Arkansas Real Estate | Deaton Group Realty

Little Rock, North Little Rock, Maumelle, Bryant, Benton, Sherwood and surrounding areas

Little Rock AR Real Estate

scott deaton

Economic & Criminal Impact of Rental Property in Little Rock

I was recently interviewed by Fox16 on the affect of rental properties in the Oak Forest area of Little Rock.  We discussed if the proper screening process of potential tenants could help the economic and criminal environment of the area.  See the story here.
rental_property_in_little_rock

God’s Word Regarding Real Estate Debt from Walter Sanford

Great information, so I wanted to share:
God’s Word Regarding Real Estate Debt
 
PROVERBS 22:7 – The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower servant to the lender.
If only I had been a student of God’s word sooner…. The pain I could have avoided and the good I could have done! Now, in a position to coach some of the top agents and make presentations all over the world, I’m careful in what I endorse.
Here are 15 changes that I would have made early in my career had I been a better student of the Bible:
 

  1. Lose the “big hat, no cattle syndrome.” I went into debt for big houses in multiple areas, fancy cars like a Rolls Royce under the false teaching of “fake it till you make it.” People respect your hard work and goodness, not your car.

 

  1. The real estate industry is still pushing for lower down payments and loans open to more people. When they cannot afford the payments, people find themselves being a slave to the lender.

 

  1. Keeping what you own and not risking your holdings on more leverage can be a little boring, but, in the end, it is the smartest financial move. Worrying about making payments lessens your availability for other important matters.

 

  1. Do you have enough money to tithe? You need to have better systems in real estate and less debt, if you do not.

 

  1. From now on, don’t bet on the market. Bet on the income. Sure, flippers make it when it’s good, but investors make it always. You can buy to flip, but it better have a long term cash flow just in case.

 

  1. Being positive after taxes is a misnomer. If you don’t have taxes to pay because of a bad year, then that means it is negative (negative cash flow.)

 

  1. Don’t borrow short on long term assets. You might own things longer, or their completion may take longer. Always go for the fully amortized loan.

 

  1. Before going into debt for the fancy office, assistants, third-party lead generators, and buyer’s assistants — learn how to generate leads by yourself and for yourself.

 

  1. The old ways are the best. Save for taxes, pay your insurance, and have a rainy day fund before you invest.

 

  1. Make it a goal to have no interest rate higher than the loan on your cash flow piece of real estate. Miss a payment at Lowes and it is 20.4%.

 

  1. Did you know the expense factor on a piece of free and clear real estate can approach 50% of its gross income? Know how to figure net cash flow on real estate.

 

  1. Make sure your weekly “perfect week” reflects your core principals of how you want to live your life. Is there enough time blocked for faith and family?

 

  1. What good are you doing with your money? After the income starts rolling in, let’s invest in God’s work rather than adding more feathers to our nest.

 

  1. Can you afford to give that good tenant a break this month?

 

  1. When you do get rich from this great business, do you give God the glory?

 
The funny thing is–I have always had all the breaks, the training, and the backing. I have been blessed in real estate and life. The only times that I have felt pain in my life is when ignored God’s word. Following the rules become easier after accepting Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to coach you.
I can give you the real estate systems through books, software, speaking events, and coaching. What you do with your success and to whom you give the glory will be a matter of how good a student you are.

My Personal House For Sale – Serious Inquiries Only

Deaton House for sale
I apparently put my house for sale the other night. As a REALTOR, I know it is difficult to find a good REALTOR, so I am having these 4 fight it out for the sale. I even negotiated zero commissions, no exclusive listing agreement, they have only 30 days to sell it, each required to buy a useless full page spread in the local paper, they each bought me a home warranty, paying all my closing costs, no showings from 8-5 each day especially weekends since that is family time, the Great Dane will also be roaming around, and each are taking me out for steak dinner when it sells. Oh yeah, they let me list it for $999,999 regardless of what it’s actually worth. Serious inquiries only.

