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Some things just aren’t suited for a bathroom. Here are 5 materials to skip if you’re redoing your bath.

A clean, well-planned, and stunning bathroom is every homeowner’s goal. But creating it can be a bit of a sticky wicket. All that water, humidity, and artificial lighting, and those tight corners make the space a real challenge. Don’t make it worse by wasting money on materials that won’t withstand the task or will need replacing when they don’t work out. Dodge bad bathroom decisions by avoiding these five things:

1.  Wallpaper

In a high-steam area such as a bathroom, wallpaper may start to peel in a few years, according to some designers. In fact, steam is used to strip old wallpaper off walls. Despite the many photos of stylish, wallpapered bathrooms in magazines, unless it’s a half-bath or guest bath that’s seldom used, skip it. Really want the unique look wallpaper provides? Try a solid vinyl wall covering instead. It won’t allow moisture to seep through.

2.  Laminate Flooring

Love the look and affordability of laminate flooring? Use it in another room. Water and laminate floors don’t mix. Even tiny amounts of water will seep between the planks, causing them to expand, peel, swell, and lift from the floor. Even laminate manufacturers advise against installing in high moisture areas. The good news? There are plenty of other products out there that work extremely well in bathrooms. Take another look at linoleum. It’s eco-friendly, budget-friendly, and comes in a wide variety of looks.

3.  Slippery or Glossy Tile or Stone

Many ceramic, porcelain, and stone floors will become slippery in wet conditions. The more polished a tile, the more likely it will become slippery when wet. Solution: Select your bathroom floor surface carefully, vetting each against slippery conditions. Look for tiles certified to meet slip-resistance standards specified by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

4.  Wall-to-Wall Carpet

Carpet, while soft and comfy, isn’t ideal flooring in a powder room. Not only is the ick factor apparent, especially around the toilet, but mold and mildew can build up, which can cause health issues. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically advises against carpeting bathrooms to avoid mold exposure. If you really want the cozy touch of carpet in the bathroom, fluffy bath mats add color and comfort — and can be regularly laundered.

5.  Yellow Paint

When selecting paint colors, remember that color will appear more intense on your bathroom walls than it would in most other rooms, especially if the bathroom relies heavily on artificial lighting.

“In that smaller space, where the mirror multiplies the impact of the lighting, the walls tend to reflect and magnify color from other walls,” says Amy Bell, an interior decorator and owner of Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, N.C. Be especially wary of yellow or other colors that contain yellow — even neutrals — as yellow can feel brash in a bathroom, and you won’t like what you see in the mirror. Instead, opt for grays with a hint of green or blue, which can feel spa-like.





This Beautiful Well Kept 2 Acre Lot Is In A Quiet Community Of Custom Built Homes. It's Maintained On A Regular Basis & Has A Pond. Amenities Include:Park w/Jogging & Riding Trails, Playground, Basketball Court & Lake w/Boat Ramp, Bring Your Horses! Breathe Fresh Clean Air & Spend Nights Gazing At The Stars! Downtown Houston, TX Medical Center, Pearland & Lake Jackson only 30 Minutes. Low Taxes,No MUD Tax & NOT LOCATED IN THE FLOOD ZONE!!





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Lots and Land

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Lot: 2.00 acre(s)
MLS #: 14329942


3934  Tankersley Circle
Rosharon, TX 77583







Janet Buff
Janet Buff

Boardwalk Real Estate
(281) 414-1811
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Listed by: Keith Griffin




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Economists looking for further proof of a robust vacation-home market should head to New York’s tony Hamptons.

“In our market, $1 million is low-end, and the high end is $10 million-plus,” says Diane Saatchi, an associate real-estate broker with Bridgehampton, N.Y.-based Saunders & Associates.

In the U.S., vacation-home sales jumped over 50% in 2014, up from 717,000 homes in 2013, according to preliminary data from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), a trade group. And second-home sales are expected to continue climbing in 2015, says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

“The stock market is booming, which means the wealthy top 10% in the country are feeling better off financially and are opening up their wallets for discretionary purchases,” he says.

Another driver pushing second-home sales is that the leading edge of baby boomers is approaching retirement age, Mr. Yun says. Many are expected to buy second homes with the intent to move there upon retirement, he adds.

Cities in Florida and Arizona have the top share of baby boomers moving there, he says, but Albuquerque, N.M., Boise, Idaho, and Denver also rank among the top markets poised to see an influx of baby-boomer home buyers, according to a recent NAR study. Baby boomers represented 30% of all home buyers in 2014, NAR reports.

