House Hunting is Like Playing Detective

The joys of house hunting makes you feel like shopping right! Except in buying a home you want to know everything about it, all the secrets, what’s in the closet or behind the door? When you find the house you really start digging and it can be really strange. To start with forget about feeling weird, it’s smart to do your investigation upfront to avoid hidden issues on the backend.

Here are somethings you really must do:

Poke Around the Closets

You need to make sure there is enough room for all of your belongings. So opening all closets and storage areas to make sure there is enough space for all of your items.

Bathe in Bathroom

Spend more than a minute in the bathroom. Make sure all of the plumbing works and turn on the faucets to check the water pressure. Low pressure can indicate problems with the plumbing.

Stick Your Head in the Attic

Give the attic a thorough investigation and come prepared with a flashlight. You will want to look for molding wood. Your hope is the attic generally clean.

Meet the Neighbors

The best way to get to know the neighborhood directly is by talking to the actual neighbors. You will hopefully get valuable information about the area and learn more about your “potential” next door neighbor.

Investigator and Inspector

Whatever you discover during your sleuthing, you should follow up on whatever makes you suspicious. Public records often make this job easy.

Don’t Let Closing Costs Take You By Surprise!


When you start your home search it is like the start of a race and you don’t cross the finish line until you have “closed.” Seems easy right, you show up, sign some papers and they hand you the keys to your new home. You need to keep in mind that in addition to the down payment, moving cost, inspections and other items that come up before the closing you need to have a bit of money set aside for any cost that might come up at closing.

CLOSING FEES
This includes all the “paperwork fees” required to close the loan—like title services, title insurance, credit reports, and processing fees.

APPRAISAL
Your mortgage lender will probably ask you to pay for an appraisal to make sure that the house is worth what you paid for it.

PROPERTY TAXES
You will be required to pay taxes each year on your home. Many lenders roll into your monthly mortgage payment or you can pay separately.

PRIVATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE (PMI)
Required if your initial down payment is less than 20% of the home’s price, you will be required to carry private mortgage insurance (PMI) to protect the lender.

INSURANCE
You will also be required to have a homeowner’s insurance policy to cover your house (and personal belongings).

ESCROW
Escrow accounts also known as “prepaids” will usually include pro-rated amount to cover payments for property taxes, assessments, homeowners insurance and, if applicable, mortgage insurance.

HOA DUES
Buying a townhome, condo or highrise will mean becoming a member of a homeowners association (HOA). HOA’s require you to pay their monthly (or yearly) dues for services they provide. Fees can be as low as $10.00 a month to $1,000 or higher depending on where you live.

REPAIRS
Most homeowners end up making at least a few repairs to their new home (even if it’s brand new). Budget a few hundred dollars to cover any move-in emergencies that pop up.

UTILITY DEPOSITS
Finally, don’t forget that you’ll need to transfer utilities—or start services with a new company, which may require a deposit.

For advice or assistance ask a Gary Greene agent.

Thinking About Listing Your Home?


Are you ready to downsize or upsize to a new home. Or maybe you finally want to address some of those home projects you’ve been putting off. After this is not just any home, it is your home.

If you want to make a move now is the perfect time to get your home ready to put on the market. With the help of a Gary Greene agent to make sure that your current home or a brand new home is exactly the way you want it. Below are some easy no nonsense ways to stay ahead of the game so your house is ready when you want to make a move.

DE-CLUTTER AND CLEAN

De-cluttering is one of the most cost-effective ways to create more space in your home. And a clutter free home shows very nicely to potential buyers. Also consider setting up regular cleaning to keep your home in “show shape”.

STAY AHEAD OF HOME MAINTENANCE

Home maintenance may not seem as exciting as decorating but it is critical in protecting the investment you have made in your home. Create a checklist and every month check things out to avoid unexpected emergencies and cost.

PAINT

An inexpensive and easy way to spruce up a room or the entire house is to repaint. If you are unsure about colors, pick out a few cans of sample paint and paint the wall and see which color you like best. You can also paint a room yourself or hire someone to do it for you. There are lots of self-help resources online for those looking to DIY.

If you need any advice you can always count on a Gary Greene agent to help you! Give us a call. We are here for you.

10 Winter Break Activities for Kids

With the school year quickly approaching winter break, it’s now up to the parents to plan a fun-filled vacation that will leave the kids talking about it for months to come. We have compiled a list of 10 winter break activities that will assure your kids have a wonderful story to tell.

  • Enjoy a hayride through College Stations famous Santa’s Wonderland.
    It’s not too late to squeeze in a performance of The Nutcracker Ballet or another holiday show.
  • Go ice skating indoor at The Galleria, or if you’re into the cold weather visit the outdoor rink at Discovery Green.
  • Visit local museums and art centers. Check online for free admission days/times.
  • Spend the day at an area farm, like Old MacDonald’s Farm – where kids can ride the train, play in the hay barn, and enjoy the petting zoo.
  • Watch a movie bundled up with hot chocolate at Discovery Green.
  • Take a day trip to a nearby town, like Brenham to see the Blue Bell Ice Cream Creamery.
  • Participate at The Woodlands Children’s Museum for Winter FUNcation.
    Watch a holiday movie at your local theater; don’t forget to call in advance for early bird rates.
  • Schedule a photo with Santa, if you have not already

Best Holiday Lights!


Do you like holiday lights? Holiday light shows make the season a little more magical. And, if you find a house you want to tour, please give any agent at Gary Greene a call.

No matter what part of the city you’re from we have you covered!

