Fun Things To Do In Houston This May and June

Fun Things To Do In The Houston Area

There’s always something exciting happening in the Houston area!  Whether you’re planning a night out with friends or a casual date night, there are plenty of upcoming local events to enjoy.  I like to say that Houston is the smallest big city in the country and having these great events brings us all a little closer!

 

Fun Things To Do In Houston This May And June

 

See a show

 

 

See an Astros game:

 

  • San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros
    • Tues, May 22, 7:10 pm
  • San Francisco Giants at Houston Astros
    • Wed, May 23, 1:10 pm
  • Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros
    • Thurs, May 31, 7:10 pm
  • Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros
    • Fri, June 1, 7:10 pm
  • Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros
    • Sat, June 2, 6:15 pm
  • Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros
    • Sun, June 3, 6:38 pm
  • Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros
    • Tues, June 5, 7:10 pm
  • Seattle Mariners at Houston Astros
    • Wed, June 6, 7:10 pm
  • Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros
    • Mon, June 18, 7:10 pm
  • Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros
    • Tues, June 19, 7:10 pm
  • Tampa Bay Rays at Houston Astros
    • Wed, June 20, 7:10 pm
  • Kansas City Royals at Houston Astros
    • Fri, June 22, 7:10 pm
  • Kansas City Royals at Houston Astros
    • Sat, June 23, 6:15 pm
  • Kansas City Royals at Houston Astros
    • Sun, June 24, 1:10 pm
  • Toronto Blue Jays at Houston Astros
    • Mon, June 25, 7:10 pm
  • Toronto Blue Jays at Houston Astros
    • Tues, June 26, 7:10 pm
  • Toronto Blue Jays at Houston Astros
    • Wed, June 27, 1:10 pm

 

Buy your tickets online!

 

Support a local cause:

 

 

Never miss another great Houston event!

 

Like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter for more updates on fun things to do in the Houston area!

7 Steps To Buying Your First Home

Everything You Need To Know About Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home is an exciting experience unlike any other.  I love reviewing the “Yellow Brick Road” to homeownership with my first time homebuyers!   It is an excellent illustration that allows the client to visualize the path which they are about to embark upon.   Many questions are answered and more arise simply by reviewing the illustration.   It’s lots of fun to explain the process and discuss the various challenges and hurdles that inevitably present themselves.

 

Home Buying Illustration

If you’re thinking about buying your first home, you probably have some questions about what steps you’ll need to take.

 

These Are The 7 Critical Steps To Buying Your First House:

 

1. Research all of your options

 

The first step towards becoming a homeowner is to consider the lifestyle you want to achieve in your new home.

 

Take the time to research the individual neighborhoods where you can see yourself living.  Don’t forget to focus on factors that will affect your home’s value and your quality of life, such as local school ratings, crime rates, and property taxes in the area.

 

Think about how your commute to work will be affected as well.  Map out the route you’d be taking every day to see if you’re comfortable with the amount of time you’ll be spending on the road.

 

You should also learn about the local real estate market, and pay close attention to the prices of recently sold homes in the area.

 

This information will help you determine which neighborhoods fit within your budget and meet your needs.

 

Additionally, as you start thinking about your down payment, you can research mortgage programs to understand what your monthly payments will look like.

 

Don’t forget to budget for other expenses that may be new to you, like utilities, homeowners insurance, HOA fees, and the occasional unexpected home repair!

 

Once you’ve had some time to consider your budget and compare mortgage programs, get pre-approved so that you can make a more compelling offer.

 

2. Find a real estate agent who’s equipped to meet your needs

 

When you’re looking for your first home, working with a real estate agent can make the entire buying process much simpler.  That being said, no two real estate agents are the same, and the best agent to work with will often depend heavily on the neighborhoods you’re most interested in looking at.

 

Make sure you know the right questions to ask when you’re looking for a real estate agent to represent you.

 

3. Start viewing homes for sale

 

Once your agent has a clear understanding of what you’re looking for in a home (and neighborhood), he or she can help you find houses for sale within your price range.

 

As you’re viewing these homes, you may want to write down notes about the properties so you can keep track of features that you did or didn’t like.  Don’t be afraid to carefully inspect each home as you’re walking through; sellers are usually willing to negotiate when there’s an obvious need for repair work.

 

4. Make an offer

 

Once you’ve found a property you’re interested in pursuing, talk to your real estate agent about a negotiation strategy.  He or she should be able to help you create a strategic offer based on the local market and the property’s estimated value.

 

If the seller doesn’t immediately accept your offer, don’t be discouraged!  Trust your real estate agent’s advice, and don’t let your emotions get in the way.  If you simply can’t come to an agreement with the seller, there’s no harm in walking away from the home.

 

Once your offer is accepted, you and the seller will then enter into a contract outlining any contingencies that must be addressed before the deal can close.  Typically, most home sales are contingent on the buyer’s ability to secure financing and the results of the home inspection.

 

After you’ve deposited an earnest payment, the seller will then take the home off the market.  Typically, this is followed by an option period, during which time you as a buyer reserve the right to terminate the contract.

