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Posts by Cyndi Cook

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August
20

Email

Student population to gain another 3,500 with 43,000 on opening day

In 1998, Frisco ISD had seven campuses. For the 2012-2013 school year, Frisco ISD has 56 school campuses and a population boom that continues unabated. Three new elementary Comstock, Nichols and Phillips, and the 13th new middle school Vandeventer open this week. The seventh high school Independence is scheduled to open in 2014, and all high schools are being remodeled to accommodate up to 2,100 students. Frisco ISD builds elementary schools with a 700 student capacity and middle schools with an 800-1,000 student capacity. It continues to open approximately four schools per year to handle the rapid growth in the area.

- FriscoISD.org, August 2012

August
20

Email

The city of Coppell did not always have a Main Street. But now, the community of 40,000 residents has a Main Street in the center of the new urban center Main Street Development. The once sleepy town, known for its large homes lots and high-end houses, is creating a $35 million city center that will bring high-density housing, restaurants, retail and office development Along with the residential component with Darling Homes, the project includes a two-acre public park, a childrens play area, pavilion for a farmers market and community events and an interactive water feature. The first of three small office buildings and a retail building are expected to begin construction in October. The first restaurant is now going through city approval. The Wall Street Journal recently noted Coppells accomplishments and that its Main Street development is the future of suburban America.

- Dallas Business Journal, August 17, 2012

July
20

Email

Good news for your email inbox: You'll be seeing less spam in it now, thanks to a global takedown effort that knocked one of the world's biggest spammers offline this week. "About 50% of the worldwide spam is gone," says FireEye senior scientist Atif Mushtaq, who participated in the demolition. The dramatic decrease is the result of a coordinated attack by security firms and Internet service providers around the globe that took down a network of infected computers known as "the Grum botnet." Grum, one of the world's most prolific spammers, generated around 18 billion emails a day, by FireEye's estimates. A botnet is a collective of computers infected with malware -- typically without the computer owner's knowledge -- and taken over by an outside attacker. Criminals who gain control of botnets use them for malicious activities like pumping out massive volumes of spam or launching denial-of-service attacks on targeted websites. The bigger the botnet, the more firepower the cybercrimal has at their fingertips. Grum was an especially vast and nasty spammer. First detected in early 2008, its malware infected several hundred thousand computers around the world and churned out huge amounts of pharmaceutical spam advertising cheap drugs.

At its peak, Grum was the world's most prolific spam machine, though researchers recently dropped it to the number three spot on their ever-changing list of the world's largest botnets. The tale of its demise reads like a high-tech thriller. The brain of a botnet is what's known as a "command and control" server. Grum had several of those servers scattered around the globe in countries including Russia, Panama, and the Netherlands. But it also had a fatal weakness: The network had no recovery mechanism if all of its command servers were simultaneously knocked offline. A Dutch Internet service provider yanked the plug Tuesday on two of Grum's primary command servers. A Panamanian server went down next, leaving just one main server -- in Russia -- coordinating the entire Grum swarm. Mushtaq alerted collaborators around the global, including a cybersecurity team in Russia that quickly went after the new servers' Internet providers. Within a few hours, they persuaded key providers to cut the connection. By 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the entire system was dead. "We are confident that it can't recover," Mushtaq told CNNMoney on Thursday morning. "I've been monitoring Grum for four years. Right from the start we knew that it doesn't have any fallback mechanism."

Grum was responsible for 35% of the Internet's spam volume last week, according to monitoring statistics from security firm Trustwave. Its demise is having ripple effects. The spam volume from another major botnet, Lethic, plunged overnight, Mushtaq said. He thinks the operators of that botnet have "gone underground." Cumulatively, killing Grum and wounding Lethic has instantly cut the worldwide spam volume in half, FireEye estimates. Grum recently averaged 120,000 infected computers a day generating spam, but immediately after the takedown, that number dropped to 21,505, Spamhaus reported. On Thursday, Spamhaus's latest data showed zero infected machines sending messages.

