Preparing a home before you list

Preparing a property before you put it on the market, can be overwhelming. I suggest trying your best to stay on top of projects so that when the day comes that you need to move quickly, you are ready. The list I have compiled is a simple practical approach to preparing your home to be put on the market.

  • Clear Out – closets, cabinets and drawers. – Have a pile for donating and throwing out. Clear off the counters. 
  • Paint – touch up paint, freshen up a front door with a fresh coat
  • Tie up loose ends on projects – Like that trim you’ve been meaning to get to for the last 3 years, complete it.
  • Patch holes in the wall.
  • Replace bulbs – replace all burned out bulbs and make sure all bulbs match.
  • Fresh caulking around sinks and showers. Caulking seams can really clean up an area.
  • Clean high traffic areas -Use a Mr. Clean eraser on all high traffic trim, doors, door knobs and lights switches…any areas where hands regularly touch.
  • Power wash sidewalk, driveway, and the house.
  • Wash windows inside/out. I know this is a big chore but it really helps bring in the natural light. It brings a drab space back to life.
  • Trim trees & shrubs. If a tree is covering the house from the road, be sure to canopy up the tree by cutting back those low limbs. Same goes for shrubs up against the house. Trim those back.
  • Mulch beds – Reviving flower beds with mulch makes a huge difference in curb appeal.

The Best Real Estate Investments

Next up on our Investment Series, some Real Estate ideas to consider! There are several different ways to invest your money when it comes to Real Estate. Here are a few of our favorites. 

Purchase a Homestead – Purchase a home and utilize it as your primary residence. If you find a property at a good price that needs improvements, you’ll be able to customize the home to your liking and enjoy it for as long as you live there. When the time comes to sell, you will benefit from the property’s appreciation.

Long Term Rental – Investing in long-term rentals is a great way to grow your portfolio. It is the most common real estate investment for both beginners and experts in the field. Earn a monthly income from renters, which can easily take care of the mortgage, enjoy tax advantages like being able to write off certain expenses, and build equity in the property while someone else is paying off the balance. These are just a few benefits to the “buy and hold” strategy, as some call it. 

Short Term Rental – The Air B&B world has been exploding for the last several years. People currently seem to prefer private homes and off-the-beaten path accommodations to busy hotels. We don’t blame them. There is something so charming about staying in a curated, full-of-character home, and the personal touches that short-term rentals offer. Now is the time to jump in if you’re ready to be a Super-host on Airbnb or VRBO! 

Raw Land – Like they say about land in Texas (or anywhere, for that matter), “they aren’t making any more of it!” If you have an opportunity and find a piece of land at the right price, the sky is the limit on what you can do with it. Land values are always going up and there are so many ways to use it. Purchase land and hold on to it, improve it with your dream home, or subdivide it. 

These are just a few of our favorite ways to invest in real estate. Which speaks to you the loudest? Or do you have another idea that I haven’t mentioned here? Let us know in the comments! 

Four Ways to Save for Your First Investment

Diversifying into real estate investments is an excellent way to generate regular cash flow and build generational wealth. But how much should you save up to be able to afford a rental property, whether it’s a family home, a multi-apartment building, or an Airbnb? We’ve done the research for you and identified four ways to save for your first investment property.

1. Set a goal

Proper planning is essential when getting into real estate investing. Set a goal based on your financial capabilities, investment strategy, and future plans like when you want to retire and how much money you want to have for your retirement. Consider your timeframe, when you will need cash flow from your rental property, what risks you’re willing to take and whether your investment portfolio should be diversified to lower taxes and maximize returns. Also, understand the industry and learn about property taxes, budgeting, and what future property expenses you may incur like repairs, etc.

2. Talk and listen to experts

Having a mentor can do wonders for your investment success. Speak to experienced landlords that are already doing what you plan to achieve, find out how they were able to invest in their properties, what pitfalls they experienced, and what budget they started with.

The internet is also full of resources, including videos and podcasts like the BiggerPockets Podcast that can help answer some questions you may have.

3. Save for your down payment

To turn your dreams of owning a rental property into reality, you need to start saving for the down payment. You will need about 20-30% of the property price saved up before you can even start looking for an investment opportunity and apply for pre-approval. Saving may seem daunting at first, but by paying off your current debt, lowering your rent by moving in with your parents or into a cheaper apartment, reducing your living expenses by shopping cheaper groceries, switching to carpooling to work and taking a second job, or freelancing on the weekends, you will have your down payment saved up in just a few short years.

4. Get pre-qualified

Getting pre-qualified will help you determine which investment properties you will be able to afford. You will need at least a credit score of 680, a two-year job history at a US company, or 3-5 years of stable income as a self-employed individual, a low debt to income ratio, cash for the down payment, and at least 6 months’ worth of cash for expenses.

Buying a rental property is a great way to build wealth and provides a convenient source of additional income. By setting a goal, talking to experts, diligently saving for your down payment, and getting pre-qualified, you will soon be on your way to owning your first real estate investment property.

Best White Paint Colors for Resale

What paint colors up with reselling a property?

