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MOVING TIPS 101

June 17th, 2016 By Laura Austin in Blog.

Whether you are moving to a different state, or down the road, moving is something that you need to prepare for. There are many different tips and tricks to a successful and stress free move, and I have compiled a few to help you get prepared.

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  • Label, Label, Label! Label every box. You need to label it with a brief description of what is in the box and what room it needs to go into. You can go as far as creating an inventory sheet and numbering the boxes so you know exactly what is in every box. This may be very time consuming, so as long as you have a general description and the room it goes in on the box, that should be helpful.

 

  • Pack “Open First” Boxes. When you first move, it is very overwhelming. By the time you unload the truck, you will be tired, hungry, and ready to relax. Make sure you have boxes that you label “Open First.” There should be kitchen basics such as a pan, pot, utensils, coffee pot, and any other necessities. The next box should have bathroom necessities such as toiletries, shower curtains, towels, and etc. Another must have “Open First” box is for bedding. You need sheets, pillows, pillowcases, and blankets for each bed. These “Open First” boxes will be a lifesaver after a long, hard day of moving.

 

  • Get rid of stuff before you move! This might seem obvious, but don’t move things that you aren’t going to keep. If you are planning on having a yard sale after you move, forget it! Do you really want to pack and unpack things just to sell them? Have a moving sale before you leave, and anything that doesn’t sell have picked up for donation. Don’t take unwanted items with you to your new home!

 

  • Pack food and drinks. Prepare for moving day. Pack plenty of food. This includes healthy snacks, water, and lunch. Don’t pack any heavy foods or sodas, as you will need good, solid food, and plenty of water during moving day.

 

  • Make sure you have enough supplies! It is hard to stay motivated if you have to keep running to the store for supplies. If you see you are getting low on boxes, get more before you run out! Make sure you have plenty of packing tape and black markers to mark everything.

 

BUILDING A NEW HOME – PART 2: ASK THESE CRITICAL QUESTIONS

May 13th, 2016 By Laura Austin in Blog.

 

In Part 1 of our Building a New Home Series, we talked about some of the pros and cons of buying versus building. In Part 2, we’ll discuss some of the critical questions you need to ask the builder before you choose to sign any contracts.

  1. What features in the model are standard versus upgrade?

Most builders want to show off the high end of their quality spectrum in the model homes, and unsuspecting buyers get a good dose of sticker shock when they price out their home with the model features they fell in love with. Understanding what is standard versus upgrade will help you make smart choices. Builders typically have huge mark-ups on luxury features. You may save a lot of money by taking the standard feature and upgrading later.

  1. What are the future plans for the subdivision?

If you are buying into a new subdivision, you may have to deal with long-term construction hassles, noise, and other inconveniences. Also, if the builder plans to bring in other builders or sell off some of the hard-to-sell lots to other builders, there is a risk that a lower quality home may go in next door. This can impact your property values. You’ll also want to know if any parks or pools or community spaces are planned.

  1. Do you offer any warranties?

It’s critical to understand what the builder will cover if you have issues down the road. Some equipment may be covered under a manufacturer’s warranty, such as appliances and HVAC, but you also should understand what the builder will repair if there are workmanship issues, such as a leaky roof or a wet basement. Don’t be caught unawares. It could cost you…a lot.

  1. What restrictions will homeowners have to abide by under the Homeowner’s Association rules?

If you dream of having an urban farm and want to raise chickens in your backyard, you may be pretty dismayed to find out later that your HOA may not allow it. Other common restrictions include no mini-barns or fences, no working on cars in your driveway, and no boats or RVs parked on your lot. Find out BEFORE you sign any contracts what you can and can’t do on your own property, and decide if you are ok with that.

  1. What incentives can the builder offer for using their in-house or preferred lender?

Many builders don’t want to negotiate on price. Those negotiated prices show up in the comps, and word will get out that other buyers got a lower price on the same floorplan/elevation. However, the builder may be willing to work with you on some of the closing costs, or throw in a few upgrades if you use their preferred lender. Do your homework, though. Make sure you check with other lenders before deciding, because other outside lenders may offer better terms.

