Monday, July 30, 2012

Houston Real Estate - tips for buying a home in Houston's inner loop

It may seem strange that, in these tough economic times, I'm writing about how fantastic Houston Real Estate is right now, but, then again, when has Houston ever been a follower? I've always considered this fabulous town to be a leader. The latest write-up in Forbes magazine is proof of Houston's ability not only to weather the storm during tough times, but, come out ahead!

With that being said, I feel it is necessary to give a heads up on buying in Houston today - particularly if you choose to buy inside the loop. Here's the scoop - things move quickly. This is especially true if you are one of a large number of buyers who is searching for the same house: a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage on a full sized lot with a yard, priced around $350K. This is the standard request I get from almost every first time home buyer looking to purchase inside 610. The inventory for this home is extremely low, and the demand is remarkably high. What does that mean? When one of these comes on the market, you will need to be prepared for a multiple offer scenario. You will also need to be prepared to place an offer on it the same day it hits the market, and, likely start your bid at full list price. For example, the houses I list have, for the most part, all gone "option pending" (meaning a contract has been executed) the first day they've hit the mls. This includes listings outside the loop - in Pearland, Friendswood, etc. - which shows that the upswing in buyer interest is not exclusive to the inner loop.

If a buyer is willing to sacrifice on certain criteria such as lot size, garage, number of bedrooms or baths, then it will open up options, and, perhaps level the playing field. If the criteria simply cannot be changed, then it would be a good idea either preparing to pay over list price, or purchasing a home that could use some work. Homes that have an odd layout or are in need of some tlc are typically priced a bit lower. Keep in mind, purchasing a home with an odd layout will likely affect its future resale value, as layouts are difficult, if not entirely impossible, to change. In that case, depending on time and budget constraints, considering the purchase of a home that fits all the requested criteria but is in need of some "refreshing" could be beneficial. Depending on what a homeowner does to spruce up the home, updates can increase the resale value. Also, if you are one of several bidding on an already updated home, then you could end up paying at the top of market value, or, in some cases, over market value, which means you could end up with the home you want right now, but a potentially difficult future resale.

If you find yourself in a multi-offer scenario, consider these options to make your offer more appealing:
  • Include a personal letter to the seller - you would be surprised by how often this can push a buyer ahead of the pack, especially if there are only a couple thousand dollars difference between offers.
  • Remove any requests for seller's contributions - in any scenario this is a negative, but it will especially work against you if you are up against other potential buyers.
  • Request a shorter closing date - in today's market, people will request 45-60 day closings. You can make your offer more appealing with a 30 day close.
  • Increase earnest money - The higher your earnest money offer is, the higher your risk. This shows the seller you are serious about the house.
  • Pay cash - this removes the lender required appraisal which is appealing to a seller, however, a cash purchase is not an option for most,
Most importantly, be prepared to move on if you lose the bid. Another house will always come along. Being emotionally tied to a home you are bidding on can put you in a particularly vulnerable position. Decide what is the absolute highest you are willing to pay for the property and stick to it.

Danelle Reed, ABS, GREEN
Martha Turner Properties

Friday, July 6, 2012

Houston's best Ann Taylor store

I have always appreciated it when I receive good service. If an establishment I frequent goes above and beyond to make my visit special, then I will absolutely be a loyal customer. I can tell you that Abby Coatsworth, an employee at the Ann Taylor store on West Grey, has made me a lifetime client of hers, as well as the store. She is friendly, always impeccably dressed, helpful and a smart sales-woman.

Here is Abby at the counter, isn't she adorable?

I visited the store on a few occasions trying to find the right outfit for a charity function. Abby went the extra mile to pick out a dress for me and then locate it at another store, in another state, and have it shipped to me in time for the function. She was spot-on in her choice of dress for the event. Since then, I've become a dedicated client. Abby will pull items she thinks I'll like because my size sells out quickly. She'll hold them for me and call me to come take a look and try them on. She remembers my clothes and tries to select items that compliment my wardrobe. She understands that my schedule is crazy and I don't have a lot of time to shop, which I appreciate. She doesn't pressure me in any way to buy the items, either. I feel very at ease with her. If I don't like it, it's no big deal. She has such a great eye for fashion and is so genuinely nice that I felt compelled to write about her.

Also, this particular Ann Taylor seems to have the widest selection of items in stock. If you like great service, stop by the Ann Taylor store on West Grey and ask for Abby Coatworth. You'll be happy you did!

Ann Taylor
1987 West Grey
Houston, TX 77019