Things To Do Before Leaving For Vacation

The Ultimate Guide To Preparing Your House Before Summer Vacation

It’s finally summer, and before you know it, you’ll be packing your bags and taking that long-awaited trip.

 

Vacation in the summer is a time of excitement for all.  There is so much planning that goes into departing for exotic locations near and far!   Sometimes it’s easy to forget to plan for the care and maintenance of your most valuable commodity: your home!

 

Take a few minutes to review this week’s blog; it could jog your memory on some important To Dos before you head out on vacay!

 

3 Things Every Homeowner Should Do Prior To Leaving For Summer Vacation

 

1. Tackle routine chores so you can return to a clean house

 

When it comes to traveling, you can never be too certain about arrival or departure times.  In case you experience delays on your way home, make your life easier by cleaning and organizing before your trip.

 

  • Clean every room so you’re not coming home to a mess.
  • Wash and put away laundry to make sure you have clothes ready to return back to work.
  • Deep clean the kitchen so there’s no chance of attracting pests while you’re away.
    • Clean out the refrigerator to prevent food from spoiling. Leave only items like bottled water or unopened jars so your fridge can still run efficiently.
  • After you’ve finished cleaning, empty all trash cans and arrange for pickup, if necessary.
  • If you have a pool, make sure the pump stays on so the water stays clean while you’re away.

 

2. Make arrangements so your home appears occupied while you’re away

 

One of the easiest ways to deter robbers while you’re away is to make sure the home appears occupied.  The goal is to make sure only a small handful of people are aware you’re not home.

 

  • Use a timer or motion sensor to keep outdoor lights on at night while you’re on your trip.
  • Arrange for the lawn to be mowed. In addition to making the home’s emptiness less obvious, this will also keep unwanted pests and other wildlife away.
  • If you have a landline, make sure your calls are sent to voicemail after 2-3 rings. Hearing your phone ring loudly without being answered could tip off robbers about your absence.  Similarly, don’t mention you’re on vacation in your voicemail greeting.  Instead, get in touch with friends and family members who should know of your trip prior to leaving.
  • Make sure all curtains and blinds are closed before you leave town.
  • If your vacation isn’t a road trip, ask a friend to move your car periodically while you’re away. When robbers are casing a neighborhood, they’ll look for cars that haven’t been moved to identify homes that are most likely empty.

 

For added safety, don’t announce your upcoming trip on social media.  Instead, wait until you return to share photos, stories, and other updates from your adventures.

 

3. Prepare for potential emergencies

 

Most homeowners can agree that when a small issue goes unnoticed, it can quickly escalate into a disaster.  Avoid coming home to unwanted surprises.

 

Home maintenance steps and precautions to take in the weeks leading up to your trip:

 

  • 1-2 weeks before you leave, carefully inspect your entire property so you have ample time to make any necessary repairs before your trip.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts to protect your home from damage if a storm hits while you’re away.
  • If you have an outdoor draining system in your backyard, check that this is working correctly no sooner than 1 week before you leave.
  • Ask someone you trust to visit your house once or twice a day to collect the mail and make sure windows and doors remain locked. If no one is available to stop by while you’re gone, contact the post office about holding your mail for the duration of your trip.

 

Safety measures to take right before you leave:

 

  • Turn off the water in your house. This can save you thousands of dollars in water damage that could result if there’s a plumbing leak while no one’s around to act.
  • Test the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and make sure these are connected to your home’s alarm system.
  • Contact your home security company to let them know how long you’ll be on vacation. Confirm your emergency contact’s name and phone number as well.
  • Leave your air conditioning running on a schedule to protect items from high temperatures and humidity. To avoid paying for unnecessary energy, set the temperature a few degrees higher than usual.
  • If you keep spare keys hidden outside, collect them and put them away, or leave them with someone you trust.
  • Unplug laptops, exercise equipment, printers, and any other small appliances that will waste energy while you’re away.
  • Double-check all windows and doors to ensure they’re locked.

 

Knowing your home is well taken-care of will help you relax and recharge on your trip.

 

Get more helpful home maintenance tips!

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Moving To A New Neighborhood

How To Choose The Right Neighborhood When You Move

You have an idea of where you’d like to buy, but you haven’t yet narrowed down which neighborhood makes the best home.  Sound familiar?

 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re looking for a new home.

 

Aside from fundamental property requirements, one of the most important things I advise my clients to do is to write down a list of their priorities.  When I review the list, I can usually identify a corresponding location and discuss the key factors of that particular area— the pluses and, inevitably, the minuses of the neighborhood—so that my client can move forward with confidence.

 

If you’re planning a move and don’t know where to start, you can usually get an idea of whether a neighborhood is right for you based on the following 7 factors.

