How Do I Make the Most of My Backyard?

Image of lavendar and purple flower with butterflies Make the most of my backyard

What should I build in my backyard?

When it comes to making the most of your backyard many things come to mind. Here are 7 that are sure to bring a lot of love to your outdoor space.

  • Build a deck or patio – this instantly gives your backyard overall appeal
  • Lay a rug down on the patio – just a rug on the patio or deck adds a touch of texture and color
  • Create shade with a pergola – create a quiet space using curtains and cushions under the shade created
  • Plant a butterfly garden – these can be any size from a window box to a section in the yard
  • Set up a trellis with flowering plants – adds a little charm and can be made from wood or metal
  • Invest in a fountain – this can be tucked in a corner or set on a side table
  • Create a raised garden for vegetables – this doesn’t take up a lot of space and you don’t have to dig in the dirt or bend over to weed!
Image of a small yard with a deck, lounge chairs and a fire pit
Make the most of my backyard

How do I make a small yard look bigger?

  • Use pavers and decks in the right direction – laying them on the diagonal gives the illusion of a larger space
  • Color at the entry – this draws the focus there making the rest of the yard appear larger
  • Levels – the added depth does amazing things to the eye
  • Divide the space – put a dining area in one place and a lounge area in another. Divide the two with large pots.
  • Hang mirrors – while not always an outdoor accessory, mirrors can reflect light and images making a space appear larger.

Inexpensive backyard privacy ideas

Often these days our neighbors are just a bit too close or maybe we just desire a little more privacy. Here are some inexpensive ideas to bring you that privacy.

  • Supersized planters – fill them with full and tall plants
  • Hang outdoor curtains around your patio – pull them around when you want privacy
  • Put up a simple lattice fence – and run flowering plants on it
  • Build a privacy screen – these are usually lightweight and easy to move around if necessary
  • Plant trees – this may be for a larger budget however works every time.
Image of a patio with a wooden screen separator. Purple flowers. Make the most of my backyard

Are Government Loans Hard?

Why don’t people want to use them?

Reach out to Dave Smith with questions on Government loans

VA, FHA, USDA…What about government loans?

It’s Robin and I am here with Dave Smith from Caliber Home Loans and we’re going to ask Dave some questions about mortgages. I’m hearing a lot of things from agents, from a buyers and sellers that some loans are less desirable than others. Meaning that I don’t want an FHA, I don’t want to a VA, I want conventional, I want this. I don’t want that. So Dave, tell us what is really the difference in some of those.

Loan Type Comparison
FHA, VA, USDA, and Conventional Loans

What is the difference?

The difference between conventional loans and government loans is the appraisal. The appraisal comes with an inspection on the government loans. When a conventional loan they don’t; so that scares a lot of people off. If the property’s in decent condition they’re all the same across the board. I mean, government loans tend to have better rates, easier guidelines, and higher ratio capacity. I’ve closed several in the last couple of months. I had 55/56% back end ratios and conventional, you’re capped at a 45% back end unless you have over 700 scores.

Cartoon man with arms spread wide with a house on each side. One labeled FHA Loans and the other VA Loans

Do you have to be a VA expert where that is all you do is VA loans?

A lot of people call themselves VA experts. We have a designation called the Caliber Military Veteran Lending Professional that we do a series of classes to get. I think it gives us an advantage because you have to know your guidelines. But per se, a VA loan is not any more difficult than any other kind of loan. If you do your homework up front and you get your documents, you do what you’re supposed to do, then there shouldn’t be any issues.

Screaming emoji face

Nothing to be afraid of…

So there’s really nothing to be afraid of from a buyer perspective and agent perspective or even a seller perspective. The only problem is eventually if there’s stuff that isn’t working that needs to be fixed, they required to be fixed. And that is to have the buyer’s interest in mind.

If you have you have any questions about the mortgage for buying a house…What do I qualify for? Am I eligible to use my VA? Should I go FHA or VA? Dave is more than happy to answer any questions that you guys have and point you in the right direction. He can be reached at 214.202.22658 or

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When it comes to buying and selling residential real estate in Texas, the Robin McCoy Group is your go to for information, resources, and support. Do not hesitate to reach out at 214.226.3770 or

How Long Does it Take to Buy a House?

And Sell one too?

How Long Does it Take to Buy and Sell a House?

How Long DOES is take to buy or sell a house?

I’m Robin with Keller Williams and as a Realtor I get asked this question a lot and it is, well how long does it take to sell or buy a house? And of course my answer is it depends. It depends on a lot of things. If you’re on the selling side, it depends on your house, your location, your price point, all of those things. How long will it take us to find a buyer for your house? And if you’re on the buyer’s side, how long will it take you to find the house that you’re looking for that you want to purchase? So there’s a lot of things that come into that now on a very factual timeline, we’re looking at about 30 days. Once you go under contract. We call that “going under contract” when all parties have agreed to terms and we execute this contract.

