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Brockway Realty Blog
Keeping you in touch with League City, the Galveston Bay Area, and beyond.

The Attack of the Killer Trees!
Posted In: Buying & Selling Tips | General News Posted by James Brockway on 02/10/2013

Here’s the script: young family moves into their first home and in commemoration of the moment, they plant a willow.  When baby number one arrives a year later, they celebrate that moment by planting a Bradford Pear.  And finally, for Valentine’s Day one year, the husband plants a Mulberry tree as an undying symbol of his love for his wife.

Fast forward twenty years to the apocalyptic scene of the family’s yard.  The willow’s fast growing branches are draped over the power lines and its ravenous root system is sucking every drop of water out of the ground, wreaking havoc with the water table.  The silkworms feasting on the mulberry tree litter the ground along with the fruit of the tree, with swirling pollen making passersby gag.  The Bradford Pear rounds out the attack on the senses by providing a not so pleasing smell as the blossoms reach full bloom.

Like a scene out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, the trees take over the yard, converting noble deeds to a nightmarish scene.

Ok, so maybe I’ve exaggerated a bit to get your attention, but check out this article to get a good feel for which trees you may want to avoid when creating your ideal outdoor haven.

11 Trees You Should Never Plant in Your Yard

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Tax Tip of the Day-Deducting Home Mortgage Interest
Posted In: Buying & Selling Tips | General News | Residential Posted by James Brockway on 02/08/2013

As a Realtor, I’m obviously a strong supporter of home ownership, but as a CPA, I’m also keenly aware of the benefits related to home ownership, including various write-offs, primarily mortgage interest and property taxes.  The article below, from houselogic, gives you a good overview on how to deduct mortgage and home equity interest on your home.

Deducting Mortgage Interest on Your Home

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What is a Home Warranty?
Posted In: Buying & Selling Tips Posted by James Brockway on 01/16/2013

The last time you purchased a home, your real estate agent may have negotiated for you to receive a home warranty from the seller at closing. Perhaps you weren’t even aware that this took place or you glossed over it in the excitement of closing on the house.

It is common for buyers to request that the seller provide them a one year warranty on the house, but like insurance policies, many times the policy or warranty is stuck in a drawer after closing and not pulled out until a problem occurs. I would recommend that if you closed within the last year, you find your closing statement and see if there was a charge on it for a home warranty. If so, you may have coverage that you weren’t aware of. If you are closing in the near future, make sure your agent negotiates for you to get this warranty.

Unlike your homeowner’s insurance policy, a home warranty covers the costs of repairs or replacement of mechanical systems and appliances such as your air conditioner or dishwasher; it provides peace of mind when a problem occurs. For more information on this topic, please read this informative pamphlet from Angela Johnson with Home Warranty of America, a leader in the home warranty industry.

A Home Warranty is a service contract to help cover repair and replacement costs of a home’s mechanical systems and appliances that malfunction due to normal wear and tear during the coverage period. It is not a maintenance plan unless the warranty company provides that option. Items must be in proper working order when coverage begins. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to complete, or have completed, by a licensed technician, routine maintenance, service and cleanings of all systems and appliances. By law, a Home Warranty cannot cover the costs to repair secondary damages as a result of appliance failure and is not a form of homeowner’s insurance. Some warranty companies have a waiting period or exclude certain items for an initial period of time. Homeowners pay a small trade fee per service call for each claim. Trade fees vary between warranty companies; most warranty providers hire third-party contractors to perform jobs for set service fees. Some claims incur non-covered or out-of-pocket charges which must be clearly listed in the contract. It is extremely important to read the Limits of Liability in the brochure as they explain what is included and excluded from coverage. No plan is all-inclusive and while most providers cover many of the same items, each offers a unique service or product. The home warranty should not be used for emergencies and should be considered as a secondary form of financial assistance towards mechanical expenses incurred during homeownership. While it’s not always a fast process, home warranties have proven to save homeowners thousands of dollars and serve as a great resource for homeowners in general.

