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Why Do Home Buyers Wait For Spring?

Residents Enjoyed ‘The Perfect Cup’

Bonterra at Cross Creek Ranch residents had an eye-opening visit from a local specialty coffee roaster. Bryan Hibbard of Fort Bend Coffee Roasters, a local Fulshear coffee roaster, came to the Aurora Model to share his passion for great coffee, and the amazing journey coffee takes from seed to cup.

He perked everyone’s interest demonstrating how brew a perfect cup of coffee. Move over Mr. Coffee. This is no automatic drip coffee experience. The grind setting, the water temperature, and the methods (pour-over, espresso, aeropress, and more) making coffee can be an art and a science. The event wrapped up with a coffee tasting that highlighted the differences in flavors that come with various roasting techniques and the country of origin where the coffee was grown.

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Woodforest Ranks No. 2 Among Houston’s Most Active Developments

Following being named as one of the nation’s top-selling developments earlier this year, Woodforest is again gaining recognition — this time as one of the Houston area’s most active master-planned communities.

Woodforest ranked No. 2 on the list, published recently by the Houston Business Journal and compiled from information by housing researcher Metrostudy on the number of homes builders started in 2016. The community was one of four projects by Johnson Development Corp. to be placed on the list. Builders started 386 homes in Woodforest last year.

“Our builders offer a type of home to fit every stage of life — from those just starting out to empty nesters who are seeking an active adult atmosphere that is still close to family,” said Virgil Yoakum, general manager of Woodforest. “Throw in an on-site elementary, on-site retail, world class amenities and our location near The Woodlands and Lake Conroe and it’s no wonder builders started nearly 400 homes last year.”

In early January, Woodforest was ranked No. 26 on a list of the nation’s 50 top-selling communities released by Robert Charles Lesser & Co. and No. 27 on the annual tally compiled by John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Builders sold 365 homes in Woodforest last year.

Thirteen production builders have opened 30 models in the Montgomery County master-planned community. Model homes showcase the wide range of home choices available including patio homes, townhomes, executive homes, luxury homes and homes for active adults. Nine custom builders also feature luxe designs in the community. Pricing in the community is from the $190,000s to the millions.

Homebuyers Can Find A Fresh Start

Spring is just around the corner, and Woodforest’s family of builders understands that while homeowners will be spending their time spring cleaning, homebuyers are looking for a fresh start.

Darling Homes is making it easy to design the perfect home by offering buyers half off design options up to $100,000, available now through March 31.

For the months of February and March, buyers have the opportunity to receive up to $3,000 in closing costs from Highland Homes and no loan origination fee, estimated to be a $3,800 value.

As part of their 50th Anniversary sales event, Perry Homes is giving homebuyers the opportunity to receive one of three gifts during February when they purchase a new home: 50 percent off plan options up to $5,000, a VISA reward card of $5,000 or up to $5,000 in closing costs.

In addition, Gracepoint Homes is offering a dream ticket to a perfect home with $20,000 in design center upgrades on to-be-built homes in Woodforest’s Sanderling, Kingsley and Grand Marion neighborhoods.

Heavily wooded, Woodforest is a South Montgomery County community conveniently located near The Woodlands and Lake Conroe. Woodforest is zoned to both the Conroe Montgomery independent school districts.

Bought A New House? 4 Simple Ways to Make It A Home

On move-in day, a new home can look empty and practically sad. It’s your task to brighten up the home and make it feel like your own. Although expensive renovations are always tempting, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to spruce up the space. Consider these four, simple ways that you can make a home all your own.

 
Hang Those Pictures

Empty walls will echo and make the rooms appear industrial by nature. Hang artwork, family photos and other framed items on the walls. Design the installation first so that you have enough room to fit the desired items. Pictures hung along a stairwell are incredibly effective because everyone who passes by will see the activities and family growth with a glance to the side. Show off old pictures and current school photos to round out the collection.

