Author Archives: Victoria Upton

Home Renovation Budgeting Tips

You’ve done it. You bought the house of your dreams. Except… the kitchen isn’t really what you envisioned. And the bathroom would look so much nicer with a stand alone tub. Renovating your home is the way to go but how much should you put in to the project? Can you even afford it? Luckily for you, we have some tips that will help you create the best budget for your wallet!

Plan Everything

Don’t pick up that hammer just yet. Planning is a huge first step in the renovation process, especially if you want to budget everything out accordingly. Having the best strategy beforehand will make the decision-making process easier later down the line. Here are some guidelines to follow when making your renovation plans.

  • Dream Big, Stay Realistic: There’s no harm in striving for that dream kitchen or bathroom but keeping a practical mindset will help keep the costs down. Create a list of all the things you want in your renovation if money wasn’t an issue. Then introduce the costs and see what can be done and what can’t. This way you can keep what you want but cut back on the frivolous things that can be added later.
  • Keep Your Home Value in Mind: Most people renovate their homes because they want to change a certain aspect of it. However, you need to keep in mind the return on investment (ROI) of the project. Will overhauling your front door increase your home value? (Yes, yes it will.) How about replacing the hardwood floors with carpet? (No, no it won’t.)
  • Make a Smart Budget: According to, your renovation costs should be no more than the value of that room as a percentage of the overall house value. The example they give is a kitchen renovation, which is about 10 to 15 percent of a home’s property value. If your home is worth $200,000, your renovation should be between $20,000 to $30,000.

When Hiring Contractors, Pick Quality over Cost

Contractors are an essential investment for any renovation project so don’t feel like you need to jump on the first one you see. Check Angie’s List or HomeAdvisor for quality contractors that have a good history and standing with the previous clients. Pick at least three contracts to place a bid on your project and throw out the lowest bid out of the bunch. Contractors who provide the lowest estimate usually cut corners at your expense.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Unexpected renovation problems are ALWAYS bound to happen, there’s no way around it. Take precautions by leaving out 10 to 20 percent of your budget to unforeseen issues and expenses.

Houston’s Newest Historic Landmark: The Astrodome

On May 29th of this year, the Astrodome was named a historic landmark by the Texas Historical Commission. It received a Texas Historical Landmark Marker thanks in part to the World Champion Houston Astros who paid for the marker. The ceremony featured key speaker Dene Hofheinz Anton, the daughter of former Harris County Judge and Houston Mayor, Roy Hofheinz. She herself worked tirelessly to help the Astrodome receive this highly-regarded title.

A Brief History

The Astrodome began construction in 1962 and was opened in April of 1965. It was the first domed stadium in the United States and its conception and creation was lead by Mayor Hofheinz. The stadium housed many events for the Houston Astros, Houston Oilers, the Houston Rockets, and the Houston Livestock & Rodeo Show. It also was the stage for several historical events like the Battle of the Sexes tennis match and Latina singer Selena’s last televised concert before her untimely death.

Events in the stadium declined in the late 1990s and the Astrodome’s doors eventually closed in 2002. It only reopened again in 2005 to house the victims of Hurricane Katrina before closing again soon after.

What Lies Ahead

With its new Texas Historical Landmark status, the Astrodome is now protected from being torn down. Plans have been made for the stadium to be converted into an event center with an indoor parking garage. Construction is set to begin this October and is projected to be finished by 2020.

Biggest Selling Fears

Selling a home is a stressful event, whether it’s something you’ve been planning for months or something you must do soon out of necessity (job relocation, marriage, etc.). There are three common fears when it comes to buying but all those fears have reasonably easy solutions to them.

No One Wants to Buy

Most people are afraid to take that first step because they know when the best time to sell is. A home that’s on the market for too long is a red flag to most buyers and sellers want to avoid that stigma at all costs. Luckily, all you need to avoid this is a plan and a real estate agent. The agent will provide you the information you need to start the selling process and planning months, even years in advance will prevent your home from staying on the market too long.

