Prep Your Home for Fall


Cozy autumn evening on a modern designed patio

Cool breezes and colder months call for necessary upkeep. Now is a good time to be proactive about protecting your home against cooler temperatures. Follow these steps to prepare your home for fall.

Exterior

Roof – Inspect for missing, loose or damaged shingles. Make necessary repairs to keep cold air and precipitation out.

Gutters and Downspouts – Clear leaves and debris. Check alignment to ensure water can flow through and drains away from your home and foundation.

Plumbing – If you’ve noticed issues or leaks, get them checked. Winterize pipes that are exposed outdoors.

Trees – Inspect your property for damaged branches, and trim limbs at least 2 feet from your roofline.

Interior

Heat – Inspect furnace, water heater and air ducts. Fix any issues and replace air filters.

Windows – Check for cracks, gaps, damaged trim and broken glass. Caulk, weather strip and repair as needed; the same goes for doors.

Detectors – Test and replace batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that keep you safe.

Fire Extinguisher – Test your fire extinguisher and replace or recharge if necessary.

Backup – Have working flashlights and spare batteries for potential outages.

Attic – Check for moisture or leaks and repair immediately; same for basements, where necessary.

Ebby Halliday Companies Partner with Nations Home Warranty


The Ebby Halliday Companies are excited to announce a new partnership with Nations Home Warranty, a widely respected Dallas-Fort Worth-based home warranty services provider that has served the North Texas region since 1996. Known for exceptional service, Nations Home Warranty offers concierge service regardless of a home’s price point.   

“The Ebby Halliday Companies take pride in continuing to innovate, adding new tools and services that meet agent and market needs and ultimately provide a preeminent experience for our clients,” says Vice President of Finance and Operations Anthony Jackson. “Adding Nations Home Warranty to our arsenal of tools is exactly the type of service that sets our agents and company apart.”

Says Vice President of Core Services Catherine Sims, “We believe Nations Home Warranty is a great local fit in our market. Partnering with this respected brand is a win-win for our agents and our valued clients.”

Sims says that after working with Jonathan Seem, senior vice president of new channel partnerships, and Julie Jones, vice president of real estate sales for Nations Home Warranty, the direction was clear. “Offering a well-established, well-known and respected second warranty partner that will provide exceptional service to our Associates and their clients is something we really wanted to provide,” she says.

In addition to this new partnership with Nations Home Warranty, the Ebby Halliday Companies proudly partner with American Home Shield to provide home warranty services. 

“Our clients always have a choice on the products and services they utilize in their real estate transactions but through these partnerships we’re making it easier than ever to help our agents stand out as the experts in the marketplace,” says Sims.To learn more about Nations Home Warranty, visit home-warranty.com

Rapid Close Gets You Home Faster


At the Ebby Halliday Companies we’re proud to offer Rapid Close, a seamless signing experience that allows you to electronically sign most closing documents before closing. Rapid Close is offered through our affiliated mortgage company, Prosperity Home Mortgage.

With Rapid Close, borrowers can sign all eligible documents electronically prior to closing, leaving you with a limited amount of paperwork to sign at the closing table. Rapid Close saves time, allowing you more time to review documents and ask questions before closing – and gets you to the finish line faster!

5 Simple Steps to Rapid Close

Get the Invitation: You’ll receive an email to access your closing package prior to your scheduled closing date.

Review Documents: After a quick account setup, you’ll be able to review all of your loan documents prior to the closing date.

eSign Documents: On the day of closing, you can electronically sign all eligible documents in advance of your in-person meeting.

Documents are Sent: The e-signed documents are then shared with the mortgage consultant and all necessary parties.

In-Person Meeting: Sign the remainder of your documents and complete the closing in-person!

Contact a Prosperity Home Mortgage consultant today to learn more about Rapid Close!

6 Tips for North Texas Home Buyers and Sellers


Finally a home of our own!

