Simple Home Repair Jobs to Lift You Out of Winter’s Funk - Part 2 of 2

Winter’s doldrums got you down? Grab a screwdriver and a hammer and fight back with easy home repairs that’ll raise spirits and get your house ready for spring. Here's the continuation of tips from last week's post.

Safety itemsYou know those routine safety checks you keep meaning to do but never have the time? Now’s the time.

7. Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. If you don’t like waking up to the annoying chirp of smoke detector batteries as they wear down, do what many fire departments recommend and simply replace all of them at the same time once a year.

8. Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. You’re supposed to test them once a month, but who does? Now’s a great time. You’ll find them around potentially wet areas — building codes specify GFCI outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, and for outdoor receptacles. Make sure the device trips and resets correctly. If you find a faulty outlet, replace it or get an electrician to do it for $75 to $100.



Another good project is to replace your GFCIs with the latest generation of protected outlets that test themselves, such as Levitron’s SmartlockPro Self-Test GFCI ($28). You won’t have to manually test ever again!

9.  Exhaust filter for the kitchen stove. By washing it to remove grease, you’ll increase the efficiency of your exhaust vent; plus, if a kitchen stovetop fire breaks out, this will help keep the flames from spreading.

10. Clothes dryer vent. Pull the dryer out from the wall, disconnect the vent pipe, and vacuum lint out of the pipe and the place where it connects to the machine. Also, wipe lint off your exterior dryer vent so the flap opens and closes easily. (You’ll need to go outside for that, but it’s quick.) Remember that vents clogged with old dryer lint are a leading cause of house fires.



11. Drain hoses. Inspect your clothes washer, the dishwashers, and the icemaker. If you see any cracks or drips, replace the hose so you don’t come home to a flood one day.

12. Electrical cords. Replace any that are brittle, cracked, or have damaged plugs. If you’re using extension cords, see if you can eliminate them — for example, by replacing that too-short lamp cord with one that’s longer. If you don’t feel up to rewiring the lamp yourself, drop it off at a repair shop as you head out to shop for your repair materials. It might not be ready by the end of the day. But, hey, one half-done repair that you can’t check off is no big deal, right?

Source: HouseLogic.com. Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/repair-tips/home-repair-jobs-winter/#ixzz3IyBYpjUP

Simple Home Repair Jobs to Lift You Out of Winter’s Funk - Part 1 of 2

Winter’s doldrums got you down? Grab a screwdriver and a hammer and fight back with easy home repairs that’ll raise spirits and get your house ready for spring.

Accomplishments — even little ones — go a long way toward a sunny outlook. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy, quick home repair chores you can do when you’re mired in the thick of winter. For max efficiency, make a to-do list ahead of time and shop for all the tools and supplies in one trip. On your work days, put the basics in a caddy and carry it from room to room, checking off completed tasks as you speed through them.

What to look (and listen) for
In each room, look around and take stock of what needs fixing or improving. Focus on small, quick-hit changes, not major redos. Here are some likely suspects:

1. Sagging towel rack or wobbly toilet tissue holder. Unscrew the fixture and look for the culprit. It’s probably a wimpy, push-in type plastic drywall anchor. Pull that out (or just poke it through the wall) and replace it with something more substantial. Toggle bolts are strongest, and threaded types such as E-Z Ancor are easy to install.

2. Squeaky door hinges. Eliminate squeaks by squirting a puff of powdered graphite ($2.50 for a 3-gram tube) alongside the pin where the hinge turns. If the door sticks, plane off a bit of the wood, then touch up the paint so the surgery isn’t noticeable.

3. Creaky floor boards. They’ll shush if you fasten them down better. Anti-squeak repair kits, such as Squeeeeek No More ($23), feature specially designed screws that are easy to conceal. A low-cost alternative: Dust a little talcum powder into the seam where floorboards meet — the talcum acts as a lubricant to quiet boards that rub against each other.

4. Rusty shutoff valves. Check under sinks and behind toilets for the shutoff valves on your water supply lines. These little-used valves may slowly rust in place over time, and might not work when you need them most. Keep them operating by putting a little machine oil or WD-40 on the handle shafts. Twist the handles back and forth to work the oil into the threads. If they won’t budge, give the oil a couple of hours to penetrate, and try again.

5. Blistered paint on shower ceilings. This area gets a lot of heat and moisture that stresses paint finishes. Scrape off old paint and recoat, using a high-quality exterior-grade paint. Also, be sure everyone uses the bathroom vent when showering to help get rid of excess moisture.

6. Loose handles or hinges on furniture, cabinets, and doors. You can probably fix these with a few quick turns of a screwdriver. But if a screw just spins in place, try making the hole fit the screw better by stuffing in a toothpick coated with glue, or switching to a larger screw.
Come back next week for more tips on how to take care of safety issues.

Source: HouseLogic.com Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/repair-tips/home-repair-jobs-winter/#ixzz3IxrDcQRo

The Rehabbers’ Guide to 203(k) Loans

Tight-fisted lenders have made home equity loans harder to come by. So what’s a fixer-upper to do? Meet the 203(k) loan.
 
Lenders’ weak stomach for extending credit doesn’t have to sour your upgrade dreams. The old but new again FHA 203(k) loan rolls remodeling and mortgage costs together, whether you’re buying or refinancing an existing home loan to pay for upgrades.
First, some 203(k) basics:
  • 15- or 30-year term option
  • ARM or fixed-rate option
  • 3.5% down payment for loans of $625,500 or under and 5% for loans above $625,500; other FHA loan qualifications apply
  • Interest rate a tad higher than market
  • Higher fees compared with equity or other FHA loans, for such things as title checks, architectural plan reviews, appraisal, and FHA inspections 
  • No balloon payment
  • Loan amount = projected value post-rehab, including the cost of the work
  • FHA loans take longer to close than conventional mortgages
  • More paperwork than a straight mortgage loan
Now, 13 rules for what you can and can’t do with a 203(k):

1. You can buy a fixer-upper so awful it wouldn’t qualify for a regular home loan. Whether buying or refinancing, all that needed work might keep your home from qualifying for a regular bank loan. Banks don’t finance homes in ill repair because they’re too hard to resell if they have to take the house back via foreclosure.

2. You can DIY with a 203(k) if you can show you know how to DIY. You can do the work yourself, or act as your own general contractor, if you can prove you’ve got the chops, and can get the job done on time (the maximum timeframe is six months). Of course there’s a catch: When you DIY, you can only use the 203(k) proceeds for supplies. You can’t pay yourself to do the work on your own house.

3. You can use a mini 203(k) for mini-sized projects. If you’re just doing your kitchen, bathroom, or another project that costs $35,000 or less, there’s a streamlined version of the 203(k) designed just for limited-size projects. 

