Houston Area Water Restrictions – Updated 8/16/11

August 16, 2011

by Christi Borden

 

Municipality Lawns Address Times Allowed Days Allowed Pools Restricted
           
City of Houston Yes Even 8p-10a Su, Th No
City of Houston Yes Odd 8p-10a Sa, Weds No
           
Galveston Yes All None None Yes
           
The Woodlands Yes Even 8p-4a Even No
The Woodlands Yes Odd 8p-4a Odd No
           
League City Yes All None None Yes
           
San Leon Yes All None None Yes
           
Bacliff Yes All None None Yes
           
Kemah Yes All None None Yes
           
Clear Lake Shores Yes All None None Yes
           
Jamaica Beach Yes All None None Yes
           
Bayou Vista Yes All None None Yes
           
Omega Bay Yes All None None Yes

 

City of Houston

Residents at even-numbered street addresses can water their lawns on Sundays and Thursdays, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. Residents with odd-numbered addresses can water on Saturdays and Wednesdays, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m.

Any detectable water leaks would have to be repaired within 72 hours.

Failure to comply with the restrictions could result in hundreds of dollars in fines.

The Woodlands

The Woodlands went from a Stage 1 to a Stage 3 drought contingency plan on Thursday. James Stinson, General Manager for the MUDs said, “Lawn watering restrictions are now mandatory.” Residents with a programmable water controller can water no more than twice a week and cycles must be complete by 4:00 a.m.”

Homes with even address are allowed to water only on even calendar days and odd addresses are allowed to water on odd days, and then only twice a week.

Galveston

The city of Galveston has banned all lawn watering and car washing. Those wishing to wash their motor vehicles can do so on designated days before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m. The designated days for areas east of 103rd Street are Mondays and Thursdays. For residents who live west of 103rd Street, their designated days are Wednesdays and Saturdays.

League City

League City enacted Stage 5 of the city’s drought contingency plan on Friday, implementing arguably the strictest of mandatory water restrictions in the Houston area. Residents in League City are banned from watering lawns, washing their vehicles and refilling their pools. The city has gone as far as prohibiting restaurants from serving water, unless requested. Residents caught violating the restrictions could be given up to a $500 fine.

Texas City

Irrigation of landscaped areas with hose-end sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems shall be limited to designated watering days and hours. However, irrigation of landscaped areas is permitted at anytime if it is by means of a hand-held hose, a faucet filled bucket or watering can of five gallons or less, or a drip irrigation system.

Even number addresses can water on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Odd number addresses can water on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.

MUD 12, San Leon MUD and Bacliff MUD

No outdoor watering including for landscaping or car washing.

 

 

Galveston County — Other

Besides League City and Galveston, other cities in the county are also under mandatory water bans. Instituting the bans are Jamaica Beach, Texas City, the San Leon Municipal Utility District, the Bacliff Municipal Utility District, the Water Control and Improvement District 12, which covers Kemah and Clear Lake Shores and Municipal Utility District 12, which serves Bayou Vista, Omega Bay and old Bayou Vista. MUD 12 had not set a start date for the restrictions, which will ban all outdoor water use, according to a phone alert sent by the district.

 

 

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Public Open House Etiquette by a Realtor!

June 24, 2011

by Christi Borden, Realtor

Who doesn’t love to visit an Open House? Come on, you know you do. Go ahead … admit it. You love to see the decorations, to peek inside your neighbor’s home (who never invited you over the entire time they lived there), to learn more about what homes are going for in your area, or to check it out before giving your Realtor a call.

Either way, there are a few bits of advice I can give while visiting a Public Open House.

1. Follow House Rules: Seller may wish for you to remove shoes prior to entering. This may be due to nasty weather, new flooring or a cultural preference. Just ask the Realtor or Host on duty if removing shoes is expected.

