Hurricane Preparedness & Evacuation Information

Here are some helpful hints needed to be prepared before and during a storm as well as the evacuation routes by zip codes following on the next page.

Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility. What would you do if basic services – water, gas, electricity or telephones – were cut off? Relief workers cannot reach everyone right away.Therefore, prepare before disaster strikes. You and your family will cope best by preparing for a hurricane before a storm is in the Gulf of Mexico. One way to prepare is by assembling a disaster supply kit. Once a storm is in the Gulf, you may not have time to stop or search for supplies or you may have difficulty finding needed items. However, if you have gathered your supplies in advance, your family can endure an evacuation or home confinement.

  • Water – At least a 5 to 7 day supply (One gallon per person per day)
  • Food – At least a 5 to 7 day supply of nonperishable food (Change out stored water and food supplies every six months).
  • First Aid Kit
  • Flashlight with Extra Batteries
  • Battery Powered Radio
  • Medications & Special Items (pain relievers, diapers, etc.)
  • Tools & Supplies
  • Sanitation (toilet paper, personal hygiene items, etc.)
  • Change of Clothes & Bedding
  • Cash
  • Important Family Documents (birth certificates, insurance/bank account info, etc.)
  • Food, Water, and Medicine for your Pets
  • Kennels or Crates for pets

Evacuation Tips

  • If you evacuate, remember to take your disaster supply kit with you on the road.
  • During hurricane season (6/1 – 11/30), keep at least half a tank of gas in your car at all times.
  • Rethink your needs every year and update your kit as your household changes.

Here is a link to a map of evacuation zip-zones for Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Harris and Matagorda counties.

 

 

August Home Maintenance Tips

  • Inspect Garden Hoses
    • Hook up your hoses and check for leaks. Fix a single puncture in a hose by cutting out the damaged section and rejoining the hose with a coupling fitting, which you can pick up at the hardware store for about $1.50. Also replace damaged hose ends.
  • Get Your Attic Set for Summer
    • Stay comfortable and keep cooling costs in check by making sure that soffit, gable and ridge vents are not blocked. Insulation should cover the entire attic floor; add new material or reposition existing insulation as needed. If your attic is equipped with a thermostat-controlled exhaust fan, test it by blowing heated air from a blow-dryer onto the thermostat unit. If the fan doesn’t come on when the thermostat housing is warm to the touch, you need a new thermostat.
  • Bee-Proof Your House
    • Stop bees, wasps and hornets from setting up new nests in your home by sealing gaps in siding, trim and other exterior surfaces. Wasps prefer cave areas, and there’s little you can do to prevent their nesting. However, spritzing a developing nest with soapy water will usually send the insects elsewhere. The same strategy will work on in-ground yellow jacket and bumblebee nests. But think twice before you eliminate nests in remote corners of your yard; wasps and hornets kill tremendous numbers of caterpillars and other less desirable insects.
  • Clean Out Air Conditioners
    • If you haven’t used your air conditioner yet, check it out before the really hot weather hits. Clean dust, insects and other debris from grillwork areas and from cooling fins. Replace dirty filters. Dislodge cocoons and larvae from between fins with a wood or plastic (non metal) paint-stirring stick. Turn on the united and test its effectiveness. Get any problems fixed before your repairman is overbooked with work.
  • Don’t Forget the Garage Floor
    • You may not need to tackle all three of these tasks for your garage floor – cleaning, repairing and painting – but at least one deserves to be on your to-do list. Use a stiff-bristled broom followed by a shop vacuum to rid the floor of debris and dust. To remove oil and grease, try a degreasing cleaner that can be found at auto-supply shops, hardware stores and home centers. Repair cracks with a high-strength patching mortar. Many companies make special concrete-floor paint that offers good resistance to abrasion and staining.
  • Repair Split Siding
    • Inspect siding for cracks and splits. For a crack or split more than 2 ft. long, replace the entire board. To repair a shorter crack or split, pry it open with a slotted screwdriver and fill with exterior-grade, water-resistant glue. After boring two pilot holes in the face of siding, close the crack by pushing up on the bottom edge of the siding and driving in galvanizing ring-shank siding nails. Wipe off excess glue with a damp cloth.

Make Your Backyard a Bug-Free Zone

Depending on where you live in the United States, mosquitos will either be a usual nuisance this summer or a potential carrier of the Zika virus. Either way, keeping mosquitos at bay is essential to creating a safer summer for you and your family.