 

5. Hire an inspector

 

The option period provides the perfect opportunity to have the house thoroughly inspected.  If the home inspector uncovers significant problems, you can try to renegotiate the deal with the seller.  If, at this time, you and the seller cannot reach an agreement, then you can terminate the contract and recoup your earnest money.

 

6. Get your mortgage loan approved

 

Before your loan can be approved, your lender will require an appraisal to determine the home’s value and prevent you from borrowing more than the home is worth.

 

Additionally, you will be required to obtain title insurance, which protects you as a homeowner from certain losses that could be incurred as a result of purchasing the home.  Your title commitment paperwork will outline the specific coverage provided by your title insurance.

 

7. Close on your new home

 

If your contract required the seller to make repairs, these will be taken care of after your loan has been approved.  If you’re buying new construction, then a final inspection is completed at this time instead.

 

Next, you’ll hire a surveyor to measure the land and identify the legal boundaries of the property.  This will help you and your new neighbors avoid any confusion over property lines.

 

After these steps have been completed, you can close the deal and move into your new home!

 

Need more information about how to buy your first home?

 

Get the answers to all of your questions!  Contact me today to reserve your spot at the Better Homes And Gardens Home Buying Seminar on Saturday, May 19.

 

Home Buying Seminar

Fun Facts About Houston That May Surprise You

7 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Houston

How much do you really know about Houston?  Whether you’ve lived here for decades or you’re new to the area, there’s always more to learn about Texas’ most populated city.  You might even be surprised by some of the city’s historical secrets and other fun facts about Houston.

 

Fun Facts About Houston That You May Not Have Heard About:

 

1. There’s an 87,500 square foot cistern hidden beneath Sabine Street

 

According to Houston Chronicle, the structure was built during the 1920s and had been forgotten after its abandonment.  More recently, the cistern was rediscovered, and you can even schedule a 30-minute guided tour through Buffalo Bayou Partnership.

 

2. The Hyatt downtown is home to a rotating restaurant

 

Most Houstonians have no idea that we have our own rotating restaurant, Spindletop, located on top of the Hyatt downtown.  The dining room completes a revolution every 45 minutes, allowing guests to enjoy breathtaking views of the city at night.

 

3. Airmail Route didn’t get its name the way you think it did

 

Many Houston residents believe the street in North Houston called Airmail Route was named for the Bush airport, but that’s actually far from the truth.

 

The Airmail Route name dates back to the 1800s, long before planes were even invented.  Back then, the road served as a main route to Dallas.  Because Airmail Route ran through so many low-lying areas, the road was built above the ground, inspiring its name.

 

4. There’s an underground tunnel system that spans 7 miles below the city

 

Located 20 feet below the ground is an underground pedestrian tunnel system connecting 95 city blocks.  According to DowntownHouston.org, the tunnel was originally built to connect two downtown movie theaters.  Today, however, it’s grown to include a number of restaurants and shops.

 

The tunnel can be accessed from Houston Center at 909 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77010, and many of the buildings located above the tunnel also have direct access to it.

 

Interestingly enough, Verizon Wireless recently ran an ad campaign boasting strong cellular signals that can still be reached from the tunnel, so no need to worry about missing texts or calls when you visit this secret landmark.

 

5. There’s a cleverly-placed button that makes the Buffalo Bayou bubble

 

Look around carefully the next time you’re crossing the Preston Street Bridge, and you might spot a big, red button hidden within the brickwork.  Press it to watch a massive bubble form right within the Bayou!

 

6. We have multiple secret bars (and they’re hidden in plain sight)

 

With no front signs or blatant advertising, it’s easy to walk right by some of Houston’s most interesting bars without even realizing it.  Here are 4 secret bars you probably didn’t know about:

 

Last Concert Café

 

Located at 1403 Nance Street in Downtown Houston, Last Concert is the perfect secret spot to enjoy Tex-Mex dishes while listening to live music from some of Houston’s most popular bands.

 

Just knock on the red door to get inside!

13 Celsius

 

At 3000 Caroline St in Midtown, look for a sign with “3000 Caroline” lit up in red to locate a secret wine bar.  Named after the recommended temperature for storing wine, 13 Celsius offers an extensive wine list, complete with gourmet meats and cheeses.

Mongoose Versus Cobra

 

Though you may not be able to tell from the outside, the ivy-covered building at 1011 McGowen St in Midtown might just be one of Houston’s most interesting bars.  With a wide variety of cocktails and specialty beers to choose from, Mongoose Versus Cobra is a beloved spot among Houston’s underground bar scene.

 

Notsuoh

 

Spell “Houston” backwards and you’ve got the name of one of the only bars in the area that doubles as a clothing store.  Next time you’re in Downtown Houston, visit 314 Main Street and look for the neon “Clarks” sign to find this hidden bar.

 

7. You might be shocked to learn what’s under the Franklin Street Bridge

 

If you look closely under the Franklin Street Bridge, you can see part of the Donnellan Crypt, the former burial site of an early Houston settler and his family who lived in the area during the 1800s.

 

No longer used as a resting place, the crypt is still intact below the Franklin Street Bridge, where today’s Houstonians can view its entrance.

