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  1. If you are looking at master planned communities I would narrow down the area based on where you are working first. Houston is huge. Clear Lake is nice but if you are looking to work in north Austin the commute would be hellish.
  2. In Texas the seller usually pays for the warranty. If you dont ask for one are you going to get $350 off. Probably not. Basically the warranty stop small issues from becoming lawsuits so the sellers have some benefit in their being a warranty as well. If fact once when we purchased a house and didnt ask for a warranty the seller said they would not sell the house unless a warranty was involved.
  3. "Or is it a safe bet to pick a well known 'brand name' title company? " I don't know about the pool. But brand name title companies have been having serious problems. So picking a brand name does not mean it won't go belly up during the transaction. I think most small companies operate under the umbrella of the larger companies but I could be wrong about that. I would go with a bigger one because I would think they would be more likely to have a decent process in place to find problems with the title (liens on the property and what not). I have had problems with small companies. Some are great but some seem like they dont quite know what they are doing and miss stuff
  4. One reason an agent my not show the house is because they are lazy. But it could also be due to liabilty and the broker. With two agents you have one agent legally working for the buyer and one for the seller. When there is one agent involved they are a dual agent and have to be unbiased. Deals with only one agent are more likely to end up in lawsuits. Insurance companies will have higher fees to companies that engage more frequently in dual agency.
  5. So a few years ago appraisals were a joke (Countrywide was doing drive by appraisals which is what it sounds like). Now banks are freaking out. So appraisers are erring on the low side. If they are having a problem with a apprasial (they cant find comps) instead of working to find out the value they just come in low. For them their is no risk in coming in low but there is a risk in coming in high. We are seeing appraisals below anything that has sold in an area for over 6 years. Appraisers are lazy and coming in low is easy in this environment.
  6. "was just wondering if it's a good idea to have a realtor (ABR) working for me that is in the same company as the listing realtor (just as an example, both working at Coldwell or some other company, etc.). " I don't know if it a problem but its certainly not a benefit. I would recommend a buyers agent. The listing agent is legally obligated to help the seller. So they are not going to disclose anything beyond what they legally have to. Also personally I dont like buyer rep agreements. Its a long contract with someone you usually don't know that well.
  7. It looks like the kbsucks site is mia. For the people looking for 100-200k range new houses. I would look for older houses. Not only is appreciation better but although older the quality of those houses seems higher. I often hear people say they want a post 1990 house because they dont want to deal with repairs. Then they go buy a new house but are constantly dealing with builder problems.
  8. I could not get the link to work. I found this list http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/envir...buildings_N.htm Where Houston was also 3. In this one it was just about green commercial buildings. I guess I could see that more than straight up greenest cities.
  9. I think the appraisers have moved from one extreme to another. A few years ago they were doing drive by appraisals and it was a little more than a formality. Now with banks freaking out appraisers are frequently not appraising properties that should appraise because its safer. Basically they are not going to get in trouble for not appraising a property. We have seen cases where a property that is selling for less than any property in the last 3 years is not appraising. Basically the appraisers dont want to get in trouble for over appraising so they are under appraising everything.
  10. My understanding is that HAR does not volunteer or want the county to access the information. But if someone at the appraisers office gets a license they can spy into the data. In general I dont think they look at the data too much. I think they mostly look at owners that tell them the values. The appraisal values are often different than the actual sale prices. I think the realtors are obligated to put the information into the mls (so that realtors can have the data to do valuation estimates) but the owners dont have a obligation to the MLS.
  11. I think I support the 1000 feet rule. At the same time it seems if the county approves something they should not be able to go back on it. At the least they should reimburse the owner for any losses from the mistake (maybe advertising, and if they have to throw away the alcohol if they reverse the rule)
  12. Those are some great shots. I think the first ones are a good example to show people that always think of Houston is a pretty stale city. Montrose always has some cool stuff going on I hope it stays that way.
  13. One thing I would start looking into is your credit score. I have a friend that moved here from Europe. Basically they were gone so long their credit score dropped due to lack of data. If you are planning on moving if might be a good idea to get a US credit card or something and start building credit. Their monthly payment was like 700 more a month that what it should have been. They eventually built up credit and refinanced but it might be a good idea to get started now on building up a recent US credit history.
  14. I saw a foreclosure once where they put a bunch of meat in the refrigator (stuffed from top to bottom) and then left it open. It was gross. It smelled bad 3 houses over. I felt bad for the neighbors the banks really screwed over the country by forgetting about qualifying people for a loan. I dont have too much heartbreak for them.
  15. For programs if you happen to be a teacher or a firefighter there are really good programs from HUD to help buy a house in certain areas. Besides that I would look at FHA. Its not a grant but it allows you to have a small downpayments (basically about 3 percent). For banks I think its a good idea to call at least 5 places. Rates are all over the place these days. Your credit score sounds good so that should help alot. Banks are looking at credit scores alot more these days.
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