Home Maintenance Tasks

Stay Ahead of the Cold Weather this Fall

Brrrr, the temperature drops in the middle of October. Now is the time to take steps to prepare your home for the colder weather. Even if we do not live in a super cold area where snow falls, now is a great time to ensure that your home’s maintenance is up to snuff.

Easy steps to keep your home in prime condition this fall:

Maintain the yard

Trim shrubs and trees away from the home. Make sure tree limbs touch the house. They can provide a path for critters to invade the warmth pf the attic. Dead branches or trees that lean toward your home are a recipe for disaster, especially in high winds or the rare ice storm and should be professionally removed.

Check the roof and gutters

Loose shingles and roof leaks must be repaired prior to the heavy storms that are common in the colder months. Gutters serve the important task of moving rain water away from the foundation. If they are clogged, water can travel into the home and do considerable damage to the walls. Consider having your gutters professionally cleaned of pine needles now – and leaves after most have fallen.

Ensure that the furnace, fireplaces, and smoke detectors are in safe condition. As you start to use your fireplace and furnace to stay warm, be sure that they will not present a hazard. Having the furnace professionally cleaned each year will keep it working safely so that it will not emit carbon monoxide fumes. Hire a chimney sweep to keep your fireplace functioning optimally. It is also crucial to equip your home with both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Fall is the perfect time to change the batteries and test the performance of these life saving tools.

Seal those cracks

An inexpensive way to keep the warm air in and the cold air out is to seal visible cracks around the home with clear caulk. Weather stripping installed around doors and windows is also very cost and energy effective.

Winterize the pool

The fall season means the swimming pool will be full of leaves, not only inside the water but around the pool equipment. Keeping up with the shedding of leaves into the pool is no easy task, made harder by the cold weather. Hire a professional pool cleaning service who can keep it clean and inspect your pool heater, pumps, freeze protection, and filter to ensure everything is in good shape to make it through the winter season.

local housing market analysis

Get a fair mortgage rate for new home

Having just gone through this exercise with a client,  I can truthfully say shop around for a mortgage.

Big Bank Mortgage Loans

Big banks advertise competitive rates and  may offer more favorable rates or incentives if you to bank or invest with them.  We have our mortgage thru our local bank since they waived some of our fees when we opened an account with them. This can be a great option for some, but maybe not everyone.

Mortgage Broker Benefits

A mortgage broker may have access to programs with lower down payments, lower credit scores or rebate part of the origination fees.  Brokers have a way of suggesting lenders to be more competitive to earn your business. Not too long ago I had a client who needed credit repair before they could qualify for a mortgage. After working with a mortgage broker, they were able to purchase a home.

“The average home buyer can save nearly $90 a month—or more than $31,000 over the life of a loan—simply by comparing interest rates offered by different companies, according to a Lending-Tree report.”

– says Clare Trapasso


Online mortgage loan brokers / companies like Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans also offer very competitive rates.

Always read the fine print when looking at rate quotes-  A higher credit score may be required to get the advertised rate.

Bottom line – You should get on the phone or internet and do your research. Want to learn more about how to become financially ready to buy a home? – keep reading below.

More Home Buyer Advice

First Time Home Buyer Guide

View Homes for Sale Nearby

Related Article from Realtor

Michelle Hoover

Hoover Area Pro Group Realty

(925) 785-6598

Getting ready to buy your first home?

Weve received numerous calls from new home buyers who are eager to get started with owning a new home. After asking a few questions, it becomes clear they might be leasing for a bit longer. Why is that? It is because they had basically no savings.

What most first time home buyers dont realize is the amount of money needed to get into a home. Even if you can get a home loan with no or a low down payment, there are still some costs associated with the purchase.

Read our Home Buyers Guide

how to save for your first new home purchase

Home buying costs many don’t think about

The down payment can vary from 0 down to 20%. Hiring a home inspector, possibly paying for a survey and POA transfer fees. Finally, there are prepaid items that can not be paid by the seller like home owners insurance and property taxes.

Saving for a new home purchase

Best way to save for a down payment on a new home is to make a savings plan and force yourself to follow the plan.

“Savings, however, are incredibly important, especially if you are looking to someday buy a house or get an investment property loan.Real EstateTrac recently reportedthat the average American down payment was around 15% in 2015. With the median sales price for a househovering around $250,000, house buyersmay need to save $40,000 or moreto buy a house. Even low down mortgageslike anFHA loan can cost you 3.5% plus closing costs, requiring $10,000 or more.” ~ Brandon Turner

Read Details of Purchasing a New Home

Here are a few more tips to get you on your way to home ownership.


from Realtor.com, By Cathie Ericson | Jan 3, 2018

The house-buying process can seem endless: Attending open houses. Separating your must-haves from nice-to-haves. Identifying your (sort of) dream home. Making an offer. Negotiating the final price. So when you get to inspection day, its tempting to heave a huge sigh of relief now that your work is basically done.