2. Monitor Your Kids: Homeowners really expect parents to stay with their children at all times and to make sure nothing is touched or damaged. I have seen many visitors arrive and while the parents are involved with viewing the home, their kids are all over the place – totally unsupervised. The Realtor or Host cannot be expected to babysit or to monitor visiting kids. Please, please keep them with you as the home could experience damage that you quite possibly could be held liable for.

3. Go Before You Arrive: I am often amazed at visitors asking to use the Seller’s bathroom. The Seller’s home is a private residence and as such, unless vacant and only with permission from the Realtor or Host on duty, should you assume that it is okay to use the facilities. Seller’s have prepared the home for viewing… not using.

4. Have a Realtor? Tell Us: You will be asked by the Realtor or Host on duty for your contact information. Sometimes our clients request this information, as they want to know who has visited their home. And many times, the Realtor on Duty would like to contact you to send you more information and to try to develop a future relationship with you. This is not a bad thing and can be very helpful for visitors that are not currently under a written representation agreement with another Realtor. But if you already have such a relationship with a Realtor, simply let us know who it is. We are happy to send them more information about the property you have visited. We all want to honor your relationship with your Realtor but cannot do so if we do not know about it. This is actually a Code of Ethics issue with the National Association of Realtors, which all Realtors must follow.

5. Tell Us What You Think: Don’t be shy… Are we priced right? Do we show well? Are you considering this home? If not, is there anything that our Sellers can do to make your short list? By providing such valuable feedback, you are helping us help our Seller know exactly what the public thinks about the home. And feel free to ask us questions. If we do not know the answer, we will do our best to find it. If answering your questions will help sell the property, we are more than happy to help.

As a Realtor, we love having you visit our Open Houses. In fact, that is why we give up our valuable family time on weekends… just for you. Help us make it pleasant for you and for our Sellers. Happy house hunting and support your local hardworking Realtor by visiting an Open House today!!!


Home Seller: Your “To Do” List Prior to a Home Inspection.

February 22, 2011

by christiborden

Home Inspection Approaches

So you finally have a contract on your home. Congratulations! Now, your buyer has ordered an independent inspection. Believe me, this is a good thing. When so many real estate transactions end in court due to disclosure items, inspections are a wonderful way for both parties to be aware of the condition of the property and hopefully resolve any such issues up front. You should applaud a buyer that thinks enough of his investment to hire an inspector. I am always worried about buyers who don’t. In fact, I would rather not represent a buyer that declines to inspect, even new construction.

Even though it is probably too late to make major repairs prior to the inspection, there are some things a seller can do to help the inspection go well for both parties and most of these items are simply the little nagging, honey-do type of things that we, as homeowners, tend to get used to and ignore.

  • Let there be light: Check all light bulbs and replace those not working. An inspector is not going to test the fixture itself but may call it as a deficiency and recommend that it be examined by a licensed electrician. Quite a costly repair for a blown bulb.
  • Water, water everywhere: Repair any leaking faucets, water fixtures, irrigation systems, etc. If you do not know how to do it, hire a plumber. If you are aware of rotten wood on the exterior of your home, this is usually flagged for repair.
  • Heating, Cooling and More: How long has it been since your systems have been serviced? How long has it been since you changed your filters and cleaned your vents? A well-maintained home will shine at an inspection, helping you and your buyer keep the transaction together.
  • Access to your home: Make sure there is access to your breaker box, the heater/air conditioner, water heater, etc. If your personal belongings block these important items, the inspector will not inspect it causing the buyer to either accept an incomplete inspection, having to pay an additional fee for a further inspection or he may just pull out of the deal completely.
  • Disclose, Disclose, Disclose: Please click here to read my past blog about your responsibility as a Seller to disclose. This is not something to take lightly or to ignore. If you know about it something that you, as a buyer, would want to know about a property, disclose. Even if you have made a repair, it is required to let them know the issue existed.

That should get you started on your way to having your property ready for the inspection. If you have questions about this or other items, contact your Realtor or your real estate attorney for advice regarding the inspection report and repairs. Also, in the State of Texas, you are required to disclose this and any other property inspection performed within the last four years and must note same on the Seller’s Disclosure Notice.

