What you need to know about buying a New/Used Car in Fort Worth Texas.

Monday, May 25, 2015
So... It's time to buy a new car. Should you go dealership or private party? If you are going dealership, which dealership? How do you decide? I'll cover a few of the basic things to think about in this article, based on my experiences living here these past few years.


2005 Mazda3 - autonationsouthfortworth - The Blessing - DarrellWolfe.Com
2005 Mazda3 - Special Thanks to AutonNation So FW


I wrote in detail about the two weeks that brought me to buying a new car, and how I came to that decision, on my personal blog here

Disclaimer: 


I don't believe that there is one perfect choice of what kind of car, or even where to buy one. Recently, I was telling my 10 year old son that I heard people complain about the car they had bought, and how it wasn't working right, and "Why should they pay for a car that they can't drive?".

My 10 year old son says: "They took a loan, they should pay for it. Why didn't they pray before they bought it? Slow down, pray, and hear from God so you buy the car people!". Wisdom of Children.

My opinion is that before you make any decision you should pray, hear from God, and follow His lead. But I will attempt to break down the options on the "where" question for you here.

Side Note: NADA has some interesting statistics on the car industry (here), and TIADA (here).


Private Party VS Dealership Buying


Are you a mechanic, or steeped in that knowledge? We've had very little success buying private party. Usually if someone is trying to sell their car private party, it's because it was too trashed to trade in. But that's not to say it's a bad idea, or always true. You could find that someone has a great car, but they know they can get a better deal selling it private party instead of trading it in. That will give them more cash to put down on the new car.

If you know what you are looking for, or you are very spirit led, you might get a great deal from someone private party.


Bill of Sale

If you do, you'll want to print a Bill of Sale. This helps establish what you will and won't be agreeing to, and what the other party is agreeing to as well. You can find Microsoft Word templates by opening a new Word Doc, and searching Bill of Sale. There is wording all over Google to help you. Also, the DMV.Org Website has an option to fill out a form to print (here). NOLO also has a form (here).

I've written a whole page of instructions on how to deal with the registration and title transfer; instructions HERE.


The Small Dealership


It seems like, in Texas, you can put three cars on your front yard and call yourself "a dealership". It's amazing how many dealerships there are here. No seriously... I bought my last minivan from a guy whose "dealership" was at his house. His Covered Porch was his office. His "lot" was 10 cars on his front yard. Weird....

It seems like most of them are run by three guys with nothing better to do, and 20 cars that may or may not run. We've had good and bad experiences with these. Unfortunately, just like private party, you should either know what you are looking for, or be very spirit led.

On the upside they are CHEAP. You can buy a car for $500, $1,500, $3,000.... etc.

BUT....

These cars will not have been through a 126 point inspection. They make no claim to the unit's reliability. Either they got it in on trade, or they got it from a car auction. The car I traded in this month (that needed a LOT of work) will go to just such an auction, to get picked up by one of these types of dealerships. Hopefully, they put some work into repairing it, and make it worth buying again.

We've bought a few cars from places like this, but they usually don't last that long. However, they did get us by.

After I added it up, from 2009-2015, I've spent (price + repairs) $13,000 on used cars. All of which died within 1-2 years. Sure, I had no monthly payments, I just put a huge chunk down every Tax Return. But I was constantly dealing with issues all year.

I failed my Dave Ramsey Plan. I should have been paying myself every month, so I could buy a nicer and nicer car each time. Like making a car payment in reverse. I didn't. And now my only car died.

I'm over it. I want a newer car. I'm not ready for NEW, but I want something that runs. So we went out to buy a car.


The Usual Traditional Car Dealership


We visited Shall Remain Nameless (unless you click here or here), and experienced the hustle of a Traditional Car Dealership.

Uhg!

There are no prices listed on the cars. I ask about the price and I hear, "I'm not sure, I'll have to check" (but makes no move to go check). I told him that we wanted to end up at $7,000 (total sale price), they showed us two that "might work for us". While continuously evading my price questions.

