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Expert Tips for Navigating the Real Estate Market

My mission at The Queen Team Real Estate is to be your best resource for real estate advice. Whether you are a buyer, seller, or investor, I can answer any questions you might have about real estate. Subscribe to this blog to get the latest news on local market trends and receive expert tips for buying or selling a home.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Why Consider Buying in a Seller’s Market?


Even though we are in a seller’s market, it’s a great time to buy. Here’s why.

Selling in the greater Houston area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the greater Houston area? Get full MLS access

If we’re in a seller’s market, why would you consider buying a home in 2017? Well, according to Forbes, home prices appreciated beyond expectations in 2016 and mortgage rates were flirting with record lows before inevitably passing 4% for the first time in two years.

Home prices rose in every month of 2016, with the largest increase being in the last half of the year. According to experts, prices will continue their climb in 2017, but at a lower rate. This means you can take advantage of the slowdown in appreciation right now.

Mortgage rates are going up, too. Economists predict that they will increase by at least 1% by the end of 2017. If you wait to buy a house, you might not be able to afford the same home you could now. Why would you wait to save up and have less buying power?

Economists predict interest rates will go up by 1% this year.

More and more millennials are transitioning from renting to buying, but the inventory of homes is limited and probably won’t grow significantly in the next few years.

Home builders aren’t building enough homes to make up for the shortage, either. With mortgage rates and home prices increasing, affordability will become a problem in the near future.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

What You Need to Know Before Selling in 2017


If you have been thinking of selling this year, I have some information you may want to consider.

Selling in the greater Houston area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the greater Houston area? Get full MLS access

Since home values have been on a climb in the recent past, many people assume this trend will continue.

However, the general consensus among housing analysts and economists is that the local real estate market will slow down in 2017.

According to Forbes, the appreciation in 2016 was beyond expectation, and mortgage rates had an influence on previous record lows. Inevitably this caused them to cross over 4% for the first time in two years.

Additionally, prices rose each month of last year. The largest increase came in the last half of the year.

The local real estate market will slow down in 2017.

This climb is expected to continue; however, it will slow down this year. In other words, if you are thinking selling, the time to do so is now. What we’re seeing is a perfect storm.

A slow, steady increase in home values combined with low interest rates and low inventory means the market is currently a great place for sellers.

This is especially true now that millennials are ready to become homeowners.This puts starter homes at an even higher level of demand.

Also, while experts say that prices will gradually increase, overall sales growth will start to slow. This cooling trend eases some of the recent affordability issues we’ve seen in our market.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Which Renovations Will Give You the Most Bang for Your Buck?


Today I want to share with you some home renovations you should consider and some you should avoid if you want a high return on your investment.

Selling in the greater Houston area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the greater Houston area? Get full MLS access

If you’re thinking of making some renovations to your home, how do you know which ones will be a solid investment and which won’t?

It’s key to consider mass appeal for the sake of resale value.

Throughout any renovation process, it’s key to consider mass appeal for the sake of resale value. Whether you’re planning to remain in your home for a while or looking to freshen up the place to put it on the market, here are some renovations experts say will bring the greatest return on your investment:

  • Entry door replacement, 96.6%
  • Deck additions, 87.4%
  • Attic bedroom, 84.3%
  • Garage door replacement, 83.7%
  • Minor kitchen remodeling, 82.7%

On the flip side, here are the renovations that yield the smallest return:

  • Home office remodel, 48.9%
  • Sunroom additions, 51.7%
  • Bathroom additions, 60.1%
  • Backup generators and master suite additions, 67.5%

These are definitely things to consider when thinking about making renovations to your home. If you have any questions about which renovations to make to your home or you’re thinking about buying or selling a home in our market, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be happy to help.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Is It Really Worth It to Sell Your Home Without an Agent?


Thinking of selling your home on your own to dodge the cost of a real estate agent? These home sale facts will make you think twice about that.