But not so fast. The home inspection is one of the most crucial stepsfor buying a home, and it shouldn’t be overlooked or rushed. In fact, the inspection processhas the potential to bejust as nerve-racking for the buyer as it is for the seller. What if you’ve fallen in love with a beautiful home that has major problems lurking beneath the surface?

That’s why it’s extremely important to pay attention during this (sometimes confusing) process, and take steps toavoid common pitfalls.How can you possibly screw it up? We’re here to tell you. Avoid these mistakes when you get an inspection on your dream home.

To read more…visit HERE

by Soules Insurance on Tue, Dec 19, 2017
According to the National Fire Protection Association, every 23 seconds a fire department responded to a fire in the US in 2015. Equipping your home with portable fire extinguishers can assist in minimizing fire damage from small, self-contained fires before much-needed help arrives.
You may be unsure of which fire extinguishers are best for your home, where they should be located, or even how to use them. Let?s take a look at the different types of fire extinguishers and review some tips for buying, maintaining and using a fire extinguisher in your home.
To read more, click HERE.
fire ext

What Kind of Questions Should I Ask Before Buying a Home?


A reader asks: “We are very new to the homebuying process and have been going to open houses on the weekends. When the agents ask if we have questions, we figure we’re supposed to ask something, but what? What kind of questions should we ask before buying a home? What do we need to know before we buy a house?”

10 Steps to getting ready for new home purchase

with www.thebalance.com

Click here for the answer to this question.


Special thanks to Lee Teed, friend and ReMax broker in Searcy, Arkansas, for sharing this blog with us!


Closing Day Surprises

For many buyers, closing day can’t come fast enough. Once the offer is made and accepted, the time between can seem like eternity. For many, closing day goes smoothly. For others, there may be some unexpected surprises that pop up. While closing day problems are not usually anticipated by a buyer, they are not unheard of, and depending on what kind come up, some can be minor while others can impact the entire deal. Here are some of the most common closing day surprises.

Unpacked moving boxes in Living Room

Walk-Through Surprises

For many buyers, a final walk-through is a must before closing as it allows the buyer to ensure the property’s condition hasn’t changed since the last visit and that any agreed-upon repairs have been done per the contract. If moving furniture created a new hole in the wall, agreed-upon fixtures have been removed, or the property is in total disarray, the issues need to be addressed immediately. The buyer’s agent should work with the seller’s agent to resolve any surprises that have come up. Walk-through issues are generally not deal breakers, but they can be a thorn in a buyer’s side.

Document Surprises

A common surprise at closing is an error in the documents. Errors can include misspelled names, incorrect addresses, and even incorrect loan amounts or missing pages. Some issues can cause an hour or two delay, while others can result in a much longer delay. To avoid any document surprises, a buyer can request to see every document ahead of closing. Loan documents should be scrutinized prior to closing; by law, a buyer should receive a Loan Estimate form and Closing Disclosure form three days before closing. Once these forms are received, it’s up to the buyer to double-check the loan amount, down payment amount, interest rate, and all personal information, including spellings. If questions arise, the sooner they’re answered the better.

Title Surprises

When buying a home, a title company will make sure the title to a property is legitimate by doing a title search, which is essentially a thorough examination of property records to make sure the title is clear of any liens or claims on the property. Title surprises can include: IRS tax liens, unpaid property taxes, judgments, contractor or mechanics liens, identity affidavit, and encroachments. Some of these surprises can be resolved on closing day; others may take a significant amount of time to resolve and will undoubtedly delay closing. Once escrow opens, the title company completes a preliminary title report and sends it to the lender and agents involved — a buyer can get a copy from his/her lender or from the title company and check if there are any preliminary issues. Many purchase agreements include a specific time period for the buyer to bring up any concerns regarding the title, so if there are issues with the title, get the ball rolling on resolutions as soon as possible.


Credit Surprises

For buyers applying for a mortgage loan, maintaining the same level of credit between being approved and the final closing is extremely important for a successful transaction. A person’s credit can be impacted by anything: changing jobs, getting a new credit card, closing a credit card, falling behind on payments, and even adding additional debt through large purchases. Surprises when it comes to a buyer’s credit can be a deal breaker for the lender; to prevent issues, a buyer can contact the lender ahead of closing to discuss any surprises that may have come up and come to a solution. The best way to prevent credit surprises: avoid making large financial decisions prior to closing.