Always use a Realtor®

The builder’s representative is not looking out for your best interests. They are compensated by selling houses and convincing people to add costly upgrades. A Buyer’s Agent commission is built into the builder’s marketing budget, and costs you nothing. Not having someone on your side of the table who understands the contracts and where the hidden fees are, and who can ensure you are getting the most favorable terms and negotiate on your behalf, may result in you paying significantly more than you need to for your dream home.

If you are thinking about building or buying, let me know. As a Certified New Home Buyers Representative and a Certified New Home Sales Professional, REALTY TEXAS LCA, Inc. and I can help you take the mystery out of purchasing a new home and protect your interests during the negotiation and contract process. Call me, Laura Austin, at (281) 789-2911 or (936) 321-2977, or email me at Laura@RealtyTx.net. You can also visit me at mywebsite for available listings and additional information.


 

BUILDING A NEW HOME – PART 1: BUYING VS BUILDING

March 12th, 2016 By Laura Austin in Blog. Tags: 

In Part 1 of our Building a New Home Series, we’ll talk a bit about some of the important considerations when deciding to build versus purchasing an existing home. In the coming weeks, we will showcase some area builders and new subdivisions.

If you have ever shopped for a new home, then you understand the frustration when you are unable to find that perfect little abode that meets all your must-haves. Location, amenities, layout, storage space, décor – there is always something that is just not quite right.

Have you thought about building a new home? Many home buyers find this to be the answer to their conundrum, as building allows you to build your dream home exactly as you like it. It’s a great option, but as with any life-altering decision, there are pros and cons.

Pro: Everything is new – When you build, you don’t have to worry about the cost of remodeling and updating. Cabinets, countertops, flooring…everything reflects your style from the moment you move in. Because appliances and major systems are new, you can also benefit from the manufacturer’s and builder’s warranties, which eliminate the need to purchase a warranty, and may even lower your insurance versus an older home.

Pro: Higher resale value – Newer homes tend to command a higher resale value because the design standards of today are often more stringent than they were decades ago. Newer homes are often built with “green” features, which appeal to concerned buyers, and the floorplans are often more desirable than your average 1970’s ranch home.

Con: Time – Let’s face it, when you are ready to move, you want to do it now, not a year from now. But building a new home often means waiting up to a year before you can move in. If you sell your home before the new house is built, then you may also have to pay for temporary housing for the interim, which drives costs up. With existing homes, you take possession at closing, typically within 30-60 days after the offer is accepted. Also a consideration is YOUR time. Building a home means you will be spending a lot of your valuable time checking in on progress and making sure that all the agreements with the builder are completed.

Con: Cost – This is an issue that new home buyers really need to give some consideration. Depending on the builder, you may have to carry a construction loan to cover the build, until final closing when your mortgage takes effect. Interest rates on construction loans are typically higher than a mortgage. Also, all the new bells and whistles you see in the model home may actually be very costly upgrades. You have to be diligent to not let your excitement of building your dream home override your common sense when you are negotiating the design features you want. If you buy an existing home, you may avoid some of these budget-draining issues, but you may still be faced with the cost of upgrading/remodeling the home to fit your needs.

These are just a few of the things to consider. There are many more pros and cons to new construction that you should evaluate before deciding. It’s always a good idea to work with a licensed Realtor, even when building. The job of the builder’s agent is to sell your home, and obtain the best possible profit for the builder. A professional Realtor can present your interests and help you negotiate the best deal.

If you want to know more, check out these great articles:

 

If you are thinking about building or buying, let me know. As a Certified New Home Buyers Representative and a Certified New Home Sales Professional, REALTY TEXAS LCA, Inc. and I can help you take the mystery out of purchasing a new home and protect your interests during the negotiation and contract process. Call me, Laura Austin, at (281) 789-2911 or (936) 321-2977, or email me at Laura@RealtyTx.net. You can also visit me at mywebsite for available listings and additional information.


 

WHY YOU NEED A BUYER’S AGENT

March 18th, 2016 By Laura Austin in Blog.


