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Archive for January, 2016|Monthly archive page

NEW LISTING! 13526 N Tracewood Bend, Houston, TX 77077 – MLS# 45674807

In Buying a Home, Home Upgrades, Home Values, Houston Real Estate Agent, Investment Real Estate, Parks & Recreation, Parkway Villages, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home, Terry Hershey Park on January 29, 2016 at 8:00 pm

NEW LISTING! 13526 N Tracewood Bend, Houston, TX 77077 – MLS# 45674807

13526 N Tracewood BendBeautifully updated one story in gated Parkway Villages. Living/dining area with cozy fireplace lead to family room that opens to completely remodeled kitchen with new cabinets and appliances, all with wood flooring and high ceilings. Fully remodeled master retreat. Light and bright with beautiful high windows and views to sparkling pool with spa and water features. Four bedrooms plus extra room and three full baths. New roof in 2014, two new air conditioners with hospital quality filtering system, New Low E double paned windows in 2015.

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If you are interested in buying or selling real estate in West Houston, please contact Connie Vallone with First Market Realty at 713 249 4177  or visit  or



Want to Lower Energy Bills for Good? Small Improvements Equal Big Returns

In Buying a Home, Environmentmentally Friendly Homes, Home Upgrades, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home on January 27, 2016 at 4:47 pm

There are several ways to improve the energy-efficiency of your home—and many are too costly for the average homeowner to finance. The truth is, you don’t have to spend a fortune to reap the benefits of increased energy-efficiency. In fact, you can save up to 30 percent on energy bills every month with a simple, DIY home energy audit, plus the following inexpensive fixes:

1. Take advantage of the automatic setting on your air conditioner. This turns your AC and heater automatically on or off to save energy.

2. Pay attention to rooms that you are not using. Close those air vents in order to avoid needlessly cooling or heating unused spaces.

3. Look for openings around window and door frames where air can enter or escape the home. Block them with weather strips or draft guards.

4. Non-insulated attics are a major source of energy loss, as they do not effectively protect your home’s interior from outside temperatures. Make sure to insulate your attic properly and ask for help from a certified contractor if you are not sure how to do it yourself.

5. Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED or CFL models that last much longer and save significant amounts of energy and money in the long run.

Source: Homeselfe

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

If you are interested in buying or selling real estate in West Houston, please contact Connie Vallone with First Market Realty at 713 249 4177  or visit  or .

Millennials and Money: Six Trends for 2016

In Buying a Home, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Parks & Recreation, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home, Social Media, Terry Hershey Park on January 21, 2016 at 6:21 pm

At 75 million strong, Millennials are the country’s largest living generation. This social-savvy and boundary-pushing group is wielding its influence on virtually every industry, including the financial one. Here’s a look at six of the most popular finance trends among Millennials and a preview of what to expect in 2016:

  1. There will be an influx of Millennials in the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016 will see more Millennials in the workforce than ever before, representing the largest segment among all generations. Their increasing presence in the workforce will give them more disposable income as they rise into management positions.
  2. Millennials are choosing socially conscious investment models. These models reflect Millennials’ social values of giving back, which have grown exponentially in just the last decade. In 2001, people invested $3.1 trillion in these models; by 2014 this jumped to $6.6 trillion.
  3. Weddings will become even more expensive. In 2014, the average price of a wedding rose to $31,213, a 4-percent increase from 2013, according to The Knot’s annual survey. If wedding prices continue this trend, 2016 will mark an all-time high for wedding costs. This could also contribute to the shift of Millennials marrying later in life. Many couples already choose to wed later due to student loan debt and unstable financial situations.
  4. The average student loan debt will continue to increase. As of 2015, students carry $1.2 trillion in debt. In 2014, about 70 percent of students graduated with an average loan debt of $28,950, up 2 percent from 2013. Student-loan debt affects the economy in many ways, demonstrated by the number of Millennials living at home and more young adults delaying buying a home.
  5. Millennials will skip the gym, but not the exercise. Wellness remains a top priority for Millennials, with 88 percent of Millennials saying they exercise, but according to a Mintel survey, 72 percent of Millennials say gym memberships are too expensive. Because of this, Millennials have been cutting their gym expenses and instead paying for wellness programs. In 2016, Millennials will pay for community exercise programs, fitness apps, classes and other nontraditional workouts over annual gym memberships.
  6. Millennials will continue to travel, but they will spend less per trip. Unlike older generations, Millennials are willing to make sacrifices, like forgoing hotel stays for hostels, to cut down expenses. According to a Yahoo! Travel Survey, 68 percent of Millennials are more likely to spend less than $1,000 per trip versus 33 percent of the population surveyed who says they would spend $1,000 to $4,999 on a vacation.