When you sell a property, you want to make a lasting first impression. A fresh coat of paint goes a long way. However, choosing a paint color or a combination of paint colors can be overwhelming. I have narrowed down a variety of white paint colors that will really impress those potential buyers. Keep in mind white paint colors can be tricky. White paint colors have warm or cool undertones. It can really depend on how much natural light a space offers whether a white will work. I have broken down the color options into warm whites, neutral whites and cool white paint colors.

Warm white paint colors have a cozy feel. If a home is lacking natural sunlight, a white paint color like White Dove or Simply White from Benjamin Moore may be a good choice. Snowbound from Sherwin Williams is also a favorite warm white. White Dove is described as light and luminous. Simply White is clean and crisp, a go-to for trim, ceilings and walls. Snowbound is crisp and clean but is still softer than other whites.

Neutral white paint colors are an easy balance between warm and cool colors. White Heron – Benjamin Moore is very versatile and once it is applied to the wall, you really can’t recognize any undertones. Alabaster -Sherwin Williams is described as “a true neutral”. Alabaster is a good mix of gray and beige. Pale Oak-Benjamin Moore is described as “graceful and elegant conveying a sense of style and quiet restraint.” I love that. It falls within the greige category.

Cool white paint colors can really brighten up a room. Cool colors are known to make you feel calm and relaxed. Pure White – Sherwin Williams and Chantilly Lace – Benjamin are both calm and bright whites. These are great options for molding and trim. For a south-facing room, cool whites are recommended to balance out the warm sunshine coming through. For a light greige option, consider Oyster White- Sherwin Williams. It is soft and a great pick for exterior.

White paint colors can be hard. Hopefully, this helps narrow down your sectionals. Just a few things to keep in mind… for an investment property under 2000 square feet, I recommend sticking to one paint color throughout the home. Staying with one color will be less expensive. Apply eggshell or satin finish on the walls and semi-gloss to trim, molding and interior doors in the same color. The paints finish will allow for enough contrast. You may can add a fun accent wall but keeping colors calm and cohesive is the end goal.

Four Tips to Save for Your First Home

Setting a goal to save for your first home can seem daunting at first. When comparing real estate prices and calculating down payments, the numbers may be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are strategies you can apply to slowly meet your savings goals without compromising too much on your quality of life. Here are four tips on how to save for your first home.

1. Set a budget and timeline

Before researching homes, decide how much you can afford to spend and in what timeframe you want to have saved up this amount. To figure out the number, calculate your total home costs, including mortgage, property taxes, and home insurance, and then plan to save 20% for the down payment. If that seems unattainable (or will take too long to achieve), save up at least 10%, because if your credit score is around 700 or above, you will be able to qualify for a good mortgage loan requiring only a 10% down payment.

2. Pay off your debts

Less debt can help you get a better mortgage rate in addition to taking financial pressure off you. So, make it a habit to pay off some of your credit cards, student and car loans, and other debts before saving for a home. If you don’t have debts to pay off, plan to spend no more than one-third of your total income on housing costs.

3. Reduce expenses

Being mindful of your expenses can significantly help you reach your savings goals. Your biggest expense is most likely your rent. If you can temporarily move back in with your parents or into a cheaper rental apartment, you’ll be able to significantly reduce your expenses and start saving for your own home. A few other ways you can reduce costs include getting a cheaper mobile plan, better broadband and utility deals, switching to a discount supermarket, buying no-name brands, carpooling, walking, or cycling to work (if possible) to reduce your gas expense, and selling things you no longer need.

4. Earn more and boost your savings

If your job allows it, work overtime or take extra shifts, and consider taking a second job or freelancing on weekends from home if time permits. There are many online platforms (like Upwork or Fiverr) that allow you to find freelancing work online and turn your skills into extra income. Then, start setting aside a monthly amount that goes towards your down payment. Refer to step #1, your budget and timeline, to know how much money to save each month.


Saving up for your first home is both scary and exciting. No matter your financial standing, if you plan properly, pay off your debt, actively reduce your expenses, increase your income, and set aside some money towards your home goals every month, you’ll be able to become a homeowner in just a few years.

6 Tips to Winterize Your Home

It’s that time of year again. Time to winterize your home. Let’s avoid extra headaches this winter season by taking extra measures to winterize our homes.

It’s important to properly winterize your home both outside and inside. There are a several tasks that you should complete, before temperatures drop, to make sure you don’t have any problems during the winter months.  Below are some of the most common tasks to complete before winter.

  1. Check roof
  2. Clean out gutters
  3. Remove tree limbs and debris away from home
  4. Winterize your HVAC system inside & out.
  5. Address window or door drafts
  6. Protect pipes

Check Your Roof

It’s very important before winter hits, that you inspect your roof.  Contact a contractor that specializes in roofing. They will be able to assess the roof and recommend repairs or a full replacement. This can prevent more costly repairs. Missing shingles is a good sign to call a professional.

Roof issues are one of the most common home inspection findings in real estate and also can be one of the most expensive issues to fix. Ensuring that your roof is in good condition is an important to successfully winterize your home.

