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How’s the Katy Real Estate Market in 2022?


katy market report smallGet the Report! 

  • Ten-year trend of median sales prices by ZIP Code and neighborhood…so you have a baseline in determining a home value.
  • Ten-year trend of sales volume by ZIP Code and neighborhood…so you can see which are the most popular neighborhoods.
  • Ten-year trend of median Days on Market by ZIP Code and neighborhood…so you can see how long it takes to sell a home in each area.
  • List of the most popular neighborhoods in the Katy area…see what neighborhoods are HOT!
  • List of the neighborhoods by price (high to low) in the Katy area.
  • Detailed market data on the most popular Katy neighborhoods

Download the Report!

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Katy New Construction Homes for Sale (from home builder)

Many people moving to the Houston area decide they want to live in Katy or Sugar Land 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.

Katy New Construction Neighborhoods

If you want Katy new construction homes for sale, especially a new construction home from a builder, then you will have to look northwest or southwest (and have a longer commute to downtown). Katy is “built out” on the northeast and southeast sides, closest to downtown Houston. The largest area of new construction homes will be on the northwest side of Katy (77493) where the schools are only Average (usually rated 5-7). If you want highly-rated schools, then look on the southwest side, including Fulshear TX (77441) because most of 77494 is built out.

katy new constructionSource: https://www.katyisd.org/sites/bonds/Documents/PASA_Demographic_Update_12-2020.pdf#search=demographic

 

One thing to watch out for with Katy new construction homes for sale: High-risk flood zones. Some of the new construction neighborhoods are in 100-year and 500-year flood plains! Check out my Katy Flood Zone Report for more details and flood maps.

cross creek ranch featured

Cross Creek Ranch

Price Range: Home prices range from $2483K to $1.16M with $490K the median home price in 2022. Description ...
firethorne featured

Firethorne

Price Range: Home prices range from $273K to $875K with $441K the median home price in 2022 ...
tamarron featured

Tamarron

Price Range: Home prices range from $223K to $628K with $329K the median home price in 2022. Description ...
Camillo Lakes

Camillo Lakes

Price Range: Home prices range from $215K to $389K with $289K the median home price in January 2022 ...
Cane Island

Cane Island

Price Range: Home prices range from $263K to $1.3M with $505K the median home price in January 2022 ...
Elyson

Elyson

Price Range: Home prices range from $255K to $753K with $434K the median home price in January 2022 ...
Fulbrook on Fulshear Creek

Fulbrook on Fulshear Creek

Price Range: Home prices range from $355K to $744K with $5230K the median home price in January 2022 ...
Jordan Ranch

Jordan Ranch

Price Range: Home prices range from $219K to $7105K with $430K the median home price in January 2022 ...
Polo Ranch

Polo Ranch

Price Range: Home prices range from $210K to $490K with $283K the median home price in January 2022 ...
Young Ranch

Young Ranch

Price Range: Home prices range from $285K to $591K with $430K the median home price in January 2022 ...

 

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

 


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

 

 


Katy New Construction Homes for Sale

Updated Daily – Sorted by Newest Listings

 

 

 

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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.

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:
  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.
  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”
   

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. Longer time frames needed for typical deadlines such as inspections, Option periods, loan approval time frame, appraisals, etc.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.)
  5. 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. 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.)
  4. Buyers will bring their own hand sanitizer and use it between each showing.
  5. Only the parties to the transaction are allowed on showings: no children or other friends or family members.
  6. 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 may not be allowed to 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. (Agent 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. 🙂  
 
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.

How’s the Katy Real Estate Market in 2022?
Get the Report!


katy market report smallWhat’s Included

  • Ten-year trend of median sales prices by ZIP Code and neighborhood…so you have a baseline in determining a home value.
  • Ten-year trend of sales volume by ZIP Code and neighborhood…so you can see which are the most popular neighborhoods.
  • Ten-year trend of median Days on Market by ZIP Code and neighborhood…so you can see how long it takes to sell a home in each area.
  • List of the most popular neighborhoods in the Katy area…see what neighborhoods are HOT!
  • List of the neighborhoods by price (high to low) in the Katy area.
  • Detailed market data on the most popular Katy neighborhoods

Download the Report!