 

7 Factors To Consider When Moving To A New Neighborhood:

 

1. Proximity To Work, Transportation, And Shopping

 

How far are you willing to travel for work?  What would your route to the office look like, and how much traffic is there during rush hour?

 

If you’re considering neighborhoods far from your job, find out what your commute would feel like.  Pick one or two days to drive to work from each neighborhood where you’re thinking of buying, and see if the travel time is compatible with your schedule.

 

This goes hand in hand with proximity to transportation; if you’re thinking of purchasing a home far away from work, family, or other commitments, it may be beneficial to live close to transportation.

 

Lastly, think about conveniences like shopping and entertainment.  Do you cook or dine out most nights?  How would these habits be affected if you were to live in a given neighborhood?

 

Again, one of the best ways to answer these questions to set aside time to explore each area where you’re thinking of buying a home.

 

2. Local School Ratings

 

Whether or not you have children in school, your home’s value and property taxes will be affected by schools in the area.  Research public schools near the neighborhoods you’re most interested in, and avoid areas with underperforming schools when possible.

 

If you are a parent, it may be worthwhile to research nearby private schools as well.

 

GreatSchools.org is an excellent resource for finding more detailed information about different schools in each neighborhood.

 

3. Climate And Weather In The Area

 

Whether you’re moving 5 miles away or across the country, research the climate and how your new home could potentially be affected.  Find out if the area you’re interested in has extreme summers or winters.

 

Learn what to expect during each different season and how different weather patterns could affect a property.  Depending on where you’d like to buy, you may be required to purchase flood insurance for your home.  This information will be important when you’re determining your total budget.

 

4. Presence Or Absence Of An HOA

 

As you can imagine, homeowners associations and their corresponding fees can vary dramatically from one town to the next.

 

If the home you’re interested in is part of an HOA, contact its manager for detailed information.  Aside from knowing how much the HOA costs annually, make sure you research what the HOA offers.  Learn about the duties you’d be responsible for as part of the association, and find out how you could benefit from joining the HOA as well.

 

Your findings regarding the HOA alone could help you decide if a neighborhood is the right choice for you.

 

5. Crime Rate

 

Researching an area’s crime rate is a critical step for choosing a neighborhood.  In addition to keeping you and your family safe, avoiding high-crime neighborhoods increases the chances your home can be sold at a favorable price if and when you move again.

 

You can begin your research through various websites and even apps for your phone that provide information about local crime rates.  Additionally, make sure you also contact the local cops to request a log of recent crimes and police calls made in the area.  This will give you a better understanding of whether or not a specific neighborhood is, in fact, a safe choice.

 

6. Property Taxes

 

Another critical factor that can easily be overlooked is the annual cost of property taxes in the neighborhood you’re considering.

 

Luckily, property tax information isn’t too hard to find.  If you’re buying a home in the Houston area, for instance, you can look up historical property taxes on the Harris County Appraisal District’s website.

 

Your realtor is also a great resource for finding out about property taxes in the area.

 

7. Income Required For A Comfortable Lifestyle

 

Being “house poor” is never the goal!  Research the cost of living for each neighborhood you’re interested in, and ask yourself honestly if you could live comfortably.

 

Estimate your monthly mortgage payments, and compare this to your household income.  Could you easily afford to pay bills and buy groceries, or would you be stretching your wallet too thin?

 

Still Need Help Choosing Your New Neighborhood?

 

As a long time resident of Houston, almost 30 years now, I know practically every nook and cranny of the city.   I know the shortcuts, the ground streets to use to avoid highways, the parks, the cool restaurants and other area amenities!  I’m a geographical wizard!

 

If you’re thinking of buying a luxury home near Houston, please contact me for assistance!

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more information about the Houston real estate market.

 

 

 

Review Tanglewood Luxury Real Estate

Is It A Waste Of Time To Review Small Businesses?

As consumers, we’re constantly being asked to provide feedback on our experiences.

 

Whether we’re dining at a local restaurant, buying clothes a nearby boutique, hiring a plumber, or even house hunting with a realtor, just about every business we engage with asks for our opinion.

 

Often times, we tend not to think about leaving reviews online until we’ve had an experience that’s exceptionally beyond what we expected (either in a positive or negative way).

 

At some point by now, though, you’ve probably left at least one review of a local business; do you ever stop and wonder if your review can make an impact?

 

Reviewing Local Businesses Online: Yes, Your Words Matter!

 

Review Tanglewood Luxury Real Estate-2

Reviews for Ces Guerra (Tanglewood Luxury Real Estate)

 

According to a recent BrightLocal report, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

 

With the rise in popularity of smart devices and voice search, it makes sense that online reviews can carry such significant weight; consumers who want to learn more about a business can easily do so at any given moment.

 

For this reason, it should come as no surprise that the same study reported 73% of consumers are more willing to trust a local business when they see a positive review online.

 

You may even find this data coincides with your own behavior.