 
Swap Out the Windows

 
A new home will have a variety of different window treatments. Blinds, drapes and shades are common across many households. However, previous owners might take their treatments with them, which leaves the glass open during the day and night. Pick out window treatments that are attractive and functional. Translucent curtains allow light to filter into a room, but keep blackout drapes nearby for those late sleepers. Controlling the light and privacy in the new home will make it feel like your own.

 
Add Garden Sprinklers

The exterior elements are a reflection of your personality. As you move in, they may be less than appealing as overgrowth takes over. Spend a day pruning and trimming the yards while adding sprinkling systems. Professionals, like those at Hydrotech Irrigation Co., know that these installations can be as complex as underground lawn sprinklers or simple by design, such as drip irrigation. Consider your garden’s needs so that you can pick out a system that’s right for the property.

 
Decorate With Rugs

Buying a home can deplete your financial resources, which means a brand-new carpet project probably isn’t in the budget. To make the space feel like home, add rugs to strategic areas. You can cover up old stains while brightening a room with the colorful fabric. Add only a few rugs to each room so that it doesn’t look too cluttered with flooring accents.
An important and functional chore that should be prioritized is changing the household locks. Although the previous owners were friendly, you don’t know who has extra keys to the house. Change the locks so that you know who has access to the interior. You’ll feel safe, and the doors will look updated simultaneously.

How to Get Your Credit Ready for Homebuying Season

So you’ve decided you’re ready to purchase a home. But is your credit where it needs to be? If not, then you’ll want to start working to improve it, as your credit helps determine the loans for which you may qualify and your monthly loan payments.

We spoke with Joe Parsons, branch manager of Caliber Home Loans in Dublin, California, for some tips on preparing your credit for homebuying season, which is just weeks away.

Know Your Starting Point 

“The first place to start is to see what your credit looks like now,” Parsons says. You can view a free snapshot of your credit report on Credit.com or pull your free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies — TransUnion, Experian and Equifax — on AnnualCreditReport.com. Remember, pulling your credit report creates a soft inquiry, so it “does not affect your credit score one iota,” Parsons says.

Check for Derogatory Entries 

When checking your credit report, you’ll want to be on the lookout for any black marks that could slow down the loan-approval process. “The things a buyer wants to know about are collection accounts, past-due accounts and items of public record like tax liens,” Parsons says. “These should be dealt with” straight away, as they could drag down your credit, not to mention harm your ability to take out other loans. A good starting point is to give the reporting agency or institution a call and find out what (if anything) can to be done to repair your credit.

Pay Credit Card Balances

The two things that most affect your credit scores are any accounts that are currently past due and high credit card balances, says Parsons. Fortunately, both are easy to fix. If an account is past due, you can contact the creditor to negotiate a payment plan, Parsons says. Once you’re making payments again, the account will no longer be listed as delinquent on your credit report, but previous late payments will remain on your record. They will have less of an effect on your credit score as they age.

For credit cards, you’ll want to improve your debt-to-credit ratio, or the total amount of debt you carry relative to your credit limits. The less you use of your available credit, the better your credit score will likely be. “When your debt exceeds 30% of the credit limit, that begins to pull the score down,” Parsons explains, which “could well be costing homebuyers 15 points or more.” By paying down credit card balances, homebuyers can get “into a more favorable pricing tier” for a home loan, he says.

Correct Credit Report Errors 

As with any paperwork you submit to a loan officer, you’ll want your credit report to be free of errors. After addressing late payments and high credit card bills, you’ll need to ensure that all the information on your report is current and accurate. Spot a mysterious address or accounts you don’t remember opening? That could be a sign of identity theft, in which case you’ll need to act fast to protect your credit from further damage. If something doesn’t look right, we advise getting in touch with the company that reported it and drafting a letter of dispute to the appropriate credit bureau. (Note: You’ll need to draft a separate letter for each issue, as well as individual letters for each bureau.)

Remember, buying a home takes research and work, but it isn’t impossible. “There’s this false narrative out there that getting a loan is insanely difficult,” Parsons says. But if you build up your credit, pay down your debt and ensure all your information is accurate, you’ll be well on your way to unlocking the door to your dream home.