4. You can’t use it to buy a new-construction home. The house you’re fixing up has to be at least a year old.

5. You can’t use it to buy and install a new toilet, even one of those fancy Totos. You have to spend at least $5,000 on your renovation to use the 203(k) program. And the whole mortgage, including those remodeling costs, has to be under the FHA mortgage limit for the area where you live.

6. You can expect the lender to be up in your grill about how and when the home improvements get done. An inspector will be dispatched to your home multiple times to check in on the progress, which is why rule #7 is so important.
7. You have to keep your contractor from going on a long vacation to Europe.
  • Your contractor has to start work within 30 days of the loan closing.
  • He can’t stop working on the project for more than 30 days.
  • He has to get the whole job done within six months.
Doing it yourself? The same timelines apply. So no long vacations for you until the work gets done.

8. You can use the loan to make your mortgage payments if you can’t live in the house until the work is done. This is one sweet provision of the 203(k) program because it means you don’t have to make a mortgage payment on the home you’re remodeling and pay to live somewhere else while the work is going on.
You can use the 203(k) loan to pay for up to six months of principle, interest, taxes, and insurance payments when your property is going to be uninhabitable because of the renovation work.

9. You can use it to make energy-efficiency upgrades like installing a new furnace, windows, or attic insulation. You can get a 203(k) loan to pay for 100% of the cost of energy-efficiency improvements. You don’t have to get those improvements appraised, but they do have to be cost-effective, meaning they’ll pay for themselves over their useful life. The HUD inspector will make the call.

10. You can rip the house down if you plan to build something in its place. As long as you keep the foundation of the home, you’re good to go.

11. You can have a little shop downstairs. It’s kosher to use a 203(k) loan to remodel a home that includes some commercial space, as long as you use the money only for projects in the residential part of your home and the amount of commercial space doesn’t exceed these limits:
  • 25% for one-story building
  • 49% for two-story
  • 33% for three-story building
12. You can use a 203(k) for a condo unit, but … your condo building must have FHA approval — which is tough to get these days — or meet VA, Fannie Mae, or Freddie Mac guidelines. Also, your building can have no more than four units, though there can be multiple buildings in the association.

13. You can’t break these rules or the lender can take its money back. Like immediately. Your lender can also refuse to advance you any more money or apply any money left in the escrow account to reduce what you owe on the mortgage.
Source: HouseLogic.com Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/home-loans-mortgages/what-is-203k-loan/#ixzz3IxoyNDGq

 

Energy-Efficient Fireplace Options

A traditional wood-burning fireplace adds warmth and romantic ambience to a home’s interior. But most are energy hogs, converting only 15% of wood’s energy into useful heat. Fortunately, new energy-efficient fireplace designs are helping wood-burning fireplaces achieve efficiency ratings of 75% or more. Fireplace inserts and gas fireplaces are even more efficient.
Energy-efficient wood-burning fireplaces
 
If you’re adding a wood-burning fireplace, avoid the standard design, which sends too much of your home’s heated air up the chimney. Consider these energy-efficient wood-burning fireplaces:
  • Rumford fireplaces feature a shallow box design that reflects more heat into the room.
  • EPA-rated fireplaces have good performance and high energy-efficiency ratings. They are designed to pull in outdoor air for combustion, and circulate room air around the firebox to extract as much useable heat as possible. In addition, EPA-approved wood-burning fireplaces produce much less air pollution than standard fireplaces.
  • Fireplace inserts are sealed metal boxes designed to fit inside masonry fireplace openings. They use outside air for combustion, and are designed to circulate and warm inside air. Inserts burn a variety of biomass fuels, including wood and pellets. Some units are rated at 80% efficiency.
If you already own a standard wood-burning fireplace, make it more energy efficient by installing glass doors. Glass doors limit the amount of room air that is sucked into the fireplace during combustion.

Glass doors work particularly well when a fire is burning down for the night and you must leave the damper open. Otherwise, glass doors block radiant heat; keep them open when your fire is blazing. Expect to pay $300 to $500 for glass doors, installed.

In California, glass or solid metal doors are required on all fireplace openings.
Energy-efficient gas fireplaces
If you want the convenience and low maintenance of a energy-efficient gas fireplace, you have two good options:
  • Direct-vent gas fireplaces, which use two-way vents that supply outside air for combustion, have energy-efficiency ratings as high as 77%. That’s better than the top gas fireplaces connected to a chimney.
  • Vent-free gas fireplaces are even more energy-efficient because they don’t send exhaust outside. But they release a lot of moisture into inside indoor air.
Source: HouseLogic.com Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/fireplaces-chimneys/energy-efficient-fireplaces-wood-burning-gas-burning/#ixzz3Ixmua2ru

How to Organize Your Refrigerator

Leftovers gobbling up space in your refrigerator? Here are some tips for keeping things organized, efficient, and tasty. Dreaming of a clean refrigerator, but not sure how to organize? We’ve got some cool ideas.
 
Front and center
Give prime fridge space to priority items, says professional organizer Kathi Burns, founder of Add Space to Your Life.

“If you want leftovers to be eaten, keep them front and center on the middle rack, at eye level,” says Burns. “That goes for healthy snacks, too. If you have leftovers, don’t cram them in the back.”

For large food items, slice and store in several containers, says professional organizer Abbey Claire Keusch. If your refrigerator has adjustable shelves, you can move them around for specific items. Have a plan for the food you keep.

Did you know that ketchup, vinegar, jam, and even mayonnaise and butter don’t need to be refrigerated? If you’re tight on fridge space, these items and more can go in the pantry instead.

And if you have backyard chickens, the eggs you get from them don’t need to be refrigerated, although store-bought eggs do (American regulations require eggs to be power-washed before selling, which strips eggshells of their protective coating, so store-bought eggs have to be refrigerated to stay fresh).

The only items that really need to go in the fridge are meats, dairy products, and certain vegetables (unless you’re going to eat them right away).

Items that should never go in the refrigerator include:
  • Tomatoes (they’ll get mushy faster if they’re cold).
  • Onions (they’ll soften, plus all your other food will smell like onions).
  • Honey (it’ll get too thick).
  • Potatoes (cold temperatures turn starches into sugars, giving your taters a sweet flavor when you cook them, and not in a good way).

Go against the flow

Today’s refrigerators are designed to be organized a certain way — condiments in the door, vegetables in the crisper, gallon of milk on the center rack. But it doesn’t have to be that way, Burns says.

“For busy families, I recommend a ‘lunch bin’ that you can pull out,” she says. “Keep the mayo, mustard, pickles, meat, and cheese in there, so you can just pull it out and make a sandwich. It’s easy for kids. You can create a bin for healthy snacks, too, or a breakfast bin with bagels and cream cheese.”