Purchasing a home is very thrilling and a major life change you should be prepared for. If you don’t have the essential knowledge of the buying process, it could end up costing you thousands of dollars. When you go to a home for sale, you will meet the seller’s agent. This agent only represents the seller’s best interests. You need somebody to represent only your best interests, and I am fully qualified to do that.

A Buyer’s Agent is there to make sure you get everything you want in your new home. The contracts can legally protect you as a buyer if understood and done correctly. Here are a few reasons why you should hire a buyer’s agent in the Conroe area.

  1. It is Free!! – There is no cost!

The buyer’s agent fees have already been decided in the listing agreement by the seller who normally pays my fee of 3% allowing you to have FREE representation. However, there are rare occasions where they decide to pay less than my fee. I will always inform you before seeing the home so you will have the choice to proceed with paying the difference or continuing your home search.

  1. Knowledge and Education

A Buyer’s Agent knows the local market best. I have multiple buyer’s designations that you can read about herewhich extend my qualifications above and beyond the average agent. I have experience with compiling CMA’s (Comparative Market Analysis) and explaining it to you so you will understand the current market in Conroe.

  1. Attention to Detail

Walking through the home before closing is very important. I have the understanding and attention to detail to see if there is something amiss. If there are damages or repairs undone, I will inform you so that you can make the best decision.

  1. Circle of Influence

I have listing agents all around the area in my address book. I can reach out to them to possibly find you the perfect home before it hits the market. I will also have more resources to find a home with everything you are looking for.

  1. Calm Advice

You find the perfect home. It has everything you want. You love it, so you ignore the fact that it needs a new roof. That is a big repair! I will remain level-headed and provide honest advice in a situation like that.

  1. Contract Know-How

The paperwork with a home purchase seems like it can go on for days, and it contains a lot of terms you are not familiar with. I am very familiar with these contracts and can verify any contingencies requested are in place.

  1. Financing

Mortgages and companies can be very competitive, and honestly, overwhelming. I can explain the different financing options available to you and will assist with finding the right lender.

  1. Negotiations

As soon as you decide to put in an offer on the home you love, the negotiations begin. The listing agent knows how to price the home to make sure their client receives the most they can. You should have a buyer’s agent represent you because we know the different negotiation strategies and can help you come out of the process happy with the end result.

Buyer’s agents can save you a lot of time, money, and frustrations. Allow me to represent you and your dreams. You don’t have to start your home buying process all alone. REALTY TEXAS LCA, Inc. is here to help you with all of your real estate needs! If you are looking to buy or sell, call me, Laura Austin, at (281) 789-2911 or (936) 321-2977, or email me at Laura@RealtyTx.net. You can also visit me at my website for available listings and additional information.


 

DON’T MAKE THESE BUYER MISTAKES!

February 6th, 2016 By Laura Austin in Blog.

 

Are you getting ready to buy a home? It is a very exciting adventure. An adventure I am sure you want to start as soon as possible. Before you buy, make sure you aren’t making any of these mistakes! Buying a home is a big commitment, and you want to make sure you are fully ready to commit.

Don’t rush things. Home buying can be a long process. Finding the perfect home with all of the amenities you want, in a good neighborhood, and with the right size yard can take some time. A lot of buyers don’t want to take that time and end up regretting it after they move in. Put the extra leg-work in, and you will be much happier in the long run.

Be aware of the community around the home. Drive around the neighborhood at different hours of the day and night to get a feel for what goes on around the home. You might love the home, but find out that there is something you don’t like about the area after you buy.

Did you research the home? This might seem like an obvious thing to do, but if you don’t have a market analysis done for the home you want, you might not have researched enough. I can help you determine if the asking price is fair, what you should offer, and what contingencies you should add to your offer to make sure you are protected.

Don’t pass up a home inspection! You are buying this home, for better or worse. If you don’t get a home inspection, it could be for worse! Make sure you know what you are getting. A home inspection can prevent you from moving into a home with major or minor problems.

Envision yourself living there. When you walk into a home don’t assume your items will fit like those of the current owners do. You will be bringing your own furniture and décor. Make sure you can envision these things in the home. Many people buy a home to find out that nothing they own will actually fit right. You don’t want to have to buy all new things.

