Texas Homeowner? Don’t Miss the Opportunity for Savings


Among the many benefits of living in Texas is the Lone Star State’s Homestead Exemption law, which allows a partial exemption from local property taxes for your primary residence.

Applications for property tax exemptions are filed with your local appraisal district. The general deadline for filing an application is April 30.

The Application for Residential Homestead Exemption is available here. A list of appraisal district addresses and phone numbers is available here.

If you have any questions regarding residential real estate, Ebby Halliday Realtors and our respected Associates are ready to serve you. To find just the right professional for your real estate needs, visit ebby.com.

Tasty Pumpkin Seed Recipes


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Many families carve pumpkins for Halloween, but for some, the fun comes after the carving is over. The pumpkin seeds that remain can transform into a delicious snack. If you still have decorative pumpkins adorning tables and porches, don’t toss the guts. Separate the seeds from the pulp, give them a rinse, and you’re on your way to roasting.

When you reach your fill of all the sweet treats, you’ll be glad to have a healthy snack on-hand. Pumpkin seeds are packed with a variety of nutrients. In fact, about 2 tablespoons of shelled, roasted pumpkin seeds contain 2 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein and 8% of your daily iron.

Whether you like them salty or sweet, these recipes are a perfect way to add some flavor to your pumpkin seeds.

Asian Zing

2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1½ teaspoons ground ginger

Toss pumpkin seeds with soy sauce and ground ginger.
Spread the pumpkin seeds in an even layer on a baking sheet.
Bake at 300° for 20 minutes.

Buffalo Ranch

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon buffalo sauce (preferably Frank’s)
2 cups pumpkin seeds
1½ tablespoons ranch seasoning mix

Spread the pumpkin seeds in an even layer on a baking sheet; roast at 275° for 20 minutes.
Melt butter in microwave, mix with buffalo sauce.
Pour mixture over seeds, then sprinkle with ranch seasoning.
Bake for 5 more minutes or until the seeds are dry.

Garlic Parmesan

2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups pumpkin seeds
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Spread the pumpkin seeds in an even layer on a baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil and salt.
Roast at 350° for 5 to 10 minutes.
Melt butter in microwave, add garlic powder, pepper and grated Parmesan.
Pour mixture over seeds until evenly coated.
Bake for 5 more minutes or until the seeds are dry.

Pumpkin Pie

2 tablespoons butter
2 cups pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Melt butter in microwave, add brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice.
Spread the pumpkin seeds in an even layer on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet.
Roast at 350° for 30 minutes.

Spicy Garlic

2 cups pumpkin seeds
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Spread the pumpkin seeds in an even layer on a baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil.
Blend the spices in a small bowl; pour over the pumpkin seeds, making sure they are evenly coated.
Roast at 350° for 7 to 12 minutes.

Traditional

2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups pumpkin seeds
A few pinches of salt

Melt butter in the microwave, toss with pumpkin seeds in a bowl to coat.
Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet; sprinkle with salt.
Roast at 300° for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Zesty Mexican

2 tablespoons butter
2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1 tablespoon lime juice

Melt butter in the microwave, toss with pumpkin seeds in a bowl to coat.
Add cilantro and taco seasoning.
Spread the seeds in a single layer on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet.
Roast at 275° for 20 minutes.
When finished, drizzle with lime juice.

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.