 

Learn More About The Houston Area

 

Living in Houston is truly unlike any other experience.  If you’re thinking about moving to the area and are interested in buying a home near the Tanglewood, Uptown, Memorial, or Galleria neighborhoods, please contact me today to learn how I can help!

 

 

How Much You Need To Earn To Buy A Luxury Home Near Houston

Average Income Required To Buy A Luxury Home In The Houston Area

Thinking about buying a home in one of Houston’s luxury neighborhoods this year?  If so, you’ve probably heard about some of the beautiful neighborhoods outside the city, and may have even begun looking for homes for sale as well.

 

As you’re conducting your preliminary research, keep in mind that the cost of homeownership will inevitably vary from one town to another.  Understanding the varying costs of homeownership from the beginning of the buying process is an important step towards making a carefully calculated decision on which property is right for you.

 

One of the most important meetings I conduct with my clients, if not the most important, is the initial meeting.  There’s usually quite a bit of anxiety in the room, mostly stemming from financial and budgetary questions.  This is especially true for first-time homebuyers, and the uncertainty usually stems from lack of knowledge on what the buyer can afford.

 

While I’m not an expert on mortgages, I do have access to many lenders that can help determine the answer to this question.  I communicate to my clients that the 2nd most important partner in the home buying process is their lender.  (Of course, the important person in the home buying transaction is their friendly neighborhood Realtor, me!)

 

The lender will assist in providing exactly what the buyer can afford based upon their short and long range goals.  I never encourage someone to become “house poor” and factor how long they wish to stay in the house.

 

While each homebuyer’s situation will vary depending on their unique resources and needs, Houston Business Journal’s recent article about the average salary needed to buy a home in Houston can serve as an excellent starting-off point for those who are in the early stages of the homebuying process.

 

Estimated Salaries Needed To Buy Homes In Houston’s Luxury Neighborhoods:

Memorial Village:

 

  • Median listing price: $1,575,000
  • Average salary required: $416,483

 

Memorial Park

 

  • Median listing price: $1,525,000
  • Average salary required: $403,262

 

Tanglewood

 

  • Median listing price: $1,476,000
  • Average salary required: $390,304

 

West University

 

  • Median listing price: $1,284,000
  • Average salary required: $339,533

 

Bellaire

 

  • Median listing price: $1,035,000
  • Average salary required: $273,689

 

Afton Oaks

 

  • Median listing price: $855,000
  • Average salary required: $226,091

 

Briargrove

 

  • Median listing price: $790,000
  • Average salary required: $208,903

 

Rice/ Museum District

 

  • Median listing price: $660,500
  • Average salary required: $174,659

 

Memorial West

 

  • Median listing price: $511,000
  • Average salary required: $135,126

 

Timbergrove/ Lazybrook

 

  • Median listing price: $432,500
  • Average salary required: $114,368

 

Memorial Close In

 

  • Median listing price: $407,000
  • Average salary required: $107,625

 

Galleria

 

  • Median listing price: $292,000
  • Average salary required: $77,215

(View the full article here.)

 

Are You Ready To Buy A Luxury Home In The Houston Area?

 

If you’re interested in viewing homes for sale near Houston, or would like additional information about how to begin your home search, please reach out to me!  I can help you navigate the current local market and find the right property to meet your budget.  Please contact me today to discuss your path to homeownership in Houston!

Negotiating Tips For Luxury Home Buyers in Houston

Negotiating Tips For Houston Luxury Homebuyers

The suburbs of Houston are known for being home to some of the most beautiful luxury properties, complete with tranquil neighborhoods, spacious yards, and access to excellent public and private schools.  These breathtaking homes in safe, quiet towns can easily tempt buyers to ignore their budget limitations and bid the full asking price or more, even if that means spending more on a home than it’s actually worth.

 

Avoid overspending on your luxury home purchase by learning how to strategically negotiate with sellers.

 

6 Negotiating Tips Every Luxury Homebuyer In Houston Needs To Know

 

1. Put aside your emotions and trust your realtor

 

One of the biggest advantages of buying a luxury home with a realtor is the ability to consult with an objective party before making an offer.  Most buyers who overpay for their homes do so because they became emotionally attached to the property and bid too high as a result.  An experienced realtor will help you avoid making this mistake, and instead guide you towards placing a realistic bid.

 

Remember, you are working with a professional for a reason; don’t be afraid to trust your realtor’s judgement.  The lack of emotional involvement is one of your realtor’s biggest strengths, and should not be confused with a lack of caring.  The best realtors will remain poised, calm, and collected in a stressful situation, in order to help you make the right decision.  Don’t be afraid to cut through the smoke and listen carefully to the advice your realtor provides.

 

2. Understand the seller’s priorities

 

Some sellers are simply in a rush to close the deal, and while this may not be the case with every home you look at, it never hurts to inquire about the seller’s reason for moving.  Events such as the death of a loved one, changes in sellers’ financial situations, divorce, and career opportunities requiring relocation are all examples of reasons why sellers may be motivated to close on a deal as soon as possible.

