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

View these properties and more

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.

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 |

How to Buy a House – Finding Your New Home

Finding your new home starts with an initial consultation with your Realtor. During this meeting she will be discovering what you are looking for in your new home. What are 5 things that a house MUST and and 5 things it MUST NOT have in order for you to purchase it? Where do you want to live? What is most important? Schools? Yard? Pool or no pool? Make sure your Realtor knows all of this information.

Your Realtor will set you up on an auto-feed of listings that match your criteria. Keep in mind these may not be able to capture “open concept” or “large island” type of criteria. So, it may be up to you to categorize the listings so your Realtor knows which properties you are drawn to over others.

You and your Realtor will select which homes to look view in person. The Realtor will create a tour and schedule all of the homes with the seller and their agent. This can take some logistical finesse so understand if you are unable to see a particular property.

Spend as much time as you need in each home. Look in closets, flush toilets, listen for background noises…these are all important details. If you drive up to a property or step inside and you don’t like it for ANY reason don’t feel obligated to look at the whole house.

“If we aren’t moving in let’s move on. “

Kelli, Home Buying client

Make an offer

Making an offer is like putting out your hand to shake. With your Realtor’s advice you come up with an offer price for the property you have found. Things that may influence what you offer can be days on market, condition of the property, and multiple offers.

You and your Realtor will discuss the terms of the offer you want to present. This is your decision with your Realtor’s council. fill in the offer contract and you will approve then sign. In the state of Texas you can have the offer contract reviewed by your attorney at any time though it is not required for them to sign off. The offer will then be sent to the listing agent to present to the seller.

1 of 4 Things Will Generally Happen…

  • They will accept as written (rare)
  • They will counter (most often)
  • They will tell you to improve your offer (sometimes)
  • They will not respond (not that often)

When any of the above occurs your Realtor will discuss all of your options with you.

The majority of the time the seller will “counter” meaning they will want to make a change. It could be price, seller contributions, closing date, or who buys a new survey.

A real estate counteroffer is generated by a home seller after a buyer has submitted an offer to purchase and the offer includes terms that aren’t agreeable. Typically, a counteroffer states that the seller has accepted the buyer’s offer subject to one or more changes. 

Keep in mind you can keep countering back and forth until both sides agree. Try not to let this time get to you; remember the seller is looking for the best deal for them while you are looking for the best deal for you.

Once an agreement is found the contract is executed. If an agreement cannot be met then you go back on the hunt for your dream home.

Home Buying Kit For Dummies

Latest Posts

How to Buy a House – Get Your Mortgage

Cartoon image of 3 check boxes, red pencil and Pre-Approved stamp image

Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

This is vital! Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a critical step in purchasing a home. An offer cannot be made without verification that you, in fact, can gain financing to purchase the home.

Most Realtors won’t show you property until they know you are, in fact, capable to finance the homes you are looking at. Your Realtor should have some very solid relationships with lenders that are respected in the market and have a history of getting transactions closed on time. This is all extremely important.

The initial pre-approval does not take long…minutes really. However it gives the lender, Realtors, and the sellers information they need to get a transaction completed. Dana Hakes of Uptown Funding explains what the loan process looks like for a residential buyer.

Dana Hakes with Uptown Funding discusses pre-approval and the loan process

The Pre-Approval Process

Like your Realtor relationship, the lender relationship will be very important during the transaction. They will be going through your finances and ask you things that are personal and may make you uncomfortable. Understand this is required and they will not ask you for anything they do not need.

  • Pay stubs
  • Tax Returns
  • Employment status
  • Bank Statements
Meme with eight photographs of the guys from OCC. I want to buy a house; Get Pre-Approved. I don't know my budget; Get Pre-Approved. I want to go look at houses; Get pre-approved. This house I like sold; Should have gotten pre-approved. Get your mortgage

Under Contract…Now What?

