Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Creating Curb Appeal

If you're selling your home, there are a number of things you can do to improve your property's potential value and appeal.  Creating curb appeal is one of the most effective and easy ways to accomplish this and to increase the interest of potential buyers in your home.  Here are some simple and inexpensive ways you can increase your home's curb appeal.

Use Color Effectively

Color can be a power tool in attracting people to your home.  If the exterior of your home could use a fresh coat of paint or a new door, this is a great opportunity to add some points of interest to your property.  Always remember, however, more is less-choose colors that are similar to other homes in the area.  You can infuse more vibrant and interesting colors through accent features and flowers or plants.

Create An Inviting Entrance

Making the entrance to your home attractive and inviting will give potential buyers an instant sense of welcome the moment they walk through the door.  Make the door the focal point of the exterior of your home, and think about elements such as lighting and color to make it as attractive as possible.  Also think about details such as including a nice welcome mat on your front step, some flowers in attractive pots or urns flanking the entrance, and even consider adding a chair with a small table if you have a larger porch area.

Landscaping Is A Must!

Making your lawn and yard attractive, free of clutter and debris, and nicely landscaped can really make all the difference in adding curb appeal.  First remove all weeds, fix any areas on your lawn that need repair, and mow it carefully.  If you have any unsightly items or clutter in the yard, remove it and replace it with well-placed flowers and plants.  If you have a large front yard with no trees, consider planting one or two to add interest and value to the property.

These are just a few of the many ways in which, with a little effort and a small amount of money, you can increase interest in your home.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A note from Diane Rafai with Cornerstone Mortgage about Condos and Townhomes

I am starting to see more contracts on condominiums so thought a little refresher on things to watch for would be good information to share with my realtors.

First, a townhome has no special requirements- it is considered a single family residence and is treated just like  a regular home.

How can you tell if a property is a townhome vs. a condominium? One way is to look at the legal description- in most cases, a townhome has lot/block legal and a condo will show “unit __” of “Building ___” or on tax records it will show style as being condo . But this is not always the case. The next step would be to have title company pull title and docs to see how it was recorded.

If it is determined the property is a condominium, then here are the important things you need to be aware of:

Condominiums are considered high risk properties because the condition and value depend as much on the neighbors as the owner. For this reason, owner occupancy  is very important. This means how many owners actually live on site vs. those that  are using the condo as an investment or second home. 

Different types of loans have different requirements:


If the borrower is putting down at least 20% so there is no mortgage insurance required, then you can usually get a conventional loan.

If the borrower is putting down less than 20% so mortgage insurance is required, then owner occupancy must be at least 75%

FHA and VA:

The government rules state that the condo association must be on the approved list for either FHA or VA before you may do a  loan for them. The approved lists are available online. If the property is not shown as approved already, then it can be submitted to FHA or VA for approval. It takes about 6 weeks to get a response and during that time, you cannot order an appraisal or do any other property related work on the file because a case number cannot be issued if the property is not on the  approved list.

To get a property approved they require:

1.       Owner occupancy of at least 50%

2.       Property cannot be involved in any lawsuits

3.       Past dues on assessment cannot exceed 15%

4.       Other documentation  based on their current guidelie4ns

I have managed to get 3 properties added to the approved list in the last 2 years so I know how to get it done. If you have a borrower who is interested in condominiums, check with me first so we can determine if the borrower is qualified,  the property is qualified or if we can get the property qualified based on occupancy and past due percentages. Then we can evaluate the time needed to close and if the HOA is willing to work with us to provide the required information. A little time and effort upfront doing the research on the property can save some disappointment later.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Videos on You Tube

The Pye Team now has a You Tube Channel! Check it out at:

And just a little taste...

Pre-Qualified vs. Pre-Approved

Colleen Pye and Debby Colson, the Pye Team talk with Doug Luza of CORE Lending about the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval in the home loan process.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Home Warranties - Are they worth it?

