Tips to Increase your Home Value (2)

Last month we addressed the issue of home value-how it is a great financial investment and some preliminary tips on how to increase the value. This month, we will dig deeper into this topic.

Clean your house now pay for it later

If your house is on the market, the cleanliness of your house matters. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but the difference between a slightly dirty house and a clean shiny welcoming one makes all the difference in the world. If you make cleanliness of your house a priority it will not only reap dividends come time to let it go, it will also tackle several other issues at once. For instance, staying on top of maintenance issues by spotting them when you do a routine clean will help you to save on major expense cost. Second, you don’t allow particles like dirt and mold to build up over time. These items, especially mold, can go a long way in expenses down the road. Doing this will go a long way in helping you feel confident when it comes time to sell.

Curb Appeal Counts

If you really want to know what your house looks like in comparison to others, take a stroll down the block and look it over. Ask yourself, “does my house look attractive?” Look at the structure, ambiance, and placement for starters. After this, make a list of ways that you can make your house look more accommodating to someone driving by. If you have trees in the yard, make sure that there is enough visibility to see the outside of your house. If you have a walkway to the front door consider lining it with bushes or flowers. Take a photo and look it over. Ask yourself what are some ways that I can make this property look more inviting to others?

Upgrade the Kitchen

Any real-estate agent will tell you the number 1 interior remodel is the kitchen. Whether it is the paint that needs to be touched up or changed, new tile that needs to be put in, or the countertops that need to have a make over, upgrading your kitchen will go a long way in the attraction level of your house. An island in the kitchen does a lot to boost the welcome. Whether it is that, a pot or wine rack, incorporating several of these things will definitely increase the chances of getting close to what you ask for.

Beautify Your Bathroom

A final upgrade that you can look into is your bathroom. Of every room in the house, the bathroom is the one that is most used. Therefore, a lot of wear and tear will occur in this area.

  • Focus on the Faucet: Under-mount sinks are more preferred than drop-sinks
  • Go granite or marble with countertops: Trust me on this one. It will improve the look tenfold.
  • Add wall mounts instead of overhead lighting: It looks a lot more warm and welcoming.
  • Heated floors attract buyers like ants to sugar
  • Upgrade your shower: This can give you as much as an 85% return.
  • Keep it clean: Help to mitigate as much wear and tear as possible.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it is enough to get you to think about some things you can do to your home to upgrade your ROI.

Tips to increase your Home Value

While buying a home can be somewhat tedious, especially for a first time home buyer, it is one of the best financial investments a person can make. As such, it is important to manage this asset well. In our last few posts, we discussed the necessity of a thorough inspection before purchasing a home. In this post, we will discuss several ways that one can improve the value of a home.

  • Plan your remodel

All good projects require a plan. Whether you have just purchased  or have spent some time in the home, a remodel requires a plan. As with anything in life, you will fare better of repairs or upgrades are made intentionally instead of on impulse. Home improvement projects cost 20 to 25 cents on the dollar while the other 77-80 cents go back into the value of the house. In mathematical terms this equals a 3-1 ratio in increased value!

Unless you have a huge savings laying around for such occasion, however, it is best to go slow. Do your research. Make a list of all the repairs or upgrades you would like to see accomplished as well as the fees for these costs. Also, factoring in how long you wish to live in the house will help you prioritize what projects are best to tackle and which ones are best to deter. Once you have made this plan, talk to a realtor in order to determine what type of returns these adjustments may bring. Some will bring considerably more value to your house than others.

Tackle One Room at a Time

As with any list, taking baby steps is the key to achieve success. With a home remodel it is no different. Tackle one room at a time. Whether it is adding a coat of paint to a wall or knocking it down, taking one room at a time will keep your emotions and costs in check. If you set out to do something with a room on a certain day, factor in the amount of time it will take, and move forward with your plan, it will get done near or in the time you slot.

Small Improvements can really pay off

If you are torn between such choices as adding to your homes resale value or home decor, make a list of both. Upgrades for your house may include preparing a leaky faucet or replacing some lights while decor upgrades may include furniture or window treatment. No matter what choice you make, a plan will help you bring it all together. For instance, after looking at your budget if you plan to spend a bundle one month on an improvement then spend the next several months contributing to smaller upgrades in other places. The plan will help you to accomplish this.

Whatever choice you make will be tailored to your personal interest. A plan will help you to organize yourself and put ideas into action. It is important to consider this, especially if you are invested in such a financial project.

Home Inspection: What to look for on the inside when buying a home

In last month’s blog, we discussed what to look for in some of the elements of a home inspection and just how crucial that is to determine the quality of house you will purchase. However, the issues we addressed in the last blog post dealt with the outside of the house. While these are perhaps the most important elements when going through the process of buying a home, there are several important factors to be aware of for the internal aspects as well. In this blog, we will address a few of the features to look at inside the home.