 

In these types of situations, showing the seller you’re able to close quickly can help persuade him or her into accepting an offer below asking price, so make sure you’re ready to act even before you start viewing homes for sale.

 

3. Leverage the estimated cost of repair work the home needs

 

One of the most effective ways to negotiate with a seller is to identify repairs the home may require and determine a rough estimate of how much the work will cost.  Carefully look over the entire property yourself, even before hiring an inspector, to lessen the chances of missing any significant problems in the home that will require work.

 

Depending on the scope of the repairs that may need to be made, the seller may choose to either cover the cost themselves or accept an offer below asking price due to the home’s less-than-perfect condition.

 

4. Avoid making a low-ball offer

 

Despite how well you may be able to put your own emotions aside, there’s no way to control the seller’s response if you make a low-ball offer.  Rather than risking upsetting the seller with a potentially insulting offer, work with your realtor to determine if the asking price does in fact reflect the home’s value.  Your realtor should be able to quickly gather information about the local real estate market and help you use this data to place an appropriate bid.

 

5. Put a time limit on your offer

 

Let the seller know you’re serious by providing a deadline for which your offer can be either accepted or rejected.  Typically, the time limit should be between 24 and 48 hours from the time you make your offer in order to encourage quick decision-making on the seller’s end.  By setting an expiration date for your offer, you’re also proving that you have no emotional attachment to the home and are prepared to explore other options if the seller can’t meet your deadline.

 

6. Walk away if necessary

 

If you can’t come to an agreement with the seller, be willing to walk away.  Not only will your realtor likely be able to find a more suitable property for you, but if the seller is interested in your offer at all, this last-resort tactic could provide the final push needed for your bid to be accepted.  You may be surprised by just how effective this strategy is when used correctly.

 

Interested in purchasing a luxury home near Houston?

 

I can help you find a home that fits your needs and your budget, all while taking the guesswork out of a complex real estate transaction.  As a Houston resident myself for 27 years, I’ll help you understand the current market and guide you down the path to homeownership.  Please contact me today if you’re thinking of buying a luxury property in the Tanglewood, Uptown, Memorial, or Galleria neighborhood!

5 Proven Steps For Getting The Full Asking Price

How To Get The Full Asking Price For Your Luxury Home

One of the most common misconceptions regarding luxury homes for sale is that buyers are willing pay the full asking price, simply because they can afford to.  In actuality, though, home buyers in every market are always looking for grounds to negotiate.  As a seller, you need to anticipate how buyers will respond to your listing so you can reduce their negotiating power and increase your chances of receiving the full asking price.

 

After you’ve determined a fair listing price for your home, there are still a few steps you can take to ensure that the offers you receive are worth entertaining.

 

5 Proven Steps For Getting The Full Asking Price:

 

1. Research the real estate market in your neighborhood

 

One of the most important reasons to hire a neighborhood realtor is to give yourself the advantage of working with someone who can provide insight on the latest real estate trends that will influence your own home sale.  Additionally, a realtor who knows your neighborhood well will understand what current buyers in the area are most interested in, and can help you market your property to these buyers effectively.

 

2. Work on enhancing your home’s curb appeal

 

Make your home look as inviting as possible to capture attention from your ideal buyers.  Remove any built up dirt or algae from your home’s exterior, make sure the landscaping looks healthy and maintained, and keep the yard clear of any debris.

 

3. Look at your home from a buyer’s point of view and beware of the 3 big issues

 

From my perspective, and national statistics concur, the three big issues are REAL.  From personal anecdotal experience, most buyers are turned away from a purchase decision by odor, clutter, and perceived work that they would have to do!  From a consultation perspective, I encourage my sellers to take those issues off the table; after all, they are controllable!

 

Even if you don’t believe your home has an odor, carefully air out every room for a few hours a day leading up to each showing.  It takes minimal effort, but skipping this precautionary step could potentially cost you in the long run.  You can also deep clean your home as you air out each room, for added assurance that your home will be shown in the best state possible.

 

Next, remove as much clutter as you can from every room.  It may be worthwhile to temporarily rent a storage space for your belongings so that interested buyers are not distracted and can fully appreciate the space in your home.  You may be surprised by how much larger a room looks and feels once it’s been cleared of unnecessary items.

 

Lastly, look at your home objectively to discourage buyers from arguing that the property needs work.  This leads to our next point:

 

4. Hire a home inspector and invest in any necessary repairs

 

Hiring a home inspector allows you to become familiar with your property the way an interested buyer would.  Many homeowners are simply unaware that their homes are in need of repairs, so asking a home inspector to assess the property will eliminate guesswork and pay off in the long run.

 

Remember, buyers will always notice the condition of your home, and you’ll leave a much stronger impression when you can prove to buyers that the home does not require immediate work.  Careful buyers will first look over your home themselves even before hiring an inspector, so any potential problems that could justify a low bid are sure to be uncovered if you don’t carefully prepare the property.

 

If you can show an interested buyer the work you’ve recently done on the home, this allows you to prove that the house is a safe investment and well worth your asking price.

 

5. Work with an experienced home staging expert

 

Similar to the way you would select a realtor to help sell your home, make sure you select a local home stager who is familiar with your neighborhood and knows how to present your home in a way that will appeal to the types of buyers who will be viewing it.

