absolutely my first choice. And so yes my focus is here. Do I have anything to say? Yes, I would say that from my perspective real estate has been the best investment opportunity that I've been able to find. I mean with stocks and other forms I've invested in those, and when I look back consistently over my career I've never been able to do better than I've been able to do in real estate. And when I compare what I've done in other states, I've never done better than again what I've done here in Texas.
Jason:  Wow. Okay. Well that's all I've got, so thank you Steve for jumping in. If anybody has questions about maybe commercial investment or questions for you, how would they reach out to you to contact you maybe about opportunities? (32:50)
Steve:   Well either give me a call or shoot me an e-mail. Phone number is 817-288-5524. E-mail is steve.fithian@svn.com.
Jason:  Perfect! Okay, thanks Steve!
Steve:   Alright, thank you Jason!

Episode #005 - Does homeowners insurance confuse you? In this episode we visit with Art Brucks with State Farm Insurance located in Burleson, Texas.

Episode #005 - Does homeowners insurance confuse you? In this episode we visit with Art Brucks with State Farm Insurance located in Burleson, Texas. Join us as we get to know Art and learn about homeowners insurance, deductibles, policy amounts, coverages, and much more (with a few laughs added in)! (https://youtu.be/GV5mwsFMiPY)

Art's Bio: Focus on Auto, Homeowners & Renters Insurance Call our office for QUICK & EASY Auto Insurance quote Meeting Life Insurance needs of our customers Helping solve Health Insurance complexity Focus on relocation to Johnson & Tarrant County Easy to find location in Burleson, Texas State Farm Insurance Agent Since 1980 Life long resident of Tarrant and Johnson County Graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington Board member - United Way of Johnson County Burleson Area Chamber of Commerce - Past Chair Burleson Rotary Club - Past President Crowley Chamber of Commerce - Past Chair CLU ChFC

Links from this episode
Coffee purchased from Dwell: http://www.dwellcoffeeandbiscuits.com
Art Brucks Insurance Website: http://www.artsmyagent.com


Episode #005 REN Podcast Transcription (Art Brucks)

