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Texas still on published in Summer 2011 Southwyck Newsletter



By Cindy Cristiano ~ RE/MAX Top Realty

A recent article I read says that America's Top 2 Real Estate fears are 1) Foreclosure and 2) Declining Property Values and I am glad to report that Texas has weathered the economic downturn better than everyone else.  As a country, we have experienced a paradigm shift over the last few years and Texas Real Estate has been no stranger to all the changes.  Despite all the negativity the national media reports about the housing market, Texas remains on top and is continuing its remarkable growth.

Consider these facts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics published May, 2011:

  • Texas Tops the States for 10 year job growth
  • Texas had the 5th highest payroll growth in the Nation
  • Texas creates 1 in every 6 jobs in the U.S.
  • Texas is only 1 of 2 States to expand job growth this past year
  • Houston is the #1 Most Affordable City to do business

There is more good news!  Did you know that only 12 nations in the world have an economy valued at more than 1 Trillion Dollars?  AND...TEXAS is one of them!  In fact, Texas has the 2nd largest economy in the U.S. per a recent article in USA Today, June 2011.

Those figures mean better news for the real estate market in Texas.  Although we avoided the real estate bubble that other areas of the country experienced, we did see a decline in prices and volume of sales but recent housing statistics show a much brighter future here in Texas:

  • Texas is not in the Top 5 Foreclosure States in the Nation
  • The Top 5 represent 70% of foreclosures in the entire Nation
  • May 2011 - Foreclosure filings were the lowest since 2006
  • Nationally, 1 in 605 homes are in foreclosure
  • In Texas, 1 in 1,074 homes are in foreclosure
  • May 2011 - Texas has the 6th lowest rate of residential mortgages in foreclosure in the Nation

To further support that things are looking brighter here in our area, the Houston MLS data reflects that:

  • 4 of the last 6 months in Houston, the Average Sales Price has gone up
  • Every month, the percentage of sales price to list price has gone up

So, don't let the national news scare you into thinking that you need to wait until things get better when it comes to making a real estate move, the signs are there that things are better.  Just recently, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs has made down payment and closing cost assistance money available in Pearland and surrounding areas for a limited time, up to $20,000 to first time home buyers or those who have not owned a home in the last 3 years. (Click here to find out more information on this program).   Interest rates are still historically low, in fact, we just had a customer close with a 3.5% interest rate!

Opportunities like this cannot last, take advantage of it now.  If you would like additional information, please don't hesitate to contact me at or 713-733-8200 and become a fan of The Cindy Cristiano Team on Facebook!

10 Ways to Prepare for Homeownership!


1. Decide what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.

2. Develop your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list.

3. Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods youd like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.

4. Start saving.Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, dont forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs including taxes, attorneys fee, and transfer fees average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.

5. Get your credit in order.Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.

6. Determine your mortgage qualifications.How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, explore different loan options such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs and decide whats best for you.

7. Get preapproved.
Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.

8. Weigh other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money youve saved to buy your first home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.

9. Calculate the costs of homeownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.

10. Contact The Cindy Cristiano Team! We are educated REALTORS® with a combined 47 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE, who can help guide you through the process from beginning to end.

**Don't forget to browse my website for lots more helpful tips on beginning your home search or set up your own custom property search tailored specifically to your housing needs&wish list!!

8 Quick Fixes To Increase Value!


To attract buyers, sellers must up the ante to convince them that their property offers what many want most top value for dollar expended. Here are eight fast fixes:

1. Buff up curb appeal. You've heard it before, but it's critical to get buyers to want to look on the inside. Be objective. View listings from the street. Check the condition of the landscaping, paint, roof, shutters, front door, knocker, windows, house number, and even how window treatments look from the outside. Add something special such as big flower pots or an antique bench to help viewers remember house A from B.

2. Enrich with color. Paint is cheap, but forget the adage that it must be white or neutral. Just don't get too avant-garde with jarring pinks, oranges, and purples. Recommend soft colors that say welcome, lead the eye from room to room, and flatter skin tones. Think soft yellows and pale greens. Tint ceilings a lighter shade.

3. Upgrade the kitchen and bathroom. These make-or-break rooms can spur a sale. But besides making each squeaky clean and clutter-free, update the pulls, sinks, and faucets. In a kitchen, add one cool appliance, such as an espresso maker. In the bathroom, hang a flat-screen TV to mimic a hotel. Room service, anyone?

4. Add old-world patina. Make Andrea Palladio proud. Install crown molding at least six to nine inches in depth, proportional to the rooms size, and architecturally compatible. For ceilings nine feet high or higher, add dentil detailing, small tooth-shaped blocks used as a repeating ornament. It's all in the details, after all.

5. Screen hardwood floors. Buyers favor wood over carpet, but refinishing is costly and time-consuming. Screening cuts dust, time, and expense. What it entails: a light sanding, not a full stripping of color or polyurethane, then a coat of finish.

6. Clean out, organize closets. Get sorting, organize your piles into don't need, haven't worn, and keep. Closets must be only half-full so buyers can visualize fitting their stuff in.

7. Update window treatments. Buyers want light and views, not dated, fancy-schmancy drapes that darken. To diffuse light and add privacy, consider energy-efficient shades and blinds.

8. Hire a home inspector. Do a preemptive strike, since busy home owners seek maintenance-free living. Fix problems before you list the home and then display receipts and wait for buyers to offer kudos to sellers for being so responsible.

Sources: Ernie Roth, Roth Interiors, Los Angeles; Angel Petragallo, abr, Group One, Boise, Idaho; Melissa Galt, Galt Interiors, Atlanta; Steve Kleiman, CEO, Oakington Realty, Houston; Sid Davis, Sid Davis&Associates, Farmington, Utah, and author of First-Time Homeowners Survival Guide (Amacom, 2007); Steve Hochman, Friendly Note Buyers, Roxbury, N.Y.; Margi Kyle, designer and spokesperson for Hunter Douglas.

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