Mortgage Surprises

Credit surprises can impact a mortgage loan, but there are other mortgage surprises that can come up on closing day. In a hot real estate market, lenders can be incredibly busy and inundated with loan applications. Sometimes, a buyer’s loan file can find itself on the bottom of the pile, meaning there may be important items omitted, documents missing, or extra information needed to complete the file on time. For a buyer applying for a mortgage loan, asking the lender what documents will be required ahead of time can save time and prevent headaches on closing day. Buyers can also call or email the lender to make sure they have all the important documents, items, etc. to complete the loan file on time. Before closing, a closing agent will be assigned to the transaction (the closing agent coordinates the final steps of the transaction to make sure all documents and funds are in order and handled correctly) — the buyer can contact the closing agent to make sure the lender has all the needed documents, and if there is still any doubt, copies of all the documents and anything else that may seem important or pertinent to the transaction can be brought to closing.

Remember, your real estate agent is working on your behalf. Keep your agent informed — your agent wants to help you as much as possible, and he or she can be a great resource when you have questions.

10 Steps to Buying a Home

The home buying process can seem like a long race with a lot of hurdles. Like any race it is important to train before the event and get in the best shape possible to go the distance.

This article is part one of multipart series that will enable the first time home buyer or experienced home owner to strategize the race to be in the best condition when they start the race and finish strong. Each topic will be covered in detail in later posts, but like any race you have to strategize your race in stages.

Here is how to start your home purchase

1 – Buy vs. Rent You need to decide whether home ownership is for you. It is not for everyones lifestyle nor does it make financial sense for everyone. There is a variety of online information to help you understand if it financially makes sense for you from places like the Houston Association or Realtors, The Texas Association of Realtors, the National Association of Realtors, mortgage companies and other sources. Keep in mind it is a race with both financial and lifestyle elements.


2 – Build Your Credit Score– Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of mortgage options in todays market from first time buyers to investment properties. The key to getting the best rate and terms is having a good credit score. There is a lot of information from mortgage companies and credit bureaus to help you. It is not as hard as you think and can happen very quickly.

3 – Start Saving Down payments vary based on the mortgage program, your credit score and your overall financial picture. Veterans programs currently require no down payment while other programs may require 3.5% to 20% or more of the value of the home.

4 – Research a Location or Two Understand where you want to live and why whether it is a neighborhood, a subdivision or a city. Understand what the lifestyle is like, the quality of schools, the tax levels, transportation and all the other lifestyle elements that effect how you will feel about your new address.

5 – Find a Local Realtor Find a Realtor you are comfortable with and can trust. The Realtors job is to represent their clients best interests in the real estate transaction. A Realtor is subject to a strong code of ethics, higher education requirements and is licensed to provide real estate services. A local Realtor with a strong knowledge of the marketplace is essential to avoiding many potential issues in the transaction.

6 – Learn the Process – The home buying process can be confusing and different states may have different rules. Your Realtor will explain and guide you through this process.

7 – Develop a Realistic Wish List Decide what you want and need in your future home. How many bedrooms, how many baths, desired school district, yard size and other amenities. Divide the list into three categories-1.) Must Have-those things you will not compromise on, 2.) Good to Have-those things you would like to have, but are not deal breakers and 3.) Not Important those things you have thought about and have found not to matter in the end. Keep it realistic for your market and price range to avoid disappointment later.

8 – Find a Mortgage Company and Get Pre-Qualified – Most mortgage companies will prequalify applicants for mortgages free of charge. This is a quick interview or on-line application that involves minimal documentation, a credit report and a series of questions. A Pre-qualification letter will tell you what level of mortgage you theoretically should qualify for. Many home sellers today require a minimum of a pre-qualification as part of the initial offer. This amount with your down payment becomes your maximum home buying budget. You Realtor can suggest several loan companies if you ask.

9 – Get a Pre-Approved Loan Pre-approval is a much stronger position for all involved than pre-qualified. Pre-approval means that the mortgage company has verified all the information in your credit history, salaries, employment, savings, etc. and will approve a mortgage up to specific limit provided your financial situation has not significantly changed at closing. This is a very strong position for a home buyer to be in when buying a home.

10 – Decide on a Time Frame The average home search takes from three to six months from the first conversation with a Realtor until purchase closing. You will need to talk to your Realtor to understand what to expect in your market place.

Get in the starting blocks, the race is about to begin


Tips for Purchase Home & Land in Montgomery County Texas