 

Keep in mind that not every room will require staging, but those that do must make the right impression.  Usually, your realtor will know of a quality staging service, so be sure to ask him or her for a recommendation.

 

Selling a luxury home near Tanglewood?

 

As a 2017 top performing realtor and a Houston resident for 30 years, I can help you navigate the local market and sell your luxury home with ease.  If you’re a homeowner in the Tanglewood, Uptown, Memorial, or Galleria neighborhood, and need help selling your home, please contact me today!

Things To Do In Houston April 2018

Looking For Things To Do In Houston This Month?

When you live near a city like Houston, there’s no shortage of exciting things to do in your free time.  Whether you’re looking for weekend plans or some entertainment for your next day off, you won’t have to search for too long before you find an event or activity that you can look forward to.

 

Things To Do In Houston This April

 

Watch a game

 

Now that baseball season is finally here, you can catch an Astros home game, or show your support for the Rockets as they continue through the playoffs!

 

Upcoming Houston Astros home games this month:

 

  • Texas Rangers at Houston Astros, 4/13
  • Texas Rangers at Houston Astros, 4/14
  • Texas Rangers at Houston Astros, 4/15
  • Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros, 4/23
  • Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros, 4/24
  • Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros, 4/25
  • Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros, 4/27
  • Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros, 4/28
  • Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros, 4/29
  • New York Yankees at Houston Astros, 4/30

 

Visit SeatGeek.com to purchase your Astros tickets!

Houston Rockets playoffs

 

  • Quarterfinals: Home Game 1, 4/14
  • Quarterfinals: Home Game 2, 4/16
  • Quarterfinals: Home Game 3, 4/23
  • Quarterfinals: Home Game 4, 4/27
  • Semifinals: Home Game 1, 4/30

 

Purchase tickets online at TicketCity.com!

 

See a show

 

Not interested in sports?  Check out some of the most highly-anticipated shows coming to Houston later this month!

 

  • Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream at NRG Stadium, 4/11 – 4/15
  • The Mavericks at House Of Blues Houston, 4/12
  • Foo Fighters at House Of Blues Houston, 4/19
  • Sirius XM Presents Todd Rundgren’s Utopia at House of Blues Houston, 4/22
  • Jack Johnson at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 4/26
  • Eric Church at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 4/27
  • Lewis Black: The Joke’s On US at Revolution Music Center, 4/28

 

Also coming soon to Houston is the Lynyrd Skynyrd Farewell Tour at The Cynthia Mitchell Pavilion on 5/12.

 

View more upcoming shows and order tickets through TicketMaster!

Get active for a good cause at the MS 150

 

If you love cycling, don’t miss out on the opportunity to help raise money for MS research at the 2018 BP MS 150.  The 2-day event, organized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, features a bike ride from Houston to Austin, and with over 13,000 cyclists and volunteers, it’s the largest event of its kind in the entire continent.  So far this year, the event has raised just over a third of its $15 million goal.

 

Learn more about how you can join fellow Houstonians to support this cause.

 

Don’t miss out on exciting things to do in Houston!

 

Make sure you follow me on social media to keep up with all the best entertainment, events, and other fun things to do in the Houston area!

Top Public Schools Near Tanglewood

Public Schools Near Tanglewood: Everything You Need To Know

 

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home in the Tanglewood neighborhood, chances are you’re wondering what the local schools are like.  In addition to a wide selection of remarkable private schools, local residents benefit from a wide variety of excellent public schools near Tanglewood.

 

Top public schools near Tanglewood*

 

While local schools’ performance will inevitably change over time, GreatSchools.org is an excellent resource for buyers and homeowners to refer to for a general understanding of current school ratings.  Some of the different factors that GreatSchools.org rates each school on are as follows:

 

  • State test scores
  • Student progress: how much students at each school improve from one school year to the next, in comparison to students at similar schools
  • Equity: how well the school offers disadvantaged students the extra attention they require
  • College readiness: how well high school students are prepared for college when compared to students from other schools
  • Advanced courses: the number of advanced courses taken per student, compared to the state average

 

Below is an overview of some of the top rated schools near Tanglewood, TX, according to GreatSchools.org data as of March 2018.

 

Primary and middle schools:

 

Mandarin Immersion Magnet School

 

Unlike most public schools, magnet schools accept students regardless of their zip code and offer specialized courses beyond the state-required curriculum, free of charge.

Established in August 2012, Mandarin Immersion Magnet School currently teaches grades pre-k through 8th grade, with 50% of the school day taught in Mandarin Chinese and 50% taught in English.  Classes are taught by native speakers of each language.

The school also states on its website, “A crucial distinction to make is that we are not a foreign language school with Chinese fluency our only end goal; rather, we are an elementary school charged with the same mission to educate children in all the TEKS necessary to be college and career ready, and it is our manner of delivery (Mandarin Chinese) which is different from other high-performing schools.”

 

Latest at MIMS

 

Students are currently preparing for a handful of state tests scheduled to take place throughout the month of April, extending well into May.  For more information on upcoming events, view the Mandarin Immersion school calendar online.