We sit, we spend hours, test driving, sitting, waiting, they bring us paperwork with a sale price DOUBLE ($14,500+) what I told them the first moment I talked to them. I thought they had "two that might work for us"?

Well... They wanted to talk about payments, and get us to forget about total price. You see, if they can get me to agree to $150/Month ( my original target was $130/Month), than who cars about the total price, right? Wrong. Total price matters. I can pay off a $7,000 car twice (or more) as fast as a $14,000 car. Period. Price Matters.

How can this type of business practice still be legal? In the connection economy, it's thankfully dying away (just wish it was gone completely).

In 2005, I bought a car from a place like this, it was repossessed in 2007. Never again.

Thankfully, we had the presence of mind to leave.

But there yet remains a better choice...



The Better Choice



New Era Dealers like CarMax and AutoNation are built on the understanding that the Connection Economy will not allow for the old Car Dealership type of treatment any longer.

The prices are, generally, non negotiable. Why? They advertise a price that is as low as they can accept, and is still fair for them. They only sell vehicles that have passed their inspection. They just make the process as painless as possible.

You should still be spirit led, you can buy a car that looks good (even to a mechanic) that breaks down because of something you couldn't have known. However, this is the best experience I've had when car buying in my life.

AutoNation had a few vehicles that were targeted to lower prices than CarMax, so check out both. This just means that AutoNation carries cars that are a little older or higher millage; but, still pass the 126 point inspection.

This month, I went to AutoNation South Fort Worth, on I-20. The process was painless. No hustle. No haggle. Doug B and Doug W with AutoNation SFW were great to work with, patient with my questions, gave me time to digest figures and run my excel sheets.

In the end, we left with the car that had shown up over, and over, and over, in our search (spirit led). The one I kept getting drawn to, but couldn't quite explain why. The one I kept ignoring, looking for other things to satisfy my reasoning and mind.

No, it wasn't in line with my 150 item list of "must haves", but it was the right fit. Then again, there exactly ZERO cars that fit that list.

Funny Side Note: I kept looking for a car with 40,000 miles. The Monday after I made this purchase, I heard a guy complain to that the car he bought at 40,000 miles kept breaking down. Praise God for being Spirit Led.


Financing: 


Hopefully, you've been on the Dave Ramsey plan long enough not to finance. But, if your not, then here are some options.

There are a lot of ways to finance.

If you have a bank, apply with them first. Do it online, because then the decision (with score) will come to you online. Even if it's declined, you'll get an idea of what your score looked like.

If you are blessed enough to bank with USAA Bank, I highly recommend you START there, and if approved, go no further. The process is painless, and their customer service is second to NONE. They are patient with your questions. The only caveat I have for you: Don't print the loan docs until you are sure you have decided on the car. It's just easier that way, because you can edit your choices.

If you let the dealership do it, that can be good ( they can often search up to 40 lenders at once). They will run your credit through multiple lenders, but that only counts as one inquiry to your credit (here) as long as they are all done within 45 days.

Some of the small dealership do "in house" financing. This means that you don't need a credit score, but you don't get regular payments either. Instead, you pay $200-$300, every two weeks (every paycheck), for about one year to pay it off.


GAP Insurance:


For those who don't know, Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) Insurance can be very useful. It may go by other names, but look for this general description. Progressive Insurance calls it Loan/Lease Payoff.

Insurance Dilemma: Sometimes, after an accident where the vehicle is declared a total loss, your Full Coverage Insurance will pay what the car is worth, but not what you owe. If your car is worth $14,000, they pay that. But If you owe$16,000; they still only pay $14,000. That means you will STILL owe $2,000 which you must continue to pay after the car is already totaled.

Oh, and don't forget your $1,000 deductible, which they subtract from the total payout. Now they only pay $13,000, which means you are left with a bill for $3,000.

If you have a lot of cash on hand to account for this, and you can just pay that final $3,000, and be done with it. Or, you can keep paying the monthly payment (most of the time) until the final amount is paid off. Some lenders will allow you to do an "Insurance Deficiency Refinance", to lower your payment on that final left over amount.

If you do not pay the left over, this will become a charge off on your credit, and your credit is ruined.