Apparently so.  Recently, I've been made aware of two instances of using a home warranty to avoid costly repairs.  First, Fidelity National Home Warranty repaired a pool and a refrigerator saving the homeowner over $1,800.00.  In the second instance, a homeowner had their entire gas furnace replaced by American Home Shield amounting to a total savings of $1,500.00. Both homeowners report a positive experience and were happy to have the home warranty to rely on.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Down Payment Assistance Programs offered by our friend Diane Rifai

Our friend Diane Rifai now offers down payment assistance programs through TSAHC for Professional Educators and Homes for Heroes such as firemen, policemen, etc. (see definition below).

Here's a brief summary:

1.       There is a Household Income Limit -see attached chart
2.       There are Home Purchase Price Limits
3.       Must be a first time homebuyer (not had an ownership interest in a principal residence in last 3 years)
4.       Meet standard underwriting guidelines for a loan
5.       Intend to occupy the home as a primary residence
6.       Complete a HUD approved homebuyer education course prior to closing

Homebuyer must be one of the following:
§  A Professional Educator: Defined as a full time Classroom Teacher, Teacher Aide, School Librarian, School Nurse or School Counselor employed by a public school district in the state of Texas; or a full time faculty member * of either an undergraduate or graduate professional nursing  or allied health program in the State of Texas; or
§  A Texas Hero: Defined as a full time, paid Firefighter, Emergency Medical Services Personnel, Peace Officer, Corrections Officer, Juvenile Corrections Officer, County Jailer, or a Public Security Officer working in the State of Texas (click here for detailed Texas Hero definitions : ).

Call Diane Rifai for more details --
Residential Mortgage Loan Originator
Cornerstone Mortgage
cell: 713-304-2660

Mirror Makeover!

Just had my three bathroom mirrors updated - wow! The effect is eye-popping. Check out the vendor I used at:  You can also check out customer comments by visiting:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New HCAD Rules for Initial Homestead Exemption

If your home does not currently have a homestead exemption, now is the time to file it for 2012. You have up until April 30th to send it in. You can also file for exemptions on disability, over 65 and other types of residential exemptions at this time - check your county appraisal district office to see what is offered in your county.

New rule for 2012 - you must present a driver’s license and vehicle registration showing the current home address - so get that done first. See below for a link to the new rules for Harris County (and some surrounding counties). To file your exemptions, go to your county appraisal district and the forms should be on the web site.

Here's the link for a PDF of the new HCAD rules:

Below are some additional links for the forms to file at various county offices:

Harris County

Montgomery County

Brazoria County

Fort Bend County

Liberty County

Thanks to our friend Diane Rafai for sharing this info with us. Visit her on the web at:

Your Tax Refund Could Mean a New Home

Do you remember what you spent last year’s income tax refund on?
Yeah, neither do we. Instead of spending it on something frivolous, why not put it towards something that matters, something that you and your family will appreciate for years to come ~ a home! There is no greater feeling than owning your own home; and by using your tax refund for your home down payment, you eliminate the bigger hurdle! Combining a down payment assistance program with an FHA first mortgage could lead to little or no money out of pocket.

Contact Jenny Matthews, Loan Consultant with iMortgage
to learn about these programs.
Direct 713 395 6915
Mobile 713 395 6915
Fax 855 433 2896
NMLS ID 621639

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Towne Lake is building out a waterfront center

The folks over at Towne Lake are set for a busy new year...the developer is moving forward on a planned waterfront center called The Boardwalk of Towne Lake that is to  include restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, a hotel, a green area, a 3,000-seat amphitheatre.  Check out the details here:

Christmas Tree Recycling

Every year, Houstonians discard thousands of used Christmas trees that could be recycled into useable items. The City of Houston is encouraging residents to recycle their Christmas Trees to give them a new lease on life and make the recycling of Christmas trees a family tradition.

Click here for more info: Christmas Tree Recycling

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

FHA Extends Waiver of Anti-Flipping Regulations Through 2012

In an effort to continue stabilizing home values and improve conditions in communities experiencing high foreclosure activity, Acting Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Carol J. Galante will extend FHA’s temporary waiver of the anti-flipping regulations.   

