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.
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 Such sites often use incorrect or outdated data to calculate their estimates, and their results can range from marginally believable to outrageous fiction.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!



Hello All,

I’ve moved to the office of Keller Williams Metropolitan in the Galleria area.

Please feel free to call or email me at (832) 341-6444 or for any of your residential real estate needs.  I can help with leasing, selling, or buying.

Read my blog to stay informed on every aspect of the home buying process….

Information for today explains
Brokers vs Banks (Lenders)

Brokers are professionals who are paid a fee to bring together lenders and borrowers.


·         Usually work with dozens or even hundreds of lenders, not as employees, but as freelance agents.

·         Evaluate home buyers to determine which lender is the best fit, then submit the application to one or more lenders.

·         Cannot make underwriting decisions and they must submit file to bank and wait for a decision to be made.

·         Do not lend money.

·         Cannot lock in your interest rate.

·         Can often offer better interest rates since they deal with multiple lenders.

·         Can find lenders who specialize in various market niches.

Banks (Loan Officers)

Loan officers are employees who sell and process mortgages and other loans originated by their employer.


·         Originate loans from one institution.

·         Take your application and match you to programs offered by their institution.

·         Make the underwriting decision regarding whether or not to approve your loan.

·         Provides the money to the borrower at closing.

·         Can lock in interest rates.

·         Can offer signature programs specific to their institution.


Once every 12 months, you are eligible for a free copy of your credit report from each of the three national consumer reporting agencies. These reports show whether you pay your bills on time, have filed for bankruptcy and even whether you have been sued or arrested. Credit reports are available at, the only site approved by the federal free credit report program. Don't use imposter sites hoping to cash in on unsuspecting consumers.
Why Use a REALTOR®?

All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR "®" logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.

Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®.

But if you're still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR®, here are a dozen more reasons to use one:

1. Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power -- that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders -- banks and mortgage companies -- offer limited choices.

2. Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.

3. Your REALTOR® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning. schools, etc. There are two things you'll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?

4. Your REALTOR® can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

5. Your REALTOR® provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your REALTOR® can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your REALTOR®, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.

6. Your REALTOR® can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.

7. Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.

8. When selling your home, your REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.

9. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.

10. Your REALTOR® will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

11. Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer's proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing -- a lot of possible pitfalls. Your REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

12. Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).



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