The mortgage industry is very regulated. Since 2008 many laws and regulations have been put into place to protect the consumer. Once you are under contract the real mortgage work begins. Because of the regulations lenders must ask you for certain information…sometimes multiple times…to ensure legitimate loans are being made. Some of these things are:

  • Paper trail for all cash deposits into your bank accounts (no mattress money)
  • Tax returns for 2-4 years depending on the work that you do
  • Explanations of assets
  • Employment records and paystubs
  • A variety of other items of documentation depending on your specific situation. No two are alike.

The key to an easy loan process and getting the mortgage that you want it terms of rate, length of loan, and other terms. During this time do not spend any money out of the ordinary…no buying appliances, furniture, or cars. And do not change jobs! All of these things can compromise your ability to purchase the home.

How to Get Approved for the Best Mortgage Without Sticking a Fork in Your Eye ™: A Comprehensive Guide for First Time Home Buyers and Home Buyers Getting a Mortgage Since the Mortgage Crisis of 2008

How to Buy a House – Finding Your Realtor

Find Your Realtor

Finding a Realtor can be easy or it can be hard. There are many questions that come to mind when hiring someone to assist you in what may be the largest financial transaction of your life. I have seen people take longer to choose a sofa than choosing a Realtor!

Do your homework. Ask your friends and family because they are going to tell you their experiences even if you don’t ask…so get that out of the way. HOWEVER when finding your Realtor make your own choice. I once had a friend say to me, “Robin, I am using a Realtor that I don’t know personally. Because if I want to be a brat I don’t want it to reflect on our friendship.” I TOTALLY respect that! You, as a buyer need to find a Realtor you can be totally honest and completely transparent with. This is important stuff.

What should you look for?

Experience and enthusiasm! Often enthusiasm will out rank experience. How many properties have they sold? If they are a newer agent ask what sort of support team do they have to ensure all questions and concerns are addressed. We were all new at our jobs at one point in time; this doesn’t mean we were bad at it…just that we needed assistance at times. Just make sure they have it.

Have a consultation meeting with each prospective Realtor to make sure you are on the same page and you LIKE them! They should give you at least 2 forms to sign an Information About Business Services (IABS) and a Buyer Tenant Representation Agreement. The first is required by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and discloses Realtor Agency Representation and the second is the agreement between you and the Broker that the agent will have a fiduciary duty to represent you, the buyer, in the transaction. Without this the broker/agent represents the seller by default.

Find your realtor that is personable, knowledgeable, easy to get along with, detail oriented, organized, experienced, Readily available

Some Questions to Ask When Finding a Realtor

  • Why did you become a real estate agent?
  • Why should I work with you?
  • What do you do better than other real estate agents?
  • What process will you use to help me find the right home for my particular wants and needs?
  • What are the most common things that go wrong in a transaction and how would you handle them?
  • What are some mistakes that you think people make when buying their first home?
  • What other professionals do you suggest we work with and what are their credentials?
  • Can you provide me with references or testimonials from past clients?

Past Posts

How to Buy a House- Buyer Representation

Why you want your own representation…and not do it on your own or use the seller’s agent.

Image of a man in a suit holding a card that says "Buyer Representation"

In the great state of Texas buyers have their own representation in a real estate transaction. In about 1993 the Buyer Tenant Representation Agreement was created by the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR). Real Estate Buyers looked up and said, “Hey, our interests are not being represented here!” and the Buyer Rep was born.

This is why it is important to have your own representation; someone that knows the contract and understands the transaction that has YOUR interests at heart. Remember, if you go directly through the listing agent of the property their fiduciary duty is to the SELLER. In Texas the seller typically pays all the commissions on the Residential Real Estate transaction though it is important to note that there are no set commission percentages and this is always a negotiable point. So…if it isn’t going to cost you anything additional to pay the agent why on earth would you want to represent yourself or use the person with the LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY to not have your interest at heart?

Home Buying Kit For Dummies