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Katy Models & New Construction Homes

About Katy Models and New Construction Homes

If you are looking for Katy models and new construction homes, then you need to know this. Many people moving to the Houston area decide they want to live in Sugar Land or Katy because of the great schools. However, they are often surprised to find out that there is very limited new construction in these areas, especially Sugar Land. Sugar Land is completely land-locked by Houston, Stafford, Missouri City, and Richmond Texas. If you want a new construction home in that area you will probably have to live in Missouri City, in either the Riverstone or Sienna Plantation neighborhoods. There is new construction in Imperial Sugar Land, but that neighborhood is not zoned to highly-rated schools, is next to a chemical plant, municipal airport, and baseball stadium, and train track. There is some new construction in Riverpark, which is zoned to poorly-rated schools.

NOTE
Richmond Texas is adjacent to Sugar Land and there are new construction homes available in Aliana and a few other neighborhoods that I do not recommend. Aliana is adjacent to a large county dump and the other new construction neighborhoods are not zoned to highly rated schools.

There are a lot more Katy models and new construction homes available in Katy, but only on the far west or north sides. The largest new developments include:

There is also a major new development in Cypress (north of Katy) called Bridgeland.

The following is a helpful comparison chart to help you compare Katy models and new construction homes  (not resale homes) in these six new developments (as of June 2020). Commute times are estimates during peak drive time. The newer the neighborhood, the higher the property taxes (tax rates decrease over time). The high end for annual HOA fees is usually for gated, waterfront properties. The number in parentheses on schools is the GreatSchools.org rating. These numbers may fluctuate up or down 1 pt each year. Click a school link to see details including demographics, stats, and other helpful school info.

katy models and new consruction

Things change with new neighborhoods! The following information is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed, and should be independently verified. If this table is difficult to read on your smart phone, then download the PDF file.

Riverstone

Sienna
Plantation

Cross Creek
Ranch

Tamarron

Cane Island

Bridgeland

Location

Southwest of Houston, south of Sugar Land

Southwest of Houston, south of Sugar Land

Far-west Katy actually in Fulshear, TX

Far-west Katy, just north of Cross Creek Ranch

Northwest side of Katy

North of Katy, in Cypress Texas

Commute Time to Downtown Houston (Peak)

45 mins

47 mins

48 mins

48 mins

45 mins

46 mins

ZIP Code

77479

77459

77441

77494

77493

77433

Price Range

$450K-$7M $624K median

$287K-1.2M
$444K median

$220K-1.2M
$450K median

$260K-480K
$313K Median

$320K-1.4M
$500K median

$278K-1.1M
$398K median

Property Taxes

2.73-3.0

2.91-3.54

3.3-3.6

3.13-3.54

3.58-3.69

3.6-3.74

Annual HOA Fees

$1080-$2000

$1045-1900

$1300-2925

$1250-1950

$1200-1800

$1093-1997

High
Schools

Elkins (7)

Ridge Point (8)

Tompkins (9)

Jordan (new)

———

Fulshear (7)

Tompkins (9)

Jordan (new)

———

Fulshear (7)

Katy HS (7)

Bridgeland (8)

Cypress Springs (4)

Cypress Ranch (9)

Middle Schools

First Colony (8)

Fort Settlement (10)

Thornton (new)

Baines (7)

Adams (new)

———

Roberts MS (new)

Leaman (8)

Adams (new)

———

Roberts MS (new)

Leaman (8)

Katy JH (6)

Smith (10)

Elementary Schools

Austin Parkway (9)

Commonwealth (10)

Sullivan (10)

Leonetti (8)

Sienna Crossing (10)

Campbell (new)

Randolph (10)

———

Huggins (6)

Campbell (new)

Lindsey (new)

Bryant (8)

Bethke (7)

Pope (10)

Postma (7)

Wells (10)

Golf Course Homes Available

Yes

Waterfront Homes Available*

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Main Pool

Resort-style pool and waterpark

Resort-style pool and waterpark

Resort-style pool and waterpark

Resort-style pool and waterpark

Resort-style pool and waterpark

Resort-style pool and waterpark

Number of Pools

2

5

3

1

1

2

Fitness Center

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Playgrounds

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sports Fields

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Walking Trails

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Catch-and-Release Fishing

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Tennis Courts

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sand Volleyball

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Dog Park

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Non-Motorized Boating

Yes

Yes

Yes

What’s Unique

  • Golf course
  • Sienna Stables
  • Nature preserve with reforestation areas and “Polishing Pond”
  • Amphitheatre
  • Disc golf course
  • Neighborhood café
  • Observation tower
  • Neighborhood café
  • Conservatory
  • Cane Quarter tree house
  • Treehouse Park and the Birding Tower
  • 1000 acre nature haven
  • Skate Park
  • Disc golf course

Builders Available**

Ashton Gray

Darling Homes

Newmark

Sitterle

Perry Homes

Taylor Morrison

Westport

Chesmar

Coventry

David Weekley

Highland Homes

Jamestown Estates

Lennar

M/I Homes

Meritage

Newmark

Perry Homes

Shea Homes

Taylor Morrison

Toll Brothers

Trendmaker

Westin Homes

Avanti by Trendmaker

Chesmar

Darling Homes

David Weekley

Highland Homes

Lennar

Newmark

Partners in Building

Perry Homes

Taylor Morrison

Trendmaker

Village Builders

DR Horton

Gehan Homes

Coventry

David Weekley

Highland Homes

Lennar

M/I Homes

Newmark

Partners in Building

Perry Homes

Ravenna

Trendmaker

Village Builders

Beazer

Chesmar

Coventry

Darling Homes

David Weekley

Highland Homes

Lennar

Newmark

Partners in Building

Perry Homes

Taylor Morrison

Trendmaker

Village Builders

Website

Riverstone

Sienna

Cross Creek Ranch

Tamarron

Cane Island

Bridgeland

*Waterfront lots are very limited and may not be available in new construction lots.

**Builders can come and go quickly, so this list may not be accurate.


Download the table shown above and the rest
of this article (PDF file)  by clicking the image below.

Click to Download PDF

Do Your Research!

>> Read Buying New Vs. Resale Home

>> Read What To Expect When You Buy A New Construction Home

>> Read How to Choose the Best Neighborhood


Riverstone

Location: 18353 University Blvd, Sugar Land, TX 77479 (map)

Riverstone was primarily built between 2007 and 2020, most of the 5,400 homes (6,100 planned) in this neighborhood are Traditional in style with a few Mediterranean homes mixed in. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and approximately 3500sf with 2-car garages, and a median lot size of 8000sf.

Riverstone is one of the newest master-planned neighborhoods in Sugar Land…well, technically it is halfway in Missouri City, which borders Sugar Land on the south side along Hwy 6. This 3,800 acre neighborhood has more than 200 acres of lakes…so waterfront homes are available. Another 500 acres in this neighborhood are dedicated to recreational complexes, open spaces, walking trails, and parks.

Residents of Riverstone enjoy three recreation centers with swimming pools, fitness center, and waterpark, as well as playgrounds, lighted tennis courts, and fishing pier. Plus, Riverstone has a 3.5-acre dog park. The facility has two leash-free enclosed areas, canine obstacle courses, a pet-cleaning station and more.

Riverstone Photo Gallery

The following summarizes the PROs and CONs about Riverstone.

PROs

CONs

Great elementary and middle schools

Elkins HS only rated a 7

Great neighborhood amenities

Higher property taxes

New construction homes available

Foundation fee and/or Capitalization fee charged when you buy/sell

Beautiful neighborhood with lakes and mature trees

High-voltage power lines in parts of neighborhood

Energy-efficient homes available

The subdivision Millwood had extensive flooding during Hurricane Harvey

Dog park

Not located in a high-risk flood zone

Wide range of home styles and prices

Waterfront homes available*

*Available in resale homes, but maybe not for new construction.

>> View Riverstone New Construction homes for sale

>> View all Riverstone homes for sale

>> View Developer Website for Riverstone


Map of Riverstone & Sienna Plantation

The following map shows how Sugar Land (green) and Missouri City (red) are adjacent to each other and how Riverstone is partly in each. So you can live in Riverstone and have either a Missouri City or a Sugar Land address. Sienna Plantation is entirely in Missouri City.

riverstone boundaries

Both of these neighborhoods are zoned to Fort Bend ISD. The schools northeast of Hwy 6 tend to have low ratings, the schools southwest of Hwy 6 tend to have high ratings (Greatschools.org).

missouri city schools


Sienna Plantation

 Location: 9600 Scanlan Trace E, Missouri City, TX 77459 (map)

Sienna Plantation is a very large (10,000-acres) master-planned community in Missouri City TX, which is south of Sugar land along Hwy 6. Primarily built between 1997 and now, most of the homes in this neighborhood are Traditional or Colonial in style with a few Mediterranean homes mixed in. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and approximately 3000sf with 2-car garages, and a median lot size of 9000sf.

Sienna Plantation has a thriving “hometown feel” and residents enjoy a multitude of community events, leisure activities, resort-style community pools and water parks, lighted tennis courts, and 160-acre sports park. Sienna Plantation features 100 acres of neighborhood parks, playgrounds and lakes, miles of trails, and a wide assortment of sport leagues and Sienna Stables for equestrians.

Sienna Plantation Photo Gallery

The following summarizes the PROs and CONs about Sienna Plantation.

PROs

CONs

Great schools

Schools zoning may be a problem with over-crowding in schools (borders extremely-low rated schools)

Great neighborhood amenities

Out-of-the way location

New construction homes available

Higher property taxes

Beautiful neighborhood with lakes and mature trees

Foundation fee and/or Capitalization fee charged when you buy/sell

Energy-efficient homes available

Active train track runs through neighborhood

Not located in a high-risk flood zone

A small portion of homes (less than 1%) did flood during Hurricane Harvey

Wide range of home styles and prices

Waterfront homes available*

Equestrian center available

Golf-course homes available*

*Available in resale homes, but maybe not for new construction.

>> View Sienna Plantation New Construction homes for sale

>> View all Sienna Plantation homes for sale

>> View Developer Website for Sienna


Cross Creek Ranch

 Location: 6450 Cross Creek Bend Ln, Fulshear, TX 77441 (map)

Cross Creek Ranch is a Johnson Development located on the far-west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to FM1093 (Westpark Tollway). In fact, Cross Creek Ranch is actually located in Fulshear TX 77441. The west side of the neighborhood is zoned to the Lamar Consolidated ISD school district.

You can buy Katy models and new construction homes in Cross Creek Ranch, which has been available since 2007. Most of the 1200+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and over 3000sf with 2-car garages.

This eco-friendly neighborhood has native trees and grasses (unmowed areas) and natural habitats for Texas birds and wildlife including a 50-acre “polishing pond.” There are 28+ miles of hike/bike trails (see map) winding through the neighborhood’s “tall grass” areas and lakes. Waterfront homes are available in the neighborhood and new construction homes are still being built!