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Depositphotos 1372112 xs

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 – Katy Real Estate Agent – Reviews & More

Client Reviews

Here’s what clients have to say about Sheila Cox, Katy real estate agent…


About Sheila Cox – Katy Real Estate Agent

sheila cox five star realtor2

 

Please forgive me when I look up a lot as I think of how to say what I want to say. I’m a Realtor, not a professional videographer! ;-D

 

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. She is a “band geek” (saxophone and oboe) at the awesome Seven Lakes High School and will graduate in 2022. 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 (see my book on Amazon). 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 (but not when 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)

Video Walkthroughs—If you or your spouse lives out of the state or country, then you will enjoy my detailed video walkthroughs. I have sold multiple homes to out-of-area clients “sight unseen” by providing High Definition video walkthroughs of potential homes. My videos show front and back yards, closets, pantries, laundry rooms, and garage…as well as the entire home. (Sample)

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

As a Katy real estate agent, 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 ELEVEN YEARS IN A ROW!


I Love My Clients!

I am an equal-opportunity Katy 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.

 

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Katy Property Taxes

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. I tell my out-of-state clients to find out the state income taxes they paid last year and add that to their property taxes, and then compare that number to the property taxes here.

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).

Older homes within the same neighborhood
may have lower tax rates than newer homes in newer sections.

The tax rate in a subdivision tends to go down over time. That doesn’t mean your taxes go down over time, because the home value is probably increasing, but your tax rate will probably decline with time.

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. 

Something else you need to know…the tax appraised value on a home does not usually equally the market value of the home in Texas. If a home is older, it’s tax appraised value may be significantly lower than it’s market value. So don’t use those numbers when calculating a sales price!

⇒ See How to Price a Home Correctly

Unlike many other states, your home’s tax appraised value cannot increase more than 10 percent in a single year:

      property tax limits

        Source: https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/valuing-property.php

 

You can read more about Texas property taxes so you are well-informed. 


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: This tool works best on a desktop…not a smart phone.

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.

 

katy real estate guide

DOWNLOAD FREE GUIDE

“Best Places to Live In Katy Texas”

This is the ultimate guide about Katy TX! It has all the information on Katy, demographics, things to do, schools and up-to-date ratings, maps, detailed neighborhood comparison charts, and information on the top 20 (or so) neighborhoods…all in one place!

 

Katy Master Planned Communities

The following alphabetized list shows the top Katy master planned communities. Click a neighborhood to see a detailed description including the schools, maps, commute times, amenities, home values, and more. You may want to go to Katy neighborhoods to see these neighborhoods organized by the type of neighborhood: new construction, best schools, top 10, etc.

seven meadows featured

Avalon Seven Meadows

Price Range: Home prices range from $430K to $1.3M with $842K the median home price in 2022. Description Avalon at Seven Meadows Katy 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 2000s, most of the 296 homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional or Mediterranean in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3+ baths, and approximately 4200sf ... [Read More]
Camillo Lakes

Camillo Lakes

Price Range: Home prices range from $215K to $389K with $289K the median home price in January 2022. Description Camillo Lakes Katy is located on the northwest side of Katy (77493) in Harris County…close to the 99 Grand Parkway and Morton Rd. This is a “new construction” neighborhood, and most of the approximate 635 homes in this neighborhood are traditional in style with smallish lot sizes. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 b baths, and approximately ... [Read More]
Cane Island

Cane Island

Price Range: Home prices range from $263K to $1.3M with $505K the median home price in January 2022. Description Cane Island Katy is located on the northwest side of Katy in Harris County…close to the I-10 Interstate. Primarily built since 2015, most of the approximate 1000+ 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 8556 sf ... [Read More]
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Cardiff Ranch

