We may not have the same number of first time home buyers as we did when the government was offering incentives but there are still many searching for that first house to call a home.

There is no perfect home.

I can’t count the number of times a client would say, “If only we could take this house and put it on the other home’s lot.”

There Are a Lot of Houston Homes

Keep in mind there are a lot of homes on the market because of the size of Houston. Right now there are 14,711 homes! That doesn’t even count the farms, multi-family homes, vacant lots and other properties in the real estate market.

You can (and should) read a lot about the local real estate market. There are some very important things that you need to watch for as a first time Houston home buyer.

There are bad neighborhoods, houses with underlying structural damage, etc. You need to become aware of these factors. But the one thing you can’t read about is the feeling that comes over you when you have been desperately looking for the right place and then suddenly find it. It is the feeling of finding the perfect home!

First Time Buyers Can Get Discouraged

As a first time Houston home buyer, you may get discouraged, but don’t let it get you down.

It may take some time before you find the house you can call home. You may feel that it is all a wasted effort. A lot of clients hit this point of frustration right before they see the house they want. It’s like magic. The desperation comes and then the home pops up.

In Houston there are approximately 120 listings added every day. Some of these homes have incredible designs that are simply inspiring. The thing is that you need to find the one that inspires you. Then you’ve got it.

You’ll Know When You Know

You will know a home is right for you when you feel it. You can walk into this Houston home and imagine your furniture in it. You can envision stepping out into the back yard on a sunny day with a cold drink in your hand. Everything fits together perfectly, and the small things that aren’t perfect really don’t matter.

A top real estate agent will want you to get exactly what you want. It’s your job to communicate the criteria that’s important to you. He’ll need to possess a feeling of what you want and then show you what’s available. A good agent will never give up until you are fully satisfied and happy with your final decision.

This is really all there is to it. You’ll know when you know. There is no big secret that a first time Houston home buyer doesn’t have access to. The right house is out there waiting for you. You just need to find it.


Author: Tre Pryor is an Internet-veteran turned tech-savvy Realtor specializing in Louisville real estate. One of the top Louisville agents, you can find his work at LouisvilleHomesBlog.com and InsiderLouisville.com.


Property taxes can cause trouble for homeowners. They are always there and increase over time. (Read more here) Here are some quick tips for lowering your property taxes:

Visit Assessor’s Office

Most homeowner’s do not realize property tax cards are available to the public. Visit your local assessor’s office and request a copy of your tax cards. Property tax cards list information such as the size of your lot, number and dimension of rooms, any special features and any home improvements made.

Review your tax card and check for inconsistencies. If you find any discrepancies, speak to the assessor to make corrections or reevaluate your home. Small mistakes may make a difference in your tax amount.

Compare Neighbors

All home assessments are available to the public. When you visit your assessor’s office, research and review comparable homes in your neighborhood. You can also view general statistics about your town’s assessment results.

Again, you are looking for inconsistencies. If your house is listed much higher than comparable homes, you need to find out why. If you find any big discrepancies, politely bring it to the local assessor’s attention and ask for a reassessment on your home.

Evaluate Your Curb Appeal

Assessors have a set of guidelines they follow when assessing your home. However, results are still subjective. Studies show that attractive homes are usually assessed higher than unattractive homes.

Check your outside curb appeal. Compare the look of your home to comparable homes in the neighborhood. Do not primp and dress up your yard before the assessment. Save cosmetic changes until after the assessor leaves.

Limit Additions

Home improvements and structural additions will raise your property tax. Do your research before adding a permanent structure, such as a deck, garage or in-ground pool. Research the cost of the addition compared to the increase in taxes. Call your local assessor’s office for advice. This article provides some tips and tricks to lowering

Join the Assessor

You do not have to allow the assessor into your home; however, if you don’t, they may think you have something to hide. Your home may be assessed higher if you do not allow the assessor into your home.

Join the assessor during the walk-through of your home. Assessor’s usually notice the good points of your home, such as new appliances and improvements. Walk with the assessor and politely point out deficiencies as well as the good points so you know you are getting a fair evaluation.

With a little research and a little patience, you can possibly reduce your property taxes.

Beautiful Houston Patio CoverPatio covers shield your patio or deck from the elements. Constructed of wood, stone, brick, metal or fabric, these structures add significant value to your home without a huge investment from you.

Additional space

A patio isn’t a true room of your home, but it is additional space you utilize for visiting with friends, relaxing with a book and a cup of coffee, or quiet conversation with your family at the end of the day. Placing a patio cover over the patio or deck protects the space and allows you and your family to use the space more often than before.


A patio cover allows you to utilize the patio as entertainment space, even on the hottest days of the year. A patio lends itself to more casual entertaining, like cookouts and pool parties. A patio is also a good place for any potentially messy party games, like a piñata. Having a patio cover increases your ability to use this space as an entertainment area.