Pulling out one bin instead of many individual items is faster, too, so your refrigerator door doesn’t stay open as long. For smaller refrigerators that don’t have drawers, long, rectangular bins can be used for easy organizing.

“Same goes for the freezer — just use a Tupperware bin for frozen veggies, so you can pull out all the bags of veggies in one fell swoop,” Burns says. “It works really well.”

Hip to be square
   
Refrigerators are more efficient when they’re fuller, but that doesn’t mean you should cram as much stuff in there as possible. Square or rectangular containers are the way to go for leftovers — they’re easily stackable and fit into corners neatly.

“Stay away from round containers,” says Burns. “That’s just wasted space.”

Source: HouseLogic.com Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/appliances/how-to-organize-refrigerator/#ixzz3Iy1rXavh

How To Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests

Is your home ready for holiday visits from friends and family? Here’s how to prepare for the invasion.

I’m lucky and have a guest suite always ready for holiday guests. But even with a dedicated space, preparing my home for the annual onslaught of friends and family takes time and forethought.
Some preparations for holiday guests take only a few minutes; some take a lot longer. My advice: Start preparing your home for the holidays now.
 
Prioritize
The day before guests arrive is no time to pull apart junk drawers and clean out linen closets. Declutter guest rooms and public areas — foyer, kitchen, living room, den, and dining room. Remove anything unnecessary from countertops, coffee tables, and ottomans; if it’s out of sight, keep it out of mind, for now.
If you run short of time, bag up the clutter and store it in car trunks, basements, and out-of-the-way closets. Sort and arrange after your guests depart.
 
Safety
Light the way: Even though you can navigate your home blindfolded, your guests can’t. Make sure outside lights are working so they don’t trip on the way to your door. Put motion-activated night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to ensure safe passage after the sun sets.
 
Child proofing: Ask parents to bring hardware that keeps their small ones safe, such as baby gates and cabinet locks. Transfer toxic cleaners and medicines from base to wall cabinets. Hide matches and lighters.

Fire prevention: If you didn’t freshen smoke detector batteries when you switched the clocks to Daylight Savings Time, change them now. After your guests arrive, run a quick fire drill: Make sure they can locate exits and fire extinguishers, and that they know how to open windows and doors.

Entryway upgrades
Your home’s foyer is the first place guests see, so make a good first impression.
  • Upgrade exterior entry doors or give old doors a new coat of paint. Polish and tighten door hardware, and oil hinges to prevent squeaks.
  • Remove scratches from hardwood floors, stairs, and wood railings. Place a small rug or welcome mat at the entrance to protect floors from mud and snow. 
  • Clear out shoes, umbrellas, and other clutter.
  • Add extra hooks to walls so guests can hang coats and hats.
  • Add a storage bench where guests can remove boots and shoes.
Kitchen prep
Your kitchen is command central during the holidays, so make sure it’s ready for guests and extra helpers.
  • To increase storage, install a pot rack to clear cooking items off countertops and ranges.
  • Move your coffee station into a family room so guests don’t crowd the kitchen when you’re trying to fix meals.
  • If you like to visit while you’re cooking, place extra stools and chairs around the perimeter of your kitchen so guests can set a spell.
Sleeping arrangements
If you’ve got a guest room, replace the ceiling fixture with a ceiling fan and light combo, which helps guests customize their room temperature without fiddling with the thermostat for the entire house.
To carve sleeping space out of public areas, buy a folding screen or rolling bookcase, which will provide privacy for sleepers. Fold or roll it away in the morning.

Bathroom storage
Bring toilet paper, towels, and toiletries out of hiding, and place them on open shelves so guests can find them easily.
If you don’t have enough wall space for shelves, place these items in open baskets around the bathroom.
Also, outfit each tub with a bath mat (to avoid falls) and each toilet with a plunger (to avoid embarrassment).

What tips do you have for getting ready for guests this holiday season?

Source: HouseLogic.com
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/blog/home-thoughts/tips-how-prepare-your-home-holiday-guests/?cid=eo_em_mkt_newsletter#ixzz3Ixzlt4wC

How Government Can Spur Home Sales

There are four steps the U.S. government can take to encourage more home buying, says Dr. Mark Dotzour, chief economist for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

"First, the regulatory body writing the Dodd-Frank rules can hurry up and complete their task," says Dotzour. "They are way overdue. The uncertainty this creates causes lenders to be risk averse, especially toward mortgage borrowers."

Another step is for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make home loans to buyers with less available cash. That will open up the housing market to many people who do not have a 20 percent down payment.

"Third, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency can relax its tough guidelines that discourage banks from making loans for new subdivision developments," says Dotzour. "The lack of new building sites makes lots and new homes more expensive. In several good markets, the lot shortage is acute."

Finally, there's a serious labor shortage in many parts of the new home construction industry, says Dotzour. The government can help by enhancing the guest worker program to provide much-needed craftsmen, such as carpenters.
Source: David S. Jones, Senior Editor, Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University

Luxury Living in South Texas: This Week's Featured Listing From My Office

City Close with Alamo Heights Charm

 
Fabulous location in Alamo Heights, just blocks from IWU and Central Market. This spacious townhome is over 2400 square feet and features luxury touches throughout including granite counter tops, custom cabinetry, Jenn Air stainless steel appliances, central vacuum, ceiling fans, walk in closets, wood flooring and plantation shutters. 
All this without any condo fees or HOA fees 
 
 
If this sounds like the home you've been dreaming about,
it can be yours for only  $549,000
 
For more details, contact me using the link to the right  
 
Christine Henderson
Changing Real Estate Dreams Into Reality Since 1985 

Now is the Time to Sell: Texas Housing Market on Track for Second Best Year Ever

This year will end as the second best year ever in Texas in terms of existing home sales, said a housing market expert with the Real Estate Center.

"Last year was the second best year ever in the state of Texas for home sales volume," said Center Research Economist Dr. Jim Gaines. "It was second only to 2006, which was at the height of the housing boom and all the easy financing. And 2013 wasn’t that far off from that. This is going to become the new second best year ever. We are having a really terrific year.

The latest Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data show that sales of existing single-family homes in Texas were 7 percent higher last month than in September 2013.

About 24,640 homes were sold last month, over 1,600 more than the same month last year, but almost 2,800 less than in August. Gaines said the August-to-September downturn is the normal seasonal falloff.

So far this year, 217,690 homes have been sold, about 1 percent more than this time last year.

"We’re getting exactly what we thought we were going to get, and that’s a slowdown in the rate of increase," Gaines said. "Last year sales went up about 16 percent. It was a big, big jump. This year it’s a little jump. Home prices are doing a very similar kind of thing. There’s been a step-up in prices the last five years, and we’re still seeing that step up. But the rise of the step isn’t quite as high.