Feeling Overexposed

Selling your home means opening your home to strangers, a big source of anxiety for most sellers. However, you have little to fear if you take the right steps before your first open house. De-personalizing your home not only ups its appeal but also helps you not feel so overexposed to your unwanted guests. Working with real estate agents also gives you control on when you want your open houses. Buyers will never visit your home unaccompanied by your agent.

Underpriced by Agent

Working with a real estate agent means having all your plans laid out on the table, for BOTH parties. Communication is key when pricing your home, but you must keep in mind who the expert is. If you do feel uncomfortable by how your agent is pricing your home, list with someone else. However, if multiple agents price your home at a similar price, it might be a signal that your price expectations are a little too high.




Top Schools Near Your NEW Home!

With the new addition of the Waring property, we now have 5 gorgeous properties ripe for the taking. However, there more’s to a home than just the building. What’s the neighborhood like? The community?

School is a big factor for families when moving into a new home so let’s take a look at the top schools near our listings! Note: All scores (except the last entry) were pulled from Click on the link to find out more about their rating system.

Briargrove Elementary School

Rated 7 out of 10, Briargrove is where your little one will attend if you choose Pine Forest as your new home. Briargrove Elementary is an International Baccalaureate World School that focuses on teaching critical thinking skills at an early age. Briargrove also has the Vanguard Program geared specifically towards Gifted and Talented children. To learn more, check on their website

Memorial High School

Memorial High School is rated an 8 out of 10 thanks to their high test scores and college readiness. Memorial High School offers a wide variety of AP courses to help your teen prepare for college. The Bridlewood property is in Memorial High’s zoning so if you have an older child about to enter high school, Bridlewood is perfect for you! For more info about Memorial HS, click here.


Hunters Creek Elementary

Do you like the Bridlewood property but have an elementary-aged child? Then they’ll be attending Hunters Creek Elementary, rated 8 out of 10! They pride themselves on being a “No Place for Hate” school and maintain this philosophy in their teaching style. Find more about Hunters Creek Elementary at their website.

West University Elementary School

One of the highest rated schools on this list, West University Elementary received a 10 out of 10 for its test scores and student progress. They made the Texas Honor Roll and are recognized by the Educational Results Partnership (ERP) as an Honor Roll School. If you decide you like our Drake property the best, this is your child’s new school! Check out more information about West University Elementary here.

Lanier Middle School

Ready to move in this year to our Waring property? That means your pre-teen will be attending the other highest rated school; Lanier Middle School. Lanier Middle School is another International Baccalaureate World School that focuses on teaching students to “make practical connections between their studies and the real world.” Click here to find out more about Lanier Middle School.


The Post Oak School (Houston Campus)

Unfortunately for the Jackson property, the public schools zoned in that area did not score well. However, the private schools around that neighborhood are rated as some of the highest in the city. If your child is around middle-school age (12-14) or about to enter high school by the time you move in, the Post Oak School will be the perfect fit. The high school section is an International Baccalaureate World School that can provide an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma upon graduation. This guarantees that your teen is “recognized around the world and ensure an increased adaptability and mobility for IB students.” They are also advocates for the Montessori method which you can learn more about here on their website.

Luxury Home Sales Soar in June

Luxury home (homes that start out at $750,000) sales are up 25 percent compared to last year across the country. Although it’s most prevalent in the San Francisco, New York, and Denver markets, luxury home sales are also skyrocketing to new heights right here in Houston. According to, Houston has seen an increase in luxury home sales by 18.4 percent, the highest in sales performance compared to all property types. The entry level luxury home price tier has increased 4.6 percent this year in more than half the real estate markets in America while the median entry level luxury home price is now at $1 million.

June not only saw the highest sales but also the fastest with market inventory moving 6.5% faster and the median age on market has dropped from 112 days to 105 days since last year. These record-breaking numbers is a good sign for the real estate market, especially as the city draws closer to the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey. Home buyers are still cautious when it comes to buying homes in high flood-risk areas but overall, Houstonians are confident in the recent economic trends to buy more costly homes.