Jason: Alright, good morning, everybody. This is Jason Reynolds, with the real estate podcast. I have the one, the only Art Brucks, with State Farm.
Art: Good. I’ve got my cup of coffee. As long as we don’t have to sing karaoke -
Jason: Well, we do. I lied. Art is with the State Farm here in town, I’m going to highlight a little bit about him, and then we’re going to get in. Art, you’ve been an insurance agent since 1980?
Art: With State Farm since 1980, well, 1978 to be exact.
Jason: Okay, so where were you before?
Art: Equitable Life. They’re still around, but I’m not.
Jason: How old were you when you jumped into the insurance business?
Art: 22.
Jason: 22? What made you get into -
Art: Started with State Farm when I was 24. What made me get into it? A job posting at UTA.
Jason: Simple as that?
Art: Yeah. If you can knock on doors and talk, and they’d hire you. I sold all my family and friends, didn’t anybody else to sell so I got out of it. With State Farm, everybody needs car insurance.
Jason: Another fun fact about Art Brucks - he’s a notary club Paul Harris fellow, three times. So what does that mean, to be a Paul Harris fellow?
Art: That just means you’ve donated money to the rotary foundation. They give you a medal and call you a fellow of the Paul Harris foundation. You’ve got money, you can be one yourself.
Jason: Art has also, in 2015, even though he doesn’t remember, he was the chamber of commerce citizen of the year.
Art: I am in the 60s now. So...I don’t remember real well. My wife can remember the first time she got mad at me. We will be married 40 years now on May 20th. She has a great memory, and I’m the opposite, I like to forget.
Jason: Next interesting fact, you ran the 2016 Dallas Marathon.
Art: If you want to call it running; it felt like running, looked like walking.
Jason: Did you say you beat Mayor Ken Shetter?
Art: No, Ken ran this year and beat me by 10 minutes, but he’s got 20 years on me, so let’s see him be 60 years old and beat my time. I’m challenging anybody who’s 60 years old, has three surgeries, and flat feet. Beat my time. In fact, I beat your time, because you haven’t run one.
Jason: I want to learn a little more about, Art. How long have you been married? You got some kids, grandkids?
Art: I’ve got two daughters, four granddaughters. Surrounded by women, but that’s okay, I like women. I’ve got a lot of them. Between the wife, two daughters, and four granddaughters. One of my daughters is an attorney in Fort Worth, Rachel. And my other daughter is a State Farm agent in Lockhart, barbecue capital of Texas.
Jason: Gary Louis just said, Love you, Art.
Art: That’s a strong word, Gary, but, like you too!
Jason: Any other interesting talents, besides running with knee surgeries at 60 years old?
Art: That’s not much of a talent, and not interesting, either, but-I have started to learn to play the guitar, and me and a couple friends from church, we’ve got a couple guys that are pretty good, and the rest of us are pretty bad, but they’ve helped us learn how to play. We’ve done some nursing homes, church events, and entertain the old folks, which is really good because none of the can hear anyway.
Jason: Do you play the good old 50s tunes that you love?
Art: We play mainly old church tunes, and stuff, praise and worship type songs.
Jason: Okay, awesome. So then, I wanted to ask you, I saw a picture on Facebook, talking about the car you sold in 1980. It looked like a Corvette.
Art: 1969 Convertible Corvette, yes.
Jason: And you sold that to start your business, right?
Art: To help start my business, yes. And it wasn't a very reliable work car. I traded it in and got a Mazda LGC, which is a little mini car back then, but very economical. It worked, and I got around.
Jason: What’s your most favorite car you owned?
Art: Probably my 1952 MG Replica Kit car I built in my garage.
Jason: When?
Art: 1981.
Jason: Still have it?
Art: No. I wish I did. Had to sell it to pay more bills. My wife and I didn’t have any beef in our spaghetti till about five years later. It takes a while, just like any business.
Jason: What’s the most favorite car you’ve ever insured?
Art: Probably the one with the most premium value attached to it, we do get paid on commission. The higher the premium volume, the more I love that car.
Jason: What’s the most exotic car you ever insured?
Art: Probably the 1952 Replica MG Kit car.
Jason: Your own car. So what you’re saying is you need a few Ferraris, Lamborghinis to add to your collection?
Art: There’s nothing like that around here, it’s not Hollywood. The people who have wealth typically don’t flaunt it. The average millionaire drive a Ford F-150 pickup truck. That’s an interesting car there, I know not all of you can see it.
Jason: Let’s jump into the insurance side. I’ve got a few questions that we’ve talked about. When Art and I were talking, maybe give a live example. Would you recommend to get homeowners insurance, although you’re required with a loan. Would you recommend it anyway? (8:30)
Art: Technically, the home is the most valuable asset that a typical person owns. So, yes, I would highly recommend getting something, protect the most important investment you have in your portfolio, if possible.
Jason: I’ve got questions about deductibles, and stuff like that, but rather than going into random questions, can you give an example of a client that had a total loss, and what that process was like for them, and as soon as it happened for them they say, ‘Art, my house burned down?’ (9:06)
Art: We did have a total loss this year. In our book of business, we probably have one or two total losses a year, in our agency. It’s a very traumatic experience, and if I’m able to, I’d like to visit with the homeowner while the fire department is still there, and give them comfort, and let them know what’s covered and what’s not covered. State Farm allows us to hand them a check to help with additional living expenses. In this instance, they weren’t able to leave with any clothes, furniture, anything. They need some money to go to Walmart and buy some t-shirts, jeans, and a little extra money comes in handy at that time. I definitely recommend getting homeowner insurance. Most policies have extra living expense coverage on them. Not most insurance agents are able to go visit you at the side of your loss, and I’m not always able to myself, but when I can, I will.
Jason: In that scenario, you have a deductible that has to be paid. When they’re processing that claim, how long does it take for State Farm to process that, and the deductible that is due, does that come out of the check, or are they due to come out of that themselves? (11:03)
Art: Each client is different - in the event of total loss, the house is on the ground, it didn’t take long to give them some money and settle the claim, but the final claim isn't settled till the house is built, because we don’t know what it’ll cost to rebuild, and the final nailed is nailed, and the paint is on the house. They can come up with an estimate, and offer that to you, but there will be supplemental checks, probably, as you work with contractors, and all that.
Jason: In that situation, you’ve lost jewelry, electronics, a lot of items. Me, working with you, I know you’ve recommended keeping an inventory of the items in your house, is that necessary to do with the claims? (12:07)
Art: Again, it depends on what you have in your house. You know? If you’ve got some hard to adjust items, collectibles and paintings, antique furniture, and things that are a little out of the ordinary, it helps to video document those items, and keep those safe, either in the cloud, or the safe-
Jason: What’s a cloud?
Art: For you, get a little CD, and record it on the computer.
Jason: What’s a CD?
Art: Okay...that documentation certainly helps. The adjuster to look at that item, explain what it’s worth, why it’s worth more than the typical the dining room table, or something. It’s not required, but it does help everybody in settling the claim. If you’re happy with the amount of money you get - most insurance companies really want to pay every penny they owe, but at the same time, they don’t want to pay any more than they owe, so the claims adjuster's job, whether it’s State Farm or any other insurance company, is to make sure they’re fair to the customer, but then also fair to their employer, that they’re not overpaying for things they shouldn’t have to, because you want to stay competitive at the marketplace, but at the same time you want to have a good reputation of paying what you owe. Sometimes it’s a dance, you know?
Jason: One question on there, if you have jewelry, you can actually get a jewelry policy, but if you didn’t have that, and you have jewelry in your home and it’s destroyed, is there something that can still help? When do you recommend getting a jewelry policy? (14:09)
Art: Great question. There are limitations under almost all standard homeowners policy under cash, guns, jewelry, things like - usually the limitation is based on theft, not with fire. If you did have a gun collection, typically, you’re going to have $2500 worth for theft of guns. If you desire more coverage than that, then, yes you need a bigger policy; get each gun insured.
Jason: That would be covered under something other than theft as well? (15:10)
Art: Yes, once you get separate for a policy, it’s covered for all risk of accidental loss, including mysterious disappearance, breakage, if you just dropped the gun on the floor and broke it in half. For jewelry it’s important as well. Someone will have a diamond ring with 10 diamonds, and they look down one day, and one is missing. That’s not covered in homeowners policy, but if you have a separate policy that covers mysterious disappearance, yeah, that individual stone would be covered, you know?
Jason: Say you have a total loss. Does that - is that the same as vehicle insurance, where if I’m driving, and I get in a wreck, and it’s my fault, then my premium might go up, because I’m a higher risk. If there’s a total loss that’s not due to the client, like a fire, or a storm, does that affect their premium in the future? (16:00)
Art: Fires are often due to the insured’s fault. You left the pan on the oven, you did something else to catch your house on fire. A lighting strike wouldn’t be your fault, but more often than not, it’s your fault. It’d still be covered. The only time where they wouldn’t cover is if it’s an intentional loss. They call that arson, you go to jail - but accidental loss caused by the insured is covered. Now your question was, does it make my rate go up? Every insurance company has a different pricing formula. Some give a great big discount if you haven’t had a client in five years, but it’s if you have any kind of claim, regardless of it’s your fault or not, the rate’s going to go up. Maybe other companies don’t give you a greater up front price, but if something happens, the price didn’t go up any. It’s hard to speak to that, but the general rule, the more claims you have in your history, the more you’ll pay for that premium. It’s all statistics.
Every time you have a loss, you’re more likely to have another loss. That applies, even if it’s not your fault. You might have five claims in this car, and they all rear end the claims, which are never your fault, but you’ve had five claims. Eventually, the statistics will say, you’re more likely to have an “at fault” accident if you’re that kind of driver. Maybe you have a hail loss, and then you have a vandalism loss, then a rear end loss, none of them are your fault, but cumulatively, it’s going to make your rate go up.
We have clients that have been with us for 30 years, and they haven’t had a single claim in the last 10 years, but they put 20k miles a year on their car, and haven’t had any claims. We have others that seems like, once a year, they have something going on. They have a broken windshield, then they have a towing claim, then somebody rear ends them, somebody keyed their car, and it’s never their fault, but they’re going to end up paying more, whether they like it or not. It’s not just State Farm, I speak for all the companies. The more claims you have, the more your company is going to charge you. It’s the same with credit reporting. All companies use some sort of credit reporting, in coming up with a rate. That may not seem fair to some people, because they don’t understand the reasons and statistics behind it. Those folks that tend to take better care of their credit are more careful with their property, with their car, and their homes, and tend to have fewer losses than those with low credit scores. It’s important to all our listeners out there, to keep that in mind; your credit will definitely impact your insurance premium. Take care of that financial part of your life, and you’ll end up with a lower insurance premium. It doesn’t matter if you’re with State Farm, or a worthy competitor, you’re going to pay a lower rate if you have a great credit score.
Jason: Bringing it more at home, many deal with wind or hail damage on their roof. People who are maybe thinking, is it important to know your deductible? What I find is that most don’t know their deductible? 1,2,3%. I don’t know, does it go higher than 3%? (20:25)
Art: You can go up to 5%, but most mortgage companies won’t accept more than 3%. If you have a mortgage. Back when I started in 1980, you could have a $100 deductible, but the average home price was $25,000. Nowadays, I speak for most insurance companies, most minimum deductible is 1%. That’s what we find on most of the policies out there; you probably have a 1% deductible. If you live in a 250k house, you have a $2,500 deductible.
Jason: Maybe clients that have a higher income can handle a higher deductible if they have lower risk? (21:29)
Art: They don’t have a higher deductible, because they have a bigger house. They’re going to want the 1% if they have a $6,000 deductible. That’s one way of controlling your insurance premium, with your deductible. The more you can bite off, and self-insure, the better. You self-insure the small losses, and let your insurance company take care of the big losses, yeah, that can help with your premium. Another way you can lower your premium: a lot of real estate agents and mortgage companies will refer you to a company that’s the cheapest price, because, first of all, if you’re a mortgage company or real estate agent, the lower you can get the monthly premium, the bigger house you can sell, and you’re on commission like I am, so the bigger house you sell, the more money you’re going to make. If you can get a cheap insurance policy, they’re going to get a bigger house. The mortgage loan officer is going to get a bigger loan.
What you have to be aware of is, a lot of times, they’ll be selling you - first of all, there’s a reason it’s cheaper. You’ve got name-perils policy vs. all-risk policy, you’ve got actual cash policy vs. replacement cost policies, you’ve got policies that depreciate your roof if you’ve got hail damage on it. All that speaks to a lower premium, but it also speaks to a lower payout, come claim time. While I’m not speaking about Jason Reynolds, some real estate agents and mortgage brokers, they don’t care about claim time. They care about sale time. Today, our monthly premiums are lower, so I can sell you a bigger loan. We can do the same thing by giving you a higher deductible, but still have replacement coverage, risk coverage, but in 2003, the state of Texas deregulated the homeowner’s policy. Prior to that, the insurance companies were required to sell the same insurance form, so we all covered the same risks for the same things, and everything was replaced in the cost.
In 2003, when they deregulated the homeowners policies, companies can sell you all different kinds of policies that may or may not have you covered the way you want to be covered. Some companies, I’ll ask someone, you don’t have the same coverage that you do as you would with State Farm. They’ll say, ‘Yeah I do, I have $200,000.’ it’s not the 200,000 I’m talking about, it’s the - they’re going to depreciate your house should it burn to the ground, and we’re going to pay replacement costs. The average person who doesn’t try to educate themselves, either doesn’t care because they’ve never had a claim, so they don’t know, or the other insurance agent hasn’t explained it to them because they just want to make a sale. Anyway, you can control the price through deductibles. Usually, if you match up auto and home together, you get a bigger discount, you get a monitor alarm system in your house, in case there’s a break in while you’re on vacation, it calls the police, and they can monitor it so there’s not people camping out in your living room, drinking your beer, and eating your pizza. That speaks to a lower premium, along with a credit scoring.
Jason: So say you leave for vacation, or work, and you forget to set your alarm. Say that day, someone breaks in, but you’re getting a discount because you have an alarm system. Is there any kind of clause, for where you didn’t set it that day, does it affect what you’re going to receive? (25:47)
Art: No. The assumption is you’re going to make every effort to use the alarm, and the fact that you didn't and got broke in that one time doesn’t affect. Good question, though.
Jason: I’ve seen this on our policy, but I’m just more curious about it. Say you have a friend over, or maybe they brought their kid over, and they’re playing on your trampoline, and they fell off and broke their leg. And they say, ‘They fell on your property.’ What does that typical policy that you have; is there a coverage for that? (26:30)
Art: Most policies have personal liability coverage. There are a few companies that exclude trampolines, liability from trampolines. They won’t tell you unless you ask, because they want to sell you a cheaper policy. Most do, as well as dog bites. Some exclude dog bite liability. If you’re considered - if you can be sued in a court, and found liable for that person being hurt on your property, whether it’s a swimming pool accident, trampoline, dog bite, then your insurance company will pay up to a specified amount, which is up to 100,000-300,000. We recommend that a person gets an umbrella policy, which will extend that liability up to a million, or five million, depending on how much you want to pay, or how much you think you need.
That also covers you in a car accident, as well. Some folks don’t realize that in your policy, it says how much the insurance company will pay for in the event that you’re in an accident. They think, if I go out and kill two people, and total four cars, I’m not worried about it. I’ve been with x insurance company for 10 years, they’ll take care of me. They probably will, up to a certain limit, which could be as low as 30,000, which amounts to six hours in the emergency room, and maybe one car. How much is this car worth?
Jason: Probably between 35-40.
Art: Okay. 40k car we’re driving now. Someone could hit you; total it, and maybe you’d only have 25k of coverage, because they haven’t educated themselves on how much coverage they have. They say, ‘Hey, I want to get this the cheapest I can,’ so the agent sells them the minimum liability, which is 30 cc 25, 30,000 per bodily injury, no more than 60,000 per the other car, and no more than 25,000 property damage. You can raise that up to 250-500,000 and also add on a personal liability umbrella policy, which will cover you up to 5 million, if you need that much. A lot of high income people that have a lot to protect have minimum limits of liability, because their insurance agent hasn’t bothered to tell them, ‘Hey, if you get in an accident, we’re only covering 25,000,’ and you make a quarter of a million dollars a year, and you live in an $800,000 house, and you’ve got this tiny bit of protection.
That speaks to, you need to sit down and speak to your insurance agent. We ask each client to talk on the phone, about every three years. We want to offer all the discounts to you. We’ve got low driving discounts, we put a device in your car that monitors your driving habits, and mileage, which can give you a lower rate, which - I already talked about the discounts with homeowners insurance, defensive driving, we’ll give you a discount, good grade reports will give you a discount, for your kids, so we like to review all those potential discounts every couple of years, and make sure they’re taking advantage, yeah, my kid’s an A+ student, get that grade report, we can give you a discount.
We also give them a report about liabilities. If you want a report, here’s how much it’ll cost to go up the next step of liability. Can you afford an extra five dollars a month, we can give you a little better coverage. If you can afford an extra 100 a month, we can give you the 5 million. Whether it’s Allstate, Geico, or state farm, have a sit down conversation and go over coverage, discounts, and make sure you’re properly covered.
Ask them, do you have everything covered? Is anything depreciated, or is it all replacement costs? If you have those cheaper policies, how much more would it cost to upgrade? If you still want that cheaper coverage, that’s fine, but educate yourself on the cost to get a better policy, and make that decision - do I want to pay an extra x a year, or am I happy paying lower and not getting as good coverage? Again, making an educated decision, not just keeping your eyes shut, and the mortgage guy said, get this policy, because it’s cheap. It might be cheap, but there’s usually a reason for it. Call them up, and ask them why it’s so cheap. That’s fine too, close the loan with a cheap policy, and then upgrade it. You’ve got the loan now, they can’t take it away from you. Same with the real estate agent, you know? You’ve qualified for a bigger house, now you’ve got the loan, and check to make sure you’re covered.
Jason: One question we’ve had and I was going to interview you today: Ray Jackson said, “Please have Art explain that staining offense makes it easier to final a hail claim.” (33:05)
Art: Certainly, if it’s a stained fence, you can see the hail mark. It knocks the stain off, so it can tell if it got damaged or not, whereas if it’s an unstained fence, you may not be able to see it.
Jason: Visit with your insurance so you can make sure you’re covered properly. Art, if listeners are insured by you, you recommend them to call you and check their coverage. Or if anyone is interested, how can they get in contact with you? (35:58)
Art: Certainly, you can email me at artsmyagent.com, and even if I’m not your agent, you can still email me. Google State Farm Burleson, and our name will pop up with all our contact information, all that. When you call the office I’ve got eight professionals that work in my office with me. They’re good at screening my calls. Tell them, I want to talk to Art about my policy. If I’m doing a podcast with Jason, leave me a voicemail and I’ll get right back to you. If I’m not available, my licensed team members are very well educated in the different discounts that you might have coming to you and analyzing your policy to see just exactly what you have and where your gaps would be. 
Jason: Perfect, thanks for joining!
Art: You bet, thanks for the cup of coffee