"As our prices have been going up progressively here in Texas, incomes really haven’t been going up at the same pace percentage-wise. Home prices going up faster than income means that ultimately affordability and what people can afford to pay becomes an issue."

Gaines said homebuyers getting hit the hardest are those on the lower end of the home-price spectrum.

"Very few homebuilders are building homes under $200,000 or $250,000 in most of our markets," he said. "So there’s no increase in supply on that low-priced end."

In addition, credit tightness is affecting first-time buyers and first-time move-up buyers much harder than older buyers at higher income levels.

"The good news for Texas is that our prosperity is, in general, still continuing," Gaines said. "On the horizon, it appears that it will continue. The only cloud on that horizon is what’s happening in the energy sector. In the last couple of weeks, the price of oil has dropped appreciably. When the trend is downward in the price of oil, you start looking ahead and saying ‘okay, just how far

can this trend go before it really becomes a problem?’ Right now it doesn’t appear to be, but it’s one of those things we’ve got to keep our eye on."
Source: Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University,Bryan Pope, Associate Editor
   

Luxury Living in South Texas: This Week's Featured Listing From My Office

If You Are a Gourmet Chef, Or just Cook Like One, This Kitchen Will Be Able to Hold all your Gadgets and Appliances

This spacious hilltop custom home features an expansive chef's kitchen a prep station island and lots of cabinets and counters to spread out your team with a breakfast bar for those who just want to watch and be amazed. The home features two living and dining areas. The master bedroom features a cozy fireplace for romantic evenings together. The master bath features a separate shower and Jacuzzi tub plus lots of closet space. There is plenty of  built-in throughout plus surround sound to enjoy your favorite music. Other special touches include plantation shutters, crown molding, tray ceilings and ceiling fans.

 

No need to join a gym is you lived here. There's a separate workout with a dry sauna, pool, span and access to the Guadalupe River access. This personal paradise gives you lots of personal space as it includes over 3 acres of land.

    If this sounds like the home you've been dreaming about,       

     it can be yours for only  $535,000

For more details, contact me using the link to the right  

Christine Henderson

Changing Real Estate Dreams Into Reality Since 1985 

 

The Biggest Air Leak in Your House You Don’t Know About

Have you caulked windows and replaced weatherstripping on your doors? Good for you. But if you think you’ve sealed up air leaks, you’re in for a shock. The biggest air leak in your home is right under your nose. Or, underfoot, more accurately.

It’s the hole that a plumber cuts in the subfloor to make room for the drain assembly at the bottom of a bathtub. Because the drain assembly is big, plumbers make way for it by cutting a generous-size hole that gives them some “wiggle room” when connecting plumbing pipes. This big hole often is left open to the space below.

How You Know If You Have This Bathtub Hole
If you have a first-floor bathroom over a crawl space or unheated basement, you likely have one of these giant energy wasters in your home.

“Having that big hole for the bathtub drain can waste about as much energy as leaving one of your windows open a few inches, all day, every day,” says Allison Bailes III, president of energy consultant firm Energy Vanguard. “The main difference is that you can easily close the window, but most people don’t even know about this other open window.”

And BTW, that hole also is big enough for good-size critters to crawl inside your home!

Best Way to Plug the Leak
Plumbers may plug this hole with a wad of loose insulation, but that’s an imperfect solution — fiberglass insulation can sag over time, especially if it gets damp. The preferred method:
1. Crawl under your bathroom to look at the drain assembly from underneath.
2. Patch the hole with pieces of foam board that’s cut to fit around the pipes. Screw them in place.
3. Then seal any gaps with spray foam insulation ($8/can).
A plumber will do the job, too, but that’ll set you back $100-$150. Probably worth it when you think about energy savings, comfort, and keeping mice and camel crickets out of your house.

Source: HouseLogic.com. The Biggest Air Leak in Your House You Don’t Know About by Lisa john Riha. Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/insulation/biggest-air-leak-home/#ixzz3FfLfaKpd

Jobs Report: Texas Unemployment Drops to 5.2 Percent

Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent last month from 6.3 percent in September 2013. The nation’s rate decreased from 7.2 to 5.9 percent.

According to the Real Estate Center’s latest Monthly Review of the Texas Economy, the Texas economy gained 410,900 nonagricultural jobs from September 2013 to September 2014, an annual growth rate of 3.7 percent compared with 2 percent for the United States. 

The state’s nongovernment sector added 372,500 jobs, an annual growth rate of 3.9 percent compared with 2.3 percent for the nation’s private sector.

All Texas industries had more jobs last month than a year ago. The state’s mining and logging industry (which includes oil and gas) ranked first in job creation followed by the transportation, warehousing and utilities industry, construction, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality industry.

Every Texas metro had more jobs than a year ago as well. Midland ranked first in job creation, followed by Odessa, Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Longview, Victoria, and Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos.

The state’s actual unemployment rate last month was 5 percent. Midland had the lowest unemployment rate, followed by Odessa, Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo and College Station-Bryan.
Source: Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Bryan Pope, Associate Editor  

Luxury Living in South Texas: This Week's Featured Listing From My Office

J.R. Ewing May Have Been an Oil Barron,

Here You Can Be a Cattle Barron

 
Here's your opportunity to own a working cattle ranch right here in Texas. This spread covers almost 150 acres that slopes gently down to creek fed bottom land. You and the cattle will think you’re in heaven. This working ranch features four fenced grazing pastures, two water tanks, a barn for horses, cows & hay plus a workshop and much more.
 
You won't have to "rough it" in the home. This modern single story home gives you the luxury of a gourmet kitchen that opens to a spacious living room with a fireplace and dining area with beautiful tile and wood floors throughout. 
 
 
     If this sounds like the home you've been dreaming about,        
it can be yours for only  $1,250,000
 
For more details, contact me using the link to the right  
 
Christine Henderson
Changing Real Estate Dreams Into Reality Since 1985  

Fall Buying Season in San Antonio Kicks Off Strong

San Antonio’s fall buying season kicked off strong in September with a total of 2,280 homes sold during the month – a 14 percent increase from last year, according to the September 2014 Multiple Listing Service report by the San Antonio Board of REALTORS® (SABOR). The average and median prices also showed increases as they have all year, with the average rising to $220,366 and the median to $184,700, a seven and nine percent increase respectively. The month ended with 1,757 pending sales.

“This year’s days on market have been some of our lowest in years. September reported just 63 days which is six fewer than September of 2013,” said Missy Stagers, SABOR’s 2014 Chairman of the Board. “Months of inventory was only 4.3 months which continues the trend we’ve seen for nearly two years in which inventory has remained below six months.”

During September, homes priced over $500,000 accounted for nearly a percentage more of total sales than they did in 2013 with those homes making up 4.4 percent of the month’s numbers. Homes priced between $200,000 and $500,000 accounted for 39.4 percent of sales (5.4 percent more than last year) and homes under $200,000 made up the majority of sales with 56.1 percent (six percent less than 2013).

