The New Big Tex, the official greeter of the biggest family entertainment event of the year, the State Fair of Texas, will be unveiled on the opening day of the Fair, September 27 at 2:00 p.m.
The original and iconic Big Tex welcomed visitors to the State Fair of Texas for 60 years. It burned last year, and the replacement will be making his debut on opening day.
The Texas State Fair has been a major source of entertainment for millions of visitors, and has been a contributor to economic growth in north Texas for over 125 year. So, here we go again!
Gear up for giant mechanical man (Big Tex), fried food of every description, exhibits, entertainers and of course the midway rides and games. There’s something for everyone, from gardening enthusiasts to hot rod fans.
This year the State Fair runs from September 27 to October 20, 2013 and as always, it’s at Fair Park in Dallas.
Fried everything — food is a major component of the State Fair.
Every year there’s a friendly food fight like no other, between the Texas State Fair concessionaires for the coveted Big Tex Choice Awards for the Most Creative and Best Taste fried whatever. And it’s official. Organizers actually registered the claim ® that the State Fair is the FRIED FOOD CAPITAL OF TEXAS®. Who can argue? These are the creative minds that gave us fried bubble gum and fried beer!
Best Taste: Fried Cuban Roll
Most Creative: Fried Thanksgiving Dinner
Don’t miss a single fried delicacy — it’s a long time until the next State Fair.
On a side note, it normally rains a lot during the fair. We’re hopeful this year will bring some much-needed drought relief, but not at the expense of fair goers. Enjoy! — N. Wall
How well do you conserve water?
With most of north Texas in some stage of drought and water use regulations, it’s more important than ever for us to seek out ways to conserve this precious resource.
The government’s EPA estimates that the average family of four uses 146,000 gallons of water per year, at a cost of $700. With just a few small changes, however, that cost could drop by as much as 28%. Learn more about water from the EPA
You’ll save on more than just your water bill, too. You may save on Collin County taxes.
This is because water management is often handled at the municipal level and as water usage grows, so does the need for costly investment in water treatment and delivery systems. Less usage means lower costs.
You’ll also enjoy lower home energy bills. 25 percent of a home’s energy bill is used to heating water for home use.
So, with these benefits in mind, here are a few ways to cut your household water usage.
50% of outdoor watering is wasted
In Collin County of course we all think first of our lawn, landscape and trees, served by sprinkler systems. The North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) says that sprinkler systems account for 60% of the District water usage. This is certainly the main restriction. Check your sprinkler or irrigation system, readjust or replace sprinkler heads. Currently lawns and landscapes in McKinney where I live, can be watered no more than one day per week.
Catch Your Shower Water
Nobody likes to step into a cold shower, and we sometimes run our showers for 5 minutes before stepping in. Even with today’s low-flow shower heads, that’s 10 gallons of water wasted. Instead of allowing pre-shower water to run down the drain, catch it in a bucket, then use it to water house plants and your garden.
Stop Pre-Rinsing Dishes
Today’s dishwashers are heavy-duty food busters. Don’t pre-rinse dishes in the sink, only to move them to the dishwasher where the job will be duplicated. Instead, use a wet sponge to wipe dishes clean, then place them in the dishwasher. The job will get done just as well. Or, for caked on foods, follow the steps above then start the dishwasher. After 3 minutes, pause the cycle to allow water to sit-and-soak on your dishes. Then, restart the cycle as normal.
Test Your Toilets
A single leaking toilet can spill 60 gallons of water per day and there are several places where leaks can occur. The toilet may have a worn out flapper; or, a damaged gasket under the flush valve; or, a crack in the overflow tube. One clear sign of a leak is having to jiggle the handle to make the toilet stop running.
To test for leaks, try “the dye test”. Fill the toilet tank with food coloring or instant coffee to a deep color and wait 30 minutes. If any of the coloring finds it way to the toilet bowl, you know you have a leak.
In addition to the tips above, the EPA keeps a list of water-saving steps on its website. See how many steps you can take to reduce your home water usage.
(Image courtesy : Microsoft clip art)
By Norma Wall, Broker
Many years ago, when I was a low-level assistant in a huge oil company, I was shocked to find the self-entitlement from everyone who held a higher position than me (which was everyone!). Frequently they would drop a “due tomorrow morning” task on my desk at 4:45. I hated it. But I had a family to feed. So, I begrudgingly did their last minute bidding.
My frustration was summed up by a simple quote, that I kept hidden in a desk drawer:
”Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine”
Back in the day, pecking order was worn like a shield.