Cross Creek Ranch has a “small town” atmosphere and features a community clubhouse with a 70- foot observation tower that provides 360 degree views of the area. Next to the community clubhouse there is a neighborhood café and a 6,000sf fitness center, plus a large swimming pool and waterpark featuring a 40-foot high hill with a water slide. There is another swimming pool in the neighborhood, plus multiple playgrounds, tennis courts, volley ball court, a disc park, and dog park.

Cross Creek Ranch Photo Gallery

The following summarizes the PROs and CONs about Cross Creek Ranch.

PROs

CONs

High performing schools

Out-of-the way location

Fantastic neighborhood amenities

Neighborhood split into two different school districts, but lines are not likely to change with new Katy ISD schools built on east side

New construction homes available

Higher property taxes

Beautiful neighborhood with lakes and mature trees

Foundation fee and/or Capitalization fee charged when you buy/sell

Energy-efficient homes available

Pipelines located in and beside the neighborhood

Dog park

Eco-friendly design of neighborhood

Not located in a high-risk flood zone

Wide range of home styles and prices

Waterfront homes available*

No high-voltage power lines

*Available in resale homes, but maybe not for new construction.

>> View Cross Creek Ranch New Construction homes for sale

>> View all Cross Creek Ranch homes for sale

>> View Developer Website for Cross Creek Ranch


Tamarron

Location: 4088 Katy Rd, Katy, TX 77494 (map)

Tamarron Katy, offers Katy models and new construction homes, and is located on the far-west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to FM1463. This is a new neighborhood that just started in 2014 and currently has several hundred homes built with plans to have a total of 4000+ homes (approx.) when completed. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 2+ baths, and approximately 2900sf with 2-car garages.

This newish neighborhood does not have mature trees but it does have a community clubhouse with fitness center, playground, resort-style swimming pool, lap pool, tennis courts, walking trails, and sports fields. This is a smaller neighborhood developed by DR Horton (home builder).

Tamarron Photo Gallery

The following summarizes the PROs and CONs about Tamarron.

PROs

CONs

High performing schools

Out-of-the way location

New construction homes available

Neighborhood split into two different school districts

Energy-efficient homes available

Higher property taxes

Not located in a high-risk flood zone

Neighborhood amenities are good but not up-to-par with other new construction neighborhoods

No high-voltage power lines

Only two builders available now: DR Horton and Gehan. Previously Perry Homes and Express Homes also built in the neighborhood.

Affordable home prices

>> View Tamarron New Construction homes for sale

>> View all Tamarron homes for sale

>> View Developer Website for Tamarron


Cane Island

Location: 2100 Cane Island Pkwy, Katy, TX 77493 (map)

You can buy Katy models and new construction homes in Cane Island, which is master-planned community of approximately 1100 acres located in Katy Texas, on the far west side of Houston. Primarily built between 2015 and 2020, most of the homes in this neighborhood are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and approximately 3400 sf with 2-car garages, and a median lot size of 9800 sf. There are both waterfront homes available in this neighborhood and you can also purchase a luxury home for $600K and up.

Cane Island amenities include resort-style pool, two-story fitness center, multiple playgrounds, sports fields, pickle ball court, walking trails, catch-and-release fishing, tennis courts, sand volleyball, and non-motorized boating. The community mascot, Hub (Golden Retriever), will greet you at the Welcome Center. There is a beautiful Conservatory that can be reserved for special events. Cane Quarter (virtual tour), is a private custom-built treehouse, available by request for an exclusive overnight getaway.

cane island

The following summarizes the PROs and CONs about Cane Island.

PROs

CONs

Great neighborhood amenities

Average performing schools

New construction homes available

Out-of-the way location

Energy-efficient homes available

Higher property taxes

Not located in a high-risk flood zone

A few homes may have flooded during Hurricane Harvey

Wide range of home styles and prices

Beware of feral hogs

Waterfront homes available*

Close to Buck-ees!

*Available in resale homes, but maybe not for new construction.

>> View Cane Island New Construction homes for sale

>> View all Cane Island homes for sale

>> View Developer Website for Cane Island


Bridgeland

Location: 16919 North Bridgeland Lake Pkwy, Cypress 77433 (map)

Bridgeland is master-planned community of approximately 11,000 acres located in Cypress Texas, on the northwest side of Houston. Primarily built between 2006 and 2020, most of the homes in this neighborhood are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and approximately 3100 sf with 2-car garages, and a median lot size of 8700 sf. There are both waterfront homes available in this neighborhood and you can also purchase a luxury home for $700K and up.

Bridgeland will one day boast 20,000 homes for 65,000 residents. It is designed to be a haven for nature enthusiasts — with more than 3,000 acres devoted to lakes, trails and open space. Amenities include resort-style pool, 6000sf fitness center, multiple playgrounds, sports fields, 250 miles of walking trails, catch-and-release fishing, tennis courts, sand volleyball, dog park, and non-motorized boating. The Cypress Creek Nature Trail is a 1,000-acre haven for more than 300 species of resident and migratory birds, an unbridled zoo of mammals, reptiles and amphibians, as well as native vegetation.

The following summarizes the PROs and CONs about Bridgeland.

PROs

CONs

High performing schools

Be careful of low-performing high school in area

Fantastic neighborhood amenities

Out-of-the way location

New construction homes available

Higher property taxes

Energy-efficient homes available

Dog park

Eco-friendly design of neighborhood

Not located in a high-risk flood zone

Wide range of home styles and prices

Waterfront homes available*

Near BlackHorse Golf Club

*Available in resale homes, but maybe not for new construction.

>> View Bridgeland New Construction homes for sale

>> View all Bridgeland homes for sale

>> View Developer Website for Bridgeland


Katy Models & New Construction Homes for Sale

Updated Daily – Sorted by Newest Listings

covid19 e1587826552554

Buying a Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

I am normally a positive/upbeat person, but we are living in unusual times with buying a home during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  So forgive me while I go over the new issues to tackle in regards to protecting the safety of all the people involved in real estate transactions including: buyers, sellers, real estate agents, inspectors, appraisers, escrow officers, lenders, etc. Please read the following information very carefully.
 
The good news: Real estate activity is considered to be “Essential” in Texas!
 
The bad news: If you are coming from certain places (California; Washington; Atlanta, Ga.; Chicago, Ill.; Detroit, Mich.; and Miami, Fl), there is a statewide MANDATORY order for a 14-day quarantine and you will not be able to tour homes during those first 14 days (please read).
 

BEFORE WE BEGIN

In order to plan a home tour for you, I will need you to confirm in writing that none of the people touring homes (Buyers) with me, nor people they work with closely, or live with:
U.S. Air Force Graphic by Rosario “Charo” Gutierrez
  1. Are currently diagnosed with COVID-19.
  2. Are currently under quarantine due to possible COVID-19 infection.
  3. Have had close, unprotected contact in the previous 14 days with someone who is diagnosed with COVID-19. (If you are a healthcare provider, see guidelines below).
  4. Have traveled in the previous 14 days to anywhere designated by the CDC as having widespread ongoing COVID-19 transmission (please read).
  5. Have experienced COVID-19, Cold, or Flu-like symptoms in the previous 14 days.

BTW: I pass all five of these! Rest assured I will not knowingly expose you to COVID-19 and I take proper sanitization and social distancing very seriously.

The reason I bring this up is that I will be emailing you some documents before we go on our first home tour. One of these documents (see example) will be used to obtain appointment confirmations with various home sellers (via their listing agents). In return, I will try to obtain this information from all occupied homes that we may want to tour. 
 
If you do not want to tour a home without the Seller’s Response on these issues (see example) then please let me know.
 
 
VIEWING ALL HOMES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS “ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK”
   
I cannot take responsibility for the health and safety of my clients in viewing homes during this time. I have no control over whether or not Sellers or their Listing Agents disinfect the homes we will tour.
 
 

Healthcare Professionals

Please alert me if you are a Medium or High risk in Exposure Category according to CDC’s guidelines. 

 

OTHER ISSUES

There are some known issues with buying a home during the COVID-19 Pandemic, including:
 
  1. Longer time needed to set up appointments for home tours, because of the new forms that are to be submitted confirming neither side is potentially infected with COVID-19. Some Sellers my not allow showings.
  2. Some Sellers may not be able to leave for showings, since there are limited options of where to go right now. If this is the case, then we will not view that home, unless they agree to wear masks or step outside during the showing.
  3. Longer time frames needed for typical deadlines such as inspections, Option periods, loan approval time frame, appraisals, etc.
  4. Potential difficulty in finding home inspectors available during this time.
  5. Problems with lender appraisers who will only view the exterior of the home or do a drive-by appraisal.
    (I have no control over this so please discuss with your lender.)
  6. Problems with low, under value appraisals that are not necessarily based on current market data. PLEASE TELL LENDER TO ORDER APPRAISAL DURING OPTION PERIOD. (I have no control over this but we can use an Addendum to protect you, by giving you the option to cancel the deal, if the appraisal comes in too low. Otherwise, if  a home appraises below the sales price, a lender may require you to come up with the difference between sales price and appraised price, in addition to your down payment and Closing costs.)
  7. Delays and problems with loan processing and funding during the pandemic. MAKE SURE YOU DISCUSS THESE POTENTIAL ISSUES WITH YOUR LENDER!
As always, I am here to protect you to the best of my ability, but I have limited control over viruses, sellers, listing agents, lenders, appraisers, inspectors, etc. So the best I know to do is to warn you in advance of these potential issues so that you can be prepared for them.
 

EXPECTATIONS REGARDING HOME TOURS WITH ME

I don’t like setting “requirements” for touring homes with me, but for both your safety and mine, I would like to set proper expectations regarding what we all agree to in order to go on a home tour:
  1. Everyone must wear a face mask at all times during the home tours and maintain 6-feet apart as much as possible. That includes time outside of the homes when we are on the front porch, back yard, back patio garage, etc.
  2. Buyers travel in their own car, not my car (social distancing).
  3. The touching of light switches, door knobs, etc. will be minimized. Lights will only be turned on if it is too dark to see the room.
  4. Buyer clients will be prepared for it to take longer for me to “clean up” after a showing, and before I get into my car. (I will probably wear gloves since I have to handle un-disinfected keys, doorknobs, etc. I plan to properly dispose of gloves after each showing, before I get into my car.)
  5. Buyers will bring their own hand sanitizer and use it between each showing.
  6. Only the parties to the transaction are allowed on showings: no children or other friends or family members.
  7. Please send me your pre-approval letter, not just a pre-qualification letter (learn the difference), because many Sellers will not approve appointments without one (see below). We will need a pre-approval letter to make an offer anyway.

 


OTHER THINGS TO KNOW

A few other things to expect when buying a home during  COVID-19 Pandemic and upcoming months…   
 
To minimize unnecessary exposure:
  1. I will not attend home inspections or Closings. Most real estate agents don’t attend these appointments anyway, so there should be no issue with me not attending them during this pandemic. (My attendance at these appointment is generally a “courtesy” only.) 
  2. Instead of meeting in person, we may have to do more phone or online conferences. 
  3. All paperwork will be handled via DotLoop for signatures and email when appropriate. (This is the norm anyway.)
  4. Earnest money (1 percent of sales price) will be delivered to the title company by you in person (personal check) OR via a Wire Transfer (your choice). You will be responsible for doing this within 3 days after the contract is Executed by all parties. I will give you exact instructions when it’s time. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!


