Vital Real Estate

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Enjoy a variety of terms and information included in my blog. Learn from my vast experience of home selling here in Houston which includes the sale of residential homes, condo's, and investment property.

Here are the steps you need to take to show the lender that you have the ability to repay the mortgage.

Show proof of steady income, including your W2 (for employed) and tax returns, bank statements, and other documents regarding your financial status.


Show a satisfactory credit history, including a clean credit report and good-excellent Credit Score. Lender’s will pull your credit report and a FICO Credit Score (unique to lenders).


Keep your Debt to Income ratio (DTI) down. Make sure that you have sufficient funds to cover your monthly housing and debt expenses. This includes your mortgage payments, property tax, homeowner insurance as well as your monthly debt payments. A recommended debt to income ratio (DTI) is about 36% and 20-25% for your household expenses.


Down-payment of 20% or more will save you paying mortgage insurance for conventional loans. However, you can qualify for a conventional loan or a FHA loan with a down-payment as little as 3-3.5%.


Typically when an offer to purchase a house is made, you, as the buyer, will also pay an “earnest money” deposit. This deposit shows the seller that you’re serious about the offer to purchase the property. 

The amount of the earnest money deposit varies based on the type of property being purchased and local market conditions. As your real estate professional, I’ll help you determine the appropriate amount to pay as an earnest money deposit.

The sales contract will dictate who holds the earnest money. Usually the seller’s real estate agent will deposit the earnest money in a trust or escrow account until closing.  At closing, the earnest money is applied to the purchase price.

In the event the sale doesn’t close, the sales agreement generally spells out the conditions under which you would forfeit the earnest money. Generally if the seller meets all the terms of the contract, the seller will keep the earnest money. If the seller does not meet the terms of the contract, you, as the buyer, may receive a total or partial refund of the earnest money. 


Earnest money (An initial deposit indicating your interest in buying a home), a down payment and closing costs that usually cover various fees the lender charges. Other costs to consider are your home inspection, insurance, homeowners association dues, taxes and moving costs. Got (832) 341-6444 or email me a
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Dear Neighbor, Don’t be fooled by websites that claim to offer a free estimate for the value of your home. Such sites often use incorrect or outdated data to calculate their estimates, and their results can range from marginally believable to outrageous fiction. The single most reliable source for an estimated sale price on your home is a REALTOR®. REALTORS® have personally studied and sold homes that are comparable to yours in square footage, lot size, age, and amenities. REALTORS® are the only professionals who have access to accurate “Sold Data” from the Houston Association of REALTORS® MLS (Multiple Listing Service), and know the exact sales figures on area homes. They have a first-hand feel for the market in any specific neighborhood, because they are helping their clients and customers buy and sell Houston homes every day. Feel free to ontact me if you are interested in a “FREE” Comparative Market Analysis to find out what your home is valued at in today’s real estate market. If it’s actual data you’re after, contact a REALTOR® I’m happy to help!
Are You Automatically Approved For The Loan When You Get Pre-qualified? No. Pre-qualification simply means that a lender has reviewed the preliminary information you have provided, including your monthly or annual income. Based on this preliminary information, the lender will pre-qualify you for a certain amount. The lender is not yet in receipt of written documentation supporting your claims. You will only qualify and be approved for the loan, when you actually apply and submit all necessary documentation and a credit check proves you are worthy of being approved for the loan or multiple loans.
Often when a property is sold for a highly discounted price or in case of foreclosure properties offered for sale by a banking institution, the term Sold-As-Is is used to indicate the seller shall have no obligation to make repairs to the property and the buyer purchases the property at his/her own risk. Even if the purchaser agrees to buy the property in “as is” condition, the buyer should request the right to conduct an inspection prior to closing, in order to ascertain the nature and extent of any structural or other damage. Should an inspection reveal the property to be in a state of decay beyond repair, the buyer must retain the right to terminate the contract and be refunded the Earnest Money.
Understanding how appraisals work will help you achieve a quick and profitable refinance or sale.

1. An appraisal isn’t an exact science

When appraisers evaluate a home’s value, they’re giving their best opinion based on how the home’s features stack up against those of similar homes recently sold nearby. One appraiser may factor in a recent sale, but another may consider that sale too long ago, or the home too different, or too far away to be a fair comparison. The result can be differences in the values two separate appraisers set for your home.

2. Appraisals have different purposes

An appraisal being used to figure out how much to insure your home for or to determine your property taxes may rely on other factors and arrive at different values. For example, though an appraisal for a home loan evaluates today’s market value, an appraisal for insurance purposes calculates what it would cost to rebuild your home at today’s building material and labor rates, which can result in two different numbers.

Appraisals are also different from CMAs, or competitive market analyses. In a CMA, a real estate agent relies on market expertise to estimate how much your home will sell for in a specific time period. The price your home will sell for in 30 days may be different than the price your home will sell for in 120 days. Because real estate agents don’t follow the rules appraisers do, there can be variations between CMAs and appraisals on the same home.

3. An appraisal is a snapshot

Home prices shift, and appraised values will shift with those market changes. Your home may be appraised at $150,000 today, but in two months when you refinance or list it for sale, the appraised value could be lower or higher depending on how your market has performed.

4. Appraisals don’t factor in your personal issues

You may have a reason you must sell immediately, such as a job loss or transfer, which can affect the amount of money you’ll accept to complete the transaction in your time frame. An appraisal doesn’t consider those personal factors.

5. You can ask for a second opinion

If your home appraisal comes back at a value you believe is too low, you can request that a second appraisal be performed by a different appraiser. You, or potential buyers, if they’ve requested the appraisal, will have to pay for the second appraisal. But it may be worth it to keep the sale from collapsing from a faulty appraisal. On the other hand, the appraisal may be accurate, and it may be a sign that you need to adjust your pricing or the size of the loan you’re refinancing.
The care of your home's foundation is critical...