Price Range: Home prices range from $340K to $767K with $520K the median home price in 2022. Description Cardiff Ranch Katy 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 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, and a median ... [Read More]
churchill farms featured

Churchill Farms

Price Range: Home prices range from $295K to $644K with $383K the median home price in 2022. 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 this neighborhood are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and approximately 3280sf ... [Read More]
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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 ... [Read More]
cinco ranch featured

Cinco Ranch

77450 77494 Home prices range from $223K to $1.0M with $390K the median home price in 2022. Home prices range from $240K to $1.5M with $392K the median home price in 2022. 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 water views ... [Read More]
cross creek ranch featured

Cross Creek Ranch

Price Range: Home prices range from $2483K to $1.16M with $490K the median home price in 2022. Description Cross Creek Ranch is located on the southwest side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to FM1093 (Westpark Tollway). In fact, Cross Creek Ranch is actually located in Fulshear TX 77441. Part of the neighborhood (the east side) is zoned to Katy ISD, so it is included as a Katy neighborhood. The west side of the neighborhood is zoned to the Lamar Consolidated ... [Read More]
Elyson

Elyson

Price Range: Home prices range from $255K to $753K with $434K the median home price in January 2022. Description Elyson Katy is a “new construction” neighborhood located on the northwest side of Katy in Harris County…close to 99 Grand Parkway and FM 529 (Freeman Rd). This is about 10 minutes north of Interstate I-10. Primarily built since 2016, most of the approximate 1500+ homes in this neighborhood are traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, ... [Read More]
falcon point featured

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 ... [Read More]
falcon point featured

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 ... [Read More]
falcon ranch featured

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 ... [Read More]
firethorne featured

Firethorne

Price Range: Home prices range from $273K to $875K with $441K the median home price in 2022. Description Firethorne Katy 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 3000+ 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 garages. This newish neighborhood does not have mature trees but ... [Read More]
Fulbrook on Fulshear Creek

Fulbrook on Fulshear Creek

Price Range: Home prices range from $355K to $744K with $5230K the median home price in January 2022. Description Fulbrook on Fulshear Creek Katy is located in 77441 in Fulshear Texas, which is on the southwest side of Katy and in Fort Bend County. Many people choose this neighborhood when they are looking for a new construction home and want good schools with a “country living” flair. It is close to the new Texas Heritage Parkway and Westpark Tollway (FM 1063) ... [Read More]
governors-place-featured

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 ... [Read More]
grand-lakes-featured

Grand Lakes

Price Range: Home prices range from $250K to $979K with $477K the median home price in 2022. Description Grand Lakes Katy 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 bedrooms, 3 baths, and approximately 3500sf with 2-car garages, and a median ... [Read More]
grayson-lakes-featured

Grayson Lakes Katy

Price Range: Home prices range from $355K to $975K with $491K the median home price in 2022. Description Grayson Lakes Katy is located on the far-southwest side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to the I10. It may also be referred to as “Country Lakes at Grayson Lakes.” Primarily built in the mid-2000s, most of the 530+ homes (approx.) in this neighborhood are Traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 2+ baths, and approximately 3400sf ... [Read More]
Jordan Ranch

Jordan Ranch

Price Range: Home prices range from $219K to $7105K with $430K the median home price in January 2022. Description Jordan Ranch is located on the southwest side of Katy (actually Brookshire Texas in 77423) in Fort Bend County…close to the I-10 Interstate. Primarily built since 2016, most of the approximate 800+ homes in this neighborhood are traditional in style. On average, these are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, and approximately 2300 sf with 2-car garages, and a median lot ... [Read More]
Kelliwood-featured

Kelliwood

Price Range: Home prices range from $262K to $1.9M with $508K the median home price in 2022. 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 scenery is beautiful. Parts of Kelliwood are gated, on the Willow Fork Golf Course, or ... [Read More]
Marcello Lakes

