Archives for category: General Information

First-time home buyers are feeling the pinch of current market conditions. Record-low mortgage rates are certainly a lure to Buy Now, but affordability is another story. Labor costs are rising, demand is growing, builders are building more on the higher-end than the lower end. Current homeowners are wanting to take advantage of the increased prices, and so resales, too, are comparatively higher. The struggle in my mind is – buy now and have that wonderful rate for 30 years or wait, who knows how long, for home prices to come down. Barring a significant economic event, it might be better to take advantage of the low rates because they are sure to rise in the foreseeable future. Prices may not go down enough or soon enough to make up for the long-term savings on interest. Just a thought.
When making the decision to go forward, do you have what it takes to go forward when it comes to down payment and closing costs. There are many options. Talk to a lender!!


There are three websites that are useful in learning more about flood zones, flood insurance, which can be very important when buying a house. If the seller does not have a mortgage or does not have a govenment-backed mortgage, they may not know that their property is in a special flood hazard area and, therefore, are not able to disclose it. These websites will provide information on the properties. However, your insurance provider is the subject matter expert for definitive answers. – sponsored by FEMA. Provides the flood risk category for a residential property. – for Harris County, TX. It’s excellent. Enter the subject property address in the upper left-hand corner, and the results is a wonderful map. – Choose your county. This site, at this point, is targeting the coastal counties, including Harris County, and focuses more on the upcoming zone and base elevation changes.


Fresh paint is the least expensive, especially if you DIY. AND, if you DIY, be sure you do a professional-looking job especially if you’ve chosen to use color. There’s hardly anything worse than seeing messy edges. Color is great if you’re not trying to sell, but if you are be sure to use a neutral color such as beige or off-white. You want your house to be appealing to as many as possible, and neutral colors will offend fewer people.


Again, neutral is best. All rooms should be the same. I’ve heard that it’s best when purchasing new carpet to upgrade the padding and not the carpet itself. Costs less but gives the same feeling of thickness. You’ll want to check this out with people who really know, though.

Carpet-Paint allowance

I’m sure you’ve heard of sellers giving an allowance for these upgrades and not doing it upfront. First, doing it upfront will cause your home to show much better; and it’s been my experience that most buyers want to have these items already done so they can move right in.

Many things have been posted about staging the home for selling. Some lists are longer than others and opinions differ. This is a short little list to help you get started.

  1. Set the scene in each room so that the potential buyer has some idea what it is or how it can be used. You might be surprised at how many times a real estate agent is asked, “what is this room for”?, because it’s not always obvious.
  2. Keep clutter down and, especially, remove personal stuff, such as family photos. You’ll have to pack them sooner or later; in this case sooner is better.
  3. Paint a neutral color. The goal is to appeal to as many people as possible. There will be those who love your deep purple bedroom, but many more who won’t.
  4. Re-purpose what you have to avoid spending money.
  5. Not sure about how/what? Use the services of a home stager. This will help eliminate false starts and maybe save money, too. Your real estate agent will be able to help you with it.

Sometimes, it seems like it would be hard living in a neutral world when you’ve lived in color, or living without your favor photos and other personal possessions… but the sooner you accept it and do it, the sooner your home may likely sell. Good luck!

I’m pretty saure you’ve seen this before, but some things are worth repeating. Gasoline has gone down a little, but not to where it was. While most of us have to buy it, most of us would like to spend our money on something else. So, maybe these gasoline saving tips might help you a little. Of course, the list isn’t exhaustive.

Don’t go faster than 60 mph even if it is legal; hopefully, you won’t get ran over by everyone else.I’m in Houston; I’ve noticed our TXDOT electronic highway signs have a new message – use Left Lane for passing, slower traffic to the right. Hopefully, all will soon read and heed.

  • Try to avoid floor-boarding starts and brake-squealing stops. This may improve your mileage by about 5 pct.
  • Turning off your engine instead of idling will improve gas consumption and air pollution.
  • Keep car tuned and change oil per manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Keep tires properly inflated: it may not only improve fuel consumption but may improve driving safety.
  • If the price of gasoline is tied to supply and demand, it stands to reason that the less we demand, the greater the supply, and better the chance for lower gasoline prices.

September is usually the most active months for hurricane. You might be new to a hurricane-prone area or an old pro. However, it is never too late and it is always wise to review your plans. Don’t have a plan to review? No time like the present to get started. This list is meant to help you get started, but is not meant to be all-inclusive or comprehensive.

  1. Plan home improvement projects that will make your home more resistant to water and flood damage.
  2. Review and revise, if necessary, your insurance policy for storm-related coverage.
  3. Remember that homeowner’s policies may not include rising waters; talk to your insurance agent about this; you may want to add flood insurance.
  4. Prepare an inventory of your belongings if you need to file a claim. (Photos and video are good, too). Just keep copies at a remote site… better yet save them somewhere in “the cloud.”
  5. Organize an emergency supply kit and stock up on non-perishable food and water.
  6. Create an evacuation plan, including ways to let your family know you’re safe after a storm.
  7. Compile a list of emergency numbers that includes family, friends, and neighbors.
  8. Make arrangements for your pets… especially in the event you have to evacuate. Plan what you’ll do in this worst-case scenario way before it becomes a necessity.

It’s never too soon (or too late) to think about the future. I saw this list of some benefits of annuities somewhere a while back. Always check with your CPA or other financial experts for the best advice for your circumstances and if any of the following apply. There’s a lot of may, could, would because I don’t think annuities are alike, and we’re certainly not all alike in circumstances and needs.

  1. Tax-deferred earnings may allow you to accumulate more money.
  2. Funds are invested to grow over time, causing an opportunity for more income potential.
  3. Funds can be distributed in a lump sum or as periodic payments.
  4. There is a possibility that are no administrative fees, sales charges, or service fees. Always check.
  5. Payment options may be available that best suit your needs and situation.


This list will help you understand the tax, what it’s on, and help you decide if you might have to pay it. As always, please refer to your tax/finance professional for its effect on you, if any.

Slab Maintenance

I received this information from an expert in the field and thought it was great information presented in a very easy-to-follow layout.

This is probably pretty important in all of the areas that continue to be in some stage of drought. What should you do? Check out this website.


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via The Prompt Notification of Short Sale Act.

This one will have you laughing and crying.