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For_sale_by_owner_signs_1_4533110Selling your home independently and taking the “For Sale By Owner” route is a well-intentioned concept. The most common reason people do it is to save money on commission — the sales fee that is split between real estate agents and brokers.

That’s certainly something we can all understand. After all, who doesn’t want to save money? But the reality of realty is that a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) seller often ends up losing money — and going through a great deal of hassle and stress along the way.

A home is the biggest financial investment that most people experience in their lifetime. Selling a home is a multifaceted process — a lot more than putting a “For Sale” sign in your yard and listing it online. Even if you or your trusted advisers have personal experience in real estate, you’ll probably be selling yourself short in the sale of your home without the use of a licensed, experienced agent. Let’s examine some of the ways how.

Exposure. It’s a seller’s market. Houston is a thriving city, and it’s not uncommon for realtors to get multiple offers on a properly priced home shortly after it goes on the market. But that demand is created through exposure — exposure that leads to more potential buyers becoming aware of the availability of your home for sale. FSBO severely limits that exposure. A realtor has the ability to market your home on avenues such as MLS (multiple listing services) and third party affiliations like Christie’s that only licensed real estate agents are permitted to use.

Pricing. A real estate agent knows how to price the market using reliable, real-time data. Some FSBO homes are underpriced because the seller doesn’t realize the true market value. Most FSBO homes are overpriced — sellers might get greedy or unrealistic because they love their home for sentimental reasons or they have read too much in the press. A real estate agent takes emotion out of the equation and strives to get you the best price for your home based on current data and market conditions.

Negotiations. First, there’s the complicated issue of agreeing on a sale price or of handling multiple offers. And would you believe that’s actually the easy part? Navigating and troubleshooting the many steps that result in a successful closing is where a realtor’s expertise is vital. The most difficult part of a real estate transaction is from the contract to the close — a place where deals can become very contentious, sometimes litigious, and easily fall apart. Once you agree on price, the next negotiation is repairs. A qualified real estate agent has a wealth of experience of inspections and negotiations under his or her belt. The average seller may have only been through this process once or twice.

Time. Think about the hours a real estate agent spends showing a property, doing research for pricing, marketing, negotiating and communicating with buyers and buyers’ agents. Time is money, isn’t it?

Expertise. There’s a saying in the court of law: “The person who represents himself has a fool for a client.” To put it another way, if you had a cavity, would you try to fill your own tooth? Of course not.

An experienced professional realtor will guide the seller through the home selling process and avoid the countless pitfalls and liabilities that can catch a homeowner by surprise. These problems could include legal, logistical and even ethical issues that homeowners can fall victim to. Real estate agents have been educated, trained and certified to handle all of these issues.

If these factors don’t daunt you, then perhaps For Sale By Owner is the route for you. If they do, then I’d say you just might want to consider hiring a licensed real estate agent.

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The Lone Star College System board of trustees voted in July to approve a $317 million budget for the 2013-14 year, a budget that includes $36.3 million for the new Creekside campus.

 Laura Morris, associate vice chancellor for market and communication for LSCS, said the new 85,000-square-foot campus will be located on West New Harmony Trail, west of Kuykendahl Road. She said construction could begin next fall.

The Creekside campus was initially part of a $497 million bond package brought to voters in a May bond election. Voters rejected the bond proposal, with 55.6 percent opposing the plan.

According to LSCS, the new Creekside campus will be funded by revenue bonds. Revenue bonds are bonds paid for by the revenue a facility or program generates through its user fees.

Kyle Scott, who opposed the bond, and was voted into Position 2 on the LSCS board in May, also voted against the budget.

“I voted against the budget in its entirety because it did contain the revenue bonds,” Scott said. “The argument is, if the voters had approved that project, and other projects, this would be nothing more than going against the will of the voters in May.”

Trustee David Vogt voted in favor of the bond, and said there is an increased demand for a campus to be located in Creekside.

“We expect to see a lot of demand there,” he said. “That is an area of growth for The Woodlands, and also an area of growth for all of those other communities, and [the location of the campus] is real close to the ExxonMobil campus.”

Vogt said the revenue generated will come from higher fees for business training. He said student fees will not be increased to pay for the bond.