In Search of Excellence in Real Estate

Read a recent article from Rismedia where the author was talking about “The Consumer’s Search for Excellence” in the real estate industry.  The author, Verl Workman, has hit the target.  See the link below for the full article.
When I opened my own agency in 2006 after 2 years as a new licensee, my goal was to change the mindset & professionalism of the real estate industry.  Our communities and our clients have less than ‘great’ thoughts and feelings about real estate agents and their practices.
Most of the thoughts about REALTORS focus around: (1) overwhelming consensus that people don’t feel they need a REALTOR®,  (2) lack of communication, (3) very little work for too much money, (4) unethical, dishonest, not trustworthy, and (5) more interested in the commission than actually helping the clients.
I teach every new agent of mine the “COFFEE” concept.  Each letter of this acronym is an area of focus for any agent to develop their business.  The last “E” stands for Excellence.  If you want to make it in this industry, every aspect of your business must strive for excellence.  Notice I used the word ‘strive’.  Everything won’t be excellent every time, but if you strive for excellence always, then you will make steps toward that.
Every day, I want to defend our industry with passion, enthusiasm, professionalism, and irrational service.  Many agree that this perception will not change, unless we change, unless we take the level of our professionalism to a much higher level.  We must communicate to the world that we are professional, valuable, and focused on doing the right things all the time.
I have made it my personal mission to bring a higher level of professionalism to this industry and communicate that “REALTORS are a dime a dozen, but we are not all created equal!”  I agree with others that unless we make significant changes to our industry, the consumer is going to demand significant changes in our profession. The responsibility for earning back our reputation as professionals falls on us.

The author asked “What can we do” and provided these suggestions:
• Adhere to our code of ethics. There can’t be any grey areas. Do the right thing every time, regardless of how it may or may not affect your commissions.
• Become students of real estate. We must be true experts in our communities and in the types of property we list and sell. The attitude of “fake it ‘til you make it” is what got us here.
• Deliver more than the client expects. Exceed their minimum level of expectation. They think most agents are weak because too many don’t take their professions seriously. Over-deliver by providing better service, knowledge and expert representation.
• Communicate. One of the most consistent complaints I hear is that agents do not communicate. This blows my mind! With text messaging, emails, smart phones, Skype, snail mail and many other automated ways to communication, there is NO excuse for not exceeding this minimum expectation! Stop shopping for and buying technology for the sake of owning technology and start using your tools to communicate more effectively and efficiently.
• Learn how to sell. Ok, I said it! We are sales people. No matter how you try and spin it, we are in sales. We sell ourselves, we sell homes, we resolves concerns, and we offer solutions to our clients’ needs. As I interview the audiences at my events, I ask, “How many of you are in sales?” and the answer is eye-opening. Less than 25 percent of the agents I survey believe they are in sales. Let’s step up and own the fact that we are professional sales people! We get hired to sell our clients’ properties—or on the buyer’s side, we get hired to find the right home and negotiate a fair deal for our buyers. Stand up as agents, brokers and brands and be counted as sales people; be proud of the service we provide and raise the bar.
I added this to the list: 
• Lower the number of licensees. Yes, this will make some angry, but the National Association of REALTORS is the largest trade organization in the country with around 1.2 million members, yet the average member makes an annual salary of $15,000!  Most consumers wouldn’t consider a person taking home $15,000 annually as a viable, necessary and professional resource.  It is too easy, and inexpensive, to obtain a real estate license in most states.  A REALTOR peer recently got mad at me because I used the word ‘most’ when talking about the poor reputation REALTORS have among the public.  But the reality is that ‘most’ of the licensed REALTORS across this country are not professional, aren’t striving for excellence, aren’t focused on the real estate industry, and get into the market to make a little ‘extra easy’ money.  Now ‘most’ of NAR’s members are ‘part time’ licensees, but being part time doesn’t mean you are the problem.  I have part time agents in my agency, but I teach them to be professional, knowledgeable, and service oriented, with the goal of focusing on real estate full time.  I personally mentor and coach them in their business development.  Most of our industry’s members are creating a huge disaster for our industry.  When most of its members don’t pursue real estate professionalism and excellence, how can an industry protect its value?   A big focus needs to be on reducing the number of broker licenses also, especially in the state of Arkansas.  We have too many agents, with no solid transaction history, and even less business management experience, who are opening their own real estate office, and trying to manage other agents with no experience managing their own business.
I love this industry and want to protect it, its integrity, its service and its value!  I love being able to interact with families while they experience a very large and important financial decision.  Do you?
http://rismedia.com/2012-12-03/the-consumers-search-for-excellence/#more-75075