I hope this has helped you and wish you a safe and stress-free journey toward your closing.

Disclaimer: My name is Christi Borden. I am a licensed real estate agent in the State of Texas and a member of the National Association of REALTORS. As such, I adhere to a strict code of ethics and all laws with regard to equal housing, which is reflected in the content of this blog. My broker is Prudential GARY GREENE, REALTORS, 23922 Cinco Village Center, Suite 123, Katy TX 77494. My TX Real Estate License number is 0517398. All of the opinions in this blog are mine, unless otherwise noted.


Home Design and Future Trends

January 14, 2011

Home design is fluid and ever changing. Many features we clamor for today may be passé tomorrow. Remember white kitchen cabinets? At one time, this was THE top wished for item and now… It is dated and unwanted. Corian countertops… All the rage in the 1990’s but now, nowhere near the top of choices.

What changes can we expect in the near future?

Based on responses to a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), here are some ways in which builders can expect homes to change by as early as 2015:

Single-family homes will get smaller (74 percent of respondents said).

Homes will have more “green” features (68 percent).

Homes will have more technology features (29 percent).

Homes will have more universal access features (20 percent).

Homes will have more outdoor living features, such as kitchens and fireplaces (10 percent).

The average home size will be roughly 2,150 sf.

Living rooms will merge with other spaces in the home (52 percent), vanish to save on square footage (30 percent), or become a parlor/retreat/library or music room (13 percent).

If the living room doesn’t vanish, it will likely decrease in size (76 percent).

Also downsizing are the entry foyer (66 percent) and dining room (63 percent).

Features “very likely” to be included in a new home in 2015 include a kitchen-living room combo (“great room”), walk-in closet in master bedroom, laundry room and two-car garage.

“Unlikely” features include three or more bathrooms, mudroom, unheated porch, dining room, skylights, three-car garage, four or more bedrooms, media room and two master bedroom suites.

Homebuyers are “somewhat likely” to want universal design features such as stepless entries, three-foot-wide doorways and four-foot-wide hallways, stepless showers that have seating, non-slip floor surfaces and grab bars in bathrooms.

People seem likely to lavish more attention on the kitchen, ensuring that room will retain its status as the home’s social center. Survey respondents said they are “very likely” to want double sinks, recessed lighting, table space for eating and breakfast bars. They’re “somewhat likely” to want a central island, walk-in pantry, recycling center and desk/computer area.


Texas: A Proposed Sales Tax on Real Estate –

January 12, 2011

Texas, like many states, is currently facing an economic shortfall and our Legislators are scrambling to make up the difference. There are many proposed bills being brought for consideration to try to shore up the State’s coffers. While I realize the money has to come from somewhere, an informed consumer is wise consumer.

Political party affiliations aside, as a Realtor, I am a fierce proponent of private property rights. I will be running a series of discussions about the proposed bills to share available information so that you aware of items that could negatively impact your property rights and your pocket-book.

Taxes on real estate transactions: Combined State and Local sales tax rate would be applied when a property is sold or changes ownership and on long-term leases.

This is similar to buying a car now but could come into play whether a home is bought, sold, or transfers ownership due to divorce, probate, etc. The position of the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) is that this will actually drive down the number of transactions and potentially  increase the future tax rates needed to cover earmarked expenditures, burdening both buyers and sellers and hurting the real estate market and the Texas Economy.

As a Buyer: This would certainly eat into the cash reserves for your down payment, repairs, furnishings, etc. And if your margins for borrowing are narrow, this could actually diminish the amount you can finance or size of home you can purchase.

As a Seller: This will eat into the equity or net proceeds you walk away with from the sale and could end up raising the costs of housing in your area.

As a Tenant/Landlord: One concern is what will be designated as a “long-term lease” and how much will this impact lease costs because someone has to bear the expense:  landlord, tenant or both. As an investor, this could certainly impact your ROI.