The patio cover also protects the patio area, allowing you to personalize the space without fear of ruining what you build. Perhaps it is time to build an outdoor bar or kitchen? Putting these items under a patio cover will protect your valuable investment, add to the overall value of your home and be utilized often as you entertain family and guests.

Curb appeal

In our fast paced world, leisure time is a disappearing commodity. A patio cover not only provides additional space, but it is additional space devoted to entertainment and leisure. Knowing you have a relaxing and inviting space to come home to adds to the curb appeal of your home.

Enjoy the outdoors

A patio cover protects you from the heat of the sun. People with patio covers are more likely to utilize the patio, even on the hottest days of the year. This increases the number of days you can sit on the patio and enjoy watching the birds and the squirrels in your yard. This also provides more time to enjoy fresh air and sunlight.

Protect your home

A patio cover protects your home from the elements. The roof of the cover shifts rain water away from your home, protecting the integrity of your foundation. The patio cover also protects your windows and doors, maintaining their seal and increasing the energy efficiency of your home. The patio cover protects the siding by diverting wind and rain from the house.

Lone Star Patio Builders create unique, beautiful sunrooms and pergolas in the Houston area. For more patio cover information, visit Lone Star’s website http://www.asklonestar.com.

When to Dispute Your Property Taxes

English: An icon from the Crystal icon theme. ...

English: An icon from the Crystal icon theme. Nederlands: Een icoontje van het Crystal icon thema (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Property taxes are based on the assessed value of your property recorded by your local government’s tax records office. The local property tax assessor can determine property value using various methods such as if a certain neighborhood becomes a popular place to live or if market pressures, such as inflation, have influenced property values.

In recent years, several events have decidedly driven down the value of properties in many markets. Your focus, as a property tax payer, must be in knowing the current value of your property in today’s market. Your property tax must reflect the current property market and be appraised at a similar value in comparison with other comparable properties in the same area.When you receive a notice of an assessed valuation of your property, and you do not feel it represents its current market value you can, within a specified timeline, dispute the validity of your property tax assessment. (This site  is an excellent resource on the subject).The assessor will not lower the property tax assessment unless you have thoroughly researched the key indicators and are prepared to defend your position that the assessed tax value was based on incorrect assumptions or data. Try here for more information.

To challenge your property tax assessment you must:

● Ensure that the assessment report correctly lists the square footage of your home and the size of you lot.

● Compare the appraised value of similar properties in your neighborhood to the appraised value of your property

● Obtain the selling price (market value comparisons) on at least three to five homes that recently sold in your neighborhood.

After you have obtained and verified the above information and have determined the tax assessment of your property is incorrect, then prepare this information and submit your petition to challenge the assessment.

The assessor’s office will then review your submitted petition and usually provide a written decision to you within a few weeks. If you still disagree with the assessor’s decision, you can continue to appeal, even into the judicial court system.

Stonefield Trace Real Estate home picture

Image by GregFly via Flickr

Owning a home can give you considerable tax advantages. Homeowners pay local property taxes and interest on their mortgage. A renter pays rent. The landlord however can use the money the renter pays to pay the interest on the mortgage so in a indirect way the renter pays this. The homeowner or landlord has a distinct advantage over the person that pays rent. If the landlords income, exemptions, and other deductions are the same as his renter the landlord will pay less taxes so you can see there is a distinct advantage to being a homeowner or in owning rental property.

The homeowner will be allowed to deduct from his income when paying interest on a mortgage or paying property taxes (Click here to see how this works) While rent of course can not ever be deducted. Let me give you an example of how this works. You can have two childless couples whose income and circumstances are identical except one couple rents a house and the other couple owns their house. And while both couples have identical incomes, and deductions the one that owns their house will have further deductions available to them in the amount of $1.920 due to their interest payments and property tax payment. The couple that is buying their home will get to take a total deduction of $2.640 while the couple renting can only take a deduction of $1.500. Believe it or not but the couple who own their home will pay $217.00 less than the couple who rents. As a homeowner you can pass part of your property tax and interest payments on to good old Uncle Sam.

And even when the homeowner pays off their mortgage and even if they live in a community with no property tax they will still receive favorable tax treatment because of the imputed rent income which is paid but they pay no taxes on. Again let me show you an example. Lets say you have two people that both work on the same assembly line for the ABC Assembly Company each making a $30.000 a year income. Now both of these people own their own home but Mr Crane lives in his home while Mr Black rents his home and lives with his relatives. Now both of them have a $50.000 house free and clear. Mr Black has a net cash rental income of $1000.00 after all expenses including his property taxes. He will have to pay taxes on $51.000. Mr Crane should look on his cost free living as being worth $1000.00 which is really income in kind. If these two were to be treated equally they should both pay taxes on either $50.000 or $51.000. But in truth Mr Crane pays on $51.000 and Mr Black on $50.000. The same thing would apply if Mr Crane were to invest his savings in his house while Mr Black invested in high grade municipal bonds. After a time Mr Black would have interest income which is taxable while Mr Cranes rent income received in kind would not be.