  • Appliances (if included)

Normally, a house will not include appliances unless you are renting. However, on seldom occasion the seller of the house might include the appliances left in the house factoring them into the price. If this is the case, some things to look for are

  • Do the appliances appear to be well-maintained?
  • What are the ages of the




Are there any leaks under the bathroom sink/kitchen?

While these are minor grievances, they can add up and go a long way in factoring into the cost of the appliances.

Structural Elements

  • Has their previously been a fire in the home?
  • Do the walls show vertical or horizontal cracks?
  • Are there any stains on the floors, walls, or ceilings?

While not as crucial as the foundation or roof, if any of these situations has occurred, it could contribute to wear and tear on these external elements.

Ventilation and Sub-systems

  • Does the house smell? Can you identify the source?
  • Does the heating and AC appear to be working properly?
  • Does the water heater produce enough hot water?
  • Is there a working exhaust fan in the kitchen?

These are a few of the internal factors that must be paid attention to when dealing with questions about the inside of the house. As stated, they are not as crucial as the elements on the outside of the house such as the foundation and the roof, but they do matter and can add up to major nuisances over time if overlooked when inspecting a home. Below, we will address some miscellaneous features when looking at the home inspection.



  • Do all of the switches work?
  • Is each outfit properly grounded?
  • Do the ceiling fans work?
  • Has the electrical panel been recalled?


  • Are there any unusual noises?
  • Do the faucets and other fixtures have enough pressure?


Check all of the following elements for signs of damage and wear

  • Slab
  • Walls
  • Ceiling
  • Vents
  • Garage Door
  • Lights
  • Openers
  • Windows
  • Roof

This checklist, while not as crucial as the external checklist does come in handy and can save a lot of trouble and heartache when browsing through the home-inspection list. Along with the list of items to look for on the outside, you should be well equipped to handle any issues when dealing with a major purchase such as a house.


Home Inspection: What to look for

While there are multiple factors that contribute to the purchase of a home on the buyer’s end such as credit, income-debt, savings, collateral and more, one of the things that you must be aware of on the opposite end is home inspection. While first time homebuyers can be quick to rush in to what looks like a good deal, often times if they are unaware of what to look for in the purchase of a house, they can end up regretting it later. For example, if you find what looks like a great deal on the house of your dreams and rush in to the purchase, in a couple of years, you might end up with the regrets of not looking at the foundation or roof. This could cost you multiple thousands of dollars in both resale value and labor that you must put into the house. Therefore, this blog post will provide a quick list of things to be aware of for the Exterior in a Home Inspection.


While there are a number of things to look at on both the inside and outside of the house, one of the first places you want to spend some time is on the roof/attic. Ask yourself these questions in a physical or mental checklist as you look at this area of the house.


  • Are there shingles missing?
  • Is there flashing and trim installed?
  • Are there any signs of leaks?
  • When will the roof need to be replaced?

Running through these questions will help you determine some of the most crucial aspects of your home purchase. The next list, might be even more important.


In what could easily be one of the most crucial elements in your house, the foundation is what is necessary to carry the weight and load of all the other elements in a home. If you have a poor foundation due to corrosion or termites, it is only a matter of time before the rest of the house comes crumbling down. Therefore, a poor foundation can diminish the value of the house by 30-45%. Look at this before the purchase of a house.

  • Are there any visible cracks on the outside of the wall?
  • Are there any trees near the foundation?
  • Has there been any repair on the foundation previously?
  • If so, what for?


  • Does the drainage slope away from the house?
  • Are there any soggy areas you can identify?
  • Are the walkways and driveway in good condition?

As said above, a home inspection can go a long way in the determination of the value of a house. That’s why it is crucial to understand certain elements of what to look for before the purchase of a house. In the next post, we will list a set of requirements to check on in the interior of the home.


First Time Homebuyer-Need to know: How to raise your credit score

In the last blog, we established the fact that your credit score plays a major factor in determining many of the variables in a person’s financial stature when buying a house. The difference between a good credit score and a poor one could result in tens of thousands of dollars. Therefore, in this blog we will discuss several potential possibilities to raise ones credit score.

  • Pay Down your Credit Cards quickly

Credit cards can be a blessing or a curse. If used responsibly, they can be used to build up credit. For example, if you have a credit card with a limit and have it set up to be paid off each month, it can go a long way in boosting your score. If, however, you miss a payment due to external circumstances this can prove to be a nightmare. Not only will this put a black mark on your credit score sometimes lowering it by 50 or more points, it will also cause the interest rate on the card to soar sky high. If you have a card with a 3% interest rate or lower, missing just one payment could vault it to 18% or higher! This is why so many financial advisors like Dave Ramsey say to stay away from credit. His debt-snowballing principle is worth looking into if you have made some of these mistakes. However, for the purpose of this blog, it is important to know that your credit utilization ratio-the percentage of credit you are using on your credit cards-accounts for 30% of your credit score. The higher balance you have on your credit cards, the lower your credit score will be. This is why it is imperative to pay down your credit card balances as low as possible before applying for a mortgage. 