What is the timeline from a contract?

This is when the clock starts ticking on a number of different things. Typically in the state of Texas, we close in 30 days. If a house goes under under contract on June 1st typically we’re closing it on or about June 30th. Now the contract says on or before June 30th; this is the deadline to close the transaction. So it could happen really anytime in between there. Secondly, once we go under contract, the buyer has what we call an option period or a termination period. This is going to be typically about five to 10 days depending on the contract and there will be a amount of money given to the seller that is called consideration that allows the buyer to do their inspections…if they want somebody to look at the roof, do a general inspection, climb under the house, climb on the house, do all the reasonable inspections in their due diligence before they decide to move forward with the contract.

See these and other homes for sale

Can a Buyer Get Out of the Contract?

At this point in time, a buyer does have the right to terminate the contract within that pre-determined time period and they will get their earnest money back. However, they will not get that option money back. Once we pass the option period, there’s about another 14 to 21 days where the buyer and their lender are doing their due diligence. They’re getting all of their paperwork into the lender per their request. That could be tax returns, that could be pay stubs, it could be any number of documentation that the lender needs to approve this buyer to buy that home and that during this time too, typically the appraisal is getting ordered if not completed during that time. After that, it is just the final paperwork signing, getting things cleared up, getting conditions cleared and things like that till we get to our closing date.

Black & White silouette of a house and two hands; one giving keys to the other.

Closing the Transaction

Once the lender gives a clear to close and title gives clear title then everybody can come together and sign on the dotted line and one person has sold a home and another person has purchased it. So typically we look at about a 30 day time period in the state of Texas right now between going under contract and closing that sales contract. If you have any questions regarding the buying and selling of real estate here in North Texas, please don’t hesitate to call me. My name is Robin Mccoy with Keller Williams. My license number is 0582766 and my phone number (214) 226-3770 look forward to hearing from you. Have a great day.

Interview With an Inspector

We interviewed Residential Home Inspector Ken Duggan with Pillar to Post Inspections here in Dallas/Ft. Worth.

Robin McCoy, Realtor® with Keller Williams Realty

Hey everybody. It’s Robin McCoy with Keller Williams and I am here with Ken Duggan, the owner of Pillar to Post Inspection Services here in the DFW area. He is a residential home inspector, and he’s going to tell us a little bit about the home inspection and what you can expect and why you need one, Ken.

Ken Duggan, Inspector with Pillar to Post Inspections

All right, well thank you Robin. As a home inspector in Texas you have to be licensed and pass a background check. We go through an extensive training program that educates you on how to inspect the home and do practice inspections. That way you’ll be knowledgeable and very good at what you do.


Awesome. So you’re hired by a buyer essentially.; tell me what you do during an inspection. What can you do and what can you not do?


Right. So when you get a home inspection, we go and inspect all the major components of the house, check the roof, the foundation, the plumbing, the electrical, the windows, doors, all the major requirements for the home. And we do it and put it in a nice report and give it to you so you have a visual.


So it is a full on report that they do. You really put the house through it’s paces. The client get photographs, they tell you what is good to go and what might be considered deficient. It’s also important to know that just because something is deficient doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t buy the house. Right? Because there’s codes and easy fixes and things like that. Correct.


Yes. We inspect everything from large extra large houses all the way down to little condos. We do new construction.


Well, let me ask you, you said new construction. So why should a buyer get an inspection on a house that nobody’s even lived in yet? It’s brand new, right?


Yeah. Well, we do about 15% of our inspections on a new home. And the reason you’d want to do that is because they build these homes so fast and they might not have the proper people to do it. There’s a lot of things that you can find that they not doing correctly. So if you get a home inspection by a non biased person, you can come back to the builder with these issues and tell them, that these need to be fixed and you get a lot better response.


I think a lot of people would. I know I get as a realtor, I get a lot of questions like it’s a new house, should I get an inspection? Absolutely. Okay. Well let me ask you one final question. How can you benefit a seller? I’m on the seller side; is there a reason to hire you as an inspector in that case?


Absolutely. We do a pre-listing inspections. The advantage of that is really to find out what issues are with your home ahead of time. That way you can address these issues and know up front without the surprise of an inspection when the buyer wants come back at you and try to negotiate these fixes, you already have it, and adds value to the home.


Well, I’ve seen cases where a buyer, if you’ve done an inspection and they have the paperwork and you as a seller, you’ve shown what you fixed already, oftentimes they’ll take that inspection and go with it. So they may not even right hire their own inspectors. It can get you out in front of a lot of things. Well again, Robin McCoy with Keller Williams, Ken Duggan with Pillar to Post. We appreciate your time today. And if you have any questions about the real estate market or an inspection, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’ll have the contact information here for you.