 

Briargrove Elementary

 

International Baccalaureate World School, Briargrove Elementary, teaches students from kindergarten through 5th grade.  Briargrove is part of the Vanguard Neighborhood Program, making the school an excellent choice for parents of gifted and talented children.  In fact, rather than strictly following Houston Independent School District’s curriculum, Briargrove uses a customized inquiry-based instruction model that increases student engagement in the classroom.

 

Briargrove GreatSchools.org ratings:

 

  • Test scores: 8/10
  • Student progress: 8/10
  • Equity overview: 5/10
  • Student-teacher ratio: 20:1

 

(View the full report for Briargrove Elementary on GreatSchools.org)

 

Latest at Briargrove

 

Assessments including the Iowa Survey and High Frequency Word Exam will be administered throughout the month of April.  Open Transfer Period will also begin later on in the month, from April 23 until May 18.  For more information, view the Briargrove calendar online.

 

Tanglewood Middle School (formerly known as Grady Middle School)

 

Part of the International Baccalaureate World School program, Grady Middle School re-opened as Tanglewood Middle School in 2016 with a brand new building designed to provide students with the look and feel of a college campus.  In addition to its stunning property, complete with breathtaking views of Houston, Tanglewood Middle School offers a gifted and talented program for advanced students, which helps to prepare children for high school AP courses.

 

Latest at Tanglewood Middle School

 

STAAR exams in reading, writing, and math will be administered during the second week of April, with make-ups available on Friday, April 13.  On Saturday, April 14th, students are invited to attend a career expo from 10 AM – 1 PM at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center.  For more information about upcoming events at Tanglewood Middle School, view the online school calendar.

 

Cornerstone Academy

 

Founded in 1997 to relieve crowding in other local middle schools, Cornerstone Academy has classes between 6th and 8th grade and teaches accelerated core classes using Pre-AP strategies.  In addition to offering challenging, enriching courses, Cornerstone also has a CESIT program that allows students to explore different the career paths they may wish to pursue in the future.

 

Cornerstone Academy GreatSchools.org ratings:

 

  • Test scores: 10/10
  • Student progress: 9/10
  • Equity overview: 10/10
  • Student-teacher ratio: 14:1

 

(View the full report for Cornerstone Academy on GreatSchools.org)

 

Latest at Cornerstone Academy

 

The Campus Improvement Team has its next meeting on April 24, at which time teachers, staff, parents, and representatives from administration can collaborate on projects an initiatives to improve the Cornerstone campus.

 

High schools:

 

Challenge Early College High School

 

Known as the “school of opportunity,” Challenge Early High School caters to students in grades 9 through 12 and offers students the ability to take college-level courses for credit.  Last year, the school also placed #79 in the country and #21 in the state on Washington Post’s list of America’s Most Challenging High Schools, which compared more than 2,300 schools nationwide.

 

Challenge Early College GreatSchools.org ratings:

 

  • Test scores: 9/10
  • College readiness: 10/10
  • Student progress: 9/10
  • Advanced courses: 10/10
  • Equity overview: 10/10
  • Student-teacher ratio: 21:1

 

(View the full report for Challenge Early College High School on GreatSchools.org)

 

 

Latest at Challenge Early College High School

 

In addition to state exams and the Iowa Survey, students have the opportunity to participate in the Spring Fling, Career Expo, and History Bowl during April.  View the school’s online calendar for more information on upcoming events and exams.

 

High School For The Performing And Visual Arts

 

The HSPVA, otherwise known as High School For The Performing And Visual Arts, was founded in 1971 and encourages both academic and artistic excellence from students in grades 9 through 12.  HSPVA boasts one of the country’s highest numbers of Presidential Scholars in the Arts, and even earned the highest ranking possible under the Texas Education Agency’s accountability system during the 2015-2016 school year.

 

HSPVA GreatSchools.org ratings:

 

  • Test scores: 9/10
  • College readiness: 10/10
  • Student progress: 9/10
  • Advanced courses: 10/10
  • Equity overview: 10/10
  • Student-teacher ratio: 16:1

 

(View the full report for HSPVA on GreatSchools.org)

 

Latest at HSPVA

 

In April, students across each program will be performing every week, with plays, concerts, art shows, and more all scheduled to take place over the next few weeks.  Visit the HSPVA school calendar online for more information.

 

TH Rogers School

 

With a diverse student body representing countries all over the globe, TH Rogers School teaches grades pre-k through 12, and has a massive student body, including gifted and talented students, deaf and hard of hearing students, and a multitude of students with other impairments as well.

 

TH Rogers GreatSchools.org ratings:

 

  • Test scores: 10/10
  • College readiness: 1/10
  • Student progress: 10/10
  • Equity Overview: 10/10
  • Student-teacher ratio: 11:1

 

(View the full report for TH Rogers School on GreatSchools.org)

 

Latest at TH Rogers

 

This April, aside from state assessments and the Iowa Survey students and parents can look forward to the beginning and intermediary orchestra concert, the middle school sport award ceremony, and the National Junior Honors Society induction.  View the school’s calendar online for more information on upcoming events.