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If you practice fence etiquette and bone up on local zoning regs, you can avoid neighbor disputes.

Must-dos

Observe boundaries: Don’t risk having to tear down that fence by going even one inch over your property line. Study your house line drawing or plat or order a new survey ($500 to $1,000) from a land surveyor to be sure of boundaries. Fefence3nce companies usually install a foot inside the line, to be on the safe side.

Respect limits: Fencing companies obtain permits and must know local zoning regulations for height, setbacks, and other restrictions. Height limits typically are 6 feet for side and back yards; 4 feet for front yards. More restrictive rules often apply to corner lots, where blind curves can limit driving visibility. To avoid disputes, review restrictions with your fence company before choosing a fence.

Follow HOA rules: Fencing companies are not responsible for knowing home owners association dos and don’ts; that’s your job. Unless you want to suffer committee wrath, and engage in a dispute, follow HOA guidelines. HOAs can dictate style, height, and maintenance. If your HOA wants all structures to match, you won’t have much wiggle room.

Nice-to-dos

Share your plans: No one likes surprises. Before installing, save yourself a fence dispute and have a conversation with neighbors. If property line issues exist, resolve them before installation. No need to show neighbors the design–that’s just inviting trouble. They have to live with your choice unless it lowers property values or is dangerous.

Put the best face outward: It’s common practice to put the more finished side of your fence facing the street and your neighbor’s yard.

Maintain and improve: It’s your responsibility to clean and maintain both sides. If an aging section starts to lean, shore it or replace it.

Good-to-knows

  • The term “fence” includes trees or hedges that create barriers.
  • If you have a valid reason for wanting an extra high structure, to block a nasty view or noisy street, apply to your zoning board for a variance. Neighbors can comment on your request during the variance hearing.
  • If your neighbors are damaging your fence, take photos and try to work it out with them first. If they don’t agree to repair it, take your fence dispute to small claims court. Award limits vary by state: $1,500 in Kentucky to $15,000 in Tennessee.

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As this video shows one of the many reasons that having a Realtor in today’s market is highly recommended is that Realtor’s have inside knowledge to coming soon listings that have not been listed.  Time is of the essence in a sellers market!

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Your homes curb appeal is a buyer’s first impression.  75% of home buyers drive by the homes that they are interested in after first viewing it online.

Even if you’re not considering putting your home on the market, it never hurts to enhance and improve your property.   Make your home the talk of the neighborhood and your property value with these simple tips.

The Lawn & Landscapingcurbappeal

  • Mow your lawn twice a week, pull weeds and rake up your leaves
  • Trim hedges and shrubs, as well as tree limbs that are near your roof
  • Sweep your walkways
  • Plant a variety of colorful flowers & plants that flourish in all the seasons
  • Weed and mulch your flower beds

The Homes Exterior

  • Front door,porchClean your windows, gutters, and pressure wash your siding and decks
  • Freshen up the exterior of your home with a coat of paint
  • Update your front door.  Try new hardware, or a new paint color
  • Install new accents like house numbers, doorbell buttons, or mail slots
  • Check and replace your roof if necessary
  • Add an awning or covered patio to enjoy the outdoors year round

Landscaping doesn’t have to be expensive; only well-thought-out, interesting, and cohesive.  Plan a week or a couple of weekends to get your curb appeal up to par so that you can make the best first impression on future buyers.

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They Keys to Buying a New Home

As a buyers agent I not only represent buyers looking to purchase a resale home, but I also assist buyers through the process of purchasing a new construction home. When I meet with a buyer for the first time I always impress upon them the fact that it is just as important, if not more so, to be represented when buying a new construction home. When a client stops by a new construction home site to view homes the sales person sitting behind the desk is representing the builder or seller. They want to sell one of their builder’s homes to you as the buyer, but you, the buyer, need someone to represent you in the process. Most times the builder has additional incentives for the buyer. For example they may offer to pay for the title policy, some lender fees, some closing costs or even material items that are not usually included in the sale such as washer/dryer, refrigerator or sprinkler system. As a buyer’s agent I am constantly staying of top of the different builder incentives that may be out there at any given time. Realtors are great resources among new construction homes and more importantly, as the buyer, you know you have someone looking out for your best interest.

