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Tami Heitzwebel

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Displaying blog entries 11-18 of 18

The Sky is Falling!

by Tami Heitzwebel

Made you look, didn’t I?  Actually, the sky is still intact—what IS falling are mortgage interest rates.

Over the last few weeks, my email inbox has been filled with ads and articles about dropping mortgage rates.  What does this mean for you?  Potentially lower mortgage payments, which means that you might be able to afford a bit more house.

Let’s look at some numbers.  If you were looking at a $250,000 mortgage for 30 years with a current interest rate of 4.25%, your monthly payment (principal and interest only) would be around $1,230.  Drop that interest rate to 3.75%, and your monthly payment drops to around $1,158.  If the rates go even lower (let’s say down to 3.25%), your monthly payment could be as low as $1,088.

There are obviously several other factors you need to consider when shopping for a mortgage and locking in a good interest rate.  Over the years, I have worked with various mortgage brokers and have great professional relationships with several local lenders.  Even if your credit is less than perfect or you have some other unique circumstances (for example, med school student loan debt), I have lenders who are ready and able to work with you.  If you are thinking that this may be the time to jump into the real estate market, give me a call.  My team and I are ready to make the leap with you!

Bank Wire Fraud is Increasing

by Tami Heitzwebel

You are getting ready to close on your new home.  All that’s left is for you finish packing and wire the closing funds to the title company.  You get an email with wiring instructions, contact your bank and wire the funds.  Unfortunately, the email you received was from a scammer.  Your hard-earned money is most likely gone forever.  The dream of home ownership has now turned into a possible financial nightmare.

In the last few years, cyber criminals have been targeting realtors, title companies, escrow agents and even attorneys by sending what looks like legitimate email messages regarding an upcoming closing.  The receiver, who may not realize that this is a scam, clicks on the link and the hacker now has access to their files.  From there, the hacker scans emails, looking for upcoming closings and emails clients with “updated” wiring information.  In the hectic days leading up to closing, buyers may not check to see if the updated instructions are legitimate.  Don’t make that mistake.  If you get an email from ANYONE with new or updated wire transfer instructions, be suspicious.  Immediately call your realtor and/or your title company to confirm—DO NOT call the number or click on the links in the email.  These scammers will even go so far as to set up fake websites to make their emails look more legitimate.

If in doubt, check it out.  If you get an email that doesn’t look or sound right, call me.  My team and I will check it out and get back to you.  Remember, we are here for you—and we are always happy to help and answer any questions you might have.   

Running the Marathon

by Tami Heitzwebel

I recently went to Boston to watch my husband run in the 121st running of the Boston Marathon.  This was his 5th time running in the marathon and we really enjoy soaking in the whole marathon atmosphere.

It dawned on me that helping you, my clients, is sort of like running a marathon.  Sometimes, it does feel like a race to the finish line, especially when a property ends up with multiple offers.  But, there are several similarities between gearing up for a marathon and your real estate transaction.

First and foremost, you need to train for a marathon.  You also need to have a trained real estate professional when you buy or sell a home.  As a Realtor© with over 17 years of experience, I am more than ready and able to go the distance for my clients.  The next important thing marathon runners need to have is stamina.  My husband has a whole training routine he follows religiously so that he does have the stamina to make it through the 26-mile course.  Real estate pros also need to have the stamina to take your transaction from the initial contract negotiations through the option period, inspections, appraisals and if all goes well, closing.  Sometimes the marathon goes smoothly and according to schedule; other times, detours pop up and it’s my job to make sure that we navigate through them and still make it to the finish line. 

Finally, it takes a team effort to successfully complete a marathon.  There are certainly some people who do it on their own, but generally, friends and family are there to cheer on and encourage a runner.  I also have my own team – Team Heitz – here to help you get to the finish line.  Give me a call – I’m ready to run to new "Heitz" for you.

Feeling Adventurous? Eat in Kingwood!

by Tami Heitzwebel

If you have been feeling a bit in a rut when it comes to dining out, have I got some great news for you.  Kingwood is the happening place for new restaurants, and I have three (yes, three!) to tell you about.