    Beware of Wire Fraud! NEVER Wire funds unless you have called the title company and verbally verified the account number in the emailed instructions. Don’t just wire money based on an email, even if it looks like it came from me or the title company.


  5. Option fee ($200-400 usually) will be delivered by you to the Seller’s Broker’s office. Or, if possible, we will  see if you can deliver it directly to the Seller via PayPal, Venmo, or some other service you like to use. You will be responsible for doing this within 3 days after the contract is Executed by all parties. I will give you exact instructions when it’s time. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!  

 

ONE LAST THING

Since this is a challenging time for getting permission from sellers to tour homes, I would like to minimize unnecessary viewings as much as possible. As best you can, please view the Virtual Tours for potential homes to weed out floorplans and homes that won’t work for you. Let’s not waste time on homes you can tell won’t work for you, ahead of time. 😀 
 
The red arrow (below) points at where you can access the Map and Virtual Tour tools on your custom home search that I set up for you.
 
 
 
 
Also use the Map tool to view a Satellite map of potential homes and Zoom In to see if there are any potential defects. Lots of buyers don’t want a home that backs up to utility poles, commercial properties, busy streets, etc. You can see what’s around a home by viewing the Satellite map and Zooming In.
 
 
 
I hope this helps you in understanding the new issues we will face. I am happy to help you find a great home!
We just have to “jump through a few hoops” to achieve our goals during the pandemic. 😀

 


Also Important to know when buying a home:

 

houseofmoney

Pricing a Home Correctly

Pricing a home is more complicated than simply comparing the list price to the sales price. Clients often ask me how much they should pay for a home, and I tell them, “It depends on how much it’s worth!” For example, if a house is listed at $450,000 and you get it at $400,000 that may seem like a good deal…but not if the market data says it’s only worth $350,000. (I’m using large numbers here to make the point.) Similarly, if a house is listed at $450,000 and you get it for $450,000, but the market data says it’s actually worth $500,000…then you got a  good deal, even though you paid “full price.” See what I mean? 

By the way…that new home specialist at the builder’s model home you like will tell you that the $440K model home was originally listed at $520K…sounds like a great deal, right? But they won’t tell you that the last five homes they sold, with that exact floorplan, had an average sales price of $400K. But I will! I’m looking out for you…not the builder.

 

Home Value Is Not About Price Per Square Foot

Pricing a home is complicated because real estate market data is changing every month…so home values are changing every month as well. In addition, there is not one price/sf price for an entire neighborhood. Smaller homes in the same neighborhood will typically have a higher price/sf than larger homes in the same neighborhood. Homes with swimming pools and waterview lots are generally worth more in the same neighborhood than homes that don’t have those features. Three-car garage homes are worth more than two-car garage homes in the same neighborhood.

Pricing a home correctly is complicated…you can’t just work off of averages or price/sf. There is no “Kelly Blue Book” value for homes! When determining the value of a home, you should compare at least three recently Sold price (not asking prices) for homes that are comparable to the house you want. Comparable means the houses are all within the same size-range (+/- 300sf), have a similar number of bedrooms and bathroom, have similar garage sizes, have similar types of amenities and lot types, etc. Usually you will not find three homes that are exactly the same as the subject property, so adjustments must be made to the prices, and then the adjusted prices are averaged out. This gives you a good idea of a home’s current market value. See the example below.

CMA

By the way, cosmetic items such as granite counter tops, hardwood floors, updated light fixtures, special colors of paint…those items do not add value to a home. Appraisers do not make adjustments for cosmetic items. Other items that buyers like, such as a new roof, new HVAC system, beautiful landscaping…those types of items are rarely adjusted either because appraisers (and buyers) expect the home to have a good roof and working HVAC system. Those items may help a home sell faster, but they do not usually add value on an appraiser’s report.

New Construction Homes Cost More Than Comparable Resale Homes

New construction homes in a neighborhood make pricing a home correctly more challenging. Technically speaking, investing in a home is very different from investing in an automobile. Homes and real estate are generally “appreciating assets” while cars are generally “depreciating assets.” However, trust me when I tell you that no home buyer on the planet is going to pay the same price for a “used” one-year old home when they can buy a “fresh,” brand-new, never lived in home…where they get to choose all the finishes (paint colors, floors, counter tops, cabinets, etc.). Buyers like that “new home smell” just the same as they like that “new car smell.” And they are willing to pay a premium for the “new home smell” just like they are willing to pay a premium for the “new car smell.”

We all know a car loses value the minute you drive it off the car lot. Likewise, that a new construction home typically loses its value (at least in the short run) the minute that you move in. So do not compare new construction prices with a resale home prices when determining value.

And be prepared to sell your home for less than you paid for it if you bought it from a builder…at least until the builders move out of the neighborhood (and no new construction homes are available) or at least five years (or more) have passed since you bought it from the builder. It is almost impossible to compete on price with home builders when you are selling a resale home. They offer lots of “buyer incentives” to entice buyers to purchase…and they can offer a buyer something you can’t…a never-lived-in-home.

It can be hard to determine what new construction homes are selling for because builders do not always list them on the MLS. Since Texas is a non-disclose state, home builders can sell homes without ever reporting them to the MLS. This often conceals the fact that homes lose value after they are purchased by a builder. 

I know that some home sellers think their home is “better than new” because they have done this and that to the home. Home sellers like to price a home based on new construction home prices. But just like a used car, a used home is not usually worth as much to a buyer as a new construction home. 

 

Home Should Appraise for Sales Value

If you are like most home buyers, you are going to get a loan in order to buy a home. That means the lender’s appraiser is going to have a say in how much you can pay for a home. This is something that home buyers and sellers have to be reminded about. It really doesn’t matter if you are willing to pay $450,000 for a house if the lender’s appraiser says it’s only worth $420,000…unless you want to pay the $30,000 difference at Closing.

Remember that a lender is making an investment in you and your home when they loan you money to buy a house. They want to make sure the home is a good investment. They don’t want to invest more than the item is worth. Always keep this in mind when you are applying for a loan.

Always make sure you have a way to get out of the deal if the home doesn’t appraise for the sales price. That will give you leverage to renegotiate the price if the appraisal comes in too low. If you have a back-out addendum in place, and the appraisal comes in too low, then you have four options:

  1. Get the Seller to come down in price to the appraised value
  2. Meet the Seller somewhere in-between the sales price and the appraisal price (but you will have to pay your share of the difference at Closing)
  3. Pay the difference between the sales price and the appraisal value at Closing…on top of your other down payment and Closing costs
  4. Back out of the deal (but then you will not get back all the money you spend on inspections, appraisal, etc.)

Some people think they will be able to terminate a transaction if the appraisal comes in too low because they believe a lender will not approve the loan in that case. This is not, necessarily, true. If you have enough cash on hand to pay the difference, then the lender may still approve the loan.

 

Price Analysis

Pricing a home based on the “tax rolls” and tax appraised values does not work in Texas. Tax appraised values are usually not accurate for market value in this state. Plus, Texas is a non-disclose state and only members of the MLS have actual sales data. And even Zillow only gives themselves 1-star on their Zestimate’s accuracy (see here). 

zestimates not accurate

There is a method for doing a proper Comparative Market Analysis for a home that is similar to how a lender’s appraiser is going to determine a home’s value. Hire an experienced agent who knows what they are doing!

As your Buyer’s Agent, when you find a home you want to make an offer on, I do a complete CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) and provide you with the data that I have, to determine the realistic and accurate price for a home. This method is similar to how lender’s appraisers value a home. That way you don’t find yourself wasting a lot of time on a home that will not appraise for sales price.

Read more about “Buyer’s Agents”: The Agent Showing You Houses May Not Be Your Agent

 

Negotiating Price When It’s Too High

Often times a home is listed at a price that is considerably more than the CMA value. For example, a home that just hit the market may be listed at $550,000 and the CMA, which is based on comparable homes SOLD in the past six months) says it is only worth $500,000. But you, the Buyer, really want the house. What do you do? Well…

Neither the Buyer’s Agent or the Listing Agent can make a seller accept your reasonable offer. And if the house just hit the market, then it’s possible that the seller hasn’t “come to their senses” yet. Sometimes it takes time for a home seller to see that their home isn’t worth what they want for it. If the house sits on the market for months, then sellers either decide to lower the price (hopefully) or they take the home off the market, because they find out they can’t get what they want for it at the current time. (So they will wait.)

I have seen it time and again where a Buyer’s Agent shows the Listing Agent their data for the $500,000 offer and it doesn’t matter…until months go by. Then, eventually, the Seller finally sells the home at the price you offered (or lower)…after letting it sit on the market for 6 months. It is often the case that only TIME can motivate a seller to accept a reasonable offer.

So what do you do if you really want a house that is overpriced? 

  • Do you have time to wait? If so, give it a month or two and hope that another buyer doesn’t beat you to it. If you don’t have time to wait, then move on and find another home.
  • Pay the higher price. Sometimes it is worth paying more for a house to get what you want, when you want it. And besides…paying a higher price helps raise the prices in the neighborhood…thereby increasing the value of your investment.
  • Take a risk and offer the price the seller will accept while hoping the appraisal will come in low so you can renegotiate. Use the lender’s appraisal as your “checks and balances” for the price. This strategy can only work if you have the right to back out of the transaction if the appraisal comes in low. 

Sometimes an appraisal comes in much higher than what a Buyer’s Agent thinks the house will appraise for. This may be because the market has changed in the 4-6 weeks between the time the agent did the CMA and the time the appraisal is done..and more homes sold in that time. Or sometimes it seems that appraisers choose odd “Comparables” to make the appraisal come in higher (or lower). You just never know what a lender’s appraiser will do when valuing a home.

 

Negotiating Tips for Buyers

Here are some tips to help with negotiations:

  • Don’t let yourself “fall in love” with a house, making detailed plans for remodeling and decorating, before you have an executed contract. If you are emotionally attached to the home, then it will be harder for you to walk away from an over-priced home.
  • Don’t expect to get a seller to go down substantially in price when the house has only been on the market for a few weeks. Be willing to pay a reasonable price instead of getting a “killer deal” on a house that just hit the market.
  • Don’t low-ball a house in a HOT market when you may get in a competitive situation with other buyers. Be willing to pay a reasonable price (or slightly more) because other buyers will be willing to do so.

There is a funny saying in real estate: “You can’t fix stupid.” That’s just an irreverent way of saying that your Buyer’s Agent can’t prevent other buyers from overpaying for a home. Cash buyers commonly pay way too much for a home because they don’t have a lender’s appraisal holding them back. And you don’t know what the other buyer’s circumstances and motivation are…maybe they are too desperate to be conservative about price.