GAP essentially works like this: If you have this $3,000 left over. GAP pays it. There are exclusions, and exceptions. Sometimes, if you have not paid your bill on time every month, GAP will deduct their coverage for that. So GAP still may not pay off the whole bill if you were not paying your bill on time.

I started to purchase GAP Insurance through USAA, but then I found out that I can add this to my Full Coverage through Progressive for $16/Year. (about a $1+ per month), and I'll cancel it when my loan is lower than my value.

I hope that helps!


Life In Fort Worth By Darrell Wolfe


What is YOUR favorite thing about Texas? Comment Below!

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Mai Thai (Haslet, TX) | A little hole in the wall Thai Food place you HAVE to try!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

 

Mai Thai (Menu HERE)

 

201 FM 156 N Haslet, TX


I'm always looking for good Thai Food. This was one I missed for too long, and I'm glad I finally came!

If you are in downtown Haslet, with the train tracks to your back, city hall to your left and Mr. Jims to your right… This place is tucked away just next to Mr. Jims. It was a restaurant built into an old house. Easily miss-able, I’m sorry I didn’t come sooner.


Yelp: HERE
Urban Spoon: HERE

Mai Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

 

Overview


I’ve lived in Sendera Ranch (Haslet) since this place opened (2010), and I half noticed it, but didn’t give it a second thought. Which is silly, because I enjoy Thai Food. The parking is on the side and back.

Then I met Linda at the Q.T. gas station, we started chatting about the area. She told me this was one of her favorite restaurants. I was like really? That little place? I didn’t know it was still open. She told me I HAD to go.


I walk up the front path into a seating room with a handful of tables. As I open the door I am wafted with the familiar smells of Thai Curry… I feel at home before I’d taken my first step.
I was greeted by a friendly young lady, who was quite knowledgeable about this business and food. She was also VERY well trained in customer service skills
“Since this is your first time here, let me tell you about our menu”.
That’s something more people don’t think to say.

They used to be called Mai Thai Sushi. They stopped serving Sushi (not enough demand), but they still serve amazing Thai Food. Unfortunately for them, the whited out “Sushi” on the sign does even less, from a Marketing perspective, to build brand trust. It also adds to the feeling that they’re closed.


I have a feeling if they got a Marketing person to come give them a facelift and image re-rebrand (mostly to the building) they would get MUCH more traffic, and the demand for Sushi would be back. It probably wouldn’t take much, a new door, clean up the landscaping, new sign. A few visual cues as to where to park and where to enter.

Anyway…

My wife and I put in an order for our two favorites, threw in a random one, and the MUST HAVE Coconut Mango Rice. I forgot to grab the Thai Iced Tea on my way out with my To-Go order. Ooops. Sorry Honey.

When I got it home, we sat and opened everything. Turned on the latest Blacklist, and enjoyed the best Thai I’ve had in a long time. There was so much Curry Sauce left over, that I mixed some of it in my Tuna and made a Red Curry Tuna Sandwich for lunch the next day.
It’s nice to know that there is another Thai place in Texas worth going to. I WILL be back.

 

Cost


Pad Thai (Chicken, Beef, Pork or Combo) $8.95
Thai rice noodles stir-fried w/ eggs, bean sprouts, onions, flavored with lime and crunchy peanuts.

Gaeng Dang (Red Curry) $9.95
Coconut milk with bamboo slices, bell peppers, and basil leaves.
Pineapple Curry Fried Rice $8.95
Choice of meat, stir fried w/ onions, carrots and cashews, tomatoes yellow and green onion. Seasoned with Thai yellow curry tossed with pineapple. 
 
Coconut Rice Mango $4.95


Total around $37.00 (ish) after tax. That's not an eat every day price, but it's roughly on par with more Thai places, and each entre is a LOT of food.  

 

 

Kids


I suppose it depends on your kids.

Currently, our kids won’t try Thai Food… but I suspect my youngest will (he enjoyed it when he was younger). If you are going to dine in, you may want to check out their menu so see if it’s going to meet your kids needs before you go (or get them food before).

 

 

Tips to enjoy it better...