News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, also owns Move Inc., which operates a website and mobile products for NAR.

Some lenders, including Quicken Loans, anecdotally are reporting a jump in both the number and dollar volume of second-home mortgage applications. “That either suggests people are buying larger homes, or [that] property values are appreciating,” says Bill Banfield, vice president of Quicken Loans.

Even a year ago, many lenders were requiring at least a 30% down payment for a second-home jumbo mortgage. Now, many have reduced the down-payment requirement to 20% to attract new borrowers. And in some cases, interest rates for a second-home are the same as for a primary home on loans up to $1.5 million with Quicken and $2 million with Bank of America, for example.

However, credit-score requirements may be higher when financing a second home. Milford, Conn.-based Total Mortgage Services wants at least a 740 score for a second-home jumbo with a 20% down payment, but will drop to 720 with 25% down. Bank of America will consider a 680 score.

Second-home borrowers face another hurdle, adds Dave Gorman, Bank of America’s regional sales executive for Oregon and Washington. “You have to be able to show that you can carry both payments,” he adds.

One common deal-killer has been high flood-insurance premiums for homes near the ocean, says John Walsh, CEO of Total Mortgage. Rates have skyrocketed in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area since superstorm Sandy hit in 2012. Since banks don’t finance underinsured homes, “sometimes the only buyer is a cash buyer,” he says.

In ultrarich and competitive areas like the Hamptons, buyers must be willing to pay cash, even if they also have applied for a mortgage, Ms. Saatchi, the real-estate agent, says. She says she advises sellers not to accept an offer dependent on financing. “This is the 1%, so the only reason why a buyer would want a deal to be subject to financing is so they can back out,” Ms. Saatchi says.

Here are a few more considerations when deciding whether to finance a second-home purchase.

• Tax breaks. Interest paid on a second-home mortgage is tax-deductible up to the first $1 million of financing. If interest rates are higher on a second-home mortgage than on the primary home, then borrowers may wish to prioritize those payments on tax returns.

• Add it all up. Second homes need furniture, maintenance, utilities, insurance, property taxes and other expenses, such as association fees, Mr. Gorman says. “From a financial perspective, a [borrower] should understand what they are taking on above and beyond the qualifications of a mortgage,” he adds.

• Landlords pay more. Lenders differ on the number of days a borrower can rent out a vacation home for it to be classified as an “investment property.” Loans for these properties have higher interest rates and stiffer qualification requirements.


Recovering from a negative credit event like a foreclosure can take years—seven years in many cases.

A growing number of Americans are reaching that juncture after going into foreclosure early in the housing crisis.

During that seven-year period, gaining access to loans is challenging, particularly in the first two to three years. Getting approved for a car loan or credit card is possible, though the interest rates you’ll be charged will be high. But finding a lender that will give you a mortgage will be a lot harder in most cases.

Foreclosures stay on consumers’ credit reports with the three main credit-reporting firms—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—for up to seven years and are factored into their FICO credit scores for all of that period. The seven-year period also applies to short sales, settlements with credit-card companies or other lenders, and other negative events. Bankruptcies can stay on for 10 years.

Millions of consumers are feeling the impact of the seven-year timeframe in the wake of foreclosures after job losses, pay cuts or other setbacks from the last downturn. To figure out when a negative mark is due to be dropped, borrowers can check their credit reports from each of the three firms, which they can do free once every 12 months at annualcreditreport.com. The reports will list the year the negative event was recorded.

Here are some pointers on how to increase your chances with mortgage lenders if you have a black mark on your credit record.

Be strategic about your timing

People who have only a few months left before a foreclosure or other negative credit event gets removed from their credit reports could benefit by waiting it out before applying. When lenders check your credit reports, they won’t see that you went through a foreclosure—information that could make them second-guess approving an applicant or charge them a higher interest rate.

However, if another year or so needs to pass until the black mark is removed from your credit reports, and you want to get a mortgage, waiting may not pay off, says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at CreditSesame.com, a credit-management site. Mortgage rates may be higher down the road. Even borrowers who don’t have the highest credit scores could end up getting a better interest rate now than if they wait until the foreclosure is removed from their report, he says.

There are some caveats to be aware of. The application form that many lenders require applicants to fill out asks several questions about foreclosure, including whether they’ve ever been through one—information that could make a lender think twice about an applicant. Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have their own waiting period, which is as long as seven years after the foreclosure has been completed—which could be a few years after it comes off your credit reports.