  • Always consider your “next best alternative” when making pricing decisions. If you are desperate to get a home because you have to move in six weeks, and you have been looking for several months without finding anything else that you like, then be willing to pay more to get what you want. Likewise, if you are not being forced to move in a short-time frame, or you have seen lots of other homes that you like, then you can be “stricter” with the price you pay for a house.
  • Do not take the CMA value of a home and then subtract from it all the cosmetic changes (paint, flooring, landscaping, pool, etc.) that you want to make to the home. It doesn’t work that way. Cosmetic items do not, generally, effect the value/price of a home. 
  • Remember that both CMAs and Appraisals are opinions of market value. If you have three different appraisers do an appraisal on the same home at the same time, you will probably end up with three, different values. 
  • Always remember that the price you pay effects the prices in the neighborhood where you are buying and investing. Driving too hard a bargain on your future home can have a negative impact on your home’s value too.

 

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Homestead Tax Exemption in Texas

The homestead tax exemption in Texas is a large exemption to reduce the amount of property taxes you pay. Applying for a Homestead Tax Exemption (info) is a one-time activity in Texas that home owners need to do the first year they buy a home…not something you do every year. The deadline is typically April 30 each year and you can’t apply until you have lived in the house on December 31st. 

To receive this tax exemption your application must include a copy of your Texas Driver’s License or DPS Identification Card and the address on the driver’s license or identification card MUST be the same as the address on which you are filing an Application for Residence Homestead Exemption (because you can only get this exemption on ONE home you live in).
 
Download the form to fill out and send in. You can get the appraisal district’s name and number here: Fort Bend County Appraisal District
 
If you have questions, please call the Tax Assessor-Collector Office at 281-341-3710
 
More info…
 
>> Read more about Property Taxes in Texas
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Sheila Cox Reviews

Client Reviews


About Sheila Cox

sheila cox five star realtor2

Hey! My name is Sheila Cox, a Katy real estate agent. I have lived in this area since 1998…starting in Upper Kirby, then Westchase, then Sugar Land, Richmond, and now Katy. So I guess you can say I know the area. I wrote every word and took every local photo and video that you see on this website…so I hope that proves that I’m the local area expert. 😀

I have been a real estate agent since 2009 and I really enjoy the complexity of this business. I’m one of those “think outside of the box” problem-solvers that my clients find invaluable when problems crop up in the real estate transaction. (If you have ever bought or sold a house before, you know what I mean.) Before I became a Katy real estate agent, I worked as an instructional designer, corporate trainer, and tech writer in the software industry. That’s how I learned to do websites!

On a personal note, I have a teenage daughter who is my pride and joy. We enjoy going for walks around our Katy neighborhood with our little Rat Terrier/Dachshund mix “Darla” and visiting Galveston Island. I enjoy Live Music (especially Classic Rock!), healthy green-living, beaches/oceans, reading biographies and historical fiction, Tex-Mex food, college and professional football, and helping other real estate agents improve their business skills. I was voted “Wittiest” of my Senior class in high school (a hundred years ago) so I have a fun sense of humor and speak sarcasm fluently (when not on the job). 😀

Hiring the right real estate agent is very important, but you need someone that has more than “personality” going for them. This is (probably) your largest financial investment, so please consider these five important reasons why you should work with me:

  1. Even though I have a fun, upbeat personality, I am also smart and analytical…so I can help pinpoint PROs and CONs of homes and situations in a way that truly helps you “cut to the chase” and make the wisest decisions and solve problems quickly.
  2. Because I am analytical, I provide you with important data that you can’t get online…to help with pricing decisions. I hate to say it, but most agents have no idea how to pull all the data, reports, charts, and stats that I will provide you. My goal is to ensure that you always get a good deal in your real estate transaction.
  3. Since I have lived in this area since 1998, I really know the area and can listen to your needs and help you narrow your options so you can focus the best neighborhoods to meet your specifications.
  4. I take my “fiduciary duty” to you very seriously and I’m always looking out for your best interest. You can be sure that I am on your side and that I “have your back.” 
  5. I’ve selling real estate since 2009. My expertise and knowledge will be invaluable to you when challenges pop up in the process. Plus, my expertise enables me to make the process as smooth as possible for you…providing you with the help and guidance you need along the way.

Why You Should Hire Me

 

sheila cox five star realtor5Candid Advice—I promise to give you candid advice on all homes and areas so you can make the best decisions. I won’t ignore potential defects that can cost you money, or effect your resale value, in the future. My job is to protect you from defective homes as much as possible while helping you make a sound financial investment. (Read client testimonials)

Local Area Expertise—This isn’t just my business…it’s where I work and live (for 20 years) so I really know the area. I will help you narrow your options and find the best neighborhood for you based on your specifications. For long-term resale value, the neighborhood you choose is just as important as the home you buy. (Download my Ultimate Katy Guide)

Great Data—I will give you the most in-depth data you have ever seen…to help you make the wisest decisions. This includes a professional CMA when you are ready to purchase a specific home…so you don’t pay too much. Plus, my proprietary House Report (see sample) includes the data and information you need to ensure that you are making great home purchase. (Also see Pricing a Home Correctly)

Best Home Searches—Yes, you can search on your own, but no other home search available can filter down to the school level…and filter out the subdivisions that may be known to flood. Tell me exactly what you want, and I can narrow down your options better than any search you have access to. (Request a Custom Search)

Easier Process—Moving your family (and possibly changing jobs) is stressful enough. I’m your transaction manager and will guide you, step-by-step, through the process so you never miss an important deadline. I assist with inspections, repair negotiations, home warranties, HOA compliance inspections, hazard insurance, surveys, appraisals, title commitment, home warranties, title company, and more. (View helpful videos on my YouTube channel)

Network of Experts—My network of experts can make your transition to the area as smooth as possible. Need a painter, electrician, mover, insurance company, etc.? I can help! 


How I Work to Protect Home Buyers

My job isn’t “just” helping you find a house to buy…I’m helping you buy a home. There are over 100 tasks that I perform for you during the purchasing process. I’m looking out for you every step of the way and keeping my eye on the listing agent, the seller, the builder (if applicable), the lender, the inspector, and the title company. I’m on your side because I’m YOUR agent. I help with price analysis and negotiations, legal paperwork, inspections, repair negotiations, home warranties, HOA compliance inspections, hazard insurance, surveys, appraisals, title commitment, home warranties, and more. I have the expertise to help solve complicated problems that often occur in the process. Real estate is a huge financial and legal commitment. Don’t you deserve to have a Five-Star real estate agent on your side? 

Please read:

⇒  Does My Agent Really Represent Me?

⇒  How Real Estate Commissions Are Paid

Take a look at a sample House Report that I do for my clients. This is the extra “due diligence” I do for you, to make sure that you are getting a great home. This is when I triple-check the home’s taxes, schools, aerial maps, sex offenders in the area, flood zones, etc. NO other agent in the world does this! Check out p. 27 regarding the sample Flood Map info I provide.

sample house report sheila cox


My Reputation

Don’t take my word for it. I have received the Five-Star Real Estate Agent award for the past TEN YEARS because of my client satisfaction ratings.  


(view video)

Less than 1 percent of all agents have received this award for TEN YEARS IN A ROW!


I Love My Clients!

I am an equal-opportunity real estate agent and love the diversity of our area.

clients

 

 

 


Keller Williams Southwest

Keller Williams Southwest 1650 Hwy. 6 #350 Sugar Land TX 77478

TREC Disclosure 

Consumer Protection Notice

 

katy real estate agent 2

houseonmoney

Home Warranties

houseonmoneyWhen you purchase a resale home, you can purchase a home warranty (a.k.a., Residential Service Contract or RSV) that will protect you against most ordinary flaws and breakdowns for at least the first year of occupancy.  The warranty may be offered by either the Seller, as part of the overall package, or by the agent.  Even with a warranty, you should have the home carefully inspected before you purchase it.

A home warranty program will give you peace of mind, knowing that the major covered components in your home will be repaired if necessary.  Here are the major RSV providers:

 

NOTE
If you need help deciding, check out http://www.homewarrantyreviews.com/reviews but keep in mind that the bigger companies have more complaints because they have millions of customers and people are more likely to complain than express their satisfaction. “You can’t please all the people all of the time…”

I can say from personal experience that I no longer recommend First American Home Buyers Protection…they have terrible customer service these days and send terrible, low-quality vendors to perform the work.


 

priorfoundationrepair

Prior Foundation Repairs

Will Prior Foundation Repairs Effect a Home’s Resale Value?

In Texas, there is a saying that all houses here either have foundation repairs or will need them in the future. That’s because the soil in most parts of Texas is an “expansive soil” that significantly expands and contracts based on the level of moisture in it. And since Texas is known for either droughts or floods…our soil tends to expand and contract a lot.

Here is a must read for Texas home buyers: Buyer’s Guide to Slab-On-Ground Foundations by R. Michael Gray, P.E. and Matthew T. Gray, EIT.

That is why it is very important for homeowners to keep the soil around their home evenly watered. Water in the soil provides pressure to support the home. During a drought, the lack of moisture may cause a foundation to sag. Simply watering the soil can often push a slightly sagging foundation back up…no kidding!

Does having a prior foundation repair on a home effect the resale value? That’s a controversial question with no “scientific” data to prove one opinion or another. Some say that as long as the repair is done by a reputable foundation company and has a transferable lifetime warranty…no problem. It may even be considered a positive feature of the home, since the cost of the repair has been covered by a prior owner.

NOTE: If you need some brick or mortar repair in the Sugar Land area, contact JQ Brick at 713-253-5092…they do excellent work at very reasonable prices.

brickrepair
These kinds of cracks do not necessarily mean there are foundation issues…bricks and mortar crack very easily.
They do need to be resealed, however, with mortar (not caulk) to prevent water penetration into the side walls.
Call JQ Brick at 713-253-5092.

Others know that inexperienced home buyers may be scared of purchasing a home with prior foundation repairs…and will not even give such a home a second glance. So, by reducing the number of prospective buyers for a home this way, it could have a negative impact on the price per square foot that home can command. That would suggest that a home buyer should not pay a neighborhood’s top price/square foot for a home with prior foundation repairs…unless there are other special features that significantly override the foundation issues.

Read other opinions:


 

brickrepair

Brick Repairs in Katy Area

Before a home owner puts a brick home on the market to sell in the Katy TX area, a thorough inspection on the exterior of the home should be performed. All the walls should be checked for cracks along mortar lines and brick. The lintels above windows and doors should be checked for rust. Make sure that you look behind hard-to-see areas covered with bushes as well.

brickrepair
These kinds of cracks do not necessarily mean there are foundation issues…bricks and mortar crack very easily.
They do need to be resealed, however, with mortar (not caulk) to prevent water penetration into the side walls.
Call JQ Brick at 713-253-5092.

 

If you find any cracked brick or mortar, or rusted lintels, requiring brick repairs, then call a brick restoration company to have them repaired before you put the house on the market.  If a potential home buyer sees these kinds of cracks, it may scare him away before he takes a serious look at the home. Or, if the cracks are found during an inspection, it can kill the deal. These brick repairs are relatively inexpensive (usually around $500 or less) and need to be done whether you sell or not…to prevent water penetration into the side walls.

