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Archive for June, 2017|Monthly archive page

Up Curb Appeal by Looking Up – At Your Roof!

In Buying a Home, Home Upgrades, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home on June 27, 2017 at 9:04 pm

When trying to up curb appeal, most homeowners focus on landscaping or repainting that front door. But did you know that by updating or repairing your roof you can increase your curb appeal by 40 percent?

GAF, North America’s Largest Roofing manufacturer,offers help with these roof tips to up the ante on your curb appeal.

1. Start off by checking the roof framing structure to make sure it is not compromised. Visually scan the roof for any sagging or uneven areas.

2. Inspect and clean your gutter systems to make sure they are not clogged with branches, leaves, or other debris.

3. Make sure that gutters are fastened properly and are tight and secure so that they don’t cause overflow and build-up or fall off the fascia board.

4. Check the valleys of the roof to ensure that they are also free and clear of debris as this can add weight to the roof and also act as a barrier to rain.

5. Metal flashing should also be used around roof vents, pipes, skylights, and chimneys. One of the most common causes for roofing leaks is due to problems where these is lack of or damaged flashing.

6. Walk around your entire house and carefully inspect the shingles on the roof.  Look for curling edges, missing granules, missing shingles, etc.

Source: GAF

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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


How to Find a House Today

In Buying a Home, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Investment Real Estate, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home, West Houston on June 22, 2017 at 7:12 pm

This year may be the most difficult in a decade to buy a home, especially for a first-time homebuyer. Prices are soaring in most markets, and for affordable starter homes, the price is rising faster than larger homes.* Supplies are suffering from a three-year inventory drought that also is hitting starter homes hardest. The number of starter and trade-up homes fell 8.7 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively, during the past year, while the inventory of premium homes has fallen by just 1.7 percent, according to Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s chief economist.*

There’s little leeway for mistakes in today’s marketplace. Discipline is essential, and the learning curve is stepped. Buying a home is serious business, and in most markets today, it is the most difficult step in the process for move-up buyers, as well as first-timers.

Here are five tips on house-hunting in today’s marketplace that will put you ahead of the competition and may spell the difference between success and failure.

Hire a specialist. If you had a serious medical condition, you would seek advice and treatment from a medical specialist. Real estate is also a large and complex field. Many brokers and agents specialize in delivering better service to their clients and customers. If you’re serious about finding a home today, hire a REALTOR® who specializes in serving buyers. Look for one with the designation ABR after their name. It stands for Accredited Buyer’s Representative and means that they are REALTORS® who have received specialized training from the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) and have experience representing buyers. Even if you don’t hire a specialist, you should hire a REALTOR®. Not all agents are REALTORS®; REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) who are licensed and abide by NAR’s Code of Ethics. Hiring a REALTOR® with an ABR designation won’t cost you anything, and a professional’s assistance could make all the difference. Above all, don’t try to go it alone today. Last year nearly 90 percent of successful buyers used an agent.**

Don’t start your search until you are ready. It’s a good idea to spend some time online surfing real estate sites and learning about real estate and checking out what’s available; however, you aren’t a serious buyer until you have done all you can to improve your credit, raised the money you need for a down payment, been pre-approved for a mortgage from at least one lender and hired an agent

Make a budget and stick to it. The amount for which your lender pre-approves you is not your budget. Your pre-approved amount is conditional and can change when you apply for a mortgage. Moreover, it does not include many of the other costs of homeownership, like taxes, home insurance and maintenance. Sit down with your agent, make your budget and stick to it. As a rule of thumb, economists recommend you spend no more than 30 percent of your gross income on housing costs. Make a pledge to yourself to stick to your budget. There are few heartaches worse than falling in love with a house you can’t afford or stretching yourself so thin that you are “house poor” for years to come.

House hunt every day. Looking for a house in today’s market is like having a second job. Financially, finding the right home may be even more important to you than a second job. The outcome of your search will determine where you live and how much you spend on housing for years to come. Be proactive with your agent to learn as much as you can about the home-buying process and conditions in your market. Spend time every day reviewing listings and learning about neighborhoods. Drive the neighborhoods in which you are interested and go to open houses to get a feel for the market and to meet listing agents who may have a home that meets your criteria. Check out “coming soon” listings to get a head start on the competition.

Use a selection of sites. Most buyers start their house search on one of the major national real estate sites like®, Zillow or These sites have great features, research and how-to material. As you get more serious about finding a house, increase your selection of sites to include your local multiple listing services, if yours has a consumer site with listings (not all do). Also, bookmark several of the leading local brokerages in your market. Listings may appear earlier on a local brokerage site than a national site, and often updated information like contracts or price changes are posted first on the site of the listing broker who represents the property. Sign up for email updates of listings that fit your criteria.