Pay down credit-card debt

One of the fastest ways to improve your FICO score is to pay down your credit-card debt, and, if possible, pay it off entirely. A comparison of this debt with the overall credit-card spending limits a borrower has contributes to a category that accounts for 30% of consumers’ FICO scores.

The change can be reflected in your credit report within a month and will quickly improve your score, says Mr. Ulzheimer. FICO scores, developed by Fair Isaac Corp., are the credit scores used in most consumer-lending decisions.

A Fair Isaac analysis of people who had foreclosure proceedings added to their credit reports between October 2007 and October 2008 found that 69% of those borrowers whose FICO scores had recovered and were at least 680 by last October had revolving debt, such as credit-card debt that equaled less than 30% of their total credit-card spending limits. None of them had maxed out credit cards

Hold off on applying for other financing

Signing up for car loans, furniture or appliance financing, and many other loans can hurt an applicant’s chances of getting approved for a mortgage. Lenders review borrowers’ debt compared to their income to determine whether they can get a home loan and its size.

In addition, the FICO score factors in credit inquiries—when lenders check your credit when you apply for a loan or credit card—that are up to 12 months old. The applications you make within the year prior to applying for a mortgage could lower your score.

Avoid other black marks

Make sure to pay your bills on time and to not get into trouble with any loans. Otherwise, you’ll be at risk of starting the seven-year period from scratch and seeing your score drop again if a lender reports a negative credit event to the credit-reporting firms.



Thanks to all the respondents who submitted questions on Facebook and Twitter about the real estate market, credit scores, and mortgages for the Google Hangout on Tuesday with a panel of our experts. We weren’t able to address them all during the hangout, but panelist Michael Matthews, senior vice president of PrimeLending, answered your remaining questions on mortgages. The questions have been edited for style and clarity.

Q: Gen Y/first-time buyers seem to be finally wanting out of the basement and are beginning to look at homes; seeing lots of credit issues. Is it better for them to go FHA or conventional?

A: It depends on the person’s situation. If you call a loan officer at PrimeLending, they will run your credit and discuss the options that are available. Once discussed, they can advise you on the different types of loans that are available.

Q: What is a pre-approval and what do they look at?

A: The pre-approval is the letter that a lender can provide that shows the real estate agent that you are ready to purchase a home. Credit is pulled and income and asset information is verified and ratios are run to make sure you qualify for the house that you are interested in.

Q: What is the difference between going to my bank or to a mortgage broker? Will it save me money?

A: We recommend checking both; shopping around is in your best interest.

Q: How will the Aug. 1 CFPB changes affect my buying a home?

A: The changes happening in August will make the process easier for you. Disclosures that you receive from the lender are being simplified, which will make the process more clear.

Q: If the rate drops by the time I close, can I get the better rate?

A: That depends on your lender, but with PrimeLending, yes. They have a one-time float-down prior to closing, and there is no cost.

Q: What is the difference between an FHA and a conventional loan?

A: There are a number of differences. The FHA [Federal Housing Administration] is a government-backed loan that has a down payment of as little as 3.5%. Conventional loans also have low down-payments and most are 3% to 5% down. Your lender should discuss multiple options and run payment scenarios on both.

Q: What if the appraisal is too low?

A: When the house is appraised, the value must support the loan being offered. If it comes in low, you can renegotiate with the seller.

Q: Why should I lock in my rate?

A: Rates fluctuate daily. If you have the house selected and you are ready to begin the process, you should lock in your rate and get started.

Q: When you are applying for a jumbo mortgage, what are lenders looking for?

A: A jumbo loan is more risky, based on the amount being loaned. Like with all loans, the lender is looking at your job and the number of years at your employer and in your occupation overall. They want to know how much cash reserves you have, meaning if something unfortunate happened with your job, could you still afford to make your payments. Credit history, how well do you pay your bills, all of these items are used to make a credit decision.

Q: What “first-time buyer” programs are out there?

A: This depends on where you are buying. Most cities have programs for first-time home buyers. It’s important to find a real estate agent in your market that can be the expert for you.

Q: What’s the difference between a mortgage FICO score and other FICO scores?

A: FICO scores are used to determine your overall credit profile; there isn’t anything specific for a mortgage. When buying a car, the same FICO is being used, and you can obtain a free credit report through one of the large agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian.

Q: Is it better for first-time buyers to go FHA or conventional?

