Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Essential Checklists for Homebuying and Selling

Spring has sprung, which means the housing market is in full bloom. Each year, roughly 40 percent of real estate transactions occur between the months of May and August. If you're feeling inspired to buy or sell a home soon, make sure you're prepared. Use these checklists to catch anything you may have missed. We're also here to help at Why I Love Houston Properties!
When You're Ready to Buy a Home
Purchasing a house is one of the biggest transactions you'll ever make. Whether it's your first time or the fifth, tackle the following prep work:
  • Calculate what you can afford. Use a home affordability calculator to make sure you're ready for the mortgage payments.
  • Check your credit score, and fix any inaccuracies you discover ASAP. Errors can impact your ability to get a good interest rate.
  • Save up for a down payment. Most lenders require 5 to 20 percent, and larger down payments can lower the amount you pay each month.
  • Be ready for additional closing costs. Plan to have approximately 4 percent of the home's purchase price on hand to cover taxes, fees and other necessary charges.
  • Re-evaluate your insurance coverage and update all of your policies, including life and car insurance.
When It's Time to Sell
Putting your home on the market is a process that can take months. Before you do, complete this home seller to-do list:
  • Declutter, clean and get your home ready to show. You only have one chance to make a first impression.
  • Take inventory of what needs to be fixed and make a schedule to complete any updates, such as roof work, new paint or landscaping.
  • Decide on an appropriate selling price. Pulling comps in your area can give you a better idea of your home's value.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Urban Homesteading: 3 Ways to Produce Your Own Food

From backyard and rooftop gardens to community plots in parks and vacant lots, urban agriculture has become a nationwide movement, and more homeowners have taken an interest in producing their own food. For many urban homesteaders, it stems from a desire to know where their food comes from and live more sustainably.
Are you interested in participating? These three small-scale projects are great places to start.
Raising Backyard Chickens
Chickens provide a relatively inexpensive, low-maintenance way to feed your family, plus they act as complimentary fertilizer and chemical-free pest control. Before you buy baby chicks, make sure you research and follow local laws, city ordinances and homeowner association rules. 
Kathlyn's Tip: Check out the Chicken Shack Strut in Galveston where you can tour coastal coops and hen houses on the island for inspiration! 
Taking Up Beekeeping
In the 1940s, America had five million beehives, and today, roughly half of those remain. A growing awareness of this drastic decline has led to an increase in urban beekeeping, to the tune of approximately 120,000 backyard beekeepers.
Becoming a beekeeper starts with a lot of research, followed by choosing the right equipment and bees. Don't want to care for an entire colony? Plant native flower and weed varieties that help encourage bee pollination and reproduction.
Kathlyn's Tip: If you're at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March, be sure to visit the Harris County Beekeepers exhibit for more information on beekeeping essentials. 
Gardening and Canning 
Whether it's a large plot or a small section, a personal garden gives you control. Plus, you can preserve fresh fruits and vegetables via the canning process. While many homesteaders use yields from their garden, others buy extra produce in its peak season. Canning veggies and fruits is a family-friendly activity that lets you enjoy seasonal produce all year long.
Though urban homesteading may seem intimidating at first, it's easier to start small. The projects above can help minimize your impact on the environment and allow you to take part in your own food production.
Kathlyn's Tip: Houston non-profit, Urban Harvest, offers classes on sustainable living, including canning your own garden bounty. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Why I Love Houston: Spring Break Staycation Destinations!

Go hunting for the perfect bluebonnet photo op during Spring Break!
Welcome to my Why I Love Houston series, where I share my favorite Houston experiences and excursions. My goal is to make my hometown of Houston more accessible to the ever-changing mix of folks adopting our amazing city as their home base and reminding natives of the hidden gems throughout H-town.

Why I love Houston...planning a Spring Break Houston Staycation!

For those of us who aren't heading out on road trips to Florida or a week on the slopes, there's plenty to do right here in Houston during Spring Break week.

Discovery Green has a full line-up of spring break fun for the whole family including the first ever outdoor roller rink in Houston! Rent skates there or bring your own and enjoy the downtown skyline view. The rink will be open from 11 am - 11 pm during March 13th-17th. In addition, Discovery Green hosts a variety of hands-activities where kids can create balloon boats, design gliders, and make a sound sandwich!

Enjoy the great outdoors inside the loop along Buffalo Bayou. The fun starts with the 45th Annual Buffalo Bayou Regatta on Saturday, March 11th. Greet the paddlers at the finish line at Sesquicentennial Park (500 block of Preston Street). Spring Break is also a great time to explore Buffalo Bayou Park by bike or paddle boat, both of which you can rent on location.

Check out the amazing arts and crafts workshops offered at the Asia Society during Spring Break. Their international roster of projects include scroll-making, origami, chalk drawings, and egg ornaments.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo runs through March 26th at NRG Park so round up the family for carnival rides and fried butter and oreos! Check out my recent blog post for Rodeo tips.

Finally, it's the perfect time of year to stage family photos against the backdrop of the Texas state flower! Bluebonnets are blossoming so keep your phones charged so you can pull over when inspiration strikes. I've seen them on Memorial Drive and there's usually patches popping up along White Oak Bayou. Or you can always take a day trip to Brenham to pose in their fields of blue!


Monday, March 6, 2017

Why I Love Houston: Rodeo Season!

Welcome to my Why I Love Houston Series, where I share my favorite Houston experiences and excursions. My goal is to make my hometown of Houston more accessible to the ever-changing mix of folks adopting our amazing city as their home base and reminding natives of the hidden gems throughout H-town.

Why I Love Houston...It's Rodeo Season!

This past weekend kicked off the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo with the welcoming of the Trail Riders at Memorial Park, the annual downtown parade, the fun run, and everyone's favorite BBQ contest! I'm looking forward to all the continued festivities taking place from March 7-26 at NRG Park.

Jean-Luc and I can't wait to visit The Junction, the newly re-named family area, where you will find everything from pedal-tractor pulls to camel rides. Take your future farmer to Fun On The Farm for a hands-on experience at milking cows and gathering eggs or let your aspiring cowgirl or cowboy have a go at the popular Mutton Bustin', where they attempt to hold on tight to a sheep for 8 seconds. Animal lovers won't want to miss the Petting Zoo or watching the adorable Pig Paces, where the pig participants are rewarded with Oreos.   

The Rodeo is the perfect shopping destination for new additions to your western wear wardrobe. The numerous purveyors can help you select the perfect pair of boots, walk away with new cowboy hat, or find a stylish piece of turquoise jewelry to make an outfit pop. Cowboys and cowgirls can find everything there, from a new hand-crafted leather saddle or even a prize bull or two at the auctions. 

Music lovers will love this year's line-up with a crowd-pleasing variety of acts taking the stage at the Rodeo. If you didn't already snag your ticket for the sold-out Willie Nelson show, you can still get tickets for country music star, Chris Stapleton. Take in the soulful tunes of Alicia Keys or see local legends, ZZ Top. The Stars Over Texas Stage has something for the whole family with hourly family entertainment during the day, special kids shows, and Throwback Thursday cover bands. The 21+ crowd can head to The Hideout for some honky tonk fun, dancing and the chance to see local, up and coming musicians.  

Happy Rodeo Y'all!