Tag: i love happy clients

Short Term Rental Scams

When people hear Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO, they think vacation. These services connect homeowners who want to rent out a room or their entire house or apartment with travelers who want an alternative to hotel chains.

These short term rentals are used for many other reasons. They are temporary homes between selling and buying a home. They are temporary homes for business trips. They are used as temporary housing for college students.

These types of rentals can also be found on Craig’s list, facebook market page, other social media, etc.

In the last few years there has been a rise in cases of fraud.

Let review some of the most common scams:

  • Fake Rental – One scheme known as take the money and run occurs when a fraudster creates a fake vacation rental listing or website to get money from unaware victims. The pictures are usually stollen from other sites and the property they are advertising doesn’t usually exist. The fraudster will typically ask you to pay the first and last day or sometimes the stay in full. Once they receive the funds they tend to disappear. Usually the victim will not find out they were scammed until they show up at the property (or lack of property).
  • Bait and switch – Another scam is the bait and switch. In this scam, the fraudster shows unavailable properties to lure the would-be renter to a less-desirable property. This is sometimes done in a sneaky way. You may not even know you’ve been scammed.
    • Imagine that the short-term rental owner calls you the day of check-in. You are informed that the previous guest had flushed something down the toilet, which had left the unit flooded with water. He offers you another unit in the mean time and they will let you know when the flooded unit is available (which is probably never). This other unit is usually not the same quality.
  • Price jacking – You get to the property and it’s the property you expected but you are asked to pay more at the last minute. They may push you to pay by turning on the home’s WIFI, turn off the lights, etc.

In 2019, the median loss of victims who reported rental scams to Scam Tracker was $996. The Apartment List survey found that the median loss was $400, but one in three victims lost more than $1,000.

  • Let’s share the winnings: This is typically a scam targeting the short term rental owner. They will ask the owner to charge a certain amount for a room they never plan on using. In exchange they want the owner to give them 1/2 of the amount charged. If you receive a check that’s for more than the specified amount, return it. Do not deposit it. 
  • Cancelled Booking – The victim will receive an email stating that the home or home is not longer available due to renovations or repairs. You are informed that you will get a refund (which never happens).
  • No showings but give me more info – If you ask to see the property and they either tell you no or they book a tour but end up canceling. At times they will ask you to fill out an application with tons of personal info before they allow you to see the property. They might asked to run a credit check before they show you the property—they might say the property is so popular that they are only entertaining serious inquiries or a similar excuse. Red Flag.
  • Home for Rent – Longer term rentals also experience fraud. Fraudsters will use homes that are currently up for sale (and vacant) and they will list them for rent; normally using the same pictures. Sometimes they even gain access to the home and have copies of the keys. They will collect the security deposit and 1st rent, have them sign a lease, and give the victims the keys. It all looks legit until someone shows up to tour the home and realized that there is someone already living in it!
  • Rent-to-Own – I know this is appealing to some renters but the fact is that there is a lot of fraud in this area. This can be legally done by signing a rental agreement with an option to purchase.
Sample Fraud Communication
  • You owe me money! – On occasions the fraudster (property owner) will contact you after the fact and request that you pay a certain amount for repairs. Take photos and video of a property when they arrive and when they leave.
  • Room for Rent/fraudster tenant – There are fraudsters that are renting rooms in vacant homes or homes that they might have rented legitimately but have stop making payments on their rent. Normally they will try to rent every room in the home within a short period by offering an amazing rate. They will take a deposit and the month’s rent in advance. Shortly after they disappear.
  • No Credit Check – If someone is willing to rent you a home or a room for a period of time, wouldn’t they be concerned about your credit or criminal history? Red flag.
  • You can pay the rest later – If the property owner tells you that you can pay a portion of your security deposit now and the rest later, be careful. This is a way to establish trust and they may only be seeking to steal the first part of the payment.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Reverse image search – If you search the images and you find that they are stock pictures or they belong to another listing, this should be a BIG red flag.
  • Contact number – Search for the property owner’s telephone number. If it turns out to be a google number, this might be an issue. Not to say that all google numbers belong to fraudsters but I’d be on high alert.
  • Map the address – Map the address and make sure there is a property located at that address. Does the home match those in the picture?
  • Read reviews – A lot of times just reading the reviews will cause red flags. Do the good reviews sound strange? Do they use the same wording you found in the ad?
  • Cancellation Alerts – Are there multiple cancellation alerts on a property? Red Flag.
  • Price too good to be true? – It probably is. Red Flag. A guest offering to pay extra for a week because they love your place? Scam! A single traveler renting your five-bedroom house for themselves? Scam! Trust your instinct.
  • Payments – Is the host asking you to take their business off the official site? Red flag. All communications and payments should be handled through the site. If they ask for a money order or wire, backoff and report them.
  • Website – before making a payment look at the website address. Sometimes you are sent a link to an “airbnb” like site but the web address is not correct.