According to Fannie Mae’s September 2014 National Housing Survey, the share of consumers who say now is a good time to purchase a home rose to 68 percent in September, a four percentage point increase from August. The percentage of those who reported now is a good time to sell grew to 39 percent. In San Antonio, this is evident in the increase in homes sold in 2014 compared to 2013, with a total of 18,840 homes sold so far this year. That is a four percent increase from the same period in 2013.

“All year we have seen increases over the previous year in terms of prices and total sales, and September is no different,” said Angela Shields, SABOR’s President and CEO. “While the spring often brings out shoppers who may just be looking, we expect to see more serious buyers in the fall."
 


Luxury Living in South Texas: This Week's Featured Listing From My Office

Doesn't look much like a luxury home, does it?

That's because this is only the guest house!

This guest house is just over 1500 sq ft with a bedroom, living room, bathroom and workroom or office. The main house offers over 3600 sq ft. on a little under 2 acres of land dotted with beautiful oak trees. The interior has been freshly painted and a new roof was added this month.The home offers lots of floor to ceiling built in cabinets and beautiful Saltillo Tile. The kitchen is approximately 26' x 20' and is sure to satisfy the gourmet chef with lots of room to do food prep and then entertain when all is ready. The main home features 3 bedrooms, 2 living areas, 2 dining areas and 4 fireplaces. The oversized master bedroom opens to a balcony and the den gives you access to rear deck. And the view... yes, there is a pool to finish off this dream oasis.
 
 
If this sounds like the home you've been dreaming about,
it can be yours for only  $699,000
For more details, contact me using the link to the right  
Christine Henderson
Changing Real Estate Dreams Into Reality Since 1985 
 
 
 

 

Does the Seller's Disclosure Notice Require Reporting a Death at the Property?

To answer this question we will first look to the property code. The law says: “A seller or seller's agent shall have no duty to make a disclosure or release information related to whether a death by natural causes, suicide, or accident unrelated to the condition of the property occurred on the property.”

This means we do not have to disclose a death that falls under these three given circumstances. However, the third circumstance leaves for some discretion as it states “an accident unrelated to the property.” For example if a death happens because someone had a heart attack this is not something that is related to a condition on the property so would not need to be disclosed. On the other hand, if the death happened as a result of falling into the well on the property, then this is the type of incident that would need to be disclosed.

You will notice that the code makes no mention of a murder on the property. The consensus with regards to a murder has been that since the law provides only specifics about when you do not have to disclose, then the absence of murder from the list would mean the legislatures intended for murder to be disclosed.

I was asked recently by someone, “What if the person was shot on the property but they actually died at the hospital? Is that something I would still need to disclose?” Everyone has their different interpretation of the law but my suggestion would be it is better you tell them than the neighbor tells them the day after closing.

This is an excerpt from a video transcription by Gilbert Gonzalez, SABOR Vice President of Risk Management and General Counsel. If you have additional questions about what you are legally  responsible to disclosure, contact a real estate attorney.

Luxury Living in South Texas: This Week's Featured Listing From My Office

LOTS OF ROOMS WITH VIEWS


 

THIS IS A SHOWPLACE THAT YOU WILL BE PROUD TO CALL YOUR OWN. THIS ALMOST NEW CUSTOM HOME SITS ON GORGEOUS LOT WITH STELLAR VIEWS. FLOOR PLAN INCLUDES 4 BEDROOMS AND 3.5 BATHROOMS IN OVER 32OO SQ.FT. PER TAX RECORDS. FIRST FLOOR FEATURES THE MASTER SUITE, STUDY, AND A SECONDARY BEDROOM. THE REMAINING 2 BEDROOMS AND GAMEROOM WITH A BALCONY ARE UPSTAIRS. LUXURY CUSTOM FINISHES THROUGHOUT, RICH WOOD AND TILE FLOORS, GOURMET KITCHEN AND APPLIANCES. THE COVERED PATIO IN THE BACK OF THE HOUSE FEATURES GREAT VIEWS TO TAKE IN AS YOU PREPARE YOUR BARBECUE FEASTS.
 
If this sounds like the home you've been dreaming about,
it can be yours for only  $649,000
 

For more details, contact me using the link to the right  
Christine Henderson
Changing Real Estate Dreams Into Reality Since 1985

Texas Leads the Nation as a Relocation Destination

On October 1, the Texas Association of REALTORS® released the Texas Relocation Report. Based on U.S. Census data, the report shows that Texas continues to lead the nation in relocation activity and be a sought-after location for people moving from other states.

Dan Hatfield, chairman of the Texas Association of REALTORS®, commented: “Texas’s reign as the top ‘domestic migration destination’ in the nation continues to be fueled by unprecedented economic growth. There are few states that can match the Lone Star State’s current job opportunities, multi-industry growth and residential quality of life. Whether you live in a major metro area or in a small town, Texas is a great place to do business and build a home.”

According to the report, Texas gained more out-of-state residents than any other state in 2013, with 584,034 people moving to Texas from out of state. A majority of these residents originated from California (66,318), followed by Florida (32,619), Oklahoma (29,169), Louisiana (29,042), and Illinois (28,900).

Texas ranked third in the nation for number of residents moving out of state in 2013 (409,977), coming in behind California (581,689) and Florida (423,995) and topping New York (401,440) and Illinois (304,674). Like with incoming residents, a majority of the Texas residents who moved out of state moved to California (32,290), followed by Oklahoma (27,391), Florida (24,226), Colorado (23,490), and Louisiana (21,747).

Overall, Texas had a net gain of out-of-state residents in 2013, with 138,057 more people moving into Texas than Texas residents moving out of state. This report comes six months after U-Haul named Texas the No. 2 growth state for 2013, Houston as the nation’s top destination city, and Dallas as the top U.S. growth city in its 2013 relocation reports.

The 2014 Texas Relocation Report also shows 5-year migration data (2008-2012) on a county-by-county basis for counties within the top 43 designated market areas in Texas. A majority of the top 10 counties with net gains in out-of-county residents were in the Dallas-Fort Worth area (Tarrant, Denton, Collin, and Dallas counties) and in Central Texas (Travis, Williamson, and Bell counties).
Harris and Dallas counties remain the top two most mobile counties in the Lone Star State, ranking No. 1 and No. 2 in Texas, respectively, for both the largest inflow and the largest outflow of people. However, both of these counties posted the highest net losses of residents moving out of county, with Dallas County posting the highest net loss of people (25,461) followed by Harris County (20,222).
The top 10 Texas counties with the highest net gains of people from out of county were spread all over the state, with three of the top 10 counties located in Central Texas (Williamson, Hays, and Travis) but with the DFW-area’s Denton County leading by far with a net gain of 13,754 out-of-county residents.