What are your thoughts on this proposed sales tax item?


Christi Borden, Realtor receives the “Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®)” Designation

August 6, 2010

Professional negotiation skills a must for all real estate agents helping home buyers/sellers, especially in current market

Christi Borden, a Relocation and International Property Specialist with Prudential Gary Greene in Katy, TX has been awarded the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®) designation by the Real Estate Negotiation Institute.  The CNE® is earned by real estate professionals by successfully completing formal training in the art of negotiation and persuasion.  Agents who receive this certification are in the top 1% of all agents nationally.

With professional negotiation skills, agents are able to help clients obtain better results in the sale or purchase of their home.  CNE® agents have a powerful competitive edge because of their ability to 1) uncover more information, 2) work collaboratively with others, 3) exchange value during sales/purchase negotiations, and 4) retain control over desired outcomes.  Bottom line, CNE® agents know how to influence and persuade others more effectively than agents without professional negotiation training. 

The Real Estate Negotiation Institute, the leading negotiation training and coaching company in the real estate industry (based in Peoria, AZ) provides the CNE® certification training.  Tom Hayman, the CEO and co-founder of the Real Estate Negotiation Institute, is a professional negotiator with 35+ years of experience, including 25 years with The Procter and Gamble Company, a Fortune 50 company.  Hayman asserts “Any Buyer or Seller who hires a CNE® agent can feel confident that they have the best trained agent in the business.  They will get superior results and have better resolution of any issues when hiring a CNE® agent.”

 For more information call me at 281-492-5984 or visit http://www.theRENI.com.


Home-Buyers Beware: Your Decisions Today Can Cost You Tomorrow!

July 27, 2010

by christiborden

Today is the day! You have spent hours and hours looking for and now think you have found the perfect home, right? Who cares if your Realtor has maybe mentioned a few aspects of the property that might have a negative affect on your market value when and if you sell. You love the home, the price is right and you are certain that any issues mentioned will be minimized in the future. No need to worry about that now, right?

Before you make that leap, please keep in mind that your Realtor should be an expert in the area you are purchasing and should be aware of conditions that could negatively impact your home’s value and marketability. I am not speaking of state required disclosures but simple items that historically have made a difference between identical homes selling quickly and at market value or languishing on the market and selling for far less than the competition.

Why is it that two homes can be in the same community, be of similar size and age, maybe even the same floor plan, and still differ widely as to market value and marketability?

First and foremost, the old mantra of “LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION” still stands true. There are simply some location features or benefits that buyers will pay more for and conversely, there are negative features that will drive future buyers away forever. These factors can differ from area to area and what turns off a buyer in the suburbs is simply an unavoidable fact of life in urban environments and visa versa.

Adjacent communities could vary widely in average sales price depending upon the amenities they offer, actual builders constructing the homes and the developer’s reputation for upholding their resident’s market value. A Realtor’s knowledge of the community is crucial to making an informed decision.

In Katy, TX – We have communities that back to one another yet the same home by the same or similar builder will cost thousands more on one side of the fence than the other? Why is that? Strength and reputation of community can affect sales values. And guess what? If the home costs more at purchase, chances it may sell for more than the competition in the future. This is not a given but should be considered if you think saving a little money today is your only consideration.

Items to consider with regard to your lot location that can have a direct negative impact on your future market value: power lines in backyard, backing or siding to a busy roadway, backing to MUD water storage facilities, backing to commercial developement, etc.

Alternatively, favorable features that could be a positive in the future: backing to green space, golf course, lake or water, wooded areas, etc. Most builders or developers will charge a premium to purchase a lot with these positive features but you usually recoup this expense when you go to sell.

So what is a buyer to do? Just take a step back and consider carefully that it is not only the home you purchase but your surroundings as well. And it is far easier to change things you may not love about the home itself than to change things that might be an external detriment down the road.

Ask your Realtor their opinion… and happy House Hunting!