With a shortage of available inventory, numerous offers for the same property, hip-pocket listings shared only by word of mouth — it’s no secret that the North Texas housing market is strong.

To help you navigate the home-buying and selling waters, we polled Ebby Halliday Associates and collected their top tips for today’s buyers and sellers.

Buyer’s Tips

Be qualified
Pre-plan financing by meeting with a mortgage lender ahead of time and receive a pre-approval letter that may be submitted when you make a written offer. “Less paperwork and more personal attention” is more than a saying at Prosperity Home Mortgage, Ebby Halliday’s affiliated mortgage source. Contact Prosperity Home Mortgage for a frustration-free experience from loan application to decision.

Act quickly
In a hot market, acting slowly or sleeping on it may cost you the opportunity to buy the home of your dreams. If you’ve found a home you’d be thrilled with, don’t wait to submit an offer — other buyers will likely be doing the same.

Offer a compelling price
Sellers often price their homes based on historical sold data or appraisals, and in a strong market where prices are rising rapidly, homes may sell for the listing price or higher. Study the sold comps, but also compare the house you want to other homes on the market, and ask yourself, “What price am I willing to pay, and at what price am I willing to lose this house?”

Seller’s Tips

Market to everyone near and far
You have the best chance of selling your home for the highest price by exposing it to the largest number of potential buyers. When you list your home with Ebby Halliday Realtors, it will enjoy worldwide exposure on ebby.com, the gold standard in residential real estate websites. Ebby.com is one of the most-visited residential real estate sites in the nation, far outpacing the competition.

Respond and keep momentum
There is an old adage that time kills deals. A buyer’s interest is at a peak level at the time he or she submits an offer, so keep the momentum going, choose the best offer, and respond promptly in writing.

Don’t be greedy
If a buyer offers an acceptable price and terms, sign the offer and your Ebby Halliday Associate will schedule a closing appointment and expertly guide you through the home inspection and closing process.

Have a buying or selling question not addressed in this post? Contact one of Ebby Halliday Realtor’s North Texas offices and we’ll be happy to help in any way we can.

Refreshing Summer Recipes


Glass of iced water with lime and mint garnish resting on a table in front of crystal-blue pool water in Dallas, Texas.

It can be tough to beat the Texas heat, but ice-cold beverages and tasty treats definitely help. Here are some easy and delicious recipes perfect for relaxing on the patio or hanging by the pool.

Sips

Cold refreshing summer drinks with lemon and mint on wooden background.

Classic Lemonade

Ingredients:
*6 lemons, enough to make 1 cup of juice
*1 cup white sugar
*6 cups cold water

Directions:
1. Juice the lemons via your preferred method of juicing.
2. Stir together lemon juice, sugar and water.
3. Serve over ice.

Watermelon Green Tea

Ingredients:
*3 cups green tea
*8 cups watermelon, cubed
*1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
*1/2 cup seltzer
*Springs of mint, for garnish

Directions:
1. Combine green tea, watermelon and lemon juice in a blender; blend until smooth.
2. Strain through a mesh sieve.
3. Refrigerate until cool.
4. Add seltzer.

Blackberry Sweet Tea

Ingredients:
*1 pinch of baking soda
*4 cups boiling water
*4 tea bags
*2 1/2 cups cold water
*3 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen/thawed
*1 1/4 cups sugar
*1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

Directions:
1. Crush blackberries and sugar together in a large container.
2. Add mint and baking soda; set aside.
3. Drape tea bags over the side of a pitcher; pour boiling water into the pitcher.
4. Steep for 3 minutes; remove and discard tea bags.
5. Combine tea and blackberry mixture; rest for 1 hour.
6. Strain through a mesh sieve.
7. Add cold water and stir.
8. Refrigerate before serving.

Snacks

Delicious strawberry parfait in a glass on a wooden coaster with cherries in the background.