The primary reason for foundation problems is the highly expansive nature of the clay soil on which the building rests. The clay expands or contracts as its moisture content changes with the weather. Depending on the area, the amount of contraction or shrinkage ranges from minimal to upwards of 65% of the total wet volume. The average amount of shrinkage that can be expected in this region is approximately 35%, with wide variation depending on the location. For example, a sample of water-saturated clay will shrink up to an average of 35% when dried completely. This shrinkage accounts for the large cracks that form in the soil after an extended dry period. The more expansive the clay, the larger the cracks.


Because of the highly expansive nature of the soil, trees and other large plants can significantly contribute to differential settlement of a foundation. The roots of trees and large plants consume the moisture from the soil, causing the soil to shrink much faster than other soil areas exposed to the weather. The soil where the moisture is lost more rapidly will sink lower than the surrounding soil, causing evidences and consequences of differential settlement in building structures. Research studies indicate that a tree should be at least as far away from a building as the mature height of the tree to minimize the effect of drying caused by the tree.


Wet spots caused by dripping faucets, leaking drains, air conditioning condensate drains, leaking water pipes, etc., can cause differential settlement at the location where the soil has been kept wet. The foundation may sink into the soil at a wet area while the soil dries and shrinks at other locations because the drying soil allows the foundation to move downward and overload the wet area.



Water standing or running alongside a foundation after rains may cause differential settlement of a foundation. If soil grading is such that water runs alongside a foundation during rains, the water will run under the edge of the foundation and carry away soil supporting the foundation. The effect is much more pronounced if the soil was very dry prior to the beginning of the rain. In addition, if water is allowed to stand alongside a foundation, it will flow below the foundation and dissolve the clay supporting the foundation, carrying it into the cracks that develop in the yard outside the foundation area during extended dry periods. This problem is more severe if the soil in the general area has been very dry, but is less severe if the soil has been maintained moist.


An owner can significantly reduce the rate of differential settlement by observing the following recommendations:

1.      Try to maintain constant moisture content in the soil around the foundation. Water the soil evenly and around the entire foundation during extended dry periods. This should prevent a gap from opening between the soil and foundation edge. However, if a gap does appear, water frequently (at least daily) around the entire foundation during extended dry periods (6 to 7 days in the summer). Do not apply water directly into the gap. Instead, water 1 to 2 feet away from the foundation edge. Some homeowners choose to install a fully automated foundation watering system to eliminate the need to remember to water. It is best to add water about three times per day to insure that the applied water has time to soak into the soil.

2.      Cut and cap the roots of any large trees growing closer to the foundation than the mature height of the trees. The roots from a large tree or several medium size trees can consume more water from the soil than can be added with a watering system. This will limit the consumption of water from the soil below the foundation and may prevent excessive differential settlement and cracks in the structure. It is recommended that a professional tree expert be used to prevent damage to the trees When a tree grows too close to a building to allow cutting and capping of the roots, it is advisable to remove the tree or make special provision for watering the soil below the foundation.

3.      Properly grade the soil by filling in low spots and leveling off high spots adjacent to the foundation so that the surface of the soil slopes gradually away from the building. A recommended slope is 1 inch per foot for a distance of 3 to 4 feet from the foundation.

4.      Control roof water runoff and help prevent soil erosion by using a gutter and downspout system. This is especially important if a building has no eaves which overhang the walls or if the eaves are less than 1 foot wide.

5.      Water trees and shrubs growing near a building during extended dry periods as they cause shrinking of the soil due to their high water consumption. Keep in mind that moderate to large trees consume 50 to 75 gallons of water from the soil every day.

Please Remember: the intent of foundation maintenance is to maintain a constant moisture content in the soil around and below the entire foundation and to prevent soil erosion that can result from water flowing off the roof or other large flat surfaces near the building.



Don’t forget to budget in closing costs. 

This includes (But not limited to) your first mortgage payment, property tax payments, legal fees, appraisal fees, and your mortgage application fee.

Your mortgage professional will provide you with a written good faith estimate of closing costs within three days of completing your mortgage application.  They will be happy to explain anything that is unclear to you at that time.


A Municipal Utility District (MUD) is a political entity created under Texas State law, specifically, Chapter 54 of the
Texas Water Code
. Since most of Houston's subdivisions are in an unincorporated part of the county they typically get their water through MUD districts. A MUD is limited to providing water, sewage, drainage and a few other services within the MUD boundaries. There are over 1500 MUD districts in the state of Texas.


How does a MUD work?

The Board of Directors is publicly elected and they control all the affairs of the MUD. The MUD is subject to the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. As a public servant the board establishes policies in the interest of its constituents. A MUD may adopt and enforce all charges, fees and taxes to provide the district facilities and services.


How will you be taxed?

MUD tax rates vary according to property values and debt requirements. MUD rates generally decline as the MUD area is built out. MUD rates differ greatly. They may be as low as .25 per 100 house value and as high as $2.00 per 100 house value. Typically the newer subdivisions have a little higher MUD tax as they have not had the time to build out. As the subdivision gets more established the tax starts coming down.


Is there any way around being in a MUD?

You could buy out in the country and be on your own well and septic. Another option would be to buy in a country subdivision that has community water and then have your own septic. However then you have to deal with well and septic issues. Sometimes community water fee's are higher than the water charge in a MUD but the good news is there is no MUD tax with this option. The other option is to buy in a town but then you have an extra city tax.


I hope this helped with your understanding of a MUD. Take care!


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