  • Pay for “delete”

Another factor that puts a “black mark” on your credit score is a collection. This occurs when money is owed to some institution or business and they seek to obtain it through a collection agency. This too can have tremendously adverse affects on your credit lowering it by 100 points or more. If something like this has happened, most creditors and collection agencies will work with you. One of the ways they will work with you is a “pay for delete”. When you contact them, you can ask them if they will delete this mark on your score if you agree to pay all or a % of the balance in a timely manner. If they work with you in this regard, it can bring your credit score up multiples of 10s of points.

  • Become an Authorized User

The last thing you can do to raise your credit score is to become an authorized user. If you have a family member with a credit card, and they are in good standing you can contact the company and ask them to add you as an authorized user on their account. This will include their entire credit history on your credit report. It is a quick and easy way to accumulate up to 30 points of credit.

There are several more ways to raise credit, but these three ways will go a long way in getting you ready to move into preparations for the purchase of a home. If you put these principles into practice, within 6 months to a year you could possibly raise your score 100 points and be ready to take on your first mortgage!

First Time Homebuyer: Need to know-Credit Score

For most people, the purchase of a home is the largest financial transaction that they will ever incur. Due to this, first-time home buyers can feel overwhelmed with such a monumental task. Your Credit Score will play a major factor in this process. Because of this, we will focus on the importance of Credit Score and what steps can be taken to raise it in this blog.

Know your Credit Score

Chances are that with a first time purchase, a homeowner will have to take out a loan. Therefore, it is imperative to know your credit score when going into the negotiation of a contract because it will affect many factors including the interest rate on your loan. There are three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S. These are TransUnioin, Equifax, and Experian. Usually, creditors will run your score through all three of these agencies and go with a median score between all three.

Credit Score Range

Though the credit score varies from 350-850, qualifications for loans don’t start until a person is in the 500 range. Below is the categorization of credit score.

  • 500-579 Bad Credit Score
  • 580-619 Poor Credit Score
  • 620-679 Fair Credit Score
  • 680-739 Average Credit Score
  • 740 and higher Great Credit Score

As mentioned above, your credit score will affect many factors on your purchase of a home. For instance, did you know if you have a 580 credit score you will only need 3.5% downpayment for a FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan. However, if it is 500-579 you will need at least a 10% downpayment to qualify! Your Credit Score will affect your interest rate as well. The poorer the Credit Score the higher the interest rate and monthly payment will be, the higher, the opposite.

  • 579 and lower-if you are approved for a mortgage with this low of a score you will have an interest rate 2% higher than the current rate.
  • 580-619-you can expect an interest rate 1% higher than the current rate.
  • 620-679-you can expect an interest rate .5% higher than someone with great credit.
  • 680-739-is the rate most homebuyers are at. Your rate will not be affected much at all in this range.
  • 740 and higher-you will be offered the best mortgage rates that companies have to offer.

While 1-2% may not seem like much, it could result in 10’s of thousands of dollars over the long term. For instance, if you finance your house for a mere 3.5% at 30 years, you will end up paying for the property almost twice with interest included! Imagine if you have a poor credit score. It could be 3-4 times the initial cost of the house! This is why your credit score is a major factor in the amount of money you will need and can save when it comes to the purchase of a home! In the next blog, we will discuss ways that you can bring your credit score up to par if you have bad credit.

The Skinny on Butcher Block Countertops

One of the latest fads to take hold of our kitchens: the butcher block counter top. Whether edge grain, face grain, or end grain, it can be an awesome additional to your home with a range of colors and patterns from woods like oak, to birch, to cherry, to even bamboo.

butcher block countertops

Besides being highly desirable for their looks, wooden counters have a range of features:

  • Lasts a long time and absorbs dings and scratches.
  • Plays well with other materials like metal, plastic, or rock.
  • Less noise than harder surfaces with dishes and utensils.
  • Wood tends to be antimicrobial and antibacterial.

A few properties to keep in mind are:

  • Wood is prone to shrinking, growing, or cracking due to humidity or dry weather.
  • If not sealed properly, the wood may rot or change color.
  • Heat or spills can burn or change the color of the wood, though this could be sanded out.

I hope this inspires your kitchen creativity and let us know if you pick a wooden countertop or have one currently!

What Should I Ask Before Building a Home?