Selling in the greater Houston area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the greater Houston area? Get full MLS access

If you're thinking of selling your Houston home, there are five reasons you absolutely should not sell without a real estate agent:

  1. There are too many people to negotiate with: If you sell 'For Sale by Owner' (or FSBO), you'll have to negotiate with a myriad of people on your own, including the buyer who wants the best deal possible, their agent, the home inspector (who works for the buyer), and the appraiser, especially if the home's value comes into question.
  2. Exposure to potential buyers: Studies have shown that 89% of homebuyers look for homes online compared to just 20% who look at printed newspaper ads. Most agents already have an Internet marketing strategy in place to sell your home; simply putting your own house on Zillow doesn't mean you know how to market a property online!
  3. 89% of homebuyers look for homes online compared to just 20% who look at printed newspaper ads.
  4. Selling FSBO online has become increasingly more difficult: The amount and intensity of paperwork involved with selling a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations become mandatory. The is why—according to the National Association of Realtors—the number of people selling their home FSBO has dropped from 19% to an 20-year low of just 8%.
  5. You net more money when using an agent: Many sellers believe they'll save the cost of a real estate agent's commission by selling on their own, but fail to realize that people looking at FSBO homes are also people who believe they can save the cost of a commission. The buyer and the seller can't both save the commission. Studies have shown that the median sales price for FSBO homes is $210,000 while the median home sold by an agent sells for $249,000. That doesn't mean the agent can always get $39,000 more for your home, but that the people who sell FSBO are more likely to put themselves in a lower price point.

If you have any questions about selling your home or about the market here in the greater Houston area, don't hesitate to give me a call or send me an email soon. I'd love to help!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

How to Figure Out How Much House You Can Buy


If you’re looking to buy a home but are unsure of how much house you can afford, here are five steps you can use to figure it out.

Selling in the greater Houston area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the greater Houston area? Get full MLS access

One of the questions I get asked a lot as a Realtor is, “How much house can I buy?” In other words, how can you determine what your housing budget is when purchasing a house? There are five steps you must follow:

1. Figure out your household’s income after taxes. What do you and other income earners who will be contributing to the household bills bring home each month after taxes? Look at your last paycheck stub, ask your HR department, or use an online paycheck calculator to calculate this amount.

2. Make a list of your household’s recurring monthly expenses. This should include bills you pay every month and bills you only pay some months—like car insurance. If you don’t already have a way you’ve been tracking your budget, look at your checkbook, your bank statements, and your credit card statements to help figure out what you’ve been spending. Note which expenses are optional and which are necessary.

3. Make a list of expenses that you will add to when you become a homeowner. Expenses you’ll have that you didn’t have as a renter include water, trash, and home maintenance. You’ll also pay property taxes and hazard insurance. If you’re moving further from your job, your transportation costs may increase as well. If you’re going to make a downpayment of less than 20%, you’ll have to factor in the monthly cost of private mortgage insurance (PMI). Remember, it’s best to estimate high when planning your budget just to be on the safe side.

I can refer you to a local lender who can help you with these steps.

4. Determine how much you will have left after expenses to spend on housing. A lender can help you determine your maximum monthly payment by calculating what they call a debt-to-income ratio. Basically, this is what gets paid into the home versus what gets paid out on a monthly basis. Once you’ve determined your household budget, you should have an idea of what you’re comfortable paying on a monthly basis for a house. Don’t forget to leave room for emergencies, retirement, or whatever else you want to save for. In other words, count savings as a non-negotiable expense.

5. Figure out how much house you can buy. The No. 1 way to truly know what your budget will allow for on a house note is to sit with a mortgage lender and have them look at your credit score and finances. A great lender will be able to help you figure out what your ‘no-more-than’ amount should be, which will determine which price points you should shop in. As a Realtor, I can help guide you to a local lender who will be an expert in these areas.

If you have any other questions about this topic or you have a topic in mind you would like to see me discuss in a future video, please don’t hesitate to give me a call. I’d love to hear from you!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What Happens After You Get Approved for a Home Loan?



Getting approved for a home loan is just step one of the home buying process. Here’s what you’ll need to do next.

Selling in the greater Houston area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the greater Houston area? Get full MLS access


What happens after you get approved for a home loan?

Now comes the fun part—looking for a house! Once you’re pre-approved, you know what your budget is, and you know what you’re looking for, it’s up to us Realtors to help you find a home. It’s your Realtor’s job to not only send you houses, but also research houses you might find on your own.

Looking for a house could involve one trip out where you see five different houses or five trips out where you see 10 different houses. The time frame depends on you and how long it takes you to find the right house.

These are the steps you must take before getting into your new home.

Once you find the right house, it’s time to submit an offer. First, you and your Realtor discuss how to write up the terms of the contract, then you submit the offer to the seller. I like to call this part ‘opening up the lines of communication.’ Basically, you’re letting the seller know what you want and what you would like to do. The seller will either accept the offer, decline the offer, or make a counteroffer explaining what changes they want and what they’re willing to do.