Marcello Lakes

Price Range: Home prices range from $319K to $565K with $388K the median home price in January 2022. Description Marcello Lakes Katy is located on the northwest side of Katy in Harris County. Primarily built since 2017, most of the approximate 300 homes in this neighborhood are traditional in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and approximately 2600sf with 2-car garages, and a median lot size of 7150sf. In Marcello Lakes, every home has ... [Read More]
nottingham-country-featured

Nottingham Country

Price Range: Home prices range from $185K to $579K with $360K the median home price in 2022. Description Nottingham Country Katy is located on the east side of Katy in Fort Bend County…close to I10 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 too. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and approximately ... [Read More]
pine-mill-ranch-featured

Pine Mill Ranch

Price Range: Home prices range from $237K to $1.2M with $414K the median home price in 2022. 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 garages. This newish neighborhood does not have mature trees but it ... [Read More]
Polo Ranch

Polo Ranch

Price Range: Home prices range from $210K to $490K with $283K the median home price in January 2022. Description Polo Ranch Katy is located on the southwest side of Katy in Fulshear, TX, Fort Bend County. Primarily built since 2019, most of the approximate 300+ homes (so far) in this neighborhood are traditional in style. On average, these homes are one-story homes with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and approximately 1800sf with 2-car garages, and a median lot size of 7000sf. Two-story ... [Read More]
seven meadows featured

Seven Meadows

Price Range: Home prices range from $270K to $995K with $469K the median home price in 2022. Description Seven Meadows Katy is 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 2000s, 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 3100sf with 2-car garages, ... [Read More]
silver ranch featured

Silver Ranch

Price Range: Home prices range from $2656K to $640K with $373K the median home price in 2022. Description Silver 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 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 not have mature trees but it does ... [Read More]
tamarron featured

Tamarron

Price Range: Home prices range from $223K to $628K with $329K the median home price in 2022. 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 are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 2+ baths, and approximately 2900sf with 2-car garages ... [Read More]
west-memorial-featured

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 ... [Read More]
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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 ... [Read More]
windsor-park-estates-featured

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 ... [Read More]
windsor-park-lakes-featured

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 ... [Read More]
woodcreek reserve featured

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 ... [Read More]
Young Ranch

Young Ranch

Price Range: Home prices range from $285K to $591K with $430K the median home price in January 2022. Description Young Ranch Katy is located on the southwest side of Katy in Fort Bend or Waller County…close to the I-10 Interstate. Primarily built since 2016, most of the approximate 600+ homes in this neighborhood are traditonal in style. On average, these homes are two-story homes with 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and approximately 2942sf with 2-car garages, and a median lot size of ... [Read More]
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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 or wire transfer—never cash

 


 

 

Home Inspections for Buyers

Please 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. You should call ahead and “interview” some inspection companies to find the one you want to work with when you get a contract on a house. 

In choosing a home inspector, consider one that has been certified as a qualified and experienced member by a trade association.
Ask if they:
a) measure the foundation levels
b) check walls and ceiling with thermal camera
c) provide color photos in report
 
Also get them to hire your termite inspection. Different inspectors charge different fees and those fees are partly determined by the age and size of the home.
 
A lot of the time, home inspectors will advise you to have a licensed HVAC specialist check the AC and furnace. If you think this will be an issue (because the house has an old HVAC system), you should set that appointment up in advance as well. I recommend Hartford Services at 281-261-3333. One thing to note…it’s challenging to test an AC in the winter time. For ACs you want at least a 15 degree differential, but 17 or 18 degree differential is the best. If the outside temperature is below 72 degrees, then an inspector may not be able to get an accurate reading.
 
Home inspections should include information and photos on the condition of the following:
  • Appliances
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Air conditioning and heating
  • Ventilation
  • Roof and Attic
  • Foundation
  • General Structure

Keep in mind that NO HOME IS PERFECT, not even new construction, and you should be prepared for $1000-3000 worth of repair issues listed on an inspection report (maybe more, depending on the age of the home).

What Is Inspected

The home inspection is designed to report on any actual or 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 rarely see a home inspection report where the inspector does 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.