Episode #004 - Do you like birdcalls? In this episode we visit with Bryan Webb II. Bryan is the Executive Assistant for Visions Realty.

Episode #004 - Do you like birdcalls? In this episode we visit with Bryan Webb II. Bryan is the Executive Assistant for Visions Realty. This is our first episode to feature a Facebook Live feed and video content…(https://youtu.be/KT5tWahWWQw)

Links from this episode
Coffee purchased from Dwell: http://www.dwellcoffeeandbiscuits.com
Lifegate Church: http://www.lifegateburleson.com/
Our Place Restaurant: http://www.ourplacerestaurants.com/


Episode #004 REN Podcast Transcription (Bryan Webb II)
Jason: What’s up Facebook!

Bryan: Hello

Jason: My name is Jason and this is Bryan. We have been doing the real estate podcast if you guys have been seeing. We are trying things; one thing that we are trying is switching this to when we do the podcast in the car. I have a go-pro up there, we are doing this, and we are recording the audio. So that when we do the podcast, we can also do the video. So that you can see the people that we are recording. That is pretty cool, huh?

Bryan: It is going to be great.

Jason: This is going to be awesome. For those who do not know, Bryan here is a jack-of-all-trades but he is the executive assistant for me. He is going to be our guest today. So here is how it works. We drive around, I drive, I ask some questions and we are going to be here for 20 minutes. I wish I could see who is watching, but I can’t because it is in landscape mode. For whoever is watching, you are awesome.  I have some questions and we are going to get to know Bryan, and just hang out for 20 minutes. I am driving too, so I am going to focus on driving

Bryan: First and then

Jason: First and then. Missy Minks, what’s up Missy? My first question for you Bryan is; how do you feel on pineapple on pizza?

Bryan: This is not a good idea. I do not like cooked pineapples at all. It is bad

Jason: By the way, ‘dwell coffee’ do you guys like dwell? Like that video and we will tag them later. This one is really important; toilet paper, over or under? On the roll, how it is on the roll. I don’t go that personal.

Bryan: Definitely over. Under is just inconvenient and I am actually known for changing the toilet paper. It does not matter if I am in the gas station or somebody’s house. If I go to the bathroom and if it is under, I just go ahead and switch it out - unless it is locked.

Jason: Wait, do you actually go to a counter and ask them for a roll of toilet paper if it’s out and it needs to be replenished.

Bryan: No

Jason: You don’t go that far.

Bryan: No

Jason: If it is convenient.

Bryan: Yeah

Jason: One last question that is weird; if animals could talk, which would be the rudest? Jessie, what’s up? You know both of us!

Bryan: Hey Jessie.

Jason: Bryan is a little sedated, he is not as excited and pumped as I am.

Bryan: Sorry, I have to say kangaroos. Kangaroos would be the rudest if they could talk

Jason: Really?

Bryan: I have seen Kangaroo Jack and that was a very rude kangaroo.

Jason: Heyo Mayo, I do not know what that means. Do you like Mayo?

Bryan: It is mayonnaise

Jason: OK. Do you like mayonnaise?

Bryan: On my sandwiches

Jason: I love mayonnaise. Now to the serious stuff. Bryan, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Where were you born?

Bryan: From pretty much everywhere on the map. I was born in Andalusia Alabama. When I was about a year old, my parent moved to Missouri. When I turned three…

Jason: Melissa what’s up?

Bryan: We moved to Tonga, which is a small island country in the pacific and then we moved a lot more back and forth. We ended up in another island country called Vanuatu for ten years of my life. Then I moved to Texas for bible school, which is why I am here.

Jason: Why all the moving around?

Bryan: My parents are missionaries. They started out as pastors and then became missionaries and landed in Vanuatu and I think that’s the spot where they are going to spend the rest of their lives.

Jason: That is awesome. So they are there now and they are going to stay there?

Bryan: Yeah.

Jason: When you came here to go to school, what school did you go to?

Bryan: I went to SAGU (Southwestern Assemblies of God University) in Waxahachie.

Jason: How long were you there for?

Bryan: I was there for four years.

Jason: He is, isn’t he? He has been all over the world. Vanuatu, you know their language right?

Bryan: I do.

Jason: A totally different language.

Bryan: They speak Bislama (speaks language)

Jason: Do not ever say that to me. Ever!

Bryan: Okay.

Jason: He does not know that I speak Bislama too. Can you read it? Is it a different written language?

Bryan: It is. It is like pidgin, so it has a little bit of English and a little bit of French. It is like pidgin. Have you ever heard of pidgin? There are different pidgin languages in Africa.

Jason: I am thinking of the bird. What degree did you get from SAGU?

Bryan: I got a Bachelors in Biblical Studies and I minored in Theological Studies

Jason: A lot of bible

Bryan: A lot of bible, and Dr. Starner and Dr. Rosdahl – a lot of great professors.

Jason: What’s up Cheryl. How are you doing Cheryl? You are helping me in real estate now, but what is your ultimate goal? What do you want to end up doing?

Bryan: Ultimately, Sara and I want to be missionaries somewhere in the pacific as well.

Jason: Is that in Vanuatu?

Bryan: No, it would probably be in Auckland.

Jason: Auckland, New Zealand?

Bryan: Yes, so we want to start in a different country. There are three layers of the pacific; Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. New Zealand is in Polynesia. Why Auckland is because there are more natives from these different countries living in Auckland and they are in those island countries. We can start somewhere, learn the language and culture then we can go to Auckland, plant churches and do ministry there to people that are displaced from their original culture. Because we understand their culture, it gives us an ‘in’.

Jason: You mentioned Sara, and I did not even ask about Sara, shame on me. How long have you been married? Who are you married to?

Bryan: I am married to Sarah Elaine Webb. Tomorrow will be eleven months - going on 50 years for sure.

Jason: That is so cool. Just 50 years?

Bryan: 50 years is a start.

Jason: I am just saying, sorry Sara that was weird. 50 years and it is over. You guys got
more than that. my grandparents just had their 62nd anniversary.  

Bryan: That is awesome.

Jason: It is. What are your hobbies? The interesting thing about Bryan Webb the second.

Bryan: It is not junior.

Jason: I have made the mistake of saying Bryan Webb and he threatened me.