There is a new development being built in the Village of Sterling Ridge of The Woodlands in Player Manor. Darling Homes, Partners In Building and Toll Brothers are currently the 3 builders building there. Toll Brothers is a new builder to The Woodlands, however they have been in business since 1967. I went to familiarize myself with their product this week and found some good information! Most spec homebuilders charge the buyer an additional expense for upgrades. Tolls Brothers includes many of those same upgrades in the base price of the home. Their new model is not completed in Player Manor at this time, but you can stop by the Creekside Park model and see for yourself the attention that Toll Brothers pays to details in construction.

– Ann Dee Brahms, Buyer’s Agent

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Degas Park Neighborhood Marquis

Degas Park Neighborhood Marquis

Located south of Woodlands Parkway just off of Branch Crossing within walking distance to Coulson Tough Elementary, it is on the far west side of The Woodlands and here are their proximities to major roads:

  • 13 minutes from I-45 and the Town Center
  • 18 minutes down Kuykendahl to Highway 2920
  • 7 minutes from the intersection of Highway 2978 and FM 1488 in the city of Magnolia

As I entered Degas Park I noticed a darling “tot lot”  to my left shared with the adjacent neighborhood of Artist Grove but what really catches your attention upon entering Degas Park are the colorful street names.  Your art history courses in school will serve you well in this neighborhood where the streets pay homage to Impressionist Period artists like Cezanne Woods.   Neighborhood spirit is taken very serious in Degas Park

Homes in Degas Park

Homes in Degas Park

evident by the amount of socials that happen every year including the St. Patrick’s Day party, the neighborhood Thanksgiving football game, Labor Day BBQ, the Halloween caravan and more.  The Degas Parks really take the annual Woodlands Christmas decorating competition to a competitive level.  As the winning neighborhood for 4 years straight, they take it as a point of price to organize and decorate the streets uniformly and the proof is in the amount of holiday drive-thru visitors.

Degas Park homes are priced from the high $300K to the mid $400K. Built by David Weekley and DR Horton in 2003-2004 most of the properties are two story 4 or 5 bedroom floor plans with two or three car garages. Some even back to a peaceful greenbelt. Many have pools on over 9000 square foot lots. There are currently three active listings on the market at an average list price of $377K. In the past year the homes that have sold closed within 40 days. This is a little below average for The Woodlands.

Debbie, her husband Stan and their two boys moved back to The Woodlands in April 2005 from Chicago. They had previously lived in Alden Bridge from 1999-2002. When Stan’s previous employer offered a position to him in 2005 to move back, Debbie and Stan jumped at the opportunity. It was an easy transition for the family of four. They had stayed in touch with many of their friends from before and looked forward to their return.

A peak into the Degas Park neighborhood

A peak into the Degas Park neighborhood

They chose the Degas Park neighborhood because they were able to purchase a new construction home within their comfortable price range.

When I questioned Debbie about the friendliness of the neighborhood she said “When we moved back to The Woodlands we really didn’t feel a need to be social with our neighbors. Everyone is very friendly, but we had established our friends from before. As it turned out, my boys actually have friends living in this neighborhood. It really makes it more convenient as I don’t have to drive them to Alden Bridge as often as I anticipated. Our end of the neighborhood is quiet and everyone keeps to themselves, but those residing on Pascale Creek love to party!”

I asked Debbie where she would like to move if she had the choice. She said “When the boys are off to college and Stan and I are empty nesters we would like to downsize to a smaller one story single family home or condo in the front of The Woodlands closer to The Town Center.”

Debbie introduced me to her neighbors, Jody and Julie who live across the street. Jody and his son were in the front yard installing their Christmas decorations. Jody noted that this year he was changing the colors of the bulbs because the neighborhood is trying to coordinate the decorations to increase their aesthetic appeal. This is a perfect example of neighbors working together to show how much they care about where they live. They moved to the neighborhood in August of 2007 from Beachwood, Ohio. One of Jody’s fraternity brothers convinced them to move to The Woodlands. They love their home, schools and all that The Woodlands has to offer. Jody commutes to Houston daily and is so thankful for the additional Park and Ride location recently opened in Sterling Ridge. The only request that Julie has is that she wishes Nordstroms would build a store here.

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