With certain exceptions, FHA regulations prohibit insuring a mortgage on a home owned by the seller for less than 90 days.  In 2010, FHA temporarily waived this regulation through January 31, 2011, and later extended that waiver through the remainder of 2011.  The new extension will permit buyers to continue to use FHA-insured financing to purchase HUD-owned properties, bank-owned properties, or properties resold through private sales. It will allow homes to resell as quickly as possible, helping to stabilize real estate prices and to revitalize neighborhoods and communities. 

The extension is effective through December 31, 2012, unless otherwise extended or withdrawn by FHA.  All other terms of the existing Waiver will remain the same.  The Waiver contains strict conditions and guidelines to prevent the predatory practice of property flipping, in which properties are quickly resold at inflated prices to unsuspecting borrowers.  The Waiver continues to be limited to sales meeting the following conditions:

·         All transactions must be arms-length, with no identity of interest between the buyer and seller or other parties participating in the sales transaction.

·         In cases in which the sales price of the property is 20 percent or more above the seller’s acquisition cost, the Waiver will only apply if the lender meets specific conditions and documents the justification for the increase in value.

·         The Waiver is limited to forward mortgages, and does not apply to the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for purchase program.

-- This information was originally shared with us by our friend Diane Rifai, Residential Mortgage Loan Originator. Visit her on the web at:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Property Flipping rules and FHA

On December 31,2011 FHA’s Temporary Flipping Waiver expires. For over a year, FHA had waived their requirement for 90 day ownership prior to purchasing a property using FHA insured financing. But that waiver expires December 31, 2011. If FHA does not renew it this means we go back to the regular policy.

FHA flipping policy:

FHA requires a property to be owned by the seller for 90 days before re-sale (this means the contract date cannot be prior to the 91st day of the seller’s ownership). No work can be done by lender on the property prior to the 91st day- this includes ordering an  appraisal or ordering a case number from FHA on the borrower). So if you have an investor property under a listing agreement, then you need to prepare your seller for this. The 91 days is calculated from the date title transferred to seller (not necessarily the same as the purchase date) to the date of a new sales contract.

-- This information was originally shared with us by our friend Diane Rifai, Residential Mortgage Loan Originator.  Visit her on the web at:

Hot On Homes - Albury Trails

The Pye Team was recently featured in a Hot On Homes! segment. Click the picture below to view:
The Pye Team is Hot On Homes

Preparing for the Holidays

A few good tips from our friend Diane Rafai...

This time of year everyone is focused on the holidays: gifts, trips, much fun but so expensive. Be careful as you navigate through the next few months- you do not want to ruin the good credit scores you spent the year maintaining. Here are some tips to keep in mind about credit scores:

1. Inquiries: every time a creditor pulls your credit, it can hit your credit score 4-8 points PER INQUIRY according to the credit bureaus. So applying for new credit at department stores to get a discount on a purchase can cost you more than the discount it worth. Be careful about applying for new credit.

2. New credit: every time you do get approved for new credit, you get a new hit to your score for the following reason: length of time since new account established - and depending on what type of account it is, you could see too many revolving accounts, or too many department store accounts or too many open accounts any of these can have negative effects on your credit scores.

3. Credit limits: even if you keep your credit cards paid on time, if your balance at the time of the statement exceeds 30% of the available credit on the card, you may have points taken away from your score. (This shows up under your credit explanations as proportion of balances too high or ratios of revolving credit too high.) Many people believe as long as they pay the credit card off monthly, they are ok. But the fact is the balance used to evaluate your score on the credit report is the amount shown on the monthly billing statement. So if your plan is to pay the credit card off monthly, and you want to maximize your credit score, then you need to pay the balance BEFORE the bill comes out so the statement reflects an amount less than 30% of the available balance.

Use your credit wisely this season so you start 2012 in as good or better shape than you end 2011. Credit scores are so important to all aspects of your financial health that proper management insures a solid foundation.

How long does a borrower have to wait to get another loan when they have had a financial issue?

Download this PDF prepared by Diane Rifai to answer that question: Download the PDF