 

KIPP Houston High School

 

Founded in 2004, KIPP Houston High School serves grades 9 through 12 with a student body mainly composed of college-bound children from Houston’s Southwest community.  KHHS boasts more than 30 extra-curricular activities for students to choose from, and is also KIPP’s first college-preparatory high school in the US.  For anyone unfamiliar, KIPP stands for the Knowledge Is Power Program and is a non-profit network of over 200 college-preparatory schools throughout the country.

 

KIPP Houston High School GreatSchools.org ratings:

 

  • Test scores: 8/10
  • College readiness: 9/10
  • Student progress: 1/10
  • Advanced courses: 9/10
  • Equity overview: 9/10
  • Student-teacher ratio: 15:1

 

(View the full report for KHHS on GreatSchools.org)

 

Learn more about KHHS

 

Parents who are interested in enrolling their children at KHHS can find more information about the application process for the upcoming schoolyear on the KIPP Houston website.

 

Moving to Tanglewood?

 

The Tanglewood community is fortunate to be surrounded by a variety of exceptional private and public schools that not only enrich the community, but increase property values as well.  If you’re interested in learning more about the Tanglewood neighborhood and need help finding homes for sale in or around Tanglewood, please contact me today for more information!

 

*The selection of schools listed in this post, with the exception of Mandarin Immersion Magnet School and Tanglewood Middle School, is based on GreatSchools.org data for top schools near Tanglewood, TX as of March 2018
5 Biggest Questions To Ask Your Realtor When Buying A Home

5 Questions Buyers Should Ask Their Real Estate Agents

Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, as a homebuyer, you’ll certainly have your work cut out for you.  From finding a new neighborhood and getting a mortgage to packing up and moving in, every step of buying a house can feel like a long process in itself.  Of course, some of the most important (and, perhaps, overwhelming) steps of buying a new home include finding a helpful real estate agent and, with their assistance, locating a home that fits your lifestyle.  Every buyer hopes to work with a real estate agent who can help create a smooth, stress-free home buying experience, though doing so may be difficult, especially when moving to an unfamiliar area.  Here are 5 important questions to ask when buying a home in order to make sure the real estate agent you’re working with is able to deliver the best experience:

 

5 questions buyers should ask their real estate agents:

 

1. Are you familiar with the neighborhood I’m interested in?

When moving to a new neighborhood, smart buyers know that the more information they can gather about the area, the better.  One of the best ways to research a neighborhood is to directly speak with someone who lives and works in the area, like a local real estate agent.  Not only can a neighborhood realtor provide you with a first-hand perspective on living in the area, but he or she will also be able to give you the guidance you need to find other important resources within the community, too, like a trustworthy home inspector who can thoroughly assess the property you’re considering purchasing.  

Buyers should always make a point of asking real estate agents how familiar they are with the different neighborhoods being discussed.

 

2. What can you tell me about the schools in this area?

Even homebuyers with no children should know the importance of learning about the local public and private schools.  While living near exceptional schools offers peace of mind for parents and couples considering parenthood, good local schools also directly impact property values, as homes near quality schools are always in demand.  Consequently, homes near highly rated schools may be listed at higher prices than homes near lower-quality schools, and investing in a home near a superior school is rarely, if ever, a poor decision.

 

3. Is there a homeowners association, and if so, what are their guidelines?

Not every neighborhood has homeowners associations (HOAs), and it can be easy to overlook this question if you’ve never lived in an area with one.  Nevertheless, finding out whether or not your new home will require you to participate in an HOA is an important step in the home buying process, as HOAs come with a variety of benefits and property maintenance guidelines, generally for a flat annual fee.  

Many homeowners associations also have specific guidelines and practices that homeowners must adhere to.  For example, some homeowners associations require homeowners to obtain permission from the HOA prior to beginning certain types of construction or other projects that may affect the appearance of their home’s exterior.  This type of information is important for buyers to grow familiar with before moving in to a neighborhood, so there are no surprises later on.

4. What are the property taxes like in the area?

Researching local property taxes for the past several years can help buyers understand what they can expect to pay during their first few years in a new home.  Buyers should also ask if there have been any recent changes in local government that could affect their property taxes. With this information, you can more clearly determine the long-term costs of owning a particular home, and whether or not your budget will allow for it.  

5. What can you tell me about the market in this area?

Ask your realtor for a competitive market analysis, or CMA, to gain more insight on what other buyers have recently paid for similar houses in the neighborhoods you’re interested in.  Learning more about the recent selling prices for similar homes will help you to negotiate more effectively when you’re ready to make an offer.

See if your realtor can also provide any historical information about selling prices in your new neighborhood, to see how the local market has changed in relation to real estate trends over recent years.  This could provide more insight into what you can expect in the future, if and when you sell the house.

 

Buying a house is absolutely a major, long-term investment, and that’s why I offer as much assistance and information as possible to each buyer I work with.  Please contact me today if you’d like to learn more about buying a home in the Tanglewood area!

