Thursday, May 22, 2014

Houston's Best Neighborhoods: Round 1, Part 4: WEST UNIVERSITY   Over 600 square miles make up Houston proper (per Wikipedia).  And that figure doesn't take into account the array of established suburbs sprawling out north, south, and westward whose residents maintain their identity as Houstonians regardless of technical city boundaries.  Here's my perspective on some of the best places to live in Houston, Texas.  Click here for more on Houston's Best Neighborhoods .

ROUND 1: 

MAKING THE LOOP "INSIDE THE LOOP": HOUSTON'S CLOSE-IN NEIGHBORHOODS

Part 4:

WEST UNIVERSITY



Just west of the Museum District and Rice University, and just on the other side of the charming Rice Village retail district (pictured above), you'll find the City of West University, an independent municipality within the City of Houston city limits.  The convenience to the Medical Center, Galleria, and downtown Houston make West University an ideal location for working professionals.  The strict city codes, highly-regarded public schools, and community amenities offered exclusively to its residents make loyal fans of this picturesque neighborhood's homeowners.  While the average lot size is small, many families make their home in West U and stay for decades, raising children in this idyllic  close-knit community reminiscent of a self-contained village in character with the convenience od a big-city.






Saturday, May 17, 2014

Most Common Mistakes when Selling a Home

Trying to Sell Your Home?  To be competitive in this market, keep these tips in mind:


SELLERS' MOST COMMON MISTAKES
 
 
 
*  Failing to Complete Minor Repairs.  Buyers know they are paying premiums in this market - when paying top dollar, they expect things to be in tip-top shape.  Neglected maintenance items, even if minor, are a big turn off to most buyers.  Put your best foot forward!

Failing to Declutter & Stage Property.  Check out a few open houses in your neighborhood before you list your home.  Mentally note your feedback.  Chances are you were more impressed by the home with the least amount of your neighbor's "stuff" out and about.  Most buyers need a blank canvas to envision themselves in the home.  Playing minimalist for a few months won't kill you, and the storage bills are a worthwhile investment if you secure a great price for your property!

Failing to Remove Pets during Listing Period.  This one breaks my heart, because I'm a huge animal lover.  But the truth is, pets distract from the property in several ways - smells (which we become immune to as their loving parents), barks, hair, the logistics of kenneling them or asking agents to not let them escape when showing. 

Letting Emotions Drive Negotiations.  Regardless of your training or your day job, selling your home will tug at your emotions.  Try to stay calm and think rationally.  Step away and try to imagine it's not your home if that helps when faced with difficult decisions.  If something a buyer requests angers you, try to step back and imagine if you were in the buyer's shoes.  Maybe they are being unreasonable, but chances are, they are just looking out for their best interests, as are you.  Trust your agent and review their opinions and their supporting data in an objective way if possible.  If you get an offer that's less than you hoped for, remember your Economics 101 class: Fair Market Value = What a Willing Buyer Will Pay a Willing Seller.  Also remember that often, your first offer is your best offer, and the longer property sits on the market without selling, the less interest new buyers will take in it. 

*  Being Too Greedy.  While prices are rising and the market unquestionably favors sellers, setting the listing price on your home too high is sure to kill interest from many would-be buyers already frustrated by their lack of leverage in the market overall.  A fair price in a desirable area often attracts multiple offers, which can lead to higher prices naturally.

Friday, May 9, 2014

How Houston's Magnet School System Works

 

HISD Offers Choice in Public Schools via Magnet Program

 
Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the largest school district in the State of Texas and one of the top ten largest school districts in the United States, enrolling nearly One-Quarter Million students in our city.  Navigating a system as large and complex as HISD can be daunting, but it is no longer as simple as the traditional rule dictating that students must attend only the school to which their home addresses are geographically zoned to.  HISD's Magnet School System offers Houstonians a variety of options when it comes to public education.  If you as a parent believe your locally zoned public school is not the best fit for your child, expensive private schools are no longer the only alternative.  In addition to many successful charter schools in Houston, HISD opens enrollment by lottery at approximately 60 elementary schools, 40 middle schools, and 30 high schools across the district.  Each Magnet School has a different focus, for example:
 
Fine Arts
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
Literature
Vanguard (Gifted & Talented)
Music
Dual Language
 IB (International Baccalaureate)
 
 
HOW THE HISD MAGNET APPLICATION PROCESS WORKS:
 
(1)  RESEARCH your options on HISD Magnet Schools here, considering what type of program may best fit your child's gifts and needs.
 
(2)  APPLY here to your schools of choice.  Currently, you can apply to up to 10 Magnet Programs, up to 5 of which may be Vanguard (Gifted & Talented) programs.  Priority applications for the 2014-2015 school year were due in December 2013, but applications are always considered on a rolling basis throughout the school year.  For 2015-2016, mark your calendar for Fall 2014 to check on the application deadlines for the following school year.
 
(3)  TOUR your schools of choice.  If you have time before your child will be applying, it's a great idea to leisurely attend tours of schools that most interest you during their normal tour schedules, which vary by school and should be coordinated by calling each school's office.  Otherwise, you will be cramming several tours in at the last minute and may be faced with making school decisions sight unseen!  All the research in the world cannot replace an in-person tour, where you get to meet the teachers and staff, observe the children in action, and inspect the facilities for yourself. 
Houston's Best Neighborhoods: Round 1, Part 3: THE MUSEUM DISTRICT There are over 600 square miles that make up Houston proper according (per Wikipedia, at least).    And that figure doesn't take into account the array of established suburbs sprawling out north, south, and westward whose residents maintain their identity as Houstonians regardless of technical city boundaries.  Here's my perspective on some of the best places to live in Houston, Texas.  Click here for more on Houston's Best Neighborhoods .
ROUND 1: 

MAKING THE LOOP "INSIDE THE LOOP": HOUSTON'S CLOSE-IN NEIGHBORHOODS

Part 3:


MUSEUM DISTRICT

The Museum District, home to incredible world-renowned museums, the sprawling and picturesque Hermann Park, and the Houston Zoo, offers two very different residential neighborhoods, as well as several hi-rise condominiums bordering the gorgeous grounds of Hermann Park.  The elegant estates of Southampton and Boulevard Oaks west of the museums and just north of Rice University's gorgeous campus, greet visitors with breathtaking boulevards shaded by towering live oaks.  While most Houstonians are priced out of these neighborhoods, Museum Park just east of the museums is benefitting from fast-paced investment to meet the needs of young professionals who want the benefits of living in walking distance to Houston's cultural center and a short Metro light-rail ride away from the Texas Medical Center and downtown Houston.   The welcome arrival of H-E-B grocery store at Dunlavy and W. Alabama, as well as the family-friendly Erwan Chew park with its dog park, splash pad, and swimming pool, make this close-in neighborhood an exciting and convenient place to set up a home base in Houston.  Click here for a link to the Houston Museum District website.

TOP-RANKING SCHOOLS IN FORT BEND COUNTY


TOP-RANKING SCHOOLS IN FORT BEND COUNTY
(Source: Children at Risk’s 2014 School Rankings – “A” Tier Schools)


ELEMENTARY

Commonwealth
Colony Meadows
Walker Station
Settlers Way
Austin Parkway
Scanlan Oaks
Cornerstone
Brazos Bend
Meadows
Colony Bend
Sienna Crossing
Rita Drabek

 MIDDLE

Sartaria
Fort Settlement
Quail Valley
Marcario Garcia
 

HIGH
Clements