airbnb.com vs. airbnb-bookings.com

  • Owner Search – Search for the property’s owner. Make sure that the person that you are dealing with is the owner.  It will not hurt to ask for documentation to prove the identity of the person you are dealing with. If you find the property is owned by a company, call the company and see what you can find out.
  • Few or no reviews – Red Flag
  • Lease – You are asked to sign a lease before you are able to see the place/room.

More info/Sources:

Information about Brokerage Services – IABS form


Texas law requires all real estate license holders to give the following information about brokerage services to prospective buyers, tenants, sellers and landlords. 

In essence, we have to disclose who we represent in a transaction upon the first contact with a party or a licensee representing another party. There are different types of representation that we will explain below.

Real Estate License Holders Explained

  • The Broker – Brokers are more experienced and qualified and can work as independent agents or have other agents work for them. A broker, on the other hand, owns a brokerage and employs real estate agents (or may not). A broker generally has more training than an agent and handles some of the more technical parts of a transaction.
  • A Real Estate Agent – Real estate agents are licensed to facilitate real estate transactions, are paid commissions for their sales, and work for brokerages. They cannot work independently. A real estate agent is an industry professional who serves as the facilitator of real estate transactions. Everything that a Real Estate Agent completes, they do so on behalf of the broker.
  • REALTOR® – Realtors are part of the National Association of Realtors, a trade organization, and can hold any position within the real estate industry.
  • Seller’s Agents, commonly called “listing brokers” or “listing agents”, are contracted by owners to assist with marketing property for sale and/or lease.
  • Buyer’s Agents are brokers or salespersons who assist buyers by helping them purchase property.
  • Dual Agents help both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. In Texas law does not permit dual agency. A license holder may not represent both principals as a dual agent under the revisions to TRELA. Under the current law, a broker must agree to act as an intermediary in accordance with the statute if the broker agrees to represent more than one party in a transaction. 
  • Intermediary – a person who acts as a link between people in order to try to bring about an agreement or reconciliation; a mediator. When the same brokerage represents the buyer and the seller, the broker must act as an intermediary and a sales rep will be assigned for each party. The broker will be neutral.
  • Subagent – This is an agent that represents a buyer without and buyer’s representation agreement.

Discounts on Insurance Policies?

Does it seem that some people are able to get discounts on everything?

There are a few tricks to get better rates on insurance. Insurance companies study the statistics of the general population to try and find indicators of clients that will not generate claims.

What are the companies looking for in a client?

There is some good news! Insurance companies prefer couples over singles. Service careers also are given a discount with many insurance carriers: military, police officers, fire fighters, educators and medical staff. Ask your insurance agent if you are eligible for any discount based on your employment. You will have to provide a copy of a license or employment ID to qualify but some companies give as much as a 10% discount.

Another area that indicates a responsible insured is education level. Any completed education above a high school diploma can help reduce your rate. Trade schools, junior college, bachelor’s degrees, masters and doctorate degrees all qualify for discounts and preferred rates. If you belong to any group, professional organization, or credit union many companies will offer an association discount.

You may be thinking – I do not fit any of those categories. There are other ways so don’t give up. Have you been in the same area for several years? Companies look for people who do not move constantly because it shows stability.

Another way to receive a discount is to either pay the policy in full in advance or put your payments on automatic payments with a bank account or a credit card.

What is an insurance score?

This leads to credit scores and how they can help you. There is an insurance score that is different from your credit score. Your Insurance score looks at your insurance history. Have you had continuous coverage? What is your driving record like? How many claims have you filed, and have you missed any payments? Another rating factor is how many people are on your policies. Believe it or not, the more people the cheaper the policy (per person)!

Young drivers are killer on the cost of an auto policy, however there are ways to soften the blow. All young drivers should complete a driving course taught by a local driving school. Parent taught students pay more for insurance! A young driver should be in an older vehicle and limit their driving to a defined area. The driving telematic devices that are installed in the car to track driving habits are also a way to gain a substantial discount if you are a good driver consistently over time.