Homes are on a 17 year cycle (approximate) meaning that a lot of high-ticket items will “wear out” when they are about 17 years old. Be aware of that when looking at homes that are about that age or slightly more. High ticket items include roofs, HVAC systems, and water heaters.

NOTES

  • Should serious foundation or structural problems be indicated, the inspector will recommend that a structural engineer or other professional inspect it as well. This may include hydrostatic testing (which requires special permission from the Seller).
  • Stucco inspections are very important and require special permission from the Seller because they are “invasive.”
  • 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.
  • Inspectors must base their findings on current building codes and best practices, but homes built 10, 20, 30 years ago were built with different codes and best practices. An older home does not need to be “brought up to code” and get a new building permit. A buyer needs to decide what they can live with and what they cannot live with.

According to the Texas Real Estate Commission: “A home inspection is a limited visual survey and basic performance evaluation of systems and components of the house. It does not require the use of specialized equipment and is not a comprehensive investigative or exploratory probe to determine the cause or effect of deficiencies noted by the inspector.”

I recommend being present for the last hour of the inspection. (It distracts the inspector if you are there the entire time, and then they miss things.)  This is to your advantage because you will be able to ask questions, and get 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 too high around the foundation) and you need to be reasonable in your repair request negotiations with sellers.

Never send an inspection report to your lender and avoid putting a long list of repairs in an Amendment, or it may impact your home loan.

Common Issues on Inspection Reports

The most common issues that appear on inspection reports in this area are listed below. The repair prices in the Usual Consequence column or approximate estimates only to give you some idea of the repair cost. You will need to get real estimates on the specific home.

Issue Usual Consequence
HVAC not cooling properly Usually you can have the HVAC serviced for around $500 or less and get it working properly, but if it is a really old (15 years or more) then you may be looking at major replacement costs, part of which may be covered by a Home Warranty.
Old furnace (20 years or more) Since furnaces are not used in this region very often, they seem to last a long time! You may want to have a HVAC specialist check to make sure the heating element is in good condition…home inspectors cannot do this.
Electrical panel has issues or wrong size breaker on the HVAC system You should be able to find an electrician to replace the electrical panel (worst case scenario) for $1500 or less. Other minor issues, such as wrong sized breaker, will cost much less.
Soil too high around foundation  You can use a shovel to lower the mulch/soil around the foundation or hire your “yard guy” to do it.
Grading/drainage issues Minor issues can be fixed with a shovel and dirt. Major drainage issues may require a “french drain” type of solution that could cost $1500-2000. New construction homes often have drainage issues that need to be worked out.
Minor roof issues with flashing or a few raised shingles. Find a roofing company to make the repairs which are often under $500.
No sediment trap on gas line to water heaters and furnace or other ventilation issues with those two appliances. A licensed plumber will usually install sediment traps (for safety) for around $200/appliance. Ventilation issues may have other minor repair costs.
No (or non-working) GFCI outlets in kitchen or bath. This is commonly MIS-reported. Inspectors often say the GFCIs don’t work when they do. A handyman can replace a GFCI outlet on most homes for $100/outlet.
General plumbing issues like leaky faucets or slow drains A handyman or plumber can usually fix these items for minimum cost.
Deferred maintenance Exterior windows, doors, and siding need to be caulked on a regular basis (every 2-5 years) to prevent water penetration. Masonite siding must be kept well-sealed and painted with high quality paint or it will rot. Expansion joints must be sealed with special sealant to prevent water penetration.
Sprinkler problems Sprinklers heads often get broken by lawn mowers and sometimes the backflow preventor needs to be repaired, usually for less than $500.
Cracks in exterior brick due to settling Cracks in brick need to be sealed with mortar to prevent water penetration. Hire JQ Brick to do this…usually for less than $500.
Settlement cracks in sheetrock It is very common to see settlement cracks in the interior sheet rock, especially at the corners of an angled ceiling. These can be covered and painted by a you or good painter.
Pool equipment If the home has a pool, then the pool equipment may have issues. This is a common area where you will get INFLATED repair estimates. Make sure you hire the right company for repair estimates. Pools are a constant maintenance issue, especially the Polaris cleaners.

