Category: Home Owners Solutions

Home Insurance – #1 source of claims: WATER

When looking for homeowner’s insurance in Texas, one must look at the #1 source of claims: WATER. Nearly 70% of the claims each year are water related. You may be thinking hurricane and storms, but that is a very small percentage. The four sources of the water claims are:

  • Sudden and Accidental (burst pipe) – This covers a “sudden” water related malfunction
  • Seepage and Leakage – slow leaks that you don’t see right away like the leaking hose at the back of a dishwasher or the discharge line on your a/c system is blocked and is dripping water through the attic into the house.
  • Water back up and Overflow – Water that enters the house through the plumbing caused by issues with the storm drain system and usually heavy rain which pushes disgusting water ruining anything it reaches.
  • Foundation Water Damage Repair – This is coverage that many companies cut or leave out but are the most expensive repairs to the homeowner. Coverage is for the foundation when it is damaged from one of the three water damages or from the repairs in response to the water damage.

Flood insurance is a separate policy and very inexpensive. No homeowner’s policy in Texas covers flood.

Blog Contributor

Do you have questions about home insurance? Feel free to contact me at my information below.

Karen Tannery 

Account Executive


Roof maintenance, attic ventilation and attic leaks

Please note: I am not a home inspector. I am a home owner just like you. Being proactive instead of reactive to repairs can save you money. If you have concerns, a roofer will be able to look at your roof and attic and see if more ventilation is needed.

Deterred maintain in a home can cost you money. Many of items can easy be completed by the home owner. If you don’t feel comfortable, a handyman can usually tackle most of these items.

Attic leaks and lack of insulation (10-12 inches recommended) will make your home less energy efficient which in turn will cost you money in energy bills. 

Insulation makes a big difference in energy efficiency. Before you add insulation, take the time to check and make a few repairs as needed:

  • Attic leaks (attic bypasses)

Attic bypasses are air leaks from your living space into your attic. These leaks occur when wires, pipe and air ducts go through your ceiling and into your attic. This issue will not only allow cold or hot air to leak into your attic but it will also cause condensation; which in term causes moisture issues. These moisture issues will cause mold and wood rot.

Before adding insulation make sure to seal any potential leaks.

  • Attic Ventilation
Imagine source:

Your attic needs air flow. WHY?

  • Energy efficiency
  • Avoids moisture build up
  • Help maintain the life of your roof shingles and other roof components

This is critical for the home but also for the occupants. Anyone that has ever been in an attic knows how very hot it gets. This heats needs someone to escape to. If the heat is trapped in the attic, it will conduct heat into your home (not energy efficient) and will cause the home to deteriorate faster. You will experience moisture issues that will lead to mold, wood rot, rusty nails, among other things. Keep in mind that termites and carpenter ants love moisture and they thrive in environments like this.

There are two type of roof ventilation:

  1. Passive ventilation: These include ridge vents (at the peak of your roof), soffit vents (in the roof eaves), turbine (vents that driven by wind and penetrate the roof) and gable vents (at the top of a gable). At a minimum you should have a ridge vent and soffit vents. Soffit vents will allow air to enter the attic and ridge vents will allow air to exit the attic (heat rises).
  2. Active ventilation: These are systems that require power to operate. The most common are attic fans and whole-house fans. These fans are typically control by a thermostat. Attic fans are typically mounted to the roof and whole-house fans are mounted to the attic floor and they pull hot air from the living space and exhaust it to the outside through the attic space.

Your general maintenance should include looking for signs of problems. Our roofs are typically composition roof shingle covering wood decking. If the shingles are failing you will normally see signs of moisture on the wood decking. Here are a few things to look for:

Moisture damage or stains. Mold or water stains on wood, wet insulation and rusty nails. Is there a moisture smell?

Ducts must not be in contact with each or lay on top of the joists other or they will create condensation that is prone to mold and mildew issues.