“Our state needs the right infrastructure to handle Texas’s continued rapid population growth. However, this will not be possible if we do not adopt a new source of transportation funding in November,” concludes Hatfield. “The Texas Association of REALTORS® encourages voters to vote ‘yes’ for Proposition 1, which will provide much-needed funding and a big step forward in eliminating the $5 billion in statewide transportation needs that go unmet each year.”
For the complete list of these statistics or to view individual county data, see the full 2014 Texas Relocation Report. To learn more about Proposition 1, go to texansforprop1.com.

About the Texas Relocation Report
The 2014 Texas Relocation Report is based on data from the 2013 American Community Survey and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau as well as the U-Haul National Migration Trend Reports. The report analyzes county relocation data for the 43 largest demographic areas in Texas. The Texas Association of REALTORS® distributes insights about the Texas housing market each month, including quarterly market statistics, trends among homebuyers and sellers, luxury home sales, international trends, and more.
Article courtesy of the Texas Association of REALTORS®. Click here for the original article.

Luxury Living in South Texas : This Week's Featured Listing from my Office

A Master Bathroom Fit for a Starlet... or YOU!

 
This beautiful, sprawling home features a circular drive. The lot is nestled on 1.34 Acres. The interior features marble and wood flooring, two living rooms, two dining  areas plus a breakfast bar in the kitchen. Other features in this chef's kitchen include two stainless  steel ovens, a warming drawer, five gas top cooking elements, three dishwashers, a butlers pantry and a wet bar with a wine fridge. There is also a library or game room. All this in almost 6700 sq.ft. for plenty of room to have guests or raise a family. Large covered patio leads out to the pool and spa and playscape. There is also a storage/utility building that could be used as a workshop.

All this can be yours for only $875,000

For more details, contact me using the link to the right  
Christine Henderson
Changing Real Estate Dreams Into Reality Since 1985

Update on Tax Prorations

Effective October 1, 2014,
the Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office
will begin sending out bills for the 2014 Property Taxes
 
All through the year when you close on a purchase or sale of real estate, differing amounts of funds are credited or debited to your account. This can make a big difference as to how much money you will need to bring to title at closing.
 
According to Alamo Title, beginning October 1st, title companies will begin collecting the taxes for the ENTIRE year from the Seller! The prorations on the HUD-1 settlement Statement will now “flip” from Buyer to Seller!
 
EXAMPLE: 
If a closing takes place on November 10, 2014, taxes will be collected from the Seller, and the HUD I will show a credit to the Seller from the Buyer from November 10th thru December 31st.  

Luxury Living in South Texas: This Week's Featured Listing From My Office

 
Perfect Home for those Holiday Parties
and Celebrations of Special Events
 

Perfect move-in ready home which is set for entertaining. Open kitchen features gleaming granite counters, a cook's delight Wolf range, Subzero refrigerator and an expansive pantry to help keep you fully stocked. There is also a spacious utility room inside for extra storage. The spacious master suite is located downstairs and has a huge walk-in closet. The master bathroom includes separate vanities with lots of cabinet space, a deep soaking tub and separate oversized showed. The bedroom has direct access to the immaculate backyard and refreshing pool with water features. This home is ideally setup for outdoor and indoor entertaining with a wonderful flow.



The home also features two living areas and a formal dining area. The remaining  three bedrooms and three bathrooms are upstairs with a loft/study area. Total living space in this elegant home is over 3800 square feet. It can be yours for $1,195,000

Kitchens Can Sell or Sink Your Sale

The kitchen is the most important room to stage in your home. Potential home buyers will want to view it void of unnecessary counter top appliances and clutter. By showcasing your kitchen in the best possible light, you can potentially sell your home faster and increase the closing price.  Even in a slow real estate market, making your kitchen attractive to a buyer could make the difference.

Clean up the kitchen
Studies have shown that one of the dirtiest places in the home is the kitchen. Before you list, pull out those rubber gloves and give everything a good scrub so that the kitchen sparkles. Replace unsightly floor tiles, or in a worst-case scenario, consider a complete floor makeover. Pay special attention to the cabinetry; in older homes, it is common to see cracks in the beaded caulking between the ceiling and the trim above the cupboards. For less than $10, you can buy a pre-mixed tube of crack filler and make it look like new. Also, to give the kitchen an inexpensive facelift, consider replacing the fixtures – an affordable way to give doors and drawers a second wind.

Clutter is a kitchen killer
Kitchens are the focal point of almost every home. A great rule of thumb for the staging of a kitchen is to leave no more than two appliances on your counter. After you have uncluttered the kitchen counter, brighten and soften the space by adding some fresh fruit, new dishtowels, a cookbook, and plants or flowers.

Modernizing today will help you sell tomorrow
Modernizing your kitchen can help you sell your home for years to come. Renovating your kitchen now will let you enjoy new appliances while boosting the value of your home for the future. While you may want to take specific appliances with you, stainless steel can make almost any kitchen sing. Another way to add value to your kitchen is to install concealed appliances – hiding the dishwasher and fridge, for example, can really spice up your kitchen for buyers. Also popular are dual microwave/convection oven (prices can vary between $200 - $900 for higher-end stainless built-ins) – another appliance quickly becoming a staple in most modern kitchens.

If you can’t replace appliances, be sure to have them repaired and cleaned. It’s also a good idea to clean your fridge and stove, as buyers will almost always open oven and fridge doors.

Lighting
Take the time to make sure all the existing light fixtures have working light bulbs. Make sure the blinds are open on all the windows and, if required, add a small table lamp or two to accent a dark corner.

… And the kitchen sink
Another kitchen remodeling idea is to upgrade your “sinkware.” New faucets, soap dispensers and sinks (whether you are re-glazing or replacing altogether) are affordable ways to give the kitchen an immediate facelift. Don’t forget, buyers love to turn on the kitchen faucet when touring a home.
The kitchen is the most important room and biggest selling feature in your house. Staging it properly can make every potential buyer say, “this could be my kitchen.”

Source: Better Homes & Gardens Greenhouse

Luxury Living in South Texas: This Week's Featured Listing From My Office

7 Bedrooms, 7 Bathrooms

 
Sprawling, elegant home, nestled on 1.34 acres within the 1604 Loop. Though you're city close the parklike landscaping will make you feel like you're away from it all.

Upon entering the home, you'll be dazzled by the stunning marble and wood flooring in the spacious rooms. For your pleasure, there are two living rooms, two dining rooms, a study or off plus SEVEN bedrooms! The master suite features access to the patio and the master bath includes dual vanities, a separate shower, whirlpool tub and walk-in closet.