Clean Your Gutters

Gutters divert rain and storm water off the roof and away from the foundation. Gutters that have been neglected can also severely damage a home. If trees are close and hanging over the house, be sure so clear out gutters often. To properly winterize your home, it’s important to make sure your gutters are clear debris.  Also, be sure the gutter is secure. Click here for How to thoroughly clean gutters.

Remove tree limbs and pull debris away from the house

Cutting back tree limbs at least 18 inches can insure branches do not damage the home’s exterior. High winds can add to the damage these branches can do to a home. Remove wood piles that are up against the house. This will prevent termites.

Clean Your Chimney

Another task to complete when you winterize your home is making sure your chimney is inspected and cleaned.  A chimney is used most frequently during the cold winter months and it’s important to keep your home and your family safe, so be sure that it’s safe to use. It’s suggested that you hire a professional to clean and check your chimney.

Winterize Your HVAC System Inside and Out

Because I live in Texas, I do not turn off my air conditioning unit. It can be 100 degrees on Christmas day. However, if your home will be vacant during the winter months, I would recommend winterizing the system. Central air conditioning is a great feature to have in a home but also can be fairly expensive to repair in the event it’s not properly winterized.

The first step to properly winterizing your central air conditioning is to make sure all debris is cleared away from the outside unit.  This includes all sticks, leaves, and bushes. If your central air conditioning unit has an electric box next to it, you should ensure it is switched to the off position.

Change the HVAC filter. The easiest step in the winterization of an HVAC system is a simple filter change. Another important step as you winterize your home is to make sure your thermostat is working properly.  Be sure to replace the thermostat’s batteries before testing. Contact a licensed professional if you need more help.

Check For Drafts

One of the most important tasks to complete when winterizing the interior of your home is to check for drafts.  The most obvious places to check for drafts inside your home are the windows and doors. In addition to your windows and doors, be sure to check your homes plumbing vents, furnace ducts, and attic openings for drafts.

The most common solution to fix a draft in your home is by installing weatherstripping.  There are many different types of weatherstripping that can be used to prevent drafts in your home.  Properly installing weatherstripping in your home is a great way to reduce drafts in your home during the winter months.

Protect pipes

By winterizing your pipes, you will prevent broken pipes and lots of headaches.

Ask a professional for advice about how to best winterize pipes in freeze-prone areas. Pipes most likely to freeze include those located in your attic, unheated floors, unheated crawl spaces, unheated garages, well house, and under porches. Wrap all exposed pipes located outside or in unheated areas of the home. Remove garden hoses from outside faucets. Insulate outside faucets with Styrofoam covers or rags. If you have plumbing running through an unheated garage, insulate the door to keep that area as warm as possible.

When temperatures drop below freezing, open the faucets a tiny bit. Allow a trickle of water to run through the faucets. This relieves pressure if standing water in your pipes does freeze. Open cabinets under your sinks. Consider leaving bathroom vanity doors open so warm air from the room can circulate around the pipes.

Know where the cut-off valve is located and how to use it.

Knowing how to properly winterize a home is very important if you live in an area where you experience colder temperatures. The above tips on how to winterize your home should increase the chances that your home doesn’t experience damage during the winter.

Proposed HOA Reform Bills In Texas

Homeowners associations (HOAs) are formed to improve neighborhoods and increase property values, but sometimes their actions conflict with owners’ interests. New legislation seeks to limit their powers and protect owners and tenants. The proposals are articulated in Texas Senate Bill 1588 and House Bill 3367

Regulating Charges 

The bills require HOAs only to charge property owners resale certificate fees when it is necessary and make sure the fee is reasonable. The fee should not exceed $250 for creating the certificate and $30 for an update of the certificate. 

Access to Information 

The bills require HOAs to create a statewide database that provides information about their latest decisions, provisions, and amendments and avail it on a publicly accessible website. Every association is obligated to maintain a website and other internet platforms. The website should provide details about its name, mailing address, and the contacts of its managers or designated representative. 

Prior Notification 

The HOA Bill Reform requires associations to provide property owners with a written notice before suspending their rights to use common areas, filing suits, levying fines or reporting them to a credit reporting agency. Further, HOAs cannot report owners to credit reporting agencies for delinquent fees, fines, or assessments if the property owner has a pending dispute related to the charges. Before making a negative credit report, the HOA must send the property owner a detailed account of all the delinquent charges and give them an opportunity to enter into a payment plan. 

Alternative Dispute Resolution

In case of a dispute, the property owner is entitled to an appeal before the board and must get notification from the board prior to the hearing. The association must provide the owner with all the evidence prior to the hearing. During the hearing, the owner is entitled to challenge the evidence and raise pertinent issues relevant to the case. 

Tenant Protection 

Associations cannot make provisions that give them the power to approve rental applications or leases. Further, they cannot demand information related to an applicant or a tenant’s consumer or credit report. 

As a Texas resident, I am convinced that a well run HOA will sustain property values. HOA reform is an on-going issue and one that will continue to evaluation. The Texas Senate Bill 1588 and House Bill 3367 will be reviewed again in September 2021. Please contact me for questions about HOAs or click here for local deed restrictions.