Cracks in bricks and mortar may indicate foundation issues, but they definitely do not mean that the foundation definitely has problems. I’ve seen homes with cracks running the entire length of the home that did not require foundation repairs even after inspections by several foundation repair companies. However, most home buyers are not foundation experts and automatically think there are foundation problems when they see cracks in the walls…and move on to the next house to consider buying.

NOTE: If you have any concerns about foundation issues, contact a structural engineer or foundation repair company for inspections and estimates.

In Texas, there is a saying that all houses here either have foundation repairs or will need them in the future. That’s because the soil in most parts of Texas is an “expansive soil” that significantly expands and contracts based on the level of moisture in it. And since Texas is known for either droughts or floods…our soil tends to expand and contract a lot…causing the need for brick repairs on a regular basis.

That is why it is very important for homeowners to keep the soil around their home evenly watered. Water in the soil provides pressure to support the home. During a drought, the lack of moisture may cause a foundation to sag. Simply watering the soil can often push a slightly sagging foundation back up…no kidding!

Here is a must read for Texas home buyers: Buyer’s Guide to Slab-On-Ground Foundations by R. Michael Gray, P.E. and Matthew T. Gray, EIT.

Read also:   Will Prior Foundation Repairs Effect a Home’s Resale Value?


 

strike plate

Katy Home Security

Katy Home Security: Tips for Securing Your Home That Are Not Well Known

If you are interested in Katy home security, then let me tell you my story…

A while back I had the unfortunate experience of having my home burglarized.

I thought my home was pretty safe:

  • It’s in a low-crime neighborhood with active police patrols.
  • I have an alarm which I always activate when I leave.
  • I had good quality, double-key locks on all my doors.
  • I have two, small, barky dogs.

But in spite of all that, my front, side door (next to the garage, but on the front of the house) was kicked in at 2:25 p.m. on a school day…in the middle of the afternoon! I always thought break-ins happened at night! But here’s what I found out when I researched home security.

Your Door Is Easy to Kick In

When I researched how to prevent break-ins, I came across some interesting facts that I did not know. One of the best articles on home security  that I read was “Home Security: Burglary Prevention Advice” by Chris E McGoey, CPP, CSP, CAM at  http://www.crimedoctor.com/home.htm

That article points out:

“The most common way used to force entry through a door with a wooden jamb is to simply kick it open. The weakest point is almost always the lock strike plate that holds the latch or lock bolt in place followed by a glass paneled door. The average door strike plate is secured only by the soft-wood doorjamb molding. These lightweight moldings are often tacked on to the door frame and can be torn away with a firm kick. Because of this construction flaw, it makes sense to upgrade to a four-screw, heavy-duty, high security strike plate. They are available in most quality hardware stores and home improvement centers and are definitely worth the extra expense. Install this heavy-duty strike plate using 3-inch wood screws to cut deep into the door frame stud. Use these longer screws in the knob lock strike plate as well and use at least one long screw in each door hinge. This one step alone will deter or prevent most through-the-door forced entries. You and your family will sleep safer in the future.”

So now I tell all my friends, family, clients–EVERYONE!–that they need to secure their strike plates with 3.5 inch screws. It doesn’t matter how good your lock is, if all a thief has to do is kick in the door and bust the doorjamb! These screws are inexpensive and easy to install no matter how “tool challenged” you may be. (Read Consumer Reports article)

katy home security

 

You Need Better Locks

The second thing that I did to improve home security, was to replace my double-key locks with The Ultimate Lock which was designed by a former Houston police officer and are made right here in Fort Bend County! These things are incredible. They have a safety pin which, when pushed in, prevents even a person with a key from unlocking the door. You can buy them at Lowes for about $180 each.

NOTE: The only thing that I don’t like about these locks is that they are not double-key locks…so if your door has glass around it, you will need security film to prevent a thief from breaking the glass to unlock the door (see below).

Watch the demonstration video 

 

Even if you don’t install the Ultimate locks, you should at least add a “landlord lock” to your exterior doors. These are locks without keys that protect you when you are inside the home…so they are used for preventing home invasions. I buy these off of Amazon and install with 3.5″ screws.

Buy on Amazon

 

Security Film for Windows Is Incredible

Another thing that I learned about home security is that if they can’t kick your door in, then they will probably “smash and grab” a window…most likely a master bath or master bedroom window, because most people keep their valuables and prescription medication in the master bathroom or closet. I am good friends with two police officers who have security film on their windows to prevent this. Plus, I asked a Fort Bend Sheriff’s deputy to give my house a security audit, and he too has security film on his home windows. That’s 3 out of 3 police officers that I know who have security film on their own homes. So I contacted Steve Meyer, at SunTech Glass Tinting, to install security film on my windows too…especially all the windows next to my doors and locks!

There are many different brands of security film, but you have to check out a video demonstration to believe it.

You can search on YouTube for “security film for windows” and see lots of different demonstration videos. The cool thing about this stuff, is not only does it improve the security of your home, it’s also a layer of protect from flying debris…say, during a hurricane. I think…that’s good…one less thing.

 

Katy Property Taxes

La Centerra Green

Katy Property Taxes–Unfortunately, property taxes in Texas are among the highest in the country. But before you panic, just remember that we don’t have a state income tax in Texas…so one sort of offsets the other. You can read more about Texas property taxes so you are well-informed.

Each Katy subdivision (and there are over 200!) has different property tax rates…and they can change from year to year. Subdivisions in our newest neighborhoods, like Firethorne and Tamarron, tend to have the highest property tax rates (3.2 to 3.6) and subdivisions in our older neighborhoods, like Kelliwood or Nottingham Country, tend to have the lowest tax rates (2.2 to 2.8). One thing I like to point out though…our newer homes tend to be much more energy-efficient than our older homes; so you will save money in energy costs when you buy a newer home. That may help partially offset the higher taxes.

There are tax benefits and other benefits in owning your own home (which can make up for the high Katy property taxes). Please read The Benefits of Home Ownership to learn more. 


Homestead Exemption

As a home owner in Texas, your Homestead Tax Exemption is a large exemption to reduce the amount of Katy property taxes that you pay. Applying for a Homestead Tax Exemption (info) is a one-time activity in Texas that home owners need to do the first year they buy a home…not something you do every year. The deadline is typically April 30 each year and you can’t apply until you have lived in the house on December 31st. 

Your application must include a copy of your Texas Driver’s License or DPS Identification Card and the address on the driver’s license or identification card MUST be the same as the address on which you are filing an Application for Residence Homestead Exemption (because you can only get this exemption on ONE home you live in).

Download the form to fill out and send in. You can get the appraisal district’s name and number here: Fort Bend County Appraisal District
 
If you have questions, please call the Tax Assessor-Collector Office at 281-341-3710 or go to: https://www.fbcad.org/homestead-filing-requirements
 
 
More info…
katy taxes homestead exemption
 

Subdivision Property Taxes

To get up-to-date Katy property tax rates, search for the subdivision (or the neighborhood name) below. When you view a neighborhood page, look at the “Subdivision Tax Rates” section and add up the five or six different tax types (city, school, drainage, levee, etc.) to determine the overall tax rate for the subdivision.

NOTE: If this tool (widget) doesn’t work correctly, please go to: Subdivision Lookup

 

katy neighborhoods map

Katy Master Planned Communities

Katy TX is a unique area that consists mostly of “master planned communities.” We typically refer to these Katy master planned communities as “neighborhoods.” Most neighborhoods are further divided into subdivisions. There are over 200 subdivisions in Katy! Some neighborhoods like Cinco Ranch and Kelliwood are divided into many subdivisions. Here’s how this happens…

When a developer decides to create a planned community, it doesn’t develop the entire plot of land all at once. It opens a section or two at a time. Each section typically has 2 to 5 different builders who are building homes within a certain price range. So one subdivision may contain homes in the $200-400K price range, and another may contain homes in the $400-600K price range, and yet another may contain homes $750K and up.

So within one Katy master planned community you may have home prices from $200K to over $1 million, but they would be subdivided so that you should never see a $200K house next to a $900K house. Also some subdivisions may have different features than surrounding subdivisions such as a water front section, gated section, golf course section, etc.

For the larger Katy master planned communities you will notice that various subdivisions may be zoned to various elementary schools–and maybe even different middle schools and high schools–all within the same neighborhood. So it is very challenging for newcomers to get a handle on where to live!

» See How to choose the right Katy neighborhood for you for help

HOA (Home Owner’s Association) Fees

Another complication is that various subdivisions may have different HOA (home owner’s association) maintenance fees…even within the same neighborhood. This is because various subdivisions may have different amenities and features from surrounding subdivisions. For example, Avalon Seven Meadows is actually an upscale subdivision in the Seven Meadows planned community, but is treated as if it is its own neighborhood. 

The HOA fees in Katy master planned communities (sometimes referred to as maintenance fees) are annual fees that cover the cost and upkeep of the neighborhood’s shared amenities such as street lights, sidewalks, common areas, park, swimming pool, tennis courts, etc. There are Pro’s and Con’s for having home owner associations but if you want to live in Katy, you might as well resign yourself to the fact that you are probably going to have to deal with one because there are very few parts of Katy that are not covered by an HOA.

HOA fees are typically paid annually and, as specified previously, they can vary from house to house within the same subdivision, so always check with your real estate agent before purchasing a specific home. These fees can change (slightly) from year to year as well. Some HOAs also have transfer fees (applied each time you buy or sell a home that is within an HOA) that may be paid by either the Seller or the Buyer. There can also be compliance inspections and certificates during home sale transactions, depending on the HOA, which is another cost when purchasing or selling a home. These fees are all typically under $200 each (transfer fee is separate from the compliance certificate fee). You need a good real estate agent who can guide you through all of the requirements during a real estate transaction so you don’t end up with a home that hasn’t met its HOA compliance, and then have to (unexpectedly) pay more money to get it up to compliance after you move-in! Inexperienced agents or agents from other areas may not know and understand these complicated HOA requirements.


