Houston Real Estate Blog ~

Transition to a Smaller HomeWhether you’ve been planning it for years or the economy has forced your hand, losing square footage can be both invigorating and a challenge. For the sake of your emotional health – and your packing efforts – remain focused on the positive aspects of the change. Living in a smaller home is an excellent step to simplifying both your budget and your life overall.

Be Ruthless in Your Packing

This is your chance for a fresh start in your new home, so take advantage of it. Be absolutely merciless in your packing and cleaning out of your old space. Start working well enough in advance that you can tackle each room and closet with brutal authority – you show that clutter who is boss! A good rule of thumb is to try to discard two items for every one that you

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Home De-Cluttering TipsDe-cluttering your home can help you to become more organized and less stressed. There are many rooms in the home that just seem to collect clutter. Clutter can cause discord and stress in families, but thankfully there are many options available for de-cluttering in each room of the home, making life much simpler.

Wondering where to begin? To avoid becoming overwhelmed, it's best to start slow and small. By scheduling regular times to de-clutter in fifteen minutes per day, you can get a good start on removing the clutter from your home before burning out too quickly. Another option is to set aside one to two hour blocks of time one or two days a week. By scheduling de-cluttering times you can avoid feeling burned out and the desire to give up by doing

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Understanding Your Responsibilities As A LandlordIf you have decided to get your feet wet with commercial real estate you'll first have to learn about your responsibilities as a landlord. While it may seem like an easy task and you'll be able to allocate most of the tasks to a property management company, you will ultimately be the one who has to take on the responsibility of ownership.

Your first responsibility will be to provide a secure and safe environment to the tenants occupying your rental. All building codes must be in place and you need to ensure that you are looking for the best people as renters. When you establish a building that is safe and inhabited by responsible people, your tenants will enjoy a better atmosphere and you will have less on your plate to handle.

The Property Management

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Buy a Home Without a Down PaymentIt's been a rough ride for the house market, and those who are looking to upgrade their home or buy their first home have had a rough time of it, too - often for no reason other than the intense new banking standards. Today's standards require that you have 20 percent of the home's value upfront as well as excellent credit.

While certainly good in theory, this policy gets a bit sticky in practice - especially when you stop to consider that the hardships that hit many families in 2008 may linger on a credit report for up to a decade. Fortunately there are ways to buy a home without jumping through as many hoops as traditional 15 or 30 year loans require, but most alternative methods have a few hoops of their own.

VA Loans

With the number of veterans

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HOA Reforms Means Changes for Houston HomeownersWhen I was shopping for my first house, my dad pulled me aside for a bit of fatherly wisdom.  "Find a place with a strong Homeowners' Association and plenty of deed restrictions.  Trust me, you want a lot of deed restrictions."  And to a point, he was right. It's those HOA rules which ensure that the neighbors all maintain their homes at a consistent level.  HOAs can help ensure the neighbors don't let the yard get full of weeds, park junked-out cars in the driveway and generally let their homes get run-down, taking our property values with them.

But as many homeowners can attest, being part of an HOA isn't aways an easy experience.  A quick survey of the Internet reveals story after story of ordeals and horrors homeowner's have endured at the hands of

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New Ways Houston Home Builders are Selling HousesNo one can dispute the buying power of the Internet. All we have to do is enter a credit card number and boom, we're the proud owner of shoes, books, music, clothes, toys and … houses?

"The latest trend," says one of the 567 million Google hits I found on this very topic, "is to buy a house online."

You can't really buy a house online. But you can look at photos, watch video, print listings – or simply scan a QR barcode while out and about – to help narrow down the choices. 

"Baby boomers want a lot of information and it's up to us to get it to them in a way they want it," said Rosemary Bickford, vice president of sales and marketing at Brickland Homes. "Buyers want to know almost everything before they even pick up the phone."

And hopefully from

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Mortgages Underwater and Housing Recovery StalledIn recent months, discussions on the economy have been dominated by two topics:  the national deficit and jobs.  And rightly so.  Mushrooming debt casts a pall on our long-term financial outlook and unemployment is a singular focus for anyone looking for a job.  As the economy continues to sputter, though, many economists and analysts are reaching the conclusion that, just as the housing market was at the core of the economic crisis, it is also the key to recovery.

Currently, 1 in 5 mortgages is underwater; with these homeowners often pouring all of their resources into just keeping their homes, they often have little money left to put back into the economy.  Foreclosed homes, which in some areas sit in limbo for months or even years, often fall into

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Making Your Houston Home Energy EfficientThis is the time of year that makes even seasoned Houstonians want to hide from the heat in an air conditioned cocoon; and as temperatures soar, our electric bills do, too.  In fact, thanks to our sultry summers, Houstonians have among the highest utility bills in the country.

Luckily, there are things you can do to ease the pain - and that doesn't mean packing up to move north.  (You don't want to live there come winter anyway.)  With changes to your home big and small, you can slash your energy bills, help the environment - and use local and federal rebates to help pick up the tab.

Fix Those Leaks and Insulate

Regardless of what new, energy-saving technology might be out there, much of our home's energy efficiency comes down to simple and low-tech -

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Better Homes and Garden cover September 1954In 1956 Glenbrook Valley was just hitting its stride. The Parade of Homes had singled out the residential area, exclusively featuring Glenbrook Valley for all 30 homes on their annual tour. The development had previously been included in a citywide Parade of Homes in 1954, but not for the entire event.

Nestled along Sims Bayou between I45 and Telephone Rd., Glenbrook Valley originally opened in 1953 with a lot of fanfare.  It was designed by the renowned Kansas City landscape architecture firm Hare and Hare, which was known for many Houston layouts, including River Oaks. The subdivision also received a lot of interest when Better Homes and Gardens featured 7923 Glenview on the September 1954 cover for an article titled “The Home for All America” and was

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Funky Montrose Area Shopping in Houston TexasLook at an early picture of Montrose Blvd., circa 1911, and you'll see a grand avenue complete with wide, treed esplanade and sidewalks, freshly carved out of Houston dairy farmland.  You'll also see echoes, however faint, of the Montrose we know and (mostly) love today.

When the area we now call Montrose was still being grazed by cows, in the late 19th century, suburbs were starting to come into favor in other cities around the country.  New York City, in fact, had had commuters traveling to and from Brooklyn by ferry since the 1850s.  But for a young, inland city like Houston - bayous and ship channels notwithstanding - it would take an entirely different mode of transportation to make the suburbs take off.  And that happened in 1891, when the electric

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