Foundation issues*

NOTE: “Corner pops” are not foundation issues.

If the foundation level differentials exceed 3 inches in an area, then you will need to get a foundation repair estimate. Foundation repairs can range from $5,000 to $20,000 or more, depending on how many piers need to be installed. Make sure you learn about foundations by reading: “Buyer’s Guide to Slab-On-Ground Foundations.”

To properly maintain your foundation, make sure you use a sprinkler system to keep the soil evenly hydrated. Sprinkler systems are very important for your foundation maintenance!

*Not a very common problem, but may pop up occasionally. 

 

After the Inspection

Once the inspection is completed, you will have three options to take (*assuming you purchased a Termination Option) in the original contract:

  1. Terminate the Contract – If any serious defects are found with the home, then you can exercise your Termination Option*, lose your Option Fee, but get your earnest money back. 
  2. Ask for Repairs – If you do not have the cash on hand to make the repairs that you deem important, then you can ask the Seller to make those repairs in an Amendment to the sales contract. However, keep in mind that this is not recommended because home owners tend to hire the cheapest repairs possible and it’s not guaranteed that repairs will be done in a satisfactory manner.
  3. Ask for a Seller’s Contribution to Closing Costs – If you would rather ensure the repairs are done to your satisfaction, then request a Seller’s Contribution to Closing Costs (SC) which is a credit at Closing that will provide you with more cash on hand, after the completion of the sale, so that you can hire your own repairs.

In Texas, the home inspection phase is often referred to as the “Option Period.” Watch my video for an explanation…

Even if you do not purchase a Termination Option, you still have the right to inspect the home. You just do not have the UNRESTRICTED right to back out of the deal and get your earnest money back. 

Even if you have a Termination Option, that does not guarantee that the Seller will agree to any repair requests or price reductions.

 
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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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houston_home_builders_rating2


 

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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

 

Buying a home is a serious legal commitment with important deadlines and possibly large financial losses if you do not meet your contractual deadlines (as established in the contracts that you sign). Always make sure you read the docs you are signing. Discuss deadlines with your real estate agent and put them on your calendar.

Print this checklist and use it to keep track of your transaction.

Action

Deadline

Contact three or four lenders to determine how much house you can afford. Determine how much money you will need to purchase a new home. Do you have enough? If not, create a budget and start saving now.

 

Get approved for a loan. Don’t forget to get an preapproval letter! We will need to submit it with an offer to buy a house.

 

Hire a real estate agent to help you with your purchase. You need a professional looking out for your best interest. Send your Preapproval letter or “Proof of Funds” to your agent (see video).

 

Do you need to sell your current home? Your agent will help with that too. Get it on the market!

 

View “Dream Home Alerts” (see video) for homes when they “hit” the market.

 

Tour homes (see video) until you find the one that meets your specific needs.

 

Sign the legal paperwork and make an offer to buy the house that you chose. Be prepared to write check for Earnest Money (see video). Be prepared for some back-and-forth negotiations.

 

Deliver the Earnest Money and Option fee to the title company. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! If you don’t deliver the Option fee on time, then you have NO Termination Option.

NOTE: Learn about Option Periods in Texas (see video).

 

Once the title company “receipts” your Earnest Money and Option Fee, then send the executed and receipted contract to your lender and start the approval process with him/her.

 

After the sales contract is executed, hire home inspectors to inspect the home as needed (learn more). This will cost $300 to $700 or more, depending on the number and type of inspectors you hire. Depending on the home, you should think about the following inspections:

·     Structural/Mechanical

·     HVAC System

·     Termite/Pests

·     Septic system

·     Pool Equipment

·     Well system

·     Pool Leaks

·     Foundation (especially if previous repairs!)