A: It depends on your loan amount, your credit, and how much you want to put down. For example, if you were going to put down 20%, you would leverage a conventional loan so that you wouldn’t be required to pay mortgage insurance. Both loans are exceptional and will be discussed when you speak with your lender.

Q: What credit scores get the best rates?

A: Each lender has different rates and will have higher rates when the credit profile is lower. Please take time to speak with a lender so they can ask questions and provide you with the information you requested.

Q: How does a job change with lower gross income affect buying a house?

A: Job change can affect buying a home if you change industries. If you make a change but are in the same line of work, you shouldn’t have a concern. Regarding lower income, if you are making less, it impacts how much you will qualify for. When you speak to your lender, they can run your income ratios and help understand your unique situation.

Q: When determining if you qualify for USDA, is your current gross income used or the income on your W-4?

A: It depends on the borrower’s type of income—for a salaried borrower there could be an average utilized, which could include both the borrower’s current gross YTD and the previous year’s W-2.


Not every real estate deed gives you carte blanche to do whatever you want. In some cases, buying property comes with certain conditions that prohibit you from doing certain things.

These stipulations are known as real estate deed restrictions, and this is how they work.

Why they’re there

Real estate deed restrictions are written into a property’s deed and can take the form of conditions, covenants, and restrictions (sometimes called “CC&Rs”). The property’s past or present owner, developer, builder, neighborhood, or homeowners association usually imposes them.

Deed restrictions are usually aimed at ensuring that there is an aesthetic uniformity between your property and neighboring properties and that certain other activities are limited. Reasons for including these restrictions may be to maintain the value of a property or to promote good relations within a residential community.


Deed restrictions vary widely and usually depend on the community the property is in and the type of property it is. Some common building and renovation deed restrictions can prohibit or limit the following:

  • The size and number of additional rooms and structures
  • What materials the structures can be made of
  • Proximity to other structures, properties, or streets
  • The density of buildings per acre
  • Style of homes allowed
  • Landscaping
  • Exterior paint colors

Here are some other common deed restrictions:

  • Rules about pets (such as how many you can keep and under what conditions)
  • Fees for road maintenance or amenities
  • How or if you can run a business from home
  • How or if you can rent out your home
  • No outdoor storage
  • Rules for maintaining your yard

These are just a few examples—you should carefully review all of the restrictions before signing anything.

How they’re enforced

The people who are likely to enforce any deed restrictions are those who originally imposed them. For example, a developer would want to enforce any building or renovation restrictions while it is finishing building the complex in which you purchased a unit.

Neighborhood and homeowners associations are likely to enforce deed restrictions with fees for properties such as townhouses or condos. In the absence of such associations, neighbors can seek to enforce the restrictions by means of lawsuits.

Researching deed restrictions

To find out whether the property you are hoping to buy has any restrictions, ask the owner or agent to provide you with the details. You can also check with the local county clerk. Go over the title abstract, which shows details of deeds for the past 50 years, ensuring that any restrictions haven’t been left off the current deed. If you’re buying a homeowners association property, it should be able to tell you about rules and restrictions.

If you are pressed to make an offer on the property before you have had a chance to read the deed restrictions, insert a contingency clause in your offer stating that you are to be given time to read the conditions and have the ability to back out of the contract if you disapprove.

Updated from an earlier version by Ben Apple


When you’re searching for your perfect home, you have different types of houses to choose from. Each has its upsides and downsides. Depending on your needs, you might prefer one of the following:

  • A single-family home

  • A multifamily house

  • A condo

  • A duplex

There are various things to consider when making this decision. The first step is to understand each style and what it offers you.


A single-family home is also called a detached home because it stands on its own, as opposed to a condo, which is one of many units together in one building.

There are many kinds of single-family homes. This most likely is the home you are looking to buy. They come in all sizes and styles. It can be a cottage or a castle; it can be a farmhouse or a Victorian home. There are dozens of types.


A multifamily home is set up to provide housing for more than one family. Multifamily homes have separate kitchens, living areas, bathrooms, and entrances under the same roof.

If you own a multifamily home, the rent you collect from tenants can cover your mortgage payment. Lenders will consider this as income if there is an existing tenant with a lease or if you have a lease agreement in place with a new renter.

You can qualify for a residential mortgage loan for a multifamily home if it has four units or fewer. A multifamily home with five units or more will require a commercial loan, which is harder to get and generally more expensive.


Condo, short for “condominium,” is similar to an apartment living. You own your own living space, but share communal areas (like the corridors, elevators, recreation areas, etc.).