October Housing Market – Things are looking better

The state of Arkansas, and the nation, are seeing some consistent positive housing activity.  Arkansas experienced a slight increase in the number of homes sold statewide in October 2012. The number of homes sold in Arkansas in October rose by almost 6% over October 2011, while the average price of those homes sold rose by over 7 percent. The average price of the homes sold in the 43 county area surveyed by the Arkansas REALTORS Association increased from $145,959 in October 2011 to $157,267 in October 2012.
Pulaski county experienced an increase of almost 14% in the number of homes sold over October 2011, with a 4% increase in the average price of those homes sold.
Year to date, the state has experienced a 2.4% decrease in the number of units sold compared to the same time in 2011, but the average price index has increased over 10%.  Pulaski county has experienced increases in both units sold and average price YTD compared to 2011.

According to CNNMoney, in another sign of a housing market rebound nationwide, home prices posted the biggest percentage gain in more than two years in the third quarter, according to the closely followed S&P/Case-Shiller index.
The 3.6% increase from a year earlier is more than three times the rise in the previous quarter and was the biggest jump in prices since the second quarter of 2010. But that 2010 rise was much more of a temporary blip caused by a homebuyer’s tax credit of up to $8,000 on homes purchased in late 2009 and early 2010.
This latest rise comes as the housing market has shown numerous other signs of recovery in recent months. The rebound is spurred by a combination of record low mortgage rates, an improving jobs market and a drop in foreclosures to a five-year low, reducing the supply of distressed homes available. There is also a tighter supply of both new and previously owned homes on the market.

These numbers are through October 2012 only.  Our local market activity seems to have come to a hault in November and with very little pending contract activity in November, I don’t see heavy closing activity for December either.
Seeing positive numbers are great, but these numbers are positive compared to the bottom of the barrell.  We are nowhere near the peak activity.  I believe we are beginning a recovery nationwide, but remember that Arkansas always ‘lags’ behind the rest of the country concerning these indicators.  When the nation reached it’s bottom in 2009, Arkansas didn’t reach it’s bottom until 2011.  Arkansas is seeing some positive activity, but it may be a few more years before we see a true recovery in Arkansas.  I pray that the Arkansas market holds on to the coat tail of the national market and enjoys the ride.

Thank You – From a Real Estate Viewpoint

As we come upon this year’s Thanksgiving season, I thought I would provide what I am thankful for from a real estate viewpoint.

