Angela Sells DFW

Journey with me through my real estate, motherhood and Texas adventures

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

The downside of Fall….

The downside of Fall….


While I do love the fall, it so often signals one of the most dreaded tasks I have as a working Mom: finding sitters.  The last few years our awesome babysitters have gone away to college. (Boo!) Which means that I have to find new sitters, verify references, run background checks, interview them, test them out and then trust them.  It’s also a reminder that I don’t get to spend every waking moment with my kids (cue the sad violin intro).   

I can’t say enough good things about  I love this site and this service.  We have used it since our youngest was born, so almost 5 years now.  While the site simplifies the process, provides endless resources and lots of great tools, it’s still not a great task but obviously, it’s one of THE most important ones.  

As I start my interview process and reference checks, I thought I would share a recommended script/ question list from the website with those other Moms who are also faced with this task.  Sometimes you want to ask their references questions but you have no idea what to ask.  So, here is a helpful list of questions (and additional information) for the sitter’s references before taking the time to interview the sitters themselves:

References can play a big part in your decision to find the right caregiver. The typical babysitter will have two references that have already agreed to serve as such in the hiring process. First-timers may use a parent or teacher, since they haven’t yet had a chance to establish a relationship with an employer.

Either way, the babysitter should provide you with both the phone number and email address of references so you can contact them easily. We understand that you might feel a little awkward calling a reference, so we’re here to help you get more comfortable and familiar with the idea by offering tips and list of questions to guide you through the process.

The Phone Call: Introduction

The first thing you’ll want to do is introduce yourself and tell the reference why you are calling – don’t forget to say that the babysitter referred you.

“Hi, this is Jane Smith. I’m calling because SusieSuperSitter listed you as a babysitting reference, and I was wondering if now was a good time to ask you a few questions about her personality and performance.”

In rare cases, the reference might not be comfortable speaking to you or did not agree to be a reference. Note to self: this is probably not a good sign. If you’d like to give the sitter the benefit of the doubt, you can contact the babysitter for another reference. Otherwise, remove her from the potential babysitters pile.

Questions for References

If the reference seems happy to speak to you, here’s a typical list of questions that you can ask to help gauge your potential babysitter’s talents. As a courtesy, try to keep your questions brief.

  • How well do you know Susie?
  • In what capacity did she work for you?
  • How long did she work for you?
  • How would you describe her?
  • What are her best qualities?
  • What are her worst qualities?
  • How did your kids like her?
  • Was she always excited to see your kids?
  • Did she have a routine when working with your kids?
  • Is she flexible? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Is she mature? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Is she patient? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Is she timely? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Is she energetic? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Can you give me an example of quick thinking from Susie in an emergency?
  • Did she drive your kids, do an overnight job for you or sit for a newborn?
  • How did she do with these tasks?
  • How much supervision did she need?
  • How well did she follow direction?
  • Was she willing to clean up after herself on the job?
  • What areas could she improve in?
  • Would you hire her again?
  • Why did you stop working together?
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?
  • Can I contact you again if I have any more questions?

Beyond the Basic Answers

When doing a phone reference check, you don’t have a lot to go by other than the person’s voice and assurance on the phone. So ask yourself a few questions afterwards:

  • Did the reference sound nervous?
  • Did they answer right away to their name?
  • Is anything not quite right?

For every 99 great babysitters, there is always one who will use her college roommate for a reference, so use your gut to determine if anything seems odd.

We’ve learned that you can tell a lot simply from how a person’s voice makes you feel, which is why we recommend the phone interview over exchanging emails. Take advantage of your own gut instinct, and take comfort knowing that each phone call take you one step closer to priceless peace of mind.



What is Section 8 Housing?

What is Section 8 Housing?


This is a question that I have been asked by a lot of young, up & coming real estate investors lately.  Almost like a HUD home, the term itself seems to have a negative connotation in people’s minds.  I would disagree on both.

Section 8 housing is housing that’s provided by the government for very low income families.  The qualification income requirements differ by county in Texas.   Tenants would need to contact their county and go through their qualifying process.  Once they’re approved, they find housing in the area that they want or need to live in within the price that the government is offering to help them with.

Once they find a place to live, the home has do be deemed acceptable by the agency.  The local authority for HUD will sign the lease along with the tenant as there are three parties bound by the agreement: landlord, tenant and Section 8 authority.

The benefit as a landlord is that the rent is typically covered 100% by the Section 8 voucher which is automatically paid each month.  You don’t have the same risk with other tenants as the rent is almost guaranteed so long as the tenants remain at the property.  Landlords can attend local meetings on marketing their properties for free through the local Section 8 housing authority so long as their properties are deemed qualified for the program through the authority.

If you’re thinking about purchasing investment properties, give me a call or email.  I would be happy to help you weigh the different options of leasing them out, flipping or building. (817) 771-0998

Here are some informational links & additional information for the Dallas/ Fort Worth area:

What is Section 8 housing?
On how tenants qualify for a Section 8 voucher:
How to get all units Section 8 approved:
Important Things to Know:
Roles – the tenant, the landlord, the housing agency and HUD
Once a PHA approves an eligible family’s housing unit, the family and the landlord sign a lease and, at the same time, the landlord and the PHA sign a housing assistance payments contract that runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone — tenant, landlord and PHA — has obligations and responsibilities under the voucher program.

Landlord’s Obligations: The role of the landlord in the voucher program is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program’s housing quality standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with the PHA.

Housing Authority’s Obligations: The PHA administers the voucher program locally. The PHA provides a family with the housing assistance that enables the family to seek out suitable housing and the PHA enters into a contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet the owner’s obligations under the lease, the PHA has the right to terminate assistance payments. The PHA must reexamine the family’s income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least annually to ensure that it meets minimum housing quality standards.

HUD’s Role: To cover the cost of the program, HUD provides funds to allow PHAs to make housing assistance payments on behalf of the families. HUD also pays the PHA a fee for the costs of administering the program. When additional funds become available to assist new families, HUD invites PHAs to submit applications for funds for additional housing vouchers. Applications are then reviewed and funds awarded to the selected PHAs on a competitive basis. HUD monitors PHA administration of the program to ensure program rules are properly followed.



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