The ducts must be elevated and supported from the rafters

Bowed Rafters

Damaged vent pipe

A dish installed on top of a roof needs to be sealed at the point it’s attached to prevent water damage.

Vents that have come loose and no longer vent outside

Dusty vents block air flow and create condensation and possible mold

Wood rot at facia board

Lifted shingles

Missing Shingles

Damaged roof decking

Tree limbs or vegetation that lay on the roof will allow moisture to accumulate and deteriorate the shingles.

Soffit damage

One of the most common issues that come up during a home inspection is a kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and similar exhaust systems that vent directly into the attic instead of exhausting to the exterior. The moist hot air after a shower will vent into the attic and deposit moist hot air that will lead to wood rot and mold issues.

Source: Family Handyman Magazine

Debris. The vents can only work if they are not covered. Make sure that your insulation is not covering the vents, clean around the vents to make sure other debris and dust are blocking the holes. Over time, soffit vents may be painted and paint might block the holes as well. Make sure to replace or unclog the vents.

Source: Family Handyman Magazine

Sources and more information:

What is a Make-Ready Cleaning?

A Make Ready Cleaning is also known as a Move-In/Move Out cleaning. Normally this is completed when someone is selling a home and moving in or out of a home. Basically you are making the home ready for the next owner (or to market the home). The make-ready cleaning will usually include cleaning and sanitizing the following items:

  • Bathroom (toilets, tub, shower/glass enclosure, sink, counters, and faucet)
  • Kitchen (sink, counters, back splash, faucet and all appliances) 
  • All cabinets and drawers (only for move out or move in cleanings)
  • Ceiling fans
  • Shelves/bookcases
  • Dust all services
  • Baseboards
  • Windowsills
  • Doors, knobs and casings
  • Light fixtures
  • Light switches
  • Air vent covers
  • Mirrors
  • Blinds
  • Flooring (normally an extra fee to include shampooing carpet or grout cleaning)
  • Windows (normally an extra fee)

For a move in/out cleaning all furniture, debris, clutter and other trash must be removed prior to cleaning. This is a clean-only service, not a trash-out service. The house must be vacant and the utilities (water and electricity) must be turned on.

Services that are typically not covered:

  • Remove rust stains
  • Remove Paint or Stains from Flooring
  • Remove Grout from Tile or Walls
  • Wipe Down Walls
  • Remove Mold from the Silicon Caulk Around the Tub
  • Carpet shampooing
  • Removal of pet stains
  • Grout cleaning or steaming
  • Window cleaning
  • Home exterior cleaning/power washing
  • Curtain cleaning
  • Laundry

The cost for this type of service will vary based on the home’s condition and size.

Homeowner Yearly Checklist


As a courtesy to my clients I like to send them reminders throughout the year that might benefit them. I’d recommend that every home owner do a few things at the beginning of the year:
2. Make sure your taxes have all been paid. Go to the individual sites and look up your property address.
3. Apply for any home exemption if you haven’t already. (see below)
4. Consider protesting your taxes. Either doing this yourself or hiring a company that will protest them for you (see below)

Home Exemption
Please be advised that you might qualify for a tax exemption and it’s now time to apply. Below you will find further details on this discount and the link for the necessary forms. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Applications for the Homestead Exemption must be filed between January 1st and April 30th.  The process is easy, FREE and it will save you money on property taxes so don’t delay!  There is no need for you to pay anyone for this service.  Most likely, you will receive offers from vendors that appear to be very “official” offering to file your application for a fee.  You need not pay anyone for this service and the county appraisal offices do not charge any fees.

Please note that In order to qualify for the exemption, you must provide:  A copy of your Texas Drivers license or Texas State ID card.  The address on the license or card must match the physical address to your residence for which you are applying.

Tax Protest
As a home owner you can also protest your property taxes every year. You can do this yourself or you can hire a company to do this for you. Most companies will charge you a fee based on the amount they are able to reduce your assessed property value. In my experience the expense was minimal compared to the benefits.
There are several companies out there. Do you research before you hire a company. For your benefit here is a list of companies:
Bettencourt Tax Advisors

If you decide to protest your assessed value yourself feel free to contact me to review sales in your area.