CENTRAL HOUSTON

River Oaks Boulevard
‘Zoo Lights’ at Houston Zoo*
Lights in the Heights Festival

NORTHWEST HOUSTON

Franck’s Christmas Light Show, Copperfield
Prestonwood Forest
Shepherd Park & Candlelight Plaza

NORTH

Christmas Ranch – Cleveland
Dearing Dazzle – Conroe
Dodd Family Holidays – The Woodlands
Gullo House of Lights – Magnolia
Schultz Holiday Lights – Spring

WEST

Candy Wonderland, Spring Shadows – Houston
Christmas Katy – Pin Oak Subdivision – Katy

SOUTHEAST

Dickinson Festival of Lights – Dickinson
Magnolia Creek – League City
Moss Lights – League City

SOUTH

Green Tee Terrace – Pearland

SOUTHWEST

Pecan Grove Subdivision – Richmond
Sugar Land Holiday Lights, Constellation Field

GALVESTON

Moody Gardens Festival of Lights*
*Fee associated with light show.

Check Visit Houston for up-to-date listings

Best Holiday Lights!

Do you like holiday lights? Holiday light shows make the season a little more magical. And, if you find a house you want to tour, please give any agent at Gary Greene a call.
No matter what part of the city you are from we have you covered!

CENTRAL HOUSTON

River Oaks Boulevard

“Zoo Lights” at Houston Zoo*

Lights in the Heights Festival

NORTHWEST HOUSTON

Franck’s Christmas Light Show, Copperfield

Prestonwood Forest

Shepherd Park & Candlelight Plaza

NORTH

Christmas Ranch – Cleveland

Dearing Dazzle – Conroe

Dodd Family Holidays – The Woodlands

Gullo House of Lights – Magnolia

Schultz Holiday Lights – Spring

WEST

Candy Wonderland, Spring Shadows – Houston

Christmas Katy – Pin Oak Subdivision – Katy

SOUTHEAST

Dickinson Festival of Lights – Dickinson

Magnolia Creek – League City

Moss Lights – League City

SOUTH

Green Tee Terrace – Pearland

SOUTHWEST

Pecan Grove Subdivision – Richmond

Sugar Land Holiday Lights, Constellation Field

GALVESTON
Moody Gardens Festival of Lights*

*Fee associated with light show.

Check Visit Houston for up-to-date listings

Gary Greene Neighborhood Deep Dive!

Woodland Heights Historic District – The Heights

Quick History
Woodland Heights is a subdivision in the greater Heights area, north of downtown Houston. The William Wilson Realty Company established Woodland Heights in 1907. It was designed to be upscale, yet affordable for middle class families. Most of the houses were built in the Queen Anne, Craftsman, and American Four Square styles. Today, many homes in the Woodland Heights Historic District look the way they did in 1907.

Best Known For….
Woodland Heights is best known for “Lights in the Heights,” a holiday decoration event that has been featured in national magazines like Better Homes and Gardens.

Things to do

  • Stroll the streets of 19th – Lined with boutiques, artsy stores, restaurants and thrift shops, historic 19th street is the shopping mecca of the Heights.
  • Get a sugar rush at Fat Cat Creamery and Hugs & Donuts – How do you choose between donuts and ice cream? Maybe you don’t have to, because these two sweet spots are neighbors.
  • Live music at the White Oak Music Hall – Just on the cusp of the Heights, this music hall boasts three performance spaces.
  • Eat straight from the Garden at Coltivare – From this Italian kitchen you’ll find inspired takes on classics, like oxtail sugo with slurpable housemade pasta, blistered butternut squash pizzas, and shareable whole wood-roasted fish.
  • Sip old school classics at Johnny’s Gold Brick – The Treadsack restaurant group perfectly shows off the The Heights’ vintage feel with this hip throwback bar.

The Advantages of Renting vs. Buying


The American dream is built on buying a home. And, while renting offers more flexibility, buying a home provides a much bigger potential long-term payoff. If you are renting it is important to look beyond just the numbers when making your next move.

Buying a Home Means You Are Putting Down Roots – It is hard to feel established in a neighborhood when renting. At Gary Greene, we are thrilled to watch first time homeowners put down roots in any of the communities around the greater Houston area.

Your Home is a Saving Account – Each month as you pay down your mortgage and increase equity in your home, you are building wealth in ownership.

There are No Tax Breaks for Renting – Today homeowners can deduct mortgage interest from their income taxes. There are no breaks with renting.

Buying a Home Cost Less Than Renting Over Time – Rents may rise, changing the equation but your mortgage stays the same. And, when you factor in real estate values possibly rising over the years, ownership is even better. Finally at the end, when you have paid off your home, no more payments, and you keep the house.

Staging Your Home During the Holidays


Creating a festive, buyer-friendly environment to sell your home during the holidays can bring advert some of the challenges others might face. The less-is-more mantra of home staging may tempt you to forgot holiday cheer this year. Forget about that, with a few subtle touches like a holiday centerpiece, a pine-cone wreath or crackling fire in hearth can create a warm and festive feeling in your home. We’ve got some tips for staging your home this holiday season since potential buyers want to picture themselves in a warm, cozy home!

Create a warm cozy vibe…

  • Complement your palette – make sure your holiday collection matches your current decor…
  • Accentuate the positive – too many trimmings may distract buyers, but the right accessories can draw attention to your home’s best features.
  • Go light on lights – use simple string lighting to play up your home’s architecture or draw attention the best parts of the front yard. …
  • Mind the tree – make sure the tree size fits the room and swap out gaudy heirloom ornaments.
  • Offer Tasty Treats – warm treats such as cookies, hot chocolate or apple cider will make any buyer feel right at home.