Why Are Texas Property Taxes So High?

Hi everybody it’s Robin McCoy with Keller Williams. I want to chat a little bit today about property taxes… hot topic right now in the state of Texas and in Dallas County. I attended an MLS meeting this morning. It is where Realtors® come together with their affiliates (the people that make up our extended team… home warranty people… insurance people…loan people…essentially everybody that helps make a Realtor® strong). They are the ones that we go to for the answers that we don’t have. We all get together once or twice once or twice a month and we learn something. It’s how we get smart. Today at the East Dallas MLS meeting it was someone from the Dallas Central Appraisal District or “DCAD” as we like to call it.

What is DCAD looking at?

The presenter was there to talk a little bit about property taxes and a little bit about where they get this information. I thought I’d share the high points of what I gleaned from her presentation. This is in no way a complete explanation of them. I am not an expert. However, I do have resources to go to. that help me stay smarter. When we think of an appraisal, we think of in the sense of the sales process meaning you’re buying or selling a home and an appraiser comes out and determines the value of this particular property. They go in the house they look at the house they look at condition, upgrades, etc. It is more about the house in the neighborhood.

What with the appraisal district does, which is really almost an assessment district, they look at neighborhoods. Not just your house. It’s the neighborhood and what your particular house or property would sell for in that neighborhood. That is how they assess its value. They do call this a mass appraisal or they are mass appraisers versus a field appraiser who goes in during the transaction process.

Image of a house sitting on top of a big pile of dollar bills.

DCAD is required by law to assess or appraise or value a property at 100% of what it would sell for on January 1st of that year that they’re doing the assessment or the appraisal. At any point in time that they are plus or minus 5% then they must go in and reassess that neighborhood.

How do they divide up the county?

Now neighborhoods are divided up in a number of different ways. All houses are put in a “class” so a class 2 house may be wood siding or an older home whereas a class 21 may be a newer home with stone and brick. They also use the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) as a third party resource so they aren’t doing this all themselves. UTD serves as a disinterested third party that is also working on these mass assessments and appraisals. By law they are required to go in and reevaluate a neighborhood a minimum of one time every three years. Now in a market such as ours right now where it is moving up and moving down and is fluctuating quite a bit they’re going in and doing it every year.

Homestead Exemptions

Now let’s talk a little bit about exemptions. In the state of Texas every homeowner is allowed one homestead exemption. And if you’re over 65 you have an exemption. If you’re disabled you have an exemption.  If you’re in an agricultural area you can have an exemption. These are exemptions on your property taxes for your property.

You’re only allowed one homestead so if you have a lake house and a primary residence you can only claim a homestead on one of the two. You must own the property on January 1st of the tax year to file for the Homestead Exemption.

If you are buying a house between now and December 31st you will want to file your Homestead Exemption in January of 2020. Assuming that you don’t close on your house until January 2nd you have to wait until the following January of 2021 to file that exemption. If you bought a house in the last few years and you never did file an exemption for whatever reason you’re allowed to go back two years. Example, if you bought a house in 2014 and for whatever reason you did not file a Homestead Exemption you can only collect two years back. It’s very easy to file this homestead exemption and it is free to do so. You only have to do it one time for the length of time that you own the property.

Where do they get their data?

The presenter was a little elusive on where they get their information. As far as sold data, Texas is a nondisclosure state. One of the Realtors® asked, “Where do you get your sales data. It’s a nondisclosure state.”  The presenter said they get it from various places they have friends that give them the information. I don’t know where they’re getting it and she was not forthcoming with that. That is something that’s out there that we don’t really have a tangible answer for.I get asked that a lot and I still don’t have the answer.

How does it work?

Talking about exemptions I can send you this. If you’re in Dallas County and you file a homestead exemption on your property you will benefit on the county taxes. That’s going to include Parkland Hospital and the community college district. For those county services you’re will get a 20% reduction in the value of the property. If you are valued at $100,000 you are going to now be valued at $80,000.

If you would like this document to help understand, or at least get a better handle on what your taxes are and where that number came from, please reach out.

Let me know how I can help you with any of your North Texas real estate needs. My name is Robin McCoy. License number 0582766  with Keller Williams and I hope you guys have a fabulous day.

Buyer’s or Seller’s Side; There are often repairs to be made on a home.

Buyer or Seller? What should you do?

Hi, it’s Robin McCoy with Keller Williams and I thought we would talk today about repairs on a house. Whether you’re on the buyer’s side or the seller’s side, there is often repairs to be made on a home. One of the things that we want to talk about is, “what do we do about that”?