Bryan: Number one hobby as far as being interesting, relaxing and enjoyable is tree climbing. Jason knew I was going to say that.

Jason: Yeah

Bryan: I love finding a very climbable tree and going up to the very top branch and then taking pictures from the top branch of people on the ground and the view from the top of the tree.

Jason: How many times have you dropped your phone?

Bryan: I have dropped my phone on purpose but never on accident.

Jason: You know Zack. What’s up Zack? You know him.

Bryan: Probably. I have met him.

Jason: Zack you have to come say hi to Bryan from church.

Bryan: Hey Patty!

Jason: How many times have you dropped your phone?

Bryan: Three times, but they were all on purpose. My brother was on the ground and I wanted him to get a picture of me in the tree. I dropped the phone and I told him not to try and catch it because it was like 50ft up.

Jason: That would have hurt.

Bryan: Yeah.

Jason: So Melissa has got a tree that you need to hang some stuff in.

Bryan: Okay, I got you Melissa.

Jason: If Sara approves then you are good.

Bryan: She is pretty cool about me climbing trees. When we first got together, it gave her a mini- heart attack every time but now, she is pretty cool about it.

Jason: You know Tara Kieshnick.

Bryan: Yeah

Jason: Bryan you need to read it from now on.

Bryan: Tara, I agree with your opinion but I disagree with it because there is no experience with that. If you are just flying a drone, you get to see cool footage but you do not experience it. 

Jason: Chill out Bryan, we have to be nice to the people watching. Okay, tree climbing hobby. I feel like you were going somewhere else.

Bryan: Yeah, since I got my bible degree, reading is like a hobby. I love commentaries and theology books and I really enjoy reading things about the bible.

Jason: Okay, real estate. How long have you been working with me now?

Bryan: Since January.

Jason: What have you gathered about the world of real estate so far? (10:39)

Bryan: It is a lot more complicated than I first expected. There are a lot of moving pieces. I got an introduction to it by hearing other people talk about their experiences, but I did not know how much things can be in flux. You say you are on a contract, but a lot of changes are...

Jason: Taking place.

Bryan: Much more complex than I expected but also interesting and engaging too.

Jason: You guys know that when we go under contract, Bryan is the guy that takes it over. It’s like we are playing football, he just takes it over and manages it. The plan is to get his license. Are you still planning on getting your license?

Bryan: Yes, I am.

Jason: Alright, cool. So, if you are looking to buy in three months, this is your guy. You can get a license which nowadays it can be quick. You go to Lifegate church?

Bryan: I do.

Jason: Shout out to Life Gate!

Bryan: Lifegate is awesome.

Jason: I go to Lifegate too. Do you volunteer there? How are you involved with that church?

Bryan: I am involved on different levels. I was involved with worship, doing media and production.

Jason: That is Patty. What’s up, Patty? Thank you!

Bryan: I also serve on the youth team as a small group leader and a youth leader when we are actually having services. We have a prayer team that prays before all the weekend services. I jumped on that because that is a gifting that God has given me. It has been an awesome experience. 

Jason: That is awesome.

Bryan: It has been really cool to see how as I have gotten more involved, how much of the community I have gotten into.

Jason: What is your favorite place to eat in Burleson? Wait, where do you live? That is another question. You live in Burleson.

Bryan: I live here in Burleson, in Encore Apartments on Alsbury.

Jason: Do not give your apartment number up, we’re on the internet. What is your social number?

Bryan: 000000

Jason: Wendy Peterson, what is going on?

Bryan: I like Our Place because it I just unique. There are a lot of chain restaurants, but Our Place is its own thing.

Jason: Which is why we like local business. What do you like about living in the Dallas-Fort-Worth area????

Bryan: I feel like everything is really accessible. If I want to go to an art museum, if I want fly out of the country, and if I want to go shopping, there is a lot of opportunities metroplex, it is at most an hour away from where are.

Jason: Yes, it is massive. What’s up Travis. You do not know Bryan but you know me.

Bryan: I’ll give him credit for being a cool guy though.

Jason: He is a cool guy. He can play electric guitar like nobody else. Pretty sure, The Star Spangled Banner, you played that for me once and that was killer. That was awesome. Anything else interesting about you Bryan Webb? When was the last time you have been to Vanuatu?

Bryan: November of last year. Sara and I went over there for a kids program at a missions retreat. All the missionaries there were meeting together and we took care of their kids. Swam with them and had a blast.

Jason: That is awesome. Are you doing youth camps and what not this summer?

Bryan: Yeah, we are going to go with Lifegate youth group. It is end of June and early July. I am looking forward to that. I haven’t been to North Texas campground yet, and I obviously haven’t gone with Lifegate Youth.

Jason: Okay, when you say the North Texas campground, that’s with the Assemblies of God, right?

Bryan: Yes, it is.

Jason: Okay, other interesting facts about Bryan Webb.

Bryan: I can do very impressive bird calls.

Jason: Are you serious?

Bryan: Have you heard my bird call?

Jason: No

Bryan: Here it is. (makes bird noise)

Jason: That was unexpected, but you only have one bird call.

Bryan: I can do different pitches, but I’m not going to try.

Jason: You mean like this (makes sound). That is a loud car. Common man! We are doing a Facebook live video. So you do bird calls, how did you learn how to do bird calls?

Bryan: A missionary that was visiting us. He liked doing it, he would go to a village and start doing it and all these kids would come around and they would play a bunch of games.

Jason: That is cool.

Bryan: He showed me how to do it and I picked it up after 5 minutes.

Jason: You’re kind of like, “My name is Bryan and I’m kind of a big deal and I learned it in 5 minutes” what else? Right Jessie, mine was a little more on point. Did you hear the tone? I impressed myself.

Bryan: That was good. I said tree climbing but also climbing in general. I love going to places that I know nothing about and walking around and climbing.

Jason: People watching this video at some point or you are watching it now, comment places where you can climb things. Bryan needs places where he can climb.

Bryan: That is true.

Jason: Anything else interesting? What is the craziest experience you have had in Vanuatu?

Bryan: It was a boat ride.

Jason: A boat ride?

Bryan: Yes. A very small boat with a very small engine and the waves got up to 25ft and we were in that for a good 7 hours inching along until we could land on the beach.

Jason: Did you think you were going to die?

Bryan:  I did because there were just cliffs. If the boat would have gone down; there was not anywhere that we could swim to. We prayed a lot.

Jason: I am glad you are still here man. I am glad that the boat ride did not go worse than it went. There are a lot of trees in my neighborhood, Jessie. You need to go where Jessie is. 

Bryan: I would go there and I would teach Dayton how to climb trees too.

Jason: Do you have an interesting question for me? Let us see what kind of questions you got.

Bryan: Okay, so, the vehicle we are riding in right now has off road capabilities, is that correct?

Jason: That is correct.

Bryan: What is your off road experience?

Jason: Listen, this is my off road experience. This is the peak of my off road career.  This was when a friend of mine and I were in college. It was snowing in Montana and we were visiting Montana. My friend still lives there. We used to do goofy things like go through drive through lanes backwards. We were driving and we said, “let us do something” we went to a Goodwill and bought a pink and white Barbie Jeep. You know, the battery operated ones for kids, and we got it for like $20.

Bryan: That’s a good deal.

Jason: It was. I don't even know if it worked or not, we just bought it. My friend had a real jeep  so we just went to this big open area and it was snowing and muddy, very slushy. We tied the rope to the back of his jeep and about 30ft behind, we tied the Barbie jeep and we got in motorcycle gear with the helmet and everything.

Bryan: You were safe.

Jason: We were safe and we pulled each other around through the dirt and the mud for about 30-40 miles an hour in the Barbie jeep.

Bryan: 40 miles an hour?

Jason: Yeah.

Bryan: How did the jeep even stay intact?

Jason: It did, we destroyed it at the end. When we were done, we both got in the car, we just drove, did donuts and threw it up against trees, and it shattered

Bryan: You shouldn’t litter.

Jason: We picked up all the pieces.

Bryan: Did you?

Jason: I think we picked up the biggest piece. I think we took the biggest piece home.

Bryan: You get credit for trying.

Jason: Yeah, it was snowing outside and part of the Barbie jeep was white. We could not pick up all the pieces. This is the first time we are doing this guys, I do not know how we are going to wrap this up. I will start right now. Again, Bryan Webb is an assistant with me, getting ready to get his license. Keep an eye out, we are going to post his video on YouTube. We are going make this a podcast. Please comment, like, share. We are going to be doing different things like interviewing people in the community as well as people in real estate, foundation people, title people etc. we just want to make it fun because real estate need to be fun sometimes - but really all the time because it can be stressful. Thank you all for tuning in or watching in the future. We will catch you next week for the next video. See you all. Bye!

Episode #003 - Need a home inspection? In this episode we visit with Jeff Mutchler. Jeff has been doing home inspections for 13 years in the DFW area.