It may look closed when you drive up. They could use a little updating to the fa├žade to make it more inviting. But it’s worth parking on the side or in the back and walking in.

All entrees come without spice (for the weak of palate) and you can add spice to your liking to any dish. (Level 1-5). We went with a 2 to be safe, and this was just about right for us, it had heat, but not too much.

They also do delivery within five miles. So, if you live in Sendera Ranch or Haslet, the PARTY IS ON!

 

 

Final Thoughts



Sometimes you just have to try new places, even if they are a little off the beaten path. The “hole in the wall” types are often some of the best food! This one is no exception.


Life In Fort Worth By Darrell Wolfe

What is YOUR favorite thing about Texas? Comment Below!
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What's it like to live in Fort Worth / Dallas Texas? Fort Worth 101

Sunday, May 10, 2015




This is my take on what's it like to move from Southern California to live in Fort Worth Texas. 


I grew up, most of my life, in Indio (Palm Springs) California. The winters there are awesome! 50-70* F, sunny skies... Golf Weather for 4-5 months straight! But the summers (which seem to last six months) are not so great. After a growing up with extremely dry 115-120* F days and 90* F nights May through October I had to get out.

So my wife and I moved to Santa Ana, California (Orange County). We were closer (but not close) to the beach. We had our annual pass for Disneyland, and we were there 2-3 times a week. Then again, we lived in a one bedroom, low income, roach infested, apartment.

Oh… and we had no car, couldn't afford it. I grew to enjoy the bus system, but it's a long trek with two small kids to the beach switching buses to get down there.

Then God called us to move to Fort Worth Texas. 


My wife, my kids and I moved to Fort Worth/Dallas Texas in July 2009. We didn't own a car, and most of our stuff wasn't worth paying to move. So we tossed and gave away most of it, and hopped the Amtrack - Texas Eagle with 15 duffel bags, four small boxes, and three big Bike Boxes (with bikes and "other" inside).

We departed from Los Angeles Union Station and headed east to San Antonio, then north to Fort Worth. It was a unique three days, and it was fun. Looking back, we should have paid extra for the sleeper cabin instead of sleeping in our seats in coach. But it was good.



Observations after arriving in Downtown Fort Worth


Air


The first thing I noticed when I stepped off the air conditioned train was the air outside. Most of Southern California has drier air. Fort Worth Texas has a mild humidity, which adds fullness to the air you breath. It's almost heavier, and it feels healthier. The same good feeling you can have when breathing a humidifier is the feeling I got stepping off the train.

Skies


There are no mountains. There are hills that some people call "mountains" like Eagle Mountain, but these are not mountains. These so called mountains are slight elevations from one area to another. As such, the skies go on and on. The clouds move in lower with nothing to block them. They roll and move and make shapes. The stars are visible beyond most of what you would see in Southern California unless you lived in the mountains or one of the few rural communities.

Storms


The Fort Worth area is roughly in the middle of the cold air coming down from the Minnesota and Canada regions, and the warm air coming up from the equator and Caribbean. Combined with the low cloud cover, Texas thunder storms are a sight to behold. They happen frequently throughout the year, but especially the spring and fall. Lightening and Thunder fill the sky like a dance and a song. It's amazing.

Tornadoes can and do happen, but they are not frequent here. Just north in Oklahoma they are more common. We are outside of "Tornado Alley", so it's not as big of a deal.

Friendly People


The people are hard to gauge; because, much (if not most) of the population of DFW is from another state. At least, that's how it feels. Almost everyone I meet moved here in the last ten years. I do feel like it's safer here, friendlier, at least in most neighborhoods. People are people everywhere you go, but Texas people seem to be more willing to lend an ear or a hand.



Stereo Types: Set The Record Straight


Texan Accents


When I was young, I lived in the Panhandle of Texas in a small town called Spearman, but I left when I was 9. Up in those parts the accents were thick and strong. So when I moved to Fort Worth I was expecting the same thing. I got off the train, and the first person I met (the baggage handler) was wearing a white T-Shirt with blue overalls, and had the thickest TV stereo-type-level accent you've ever heard.