If you are considering selling your home within the next year or would simply like to know the current value of your home, feel free to contact us today.

Selling your home is one of the most important financial decisions you can make. Normally, one’s home is their most valuable asset. A well planned strategy can minimize the amount of time your home is on the market and maximizes your profits.

I am here to help in whatever manner I can. My services include:

  •      Assistance in Real estate sales and purchases
  •      Real estate home staging advise
  •      Local real estate market reports
  •      Real estate professional referrals (for those moving to another state or country)
  •      Real estate leasing (residential)
  •      Other: do you have a unique real estate issue that you need assistance with? I am happy to work with you to find solutions.

It would be our pleasure to answer any questions, just ask! You can reach at the contact info below.

Ali Palacios
Happy Clients Realty Group
Mobile – 832-418-0670
As you know, the local real estate business is more competitive than ever. If you have any friends, family, or colleagues you could refer to me, I promise to provide them with the same excellent service I gave to you—and I will be forever grateful for the referral!

Request your FREE Home Seller Guide

New Year, New Beginnings

They say that the chance of actually achieving your goals 👩‍💼 is greatly increased when you share it with others and be very specific. 
🌟🌟🌟 Make me accountable and I will do the same back! Let’s help each other achieve our goals for 2020! 🌟🌟🌟
Let me know how I can help‼️ I can be a drill sergeant when needed. I NEED YOUR HELP ON #4‼️🏘❤️😊


1. Self-care. Make this priority one. 

✅ I will fuel my body with beautiful, colorful and nutritious food 🥑🍐🥥

✅ I will exercise for 30 mins every day (just move!). I will not focus on a number, just overall health. 🏃‍♀️

✅ I will complete a 5K 🏅

✅ I will meditate for 10 mins every day 🧘‍♀️

✅ I will focus and surround myself with positivity. 

2. Lifework balance

✅ I will share a meal with a friend at least once a month. 👭

✅ I will be more present 

3. Time management ⏳

✅ I will learn to say no. Many times I agree to things knowing I might be tight on time. 

✅ If I commit, I will follow through.

✅ I will use my calendar to schedule both work and personal commitments 📆

4. Professional Goals

✅ I will help 25 families find their dream home! Do you know someone that is thinking about buying or selling a home this year? Introduce us. Help me achieve this goal. 🏠🏡🏘

5. Career

✅ I will obtain my The Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB) designation. 👩‍🎓

✅ I will mentor my agents and help them succeed.

✅ I will complete my buyer and seller automation process

✅ I will offer/complete 4 new buyer/seller classes this year

6. Give back

✅ Give back in kindness, time and experience without any expectations.

✅I will offer/complete two classes this year on how to reduce property taxes and make homeownership more affordable.

7. Travel

✅ I will visit one new location this year.✈️

✅ I will re-visit one of my favorite places.

✅ I will plan a “sister” trip and a girl’s trip

8. Declutter and organization

✅ I will clear out the clutter and donate items as needed.

✅ I will get and stay organized. 

9. Be the reason someone smiles today ☺️

✅ Offer at least one compliment a day. 

✅ I will serve and help whenever possible

10. Be grateful

✅ I will write one thing I’m grateful for every day. 

I will check back at months 3, 6, 9 and 12. Yikes! 

Hold me to this!

2020 vision boards

Joy for Kids – Toy Drive Benefiting the Children of Fallen Heroes

Thank you for joining us! Below you will find a copy of all the guides we offered during the toy drive

Home Buyers

Home Sellers

Other Documents

Pick Me!

I love halloween!

Halloween is so fun. I love admiring at all the creative costume and the kid’s love of the holiday is infectious.😀

This year I participated in Houston Magazine Fun Festival 2019. I knew I wanted something fun for my booth that kids would love…so I ended up on Pinterest. I found a monster that was created for a carnival. Kids had to reach into the monster’s nose to get candy. I knew that this was it! Kids love boogers and farts.