Episode #003 - Need a home inspection? In this episode we visit with Jeff Mutchler. Jeff has been doing home inspections for 13 years in the DFW area…(https://youtu.be/pu2l4b6Aorc)

Links from this episode
Jeff's website: https://www.northstarhi.com/


Episode #003 REN Podcast Transcription (Jeff Mutchler)

Jason: Good afternoon everybody and welcome to the real estate podcast. Today we have Jeff Mutchler with us. He is a home inspector and I have used him countless of times with my clients. I wanted to put him on the podcast today to about inspections, so you listeners out there can get an idea of what goes into home inspection. Without further ado. I have Jeff on the line. How are you doing Jeff?

Jeff: Fantastic Jason, how are you?

Jason: I am doing great. So, you’re working on your boat.

Jeff: That is a true statement. I was out there trying to clean it up and get it ready for the spring.

Jason: So, everybody who does an inspection with you gets a day on the boat. Is that right?

Jeff: Sure. Why not? Any excuse to go, I am in for.

Jason: We have known each other for years now. How long have you been in the inspection business? Have you always been in the DFW area? Can you elaborate on that?

Jeff: It feels like I have been doing this forever but it has been 13 years on June 30th. That would be the anniversary of having my license. I have only done home inspections in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Before I did this, I was in the Navy for 8 years. I spent 5 years on the ship in Hawaii and three years as an instructor in San Diego. It was a rough duty but someone had to take one for the team. I have seen my fair share of the Persian Gulf. After that, I went to work for a telecom company, that brought me to the DFW area. I never thought that I would be back in the Arlington area. Lo and behold, that is where I am. I absolutely love it.

Jason: Can you elaborate on when you became an inspector in Texas, are you required to be licensed and if so, what are the requirements. Do you have to renew your license on a regular basis? What goes into that? (2:46)

Jeff: Absolutely. Texas is one of the few states that does require licensing, not every other state does. To get your license to be a home inspector in Texas; there are a couple of different ways you can do it. One is the apprentice route. Not many guys do that route anymore. Most of us do schooling, which a good percentage of it is done online. Most companies that do it usually have a 1-2 week class in the classroom where you are looking at things, doing fake inspections and things like that. I did the schooling route and I did not think that it would provide me with enough experience to go out and say, “Let me look at your $200,000 house”.

What I did was I went out and did 47 ride-alongs with two other inspectors that I met. One was in the Denton area and that made for a long commute. The other was in Dallas. I did not want to go and have my direct competition either steering me the wrong way or training somebody that was going to compete with them. After that, I felt that I could still use some experience on my own. I went into some rougher neighborhoods in parts of Fort Worth and Dallas with lower income. I contacted some realtor’s that had signs in the yard and I did 32 free inspections in the month of September after I got my license for low-income people purchasing houses. They were not paying me so I was not going to be held liable but it helped me see crazy things that I have not seen a lot since. It helped me get more experience where I can go to somebody and say, “I have done X amount of inspections even though my license number is new” that is how I started my business.

Jason: That is awesome. Jumping into inspection themselves; if there is a first time homebuyer that is looking to buy a house and he needs inspection. As an inspector, what all do you cover? Is it everything that you can possibly cover? Can you give me an overview of the main items that you look over? (5:15)

Jeff: I would start of with this; the state of Texas does have a bare minimum requirement of what we are supposed to do. I personally do not know any inspectors that do the bare minimum, but I’m sure there are some out there. Most of us are trying to be over achievers. In a nutshell, what a home inspection consists of is checking out the house from top to bottom. Getting on the roof, to crawling through the attic, to inside the house testing all the electrical outlets. Checking all the doors, windows, & plumbing fixtures to looking at the foundation and checking for the smallest appliances. Be it the garbage disposal to heating and the AC equipment. Including water heaters, dishwashers, oven and everything. If it attached and normally goes with the house in a real estate transaction, we home inspectors are going to look at it and figure out what is going on with it. I will try to educate my clients on the age of things. I would say, “This AC unit is 15 years old. They usually only last about 15-20 years, so it is time to budget for a new one.

That is an overview of what a home inspector does, we do go above and beyond. I do the sprinkler system and I do not charge extra for that but some other guys do. There is an extra fee for swimming pools if there is one there. If the temperature is all right outside and the house is new I would do thermal energy scans on the home to let you know how energy efficient it is going to be.

Jason: If you get the inspection done with the HVAC, it is 15 years old and you tell them, “it is potentially near the end of its life” or if it is not even operational or something is keeping it for going on. If there are, things wrong with the foundation or the HVAC, I know that in your report you recommend further evaluation by another professional. Do you recommend people to do that? Do you rely on the agent to make that connection? Is it they buyer that is responsible for that? How do you go about that? (7:22)

Jeff: One of the things that I do for my clients...I have many clients that are relocating here because DFW is the largest growing metropolitan area now. And they may not know anybody. I have a list of people that I email to them from my doctor, dentist, electrician, plumber, bank, to heating and AC company. Everybody that I know, trust and would personally do business with. If they call them, that is great and if they do not call them, it does not hurt my feelings. I tell my clients that if you call them and you throw my name out there, they would start giving them a hard time right off the bat.

Jason: You probably have a good reputation then.

Jeff: I try.

Jason: For those who are not familiar with inspections, how long does an inspection take for a three-bedroom and two-bathroom typical size house? (8:51)

Jeff: A good rule-of-thumb is about an hour and 15 minutes for a thousand square foot. That is going to include typing it up. It is going to take 45 minutes to inspect 1,000sqft house. For a 2,000sqft house, it is going to take an average of two-and-a-half to three hours to do everything that I need to do. Some houses would take longer if the house is older with severe disrepair. If it is new construction that is in good shape and has been well taken care of, then it would be faster.

Jason: With buyers coming in, do you recommend that they come with you there the whole time or come for the last 30 minutes so that you can work them through. What is most efficient for you and for them? (9:42)

Jeff: What most of my clients do and this is what I prefer but if someone want to come and be there for the whole time, that is good too. Most of my clients come at the end and they give me thirty minutes to one hour. I take a lot of pictures during inspection and as the saying goes, “a picture speaks a thousand words” we’ll look through the pictures and talk about everything that is wrong with the house. I would try to break it down and bring up issues of big things that they may be concerned about. Occasionally, when there are a lot things going on there, you might want to consider looking for a different property. It is dependent upon what their situation is. 

Jason: One of the people on Facebook whose name is Lisa Kunes commented that they first bought. That they had a hard time with the inspection report and it can be overwhelming for a first time home buyer. I am sure that you have to put a lot of things on there that met code couple of years ago and now does not. In that meeting, do you work through it with them and say, “This used to be okay but now it is not okay but it is covered by a code.” (10:48)

Jeff: Absolutely. My goal is to educate the buyer on what’s going on with that house. There are many things to talk about on inspection report. There is a difference between building codes today, in 2018 and when a house was built even just 4-5 years ago. Most houses that I’ve looked at are at least 10 years old or older and there are going to be code changes. Nobody in Texas is required to get a house up to current code. Everything is grandfathered as far as that goes. When we talk about everything, I like to keep things in perspective. I tell them that my inspection code is; do as I say and not do what I do. Do not come to my house and say, “Jeff, you told me that I am supposed to fix this” and it is not fixed at my house. I guarantee you that it would not be. Just like a mechanics car is never fixed. It is just one of those things that; if you are okay with living with it, I would educate you about it as much as possible. If you still want to go in and get it fixed n brought up to current codes, more power to you. Most people say, “That is fine, I can live with that.” if it is not going to burn the house down or cause injury to anybody. Most people are fine with some smaller things

Jason: It sounds like a mixture of those buyers getting counsel from you based on your experience and then maybe the realtor having some input based on their experience. On what is it a big deal based on the individual buyer? (12:44)

Jeff: Everybody has their own hot buttons. I have done an inspection on a house that had aluminum wiring and the gentleman’s father told him never to buy a house that has aluminum wiring. So as soon as he heard that, he said, “I am done, we are not buying this house” and he walked away. Everybody has their own hot buttons. I still educated him on aluminum wiring so that he knew what was going on with it and why it cause fires.

Jason: Another thing is termite inspection. Despite the age, do you recommend to get termite inspections? What is the added cost if there is something found? Do you use somebody who can provide an estimate on the spot as to what it would cost to get it fixed? (13:37)

Jeff: Absolutely. What I do for my termite inspection is that I use a third-party pest control company and they come out the same time that I am there. They do not just look for termites; they look for all wood damaging insects; carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, woodborers, termites and some that I cannot pronounce. That is part of the reason that I do not have that licensing. The person that I use, I tell everybody that he’s the guy that brought termites on the ark with Noah. He is 76-years old and still works every day. He loves his job, and he still gets down in those crawl spaces in those older pier and beam houses. Termite inspection is not a bad idea. It is a requirement if you are doing a VA loan but it is not a requirement on any other type of house. I’ll throw the recommendation because most new constructions are pre-treated for termites these days. You do not have to have it for a VA loan if the house is 10 years old or less. You can get away without doing one. Even though, I do not hold the licensing and the insurance to do termite inspections, if I see anything that is out of the ordinary, I do point it out. Whether it be a conducive conditions for them or if I see, something that I suspect might be carpenter ants or termites. I would tell my client, “Something is going on there. Let us get the bug professional out there and get it checked out”

Jason: Is it the same cost no matter the size of the house? (15:34)

Jeff: It does vary somewhat. In a generally speaking it is about $100-150. If it is an old crawl space house, then the price goes up. That is the same with home inspection because then you have to crawl underneath the house and battle with the snakes and the rats. We are going to charge more because it is not our favorite thing to do.