READ:  KATY MODELS & NEW CONSTRUCTION HOMES

 

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Avalon Seven Meadows

Top 10 Things About Avalon Seven Meadows Convenient access to Grand Parkway and Westpark Tollway Zoned to high performing schools Nearby shopping Nice neighborhood amenities Lower property taxes Energy-efficient homes available Beautiful neighborhood with lake and golf course Prestigious neighborhood Gated community Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Avalon Seven Meadows is located on the west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to the northwest corner of Grand Parkway and Westpark Tollway. Primarily built in the mid ...
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Cardiff Ranch

Top 6 Things About Cardiff Ranch: High performing schools Affordable prices Nearby shopping New construction homes available Energy-efficient homes available Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Cardiff Ranch is located on the far-west side of Katy in Fort Bend County, close to FM1464 and in between I10 and Westpark Tollway. Primarily built since 2010, most of the 230+ homes (approx.) in Cardiff Ranch are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3 ...
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Churchill Farms

Top 6 Things About Churchill Farms: High performing schools Affordable prices Nearby shopping New construction homes available Energy-efficient homes available Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Churchill Farms is located on the far-west side of Katy in Fort Bend County, close to FM1464 and in between I10 and Westpark Tollway. It actually has a Fulshear, TX, address. Primarily built since 2013, most of the 300+ homes (approx.) in Churchill Farms are Traditional in style. On average, these homes ...
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Cimarron

Top 6 Things About Cimarron: Convenient location Good schools Affordable prices Nearby shopping Low annual HOA fee Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Cimarron is located on the east side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to I10 and Grand Parkway (southeast corner). Primarily built in the late 1970s, most of the 1500 homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are one-story ranch-style homes. On average, these homes have 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and approximately 1700sf with 2-car garages, and ...
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Cinco Ranch

Top 7 Things About Cinco Ranch: Convenient location High performing schools Wide range of prices Nearby shopping Fantastic neighborhood amenities Beautiful neighborhood with lakes and mature trees Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Cinco Ranch Katy TX, is a very large master-planned neighborhood that spreads across both the east and west sides of Katy’s Grand Parkway and across two ZIP Codes (77450 and 77494). Parts of Cinco Ranch are gated, on the Cinco Ranch Golf Course, or have ...
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Cross Creek Ranch

Top 9 Things About Cross Creek Ranch: High performing schools Fantastic neighborhood amenities New construction homes available Beautiful neighborhood with lakes and mature trees Energy-efficient homes available Dog park Eco-friendly design of neighborhood with abundant wild life Not located in a high-risk flood zone Water park with 140-ft water slide Description Cross Creek Ranch, is located on the far-west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to FM1093 (Westpark Tollway). In fact, Cross Creek Ranch is actually located in Fulshear ...
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Falcon Landing

Top 6 Things About Falcon Landing: Convenient location High performing schools Affordable prices Nearby shopping Lower property taxes Not in high-risk flood zone Description Falcon Landing is located on the west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to the southwest corner of Grand Parkway and I10. Primarily built in the late 1990s, most of the 600+ homes (approx.) in Falcon Landing are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and approximately ...
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Falcon Point

Top 7 Things About Falcon Point: Convenient location High performing schools Affordable prices Nearby shopping Golfcourse homes available Lower property taxes Not in high-risk flood zone Description Falcon Point Katy is located on the west side of Katy TX 77494 in Fort Bend County…close to the southwest corner of Grand Parkway and I10. Primarily built in the late 1990s, most of the 500+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional in style and many are located on the Falcon Point ...
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Falcon Ranch

Top 5 Things About Falcon Ranch: Convenient location High performing schools Affordable prices Nearby shopping Not in high-risk flood zone Description Falcon Ranch is located on the west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to the southwest corner of Grand Parkway and I10. Primarily built in the late 1990s, most of the 850+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 2+ baths, and approximately 3000sf with 2-car ...
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Firethorne

Top 6 Things About Firethorne: Good schools (Lamar Consolidated ISD) Affordable prices Neighborhood amenities New construction homes available Energy-efficient homes available Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Firethorne is located on the far-west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to I10 and FM1463. Primarily built since 2008, most of the 1700+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 2+ baths, and approximately 3300sf with 2-car ...
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Governors Place

Top 5 Things About Governors Place: Convenient location Good schools Affordable prices Nearby shopping Not in high-risk flood zone Description Governors Place is located on the east side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to I10 and Grand Parkway (southeast corner). Primarily built in the 80s and 90s, most of the 500 homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are one-story ranch-style homes. On average, these homes have 4 bedrooms, 2+ baths, and approximately 2500sf with 2-car garages, and a median lot ...
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Grand Lakes

Top 8 Things About Grand Lakes: Convenient location High performing schools Nearby shopping Neighborhood amenities Lower property taxes Beautiful neighborhood with lakes and mature trees Dog park Community Garden Description Grand Lakes is located on the east side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to Grand Parkway and Westpark Tollway. Primarily built from 1998 to 2008, most of the 2700+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional or Colonial in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 ...
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Grayson Lakes Katy

Top 5 Things About Grayson Lakes: High performing schools Nearby shopping Lower property taxes Waterfront homes available Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Grayson Lakes Katy is located on the far-west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to the I10. Primarily built in the mid-2000s, most of the HOMES homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are 300+ are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 2+ baths, and approximately 3400sf with 2-car garages, ...
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Kelliwood

Top 7 Things About Kelliwood: Convenient location High-performing schools Wide range of prices Beautiful neighborhood with mature trees Not located in a high-risk flood zone Gated subdivisions available Greenspace homes available Description Kelliwood Katy is a very large master-planned neighborhood that spreads along South Fry road on the far-east side of Katy TX…close to George Bush Park and the Energy Corridor. This neighborhood was built during the late 80s and throughout the 90s so the trees are mature and the ...
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Nottingham Country

Top 7 Things About Nottingham Country:  Convenient location Mostly high performing schools Affordable prices Nearby shopping Lower property taxes Beautiful neighborhood with mature trees Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Nottingham Country Katy is located on the east side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to I-10 and the Energy Corridor. Primarily built in the 70s and 80s, most of the 2500+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional or Colonial in style with some one-story Ranch homes ...
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Pine Mill Ranch

Top 6 Things About Pine Mill Ranch:  Good schools Affordable prices Neighborhood amenities New construction homes available Energy-efficient homes available Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Pine Mill Ranch Katy is located on the far-west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to FM1463. Primarily built since 2008, most of the 1400+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 2+ baths, and approximately 3200sf with 2-car ...
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Seven Meadows

Top 9 Things About Severn Meadows: Convenient access to Grand Parkway and Westpark Tollway High performing schools Nearby shopping Neighborhood amenities Lower property taxes Energy-efficient homes available Beautiful neighborhood with lake and golf course Prestigious location Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Seven Meadows Katy is a beautiful neighborhood that is located on the west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to the northwest corner of Grand Parkway and Westpark Tollway. This means that it has very ...
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Silver Ranch

Top 6 Things About Silver Ranch: Good schools Affordable prices Neighborhood amenities New construction homes available Energy-efficient homes available Not in a flood zone Description Silver Ranch is located on the far-west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to FM1463. Primarily built since 2008, most of the 640+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 2+ baths, and approximately 2900sf with 2-car garages. This newish neighborhood does ...
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Tamarron

Top 7 Things About Tamarron: Good schools Affordable prices New construction homes available Energy-efficient homes available Not in a flood zone Wonderful community swimming pool with water slides Dog park Description Tamarron Katy is located on the far-west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to FM1463. This is a new neighborhood that just started in 2014 and currently has several hundred homes built with plans to have a total of 4000+ homes (approx.) when completed. On average, these homes ...
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West Memorial Katy

Top 5 Things About West Memorial: Convenient location Affordable prices Nearby shopping Lower property taxes Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description West Memorial Katy is located on the east side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to I10 and the Energy Corridor. Primarily built in the 1970s, most of the 1100+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are one-story Ranch homes. On average, these homes have 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and approximately 1800sf with 2-car garages, and a median ...
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Westheimer Lakes North

Top 5 Things About Westheimer Lakes North: High performing schools Affordable prices New construction homes available Energy-efficient homes available Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Westheimer Lakes North is located on the southwest side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to FM1063 (Westpark Tollway). Primarily built in the late 2000s, most of the 1100+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and approximately 2500sf ...
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Windsor Park Estates

Top 10 Things About Windsor Park Estates: Convenient location High performing schools Lower property taxes Beautiful neighborhood with lakes and mature trees Luxury homes available Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Windsor Park Estates is located on the far-east side of Katy in Harris County (77094)…close to I10 and the Energy Corridor. Primarily built in the early 1990s, most of the 100+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are large estate homes on an average of 18,000sf lot with ...
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Windsor Park Lakes

Top 9 Things About Windsor Park Lakes: Convenient location High performing schools Lower property taxes Beautiful neighborhood with lakes and mature trees Neighborhood amenities Fishing and boat access available Not located in a high-risk flood zone Luxury homes available Manned gate for access Description Windsor Park Lakes is a gated community located on the far-east side of Katy in Harris County (77094)…close to I10 and the Energy Corridor. Primarily built since 1996, most of the 340+ homes (approx.) in this ...
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Woodcreek Reserve

Top 5 Things About Woodcreek Reserve: High performing schools Nearby shopping Neighborhood amenities Beautiful neighborhood with mature trees Not located in a high-risk flood zone Description Woodcreek Reserve Katy is located on the far-west side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to the I10. Primarily built in the mid-2000s, most of the 380+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and approximately 3800sf with 2-car garages ...
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Negotiating Advice for Home Buyers

Here are some helpful tips for Buyers when negotiating a sales offer on a home:

  • Find out the number of days the house has been “on the market” (also referred to as DOM: Days on Market) as well as the pricing history of the home. In Texas, only members of the MLS will have access to this data…it is not publicly available.

NOTE
You cannot use Trulia or Zillow or public tax information to find this information because Texas is a “non-disclose” state on real estate sales figures. Tax records are not accurate sources of real estate sales figure either…the appraised value of a home for tax purposes is usually not related to the actual value or price of the home.

  • Architect presenting home projectAsk the Seller’s agent why the home owner is selling the home. That agent does not have to answer the questions (due to client confidentiality) but typically will. This helps you understand the Seller’s motivation behind the sale.
  • Make sure your Realtor does a Buyer’s CMA (comparative market analysis) to determine the current, probable value of the home. This will prevent you from over-paying for the home and will also prevent you from wasting your time. For example, lender appraisals these days in our area tend to the conservative side. If a Seller is demanding a price that is $50,000 over the current market value of the home, the lender will not loan the money to you to buy it, even if you are willing to pay it. You will either have to come up with the cash to pay the difference, or walk-away from the deal. Better to know earlier rather than later.
  • Do not belittle the Seller or the property to the Seller who has strong emotional ties to the home. As much as possible, minimize emotional responses on both sides.
  • Always make offers or changes to offers in terms in writing…Texas requires written contracts in regards to real estate.
  • If you view a home when a Seller is present, be as friendly and positive as possible. Sellers like to sell to people they like.
  • Do not start mentally decorating the house or arranging furniture in too much detail until you have a deal in writing…be ready to walk away. This is the biggest financial investment you may ever make…stay as rational as possible.
  • Don’t get hung up on a few hundred or even thousands of dollars and lose a deal.  You don’t want to lose a good deal on a $500,000 home over a $300 survey (for example).

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What Is a Real Estate “Closing”?

ContractA real estate “Closing” is where you and I meet with some or all of the following individuals: the Seller, the Seller’s agent, a representative from the lending institution and a representative from the title company, in order to transfer the property title to you. The purchase agreement or contract you signed describes the property, states the purchase price and terms, sets forth the method of payment, and usually names the date and place where the closing or actual transfer of the property title and keys will occur. 

If financing the property, your lender will require you to sign a document, usually a promissory note, as evidence that you are personally responsible for repaying the loan. You will also sign a mortgage or deed of trust on the property as security to the lender for the loan. The mortgage or deed of trust gives the lender the right to sell the property if you fail to make the payments. Before you exchange these papers, the property may be surveyed, appraised, or inspected, and the ownership of title will be checked in county and court records.