The online post had no instructions so I came up with my own version. Here are the instructions if you’d like to recreate it. I guarantee you that it will be a big success!

Shopping List

  • A large wood board ( you can decide what size you’d like.
  • A set of wiggle eyes
  • Spray insulation. I used 3 cans of this product
  • Water based craft paint. I used several shades of green, yellow, gold, purple and red.
  • 2 disposable cups. This will hold the space for the nostrils
  • vaseline
  • water
  • Serrated knife
  • Marker
  • Saw to cut out the circles. I used something like this
  • Sand paper
  • glue gun

This was the picture I found online. It looked like they might have used paper and maybe plaster of paris. It was hard to tell but I think the spray foam had to be easier.

First, I used a marker to draw the image of the monster of the board. It was rough drawing, something to use as a guideline to spray the foam. I used the wiggle eyes to trace the area I needed to leave open for the eyes. I also traced two circle where the nostrils would be. I used the disposable cups as a guide to trace the circles.

Next, I cut out the two circles for nostrils. I used a hole saw. See shopping list for the item. I then sanded the holes to avoid wood splinters.

I read that the spray foam will stick to the wood better if it was slightly damp. I wiped the wood with a wet towel. The wood was not soaked, just slightly damp on the surface.

I coated the cups with vaseline (be generous) and positioned them in the nostril holes.

Then the fun began! I stated spraying the foam. Take your time because the foam will expand. I did this in layers and in stages. I used one can at a time. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can later cut the foam with a knife to give it a better shape.

I chose to make the nose huge because I wanted it to be the main focus.

I let it dry over night.

Cups coated in vaseline will hold the space for the nostrils

The next day, I took a serrated knife and started to shape the foam. It doesn’t have to be completely smooth. In fact I found that the pits make it a little more gross.

I cut around the area where the wiggle eyes would be glued. Make sure that the eye will lay in the space. I cut out the cups that were hold the nostrils open.

Once shaped, you can now start painting the monster. Be warned, the wood and the foam will soak up quite a bit of paint. I used at least 16oz of green paint. Paint the entire monster in the main color, then you can start adding darker and lighter colors on top to give it dimensions.

Once the paint is dry, you can glue the wiggle eyes in their place. I suppose that you can paint the eyes in instead of using wiggle eyes but I really liked the fact that the pupils moved.

I added some text and a few “booger” images to add to the overall look.

The day of the event, the kids would reach into the nostrils and either get candy or they would stick their hand into slime (boogers). The look on kids faces when they reached into slime was priceless. 😂

I hope you enjoy this! If you have any questions let me know.

What is PMI?

PMI, also known as private mortgage insurance, is a lender’s protection in the event that you default on your primary mortgage and the home goes into foreclosure. This is exclusively for the lender’s protection. Banks don’t like losing money, who does? They have determined that they can recover about 80% of a home’s value at a foreclosure auction if the buyer defaults and the bank has to seize the house.

If you fall behind on your payments, PMI will not protect you and you can lose your home through foreclosure.

When home buyer applies for a conventional loan a lender will feel more comfortable if they are able to put down at least 20%. If this is not possible, a lender will typically look at the loan as a riskier investment and require that the borrower take out PMI.

Note: Your loan estimate and closing disclosures will list PMI as part of your payment. Most of the times, this fee is paid monthly but on occasion you will see the fee listed as an up-front premium. Sometimes you will see a combination of month and up-front fee. 

The PMI is usually paid monthly as part of the overall mortgage payment to the lender. PMI may cost between 0.5% and 1% (depending on the type of loan) of the entire mortgage loan amount annually. For example: assuming your PMI is a 1% on a $200,000 loan. That fee would add approximately $2,000 a year, or $166 each month, to the cost of your mortgage.