Sweet Ricotta and Strawberry Parfaits

Ingredients:
* 1 pound fresh strawberries, trimmed and halved or quartered
*1 teaspoon sugar
*1 tablespoon snipped fresh mint
* 1 15-ounce carton part-skim ricotta cheese
*3 tablespoons light agave nectar
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
* Fresh mint

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl combine strawberries, sugar and the 1 tablespoon snipped mint; gently stir to combine. Let stand about 10 minutes or until berries soften and start to release their juices.
2. In another medium bowl combine ricotta, agave nectar, vanilla and lemon peel. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.
3. To assemble, scoop 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture into each of six parfait glasses. Top ricotta mixture in each glass with a large spoonful of the strawberry mixture. Repeat layers with the remaining ricotta mixture and strawberry mixture. Garnish with additional fresh mint.
4. Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to 4 hours.

Caprese Salad Pita Pockets

Ingredients:
*1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
*4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
*1 cup coarsely chopped cucumber
*3/4 cup mixed spring salad greens
*1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
*2 tablespoons chopped green onion
*1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
*4 large whole wheat pita bread rounds, halved crosswise
* Large soft lettuce leaves (such as butterhead, Boston or Bibb)

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl toss together tomatoes, cheese cubes, cucumber, salad greens, basil, green onion, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.
2. Line insides of pita halves with lettuce leaves.
3. Spoon tomato mixture into pitas.

No-Cook Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:
*3 green onions
*1/2 6-ounce package refrigerated cooked chicken breast strips
*1/2 of a medium green sweet pepper, seeded and cut up
*3 tablespoons rice vinegar
*1 teaspoon sesame oil or olive oil
*1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, as desired
*1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
*1 cup shredded cabbage
*2 tablespoons water
*2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
*8 leaves butterhead lettuce (Boston or Bibb), about 1 small head

Directions:
1. Trim and discard root ends of green onions. Cut off and slice green tops and set aside.
2. In a food processor combine white parts of the green onions, chicken breast, sweet pepper, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, oil, black pepper and, if desired, crushed red pepper. Cover and pulse until chicken mixture is finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl.
3. Add cabbage and toss to combine. Divide chicken mixture into four individual microwave safe containers; chill.
4. Spoon mixture into individual lettuce leaves and wrap.

For dipping sauce, in a small bowl combine sliced green onion tops, 2 tablespoons vinegar, water and soy sauce. Divide among 4 small containers.

Summer Pest Prevention


Bee in the garden

 

Recent showers combined with warmer weather will create the perfect habitat for pesky summer bugs. Here are some effective ways to prevent the common bites, stings and nuisances.

 

Mosquitoes

Unfortunately, Texas’ No. 1 culprit is here to stay. Aside from the traditional insect repellants and home remedies, it’s best to treat this problem at its source — water.

Turn over empty pottery to prevent from collecting water, drain plant saucers and fix any leaking outdoor faucets. Mosquitoes often lay their eggs in stagnant water, so the less the better.

 

Gnats

Although relatively harmless, these small creatures create quite the inconvenience with their constant swarming. Plus, you never know what germs they may be carrying as they travel from place to place.

If you garden, you want to make sure your fruits and veggies are staying fresh outside. If you happen to notice rotting or mold, act fast and pluck them out, then turn your soil or mulch to allow any moldy layers to dry out.

As with mosquitoes, be diligent in draining any standing water and drying out any moisture. With Texas humidity, the drying process may take a while. In this case, sprinkle a bit of sand on top of your soil to discourage the gnats.

 

Bees

To prevent bees from establishing a colony in or around your house, it’s important to remember these three things: food, water and shelter — bees’ keys to life.

As with any other summer bug, stagnant water must be kept to a minimum. Drain pots and repair any faulty irrigation systems. And if you have bird baths or pet bowls outside, mixing in 2 tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water will discourage any bees from setting up shop near your house.

Plan an exterior inspection and eliminate any potential nesting sites. Cover holes, chimneys and animal burrows. Make sure windows and screens are tightly fitted and sealed. If you have any debris in your yard, such as old tires, cardboard boxes or old appliances, throw them out. Bees seek out such items for nesting sites.