- CNN Money, July 19, 2012

July
20

Email

Today is the first day of Ramadan in the Muslim faith. This is their most holy season. There are now 3 million Muslims in America, heavily centered in New York, California and Texas. Our state has 175 Muslim mosques, mostly located in Dallas and Houston. The growth of mosques in the northern Dallas suburbs is significant, with several currently under construction. New mosques are located in Frisco, Plano, Carrollton and Irving. Not including the new mosques under construction, there are now at least 13 active mosques in the northern suburbs. Each mosque in Texas has an average membership of 1,248 with Friday holy day attendance of 353. That attendance triples during Ramadan. Texas Muslims are typically more moderate and very much desire to assimilate into the Dallas and Houston suburban culture. Whereas Muslims in other parts of the United States typically vote Democrat, in Texas they are much more independent in their political leanings. In fact, it has been estimated that almost as many Texas Muslims voted Republican as they did Democrat in this years Texas primary.

- Google Search OnLine, Texas Muslims, July 2012

July
19

Email

According to the National Association of REALTORS, mortgage foreclosure scams have risen nearly 60 percent over last year. Scammers often pose as Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) counselors and spout information about government programs to engage homeowners. If you know of someone who is at risk of foreclosure, then help them to know the following tips about scammers. If the alleged HPF expert asks for a fee in advance to modify, refinance or reinstate a mortgage; guarantees they can stop a foreclosure or get the loan modified; advises the homeowner to stop paying the mortgage company and start paying them instead; or pressures the homeowner to sign over the title to their home, the homeowner should be wary. Your clients can be sure they are working with a trained expert by calling HPF directly at 888.995.HOPE.

- Austin REALTOR Magazine, July 2012

July
19

Email

In a report this week to a Texas Senate committee, state Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman says that Texas has one of the highest rates of fraud in the roofing repair industry. This is due, she says, to the lack of state regulation over roofing contractors. It is estimated that the total property damage to roofs and vehicles in the Dallas area due to recent storms is over $1.2 billion. Over 35,000 roof replacements in East Dallas from the June 13th storm areas such as Swiss Avenue, Munger Place and Junius Heights. Some clay tile roofs were 90 to 100 years in age, and destroyed in one afternoon. In Coppell, over 10,000 roof replacements from the April storm. Lancaster, Arlington, Burleson and other cities also had major roof damage in their communities. Be wary of the door-knocker who comes unsolicited, offering an estimate on roofing work, warns Ellis Smith of Ellis Roofing, who says that any roofing contractor that solicits work door to door isnt likely to be very reputable.

- Dallas Morning News, July 14, 2012

July
16

Email

For the last several years, prognosticators have promised that the home market in North Texas would soon turn the corner. But soon always turned out to be next year. Well, next year is finally here. And the home market, the hardest-hit sector of our local economy during the recession, has indeed begun to rebound. Thursdays news was the latest and best in a long string of positive home sector reports.

  • DFW home starts have jumped 25 percent.
  • Demand for apartments is outpacing construction by a rate of 5-to-1.
  • Mays pre-owned home report for North Texas saw a 22 percent hike in home sales from a year ago.
  • Median home sale prices are up 9 percent.

Why is this happening. The biggest reason consumers in the Dallas-Ft Worth area are feeling much better about the economy compared to the rest of the nation. Some 59 percent of residents in Dallas rate our local economy good and improving, more than double anywhere else in the nation. The can-do attitude strikes again in DFW.

- Dallas Morning News, July 6, 2012

July
16

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Thats right. All economic projections show that the DFW area will grow to nine million in just another 13 years, by 2025; and then another one million by 2030, just 18 years away. And then we are projected to surpass the Chicago-14 county metro area and become the third largest metro in the nation. Does anyone wonder why so many freeways are under reconstruction. Some 250 cars are added to our roadways every day. This population growth projection is regardless of economic conditions. Immigrants arrive daily. People fleeing California taxes arrive daily. The growth will continue and we will have the strongest housing market in the nation for years into the future. - Dallas Morning News

March
27

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The Wall Street Journal today reports that there are appraisal issues across the country as the real estate market is showing strong signs of significant recovery. Prices have stabilized nationwide, and there is a strong demand for price increases, held back by appraisals coming in below value. Consequently, many buyers are paying more than appraised price, due to multiple offers and demand. We are seeing very strong activity out there, said Ivy Zelman, chief executive of research firm Zelman & Associates.

- Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2012

March
27

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American Home Shield Corp. has agreed to pay up to $26 million to settle allegations that the company paid illegal kickbacks to real estate brokers and agents to market the company's home warranties. The company denied that the payments it made to real estate brokers who marketed its products violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), and put a positive spin on the settlement, saying it "confirmed the compliancy of the company's new broker compensation practices," called ProConnect, with RESPA. About 500,000 homebuyers and sellers who purchased warranties between May 27, 2008, and March 4, 2011, may be eligible to receive an average of $52 each under the terms of the settlement, which also releases real estate brokers and agents from claims that payments they received from American Home Shield violated RESPA's anti-kickback provisions. (Inman News, March 21, 2012)

March
27

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The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has topped 4% for the first time since late October, but the increase isnt expected to derail budding signs of strengthening in the U.S. housing market. The projection is that mortgage rates will be at 4.3% - 4.4% within 60 days. (USA Today, March 23, 2012)

March
27

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As part of a settlement with state attorneys general, the five largest mortgage servicers are adopting new requirements for short sales, which is expected to speed-up what has been known as a lengthy process. Here are some of the new requirements for servicers under the settlement:

  • Servicers must provide borrowers with a decision within 30 days after receiving a short sale package request
  • Servicers will be required to notify a borrower, also within 30 days, if any necessary documents are missing to process the short sale request.
  • Servicers must notify a borrower immediately if a deficiency payment is needed to approve the short sale. They also must provide an estimated amount for the deficiency payment needed for the short sale.
  • Servicers are also required to form an internal group to review all short sale requests.
  • Banks will be considered in violation of the settlement requirements if they take longer than 30 days on more than 10 percent of the short sale requests. Violations can carry fines of up to $1 million and $5 million for repeat offenses.

"If a real estate broker can get a checklist from the bank detailing what documentation is needed, everything can be provided up front, and the bank will be required to give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down within 30 days, short sale specialist Chris Hanson with the Hanson Law Firm told HousingWire. That's not a bad deal. - Daily Real Estate News | Thursday, March 15, 2012

March
23

Email

RE/MAX World Headquarters has announced the huge success of the new RE/MAX Mobile App, available to iPhone and Android. Headquarters reports that the app has been downloaded 26,000 times since it was announced at the RE/MAX International Convention a few days ago. Download it. Rate it. Share it.

Based on star ratings in the iPhone and Android stores, we're at a 97% satisfaction rating, notes Margaret Kelly. Thats awesome! And this is only the beginning. We have a lot more in store for mobile, including a release for iPad that's right around the corner. Tell your customers about the app, and send them the link to getmobile.remax.com so they can download it. It will make your connection even stronger. - REMAX Mainstreet

March
23

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Home foreclosure filings in the Dallas-Ft Worth area are down 22 percent for April from a year ago. And so far there is no sign of an expected bump in home foreclosure postings. So far in 2012, foreclosure filings are 21 percent lower than in the first four months of 2011.

- Dallas Morning News, March 20, 2012

March
23

Email

Dallas is known for its mega churches and the construction/expansion of churches is brisk throughout the metro area. First Baptist in Downtown Dallas is in a massive expansion project with a cost of over $130 million, the largest church project in America. The expansion includes a new sanctuary, parking garages, education classes. Elevate Life Church in Frisco just completed its $23 million expansion project on 27 acres at Main and Teel. The new worship center is 100,000 square feet for this 7,000 member church. Prestonwood Baptist has recently opened their new Dallas branch on Hillcrest at Willow, a massive facility on 17 prime acres. Gateway Church in Southlake just moved into their huge new facility, and the church just announced its next expansion for its 10,000 members. Valley Creek Church in Flower Mound has also just announced a large expansion. The mega churches keep growing.