If you’re thinking of building a new home, it can be a daunting decision to make.  It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and details, but it’s important to remember that designing your dream home is not something that you can approach without being prepared to embark on a journey of discovery.  This is the place where you will rest, dream, live, eat, work, and much more.  Whether you’re sharing the space or living solo, you will have to consider every possible angle.  Before you toss away your computer in frustration, we’ve put together a few questions to consider which will help you to better understand the choices that you’ll need to make.

Where do you want your house to be located?

Considering where to purchase land for your house is a complicated decision, you’ll need to consider your budget, the value of the land, and the projected value in the coming years.

What is your budget?

The budget for building a house must include things such as: land, constructing a house, architect, engineer, running plumbing and electricity (if your land is outside of a city, this could be a bit complicated… or not), taxes, landscaping, decorating, and furniture.  Be sure to keep little extra “emergency” money in your budget so that when (not if!) things cost more than you budgeted, you’ll have enough money set aside to keep the project going.

Discuss your budget thoroughly with your custom home builder so that they understand exactly how to help you.

What is your plan A?

In a perfect world, what do you plan to have happen and when?

What is your plan B?

Plan A may or may not work out, but a plan B is a must so that if plan A does fall through, you have a back-up strategy in place.

Who is going to help you?

Sure, you’ll need a custom home builder, and they can help suggest experts in their network to assist you, but you’ll also want to do some personal research to see if you find a home designer or architect whose work you just love, or a landscaper that you can’t live without.

What questions have you asked yourself before beginning to design a home?  Drop us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

Home Building 101: Major Phases of Construction

Every step of building your dream home is fresh, new, and exciting, but what exactly are those steps?  What happens when and how does it happen?  The actual home building process will vary according to your home builder’s particular way of doing things, but this is a general guide that will help you understand the building stages of your South Texas custom home.

Site Prep & Foundation Pouring

The initial stage of your home building is to prepare the area will your home will be built.  Rocks, trees, and other debris will have to be removed before the area can be leveled.  After this, a wooden form is laid as a template, then holes and trenches are dug and footings are installed.  Footings are what connects your house to the ground.

If your house is slab directly on the ground, after the footings are complete then the space between the footings is level and utility runs (such as electrical chases and plumbing drains) are fitted, then the slab is poured.  If your house has a basement or needs a septic tank, it is dug at this point, and the walls of the foundation are then poured.

After the concrete slab is poured, it needs to cure.  This takes time, up to 6 to 8 weeks depending on the thickness of the slab and the weather.  Nothing else can happen at the construction site while waiting for this to happen.

When the concrete has finished curing, the construction team will use a waterproofing membrane to coat the foundation walls before installing the drains, water taps, sewer lines and any other plumbing for the first floor or basement floor.  The hole around the foundation wall is then filled back up with dirt.

First Inspection

A city inspector will need to visit the construction site to check that the foundation fully cured, is up to code, and that everything is properly installed.  After the inspection has been passed, the forms around the foundation are removed.


The skeleton of the house is the next important step.  In this step, the builders will complete framing for the floor, wall, and roof systems.  Plywood is then fixed to the roof and exterior walls, while exterior doors and windows are also installed.  The plywood is then covered in house wrap which is a protective barrier against water and reduces the likelihood of wood rot or mold.

Check back next week for the continuation of Major Stages of Construction.

French Door 101

French doors are an often talked about item in the interior design world, but what exactly are they?  And when are they a good option for your home?

A Little History

Invented in France, but theorized to be influenced by Italian Renaissance architecture, the classic French door is a door made up of panels of glass.  They are traditionally hinged and in pairs and can also be called French windows.  Because they were invented in a time when there was no electricity and light was largely dependent on the sun, the design was meant to allow as much light in as possible.  Glass in 16th century France was expensive and fragile, which meant that small panes of glass were more practical.  The mullions, or the space between the windows, is typically made of wood or wrought iron.


The versatility of a French door is what makes it so popular; it can be used indoors or out, to divide an indoor space, but still allows the boundary lines to be blurred to make small spaces seem larger as well as allowing light to pass through.  This means that an otherwise dark and gloomy hallway or interior room can be made lighter naturally with a few strategically placed French doors.  Another useful aspect of French doors is that they can allow for rooms to be closed off for the purposes of heating (convenient if you have wall-panel radiators) or to cut down on noise, but then can be thrown open again to create flow between rooms.  French doors are a beautiful choice for doorways that lead to patios, gardens, and balconies.

French Doors in Your Home

French doors are available in all shapes and sizes, with both clear and opaque glass.  Your custom home designer can probably suggest some great places in your Texas home for French doors.  Door frames can be made of aluminum, steel, wood, and fiberglass.  Hinged French doors are not your only option, now French doors can come as folding or louvered, pivot, and sliding doors.  When using a French door as an exterior door, be sure to ask about what type of glass you should use for energy efficiency.  Double-paned or low-E glass is a great choice to make sure the outdoor temperature doesn’t leak indoors.