If you’re on the buyer’s side and you have a general inspection done as you should do, regardless of the age of the house, and it comes back and there are some things that are just not up to par. Some common things are the AC needs to be serviced or there may be a small leak under the sink. Sometimes things are more dramatic. Maybe they need a new roof or maybe the foundation needs to be looked at. Maybe there’s some electrical issues, any number of things can come up and all of those are not the end of the world.

Make sure you hire a general inspector so you understand what repairs are needed. Image of older home with a porch. Siding and curved driveway. House Inspects Logo and information

What Now?

The House is not falling apart. Nothing like that. Those are things that your agent and you will decide what are the most important and you will negotiate that with the with the seller and negotiate what the seller is willing to fix or what they’re not willing to fix. Then you get to make a decision based on that information.

What Can a Seller Do?

Now from the seller side…there are a couple of things to look at here too. Before your house goes on the market I always recommend going through and repar the things that you know are broken or that need to be fixed.

Get those obstacles out of your way. When you are selling your house, you want to present the best product possible. If you know the dishwasher makes a funny noise, let’s get that serviced. If you know your oven to be at 400 and it always heats up to 425 so you adjust accordingly. A new buyer is not going to know that. So let’s go ahead and get that calibrated.

There are any number of different things that can be taken care of before you hit the market. In fact, you could get a pre inspection by a general inspector so that you can fix all of the things that you know are going to come up in the buyer’s inspection. Your agent will help you with that.

And Finally…

Make sure you discuss these things with your agent so that everybody knows what to expect when that buyer comes in and that first offer is made. If you have any questions about the general inspection, what repairs may or may not be necessary or required, and which ones you might want to do prior to even listing your house. Please let me know. Robin Mccoy with Keller Williams, license number 0582766, we are here to help you with all of your Texas real estate needs.

The Castle House by Dilbeck

This One-of-a-Kind Charles Dilbeck Home is Now For Sale

5029 Milam Street, known as The Castle House, was built in 1940 and is one of the few French Eclectic masterpieces from Charles Dilbeck; and it is now For Sale!

Charles Dilbeck designed approximately 600 houses in the Dallas, TX area between 1932 and 1970. They are most appreciated for their romantic design; The Castle House is no exception.

These homeowners have kept all the charm Dilbeck designed while adding in all the modern conviences. The Castle House was recently included on the Historic Cochran Heights home tour and the owners were interviewed by Candy’s Dirt.

The current owners have put a great deal of thought into everything they have done to this home during their tenure. They have fully updated the master bath (which is downstairs by the way), replaced the AC, and completely replanted the landscaping in both front and back yards.

It is like really being there!

All the windows and exterior doors have been replaced with the European style Twist & Tilt which make cleaning a dream as well as allowing you to enjoy the breeze…that is with the exception of the ones on the front of the home; those are the original windows which have been rebuilt.

Do not miss an opportunity to own a piece of Dallas architectural history. Offered at $750,000 you can move right in.

Thank you to our Property Sponsors

Christian Johnson |
Grant Alexander |
Lynn Theriot |

Gated Community Under $500k

2605 Waterford Drive, Las Colinas

Image of a living room with wood flooring, plantation shutters, lots of light

Beautiful home in gated Hackberry Creek. A wonderful community that gets involved with block parties, parades, and more! From the moment you walk in you will feel at home. Open and spacious this home is geared for family living. Views from the Living room and Breakfast look out to the pool.

Image of a master bedroom with plantations shutters, trayed ceiling, fireplace and sitting area

The view from upstairs bedroom looks out to the lavish green trees. The home is beautifully lit with natural light coming in through the plantation shutters.The upstairs landing is part play area and study, complete with built-in cabinets and desk.

Image of a galley-style kitchen with white cabinets and a tiled floor.

Bright and roomy kitchen with lots of counter space for all levels of the home cook. The refrigerator, washer, and dryer convey with the property.

image of the backyard of a home, Shows a swimming pool, patio with furniture to the right and trees to the left

Enjoy your own peaceful oasis with pool, patio, and still plenty of yard for the kids and pets. Residents of Hackberry Creek get special discounts for the Hackberry Country Club. The community is gated and has a guard on duty 24/7 for the perfect lock ‘n leave lifestyle.

Gorgeous in East Dallas

4505 Rusk Avenue, Dallas

Gorgeous, contemporary home in East Dallas with sophisticated design this home features a large open floor plan and tons of natural light. The gourmet kitchen has a large quartzite waterfall island and stainless appliances.

The patio includes an oversized LED fireplace and Samsung smart TV, perfect for entertaining anytime of year. The back yard includes French Drains and is wired for a hot tub, cable, and a misting system.

Energy efficient heavy 2×6 construction, insulated walls, radiant barrier. Central to Oak Lawn, Uptown, Downtown, Knox Henderson & Lower Greenville. Restaurants, bars & shopping all nearby!