Removing flowers as a source of food is not recommended. In fact, it’s very important for bees to pollinate many plants, including crops. If you have a colorful garden, not to worry. As long as you have their other two resources tamed to a minimum, you’re in tip-top shape for the summer.

 

Slugs

Like humans, slugs seek out shade on sunny days. And like many other bugs, they love moist areas.

To prevent slugs from damaging your plants and leaving their slimy evidence, get rid of any hiding places. Think cool, dark and moist. Try irrigating your lawn in the morning instead of the evening, allowing plenty of time for plants and soil to dry before the sun sets.

To protect plants, spray surrounding areas with soap and water. You can also create barriers around your plants, such as rocks, wire or anything rough and abrasive to slow them down.

Lastly, slugs have no bones. Therefore, they can fit in any crack or crevice they set their eyes on. Seal any cracks and cover any holes you notice throughout your house. By doing so, you not only eliminate the potential for slugs, but for other bugs as well.

 

If you’re experiencing bug problems not addressed here, contact your local nursery for expert advice or find services in your area at zaarly.com.

Brighten Your Outdoor Space


April showers bring May flowers, and everyone can use a bit of joy. Whether you’re looking to give the garden a complete makeover or add a pop of color to your porch, these beautiful flowers will brighten anyone’s day and improve your home’s curb appeal.

 

Marigold flowers in the garden

Marigold

Marigold flowers bloom in rich orange and yellow colors. They’re known for tolerating the Texas heat and repelling insects from garden plants.

 

Beautiful pink cosmos flower

Cosmos

Another flower that sits well in the Texas heat, cosmos grow abundantly. They’re low-maintenance and come in a wide range of colors for a vibrant outdoor oasis.

 

Close-up cape leadwort (Plumbago auriculata) flower in the garden

Plumbago

Plumbago, also known as the sky flower, falls in the shrub category. The bright blue flower blooms in clusters and grows well with a lot of sun or light shade.

 

Colorful zinnias in the garden

Zinnias

Zinnias bloom big in the summer. The flower brings a burst of color to any garden and also attracts butterflies.

 

bedflower of beautiful Celosia Plume

Celosia

Celosias are also called cockscomb because the flowers resemble a rooster head. The shape adds a dramatic effect to any garden.

 

For more ideas on how to improve your spring garden, visit our Pinterest board.

6 Tips for Lasting Flowers


Bouquet of pastel hydrangeas in glass vase.

 

Mother’s Day is this weekend, and that means flowers are in high demand. According to the Society of American Florists, one-fourth of the flower and plant purchases made for holidays happen around Mother’s Day.

 

From homemade bouquets to delivered arrangements, here are some tips for making your fresh flowers last longer.

 

Clean vases are a must.

If whatever container you’re putting your stems in isn’t clean, bacteria will continue to grow and kill your flowers. Experts suggest scrubbing the vase with a mixture of 1-part bleach to 10-parts water before rinsing.

 

If a whole leaf is submerged underwater, tear it off.

When leaves remain underwater, they decompose and bacteria can grow. Remove excess leaves and stems to keep bacteria at bay so your flowers will last.

 

The colder the water, the better.

When you want to cook vegetables, you steam them with warm water until they wilt and soften. Think about it like this, if you use room temperature or warm water, you’re causing the flowers to soften. The colder the water, the better your results.

 

Cut stems at a 45-degree angle.

When you cut flower stems with scissors, you are constricting the straw-like tube that allows nutrients to reach the top of the flower. Use a Swiss Army knife for soft stems and a pair of bypass cutters for woody stems. Always trim the stems at a 45-degree angle.

 

Measure flower food precisely.

Avoid dumping flower food into the vase with your flowers. Too much flower food will poison your flowers, and too little is somewhat pointless. Use the directions on the packet of flower food to follow the correct food-to-water ratio.