Buyers & Sellers!  Even though this is what everyone would expect, it is truly the most important.  When it comes down to the basic foundation of my role as a REALTOR, I put buyers and sellers together by acting as their local, professional, project manager for the largest financial decision, and transaction, of their lives to this point.  You see, unlike most of the jobs in American, I don’t create buyers or sellers.  I don’t create homes.  I don’t have a ‘widget’ to sell.  Yet, I serve as a consultant to guide and protect those buyers and sellers who have chosen me to direct them through a very important, and large, finanical decision.
I have people tell me all the time that I’m a good salesman.  And I am, but not when it comes to real estate.  Better yet, I am a good “marketingman”.  I have a degree in Marketing Management and the purest definition of marketing is “Satisfying a customer’s need”.  I don’t have anything to sell as a REALTOR.  As a “marketingman”, my role is to listen and provide a solution to the needs of my clients.  From that standpoint, I’m a good problem solver.  But back to thanksgiving.  My entire family is thankful for those buyers and sellers who see the difference in what a true real estate professional can provide.  We appreciate your trust!
I’m thankful for the country that I live in.  It definitely has some problems right now, but, for now, this is the best country in the world.  Our democratic, and capitalistic, society has provided our country more success (financially, mentally, spiritually, economically) than any country in the history of this World.  I don’t understand why some want to change it to be like everyone else.  I don’t want to be like Greece, or France, or Germany, or Russia, or China.  I want to be the USA!
I am thankful for the importance and value that the residents of the USA place on homeownership.  This may sound simple, but homeownership is a huge component of the pride, and success, we have in America.  It is also associated with higher financial net worth, less neighborhood crime, community spirit, and higher educational success.  The feeling associated with owning your piece of this country is awesome.  Don’t lose this right to be in charge of your property!
I am thankful for all the preferred partners who help me, and my buyers and sellers, daily.  Without all of us working together, doing our individual jobs to the finest of our abilities, this advantage of homeownership would not be a reality in America.  “All you can do is all you can do”.  Art Williams said this year’s ago, but it hold true always.  All that I ask of anyone working with me is to do all they can do.  Nothing less, nothing more.  It is because of these individuals that I get to put buyers and sellers together:
Lenders:  I know this will freak some of you out, but if it wasn’t for some people being very successful financially, then the rest of us wouldn’t be able to do what we want to.  Lending is one of these.  Lenders are nothing more than people, or companies, who have made a great deal of money, lending some of their success to us common folks so we can also experience some of the American dream!  Get over the fact that people are more successful than you.  Without people being successful, there isn’t anything to spread around.  If you want to be more successful, isn’t it great to know that you have the freedom to work harder and reap the full rewards of your labor (for now).
Title:  I don’t know what all they do, don’t want to, but I really appreciate the Escrow and Title officers.  Especially my friend Michelle and Donna at All American Title.  Sometimes I have to use other title companies, but when I use All American, I know, and I can reassure my clients, that Michelle and crew will take care of all that paperwork to make sure that we legally transfer ownership title from one party to the next without someone, or something, ruining a perfectly good opportunity of homeownership.
Inspectors:  When you are involved in such a large financial decision, isn’t it good to do your research on this huge investment?  Yes.  Don’t ever purchase a home without having it properly inspected.  This one element of a real estate transaction could reassure your dream of ownership, or protect you from a costly mistake.  Remember, these guys are looking over everything about your new home so you know everything, no matter how small or how large.  It is always better to make an educated decision.  I’m thankful for the inspectors who protect my client’s investment.
Handyman/Service Provider:  After we find some necessary repairs from the inspection above, I’m thankful for those service providers who get the issues resolved in a timely manner, with good quality work.  Again, these guys protect the investment of my clients.
REALTORS:  I am thankful for most of my cooperating real estate agents.  Unfortunately, many agents feel they are in competition with the other agent involved, but is is not the case at all.  Both agents involved in the transaction, whether representing buyer or seller, are there to manage the transaction between these two parties, with the benefit of both parties in their focus.  You noticed that I said ‘most’ earlier.  It is my opinion there are too many licensed agents who don’t have a clue what they are doing and they shouldn’t be representing either buyers or sellers.  Our industry is plagued with too many licensed agents.  it is too easy to get a license.  I am thankful for the recent housing market downturn because it allowed about half of the licensed agents in Arkansas to get out of real estate industry.  We have plenty of room for others who need to get out also.
Arkansas Real Estate Commission:  Many don’t understand the value of AREC in protecting our industry, our agents, and our buyers and sellers.  Arkansas has been duplicated across this country for our real estate practices, contracts, and legislation.  Arkansas has one of the lowest financial burdens concerning ‘bad’ real estate deals in the country. It is because of AREC.
As your family approaches this Thanksgiving season, don’t forget to be thankful for the power of homeownership in this country.  It is the basis of our economy, our capitalistic foundation, our net worth, our communities, and our jobs.  It should be protected and advanced.