PMI can sometime be cancelled once you have reached loan balance of 80% of the loan balance. You might have to contact your lender and request that the PMI payment be removed. Keep in mind that the lender might have other conditions, such has no past due payments. Normally the bank will require that your home be appraised before they would consider removing this fee.

FHA loans?

Look for Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP). If you are an FHA-insured borrower, the Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) you pay as a part of your monthly mortgage payment is what makes the reduced downpayment on your mortgage possible. FHA uses these payments to insure your lender against losses if the loan goes to foreclosure. 


Borrowers can request that monthly mortgage insurance payments be eliminated once the loan-to-value ratio drops below 80%. Some loan servicers will allow (but are not required) borrowers to cancel PMI sooner based on home value appreciation. If the borrower accumulates 25% equity due to appreciation in years two through five, or 20% equity after year five, the investor who purchased the loan may allow PMI cancelation after the home’s increased value is proved with an appraisal.

An alternative to PMI, is a second loan to cover the 20%. A second mortgage will typically come with a higher interest rate.

How to get rid of PMI?

Make extra payments towards you principal balance. Not only will this get you to the 80% balance faster but it will save you a tons in interest. Even the smallest payments makes a huge difference.

Get to Planting!

Did you know that October is a great time to plant trees, shrubs, rose bushes and perennials. Planting now will help the plant survive come spring and summer. 

When deciding what to plant think about our pollinators. I love the fact that my yard is full or butterflies, hummingbirds, dragon flies, hummingbird moths and many types of bees. It’s beautiful to see them flying from one plant to another. 

We have 600 species of native bees in Texas! How many have you seen flying around? I love to see the huge bumble bees on my Vitex tree. Don’t forget about the butterflies There are about 100 different species that visit our Houston gardens and surrounding areas.  Learn more.

It’s always best to choose native plants. They do better in our climate and tend to be more drought resistant. You can conserve water and still have a beautiful garden! Most of the times it’s best to go to a local nursery vs a big box store like Home Depot. Most of the larger stores will carry the same plants nationwide. A plant that does well up north might not do well in our weather. 

Check out some of our local nurseries. These are some of my favorites:


Do you have a favorite that isn’t listed? Let me know. I’d love to check it out. 

Native Plants

Ideally these are plants that are low maintenance, are attractive and functional for our area and climate. Here are some of my favorites:

I love Lantana. It comes in a variety of colors and pollinators love it. My lantana is always covered in butterflies.

This plant is almost impossible to kill. During the winter months I cut it back and come spring it pops back up. This is a very low maintenance attractive plant that loves our hot summers; it thrives in full sun.

Salvia is another plant that does really well and the pollinators love it. Salvia comes is many varieties and colors. It’s drought tolerant and very low maintenance. Plant it and forget it.

My Vitex tree is always covered in huge black and yellow bumble bees. I’ve heard them referred to as flying pandas. They are harmless and so cute!

I’m constantly cutting this plant back because it loves our climate and grows fast. Vitex is heat and drought resistant.

You can trim this like a small tree or let is grow like a shrub.

Hummingbird or fire bush is beautiful and the pollinators love it, especially hummingbirds. This does well in full sun but doesn’t like freezes. It might die down if the weather gets too cold but normally will come back come spring.

I love Blue Plumbago; not only is it beautiful but it’s no easy. My dogs haven’t been able to kill this one!

It grows like a low lying shrub and it likes both sun and shade. It’s very drought resistant once it’s established.

Esperanza, Yellow Bells is gorgeous and pollinators love it, especially the hummingbirds. You can trim it to look like a small tree or let it grow wild like a large bush. The flowers are beautiful.

Very low maintenance and it loves full sun and it’s drought resistant.

Check out Buchanan’s list of native plants, shrubs, grasses and vines:

Home Garden

Do you have a home garden? Its time to plant fall veggies and herbs – Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts , lettuce, cabbage, peas, dill, cilantro, parsley, Swiss chard, mustard greens, etc. I’ve had great success with Collard Greens! Remember that most of these freeze very well.

Home Staging Tips, plus more! You’re invited


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