Unlike a single or multifamily home, you do not need to worry about handling your own building maintenance with a condo. You pay a fee to the homeowners association, which is responsible for maintaining the communal areas. The board members are elected by the owners and have a lot of powers, including enforcing rules and setting fees.

The HOA can make condo life more enjoyable or a nightmare. Some get very picky and will fine you for minor infractions. They can be hard to fight. Check the history of the HOA before buying a condo.


A duplex, or semidetached, home has two separate residences that share a wall. They are often side by side, looking like two houses that have been pushed together. Each has its own entrance.

Some duplexes are structured so that one residence is on top of the other. Again each has its own entrance and is completely independent of the other.


The VA appraisal is a crucial part of the home-buying process for qualified veterans and service members. VA appraisals focus on valuation and a more broad-based check of property conditions that could affect health, safety, or marketability.

Every VA buyer needs to clear the appraisal hurdle. But understand that an appraisal is not a home inspection. To be sure, you’re required to get only the former. But buyers should invest in peace of mind and also spring for a home inspection—in many cases before moving forward with the mandatory appraisal.

Home inspection

A home inspection might set you back $300 or $500, but it’s well worth the money. The VA appraisal is more like a 100-foot view of the property. Home inspectors will dig into the nooks and crannies and take a much more exhaustive approach.

If problems arise, buyers can typically use the inspection findings to renegotiate with the seller or even walk away from the deal with their earnest money.

Once you’re under contract, your lending team will move toward ordering the VA appraisal. But many buyers start with a home inspection before deciding whether to spend an additional $400 or so on the appraisal.

The VA appraisal

VA appraisals can get a bad rap. But they’re meant to safeguard VA buyers and their investment. The Veterans Affairs’ independent appraisal process has helped make these $0 down loans some of the safest on the market.

The first purpose of the VA appraisal is to assess a home’s fair market value. Appraisers will look at recent comparable home sales, or comps. After submitting at least one good comp with valuation and supporting documentation, the lender’s staff appraisal reviewer will essentially double-check the assessment and issue a formal notice of value for the property.

The appraiser will also look to see if the home meets the VA’s minimum property requirements. MPRs ensure a property is up to par with health and safety standards and can vary by location. Broadly, the VA wants to make sure buyers are getting homes that are safe, sanitary, and structurally sound.

Lenders can have their own property-related requirements in addition to the VA’s standards. Properties with income-producing attributes, for example, can be a tough sell for some VA lenders.

When it comes time to evaluate a potential purchase, both a home inspection and VA appraisal are key to ensure the property in question is a good fit for you and your family.


This article was written by Chris Birk, director of education at Veterans United Home Loans and author of “The Book on VA Loans: An Essential Guide to Maximizing Your Home Loan Benefits.”


It's the Perfect Season for a Deep Clean

It's that time of year again -- time to go beyond the weekly cleaning and tidying and do a thorough deep clean and organize! Here's a checklist to get your home in tip-top shape.

Dust Ceilings and Wash Walls -- Clear those cobwebs out of hard-to-reach places and clean all the dirt and grime off of walls.

Shampoo Carpets and Spot Treat Stains -- Hire professionals to steam clean your carpets, or rent a steam cleaning machine. Make sure to check for stains you may have missed when they happened.

Clean Window Treatments -- Dust blinds and wash window coverings.

Degrease Cooking Appliances -- Remove any built-up grease from cooking appliances.

Wipe Out Cupboards and Drawers -- Use a soapy solution to clean the insides of cupboards and drawers.

Defrost and Clean Fridge and Freezer -- Empty out the fridge and freezer to give them both a good wipe down and defrost (if needed).

Vacuum and Steam Clean Upholstery -- Get rid of the dust (and dust mites) that are hiding in your furniture by vacuuming and steam cleaning them.

Dust Electronics -- Wipe down electronics and clean the screens, remembering to use a microfiber cloth.

Polish Metal Hardware -- Make all of the metal handles, knobs and pulls look like new by polishing them with a soft cloth and liquid polish.

Dust and Wax Wood Furniture -- Clean and protect wood furniture.

Wash Windows and Screens -- Remove and wash window screens, and wash windows.

Check Home Safety Equipment -- Change the batteries in your smoke detector and check fire extinguishers.

Purge What You Don't Need -- Take a look in your closets, storage room and kitchen cupboards for extra stuff you no longer use and get rid of it!

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