I thought, OH MY I'm in Texas! 

…And I've never heard anyone talk like that since. As I said, most of the people are from other states, there aren't many "Texas Accents" left in DFW. Even those who were born here, typically don't sound like that unless they are from a small town.

Is there a lot of Racism in Texas?


I'm not sure where this comes from? I mean I guess Texas is part of the Old South, barely. I know racism still exists (at least people keep trying to make it come back). Even my Black mother-in-law warned us that we shouldn't get gas in the small towns, since we're a mixed couple.

Truth is, dumb people are everywhere. I'm sure any small town is going to be full of backward people, lost in decades past. But I haven't seen any evidence of true racism in the DFW area, unless it's the kind people make up in their own minds.

I'm not saying it's not here, as I said dumb people are everywhere. I'm saying that my experience, and the experience of those I've talked with does not provide me any evidence that it's a wide spread systemic thing like people seem to think it is here… not anymore than it is in Orange County CA.

Do Texans Ride Horses and wear Cowboy hats? 


Yes and No. Generally no. Mostly, driving in certain parts of DFW remind of the Orange County CA. But there is a lot more land out here. You can go to down town Fort Worth and see the police riding horses in the streets (but I think that's for tourists).

Look kids… COWS!

In fact, you are more likely to see cattle than horses. There is a lot of land here, and farms. Many people will put cows on the larger pieces of property to keep the growth down, cows or goats. In some cases I've seen sheep, and a few have Buffalo. It's hard to drive 10 miles without seeing a cow. They are better than lawn mowers! But I've gone months without seeing a horse.


Stats and Styles: What is the Fort Worth area like?



Jobs and Growth


Due to a variety of factors, the Fort Worth/Dallas (DFW) area is one of the fastest growing regions of the country. So much so, that they are nearly constantly doing construction on one freeway or another.

Jobs are on the rise here, and jobs of every kind. The DFW airport is one of the largest hubs in the country, people fly in and out at all hours of the day and night. As a result, companies that need to ship out can do so easily. Business travel to and from is easy. Corporate and Personal taxes are lower here. In fact, there is no State Income tax. Property tax can be a little higher to make up for it, but it's still lower overall.

Wiki has a list of the largest private-sector employers, including American Airlines, Lockheed Martin, Baylor Health, and many more. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas–Fort_Worth_metroplex#Largest_area_private-sector_employers

The single largest concentration of office jobs is in a part of Irving, Texas called Las Colinas. Do a job search, and narrow it down to Irving and you are likely for find HUNDREDS of open positions.

Housing


OK…. Housing is CHEAP compared to Southern California. When I moved to Roanoke, TX (a quaint little town north of Fort Worth, and the Unique Dining Capitol) I was able to replace my So Cal $1,100/month, roach infested, low income,  one bedroom apartment, with a Roanoke Texas brand new 2 Bedroom Apartment for $950. I've heard of apartment prices for much, much less. $600 or less even, depending on what you require. The prices closer to the big cities will be cheaper than the Suburbs.

I bought my house a year later (thanks  to God and the USDA). It  is 4 bedroom, 2 bath, 1,300 square feet, on a large property. We paid $119,000 for that house @ $950 a month. Try getting that in Orange County CA.

Houses


The soil here has a lot of clay, and that can cause foundation problems for the houses as water shifts the soil. It's important that you check the foundation often and keep it wet to avoid shifting. A good soaker hose can take care of that.

Most city ordinances require brick on the outside of the houses and buildings. I believe it has something to do with the storms. Periodic hail and wind damage is less likely with brick sides? Other masonry, such as stone, can be used as well.



Government


Everything is bigger in Texas... except the government. Government here is a hodge podge of different ideas, decision makers, and municipalities. It's hard to tell where the State, County, and City separate from each other... or who does what.

Most things are decided at the County Level, and there are more Counties in a 30 miles radius than I can count or remember. The processes to get anything done (drivers license, car registration, property taxes, voter registration, figuring out how to vote, and when and where to vote...) are confusing AT BEST! There are these wierd off cycle elections happening all the time. Why can't they just wait for the 2 year cycle? Forget absentee voting, you have to actually show up at the polls unless you have a good excuse not to.