Yama S Fusion Sushi recently opened their doors at the front of Kingwood, and I’ve been hearing some great things about them.  Now I’m not a huge seafood fan, but I do enjoy some sushi and I really enjoy hibachi-style dishes.  And I’m told that Chef Yama is hard to miss with his red hair!   The menu is quite extensive and the prices are reasonable. 

If you prefer tacos over sushi, then you may have heard that Torchy’s Tacos is coming to Kingwood later this spring!  They are building their latest restaurant in the new H-E-B plaza at the intersection of West Lake Houston Parkway and Kingwood Drive.  What started out as a food trailer in 2006 has grown to over 30 restaurants in Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma.  They offer all kinds of tacos, including vegetarian and breakfast options and even a taco of the month.  My buyer’s agent, Amanda, says that the tacos are “amazing” and that Torchy’s has a quite a fan following.

Now that you have had breakfast, lunch or dinner, you might need some dessert.  SUB ZERO Ice Cream and Yogurt is also making its home at the same H-E-B plaza.  If you have watched any of the network cooking shows, you have probably seen someone making ice cream using liquid nitrogen.  At Sub Zero, your ice cream is “made to order” right in front of you.  Pick a flavor and add-ins, and watch as the liquid nitrogen does its magic and turns the cream into a creamy, cold treat. 

There are several other new restaurants in the area as well, and more planned.  If you have one that you think I would enjoy, let me know and I’ll check it out!

Buying Home Insurance in Texas

by Tami Heitzwebel

You have been searching for that new place to call home for days, weeks or maybe even months.  Working with your favorite realtor (me!), you found the perfect place.  You get a call from the title company asking for information about your homeowner’s insurance policy. 

There are several options available for purchasing a policy – you can use a local agent or shop online.  One of the first things to determine is the amount of coverage you need.  You want to make sure you have enough to replace your home and belongings.  Believe it or not, your credit score comes into play here as well.  Do you have cars, recreational vehicles or a boat?  You might qualify for a multi-policy discount.   Does your new home have a security system?  Another discount!

Is your new home in a designated flood plain?  The Seller’s Disclosure Notice will tell you if the property is in a floodplain or currently has flood insurance coverage.  If this is the case, I can help you find a local agent. 

Other things to consider when shopping for home insurance include your belongings and contents.  Do you have an art or baseball card collection or some of grandma’s priceless antique furniture?  If your new home has additional “outbuildings” – like RV storage – make sure it is all covered.  

Your insurance company will most likely use a CLUE report for your new home.  No, it’s not the game – CLUE actually stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange.  A CLUE report gives you the claims history of the house.  If the seller has disclosed major repairs that might have been paid by an insurance claim, then I tell my buyers that it’s OK to ask for a copy of the CLUE report. 

The family dog may be another piece of information an insurance agent will ask about.  Owners of certainly presumed “aggressive” dog breeds could pay a higher insurance premium.  You really don’t want to fib to your insurance agent about this.  If you do have one of these dogs and you don’t disclose it up front and Fido does accidently injure someone, your insurance company may deny coverage.  Deductibles are yet another item to consider.  Generally, your policy premium is lower with a higher deductible; however, you will end up paying more out of your own pocket if you have a claim. 

While I’m not an insurance expert, I know many people who are just that.  Have questions?  Please call, text or email.  I’m here to help!

Surprise – You have a New Water Feature!

by Tami Heitzwebel

Part of my service as your realtor goes above and beyond guiding you through the process of buying or selling your home.  My clients often contact me in the following weeks or months after closing on their homes, looking for recommendations for local service providers, doctors, veterinarians and even the best restaurants with gluten-free options.

A few months ago, we had a freeze that left many homeowners with drooping landscaping and in some cases, burst pipes.  I got a text that day from one of my recent clients.  Apparently, they were driving back home from a trip to the local hardware store and noticed that someone had water running down the street.  As they pulled into their driveway, they realized that they were that someone.  Not only was the water running down their driveway, but they now also had a new water feature—a fountain of water spewing forth from the outdoor landscaping control box! 