Kitchen Color Trends of 2018

Is your kitchen looking a little drab? Try one of these six color trends to bring life back into your cookery!

Gray: The new “neutral” color. It’s versatile enough to work anywhere in your kitchen, whether you choose to put it on your walls or your cabinets. It can be everywhere or be the statement piece of the room. Works best with modern kitchens!

Blue: A color that is usually associated with hindering your appetite but can actually give your kitchen a calming or classy presence. It all depends on the shade you choose. Navy blue makes your kitchen refined while a soft blue radiates more peaceful vibes. Darker blues work best as a statement color while softer blues look better on your walls.

Purple: One of the bolder colors on this list, purple is considered the color of royalty. Treat it as such and keep it as a statement piece on your cabinets or on your island. Don’t go overboard or the energy you wanted to inject into your kitchen will be loss in the chaos.

Green: Although purple is the established color of the year (according to Pantone), green is the REAL color of the year. Popping up more and more in both modern and traditional kitchens, green can be used to add warmth or coolness into your kitchen. Any shade will do and whatever you pick will give a different vibe to your kitchen. Some trending greens are teal green, hunter green, and sage green.

Red: Nothing says bold quite like red. Red can add pop and color to your kitchen by keeping it to your appliances. It also works best if you’re on a budget since you can keep the rest of your kitchen white or neutral.

6 Tips to Improve Your Home’s Web Appeal

Gone are the days of driving to a home with a ‘For Sale’ sign and looking at it through your car window before making that call to the Realtor. Cell phones and internet access has made it easy for people to view home listings with the touch of a button. It’s not curb appeal anymore, but WEB appeal. And web appeal brings a whole new set of rules to the real estate game. Here are 6 tips that can help improve the web appeal of your home!

Take High-Quality Pics: 20 seconds. That’s how long people look at photos of listing on average. Photos must be both high-quality and eye-catching to grab people’s attention. Luckily, technology nowadays allows sellers to take those high-quality photos using their phones. Just make sure your phone is up to the task. Also invest in a tripod, whether you’re using a camera or phone. If you don’t feel up to the task of taking your own pictures, you can always hire a professional. They range about $500 or higher (and be prepared to pay upfront) but there is always the chance this fee can be deducted from the Realtor’s commission.


Pick the Best Time: The time of day you take your photos are also extremely important. You should always aim to have a sunny day as the background of your home. If you’re taking the pictures yourself, make sure to have the sun on your back so there aren’t harsh shadows. Home is shaded from trees? Keep that flash on, even during the day time to brighten up the shot. And if you have good front yard landscape or architectural lighting, try taking shots after sunset. The lighting of your home against the purple-orange hues of the sky will do wonders your web appeal.

Angles are Your Friend: Highlight the different features of your home both inside and outside by taking shots of the same area using different angles. Keep the shots leveled though and when picking pictures for each room, don’t use all the shots. People have shorter attention spans when checking out homes via their phones so keep it to 2-3 pictures of each area unless you’re featuring something new in each picture (for example, different angles of your backyard but one has the pool while the other has the fire pit centered).

Keep it Clean: Both indoors and outdoors need to be in tip-top shape for the photos. Outdoors should have the lawn mowed, bushes manicured, and no trashcans in sight. Indoors must be decluttered and, if need be, have a deep clean to make it look brand new. Also, de-personalize! People want to envision themselves in your home. No home photos, cars, or anyone’s belongings in the pictures.

Don’t Give Away the Date: Along with de-personalization, keep anything holiday related out of pictures. Anything that dates your home will give away how long your home has been on the market. Also, if you take photos of your home in the winter where snow or dead trees are in the foreground, make sure to update the photos when spring comes around.

Sell the Lifestyle: De-personalizing your home doesn’t mean make it lifeless. Sell the “lifestyle” of the home by putting in different props or details that make the home livable. For example, put some flowers on the dining room table or eyeglasses and a book in the living room. Buyers want to picture themselves in the home so make them feel it!

Need more help with selling your home? Contact us today!