 

Get a Hobby: Why It’s Good for Your Brain

 

As it turns out, hobbies are more than just boredom-fighters. They can actually keep your brain in shape, fight the brain flab so to speak. A hobby can also enhance your emotional and physical health.

So what are you waiting for? Here are a few hobbies that are good brain boosters.

  1. Learn a new language. Learning a language forces your brain to quit being a couch potato. It gives you a mental workout. Researchers have found that bilingual people have beefed-up gray matter in their brain’s language center. The parts of the brain that deal with memory, planning and reasoning are larger, too.
  2. Take up a musical instrument. Scientists believe that there’s a connection between math and music. Learning to play an instrument, no matter what your age, can improve your math and problem-solving capabilities. Playing a musical instrument increases the volume of gray matter and helps both sides of your brain work together better.
  3. Read a lot. Research shows that reading builds brain muscle, helping with problem-solving, interpreting others’ emotions, and recognizing patterns. Plus, reading improves memory and exercises the parts of the brain centered on imagination.
  4. Do puzzles. Just as we suspected, crossword puzzles are good for brain performance. The more, the better. Crossword puzzles, games that make you deduce, and strategic games—even video games—make the brain absorb new information and make new connections.
  5. Exercise and meditate. Exercising sends a protein (BDNF) that enhances memory and focus to the brain. Meditating enhances focus, concentration and memory, increasing gray matter in learning and memory centers and keep more gray matter as we age.

When choosing a new hobby, look for something that holds your interest. Just about any hobby you take up is likely to be good for the brain and your well-being.

If you’re over 55 and looking for a great community, contact me today to talk about Bonterra at Woodforest. Whether you choose to savor life slowly or actively seek the next adventure, Bonterra at Woodforest will indulge your desires, delight your senses and engage you fully. I’d love to help you find the perfect place to start your new hobbies!

5 Home Improvements That Pay Off

There are several improvements that offer a high return on investment (ROI) for homeowners looking to sell. Per the 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, some investments are still worthwhile, while there are others you might reconsider. Keep reading to learn about five cheap home improvements that are worth the investment.

Update Your Entry Door

A new entry door is a cost-effective improvement that will offer substantial returns during a sale. To get the most from your investment, look for a steel entry door. Steel doors have the most safety features and highest ROI of all entry door options.

Install Insulation

Adding Insulation isn’t a flashy renovation, but it will improve the value of your home. In fact, due to low installation costs, many homeowners get a 100 percent return on their investment. You’ll also be saving money while you’re in your home since you won’t have to use the heat or air conditioning quite as much.

Replace Your Garage Door

Old garage doors, even if they’re hidden from street view, don’t do much for a home’s visual appeal. They also create an ideal entry point for intruders. Updating your garage door isn’t particularly costly. In fact, most installations recoup 75 percent of the cost.

Install New Siding

Replacing your siding will improve the look of your home and prevent any water- or weather-related damage. Siding updates also boast a high ROI. Many homeowners get a return of more than 80 percent on their investments.

Improve Your Kitchen

Upgrading the dated features in your kitchen is a great way to bring extra value to your home. Flooring, countertop and fixture updates provide a reasonable ROI. Adding treatments to your kitchen windows is another way to modernize the look of your home without breaking the bank.

Always avoid over investing in your kitchen. Embarking on a $40,000 remodel could price you out of your neighborhood and hurt your chances of selling.

Conclusion

Improving your home can be a little scary. But with the right planning, you can improve the looks and functionality of your home without overspending. Smart investments also mean you’ll see a greater return when you decide to sell.

Woodforest Welcomes Darling Homes

 

Prospective buyers will find Darling Homes throughout Woodforest, with the builder starting sales in a fifth community neighborhood — the gated enclave of Russet Peak.

Darling Homes will offer luxury patio homes in the neighborhood, which features 54 wooded homesites. Buyers will be able to choose from seven home designs, with pricing starting in the $380,000s. A model is expected to open this spring, showcasing such features as a covered patio, outdoor fireplace, upstairs wet bar and media room.