About a week in advance, I will schedule the real estate Closing with you and the title company. We will meet at the title company on the day of closing, sit in a conference room with an escrow officer (who is also a notary), and you will sign the legal documents to purchase the home.

You will need to bring your driver’s license with you to the real estate Closing. At closing, you will be required to pay all fees and closing costs in the form of “guaranteed funds” such as a cashier’s check.  Your agent or escrow officer will notify you of the exact amount at the day before Closing.

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Buyers: What To Bring to Your Closing Appointment

Here’s the minimum of what to bring to your “Closing”:

  • Photo ID
  • “Good funds” for your down payment and other costs: typically
    a cashier’s check—never cash

 


 

 

Texas Home Inspections for Buyers

distressed_house2Please know that a home inspection is one of the most important parts of buying a home. But it can be overwhelming trying to find a reputable inspector who you can trust. I provide all my buyer clients with a list of licensed home inspectors in the area to make this process easier for you.

The inspection should include information (including photos) on the condition of the following:

  • Appliances
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Air conditioning and heating
  • Ventilation
  • Roof and Attic
  • Foundation
  • General Structure

The inspection is designed to report on any potential defects or problems with the home that may require repair. Not everything they report will be considered an actual defect by you; you must decide on whether or not the items noted require repair or not for your peace of mind. For example, I have never seen a home inspection report where the inspector did not note that the dirt is too high around the foundation of the home. This seems to be something that they always note because it could potentially hide termite activity around the home…and inspectors have to protect themselves against potential lawsuits. But this is something that you can easily fix when you move into the home.

NOTES

  • Should serious foundation or structural problems be indicated, the inspector will recommend that a structural engineer or other professional inspect it as well.
  • The home cannot “pass or fail” an inspection, and your inspector will not tell you whether he/she thinks the home is worth the money you are offering.

The Seller may be willing to negotiate completion of repairs or a credit for completion of repairs, or you may decide that the home will take too much work and money.  A professional inspection will help you make a clear-headed decision. In addition to the overall inspection, you may wish to have separate tests conducted for termites or the presence of mold.

In choosing a home inspector, consider one that has been certified as a qualified and experienced member by a trade association.

I recommend being present at the inspection.  This is to your advantage because you will be able to clearly understand the inspection report and know exactly which areas need attention.  Plus, you can get answers to many questions, tips for maintenance, and a lot of general information that will help you once you move into your new home.  Most important, you will see the home through the eyes of an objective third-party. But always keep in mind that an inspector’s job is to report on all potential issues (like dirt around the foundation) and you need to be reasonable in your repair request negotiations with sellers.


⇒  For Home Sellers read Sixteen Must Do Items to Prepare Your Home for Inspections

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Why Rent When You Can Buy?

 

  • rentwhenown3Are you unsure about becoming a HOMEOWNER?

  • Thinking that you can’t afford to BUY a home?

  • Are you worried about whether home buying is a good INVESTMENT?

Buying a first home can be an intimidating process. But the first step is making those first decisions: I want to own my own home; I can afford to own my own home; owning my own home makes sense for me financially and emotionally. If you are still struggling with those first decisions, here are some facts that might help you make that first step towards becoming a homeowner.

You Can’t Afford NOT to Buy a Home!

Over the last ten years, the cost of rental housing in the U.S. has increased an average of 3 percent per year. That means that an apartment or home renting for $750 per month will cost more than $978 a month in ten years. If you rent the same home for ten years, the total amount you would pay for rent will equal $103,000! 

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Tax Advantages of Owning a Home Result in Savings

None of that $103,175 is returned to you, either through savings or as an investment. Homeownership, on the other hand, has tax advantages over renting a home, and those advantages can help you save money. Unlike your monthly rent, part of your monthly mortgage payment “comes back to you” in tax savings. Here’s an example:

You purchase a home that costs $110,000 (plus closing costs – expenses incurred to actually process the transaction). You finance the balance with a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 6.5 percent interest. Your monthly payments (not including utilities, maintenance, insurance, etc.) are:

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You actually save $195 a month by owning your own home. On a yearly basis, the savings is even more dramatic: 

Homeownership is a Good Investment

For the majority of Americans, their home is their largest financial asset and a major player in their investment portfolio. It’s a good thing, too, since stock market value has declined since 1998, while home price appreciation has increased. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® estimates that home value rises, on average, by 4.5 percent a year. That’s a steady return on investment; one’s own home is a much less volatile asset than stocks, bonds or mutual funds.

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As an example, let’s look again at that $110,000 home. Unlike your rental unit, your home should appreciate over time. Assuming a 4.5 percent appreciation rate, your home will be worth $114,950 in the second year of ownership, $120,123 in the third year of your owning it, etc. After ten years, your $110,000 home will be worth $163,470. Not only do you earn a rate of return on your original purchase price, but you also get a return on any subsequent appreciation.

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Homeownership Builds Wealth for Households

The Federal Tax Reserve Board estimates that homeowners have a net worth almost 36 times more than that of renters. In 2001, the median net worth for homeowners was $171,700 compared to $4,800 for renters. How do you build up your net worth? Through those “appreciating returns” on your home.

We’ve already seen how your $110,000 home is worth $163,470 in ten years. In addition, you are paying down the principal on your mortgage. Remember that $100,000 you borrowed at 6.5 percent over 30 years – that debt amount is decreasing every month and every year.

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After the first year, you now only owe $98,786 on a home that is worth $114,950. You have “netted” a $4,950 increase in the value of your home, plus $1,116 a year that previously you owed as part of your mortgage debt. As your debt decreases and the home value increases, you accumulate wealth from the value of your home. In addition, over this ten-year period, you will have a significantly lower after-tax payment for housing. Each year as your home appreciates and you continue to pay down your mortgage debt, you increase your own net worth.

Homeownership – It’s NOT Just About Money

The “numbers tell the story” should ease your mind about the financial aspects of becoming a homeowner. But there are other, less monetary, benefits to homeownership. Several research studies indicate homeownership adds to the value of communities, has positive effects on children, and even contributes to increased voter participation rates.


 

Courtesy of: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

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Buying New vs. Resale Home

One question that I get a lot is, “What’s recommended: buying new vs resale home?” A new home is one that has never been lived in while an existing home has been lived in by a previous owner. There are Pros and Cons either way that you should consider. Here are my home buying tips for buying a new vs resale home.

PROs for Purchasing a New Home May Include:

  • Lower maintenance costs during the first years of owning the home.

  • Lower energy costs because new homes are built with better energy saving materials and equipment than older homes.

  • More functional home designs and floorplans as well as up-to-date home fixtures.

  • Latest technology features such as pre-wired for a home computer network.

  • Possibly the ability to choose paint colors, floor types and colors, exterior colors, and other optional home features.

NOTE: There is typically a substantial markup on these items.

  • Builder incentives to lower the initial cost to purchase.

  • Easier to get to know neighbors because everyone is “new.”

 


 

READ:  KATY MODELS & NEW CONSTRUCTION HOMES

 


 

PROs for Purchasing an Existing (Resale) Home May Include:

  • Lower price per square foot than newly built homes.

  • Better locations and shorter commute times.

  • Mature landscaping in both the yard and throughout the neighborhood.

  • Proven track record of home values in the neighborhood.

  • Lower tax rates since more neighborhood features have already been paid for by home owners.

  • Sales contracts that are fair to both parties…not one-sided in favor of the builder.

  • Lower move-in costs (possibly) since home already has window coverings, landscaping, garage door openers, and other items that you will have to buy for a brand new home.

  • Easier for home inspector to find home defects because more time has passed since the home was constructed. NOTE: New homes may have hidden defects that are impossible for a home inspector to find.

  • More established school zone boundaries than for new neighborhoods.

  • Established community activities and events.

  • Quicker move-in date compared with building a home from scratch in a new neighborhood.

If you decide to buy a new home, make sure that you check out the builder first: http://houston.bbb.org/consumers/. Also make sure that you hire an inspector (read http://www.best2inspect.com/buyersguide.html for more information). And don’t forget to bring your Realtor along when you view new home models! Remember: A Realtor’s job is not “just” helping you find a house to buy…there are over 100 tasks that Realtors may perform for you during the home purchase process! Your Realtor should be on your side because she is your agent. The salesperson at the builder’s model home office is not on your side…as an employee of the builder, he or she is looking out for the builder’s best interest.

Before you decide to buy a new home, make sure you get up-to-speed on new home builder’s warranties at  http://www.fairarbitrationnow.org/content/home-court-advantage-how-building-industry-uses-forced-arbitration-evade-accountability (scroll to the bottom and then click “Read the Full Report.”

You will also find these articles interesting:

I don’t want to discourage you from buying a new home…Houston has some really great new home builders. But it’s my job to make sure that you have all the information that you need to make a wise buying decision. 

NOTE: The Following rankings are from JD Powers 2010. I’m not aware of a more current list.

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Checklist of Steps for Buying a Home

This list is not comprehensive. There are a lot of steps that your REALTOR® takes care of behind-the-scenes.

Call Sheila Cox for help at 832-779-2890

Action Item

Deadline

 

Unless you have cash to buy a home, contact three or four lenders to determine how much house you can afford and get rate quotes.

 

 

Determine how much money you will need to purchase a new home. Do you have enough? If not, create a budgetand start saving now.

 

 

Get approved for a loan. Don’t forget the approval letter! We will need to submit it with an offer to buy a house…Katy sellers will not typically accept an offer without a strong approval letter from a reputable (preferably a local lender).

 

 

Hire a Katy real estate expert to help you with your purchase. You need a professional looking out for your best interest!

 

 

Do you need to sell your current home? Your Katy real estate expert can help you with that too (and may offer a discount if you both buy and sell).

 

 

View homes that meet your specific needs.

 

 

Choose the right home for your needs.

 

 

Sign the legal paperwork and make an offer to buy the house that you chose. Be prepared to write two checks (which will be cashed): 1% earnest money to Title Company and $200-300 option fee to the Seller.

 

 

After the purchase offer is accepted, hire home and termite inspectors to check the home. This will cost $300 to $500.

 

 

Negotiate repairs to home as needed.

NOTE: If you are using an FHA loan, have all “conducive” termite conditions resolved to prevent loan problems.

 

 

Decide whether or not to exercise your Option. If you decide to continue with the purchase, the go to next step. Otherwise, return to viewing homes that meet your needs.

 

 

Tell lender to order the appraisal. Be prepared to pay an appraisal fee (approximately $400)…or it may be rolled into Closing costs.

 

 

Turn-in items for your loan application (W2s, tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, etc) to lender as quickly as possible. Be prepared for a hassle! The lending process is very stringent these days.

 

 

Check your Title Commitment when you receive it…especially Schedule C. You typically have 5 days to “object in writing.”

 
 

Will both buyers be at the Closing? If not, order a Power of Attorney with your lender…it has to be approved by lender and title company ahead of time.

 
 

Obtain home owner’s hazard insurance. Make sure you get at least three quotes because rates can vary drastically. They will want the age of roof, your birthdates, current address, and more.

 

 

Make sure the survey is ordered in a timely manner, unless it is provided by the Seller. NOTE: Know the 10 Common Pitfalls to Closing on Your Home.