Be flexible. You may find that you cannot afford to live where you would like, or you can’t afford the size or amenities you want. If those are deal-breakers for you, you may not be ready to buy in your market today—or you might revisit your plans and decide to live a little farther out from the city, buying an older house that you can improve over time. Starting out in a condo might be an acceptable alternative. Chances are prices in your market are not going to decline, and by buying now, you will begin to accumulate equity. Though mortgage rates have risen over the past year, they are still very reasonable by historical standards, which means that the odds are they will continue to rise, rather than fall, in the future. Expand the geography and price ranges on the websites you are using and see what you find.

Sweeten your offer. When you find a house on which you want to make an offer, ask your agent for a comparative market analysis (CMA) to determine its value. Don’t rely on the estimated values provided by valuation tools on real estate sites. Knowing the value is important not just for deciding how much to offer, but also to anticipate how much the house will appraise for. CMAs are based on recent sales of comparable properties, similar to appraisals. Chances are you will be competing with other buyers, including investors who pay all cash. Sellers are not only looking for the best price; they also want an offer that will close on time from a buyer whose financing won’t fall through. Consider sweetening your offer by increasing your down payment and getting more than one pre-approval. Be flexible on considerations like renting back if the owner is a move-up buyer who may need time to find a new home. If you are a move-up buyer, sell your current home before you buy a new one. Most sellers react negatively to offers that are contingent upon a buyer first selling his current home.

Don’t lose your deal. About 23 percent of contracts on homes today have a delayed settlement, and 7 percent of contracts fail to close and are terminated. The leading causes for delayed settlements are issues related to obtaining financing and appraisal issues. Among contracts that were terminated, 25 percent faced issues related to home inspections, and 20 percent had issues related to the buyer’s ability to obtain financing.*** One way to improve your odds for financing is to get more than one pre-approval so that you are ready to talk to a second lender if your first application fails. Most appraisal issues result from appraisals that come in lower than the contract price and buyers must come up with more cash. One way to protect against a low appraisal is to know the value of the house before you make an offer and make a larger down payment than you have to.

Persistence pays off. Don’t despair if a seller selects another offer over yours. Learn from your experiences. A better home may come on the market tomorrow. Last year buyers searched for an average of 10 weeks and looked at a median of 10 homes**, but that’s just a national average for all buyers. If you are a first-time buyer in a hot market, expect your hunt to take longer. Don’t quit when the weather turns cold. Fall and winter can be good times to find a home. There are fewer listings than in the spring or summer, but there’s also less competition, and sellers are usually more motivated.

* McLaughlin, Ralph. (2017, May 22) Don’t Call It a Comeback: How Rising Home Values May Be Stifling Inventory. Retrieved from

** 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. National Association of REALTORS®.

*** REALTORS® Confidence Index: Report on March 2017 Survey. National Association of REALTORS®. Retrieved from

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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

Home Values Edge Above Pre-Downturn Peak

In Buying a Home, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home on June 14, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Home values have edged above their pre-downturn peak, with the current national median value, $198,000, 1 percent higher than in 2007, according to the April Zillow® Real Estate Market Reports. Values have risen 7.3 percent year-over-year, with values in Seattle, Wash., again topping the charts in April. Rents, at the same time, have risen 0.7 percent.

Is the housing market treading into unsustainable territory? Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell shuts down the assumption.

“Now that the typical U.S. home is worth more than ever, people may be tempted to ask if we’re in another national housing bubble,” says Gudell. “We aren’t in a bubble, and won’t be entering one anytime soon.

“There are big differences between the market then and the market now,” Gudell says. “Then, loose credit, speculation and overbuilding were ingredients in a recipe for disaster. Now, healthy homebuyer demand is being driven largely by a stable economy and demographic tailwinds, which is exactly what we would expect in a healthy market. Supply has been slow to catch up to this demand, which is causing home values to grow at a faster clip than we might otherwise expect. Beyond that, the market’s fundamentals look largely healthy. Homes are largely more affordable in most markets today than they were prior to the bust, and will remain so for the foreseeable future, even if mortgage rates rise. Americans clearly continue to see the value in homeownership—especially young Americans, which bodes well for the future.”

Home values in 17 of the 32 largest metropolitan housing markets, notably, are still below-peak.

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Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

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


NEW LISTING! 14214 Sandfield Drive, Houston, TX 77077 – MLS# 3149726

In Buying a Home, Home Values, Houston Energy Corridor, Houston Real Estate Agent, Real Estate Investment, Selling your home, Terry Hershey Park on June 8, 2017 at 9:32 pm

NEW LISTING! 14214 Sandfield Drive, Houston, TX 77077 – MLS# 3149726

Beautifully updated one story. Kitchen with new cabinets, stainless steel LG appliances, granite countertops and Boos block island opens to huge living area with tons of windows for plenty of light. Beautiful wood laminate throughout – NO carpet! Living, kitchen and spacious master retreat all open to nice big backyard and covered patio. Master and guest bathroom fully remodeled. New Lennox air conditioner and furnace in 2015, new electric panel, PEX plumbing and privacy fence. See full upgrades list. Walking distance to Barbara Bush, John Paul & Terry Hershey Park.

HAR Link:

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