 

Fresh water is key.

Every two days, or when the water gets cloudy, replace the water in the vase. With each water change, it’s recommended to clean the vase. Use the same steps as above.

Simple Healthy Snack Recipes


Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites

 

Snacks are known for having a bad reputation but they are equally as important to keeping our energy up, decreasing hunger levels, and preventing us from overeating during mealtime. In fact, healthier options can even aid in weight management.

 

Here are five healthy and easy snack recipes to satisfy your cravings.

 

 

banana bites

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites

  • 3 bananas
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil

 

Slice the bananas into thin pieces. Then put peanut butter on a banana slice and top it off with another banana slice. Place the slices in the freezer for one hour. Add coconut oil into a bowl with chocolate chips and microwave for one minute. Once the chocolate is melted, dip each frozen bite halfway into the chocolate and place the chocolate covered banana bites in the freezer for 15 minutes. Take the banana bites out of the freezer and enjoy!

apple chips

Baked Cinnamon Apples Chips

  • One apple
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt

 

Preheat oven to 250 F. Slice the apple into thin pieces and place slices on a baking sheet. Sprinkle cinnamon and salt on the sliced apple and then bake for 40 minutes or until slightly brown. Let it cool completely before serving.

 

cranberry

 

Pecan Cranberry Bites

  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 1 pinch salt

 

Start by stirring the cranberries, almond butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a bowl. Then mix in the oats, pecans and salt. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Form the mixtures into a ball. Now, you have the perfect pecan cranberry bites.

chickpeas

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 can or 15 ounces chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herb
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

 

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spread out the chickpeas on layers of paper towels and pat dry. Place the dried chickpeas, olive oil, minced garlic, Italian herb and Parmesan into a bowl and toss. Lay the chickpeas on a baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until it looks golden. Before serving, let the roasted chickpeas cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

fries

Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Slice off the ends of the sweet potato and then slice it in half. Then slice the one-half potato horizontally four times and vertically four times – do the same with the other half. Mix the sliced potatoes, olive oil, rosemary, salt and black pepper in a bowl. Place the fries on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Let the fries cool for 5 to 10 minutes before snacking.

DIY Home Decor For Spring


DIY home decor

There’s no better time than now to revamp your home. Replace old decor with updated and more lively designs. Instead of shopping for a new item, you can make your own.

 

Enhance your home decor with these easy DIYs.

 

Painted Pine Cone Flowers

Painted Pine Cone Flowers

You will need clean and dry pine cones, spray paint, acrylic paint, paintbrushes, scissors and a large bowl. Start by removing the pieces from the top of the pine cones using scissors until you’re halfway down. Spray paint the pine cones with your choice of color and use acrylic paint for extra details. Once the paint is dry, place the painted pine cones in a large bowl and make it your new centerpiece.

 

Rustic Wooden Flower Box

Rustic Wooden Flower Box

Materials needed are silk flowers, paint, paintbrush, box cutter, scissors, pliers, OASIS foam block and a wooden box. First, paint any word you like on the wooden box. Then place the foam block inside the box – you may need to cut the foam into pieces to fit perfectly inside the box. Grab your silk flowers and place them into the foam.

Painted Mason Jars Containers

Painted Mason Jar Containers

You’ll need mason jars, chalk paint, paintbrush, fine sandpaper and jute twine. Be sure the mason jars are clean before you start. Paint the mason jars with one coat of the chalk paint. Once the jars dry completely, use the sandpaper to lightly sand over the paint. Now you have a rustic-style mason jar. Complete the look by wrapping the jute twine around the mason jars and placing whatever you choose inside.

 

Wooden Wall Sign

Wooden Wall Sign

Grab a wood canvas panel, pencil and a paint pen to create the perfect wall sign. Before using a paint pen, start with a pencil to create an outline of the word you’re going to use. Then, work the paint pen over the outlined word. Once you are done, hang the sign on your wall.