Rates do not improve for younger drivers until about the age of 25. The idea that boys cost more than girls is not true anymore.

Do you have questions or would you like a quote for coverage? Just ask! You will find my contact info below.

Blog Contributor

Karen Tannery 

Account Executive

281-712-7272

karen.tannery@goosehead.com

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: https://www.nachi.org/blog/2009/10/07/attic-ventilation/

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:

https://www.familyhandyman.com/attic/how-to-seal-attic-air-leaks/

https://www.nachi.org/blog/2009/10/07/attic-ventilation/

https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/manuf_res/salestraining_res/HS_diy_guide.pdf


COMING SOON! 37030 Cougar Dr, Simonton TX 77485

 

COMING SOON!

$260,000

  • 4 Bedrooms (master bedroom on the 1st floor)
  • 2 bathrooms
  • 2,505 sf home
  • 48,060 sf lot (just over 1 acre)
  • Horses allowed!
  • Corner lot
  • Completely renovated

Beautiful country retreat, within minutes of shopping and restaurants. 4 bedroom, 2 bath home with study, formal dining room and breakfast room. Master bedroom located on first floor, master bathroom with HUGE shower and double sinks. PLENTY of storage throughout the home. Two additional rooms located behind the home. These rooms would be a perfect office space, kennel, art studio or workshop. Completely remodeled, open and bright floor plan. Move in ready. Home located on a little over  1 acre. Bring your horses. Circular driveway and additional long driveway and huge carport. Plenty of parking. Gorgeous outdoor space with plenty of mature trees and gazebo. Additional storage shed within a small fenced area.

 

 

 

COMING SOON! 324 Delz St, Houston TX 77018

COMING SOON!

$250,000

Location, 🔥 Location 🔥 Location!! Property is located in an up and coming area minutes from downtown, the Galleria and, the Energy Corridor. Adorable 3 bedrooms, 2 bath home with a HUGE backyard. Enjoy the large fenced backyard with shade trees, just perfect for family BBQs. Ready For Move In! Laminate and tile floor throughout. Open floor plan. Ceiling fans throughout the home. Kitchen includes a refrigerator. Never flooded.

New construction within close proximity makes it attractive for future appreciation or new development. There is plenty of space for a single family home, or several single family homes. Buy and hold for future appreciation.

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.

Shopping for a home? Let’s look at Needs vs. Wants

Needs vs. Wants

Housing is a need; wants are items that help you live more comfortably. Wants are not completely necessary but certainly nice. For example, can you live without a private pool? yes. Can you live without a kitchen? Probably not.

When starting your search, be flexible. Give yourself the opportunity to explore options. You will start with a list but more than likely this list will change as you are introduced to more homes.

Be prepare for the likelihood that you won’t get everything you want. There will be compromises, trade-offs and finding the best possible property for you and your family. One home might lack a game room but its in a perfect location. Another might have a great yard but will force you into a longer commute. Decisions, decisions, decisions…

The MOST important decision is location. This is something that cannot be changed. You can renovate a home, add a bedroom or bath, etc. but you cannot move the home. Explore the surrounding area. Do you like the proximity to work, shopping, school zoning, restaurants, friends and family?

Check out this worksheet that can help you through the deciding process.

 

Houston Family Fun Festival 2019


TRICK OR TREAT! I’m happy to be participating in this event on Oct 20, 2019 and Oct 27, 2019 from 12-4  It’s free and should be super fun for kids.

Enjoy face painting, rock wall, food trucks, activities under every tent, inflatables, arts and crafts, door prizes, music, onstage performances, HFM goodie bags and more!

Come by and bring your witches and goblins for some fun activities and trick or treating!

Join us!
Learn More

Special Treat!

Come by my booth and tell your kiddos to give me the secret password “boogers” for a special goodie bag.

10 Common Misconceptions People Have About Buying a Home

Welcome Home

Do you need more space?

Spend Less – Get More! Buying a home is very rewarding in many ways.

This is the number 1 reason why people buy a home. The home buying process can be daunting. It’s one of the largest purchases that you will make during your lifetime. That said, the process is easier when you have the right team on your side. A good lender, REALTOR® and home inspector will guide you through the process stress free.

Right now in most areas we are in a buyer’s market. Rates are still low so it’s really the perfect time to buy.

What’s holding you back? Let’s explore some common misconceptions.