Jason: Another question we got on Facebook from Lane Tidwell, he asks about the foundation. He asks, “Do you as an inspector take the device that the foundation managers use to measure it or do you look for signs of foundation problems and you recommend it to be checked further, how do you typically determine if a foundation is passing or not passing?” (16:05)

Jeff: I look at the overall condition of the house. The name of the device those guys use is called a zip leveler and it is used for measuring the elevations of the house. There might be a house that was built somewhat crooked or sloped or it is built on the side of a hill so it doesn’t need repairs. They would look at it and say, “You need $10,000 worth of foundation repair”, but you do not because everything is fine. The key thing is that foundation companies are business to sell you something. Structural engineers are there and you are paying them, but foundation companies come out for free. I look at the overall condition of the house. If I just see some minor hairline cracks, I would tell people that it is typical and common. However, if I see larger cracks that might be alarming, if it’s in the brick, something the size of the eraser of a number 2 pencil. If that is bad and we have, reciprocation cracks on the interior. Or you get doors or windows that really hard to open. Inside the house, if there is any diagonal crack going through the sheet rock that do not lean off the doors or the windows that can be a sign of foundation problems too. If there is a big diagonal crack in the middle of the wall or in the ceiling, that can be a sign that there is adverse movement going on. We want to get the structural engineer or the foundation company out there as soon as possible to figure out what it is going on.

Jason: I have a couple of questions. You provide a report that is part of your inspection. Is that correct? (18:06)

Jeff: Absolutely. Part of the requirement of being licensed in Texas is that we have to provide a written report.

Jason: Awesome, in terms of how far of an area you have covered yourself with North Star Home Inspections. How far is your threshold on how far you will go out? (18:21)

Jeff: It depends on how big the check is that someone is willing to write.

Jason: You would go to Montana!

Jeff: The farthest I have gone is Austin. That was someone that I had done inspection for him and his son. He was buying house for his daughter who was going to be a sophomore at UT to rent out with some roommates. He told me to come and look at it and I tried to tell him that I would get someone else to look at it”. He said, “I trust you” and I said, “it is going to cost you this much” and he said “Okay, on top of that, I will put you in a hotel room. You can take your wife and kids out on Saturday” I went to do the inspection, we had a good time, saw some friends and we came back. Generally speaking about 50-70 miles around the DFW area.

Jason: Still in a general area here.

Jeff: That is where I try to stay.

Jason: We have gone for more than 15 minutes so I want to wrap up . If there are people have questions of when they are getting an inspection and they want to know that cost for that specific house. Can you let us know how they can reach out to you to get it scheduled and know the pricing? (19:33)

Jeff: The best way to get a hold of me is definitely by phone, either by call or by text. 817-791-2605. You can go to my website which is www.northstarhi.com . My website is not the greatest; it is there to take up space. I do need to get it better. I am not looking for business off the internet; I am looking for business form close contact referrals. That is where 80-90% of my business comes from. When someone says they found me from the internet, it freaks me out and I say, “You saw that bad website and you still decided to call me?”

Jason: Turns out good for them. I have one last question. You mentioned being in the service, thank you for that. There are some of my clients who have been in the service as well. Do you offer a discount for veterans for home inspections? (20:50)

Jeff: I do. Sometime when they call me, I ask them if they want to pay extra because I was in the military as well. They say, “Touché” but I will definitely knock money off for inspection for people who are in military as well as; teachers, firefighters, police, and civil servants. For politicians and lawyers, I might charge extra. I have much more friends that are attorneys than I ever though I would have and two of them were in my wedding party.

Jason: Thank you Jeff for joining us!

Jeff: My pleasure Jason.

Jason: If anybody has questions, you guys have his number so please reach out to him. We will talk to you again sometime soon.

Jeff: That sounds good.

Jason: Thanks, Jeff.

Jeff: Thank you, bye.

Episode #002 - Wondering about your A/C? In this episode we visit with Adam A. Acevedo. Adam has been in the Heating & A/C business for 20 years.

Episode #002 - Wondering about your A/C? In this episode we visit with Adam A. Acevedo. Adam has been in the Heating & A/C business for 20 years. For the last 7 years he has been licensed and running his own business…(https://youtu.be/NIfYCp0kzRE)


Episode #002 REN Podcast Transcription (Adam A. Acevedo)

Jason: Alrighty, hello everybody. This is Jason Reynolds, and here we are with The Real Estate Now Podcast. And today I've got Adam Acevedo; really excited to have him on today. He actually owns his own HVAC business here in town, and he is the go-to guy for myself and a lot of my other allies in the business. So, today I asked Adam to jump on in, to be with us today. So without further overdue, I've got some questions. But Adam how are you doing today? 
Adam: Oh, doing pretty well; another day in the A/C business. 
Jason: Yeah. Awesome. Can you elaborate a little bit more on, you know, we talked before we started recording, about the name of your company? How long you've been in HVAC business? And how long you've owned your own company here in the area? 
Adam: Sure, sure. Well. First off, I am the second generation licensed air conditioning contractor - been in the business my whole life, going on 20 years now. I had my own license and owned my own business for roughly seven years now. So my company is Adam A. Acevedo Maintenance Services. I, kind of, wanted to be a little unique and make sure nobody could, you know, mistake me for...
Jason: ...for anybody else. 
Adam: ...for who I was. Yeah, yeah. So, I put it up there Adam A. Acevedo as the beginning of it, so that everybody would know it - it was me. That being said, I couldn't deny anything, on the flip side. So, you know. Got to own up to everything.

Jason: So, was it your dad who was originally in the business and got you involved in it? 
Adam: Yes, that's correct. Yeah, my dad's been in the business for over 30 years and he is a licensed air conditioning contractor, who's at the end of his career. You know, kind of, toning it down and more geared towards retirement and phasing out of the tough grueling work of the being an air conditioning contractor. I tell you, it’s not for the faint of heart, it's a tough job.

Jason: So, what was the earliest you were working on HVAC unit? 
Adam: Oh, the earliest I learned how to do brazing and minor electrical work was when I was 17 years old. 
Jason: There you go. OK.
Adam: Yeah, 17, sure was.
Jason: You've been doing it a while. 

Adam: Yeah, my whole life. Yeah, exactly! 37 now and 38th birthday just around the corner. So, 20 years, for sure.  
Jason: Awesome. 
Adam: Yeah. 
Jason: Perfect. Well, I wanted to jump on a few questions and kinda pick your brain. It's a lot of questions, you know, I've had. And I have asked you, but I know a lot of other people are curious about too. So I'm gonna jump through some of these questions. The first one I have is, you know, air filters. Being a real estate agent, I've seen perfectly maintained air filters that look like they are changed every week. And also ones that are just clogged like none other. So, you know, can you elaborate on how often you recommend it and does it actually impact life at unit? (3:20)
Adam: Oh, it definitely does. Definitely impacts life and maintenance to the air conditioning in the key. Number one maintenance you can do is the air filter. My recommendations are checking them every thirty days and changing as needed. If it is a situation where it needs to be changed, you know, bimonthly or sometimes it's the situations that it needs to be changed biweekly, even faster, you know. So, excuse me, every other week or every other month -that's what I meant to say. But, you know, checking them every 30 days and then change them as needed as always is a good practice. I tell everybody: "you want to make sure you get a decent grade filter." The pleated somewhere around MERV 7 is the standard equipment protection grade. And that's ideal from servicing stand point.
You know, it's definitely something that's right in the middle, protects the equipment. It'll definitely filter some of the air. A lot of people have higher need with allergies than what we have, so they upgrade the MERV rating, which is a little higher to accommodate allergy protection and things of that sorts. It's everybody's independent needs, so checking them on a regular basis every 30 days, change them as often as needed. Once dirty, they have to be changed. And then, of course, pick a good quality filter which, at the minimum, I would go with equipment protection at a rating of MERV 7. And then, of course, if you need more then get a higher MERV rating on the filter. I wouldn't recommend any less than that, because the standard would be the equipment protection is what you're looking for. 
Jason: OK. Is this, in terms of MERV rating, when I am going to Home Depot or Lowes... looking for filters, is this somewhere on their box? (5:37)
Adam: Yes, exactly. It stamped on the side. It's the Minimum Efficiency Rating Value, MERV, and they scale anywhere from zero to, I think, I am not sure, to be honest with you, but maybe fifteen, something like that. You definitely want to, depending on your needs, you can adjust, but it you can make sure you checking them regularly to know how often you need to change them. And then go with at least Minimum Efficiency of 7 for equipment protection. If you need more - more. I won't recommend any less. Some people, you know, if they are out of your filters and they have cheaper one there - it's gonna be maybe MERV rating of 4. Use that as maybe as a temporary solution. But 7 is pretty good number to go with. Home Depot is ideal. The True Blue brand is what I recommend. They come in three pack for around 8.97. 