5 Ways to Vividly & Painlessly Prove the Dangers of Overpricing

Sellers’ inclination to overprice their homes can seem as formidable and ever-present as gravity or any other law of nature. In some ways, it is the most natural thing ever – everyone wants to maximize the value of their possessions, especially when it comes to their largest assets.
But because overpricing can be so deadly to sellers’ ultimate goals, it’s our responsibility to leverage every strategy at our disposal to vividly paint the picture of how dangerous and counterproductive overpricing truly is, before they experience the pain and expense of a listing that won’t sell. Here’s how:
1. Show the list price of the lagging pending vs. the list price of the quick/solds.
When we pull comps, we often focus on the Sold properties, and their list vs. sale prices. If we can get some information from insiders about the pending comparable homes, that’s also useful – sometimes even more useful than the Solds. While many agents take a glance at the Active homes just to get a sense for the competition, when your Seller client is in danger of overpricing, it is worth scrutinizing the Actives more intensely.
You might be inclined to weed out Active comps that are clearly overpriced to stop your client from construing them as indicating the right price range for your home. I argue that we should be doing the exact opposite: look and see whether there are Active comps for your client’s home which have lagged on the market for a much longer time than the average DOM for the pending and solds in the area and seem to be significantly overpriced – maybe even falling into the same range as your client would like to list theirs. If you can find even one or two such overpriced, lagging outliers, consider showing them to your Seller as powerful examples of why they should not to list that price range.
2. Deep dive into the “slow” Sold comparables.
As you’re exploring the comps, spend some time talking your seller through another frequently overlooked subset of properties: those that sold, but sold very slowly when compared with the average number of days a home in your area stays on the market.
Often, these “slow” Solds will have been overpriced and will have sold way below asking – even below their reduced price. Pinpointing the:

  • original list price,
  • list price at the time the      home went off the market,
  • sold price and
  • number of Days on Market      (DOM)

on even a few slow Solds can paint a vivid picture of the path of an overpriced home in a seller’s mind, very efficiently.
And the opposite is true: if you can find a few examples of Sold comparables which were listed low and sold high, those two types of examples, together, make the picture even more powerful.
3. Help your seller see what buyers will see, online.
Visit your local Board or MLS’s website and get a read on how many homes in your area sell in the price range/bracket your seller wants to list at, versus how many sell in the price range you’re recommending. Say, for example, your client wants to list at $415,000 and you think the home would do better at $385,000. If there were 200 homes sold last quarter at $350,000-$400,000 and only 75 sold between $400,000-$450,000, chances are great that buyers in your area are much more likely to be conducting their online home searches in the sub-$400,000 range, statistically speaking.
You know the rest: the more buyer search results the listing falls into, the more buyers will want to view the place – and the more viewings you get, the better the chances of getting an offer.
Additionally, take the opportunity before the list price is set in stone to sit down with your seller and slip on the virtual shoes of the average buyer you’ll want to court for their home. Run online searches at several different price points – including the one the seller believes in and the one you are recommending – to see what the competition looks like online, and how the seller’s home will measure up against the other in terms of the specs buyers use to pick the homes they want to see in person (e.g., beds, baths, square feet, location).
The two-part goal, as you discuss it with your seller, should be to list the property at a price point which:
(a) falls into the broadest possible bucket of online searchers and
(b) makes every buyer who sees it in the context of the other homes in the same price bracket put your seller’s home at the top of the list of places they want to view.
4. Take the seller on a tour of competitive properties.
In some situations, the specs of the comps simply don’t make it crystal clear that a seller’s home would be overpriced. This happens most often when a property’s condition or location pale in comparison to the competition. In these instances, when you feel strongly about your pricing recommendation, consider taking your seller on a short tour of the competition – physically taking them to view competitive properties, in real life.
Show your Seller what their home will be up against, by touring them through one or two of each of the following:

  • homes in the price range they      want, in their neighborhood
  • homes in the price range they      want, in other parts of town which buyers will likely also be considering
  • homes in your recommended      price range, to show how their home is poised to compete well against      these properties.

Showing your Seller the competition in real life can also be a powerful segue to a conversation around property preparation. If you think your Seller’s home would be fairly priced at the range they want to target with $25,000 in improvements, show them the homes which have the improvements you suggest and are listed/selling at their desired price point . That puts the Seller in the driver’s seat on how to proceed: invest some dough, or price it more appropriately.
5. Be strategic with your past client references.
If you know a particular seller-to-be is fixated on a too-high price, be strategic with the past client references you give them. Ideally, you want to connect them with past seller clients who were similarly situated to where they are now; people who are highly likely to do two things:

  • Share relatable experiences      about their own thoughts and actions from property preparation through      close of escrow, painting a positive picture of the ultimate outcome they      had working with you; and
  • Discuss their experience      setting – and later, lowering – their home’s list price, as follows: “We      were wrong. Your name here was right. And we could have saved ourselves a      lot of stress if we’d listened to your name here from the beginning.”