The chef's kitchen included two stainless steel ovens and a warming drawer, five top gas cooking elements, three dishwashers, butlers pantry, wet bar with wine fridge. And if you're mobility challenged or have too many things to carry upstairs, there is also an elevator. All this in over 6600 square feet so you can really have your own space.

The entertainer's delight yard includes a large covered patio and sparkling pool and spa, plus there's a great playscape for the kiddies.

If this sounds like the home you've been dreaming of, it can be yours for a mere $875,000

                           For more details, contact me using the link to the right 

                                                 Christine Henderson
Changing Real Estate Dreams Into Reality Since 1985
 

Environmentally Conscious Choices: “Green” Mortgages Help Homebuyers Finance

By purchasing a home built to meet greater energy-efficiency standards or committing to make energy improvements to an existing home, you could qualify for an energy-efficient mortgage (EEM) – also known as a “green” mortgage – which can increase your borrowing power, yield certain discounts, or both. A more energy-efficient home also promises lower utility bills and less environmental impact, making green mortgages a win-win-win proposition.

What are Energy-Efficient Mortgages?

EEMs, or green mortgages as they are more commonly known, are centered on the idea that more energy-efficient homes will result in lower monthly utility bills. When calculating a borrower’s income-to-debt ratio, lenders factor these utility cost savings in as income, enabling potential homebuyers to borrow more toward more expensive homes.
 
EEMs also allow borrowers to fold the costs of planned energy improvements – from better insulation to a new furnace to solar panels – into the total mortgage amount. In fact, homebuyers can borrow up to 15 percent of the home’s value for such improvements, and the money is held in escrow for use as the improvements are made.
 
Green mortgages are actually nothing new. They’ve been around since the late 1970s, when then-President Jimmy Carter signed an executive order directing federally sponsored lenders to offer consumers incentives for energy-efficient homes. Today, the U.S. Federal Housing Authority spearheads the EEM initiative, insuring loans issued by FHA-backed lending institutions such as banks, savings and loans companies and mortgage firms. Amid the recent subprime mortgage crisis, lenders have begun to more proactively market the loans as a more secure way to qualify marginal borrowers.

Qualifying for a Green Mortgage

There are two main ways to qualify for a green mortgage. The first is by purchasing a newly constructed home built to higher energy-efficiency standards as verified by a third-party inspector. Homes certified  through the ENERGY STAR and LEED for Homes programs, for example, qualify. For homes that are not already part of these nationally recognized certification programs, buyers or sellers can enlist a home energy rater to inspect the home and issue a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) report verifying that minimum efficiency standards have been met.
 
In the case of existing homes for which buyers want to qualify for planned energy improvements, a home energy rater performs an inspection and issues a HERS report. In these cases, the report will forecast potential energy savings to be gained through recommended efficiency improvements, providing an estimate of what those improvements will cost. These figures are then used by the lender to calculate the additional loan amount that can be put into escrow to cover the improvement costs.
 
In both cases, the lender will approve a certified auditor to verify the home energy ratings. Improvements covered under the provisions of green mortgages can include – but are not limited to – carpeting, insulation, replacement windows, energy-efficient appliances, increased heating and cooling efficiency, solar panels, green roofs and more.

Demand for Green Mortgages Swells

According to Jeffrey Cole, founder of myenergyloan.com, consumer demand is driving for more green mortgages in both the residential and commercial sectors. Myenergyloan.com is an Atlanta-based green-lending program that provides closing-cost discounts and even lower interest rates to buyers of energy-efficient homes. Cole says that mortgage volume for green loans his company has issued has increased by 25 percent in the past year alone. In fact, he and a business partner in the process of raising $10 million to launch the first green real estate finance bank. 
 
Meanwhile, other countries are also joining the green-mortgage movement. According to a July 2009 article in London’s Financial Times, Britain’s government plans to offer lower-interest green mortgages to fund the installation of solar panels, wind turbines, and other energy-saving features in residential homes. Incentives including lower taxes may be used to encourage homeowners to take advantage of the new loans, which are part of an effort to cut carbon emissions in Britain 80 percent by 2050. Meanwhile, homeowners who don’t participate may face tax increases.
 
To learn more about green mortgages in the United States, consult the following links:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development information on EEMs
http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/eem/energy-r.cfm
 
See DOE/HUD Initiative on Energy Efficiency in Housing: A Federal Partnership, Program Summary Report  http://www.huduser.org/
 
Source:Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate 

Enhancing a Room's Focal Point

Like a fine painting, every room has a focal point. It’s the element that draws your eye first, and invites you for a closer look.
 
The focal point defines the room’s ambiance and underscores the room’s purpose. It makes you want to enter, and enjoy the room to sit and relax, study, watch videos, sleep, make conversation, play or whatever the room is designed to do.
 
By establishing what your focal point is going to be, you have an easier time decorating the rest of your room, because the other furnishings will fit around it.
 
For example, if you are creating a focal point with a fireplace and seating area, you can embellish the mantel with a small group of candles or collectibles. Your seating can be arranged to enjoy the fire in the winter, or you can replace the grate with fresh or dried flowers for the summer. 
If you want a warm, relaxing ambiance, add bookshelves and a luxurious lap throw draped on the arm of a chair or couch.  Use neutral paints and tones, small patterns or solids on furnishings, and decorate with prints of pastoral scenes or still life. Finish with a thick pile area rug, and you’ve completed a cozy den or study. 

What makes a good focal point?

A good focal point attracts attention.
Focal points are either created for you by the room’s architecture, or you have to create one yourself, but the idea is to make the room enjoyable to use. 
The room may have an organic feature that you can enhance, such as a bay window with a beautiful view.  A picture window can be enhanced with window seats with colors like blue or green to bring the indoors inside the room.

How to create a focal point

Some rooms simply don’t have an outstanding architectural feature, so you have to create your own focal point.
There are several tricks of the trade to create a focal point – size, color, light, and curiosity. 
 
Size: Large items attract interest. Start by putting the largest piece of furniture against the largest wall to help traffic flow.
A bed is a natural focal point for a bedroom, and a sofa is great focal point for a living room or den. Rugs also command attention and anchor the décor, so they make great focal points, too.
 
Color: You can influence mood and behavior with color. A contrasting wall color behind your sofa or bed is an excellent way to create a focal point. You can also use small intense colors on accessories such as pillows to direct the eye to a seating area and focal point. But a little goes a long way - color that is too intense can repel as well as attract.
 
Light: Your eye travels easily to where it can see the best. Lighting is essential to giving attention to the main area of the room, such as a chandelier over a dining area. You can also arrange lights to dim or brighten depending on whether you want the ambiance to be lively or intimate.
 
Curiosity: Curiosity makes you want to want to learn. A collection, a great piece of art, a humorous slogan on a pillow, or an unusual piece of furniture all invite conversation, which is a wonderful way to use a focal point. 
 