Buying the biggest and most expensive house is not always a wise move. Consider if you really need that much space because if you ever decide to sell, you will need to find a buyer looking for that big of a home, too. The most expensive home on the block also most likely won’t appreciate and go up in value, so equity will be hard to come by.

You don’t have to start your home buying process all alone. Don’t make these buyer mistakes! REALTY TEXAS LCA, Inc. is here to help you with all of your real estate needs! If you are looking to buy or sell, call me, Laura Austin, at (281) 789-2911 or (936) 321-2977, or email me at Laura@RealtyTx.net. You can also visit me at mywebsite for available listings and additional information.


 

SELLING YOUR HOME: BEYOND STAGING

December 14th, 2015 By Laura Austin in Blog.

 

It’s fairly common advice in the real-estate market for sellers to de-clutter, improve curb appeal, etc., prior to putting a house on the market. Everyone in your neighborhood who is planning to sell a house in the coming months is getting the same advice. Your home will be competing for buyer interest. How do you get the edge?

Here are a few tips for you to consider:

  • Do your research before hiring a realtor. A vast majority of new home purchasers have embraced the online shopping experience. The proliferation of online resources such as Zillow and Trulia have made it possible to narrow the home search before attending a single open house or showing. You must have a Realtor® who is savvy with the online marketing. You want your home to be one that buyers “like” and want to see. Contact meto learn more about how I leverage online marketing to successfully sell homes in Conroe and surrounding areas.

 

  • Make those pesky small repairs. Most sellers prefer to price the home as-is, or negotiate away some repair and basic maintenance issues when haggling over price. But think about it from the buyer’s perspective. They walk into a showing, opening up doors, turning on faucets, looking through windows. If your windows are foggy, or if you have doors that stick, or faucets that leak, it will leave an impression. If a house down the street is more move-in ready, the buyers could gravitate away from your home. Set a budget, keep repairs cost effective, but do as much as you can to leave the best impression possible.

 

  • Choose larger updates that yield the best pay-of Think kitchen. Kitchens sell homes. If you are going to spend any remodeling dollars at all, spend them in the room most likely to get an 85% or more payoff. Even a few budget-minded updates can yield a big difference in your selling price. Spruce up cabinets with new hardware, apply a fresh coat of neutral paint, maybe even swap out the countertops if your budget will allow. Potential buyers will be quick to offer much lower than your asking price if the kitchen looks dated. Anything you can do to freshen it up will help.

 

  • Make your home accessible. Nothing is more frustrating for a buyer (and a buyer’s agent, who has some level of influence over potential buyers), than difficulty scheduling a showing. If you need three-day’s notice for a showing then you may want to evaluate if now is the right time for you to sell. Successful home sellers are often able to accommodate same-day showings, and this may give you an edge over other homes for sale in your neighborhood.

 

If you are ready to sell your home, contact me! I can help you get through the process, and complete closing!REALTY TEXAS LCA, Inc. is here to help you with all of your real estate needs! Call me, Laura Austin, at (281) 789-2911 or (936) 321-2977, or email me at Laura@RealtyTx.net. You can also visit me at my website for available listings and additional information.


 

FIRST TIME HOMEBUYER TIPS

August 8th, 2015 By Laura Austin in Blog.

 

If you are buying your first home, you have probably already started researching what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, and talking to everybody you know about it. That is a great idea! I have compiled a list of things that you should focus on as a first-time homebuyer that you might not have considered yet.