“By analyzing these trends, it’s clear that Millennials like to chart their own course when it comes to lifestyle and financial choices,” says Emily Holbrook, director of the young personal market at Northwestern Mutual. She urges Millennials to reflect on their spending habits and plan ahead.

“Millennials handle their finances much differently than previous generations,” says Holbrook. “Their financial decisions are reflective of their personal values, beliefs and lifestyles. It’s important for members of this generation to be smart about their money decisions and create a financial plan, especially since they’ve shown they tend to follow their heart.”

The New Year is a good reminder for Millennials to create a financial plan or consider speaking with a financial advisor. Young professionals can benefit from having a trusted financial representative by staying on top of money trends and seeking ways to be financially savvy.

Sources: Northwestern Mutual,

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

If you are interested in buying or selling real estate in West Houston, please contact Connie Vallone with First Market Realty at (713) 249-4177  or visit  or



U.S. Home Values Gained $1.1 Trillion in 2015

In Buying a Home, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home on January 13, 2016 at 2:33 pm

The value of all homes nationwide grew $1.1 trillion in 2015, and is expected to end the year at $28.5 trillion total. The value of the entire housing stock grew 4.1 percent over the past year, slower than the 6 percent growth in 2014.

The total value of all homes has regained $5.3 trillion since hitting its lowest point during the housing bust in December 2011, but is still $782 billion below the bubble peak value of $29.2 trillion, reached in October 2006.

The dollar amount itself underscores the significance of housing to the U.S. economy. In the third quarter of 2015, the U.S. gross domestic product was $18.1 trillion, $10 trillion less than the total value of the housing stock.

“This reminds us of the large role housing plays in the overall economy,” says Zillow® Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “Total home value growth slowed this year, but there was still a significant increase in overall value, and many markets are more valuable than they’ve ever been. At the same time, more renter households and rising rents combined to set new records in rental spending in 2015. Americans are spending a lot of money on housing, and that will make affordability an important issue next year.”

Housing value isn’t distributed equally across the country. California is home to about 12 percent of the U.S. population, but the state accounts for nearly a quarter of the country’s total home value, driven by highly valued markets like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Total Rent Paid
Americans shelled out nearly $20 billion more in rent in 2015 than in 2014 as people around the country set up 1.8 million new renter households and median monthly rents rose at a record pace.  In all, renters spent $535 billion on rent in 2015 – nearly as much as the total budget of the Department of Defense ($575 billion), according to a new Zillow rentals analysis.  In 2014, they spent $516 billion.

Renters of single-family homes and apartments spent about the same amount on rent this year, with apartment renters paying $239 billion and single-family home renters paying $245 billion.

Renters in the New York/Northern New Jersey metro area spent the most on rent in 2015 – about $56 billion. Los Angeles-area renters spent nearly $35 billion, and San-Francisco renters spent $17 billion. About two-thirds of the total rent paid in 2015 was spent in the 50 largest metros.

November Real Estate Market Report
Home values rose 3.9 percent annually in November to a Zillow Home Value Index of $183,000, according to Zillow’s November Real Estate Market Reports. Denver home values grew fastest for the tenth consecutive month at 15.5 percent annual appreciation. Miami joined Dallas, San Francisco, San Jose, and Portland as other metros seeing double-digit growth.

Rents also continued their steady climb, growing 3.8 percent annually to a Zillow Rent Index of $1,382. The pace of rental appreciation has slowed over the past four months. Only San Francisco and Portland saw rents grow at a double-digit pace, as Denver and San Jose slipped back into single-digit growth.