Jason: That's not bad.
Adam: Yeah, good value on the market. No reason to not change your filters when you got something that value at Home Depot easily accessible.  
Jason: OK. Taking that and jumping into one thing that's the craze now - a smart thermostats. Whether that's the Nest or, you know, all the kinds are out there. In your opinion, working in HVAC business, do those truly make a difference, in terms of energy cost or is it matter of how you use it? Is it worth the money, in your opinion?  Is it more like a tech gadget? (7:00)

Adam: Yeah, in my opinion, it definitely, it pays for itself. Not only in the utility saving you're able to control it from your smartphone. The Nest is actually was the industry leader on the smart thermostats. They are learning thermostat, that actually ...
Jason: Can tell if you are home or not, right?
Adam: Exactly. It'll tell if you're home or not. It'll tell your preferences of heating and cooling when you're away, when you're home. So, it definitely does have energy savings, for sure. On top of that, you know, you are able to control it from your phone. You don't have to get up in the middle of the night to turn it on, or turn it off. Grab your phone from the nightstand and there you go. So, very convenient. Yeah, and the Nest, like I said, they are the industry leader, they have been around for years. They, I think, on their third generation Nest thermostat now. Which, they are pretty common and really available, so everybody’s switching into the Nest thermostat. 
Honeywell has a good line which is not as fancy as a Nest. But they are all WIFI capable and so Honeywell PRO - LINE T6 would be something that is a little bit less expensive than a Nest, but definitely a good buy as well - The Honeywell PRO - LINE. They’re definitely worth the money, they're definitely convenient. So, I always do highly recommend them.   
Jason: So, one question I had with smart thermostats. One thing I always think about is: "OK, if I get a smart thermostat, I leave the house for, say the workday, for eight hours. And so, it allows the temperature to fluctuate, so the system doesn't have to be on." So, one thought I've always had is: "well, is it using just the same amount of energy?" Because, when I come home, it's gonna be on for maybe 30 minutes cooling the house back down to the level I like vs, you know, over the 8 hours maybe being on an increments. So is it still cheaper doing if off while you are gone? (8:53)
Adam: Well, I'd never recommend just leave it in completely off, because the amount of energy you can have it used on the heavy low, that has been built up is gonna be pretty high cost, cause everything is running at 100% and revved-up trying to cool down that temperature. Then, of course, you got the comfort factor, which gonna take half an hour, an hour sometimes.
We get really hot days, it's gonna take an hour plus, and so in the meanwhile you are unconformable. So, I always tell everybody: "maintaining certain temperature, throughout the day is ideal." Maybe you want to raise it up maybe to 80 - 82 degrees. Something that is a not nearly as hot as keeping it off all day. You come home and it' 90 degrees in your home, I mean you definitely gonna have that…

Jason: Yeah, you don’t want to be home...
Adam: Right, the recovery time is gonna be affected and then, of course, the machine is running at a 100% trying to cool it down. I tell everybody: "maybe raise it up 80 - 82 degrees, as the constant temperature throughout the day." I that way, when you get home, you crack it down to 72 or 75, whatever you like and the recovery time is gonna be shorter, it's not gonna be as much of a load on your air conditioner. It's gonna be able to be more comfortable and not run it at a 100% struggling to catch up when you come home at 6 o'clock in the evening. 
The constant temperature throughout the day, but raising it not too, you know, don't keep it at temperature you're comfortable at, raise it up to maybe 80 degrees, 82 degrees. Something like that would be ideal. 
Jason: Got you. OK. So, then, you know, going more into systems. And this next one, I am sure we could talk for hours on. But if you could just give a  general overview of the types of systems, in terms of gas vs. electric vs. a heat pump. More specifically, what for you has been more efficient for the area we're in, being in Metroplex, in Texas? (11:02)
Adam: Sure, well, we'll start with gas. Gas is my preferred choice of heating system. When it comes to heating, I prefer gas. Secondly, would be heat pump, which is definitely more efficient then just all electric heating. So, if I had to rate them, I'd rate them as from efficiency standpoint would be gas, secondly - heat pump, thirdly - all electric system. So with that being said on air conditioning side, I always recommend the air conditioning at least 16 SEER rating or above. That gives you some efficiency across the board for your air conditioning mode. So that way, the air conditioner can be paired with gas furnace, heat pump or all electric furnace. 

If you can - get gas, if not I'll definitely choose heat pump over all electric and then, of course, on the air conditioning side you want to make sure have at least 16 SEER rated equipment or higher.  
Jason: So, do you find that most of the times people, if they have a heat pump it's because that neighbourhood doesn't have gas available? (12:32)
Adam: That's correct, yeah. The gas service is not available to the development or to the neighbourhood and so it's all electric. But you definitely want to go with heat pump, especially for our climate region. We don't have very cold winters and so the heat pump is ideal to operate in temperature between 32 degrees and 65 degrees. It's your ideal operating temperature for the heat pump, which is above freezing. And so the heat pump technology is excellent, it saves the heating costs, the electric consumption of the heat pump is a fraction of what the electric consumption of all electric heating elements that come with the all-electric furnace. 
So, you're talking about heating costs heat pump is easily 40% more effective at heating, efficient at heating over an electric furnace.  
Jason: OK. Yeah, cause with the electric you just have a glorified hairdryer essentially, right? 
Adam: Exactly, exactly. They are energy hogs and you turn it on and you can see your meter just spinning.  
Jason: So, I want to move more on to the typical lifespans of system. So, say somebody were call you and get a new system installed tomorrow. I want two different kind of scenarios. If they treat it well and change the filters, get the service per your recommendations. How long do you see it lasting? And then, what's the difference if they just don't ever call to get it serviced, don't change the filters. What's the difference that you could see, in terms of how long they last? (13:54)
Adam: The machines, these days, they are built to always withstand the life of the warranty. Which is industry standard 10 years. Especially, more recently, since I want to say 2010, when manufactures geared up and started really competing for the warranty standard, they all made it at 10 years. So, your new machines should last you about 10 years with proper maintenance. You should be able to change the filter and do some A/C spring maintenance and some heating fall maintenance, and that machine is gonna last you the full 10 years with relatively no problems. 
Of course, everything depends on usage and personal preferences and things like that which are factors. Sometimes, people don't use it that much and it may last them easily twice as much as  the warranty. Or some people use it non-stop, 24 hours a day, which you gonna have a failure and breakdown because everything mechanical wears out. 

Jason: Right. 
Adam: And so, you know, with that being said, you should be able to get the full 10 years out of your heating and cooling equipment, because it has a 10-year manufacture warranty. Even, if there are failure or problems, you don't have to worry about them, because the manufacturers covered you for 10 years for the parts. You know, no one is gonna be able to tell you. Or you need everything brad new, because you can just kindly disagree and say: "I just want the bad parts because the manufacturer warranties it."
Jason: Yeah!

Adam: Exactly, about 10 years for the brand new are now. On the flip side, somebody never changes their filter, never does the spring maintenance, never does the fall maintenance, runs it constantly and uses it 24 hours a day. Maybe not 24 but quite a bit. And kind of, I call the scenario like kind of "running it to the ground." 
I've definitely seen some of that in my experience and, they are roughly, a brand new machine, that's a brand new will roughly last you around 2 years before you have major mechanical failure. You are talking compressor failure or something to that effect, it's just lack of maintenance and running to the ground basically. I’ve seen it about two years old machines and fortunate for them they were able to get everything what was responsible for the manufacturer to warranty to get that taken care of. But, of course, there are labour charges and certain things that manufacture doesn't cover. Like, the refrigerant loss and installation materials and so, it's still costly. 
If something could be prevented by having the spring maintenance done and the fall maintenance done, you know, it'd cost around a 100 bucks a year, you know what I mean. You definitely want to take that into consideration. You know, having them serviced: once in the spring, once in the fall. Roughly around 50 bucks a piece, per service. Just ensure everything is running right, everything is working good. You are not gonna be stuck with any kind of manufacture defect. You don't like that where they gonna say: "Hey, we're not gonna cover that it's lack of proper maintenance."
Jason: Right. Well, great. I think we're running up on, we're coming over 15 minutes now, so I want to respect that time limit. You touched base on getting the service a couple of times a year. So, all this information was great. So, one thing is, for those who are listening, how do they contact you? What's the best way to contact you? Phone, email? (17:56)

Adam: Text is the best way or email. I can be texted any time at 817-366-7749, or you can just reach me via email, just my name adamaacevedo@yahoo.com. 
Jason: OK, perfect. Well, Adam, we appreciate you taking the time and look forward to you do more business in the future. 
Adam: Hey, sounds good. Thank you for calling.

Jason: Right, you bet. 

Adam: Bye-bye.

Episode #001 - Have questions about financing? In this episode we visit with Terrie Goodloe. Terrie has been in the mortgage business for over 24 years as a Loan Officer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Episode #001 - Have questions about financing? In this episode we visit with Terrie Goodloe. Terrie has been in the mortgage business for over 24 years as a Loan Officer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She currently...(https://youtu.be/0y4YZdY3WLE)


Episode #001 REN Podcast Transcription (Terri Goodloe)

Jason: Alright, good morning everybody. This is Jason Reynolds with Vision Realty and Investments. Today on the phone we’re actually visiting with Terri Goodloe with Service First Mortgage here in Burleson, Texas, and we’re going to kind of walk through some financing options for folks. We figure that might be a good thing to talk about here on this podcast. Without further ado, Terri, can you tell a little bit about yourself? How long you’ve been in the business? How long you’ve been at Burleson?