Other sellers who have been in precisely the same spot as your current client have a level of credibility in vouching for your pricing skills that you can simply not ever have or get in talking about yourself. Having come out the other end of escrow with a favorable result, they can also talk to the overall legitimacy and soundness of your professional advice, and can do the heavy lifting when it comes to countering every Seller’s fear: that their agent is suggesting a lower price just to make their own job of getting the place sold easier.
As you can see, there are themes here to the categories of overpricing pitfalls you’ll want to illustrate for your seller – it poses the dangers of: making a home lag on the market; eventual, painful price cuts and excruciating lowball offers. The worst danger? Many overpriced homes simply don’t sell at all. But before they fail to sell, they suck up just as much time, energy and cash in preparation and marketing as right-priced homes, causing an above-average amount of woe, hand-wringing and sleepless nights for both agent and seller.
It might seem time-consuming, but pulling out all the stops to prove the hazards of overpricing in advance saves everyone, in the long run.

Top 10 Worst Home-Showing Offenses

When it comes to presenting a home to buyers, some sellers are clueless.  Don’t leave potential buyers with a bad impression of your home?
Oh No They Didn’t!

Here are the 10 most common responses from buyer’s agents when asked about the worst mistakes they see when presenting for-sale homes to clients:
1. Leftover home owners
By far, one of the top offenses cited by buyer’s agents was home owners still lingering around when agents arrived with clients to preview the home. Awkward encounters ranged from buyers finding sellers taking a shower, asleep in the bed, to even the “stalker sellers” who liked to follow buyers and the agent all over the home to see what they thought.
2. Pets and their messes
Numerous agents also cited the not-so-friendly dog and kitty encounters as a top offense. Even pets left in a crate can pose a distraction since they might make noise the entire time others are in the house. Plus, if they seem mean, the buyer might not even step in the room.
3. Bad smells
A displeasing smell can really turn buyers off. Common offenses include cooking smells lingering around the home, such as garlic, fried bacon, or fish. Also, watch for cigarette smoke and animal smells, agents say.  Sellers get immune to the smell that their pets have embedded on their property, but anyone opening the door will smell it immediately, even if there are air fresheners trying to cover up the smell. If you have a pet, there will be an odor. Don’t send your buyers away: Paint, and clean the carpeting. Take the odor seriously and do what is needed, even if it means replacing the carpet.
4. Critters running wild
Wild animals and pests roaming around is a surefire way to send buyers running. Agents described worms crawling on the floor and bats and raccoons lounging in the attic.
5. Odd home makeovers
Do-it-yourself disasters were also prevalent, like doors opening the wrong way or unprofessional paint jobs. Also, rooms not being used for their intended purposes can confuse buyers, such as an office being used as a bedroom even though it has no closet.
6. Dirt and clutter
There were a number of offenses cited when it came to cleanliness: Dirty laundry piles, un-flushed toilets, dishes on the counter or in the sink, un-made beds, clothes scattered about, soiled carpets, dirty air conditioner filters, and overflowing trash cans.
7. Personal information left in plain sight
Sellers should be careful not to leave in plain sight important documents that may pique buyers’ curiosity. Some agents say they’ve seen personal information like bank and credit card statements, even mortgage payoff notices, left on the kitchen counter.
8. Too dark
Dark or dimly lit houses aren’t showing the home in the best light.  Be careful with CFL bulbs as by the time the bulbs light up, the buyer is gone.  Energy efficient bulbs need time to warm up before they are at their brightest, so staging professionals usually recommend agents arrive early to a showing to turn on any light fixtures with CFL bulbs at least 10 minutes prior.
9. Keys missing from lockboxes
All too often, agents arrive at a listing appointment with their client only to find there’s no key to get in.
10. Distracting photos
Watch the photos displayed on the walls too, agents warn. An agent from Kentucky, recalls showing a family a home that had life-sized, nude photos hanging, which left her clients racing for the door covering their eyes.  Another agent recalled showing a home to a client, who was staring at a painting in the master bedroom of a woman in lingerie. It was the owner of the home…and the listing agent!
October 2012 | By Melissa Dittmann Tracey

Outdoor Lighting for Curb Appeal and Safety

Outdoor Lighting for Curb Appeal and Safety

Well-planned outdoor lighting improves curb appeal, safety, and security for your home.