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Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

If you are interested in buying or selling real estate in West Houston, please contact Connie Vallone with First Market Realty at (713) 249-4177  or visit  or

Home Staging: Pro Tips for Appealing to the Senses

In Buying a Home, Home Upgrades, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home on January 11, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Staging a home for sale is all about inspiring your buyer, and their senses are the avenue by which you connect with them. French novelist Honoré de Balzac once wrote “love is the poetry of the senses,” and specifically touching on each sense when staging a home creates atmosphere that inspires just that kind of poetic love. No matter the size or style of the home, there are a whole range of small things you can do to make it more appealing to aspiring homeowners (and help you lock in a sale!) Here’s how to get started:

Sight is the sense most agents associate with staging. The placement of furniture, decor, plants and everything else is truly central to staging. What can get overlooked in the great production of staging is the most fundamental element to catching someone’s eye – light. Especially for homes whose layout prevents a lot of natural light from getting in, you will want to ensure that you have bright and vibrant light throughout the home you aim to sell. Dark homes can not only feel dreary, but they can also make it more difficult to show off some of the qualities that will help you sell the home from the flooring to any moulding touches and more. Light is also very important for getting good quality photographs, which in the era of online advertising is key to putting your best foot forward to sell homes. There’s a major difference in perception between houses with dark, grainy photographs and ones that look professionally shot when interpreting them in the digital space.

Smell is among the strongest and most personally connective senses we possess as humans. We associate different aromas with experience and memory to a degree where certain smells can make us comfortable and nostalgic or quite the opposite. People are consciously aware of smells that they like and dislike, and some argue that using fragrances or food smells to change buyer perspective is a big no-no. However, if you are choose natural, neutral aromas like lavender, sage, pine or other light woody fragrances, you can create a space that feels like home. Be aware of using fragrances that may cause people who are sensitive to aromas to be uncomfortable, and be smart about using things like incense and spray aerosols that can trigger asthma or allergies.

Taste is important because, frankly, everyone loves snacks. This is a simple fact of life. Food makes people feel more comfortable and welcome in a home, and can add a feeling of sophistication to your showing. While you can’t guarantee everyone will be interested in your hors d’oeuvres, a lot of people will appreciate some fresh fruit, mild cheeses, or even a glass or two of wine as they settle into what may be their new home. Avoid anything that is overly fragrant, like strong cheeses and cooked meats, but don’t be afraid to let the personality of the home inform the snack choice you make. For homes that are more down home and country cottage influenced, regional favorites can’t be beat, whereas if you’re catering to a higher society crowd your snacks should follow suit.

Hearing. Much like smell, music is deeply evocative for memory and affects the mood and comfort level of the listener. Playing music through a home you aim to sell does wonders for filling in the space, making it more comfortable for everyone walking through and giving a sense of personality to your staging. I would recommend something instrumental, preferably classical or piano to enhance without distracting from the surroundings. If you want to get more technical, music that is primarily structured around major chord progressions will energize listeners, whereas minor chords sound darker and can create a sense of melancholy (for an example, look what happens when you shift REM from minor to major. How happy it feels!). It’s also important to ensure your music isn’t too loud, as it can take away from your staging and make it more difficult for your buyers to converse about the home with one another and with you.

Touch. Chances are prospective buyers aren’t going to go around touching the walls and tiles to gauge their tactile appeal, but there is a strong likelihood they will have a seat at some point along the way (or be drawn towards touching a sofa, linens or the curtains). Touch is one of our key exploratory senses, used to judge a wide range of things from the temperature of an item to its softness or quality. Staging a home with comfortable, quality goods is one part of staging with touch. Another key element of touch: temperature. A home that is too hot or too cold will make buyers uncomfortable and distract them from the features you’re looking to showcase. An updated thermostat is not only a great selling point for the home, but helps you accurately and consistently set the temp for showings.
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2015. All rights reserved.

If you are interested in buying or selling real estate in West Houston, please contact Connie Vallone with First Market Realty at (713) 249-4177  or visit  or