 

11 Significant Questions All Sellers Should Ask Their Real Estate Agents

11 Significant Questions All Sellers Should Ask Their Real Estate Agents

Finding the right real estate agent to help you sell your house can make all the difference in the entire selling experience.  Homeowners preparing to sell must remember that not all real estate agents are created equal, and working with someone who’s capable of meeting your specific needs is of the utmost importance.  Asking the right questions before hiring a realtor can help save sellers time, money, and plenty of aggravation.

Here are 11 questions every seller should ask when selecting a realtor to work with:

1.   What factors should be considered when determining my asking price?

As most homeowners know, the asking price for any given property should always reflect its current market value, which is impacted by a number of factors, regarding both the property itself as well as the surrounding neighborhood.

Choosing the right listing price for your house requires a careful analysis of not only the current condition of the home itself, but the current state of the local real estate market as well.  This leads us to the next question that sellers should ask of real estate agents:

2. Can you describe what the local real estate market has been like lately?

It’s understandable for a homeowner to be unfamiliar with the latest ups and downs in the local real estate market, but the best real estate agents know the market like the back of their hands and can provide a detailed analysis of the latest real estate trends in your area.

This information helps sellers to better understand what their asking price should be, how long they can expect their homes to stay on the market, and how much leverage they will have when it comes to negotiating with potential buyers.

3. How much is your commission and what services does it include?

In the state of Texas, all commissions are paid from the seller’s proceeds, so it’s important to keep this in mind when determining the listing price for your home.  Aside from being prepared to pay your real estate agent, you should also inquire about additional marketing services that may be included with the commission, such as professional photos, video tour creation, and staging services.

4. How do you recommend marketing my house?

Sellers should always be sure to clarify what marketing tactics will be used prior to working with a real estate agent.  Find out what marketing strategy your potential real estate agent recommends and find out his or her reasoning behind it.  Make sure you have a clear understanding of what to expect.

For example, many owners of luxury homes prefer selling their houses as off-market listings to avoid the attention of unqualified buyers.  In these cases, homeowners need to make sure the real estate agents they choose to work with are familiar with the intricacies of selling off-market listings and know how to find the right buyers using this approach.

Whatever the strategy may be, it’s important to align on this before hiring a real estate agent, so you can be certain the person you’re working with knows how to handle your marketing requests.

5. Can you describe your experience working in my neighborhood?

Don’t be afraid to ask a real estate agent directly if they’ve handled any previous transactions in your area.  You’ll be much better off working with a realtor who knows your community and already understands the demographic of average buyers of homes like yours.  Additionally, realtors who are familiar with your neighborhood are better equipped to give you a realistic expectation of how long it will take for your house to sell.

6. Have you worked with any buyers in my market?

Hiring a real estate agent who’s already experienced working with buyers in your neighborhood firsthand can provide a huge advantage.   This type of experience can help your real estate agent better understand specifically what types of buyers are most attracted to your neighborhood, and how to make sure your home is marketed in a way that appeals to these buyers the most.

7. Would you ever consider representing both parties of a single transaction?

If a real estate agent answers yes to this question, that’s a huge red flag and a sign they should not be hired.  Representing both parties in a single transaction will inevitably create a conflict of interest for the realtor, and sellers must be careful to avoid this situation.  The best real estate agents act with their clients priorities in mind and do not represent the buyer and seller in a single transaction.

8. Do you have other active listings in this area?

If you’re selling your home and the answer is yes, your real estate agent may be able to leverage these other listings to direct more buyers to your house.

The feedback your real estate agent receives from interested buyers at these other listings could help you to market your own home more effectively.  For example, if a potential buyer finds that your realtor’s other listing doesn’t have the features they’re looking for, your realtor has the opportunity to direct this buyer to your house instead.

9. Will I be working with you directly, or do you have a team that I’ll be communicating with?

Once you’ve found a real estate agent you’d like to work with, make sure you confirm that they’ll be the person you interact with.  It’s important to make sure you know what to expect when it comes to who will be handling your listing and guiding you through the selling process.

10. What’s the best way to contact you and what are your business hours?

While it’s easy to assume in this day and age that everybody checks their email, it’s never a bad idea to confirm the best way to get in touch with your real estate agent.  Whether you prefer phone calls, text messages, emails, or face-to-face meetings, make sure your real estate agent is aware of your preferred method of communication.

Additionally, it’s always wise to confirm your real estate agent’s availability throughout the week.  While some realtors may be available 7 days a week, others may prefer a Monday through Friday schedule, so be sure to ask about this from the beginning.

11. What type of buyer would you say my house should be marketed to?

Based on your neighborhood and your home’s unique style, layout, and amenities, you’re likely to attract a specific type of buyer.  An experienced real estate agent can provide a description of the type of individual or family that will probably be most interested in your house.  Aside from helping you understand how your house should be marketed, this question is also a great way to find out just how experienced a real estate agent is in selling homes like yours.

Above all, the real estate agent you choose to work with must be someone you can trust to keep your best interests in mind.  I take great pride in focusing my efforts on my clients’ top priorities and making sure every homeowner I work with has the best experience possible.  If you’re in the Tanglewood area and need an experienced realtor to help sell your house, please contact me today!