“We have seen tremendous success in Woodforest and welcome the fact that the community offers such a wide variety of home designs,” said Amy Rino, president of Darling Homes’ Houston division. “We show the breadth of our extensive array of floor plans and features available from Darling Homes.”

Darling joins Highland Homes in Russet Peak. Highland offers homes ranging from 1,800 to 3,500 square feet and priced from the $260,000s.

Opened last year, Russet Peak is located near the Forest Island Recreation Center in Woodforest.

Darling Homes and Highland Homes are among the 13 builders who have opened 30 model homes in Woodforest, which was recently ranked among the nation’s 30 top-selling master-planned communities.

If you’d like to be a part of the Woodforest community, give me a call today! I’d love to show you around and talk to you about your real estate needs. You may just end up with a ‘darling’ home!

Emerging Design Trends in 2017

With the start of 2017, we’ve said farewell to some tired interior decor trends that have worn out their welcome. Once considered innovative and edgy, those bad boys are now giving us the blahs.

But, when one trend goes out, another must come in. It’s the design circle of life!

So what’s replacing the old fads with fun, new ideas? Your friends will fawn over these eight trends—from “jungalows” to jewel tones—that promise to hit it big in 2017. Want to be a showoff (the good kind)? Be the first to integrate them into your home.

1. Geometric patterns

Gilbert Kivett Residence

Say goodbye to soft, gentle curves—funky geometric patterns will rule the roost in 2017. Embrace your memories of high school math with geometric throw pillows, wallpaper, and quirky planters.

2. Jewel tones

Traditional Family Room

Last year welcomed the bold return of art deco–inspired designs, and with them come luxurious jewel tones. Indulge your regal side with rich emerald chairs, bold sapphire walls, and amethyst accents.

3. Cork

Bedroom

Swap out your old chalkboard wall for cork, and pick up some fun pushpins (try fabric, flowers, or even teeny rabbits). Keep track of to-do lists, notes, reminders, and your favorite recipes on your cork board (aka the original Pinterest).

4. Tropical influences

Kohler

It’s the year of the “jungalow.” Your new, jewel-toned walls will look fabulous alongside lush tropical plants: spider plants, Dracaena, and gorgeous ferns.

Cursed with the blackest of thumbs? You can still embrace the tropical trend, which mixes printed and embellished textiles ranging from novelty fruits to animal print to palm fronds. Add accents in bright yellows, deep greens, and earthy oranges and reds to bring this creative look home.

5. Rich blues

Somfy

Pantone’s Color of the Year might be an interesting yellow-green, but its spring trend forecast is all about the blues. Dressing your home in shades of sky—from sapphire (another one of those glorious jewel tones) to teals and soft baby blues—has never been so fashionable.

6. Wood accents

Bathroom Driftwood Clock

We’re moving away from metal and back to an earthier feel. Wood accents will be everywhere in 2017. Look for modern wood clocks, sculptures, trays, and furniture that pair perfectly with today’s streamlined aesthetic. And yes, a lot of that wood will be reclaimed—so we can keep our wonderful forests.

7. Black stainless steel

Samsung Black Stainless Steel Appliances

Remodeling your kitchen in 2017? Now’s your chance to get ahead of a trend. Stainless-steel appliances have ruled the kitchen for years now. And why not? They’re sleek, easy to clean, and pretty. But it’s time for a change. Black stainless steel is sleek, modern, and sophisticated. And even better: It’s not in all of your friends’ kitchens.

8. Bold front doors

Kirkland Residence

Say adios to plain old black. Get rid of that sad, boring straight-from-the-store wood. If you’re eager to try something bold in 2017, try painting your front door. Homeowners should focus on transforming their front door into one that pops. Try one of those bold blues, or maybe a bright red. Or figure out what you want your door to say about you, and pick a color accordingly. An entryway is the perfect place for a homeowner to express him or herself and show off his or her unique personal style.

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