  1. Research funding: If you haven’t talked to a lender yet, now is the time. While you are there, ask about grants and other possible funding options. Your occupation might help you find funding assistance.
  1. Think long term: If you are planning on being in the home for more than a couple of years, make sure you consider the future. Are you planning on having kids? Do you have any family who might need to stay with you in the future?
  1. Think about re-sale: If you are planning to stay in the home for a couple of years, or 30, you should always think about the re-sale aspect. Consider the school districts, the neighborhood, and other things that would affect you selling the home in the future.
  1. Make a checklist: Every homebuyer should make a checklist to bring with them when they see homes. This should include your must-have list, your want list, and any additional items or features you are looking for. If you need to, take pictures as you go so that you can remember which house had what. When you start looking at homes, it is hard to remember one from the other.
  1. Write down expenses: Buying a home comes with additional monthly and yearly expenses. Write down your estimated utilities, taxes, insurance, home maintenance, and even your commuting costs. Once you have all of this written out, make sure you can still afford to live there.
  1. Read the contract: It will be overwhelming when you start filling out the paperwork. Go through it all and read it. Understanding the terms is very important, and if there is something you don’t understand, I will be there to answer your questions.

When you are ready to buy your first home, these tips should get you started! REALTY TEXAS LCA, Inc. is here to help you with all of your real estate needs! If you are looking to buy or sell, call me, Laura Austin, at (281) 789-2911 or (936) 321-2977, or email me at Laura@RealtyTx.net. You can also visit me at my website for available listings and additional information.


 

SENIOR REAL ESTATE SPECIALISTS: SRES DESIGNATION

June 19th, 2015 By Laura Austin in Blog.

sres

As a member of the community and a Real Estate Professional, I feel it is part of my job to help you fully understand the real estate process and how to select an agent that is best qualified to meet your needs. One of these qualifications is the SRES Designation given to realtors that successfully complete courses designed to teach the agent how to best meet the needs of seniors, looking for a home.

For each stage of life the needs, wants and goals of a new home adapt and change. Newly retired seniors are ready to embrace retirement in the selection of a home with flexibility, low maintenance and amenities to embrace the new freedom the active senior has found in retirement. Other seniors desire a home that allows the senior to transition gracefully to the next chapter of life. The Senior Real Estate Specialist or SRES is fully equipped and knowledgeable to meet your specific and unique needs. The SRES agent has the ability to help you fully understand how your needs change as you age.

The SRES is properly trained and understands how to work with caretakers, estate planners, CPAs, eldercare lawyers and family members in selecting the home that allows the senior to remain at home longer and with a higher standard of living. The SRES is an expert of the area and knows the amenities that benefit a senior and understands how location impacts a senior when looking for a home. An SRES moves at the pace of the senior, providing information and details as fast as the senior requests or adapts the pace to provide time for the senior to take in new information and become comfortable with new aspects of the home.

Your SRES has a passion for working with seniors and making this time of life fulfilling and rewarding by helping in the process of selecting the best home. The SRES has a deep understanding and compassion during this transition, understanding that the move may be an emotional time for the senior and their family. The SRES will be at your side during each step of the real estate process and keeps your interests first. Selecting an SRES provides peace of mind knowing that you have chosen an agent that is specialized in your unique needs as a senior.

If you need a Senior Real Estate Specialist or know somebody who does, REALTY TEXAS LCA, Inc. is here to help you with all of your real estate needs! If you are looking to buy or sell, call me, Laura Austin, at (281)789-2911 or (936)321-2977 or email me at Laura@RealtyTx.net. You can also visit me at my website for available listings and additional information.


 

BUYER REAL ESTATE DESIGNATIONS & CERTIFICATIONS

June 9th, 2015 By Laura Austin in Blog.

 

TAHS             CSSBR           CNH

As a Real Estate Professional, I feel it is my job to keep you informed. There are a lot of different real estate designations, so I want to let you know what they mean! If you don’t know what they stand for, you won’t know what to look for to suit your current situation. I am here to help.

Last week I covered CDPECDRS, and SFR. This week I am covering the Buyer’s Agent designations and certifications that I hold: ABR, TAHS, CSSBR, CSP and Certified New Home Buyers Representative. ABR stands for Accredited Buyer’s Representative, CSSBR stands for Certified Short Sale Buyer Representative, TAHS is Texas Affordable Housing Specialist and CSP is Certified New Home Sale Professional. Less than 5% of all Realtors® have an ABR Designation. I focus on being the most knowledgeable person I can be in order to help you in any situation.

Being an ABR gives me access to current buyer information, updates, and specific buyer information in our area. These qualify me to represent a buyer with the most up-to-date information and trends.