 

1. You need 20% down to buy a home

Many buyers believe that they need 20% down to buy a home. This is a very common misconception. There are FHA loans that will permit a 3.5% down payments and some conventional loans that will go as low as 3%. If you are or were in the military, VA loans require zero down! In addition, if the home is a rural area, USDA loans will also require no down payment.

2. You need a credit score in the 700s or better

This is no longer the case. There are many different loan programs available that will qualify many different buyers. It’s important to speak to a lender and have them analyze your situation. In most cases they will be able to get you qualified. If you like a list of mortgage lenders contact me at ali@happyclientsrealtygroup.com.

3. Don’t have too many lenders check your credit because that will lower your score

You have the right to shop for a loan. FICO, the company that computes the credit scores lenders use. Allow consumers to “rate shop”. When doing to make sure that you are comparing the same types of products. Don’t focus exclusively on interest rates. Sometimes a lender will increase your closing costs by making you pay down points in order to get you a better interest rate.

4. Adjustable rate mortgages are bad

We all heard a lot of negative things about adjustable mortgage rates after the mortgage melt down in 2008. Adjustable mortgage rates are not all bad and can be a great option for someone that plans of paying off a home in 5 years or if you plan on selling the home within 5 years. This will provide you will a low interest rate for the first five years on the loan and that maybe all you need. Speak to a lender about options.

5. You just need enough money to cover your down payment in savings

There are several upfront cost when buying a home. The down payment is usually the largest but you will need to cover the following as well:

  • Earnest Funds: Once your offer for a home is accepted, you will have to deposit your earnest funds with the title company. Earnest funds are typically 1% of the sales price. For example: if the home is being sold for $200,000, your earnest funds will be $2000. These are funds that will be applied towards your down payment at closing so they are not in addition to the sales price offered.
  • Option Fee: An option fee is a fee that is offered to the seller in exchange for a set number of days for you to complete your due diligence and be able to cancel the agreement if you find something that you don’t like. This fee will also typically be credited towards the balance due at closing if you proceed with the purchase. This is money well spent because as little as approximately $200 or less you can take your time and inspect the property before you fully commit.
  • Inspection Fee: It’s always a good idea to have your home inspected. This usually will cost about $350-$450 on average. This is also money well spent. This is a large purchase and it’s important to know the condition before you commit to the sale.
  • Appraisal Fee: This is a fee that the bank will ask you to pay in advance for the appraisal of the property. This fee will run between $450-550 typically. It is part of the closing cost and will be credited at closing.
  • Reserves: The lender will usually want to see that you have around 2 months of mortgage payments in savings as reserves.
  • Closing Costs: When you first get pre-qualified by a lender they will give you wants called a loan estimate. In it, the lender will disclosure all your costs; including your down payment, loan costs and closing costs. Closing costs can add up. Most of the closing costs go to what’s call pre-paids. This is a set amount that the lender will require to start your escrow account.

6. It’s cheaper to rent than it is to buy

Rent is expensive and normally there are a lot of upfront fees when renting a home. Along with those fees there are restrictions. Explore the option to buy. I think you’d be surprised that your monthly payment can be the same or less than a rental property.

New Construction

7. You don’t need a home inspection for new construction

Whenever you are buying a home, be it new or a resale, it is always best that you have the home inspected. Even new homes have issues that come up during an inspection. A home is a major purchase. The investment in a home inspection is nothing compared to the cost of buying a home with major problems

8. It is cheaper to buy a home that needs work

It can be but in many cases you end up spending a lot more on a rehab than you do on a move-in ready home. Many people watch these HGTV shows and feel that rehabbing a loan is easy. It’s not! There are always surprises and these surprises can be costly.

In many cases buyers go in with good intentions of getting the work done but faced with the cost and time of the repairs, they are put off. Over time they let the repairs go and ultimately they are never get done.

9. I can save money by not using a REALTOR®

As a buyer, it will normally not cost you anything to have an agent on your side. In most instances the seller pays the buyer’s commission. There is not reason to not have ally on your side.

Before submitting an offer it’s important to review comparable sales in the area and overall market conditions. Every home is different and it’s important to look at all aspects of the home before submitting an offer. The surrounding area is very important. You can change things about the home but you can’t change its location.

10. I need to find a home before I speak to a mortgage lender

This would be false. It’s important to be pre-qualified before you start looking. Sometimes the bank will qualify you for more or less than expected.

When you find that perfect home, your offer is submitted with your pre-qualification letter. Don’t run the risk of losing the perfect home. By the time you get qualified the home might be gone.