Is it possible to have more than one focal point in a room? Yes, if your room is designed for more than one purpose, such as a living-dining combination room, or a bedroom with a sitting area, you will need a focal point for each area to distinguish it from the rest of the room and to define its purpose.
 
Just make sure the focal points agree that both sides of the room are equally formal or informal, and in the same decorative theme as the rest of the room.
 
Source: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

Xeriscape to Save on Water Bills

In many parts of the country, such as Southern California and the Southwest, green lawns of grass are not indigenous to the region, requiring copious amounts of water to keep them looking their best.
 
Non-native landscaping contributes to water shortage in some areas, requiring watering restrictions. The problem is so great in Los Angeles that approximately 40% of the city’s water usage is for watering lawns.
 
The L.A. Department of Water and Power has begun a “cash for grass” program. The Residential Drought Resistant Landscape Incentive Program, pays homeowners $1.00 per square foot of turf they replace with less thirsty alternatives. See: http://www.ladwp.com
 
Water shortages are growing. Nevada’s Lake Mead has reportedly dropped 28 feet in the last two years, and could be completely dry by 2021, reports Earthfirst.com, http://www.earthfirst.com.   
Xeriscaping is simply creating a landscape that features native plants that don’t require extra watering and are capable of withstanding drought conditions.
 
How can homeowners help? By adopting a concept called Xeriscaping.
 
While the look of a xeriscaped garden or yard of cacti and hardy shrubs is very different from St.Augustine or Bermuda grass, landscapers are creating attractive arrangements that demand less water. Additional benefits are less maintenance, fewer pests, and less fertilizer. 
 
Grasses, plants and flowers that are “native” to your area can grow on the typical annual rainfall, without additional watering needed.
 
To start a xeriscape of your own, group plants and flowers with similar watering requirements in zones, so that any watering you need to do becomes more efficient. Add mulch to accent the plants and flowers, as well as to provide a healthy root environment, which also reduces the need for extra watering. 
 
As water resources diminish, xeriscaping is becoming increasingly popular, even in high-end communities such as the gated community of Santa Luz in San Diego.  The homeowners association requires that all landscaping is xeriscaped using plants native to California only.
 
The key to a successful xeriscape is the same as any other landscape: paying attention to the site’s shape, size, slope, sun, shade, and other conditions.

 Your goal is create a “compatible alliance among the garden, landscape, and natural world,” writes Gayle Weinstein, author of the Xeriscape Handbook.
 
No matter what part of the country you live in, you can adopt the principals of xeriscaping to create a more natural landscape for your home.
 
Source: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

Luxury Living in South Texas: This Week's Featured Listing From My Office

Picture-Perfect Sunsets from your own Backyard
 
 

 
This stunning home sits on over 1/2 acre on a private cul-de-sac. Beautifully maintained home with an open floor plan. Four bedrooms, four baths, two dining areas and two living areas.  Chef's kitchen features a 5-Gas burner cooktop and lots of cabinets and counter space. Oversized family room features a stone fireplace. Guest suite and spacious master suite are both on the first level. Remaining two bedrooms are upstairs with a game room.

The backyard is sure to please with room for large get-togethers. There's an oversized covered patio perfect for an outside living space and time to cool off in the sparkling pool.

IF THIS SOUNDS LIKE THE HOME YOU BEEN LOOKING FOR,
IT CAN BE YOURS FOR ONLY $675,000.
 
For more details, contact me using the link to the right
 
Christine Henderson
Changing Real Estate Dreams Into Reality Since 1985
 

Cost vs Value: Adding a Pool to your Home

Many Americans look back fondly at the years they spent in their youth lounging in their parent`s backyard pool, but does having a pool on your property help or hinder when it comes time to sell your home? The answer is neither simple nor straightforward. Truthfully, investing in a pool can benefit one homeowner while not adding an ounce of value to the next.
 
Pool Market
Experts say the biggest market for pools consists of buyers who skew toward middle age with teenage children. However, there are some homeowners, specifically those with younger children, who might view a home with a pool as an accident waiting to happen. Experts say pools increase a property’s desirability if the home is in an area that has a large number of pools.
 
However, in recent years, pools have become part of a trend that places more emphasis on backyard landscaping, including fencing, walkways, decks, and other options.
 
Pool Myths
There is a longstanding belief held by many that pools don’t add value to one’s property when you are selling your home. That may be the case in some instances, experts say, however, there are plenty of examples of pools adding value to your property, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR). NAR statistics show that pools add approximately 7.7 percent to the average property value, and more than 11 percent to homes in the Southwest U.S.
 
Costs
The Wall Street Journal reports that while some companies in the United States advertise in-ground pools at prices around $16,000, the real price is likely double that. But costs don’t stop with the pool. Landscaping a backyard through a landscaping service can add anywhere from $3,000 to more than $100,000. While in-ground pools return approximately 50 percent of their initial investment, be sure to keep service records that show it’s in good working order.
 
Location, Location, Location
Before installing a pool, consider where you live. If your neighborhood has a community pool that can be easily accessed, you’ll likely struggle to attract buyers for your home with a backyard pool.
Above-Ground Alternatives
 
If you are concerned about the cost of a pool versus the amount it adds to your property’s value, then consider an above-ground pool. These pools have become increasingly easy to install and maintain, and cost only a fraction of the tens of thousands of dollars that a homeowner must pour into an in-ground pool. Most pool companies now say they install significantly more above-ground pools versus their in-ground models.
 
Source: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

Luxury Living in South Texas: This Week's Featured Listing From My Office

 A HOME THAT FEELS LIKE A LUXURY RETREAT



GORGEOUS CUSTOM HOME WITH SPECTACULAR VIEWS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL YOU'VE GOT AWAY FROM IT ALL. THE OPEN AND AIRY FLOOR PLAN FEATURES RICH WOOD AND TILE FLOORS. THERE ARE TWO LIVING AREAS, SEPARATE DINING ROOM AND STUDY/OFFICE. THE FIRST LEVEL INCLUDES THE MASTER SUITE, STUDY, AND SECONDARY BEDROOM. AN ADDITIONAL TWO BEDROOMS AND GAMEROOM WITH BALCONY ARE UPSTAIRS.

THE GOURMET KITCHEN FEATURES GAS COOKING AND LOTS OF SPACE FOR AN ASSORTMENT OF COOK ASSISTANTS. OUTSIDE YOU'LL FIND FABULOUS VIEWS FROM THE COVERED PATIO WITH AND OUTDOOR KITCHEN. IF THIS SOUNDS LIKE THE HOME YOU BEEN LOOKING FOR, IT CAN BE YOURS FOR ONLY $649,000

For more details, contact me using the link to the right
 
Christine Henderson
Changing Real Estate Dreams Into Reality Since 1985