 

Hire an appraisal if you are paying cash.

NOTE: View my videos on Pricing and Appraisals to learn more.

 

Discuss insurability with insurance company and get a CLUE report from insurance agent.

 

Verify the following if they are important issues to you:

·     Square footage of home

·     Schools zoned to home (but those may change with rezoning in future)

·     Property taxes

·     Crime in area (contact police department)

·     HOA covenants and restrictions (usually online at HOA website)

 

Negotiate repairs to home as needed. Be realistic…small miscellaneous items should be expected because no home is perfect. Negotiate  big-ticket repairs (if any) or walk-away.

 

Now that you have exact address, compare mortgages and lenders (at least three is recommended). Choose a lender and mortgage and apply for a loan if you haven’t already. Remember, you have a deadline to meet in the sales contract. Be prepared to pay an application fee (approximately $300) and an appraisal fee (approximately $300-400).

 

Submit items for your loan application (W2s, tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements, etc) as requested by your lender. Time is of the essence! According to the contract, your deadline for Individual Approval and Notice to a Seller (from lender) is à

If you do not get loan approval, then notify your real estate agent immediately.

 

Check your Title Commitment  (learn more) in a timely manner when you receive it. You have only a few days to “object in writing.” Make sure your real estate agent receives a copy.

 

Review the Lender’s appraisal in a timely manner. You have only a few days to “object in writing.” Make sure your real estate agent receives a copy.

 

Review the survey in a timely manner. You have only a few days to “object in writing.” Make sure your real estate agent receives a copy.

 

Re-inspect home, if you choose, based on agreed repairs.

 

Obtain home owner’s hazard insurance. Make sure you get at least three quotes. Notify your real estate agent which policy you choose. Don’t forget Flood Insurance!

 

Select your residential service contract (“home warranty”) if applicable and notify your real estate agent  (learn more). The title company will order and pay for the home warranty.

 

Plan your move (get detailed list) and order your utilities to be turned on the day you Close. Always allow a week or more overlap to move out of current home and into new home. Do not plan to Close and move on the same day!

 

Ask your lender for the amount of money you need to Close. Make sure your funds for Closing are available at local bank. Transferring money from investment accounts can take time…work with your lender and bank and prepare in advance.

 

Your property MUST reach Lender Approval at least 4 days before Closing otherwise you may not be able to obtain a refund of your earnest money due to default on Closing. If there is a delay in getting the loan, notify your real estate agent immediately.

 

Make sure your Closing is scheduled. You will need photo IDs, checkbook, and a cashier’s check or wiring instructions from your bank.

 

You must sign your Closing Disclosures (from lender) at least 3 days before your Closing date or you will not be able to Close on time. If you do not sign the CD in a timely manner, this may put you in default and there could be serious financial consequences.

 

Get your cashier’s check for funds needed to Close the day before Closing.

 

Do your final walk-through.

 

Go to the Closing and bring your funds to Close, a checkbook, and a photo ID for each person (husband and wife). Plan on a 2-3 hour process.

 

Move into your new home and enjoy!

 

Make sure you receive a copy of your Deed (from the Title company) within a couple of weeks after Closing. Be prepared for mail “scams” offering to file legal docs for a fee.

 

Apply for your property tax exemptions as applicable in your state.

 

Contact three or four lenders to determine how much house you can afford. Determine how much money you will need to purchase a new home. Do you have enough? If not, create a budget and start saving now.

 

Get approved for a loan. Don’t forget to get an preapproval letter! We will need to submit it with an offer to buy a house.

 

 

When you sign up as my client, I will provide this checklist and more in my 30-page Home Buying Tips & Checklists guide.

 

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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 Reported MLS Reported
Median List Price $502,946 $507,440
Median $/Sq Ft $143 List = $143.68 but 
Sold = $133.28!
Median Sale/List 96.5% 97%
Avg # Offers 1.0 No way to know!
Avg Down Payment 20% No way to know!
# Sold Homes 48 54

 

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