I still get a little flutter in the pit of my stomach when I think about those formative years.
This was also my unofficial introduction into the art of negotiations and how the outcome is affected by your attitude.
Maybe I need more chocolate.
Now, decades later, I find the same backward logic in real estate communication between agents. From time lines, to threats, to intimidation, some agents have the misconception that they are somehow the “boss” of the transaction.
Intimidation in daily communication has the exact opposite result on me. And I really love the agent who does a complete personality change once the contract is executed, sort of “now I’ve got you, you son-of-a-bitch!”
Another well-worn tactic is to push fellow agents up to the wire, to force decisions favorable to them / their client. Remember how that logic backfired when your kids pulled the same trick? “If you need a decision now, the answer is no.”
Since this has become a somewhat hostile environment, I’ve modified my email disclaimer:
“Demands on your part do not create obligations on my part.”
Good, solid negotiations are the backbone of the real estate transactions. Protect your client with contract knowledge and skillful problem solving.
Leave the intimidation to the pros who have clearly defined corporate structures to back them up.
Home builder confidence rises again.
For August 2012, the National Association of Homebuilders reports the monthly Housing Market Index at 37 — an increase of more than 100% from one year ago and the highest HMI value since February 2007.
The Housing Market Index is an indicator of homebuilder confidence and when it reads 50 or better, the HMI suggests favorable conditions for home builders. Readings below 50 suggest unfavorable conditions for builders.
Despite the recent rise in home builder attitudes, however, the Housing Market Index remains mired below 50 where it’s been since April 2006.
For new construction home buyers in Allen , the HMI may offer insight into the market for new homes through the end of this year. This is because the NAHB Housing Market Index is a composite survey, meant to gauge builder sentiment in three specific areas — current business, future business, and buyer activity.
When all three fronts are rising, it points to an improving market for sellers (i.e. home builders). Unfortunately, though, what’s good for sellers can be damaging to buyers. Builders are less willing to make concessions on price or product when markets are getting stronger.
In August, home builders saw strength across all three categories :
- Current Single-Family Sales : 39 (+3 from July)
- Projected Single-Family Sales : 44 (+1 from July)
- Buyer Foot Traffic : 31 (+3 from July)
Especially noteworthy in the August HMI is that builders project more sales for the next six calendar months than they have projected at any time in the last 5 years. With mortgage rates at all-time lows and buyer foot traffic growing, it’s no wonder confidence is high.
When demand for homes is strong amid stagnant or falling supplies, home prices rise and that’s exactly what we’re seeing in many U.S. markets. It’s a good time to be a Texas home buyer today, but market momentum appears to be shifting.
If you’re in the market for a newly-built home, therefore, the best “deal” may be the one you get today. Next year, your costs may be higher.
Rising home prices are taking a toll on today’s home buyers.
For the first time in 4 quarters — and despite falling mortgage rates — home affordability is sinking.
Earlier this week, the National Association of Home Builders reported the Home Opportunity Index, a measure of home affordability, down to 73.8 for the second quarter of the year. This marks the metric’s first “down” quarter since the second quarter of 2011, and is its lowest reading since December 2010.
A home is considered “affordable” when its payments meet standard mortgage underwriting criteria for families earning the local median income. This definition is used for homes across all U.S. markets — including for homes in Allen.
73.8% of homes sold last quarter were affordable to households earning the national median income of $65,000. This is the 13th straight quarter dating back to 2009 that the index surpassed 70. Prior to 2009, the Home Opportunity Index had not crossed 70 even one time.
Like all real estate data, home affordability varied by locale.
In the Midwest, for example, affordability was highest. 7 of the top 10 most affordable markets nationwide were spread throughout the nation’s heartland. An Alaskan city took the top spot.
The top 5 most affordable cities for home buyers in Q2 2012 were:
- Fairbanks, AK (98.7%)
- Mansfield, OH (98.1%)
- Springfield, OH (95.9%)
- Carson City, NV (95.4%)
- Kokomo, IN (95.4%)
At #23, Ocala, Florida (91.7%) was the top-ranked South Region city last quarter.
By contrast, the Northeast Region and Southern California remained among the least affordable housing markets nationwide. Led by the New York-White Plains, NY-Wayne, NJ area, 9 of the 10 least affordable areas were in the Mid-Atlantic and California, and for the 17th consecutive quarter the New York metro area was ranked “Least Affordable”.
Just 29.4 percent of homes were affordable to households earning the area’s median income there, down from 31.5 percent three months ago.
The rankings for all 225 metro areas are available for download on the NAHB website.