Various things can happen after this point. Once you’ve negotiated the terms and you’ve gone under contract, you’re ‘opening title,’ where you deposit your earnest money. This earnest money represents your commitment to move forward with the sale of the house. You also deposit an option fee. This gives you the unconditional right to terminate your contract for whatever reason. It also gives you the time you need to do your inspections and negotiate any repairs.

Once you’re past the option period, it generally takes 21 to 30 days to close a loan. In total, once you pick a house, submit an offer, and get that offer accepted, you’re looking at 30 to 40 days to close.

Once you’ve done all this, you’re well on your way to getting into your new home. If you have any questions about today’s topic, please feel free to reach out to me. I’m always happy to help!

Friday, March 24, 2017

What Is the First Step to Owning a Home?


The very first step you should take when buying a home is getting your financing in order. I’ll explain why today.

Selling in the greater Houston area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the greater Houston area? Get full MLS access

The most common question I get asked when someone is looking to buy a home is “What is the first step?”  

When you’re getting ready to buy a house, the very first thing you’ll want to do is secure your financing. You’ll want to make sure that your budget is where it needs to be as well as make sure your debt-to-income ratio matches up with what you want your monthly payment to be.

Meet with a lender to figure out how much you can spend, how much you’ll need for closing costs, how much you’ll need for a down payment, and what your total monthly payment is going to look like.

As humans, we always compare everything to the one that got away.

The last thing you want to do is look at homes before you’ve got your financing in order. The pre-approval process can take up to 72 hours, so if you fall in love with a home and have to wait for a pre-approval letter, you might lose the home during the waiting period. As humans, we always compare everything to the one that got away, so make sure you’re ready to go with a pre-approval letter.

If you have any questions about this topic, buying or selling a home, or any other real estate questions, please feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Pros and Cons of Building a Home Addition


If you’re thinking about making an addition to your home, here are a few things you should consider first.

Selling in the greater Houston area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the greater Houston area? Get full MLS access

Building a new addition to your home is a great idea for various reasons, but interest rates and property values can change the effectiveness of your investment. If you’re thinking about building a home addition, consider these four factors before making your decision:

  1. Cost. When budgeting for your addition, it’s important to plan for the costs that are often associated with major home improvement projects. It’s also important to consider the additional costs of the utilities and taxes that will affect your annual budget.
  2. Investment value. Experts suggest you can recover the cost of midrange home additions at the point of sale. This is the main inspiration for many homeowners investing in extra square footage. Even though extra square footage should drive up the value of your home, sellers don’t necessarily recoup the entire investment due to other variables associated with property values.

  3. Always work with a reputable contractor.
  4. Stress. From conflicts with contractors to the inconvenience of living in a construction zone, home renovations and new additions can be fraught with stress. While stress is a con, it’s also likely to be only a temporary problem. Moreover, selling your home and buying a new one may prove no less stressful. The most important thing is to make sure you’re using a reputable contractor.
  5. Design aesthetics. A poorly designed addition can detract from the appearance of your home. It’s important for homeowners to work with an architect who has the experience and knowledge to create an addition to keep the aesthetic of your home. An addition that’s mismatched with the main construction can detract from the visual appeal of the house and ultimately turn off buyers.

Consider all the pros and cons when it comes to making a decision about a new home addition. Talking to other homeowners can also help you gather advice and enhance your decision making process.

If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to reach out to me. I’d be happy to help!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Debunking 4 More Real Estate Myths


Today I’m back to debunk some more common real estate myths.

Selling in the greater Houston area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the greater Houston area? Get full MLS access

I’m back today debunking some more real estate myths! We went over the first three last time, which you can see by clicking here, and will go over the next four today.

4. You should choose the listing agent who says they will sell your home at the highest price. In the real estate world, that’s known as buying your listing. A true professional is going to tell you the facts, instead of what they think you want to hear. In fact, listing your home at the highest price could cause your home to sit on the market, causing people to wonder if there is something wrong with it.

A true professional is going to tell you the facts, instead of what they think you want to hear.

5. Spring is the best time to sell. While there are a lot of people who wait until spring to list, there are still quite a few people who sell in the winter and fall. There is less inventory on the market during the fall and winter, which increases the demand for homes. In the spring, there is definitely a lot more competition.

