When Allie Beth Allman agent Erin Seeds first moved back to Dallas, she did what everyone usually does: went apartment hunting. Few people are ready to plunk down a down payment and buy a home when they first move to town, even if they have family here.

“It was a disaster,” says Erin. “All I wanted was to find a reasonably priced apartment that was good for me and my two dogs. I quickly learned that the apartment search process was so broken.”

The information she needed wasn’t available. Many good-looking apartment sites provided ratings, but those ratings were skewed, random, and not very actionable. There were no objective quality standards.

There is no MLS for apartment property search, no giant Zillow for rentals. Well, not yet. There are agents who specialize in apartment search, collecting an average of one month’s rent as commission: extra developer perks might be tempting. And when it comes to searching for amenities, most apartment search platforms come right from the landlord: not exactly what we would call objective, right?

“No one was concerned with quality or fit for the consumer,” says Erin. “It was all about the agent.” (more…)

 

What are the best Dallas-area neighborhoods for trick or treating? Find out from Zillow. (Photo: Stephen Depolo via Flickr)

What a treat! Zillow released its annual Trick or Treat Index, and this year, Dallas haunts the chart at No. 11. The index narrows down the best cities to score candy based on single-home density, average home values, and number of children under 10. In summary: More candy for less walking.

After the jump, check out  Zillow’s list of top spots and a few other local haunts. Plus, brush up on some Halloweeen safety tips to keep the night freakishly fun. Got any favorite trick-or-treating spots? Hit us up in the comments with the best neighborhoods for those full-size candy bars.

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All that's needed is a chalk outline of the body

All that’s needed is a chalk outline of the body

When buyers peruse listings, they rely heavily on the pictures posted by the listing agent. Usually pictures entice, however sometimes they’re scary, wary, or pointless. I know when I look at homes, I expect the pictures to be a storyboard that escorts me through a property.

I want to see the exterior, the entryway, and onwards as though I’m walking through the home. I give extra points if pictures “connect.” By this I mean that if I see a chair in one picture, I want to see it from the next picture. It becomes a bridge that gives the viewer an idea of how the rooms flow.

We all know we’ve seen listing pictures uploaded to the MLS in a scattershot fashion – bathroom, basement, attic, master bedroom, backyard, etc. Viewers can’t get a feel for where anything is. And in the end, agents wind up visiting homes that a buyer would have axed had they been given a better storyboard.

Storyboards are all well and good, but if the pictures are bad, it won’t matter much.

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Haunted House Trulia 2

We’ve been on the receiving end of boatloads of Halloween-themed press releases, but nothing really sticks with you like a cool video. That’s why I love this hidden-camera gem from Trulia, which rigs a cluttered Victorian with a murder back story with some pulleys and sheets for an old-school fright fest!

Jump for the full video!

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5343_Livingston_Ave
Halloween is an escape from troubled times, and as Oct. 31 has rolled around in recent years, Americans have spent several simoleons on the spooky holiday. But as the economy has turned a corner this year, Americans are projected to spend 13.9 percent less on costumes, candy, and decorations this year.

According to this story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the National Retail Federation’s Halloween Spending Survey shows 25.2 percent of Americans plan to spend less this Halloween than last year, and projections show a 13.9 percent dip in overall spending from a year ago ($8 billion to $6.9 billion). Still, that’s more than twice what America spent on ghoulish goods in 2005 ($3.2 billion).

9784 Audubon ext

That’s good news for Realtors who often anticipate fall as a seasonal slowing of the Real Estate Market. This post on the Ebby Halliday Realtors Blog breaks down the numbers from NTREIS, showing that while temperatures are cooling in North Texas, the real estate market is still very hot.

A few of the highlights from the NTREIS numbers for September 2013 vs. September 2012 include:

* Days on Market were down 26.6% to 59 days on average.

* Percent of original list price received was up 1.2% to 94.7% of asking price.

* Closed sales were up 10.2%.

* Finally, the median sales price was up 8.5%.

Amazing news, and it’s incredible how well our market is performing with single-family homes in such short supply. What are you seeing in your neighborhood this fall?

Zillow Trick or Treat Map

Dallas’ lack of sidewalks and abysmal walk scores kept it from making Zillow’s list of top cities for trick or treating. I have several great memories of trick or treating, but the all involved piling into the bed of a slow-moving pickup truck and cruising through the neighborhood. We rarely walked between houses, because if you did that, it would take you all night to fill your pillowcase with treats.

Best Cities to Trick or TreatThat’s probably what fueled the thinking of Zillow statisticians who came out with this year’s list of the top 20 cities for trick or treating. They measured cities based on their  Zillow Home Value Index, population density, Walk Score and local crime data from Relocation Essentials. “Based on these variables, the Index represents cities that will provide the most candy, with the fewest walking and safety risks,” the website said.

Ranking No. 1 for the third year in a row is San Francisco, with Boston and Honolulu ranking second and third, respectively. Some choices that are kind of surprising to me include Washington, D.C. (8), Miami (14), and Baltimore (19).

You’d think that because of the many wealthy enclaves that are incredibly walkable (Hello, Park Cities, Lakewood, and Uptown) that Dallas would have ranked somewhere close. Of course, we shouldn’t feel too bad because not a single Texas city made the list. They don’t know what they’re missing, right?

Still, this list isn’t surprising because it has the same cities as last year, just in a slightly different order.

To see the full breakdown, visit Zillow’s site.

Just like the Centers for Disease Control giving tips on surviving the zombie apocalypse, Coldwell Banker’s Blue Matter blog shares hilarious ideas on how to rid your home of ghosts, ghouls, and vampires.

I love that many of the tips offered come from the very real realm of television:

” … if seven seasons of Supernatural have taught me anything it’s that you can line your home’s doorway and window sills with salt to prevent the unwanted from entering the premises.”

Ah, yes — I am going to hitch my plans for survival on the wagon of blogger’s TV viewing. Other gems include:

“Let’s be honest. You just have to be faster than the next slowest person to evade a monster attack. Invest in a treadmill and use it regularly.”

And:

“When are monster least likely to bother you? When the sun is out of course. Have you ever heard of the boogeyman attacking in the sunlight? We know vampires don’t. Never seen a werewolf do that either. So why live in Yuma, AZ? Well it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most amount of sunlight in a year.”

What would you do to secure your home against a monster attack?

Kerry Paradise Slaughter of Prudential Texas Properties started the “Slaughterhouse” Halloween bash seven years ago with just a grill and some weenies. This year, the event is bigger, scarier, and benefits a great cause.

Find out more about this ghoulishly good time on BubbleLife Media’s Lake Highlands page.