In Texas, HVAC is the largest, most used and expensive system in the home. Warranty Associations throughout the U.S. strongly urge home buyers to have a licensed HVAC technician thoroughly inspect (not just “service”) the heating & cooling systems prior to closing. TREC Inspectors have a limited scope of inspection and cannot detect HVAC issues that would not be covered under a home warranty. Pre-existing leaks in the coils or cracks in the heat exchanger are not covered. Many times the inspection report is a direct indicator of a possible pre-existing condition that may need to be addressed before a warranty company will cover the HVAC system. Most warranty companies will more likely consider paying expensive HVAC claims if the homeowner performed enough due diligence to prove the issues were truly un-known the general inspection.

To determine the level of coverage needed, consider the appliances age/condition and whether or not it may need to be simply repaired or fully replaced. Stick with reputable companies and compare lists of covered items to how much the policy pays out when it comes time to replace* the largest, most expensive systems: HVAC, ductwork, water heater, garage door opener, refrigerator, pool, etc.

Important Factors to Consider:

Somewhat Important:

  • Term and Price
  • Availability of Local Sales Rep
  • Vendor Quality
  • Claim Payment History
  • Realtor References & Market Reputation
  • Amount of “Service” of “Trade Call” Fee
  • Marketing pretenses where the same services can be easily found by local vendors at the same cost or less than the policy service fee.
Examples are: A/C Tune-Ups     Roof Repairs     Sprinkler Systems * Warranties work in wholesale dollar amounts and replacement costs are calculated on like for like capacity and feature, not always by brand name.

  • 13 Month Warranty vs. 12 Months
  • Comprehensive plans range from $365 to $495
  • Trade call fees range from $60-75; paid directly to vendor
  • Local sales reps available via cell phone for assistance
  • No waiting period to place claims
  • Vendors are Realtor® referred and therefore preferred
  • Reputation for being fair about paying claims

Your Local Sales Rep: ANGELA JOHNSON
Phone: 832-236-4423
Email: ajohnson@HWAhomewarranty.com
Plans and Prices: http://www.hwahomewarranty.com/professionals/costs
Home Warranty of America 888.492.7359 http://HWAhomewarranty.com
Allied 866-791-1200 http://www.alliedwarranty.com
American Home Shield 800-827-4636 http://ahswarranty.com
Fidelity 800-862-6837 http://homewarranty.com
First American 888-875-0533 http://homewarranty.firstam.com
Nations 888-737-7070 http://home-warranty.com
Old Republic 800-445-6999 http://orhp.com
One Guard 888-896-0014 http://oneguard.net

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10 Tips For Staging Your Home
Posted In: Buying & Selling Tips Posted by Hudson Holmes on 08/16/2012

Research shows that staged homes sell quicker. You don't need to hire a professional stager, though;  just get a second opinion of your work from a friend with a good eye for how things look. Here are 10 self-staging tips:

1. Freshen the Paint. Put a fresh coat of paint on walls and trim. Use neutral colors and think about painting the exterior too if you think it needs it.

2. Fill Empty Wall Space. Bare walls make your home feel cold. Put up framed artwork, mirrors or photography. Be creative -- hang plates, driftwood or interesting found objects!

3. Treat the TV like Art.
 A flat-screen TV on the wall can be a piece of art. Connect it to a DVD player or computer and play a silent slide show of scenes from nature. Remove TVs from bedrooms.

4. Furnish All Rooms.Buyers have trouble seeing themselves living in a space that's empty. Don't use a lot of furniture and avoid bold patterns. Add pillows and throws for pops of color.

5. Install Window Treatments. Blank windows feel sterile. Put up a simple curtain rod and solid color drapes for a cozy feeling and a nicely framed view outside.

6. Tidy Up the Bookshelves. Get rid of clutter on shelves and remove book jackets to create a decorative focal point.

7. Add Flowers. Fresh-cut flowers and plants add life. Avoid using pastic flowers and trees-- they look dated.

8. Make Bedrooms Gender-neutral. Keep colors neutral, with simple white bedding for a fresh look.

9. De-clutter everywhere. Remove personal items from rooms -- family photos, collectibles, mail, magazines, and toys. Tidy up closets. In the kitchen, take small appliances off counter tops; organize food and dishes in cupboards.

10. Keep Up the Yard. Make sure your yard looks neat and well taken care of. Cut the grass before the buyer visits.  Add mulch and seasonal flowers if necessary.

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