Some people can depreciate part of their houses value for tax purposes. If a homeowner uses part of their home for a home business then they can deduct the portion of the over all costs used for that portion of the house where the business is located. For example if one half of the house is used for business then one half of the total expenses can be deducted. The same would be true if the homeowner were to rent one half of their house to someone.

This article was courtesy of the Lending Expert Blog.

Seal of the Internal Revenue Service

Image via Wikipedia

In life their are only two things that are certain and that is death and taxes. The one thing that is never certain is how much taxes you will pay. And unfortunately when it comes to Federal Income taxes the bite can be substantial. And if your in the top income tax bracket you can be hit for a shopping 35 percent of your taxable income. And in order to pay less taxes you must take full advantage of all available tax deductions.And you will find out quickly that while various books , web sites and infomercials claim other wise that their are very few income tax deductions available to the average tax payer unless you own a farm , operate a business , or have a substantial trust or investment income. You will also find that while some things are technically tax deductible that you must meet a certain level or percentage before the deduction is available to you. One example of this is that while medical expenses are tax deductible it is really only true if your medical and doctor bills exceed 9 percent of your income.

However if you happen to own real estate there are several substantial tax deductions available to you. The U.S, government continues to encourage home ownership and the purchase of homes this way. Are you aware that the interest on a mortgage is tax deductible. And you should know that on new mortgages that any points paid on the loan are also deductible for you.

One key deduction that a lot of people miss is the property tax deduction. People seeking professional tax advise at the paid tax services and public accountants seek to deduct money paid for taxes. And this desire is easy to understand. Because it really seems unfair to pay taxes on money that is used to pay taxes. And fortunately when it comes to property taxes you will find that the tax code agrees.

You don’t want to be one of the many U.S. tax payers that forget about deducting property taxes paid on their income tax returns. Many people tend to forget that they paid the property taxes so they never ask the person preparing their return for the deduction. People also forget because in the case of mortgages the mortgage company is quite often responsible for paying property taxes for you during the term of the loan. The mortgage company is using your money to pay the property taxes with so the deduction is yours. For some more info on deductions and appeals, visit http://appealpropertytaxhouston.com/.

You need to use a IRS Form Schedule A to claim your deduction for property tax deductions and you will want to fill in the right amount on line 5 which is for real estate taxes. You want to be sure to keep careful records and receipts so you will know the amount you paid for property taxes so you can claim the correct amount. You can claim property taxes paid to your city , county and state so be sure to add up the amounts and claim it all. Keep in mind that if your mortgage company paid your property taxes as part of your mortgage you should receive a form 1099 – INT from the mortgage company and the amount paid for property taxes should be found on that form.

Exactly What Are Property Taxes?

Question mark; originally by Neutrality, inver...

Image via Wikipedia

Simply put, property taxes are government taxes assessed by local authorities on your home and the land that it sits upon. These taxes may sometimes be known as real estate taxes. Cities, counties and states can levy them. Normally it is only the counties that do this, but all three are possible.Establishing a mileage rate generally derives the tax, which is then applied to the perceived value of the land and the home. The tax money is frequently used by the collecting entity as a method of providing services to the property owner in the way of police, fire, school and other services.

Paying property taxes is normally done in two ways. The first would be to include them into your monthly payment to the mortgage company handling the loan. The mortgage company would then pay the tax bill to the collection entity when it becomes due. Normally that is a once a year proposition. The second method would be for you to pay them directly. Many land/homeowners who have paid off their property pay this way. This blog can be a good source of information if you’re confused.

Another important consideration is that if your local assessor overvalues your home, you have the right to protest property tax assessments in most counties.

It is very important that you keep up with your property taxes as they can get you in trouble if you do not. These taxes are not unlike owing the Federal Government taxes of any kind. They do not go away! If you become delinquent in your property taxes, they will simply put a lien against your property. As with all government entities, they will get their due, sooner or later.

The ‘later’ in this situation is when you sell the property. At the time of sale, they simply exercise the lien and it is normally done prior to the mortgage company getting their money. So in a situation where the property may have lost value to a changing market – such as right now – they would not get full value on the property. To alleviate that situation, many mortgage companies when notified of a lien, will pay it off and bill you then and there to get it done.

The good news is that all taxes related to your property are tax deductible. As a rule so is the interest on the loan used to purchase the land/property.