CSSBR is focused on helping a buyer through a short sale purchase. Short sales are a unique type of transaction, and with this specialized training I can qualify the listing agent, calculate how much the lender needs to sell the home for to get what they need from the sale, help you through various short sale loan processes, and know which purchase contract terms will be approved by the lender.

As a Texas Affordable Housing Specialist, I am able to find down payment assistance, tax credits, and focus on special financing so I can creatively find people homes they thought they were unable to purchase.

Being a CSP means having specialized skills as a New Home Sales Counselor. With many years’ experience with working for the Builders as a New Home Sales Counselor, and now with the New Home Buyers Representative Certification, I am well-qualified to represent you in a new home purchase. The New Homes Sales Counselor works for the builder with the builders’ interests in mind. I would represent you, the buyer, with only your interests in mind.

These designations require extra classes and additional understanding of what it takes to be a buyer’s agent. I am confident and experienced as a buyer’s agent and am here to help you. I have gone above and beyond required mandatory education to make sure that I can take care of you to the best of my ability.

If you need Buyer Representation, or know somebody who does,

REALTY TEXAS LCA, Inc. is here to help you with all of your real estate needs! If you are looking to buy or sell, call me, Laura Austin, at (281)789-2911 or (936)321-2977, or email me at Laura@RealtyTx.net. You can also visit me at my website for available listings and additional information.


 

WHAT ARE CDPE, SFR, AND CDRS?

June 12th, 2015 By Laura Austin in Blog.

CDRSSFR

As a Real Estate Professional, I feel it is my job to keep you informed. There are a lot of different real estate designations, so I want to let you know what they mean! If you don’t know what they stand for, you won’t know what to look for to suit your current situation. I am here to help.

 

The first designations that I will cover are CDPE, CDRS, and SFR. CDPE stands for Certified Distressed Property Expert, CDRS stands for Certified Default Resolution Specialist, and SFR stands for Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource Certification. As a CDPE, CDRS, and SFR, I am able to give you valid information regarding foreclosure avoidance options and short sales, and help guide you through your real estate hardships.

 

I have gone above and beyond required mandatory education to make sure that I can take care of you to the best of my ability. I know how to assist you when you are in distress and really need a helping hand. I can show you the ways to prevent foreclosure and help you overcome your unique situation. I have focused my resources on finding the best ways to serve you and help you in your time of need.

 

If you need a Certified Distressed Property Expert, or know somebody who does,

REALTY TEXAS LCA, Inc. is here to help you with all of your real estate needs! If you are looking to buy or sell, call me, Laura Austin, at (281)789-2911 or (936)321-2977, or email me at Laura@RealtyTx.net. You can also visit me at my website for available listings and additional information.


 

YOUR CONROE, TX REAL ESTATE AGENT

April 23rd, 2013 By Laura Austin in Blog. Tags: 

It feels great to know that I am one of the top local real estate agents in Conroe, TX. My website has a ton of resources that can help you search for your new home. Feel free to use my website, free of charge and with no strings attached. If you need representation or just have any questions at all, I’m always here to help. Call me today!

FOR MORE CONROE, TX INFORMATION

 

CONTACT LAURA BOLIEU AUSTIN ABR, CDPE, CDRS, CSSBR, CHMS, CNE, CPRES, CSP, GRI, SFR, SRES, TAHS, CERTIFIED NEW HOME BUYERS REPRESENTATIVE BROKER - OWNER - REALTOR® AT 281-798-2911.

 

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Laura Bolieu Austin,
ABR, CDPE, CDRS, CSSBR, CHMS, MCNE, 
CPRES, CSP, GRI, SFR, SRES, TAHS,
Certified New Home Buyers Representative
TREC Instructor License #3569
Broker / Owner
945 Sgt. Ed Holcomb Blvd S
Conroe, TX 77304
Office: 936-321-2977
Cell: 281-798-2911
Email: Laura@RealtyTx.net

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Laura Austin | Realty Texas LCA, Inc. | Phone: 281-798-2911 | Email Me
945 Sgt. Ed Holcomb Blvd S Conroe, TX 77304