 

How many times have you looked up a business or service online and decided to reach out for more information after reading a positive review?

 

It’s almost hard not to let online reviews influence your decisions, as social media and search engines tend to display star ratings and snippets of online reviews almost every time you search for a company.

 

Tanglewood Luxury Real Estate Review

 

Do You Have A Habit Of Leaving Online Reviews?

 

Despite how much we rely on others’ reviews when making decisions, as consumers, we don’t often think about sharing our own reviews online until it is requested of us.

 

In their report, BrightLocal stated that 68% of consumers reviewed local businesses online in 2017 after being prompted to do so.

 

This information suggests that consumers are generally willing to write reviews for local businesses, but the thought may not occur to them.  It’s as if we only think about online reviews when we’re making our own decisions, but by the end of our experience, those reviews are long-forgotten.

 

Importance Of Online Reviews For Real Estate Agents

 

When it comes to buying and selling homes, online reviews are especially important for both the homeowner and the agent.

 

As we all know, real estate transactions have the potential to become incredibly stressful or even unpleasant.  Finding a real estate agent you trust is a foolproof way to reduce that stress, and online reviews are a great way to start your search.

 

Whether you prefer to use Google, Yelp, or social media, these all are great places to share honest reviews about your own real estate transaction.  Always make sure to include the name of the agent you worked with and as much information as possible.

 

Whether your agent helped you to negotiate an amazing deal or sold your house in record timing, these types of details are important to share with other buyers and sellers so they can enjoy positive experience as well.

 

Review Tanglewood Luxury Real Estate Online

 

Share your experience!  If you’ve recently worked with Tanglewood Luxury Real Estate, please leave a review on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or LinkedIn!

 

For more information about Houston real estate, you can also subscribe to my YouTube channel today.

 

What You Should Know About Flooding in Houston

What You Should Know About Flooding In Houston

Flooding in Houston has been a major concern for several years now, especially after the overwhelming amount of damaged caused by 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.

 

During Harvey, Houston was hit with record-breaking amounts of rainfall and suffered an estimated $1.25B worth of damage, with at least 68 storm-related deaths as well.  The National Hurricane Center called Harvey, “the most significant tropical cyclone rainfall event in United States history, both in scope and peak rainfall amounts since reliable rainfall records began around the 1880s.”

 

There are almost no words to describe the complete turmoil that Harvey created, but if there’s one positive effect of the storm, it’s the new precautions the city is taking to prevent such disaster from striking again.

 

Post-Hurricane Harvey flood prevention in Houston

 

Earlier this spring, the City of Houston published a press release* announcing flood prevention reforms taking place in 2018.

 

Current laws require new construction to sit 1 foot above the 100-year floodplain (land that’s expected to flood 1 year out of every 100 years).  After new regulations take effect on September 1, however, newly constructed homes in Houston will be required to sit 2 feet above the 500-year floodplain.  This means that even in areas less likely to experience flooding, newly constructed homes will soon be required to meet stricter standards to prevent a repeat of the extreme damage we saw after Harvey.

 

Additionally, the city is finally nearing completion on Project Brays, and Mayor Turner is fighting for Congress to vote on the construction of a third reservoir in Houston.

 

With June 1 marking the official beginning of Texas’ hurricane season, it’s still too early to know what to expect in 2018.  One thing we do know for certain at this point is Houston is taking the steps to better prepare for potential flooding in the future, and we will continue to see more improvements in how the city prevents disaster.

 

In a letter to Mayor Turner, Roy Wright (FEMA’s deputy associate administrator for insurance and mitigation) wrote, “For the nation to be more resilient, many communities will take these forward-leaning steps.  We will be looking to Houston to lead the nation in its resilience and capacity to shape policies that keep citizens safe through all hazards.”  Those who experienced the recent flooding in Houston first-hand will likely agree with Wright’s sentiment: after all, Houston is a strong city, and considering recent events, it only makes sense that we demonstrate that strength to the rest of the country.

 

Flooding in Houston: what to expect in the future

 

Currently, the estimated completion date for Project Brays is set for 2021.  At the very least, Houstonians can be hopeful that this construction, in addition to newly updated building codes, will prove effective in preventing significant flood damage during the years to come.

 

Though there’s still uncertainty surrounding the third reservoir’s construction, knowing the City is prioritizing flood prevention can at least give Houstonians some peace of mind.

 

Stay updated on the latest in Houston

 

For more information and updates regarding the Houston area, please follow me on Twitter and subscribe to my YouTube channel today!

*http://houstontx.gov/mayor/press/flood-prevention-reforms-approved.html
*https://www.chron.com/news/politics/houston/article/How-well-does-the-new-Brays-Bayou-contain-12728996.php
*https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Turner-urges-lawmakers-to-back-third-reservoir-12819157.php