- Dallas Business Journal, March 16, 2012

March
16

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RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly appeared on CNBCs Street Signs this week to discuss the RE/MAX National Housing Report, which found for the first time in 18 months, home prices rose nationwide in February from one year prior. Great news!

Watch the video below for the full report.

March
13

Email

Area police are warning spring break vacationers to quell the temptation to post while out of town. Locking down your Facebook page may be now just as important as bolting your front door this season. Police say posting vacation plans and pictures on social media is an open invitation to burglars surfing the Web for an easy target. Any time you let people know where you are, you let people know where you arent which is home, states Captain Powell of Lewisville. Wait and post those wonderful vacation pictures when you return.

- Dallas Morning News, March 8, 2012

March
13

Email

Well, it is official. Remodeling should begin soon for the 53-story former First National Bank downtown with the purchase by a Turkish residential development group. The skyscraper remodel will have 39 floors of apartments (one and two bedroom); 3 stories of parking garage, and nine stores of commercial. Downtown apartment occupancy rate is the highest in the Metroplex at 92%-95% occupancy. The demand is strong and this new remodel will bring 550 new apartments to downtown. Some 35,000 people now live in the Dallas Central Corridor.

- Dallas Business Journal, March 9, 2012

March
13

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The 950 acre master-planned community in Frisco is the next big residential development in the Metroplex. Republic Property Group is expected to begin lot construction this spring, with several hundred lots in the first phase. The entire development is expected to have 4,000 single-family homes. Most area Dallas builders are expected to take lots in this massive development along Hwy 423 at Lebanon Road.

- Dallas Business Journal, March 9, 2012

March
9

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The No.1 state for California relocations is Texas, said Orange County relocation consultant Joseph Vranich. It will only accelerate in the future. In 2011, over 250 firms left California with many coming to Texas. But that exodus has increased in 2012, and the move out of California has now increased five times from 2009, the deepest point of the United States recession. Its during times of economic recovery that businesses think seriously about where they want to be positioned strategically for the upturn, said Bernard Weinstein, at economist at SMU. There are many push factors in California, and Texas should be able to capitalize on Californias fiscal, regulatory and governmental dysfunction.

- Dallas Morning News, March 9, 2012

March
9

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Pre-owned home sales in North Texas soared in February up 27 percent from a year ago in the biggest rise in six months. Last months increase was one of the largest gains the local housing market has seen in the last seven years. And the number of pending home purchases is increasing even faster with a 35 percent jump from one year ago. Those are big increases, notes James Gaines, an economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. I dont know if we can keep this up over the whole year. Real estate agents sold 4,649 single-family homes through MLS in North Texas in February.

- Dallas Morning News, March 9, 2012

March
2

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Increased demand from investors and first-time homebuyers helped boost existing home sales in January - the third increase in the past four months, the National Association of Realtors reported. Nationwide, we are now at 6.1 months housing supply. Many housing analysts view a six-month inventory of homes as a good balance of supply and demand. NAR also stated that further government intervention, such as the proposal to convert bank-owned properties into rentals is not needed. The market is healing appropriately.

- Inman News,

March
2

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released a graph showing job loss and job gain over the past four years. The U.S. has now had 22 straight months of job growth, after the 26 months of the Great Recession with job loss. Our economy is moving forward!

February
15

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The Dallas area tied with Seattle has the two metros with the lowest foreclosure rates among major U.C. cities last year. At the end of 2011, only 1.4 percent of Dallas-area homes were in foreclosure, compared with 3.4 percent nationwide, researchers at CoreLogic said this past Wednesday. U.S. home foreclosures last year totaled 830,000 units, down from 1.1 million in 2010. Dallas-Ft Worth home foreclosures dropped by more than 10 percent in 2011 to the lowest level in three years.

- Dallas Morning News, February 9, 2012