It can also be very backward from a Southern Californian's perspective. If you get a ticket, you are often dealing with some city attorney, not a judge, if you try to fight it. It's difficult to accomplish anything from a government level.

The good news is that this means you are generally left alone. No Big Brother looking over your shoulder unless you cause trouble or get pulled over. This is no Nanny State, the Texas way is "Take care of yourself so we don't have to".

Religion


This is part of the Bible Belt. Even with all of the newcomers, there's still churches on practically every corner. You can find churches of any denomination or style. The Fort Worth area also holds one of the largest churches in the USA Gateway Church, multiple campuses - one church.

What do you do? Is still a popular question here. What church do you go to? Is just as popular.

Colleges

There are a TON of great colleges and universities in the Dallas - Fort Worth area. Wiki has a list HERE, but just to name a few of the ones I hear about most often:




Sports


For some reason Texans REALLY ENJOY sports. I mean… I guess we had sports teams in California. Dodgers, Padres, Raiders, etc... But here… even the 90 year old ladies have their favorite team and will smack talk the other teams.

Cowboys Football is huge here, but so are the college teams. You practically NEED to pick a college team, even if you don't care, just to have an answer to "who are you rooting for this season?"

I just tell them the Longhorns because I like the uniforms, I think they're unique. Or TCU, because a purple Football team rocks!

Major Teams:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Texas Rangers
  • Mavericks
  • Dallas Stars


College Teams:

  • TCU Horned Frogs
  • Longhorns
  • Texas Tech
  • North Texas
  • More HERE.

Art & Culture


It's not all rough necks and sports. In fact, Fort Worth claims the title of Cowboys & Culture.

The Dallas - Fort Worth area has a host of museums & gallaries, arboretums, theater and more. The Main St Arts Festival takes place in the spring each year.



There are some really high end shopping areas too. If you head to the right areas, like the Southlake Town Square, you can find your Apple Store and Michael Koors if that's what you are looking for too.


Climate



Cold & Wet, Hot & Wet… Wet is the keyword.

It rains a lot more here than Southern California. That's not to say it's always raining. But it was noticeably different than what I was used to. Of course, in the Palm Springs CA area it may only rain once every three years. But even Santa Ana, CA didn't get rain like we do here. It doesn't matter what time of year either. It does rain more in the spring and fall, but we'll get it during summer and winter too.

It's hot, yes. Summers can be 100+ degrees. But it's no where near as hot as Palm Springs CA summers. And the heat is more bearable with a slight amount of humidity. In Palm Springs, leaving the air conditioned indoors and walking into the summer heat feels like a blast furnace on your lungs. Here, the slightly wetter air is easier to breath in the heat.

The nights, during summer, get cool. Even if it was 110* F that day, you can usually open your windows at night for a cool breeze throughout the house. In Palm Springs CA, it was 95* F at the coolest part of night during the summers.

Winters here are quite a bit colder than So Cal. Temperatures drop to the 20's and 30's at times. On certain occasions there could be an Ice Storm or Snow Storm. It usually hits once, stays on the ground for 24-48 hours and is gone. It happens once or twice a winter (maybe not at all).


They say: "If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes." and that can be true here. 

It's likely to be raining and cold in the morning, only to be sunny and hot by the afternoon (or the other way around). One year, December, it was a sunny not too cold morning. I drove to work. By 3pm it snowed an inch outside. You just never know here. Typically most snow or ice, if it comes at all, will come in February. We iced out the Super Bowl one year!


Conclusion


I hope that helps give you a taste of the area before coming. Of course, if you can swing a few day visit before making the move, that could be a great idea. Do some research about where you want to live before you visit, and then hit up your top five areas. I wrote about how to do that research HERE.


  • If you decide to call Fort Worth home, we're glad to have you. 
  • If you live here (or used to) and want to add something I missed, comment below. 
  • If you have a question, comment below and someone may give you the answer you need! 



Life In Fort Worth By Darrell Wolfe



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