Terri: Yes. Hello, Jason, thank you for having me this morning. I grew up in Burleson, have lived in Johnson County all of my life other than a small stint in college. I have been in finance and mortgage for over twenty years, so seen ups and downs in the markets and the mortgage industry per se. I’m excited to be here and chatting with you this morning, I appreciate it.

Jason: Hey, you bet. That’s the first thing you talked about, you’ve seen the market over time. Can you kind of walk us through what current interest rates are now? I know they’re going up, but can you kind of tell us what you see them doing maybe over the next six months? (1:54)

Terri: Yes. Historically speaking, we see interest rates moving up in the spring, levelling out in the summer and typically, historically speaking, dropping back down at the end of year through January/February. This year, not a whole lot different other than we’re seeing interest rates moving upward starting really in January with the market and the economy. There are a lot of things out there that drive the market and the interest rates for mortgage financing, specifically the bond markets. When we see the stock market increase in their value, we typically see the bond markets go down which is tied to interest rates and lower rates. In the industry, we’re looking at increasing interest rates over the next four or five months and currently, the interest rates are driven by the mortgage type and your credit scores. Better credit gets a better rate, and also determining in that market as far as the type of mortgage if you’re getting down-payment assistance. What we’re seeing right now, FHA conventional four and a half, higher rates for lower credit scores and different types of other financing options.

Jason: Okay, awesome. So then, we’re looking at good credit. That’s also something probably important for folks to understand, is that your credit can also influence—how much would you say somebody that a great credit score is maybe getting a 4.5% versus somebody who maybe was right on the cusp of being able to get a mortgage. How much more of an interest rate would that equal? (3:53)

Terri: Looking at a client just yesterday in the market with FHA financing, their scores were just over 600, and 600 is our minimum credit score for financing with Service First Mortgage. At that 600 credit score, we were looking at 5 and an eighth or 5 and a quarter on interest rates for FHA.

Jason: Okay. We didn’t talk about this question Terri, but I’m jumping into it.

Terri: Alright.

Jason: You’ve worked with a lot of my clients. A lot of clients sometimes jump in and they’re looking and say, “Well I can get a better interest rate on lendingtree.com” or some national bank, some website they found. I’ve always been an advocate for, “Hey, use somebody that’s here locally that you can use, that you can call if you need help”. What’s the difference between using you versus a bigger bank? We’ve talked about this before. Can you elaborate on their interest rates may look good upfront, but when it comes to closing time, what does that look like too? (4:53)

Terri: Well, when you’re looking at the market as a whole, at Service First Mortgage we are competitive. We want to be competitive and we are local. You can come into my office, you can find me, you can call me on my cell phone in the evenings and on the weekends. When you are working with the big banks or the internet companies, they don’t necessarily have a vested interest in our community. They’re not active here, they’re not local here, you can’t get a hold of them if you needed something quickly, whereas I’m available. I’m here to provide a service to my community as well as my borrower and my client. I think it’s important to know that I hang my hat on my honesty and my integrity and getting things done. Like anything, you can find somebody else. They’re just going to tell you what you want to hear, but when it comes down to getting the job done and being honest and closing the transaction on time, those are where the internet company and the big banks struggle because they’re front-end people that are on the phone or on the internet don’t have the twenty year experience in the industry that I have or my manager has. Being able to answer questions, getting the correct documentation upfront—and the initial interview with the customer is so important because I can ask some questions and I can hear the answers, and with the answers there are other questions. Whereas if you’re filling out an application online through an internet company, they can’t hear the clients voice. They can’t ask the client the open ended questions to really get to know the customer.

Jason: Right, yes. They also probably don’t pick up their phone at 9 o’clock when you need a pre-approval letter, like you do.

Terri: Correct, exactly.

Jason: Okay, awesome. Speaking on experience, there’s been many times where I think I’ve called you after-hours many times asking for a pre-approval letter because in this market we need it. We just don’t get that with the big banks.

Okay, awesome. Real quick, I want to walk through the different types of financing. There’s tons out there, but I wanted to kind of get an idea of types of down-payments and benefits. Pros and cons of these types of loans. The first was FHA. What kind of borrower would be looking to use a FHA loan and what type of terms are we looking at? (8:00)

Terri: Well, with a FHA financing, that’s typically reserved for your first-time home buyer, although you don’t have to be a first-time home buyer to get a FHA loan. It allows the borrower to get into a property with the lowest credit score. How that happens is a FHA loan is secured, guaranteed by the federal government or FHA (Federal Helping Administration). In the event that the borrower defaults in the type of loan transaction, the lender is not out because it is government secured by mortgage insurance, in that case through the loan. With FHA financing, we can finance a borrower with credit scores down to 600. They have a minimum down-payment of 3.5%. The seller, although it’s a little bit more challenging in this market, is allowed to pay up to 6% of the borrowers closing cost, and so there’s a lot more flexibility in the financing as far as the overall picture. When we look at mortgage needs working at a big picture, we’re looking at the borrower, the borrower’s credit, the borrower’s ability to repay their mortgage note with a payment. We also are looking at the property statistics, and so the property also has to pass an appraisal. With that, there can be no problems with the property. It has to be in good working order. FHA’s are more strict on the property side but more lenient on the borrower/credit score side.

Jason: Okay, so then how does that change as we jump down to conventional? (10:13)

Terri: Conventional financing is money lent by a bank or financial institution. They’re looking at the borrower’s ability to repay that note because there is no security specific if that borrower defaulted and quit making payments and the bank gets the house bank. The bank’s not in the business to manage properties: they’re in the business to lend to borrowers. You have to have a little bit better credit score However, there are some loan programs within conventional financing. With really good credit you can get in with as little as 3% down, and lower mortgage insurance again with high credit scores. We are doing more conventional financing than I’ve ever done in my twenty years, but you can’t have as much debt with the conventional as you can with a FHA, so what we call your debt-to-income ratio is a little stricter than on FHA financing.

Jason: Okay.

Terri: With each loan program there are different guidelines and different parameters, so it’s important that your lender, your loan officer, the person you’re speaking with knows the guidelines and can fit you as the borrower into the best product for your financial situation. It’s just not a here-and-now. I don’t look at it as a here-and-now let’s get you in here, but let’s look at the bigger picture: what is the borrower's financial goal for the long-term?

Jason: Okay. You were saying on FHA credit scores can go down to 600. What’s minimum-type credit for conventional on average maybe? (11:58)

Terri: On conventional you’re looking at a couple of things. You’re looking at down-payment and credit score. With a bigger down-payment your credit score can go down to 620 but you’re paying a higher again with a lower credit score. For the best opportunity finance with conventional, if you have 680 to 720 you’re going to get your better rates, and then over 720 you’re going to get your best rates.

Jason: Okay, great. VA financing, can you explain real short—I know that’s 0% program but… (12:47)

Terri: There are two loan programs that specifically require no down payment, and one of those loan programs—they’re both federally insured—one of those is a VA loan. You have to have served in the military and received veteran’s benefits to get a VA loan. A VA loan is only for owner occupants’ property, meaning the veteran has to live in the house. We can finance a house of a veteran who is deceased by way of disability or the service of the veteran is the cause for death, so the house of a deceased veteran can also obtain mortgage financing with a VA loan, and that again is a zero down-payment. Now there are closing costs associated with every real-estate transaction, so the veteran would need to have the means to pay their own closing costs, taxes and insurance and title fees.

The other loan program is called USDA, and the specifics of a USDA loan is that the property specific has to be rural in nature, meaning the economics or the population of the city where it’s located goes into effect. If it’s outside of any large metropolitan area and outside the city limits, it would go with USDA financing. No down-payments required. A USDA loan also has an income cap, so there are certain income requirements. You can’t be over, like $82,000 annual income for the borrowers on the loan. It actually goes by household income, so if you have a couple and they have a 17-year-old son or daughter that’s working, then that income is part of household: it would be counted.

Jason: Okay. Now, on both the VA and USDA, credit score plays a role in that still though, correct? (15:04)

Terri: Yes, we can go down as low as 620 on VA and 640 on USDA.

Jason: Okay. Perfect. Well we are at 17 minutes now and I know I said 15 minutes, so a couple of questions we have left here---that I think what we’ll do is we’ll try and do a second session—is talking about working through maybe credit issues cause Terri is great about meeting with folks who aren’t at that point yet, but she can definitely tell you how to get in a good spot to where you could get a mortgage. And then maybe talking about some down-payment assistance programs as well. We will save that for a session two but thank you Terri so much for jumping on with us.

Terri: Thank you for having me, I appreciate it.

Jason: Can you just remind us again where you’re at, and then also how folks can get in contact with you? (15:59)

Terri: Sure. I’m located in Burleson, Service First Mortgage, 437 South West Wilshire Boulevard right in the heart of Burleson, Texas. I can be reached by cellphone at 817-925-8306, or you can search me on the internet at terrigoodloe.com. Anyone can apply online. If you have access to internet or computer you can click on the button that says “apply now” and I can reach out to you once you complete that application or call me on the phone.