After a few frenzied minutes of identifying where the shut-off was for the control box, they managed to stop the water fountain.  Since they had moved here from Colorado mountains, they were not familiar with outdoor landscaping systems.  Who did they need to call—a plumber, a landscaper or a sprinkler service company?  It turns out the answer was a sprinkler service company.  My new owners did not know that the sprinkler system had not been winterized, and the “water feature” they discovered was the exploding backflow preventer. 

While it is unusual for our temperatures to dip low enough to cause pipes to freeze, it does happen. Still, it probably doesn’t hurt to make sure your outdoor landscaping trees, shrubs and sprinkler systems are prepared.  Need a recommendation?  Please give me a call, text or send me an email.  I’m always here to help!

Greenbelts – Not Just for Karate!

by Tami Heitzwebel

Living in Kingwood—“The Livable Forest”—means that you will see verdant green trees, flowers in just about every shape and colour and landscaping in both home yards and common areas.

But there is another living part of Kingwood that most people don’t know about – the Greenbelt Trails.  Kingwood has over 75 miles of interconnected paved, tree-lined paths that are open to pedestrians, leashed dogs, bicycles (non-motorized) and even roller blading.  These well-maintained trails are designed to give Kingwood residents a safe place to walk without having to worry about vehicle traffic.  Maintenance is paid through HOA fees.  

My assistant purchased a house in Kingwood, and the greenbelt trails were a huge attraction.  She says she lives about a minute from the nearest access point.  Her poodle (Fenway) has quickly acclimated to walking the trails and has made several dog acquaintances during his walks.  He especially enjoys meeting a “cousin” doodle whose owner gives out low-calorie treats to friendly dogs.

Fenway is also happy to report that the vast majority of dog walkers are leashed (the dogs, not the walkers) and for the most part, they pick up what the dogs drop. 

Want to see more?  Click on the map link.  If you have a picture of you (or your furry friend) walking on the greenbelt trails, post it on my Facebook Page – I would love to see it!

Homestead Exemption – Not Just for Pioneers!

by Tami Heitzwebel

Back when the West was won (and young), the fledgling US government granted homesteading pioneers land ownership at little to no cost as long as they remained on the property for a certain number of years. 

Flash forward to today, and while land is no longer available for homesteading, the State of Texas does give new homeowners a bit of a tax break in the form of a Homestead Exemption.  So, it works like this:  If you have a house that is currently valued at $100,000 and you qualify for a $20,000 exemption, your taxes are calculated on the $80,000 value.  The exemption can add up to some pretty substantial tax savings.

New homeowners can apply for their homestead exemption between January 1 and April 30 of the year following the purchase of their home.  It’s important to make sure that you file within these dates since the taxing districts do not accept early applications.  Once your exemption is approved, you will receive an annual postcard notifying you that the exemption is still in place.  Watch your mail for that little postcard, because it means your home is still eligible.  A few years ago, my postcard did not arrive.  I really didn’t think much of it until I got our tax bill.  YIKES!  I called the County and was told that since the post card was returned as “undeliverable” by the US Postal Service, they automatically presume that the owners have moved and no longer qualify for the exemption.  Um, we had been living in our home for over a dozen years and certainly had not moved.  After filling out a few forms, I was able to get the exemption restored. 

I also make sure to tell my new buyers not to fall for the mailers they will get shortly after they close on their new homes.  These companies offer to sell you a copy of your own deed or offer to complete your exemption application for a fee.  You should receive a copy of your deed as part of your closing – and the exemption application is pretty easy to complete.  You don’t need to hire anyone to do it for you.  If you have questions on the application or how it works, please let me know.  You can also CLICK HERE for Texas first-time property owner information provided by Harris County.  

 

Displaying blog entries 11-18 of 18

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Tami Heitzwebel
RE/MAX Associates Northeast
2940 Oak St.
Kingwood TX 77339-5525
281-361-2245