Mimicking moonlight
Much of the success of exterior lighting hinges on its design. Hang around lighting designers long enough and you’ll hear a lot of talk about “moonlight effect.” That’s a naturalistic look that features light no more intense than that of a full moon, but still strong enough to make beautiful shadows and intense highlights.
Other techniques outdoor lighting designers use:

  • Highlight trees: Whether illumined from below or given presence by a light mounted in the tree itself, trees make stunning features.
  • Use uplights: Uplighting is dramatic because we expect light to shine downward. Used in moderation, it’s a great way to highlight architectural and landscaping features.
  • Have a focus: The entryway is often center stage, a way of saying, “Welcome, this way in.”
  • Combine beauty and function: For example, adding lighting to plantings along a pathway breaks up the “runway” look of too many lights strung alongside a walk.
  • Vary the fixtures: While the workhorses are spots and floods, designers turn to a wide range of fixtures, area lights, step lights, and bollards or post lights.
  • Stick to warm light: A rainbow of colors are possible, but most designers avoid anything but warm white light, preferring to showcase the house and its landscape rather than create a light show.
  • Orchestrate: A timer, with confirmation from a photocell, brings the display to life as the sun sets. At midnight it shuts shut down everything but security lighting. Some homeowners even set the timer to light things up an hour or so before dawn.

Adding safety and security
Falls are the foremost cause of home injury, according to the Home Safety Council. Outdoors, stair and pathway lighting help eliminate such hazards.
Often safety and security can be combined. For example, motion-detecting security lighting mounted near the garage provides illumination when you get out of your car at night; the same function deters intruders. Motion detecting switches can also be applied to landscape lighting to illumine shadowy areas should anyone walk nearby.
Even the moonlight effect has a security function: Soft, overall landscape lighting eliminates dark areas that might hide an intruder, exposing any movement on your property. Overly bright lights actually have a negative effect, creating undesirable pockets of deep shadow.
Switching to LEDs
Once disparaged for their high cost and cold bluish glow, LEDs are now the light source of choice for lighting designers. “They’ve come down in price and now have that warm light people love in incandescent bulbs,” says Paul Gosselin, owner of Night Scenes Landscape Lighting Professionals in Kingsland, Texas. “We haven’t installed anything but LEDs for the last year.”
Although LED fixtures remain twice as expensive as incandescents, installation is simpler because they use low-voltage wiring. “All in all, LEDs cost only about 25% more to install,” Gosselin says. “And they’ll save about 75% on your electricity bill.”
Another advantage is long life. LEDs last at least 40,000 hours, or about 18 years of nighttime service. With that kind of longevity, “why should a fixture have only a two-year warranty?” asks Gosselin. He advises buying only fixtures with a 15-year warranty, proof that the fixture’s housing is designed to live as long as the LED bulbs inside.
Innovations
The growing popularity of exterior lighting has led to innovative fixtures. Here are some bright new ideas:

  • Solar lighting: When first introduced, solar pathway lights produced a dull glow that rarely made it through the night. They do much better now that they are equipped with electricity-sipping LEDs, more efficient photovoltaic cells, and better batteries. Still, they have yet to measure up to hard-wired systems.
  • Hybrids: Porch lights now come equipped with LED lighting for all night use, and a motion sensor that clicks on an incandescent bulb to provide extra illumination as you approach the front door. Hybrids use about 5% of the power a solely incandescent fixture requires.
  • Barbecue light: Tired of grilling steaks by flash light? Now you can buy a gooseneck outdoor light, ideal for an outdoor kitchen.

Arkansas Housing experiences 2nd month of Ups & Downs

Arkansas Realtors® experienced a small decline of the number of homes sold statewide in September as reflected in a report distributed by the Arkansas Realtors® Association this morning. The number of homes sold in Arkansas in September decreased by a little more than 6 percent over a year ago while the average price of those homes sold rose by over 7 percent. The average price of the homes sold in the 43 county area surveyed by the Association increased from $146,694 in September 2011 to $157,794 in September 2012. Statewide valuations in September rose by over 9 percent from last year.