6. A cash offer is always best. While a cash offer is definitely a strong offer, it’s not always the best one. There are other elements of a contract that need to be taken into consideration, such as the sales price, contingencies, the timeline to get possession of the home, etc. Many people who come in with an all-cash offer are going to want a better price and they might make the seller feel rushed to get through the closing process.

7. You can sell your home without an agent and save money. It’s true that you technically can sell your home without an agent, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to save money. A real estate professional brings knowledge, expertise, negotiation skills, a client database, and established relationships with other Realtors to the table.

A Realtor is also better equipped to market your home not only because of their database, but also their access to technology. They will know where to market your property and what price your home should be listed at. Moreover, most home searches start online, so you want to make sure you can list your property on the multiple listing service, or MLS, website. For our area, that website is har.com, and only a licensed Realtor can post your listing on that site. Make sure you ask a lot of questions when hiring a Realtor so you can be sure you’re getting a true professional.

If you have any questions about real estate myths, or if you have any other real-estate related questions, please give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

3 Must-Know Points About Home Inspectors


Whether you're hiring an inspector to examine a home you want to buy or to preemptively find any hidden defects in a home you want to sell, there are three key things you need to know.

Selling in the greater Houston area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the greater Houston area? Get full MLS access

If you're looking to hire an inspector for a home you want to buy or you're selling your home and you want to find out about any hidden problems you need to fix before putting your home on the market, there are three key things you should know:

1. You choose your own home inspector. Your real estate agent can recommend one to you or you can find one your own. Members of the National Association of Home Inspectors must complete an approved home inspection program, complete a written exam, demonstrate experience and competency as an inspector, and adhere to the NAHI Standard of Practice and Code of Ethics.
Inspectors will point out adverse or potentially dangerous conditions in a home—not cosmetic flaws.
2. Home inspections are intended to point out adverse conditions—not cosmetic flaws. An inspector will point out things that either need to be repaired or pose potential safety issues on the property. They won't comment on any cosmetic items if they don't impair the home's integrity and they don't do destructive testing.
3. Home inspection reports include only the basics. Inspections should cover the home's exterior and things like steps, porches, decks, chimneys, roofs, windows, doors, and other similar items. Inside the home, they'll look at attics, electrical components, plumbing, central heating and air, and crawlspaces and attics as applicable. They'll also report on the working order of things like faucets and whether they're leaking, as well as garage doors to see whether they're working. They might also point out termite damage and suggest a separate pest inspection. The final report should be concise and easy to understand.

If you need a referral for a great home inspector or you're looking to buy or sell a home in the Houston area, don't hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I'd love to help you out!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Debunking Some Common Real Estate Myths


There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to real estate and how a Realtor operates. We’re here to clear the air.

Selling in the greater Houston area? Get a market analysis report
Purchasing in the greater Houston area? Get full MLS access

The world of real estate is full of misunderstandings and misconceptions. Today we are debunking some of the most common real estate myths we hear from clients regularly. Here they are:

1. Agents want you to pay a higher sale price so they can get a higher commission. Realtors are professionals, so when they ask you to pay close to, at, or even above list price, it’s because they know the property is worth that much. In today’s market that has such low inventory, some homes are only on the market for a few days. A lot of times, these homes will sell over asking price if they are receiving multiple offers. Give your professional trust and know they are going to do their part.

A strong agent is worth their commission.

2. Listing my home at a lower commission will increase the profits from my sale. Like many things in life, you get what you pay for with a Realtor. When you hire a professional, don’t focus on their commission first.You want to hire someone for the experience they bring to the table, the negotiation skills they have, and their track record of helping people sell homes. Top agents don’t discount their commission for a simple reason. If they are willing to discount themselves, how willing are they going to be to discount your asking price? A strong agent that knows how to market your home has confidence in themselves and their abilities. You don’t necessarily make more money with a lower commission because you’re getting a worse agent most of the time.

3. Realtors get kickbacks from lenders and inspectors. Not only is this not true, in some cases it is illegal. In certain states, it’s against the law for lenders, inspectors, or other individuals to give kickbacks to Realtors. When you get a recommendation from your Realtor, it’s likely they have already worked with, had success with, and established a working relationship with your Realtor.

These are just a few of the myths we hear all the time. Next time, we’ll be back to cover even more of them. Until then, if you have any questions for me at all, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!