 

 

Make sure the HOA compliance inspection and resale certificate are ordered in a timely manner (if applicable).

 
 

Select your residential service contract (“home warranty”).

 

 

Make sure all negotiated repairs are made in a timely manner.

 
 

Plan your move and order your utilities to be turned on the day you Close.

 

 

Make sure your Closing is scheduled with the Title Company.

 
 

Do your final walk-through the day before/of Closing.

 

 

Go to the settlement Closing. Each person signing (husband and wife) will need a photo ID and a cashier’s check or wiring instructions.

 

 

Move into your new home and enjoy!

 

 

Check out these tips for decorating, remodeling, and updating your new home.

 

 

Make sure you receive a copy of your Deed (from the Title company) within a couple of weeks after Closing.

 

 

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What to Expect When You Buy a New Construction Home

So you have put a contract to buy a new construction home with a builder and you can’t wait to move in. Buying a home is exciting, especially if you are a first-time home buyer, but buying a brand new home that has never been lived in doesn’t mean the house will be perfect and you won’t have any issues. In fact, the first owner of a home generally has to work out the “kinks” of a new home…kind of like breaking in a new car.

>> See Buying New vs. Resale Home 

One of the most important things you need to know: Get the home inspected by a licensed house inspector! Again…”new” doesn’t equal “perfect” and you need an expert to find all the things the builder missed (and give the inspection to the builder to fix what needs fixing). In fact, I have seen inspection reports on “brand new” never-lived-in homes that are longer (with more items to fix) than an older resale homes! And if you are building a home “from dirt” then you may want to hire an inspector who will inspect the home in various stages of completion: foundation, framing, wiring and plumbing, and then final (because new construction homes have problems too!).

>> See List of Licensed Home Inspectors

Another thing you need to know: Read the Builder’s Home Warranty! You need to know what the builder will and will not cover in their warranty since every builder is different. Plus, you don’t want to do anything to the home that may negate the warranty. For example, if you improperly plant bushes or trees, or regrade the yard and level it out so that it cannot drain properly, then you may negatively impact the foundation and your “performance” may negate the warranty on the foundation. In fact, you may want to wait a year or so before doing any major landscaping and work out drainage issues first.

>> Read  Buyer’s Guide to Slab-On-Ground Foundations by R. Michael Gray, P.E. and Matthew T. Gray, EIT.

Make sure you keep your home warranty in a safe place with your other important house documents (deed, note, inspections, survey, etc.). You may receive a warranty sticker at Closing or afterwards in the mail. Make sure you put that with you important documents as well! 

Always do a final walk-through before Closing to make sure the house is completed and in good working order. Usually the builder’s Building Supervisor (aka “super” or “superintendent” or “constructions manager”) will walk the home with you. If you see items that need attention, add them to the “punch list” of items they need to fix. And you should never Close on the house until everything is fixed. A builder may promise to fix something after the fact, but I have heard many “horror stories” from people who regretted Closing on a home with unresolved issues because the builder never did fix those issues as promised..once the house was Closed.

Before you move in you may want to know the types of things you may need for your new home:

  • Appliances (refrigerator, washer, dryer)
  • Furniture
  • Window blinds
  • Window treatments (curtains, valences, etc.)
  • Garage door opener
  • Grass sod for back yard
  • Rain gutters 
  • New locks for doors (learn more)
  • Yard tools (mower, weeder, edger, etc.)
  • Garage storage shelves
  • Baby proofing

Once you move into the new home, then what? 

  1. Take care of your foundation! Make sure you read Buyer’s Guide to Slab-On-Ground Foundations so you understand how to take care of your foundation. Consider installing a sprinkler system (call Leopold Sprinkler Systems). 
  2. Plant some trees and bushes in the backyard for future privacy (in accordance with your home warranty).  By the time you want to sell in seven years, they will be nice and tall. Red tip photinias are a popular shrub to create a hedge.
  3. Conduct regular, annual maintenance on your air conditioner and furnace to keep them in top shape and prevent problems (like a leaky drip pan).
  4. Secure your doors properly by changing the 1″ screws in your strike plates to 3″ wood screws. You may want to secure your windows with security film as well. Learn more
  5. Keep a binder with all your home improvement and repair receipts so that you have a record for when you end up selling this home.

One final note: If you ever sell this home, make sure the new owner’s transfer the builder’s warranty into their name…it doesn’t (usually) transfer automatically.

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Beware of Internet Real Estate Statistics

The bottom line: No one knows an area better than a local, experienced real estate agent. Don’t gamble your biggest investment on automated Internet data.

It’s Not All About the ZIP Code…Or Shouldn’t Be

I love the Internet and I’m an information junkie, but I am constantly amazed at how WRONG the real estate info presented on the internet is for my area: Katy TX. Katy is a large city (population 250,000+) located in in Fort Bend County, just west of Houston TX. Like all cities of its size…some parts are very different than other parts…it is not completely homogeneous. Furthermore, it consists of multiple ZIP Codes: 77450, 77494, 77493, and 77449. And, Katy is adjacent to Houston, Fulshear, and Richmond as well. So you can live in the Katy area but technically have a Houston address.

What really “bugs” me about the data available on the Internet is that most websites use ZIP Codes to determine demographics and “city data.” But you can’t do that accurately in Katy since it has multiple ZIP Codes. And to complicate matters, Katy is divided into multiple master planned neighborhoods and each of those may be split into multiple subdivisions. For example, Cinco Ranch consists of over 50 subdivisions. So you can have multiple neighborhoods and subdivisions within the same ZIP Code, but let me assure you that the demographics and average income for homes in Avalon Seven Meadows is drastically different than those in Falcon Landing (two subdivisions in the same ZIP Code).

Here are some examples that “bug” me. I’m using information for the nearby Sugar Land TX area, but you get the idea…

At the time the above data was posted on the Internet, I checked the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database which reported a median list price at $329,000…not $349,440 (as shown above). And besides that…I assure you that we have many subdivisions in Katy where you can purchase a home for much less than that price! Or much more! So what’s the point of this information? And the “median” for 77478 is probably not accurate for a specific home in a specific subdivision.

From MLS

NOTE: Home prices are a constantly moving target…even within the same subdivision. The averages, medians, and such change monthly…depending on current market activity. You have to evaluate the value of a home at the time you are making a purchase. (Which is one of the main services that a real estate agent should provide.) Home appraisals are professional opinions only and are typically only considered accurate for six months.

 

Neighborhoods Need to Be Properly Defined

At least NeighborhoodScout is trying to look at the neighborhood level (see below)…but they fail miserably. The sections they have segmented are not actual Sugar Land neighborhoods…some sections contain multiple neighborhoods…so the data can’t be applicable for a specific home or subdivision. For example, if you click the area that is supposed to be for Telfair, you will see it includes part of First Colony and those subdivisions are zoned to different schools than Telfair. (And trust me when I tell you that schools are one of the most important variables in determining home values in our area!)

 

Inaccurate Data Misleads People

Here’s my least favorite source of data (city-data)…notice they report only 9 registered sex offenders in all of 77479. We wish!

FamilyWatchDog reports and maps 64 (unfortunately)!

I REALLY don’t like most of the info on city-data because it reports information from any unknowledgeable “joe” who wants to put it up there. For example, I searched for “telfair sugar land demographics” on Google and the top entry was a city-data thread. In it, various and misleading demographics were reported…

  
  Not accurate at all!

 

FBISD also consists of Houston addresses…not at all accurate stats for Sugar Land.

I think the City of Sugar Land has the best info on actual demographics for the city…they are getting it from the census data.

 

Each Neighborhood and Subdivision is Unique

The hard fact is that you can’t really get accurate census type data at the neighborhood or subdivision level. Relying on the data for an entire ZIP Code in our area may be very misleading when it comes to the neighbors you will eventually live next to. The best alternative is to look at the demographics for the Katy schools to which a home is zoned.

 

Only an Experienced Local Real Estate Agent Can Narrow and Focus Your Search

So if you are a home buyer in the Katy area, you really need the guided expertise of a local real estate agent you can trust to help you buy a home in the RIGHT neighborhood at the RIGHT price. No online searches available to the general public–including HAR.com, Trulia, Zillow, Homes.com–none of them will allow you to do the complicated and focused searches that a real estate agent can perform. Today (March 1, 2018) there are approximately 1291 active listings in Katy reported on the MLS. Do you want to sort through all of them or do you want to focus on the top 50 that most closely match your requirements? 

 

Most Online Real Estate Pricing Data is Not Entirely Accurate and Should Not Be Relied Upon

Let me add that Texas is one of the few non-disclose states. That means that real estate data is not public information…so the online companies like Zillow and Trulia don’t have access to real data. They use tax appraisal values which are usually lower than actual home values. So don’t rely on them! And since online companies can’t get the real MLS data, they report erroneous information. Here’s an example…

Here’s the data reported on Redfin on October 15, 2013…which says it is for the last 90 days and focused on one of our most popular neighborhoods: Telfair.

I ran the sales history on the MLS for the last 90 days, and got the following data. 
The top box is for Active Listings and the bottom box is for Sold properties.

So let’s look at the differences…

 Redfin ReportedMLS Reported
Median List Price$502,946$507,440
Median $/Sq Ft$143List = $143.68 but 
Sold = $133.28!
Median Sale/List96.5%97%
Avg # Offers1.0No way to know!
Avg Down Payment20%No way to know!
# Sold Homes4854

 

My first complaint is that two reported variables are almost impossible to determine: Avg # Offers and Avg Down Payment.Agents do not report the number of offers on a home. They only have to report an offer when it is accepted and goes “Option Pending” or “Pending” (and sometimes they don’t even do that.) So that variable is completely unreliable and shouldn’t be reported at all.

The Avg Down Payment bothers me too. Agents are supposed to report that number at Closing (when a house sells), but you would have to look at every single transaction (54 over the past 90 days) to record those numbers. I don’t see how Redfin could automate that for every neighborhood…so I don’t trust that number either.

Notice the Median List Price is off by $4,500 and the # Sold Homes is off by 12.5 percent. Also, they report the Median $/SqFt for List Price only…but notice that the SOLD SalesPrice$/SqFt is $10.40 less! So if a buyer used the number Redfin reported to price a 3000sf home, that could have led to the buyer overpaying by $31,200!

NOTE: It really doesn’t matter what the median list price is for a neighborhood…only the sales price should be used to price a home you want to purchase.

And then that gets me into a price discussion which is too complicated to address here. But let me point out that this the median SalesPrice/SqFt and the house you may want to buy could be an above-average home or a below-average home. Do you want to pay the average price for a below-average home? Do you think a seller will accept an average price for an above-average home? The best way to get an accurate view of the value of a specific home at a certain time is to hire a professional appraiser or to engage a really good real estate agent. Not all real estate agents are good at pricing homes…you need a PRO!

 

Even Zillow Admits They Are Not That Accurate in the Houston Area

Just go to https://www.zillow.com/zestimate/#acc and see what Zillow says about it’s own accuracy.

 

Get ACCURATE Information From the Katy EXPERT