We all know the importance of removing any standing water from around the yard. Making it a habit to walk around your property right after rainfall to dump water from flower pot stands, fire pits, bird baths, kid’s toys, and so on, does help. But while many mosquito-repellent strategies exist, most fail once a mosquito gets the whiff of a human nearby (they are attracted to the carbon dioxide we exhale). And once they find us, few things are likely to deter them. So what are the effective, safe-for-all steps you can take to help make your backyard bug free?

Blow Them Away
The best low-tech solution to keep mosquitos from bugging you is to move an indoor fan outside during the evening. Not only are mosquitos inept fliers, but a 2003 study showed that wind thwarts a mosquito’s landing capabilities. If they can’t land on you, they can’t bite you. Simply point the fan toward your seating areas in the backyard and stay put– at least during dusk.

For a more long-term solution, install a ceiling fan anywhere you like to sit when outdoors: on your porch, over a covered patio, or in a gazebo. Search “outdoor ceiling fans” on Pinterest for inspiration. You can also Google “wall mount outdoor fan” for fans that you can place discreetly yet strategically to help keep mosquitos from making an easy landing on your arm.

Try Yellow Lights
Replace outdoor lighting fixtures with yellow bug lights, or for a few dollars more, with warm-colored LED bulbs. Why LEDs? While a recent study found both types of bulbs were effective at attracting fewer mosquitos and other insects, surprisingly, the warmer colored LEDs were also effective in attracting fewer earwigs and stink bugs — a bonus by any measure. LEDs also last for years making them less expensive in the long term. To shop for the correct, warm-colored LEDs for outdoor lights, however, remember that lumen (lm) matters more than wattage(W), the warmer (yellower) the LED light, to have more brightness at night, LEDs in the 16-20 W range may be the happy medium between seeing well and keeping bugs away. Ask your hardware store expert for advice, though, as other factors, such as dimmer capabilities and bulb-encased light fixtures impact how long an LED bulb lasts.

Remove Their Habitat
It’s your habitat, not theirs, so keep it that way by following these five simple yet effective deterrents:

  • Keep your pool covered when not in use
  • Trim back any heavy vegetation areas and low-hanging foliage
  • Pick up decaying fruit and other yard debris from ground
  • Mow your lawn weekly and eliminate any tall weeds
  • Clear rain gutters and downspouts

Repel Them with Non-Toxic Sprays and Oils
Toxic chemicals work but that’s hardly healthy for us. The most effective non-toxic repellents that are safe for people and pets include:

  • The long-held and still true use of citronella oil (outdoors only folks)
  • Conceal Candles, which contain a botanical that inhibits a mosquito’s ability to smell
  • Yard sprays made with neem oil
  • Liquid garlic sprays (it seems mosquitos and vampires hate garlic)
  • Food-grade diatomaceous earth spray (safe for use in koi and ornamental ponds)

No single solution has yet been found to completely protect you and your family from mosquitos, but following these steps can help eliminate opportunities for those little skeeters to make your backyard their home.

A Note on Zika in the U.S.
As June 2016 drew to a close, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had not reported any known locally acquired cases of Zika in any U.S. states — all the reported cases in the U.S. have been travel-associated infections to date. However, the CDC has compiled a map that shows their estimated range in the U.S. for the type of mosquito (Aedes aegypti) that carries the virus. While not a precise mapping of Zika’s potential to spread, if you live in the lower half of the U.S., it can be helpful to take simple precautions, including those outlined in this post.

Housing Market Trends of 2016

  • Growing rental rates and moderate home price growth should mean more people look to buy in 2016.
  • Mortgage rates will rise, which should also boost numbers of buyers.

These are the two most important housing market trends in 2016. The pattern seen in 2015 was largely characterized by a white-hot rental market, and if this continues, more households will likely choose to rent over buy.

Demand for for-sale properties will grow and continue to largely consist of older millennials (ages 25-34). This demographic has potential to claim a third of the properties sold in 2016. Generation X could also be big factor in home sales this year, as this demographic is in prime earning years and experiencing better economic circumstances, which include more relocations and finding better neighborhoods for their families.

Supply will also improve as a result additional growth in construction, particularly in single-family homes.The growth will be in more affordable price points, which will help bring down average home prices and average size of new homes.

Mortgage rates should begin their long-anticipated ascent as the Federal Reserve attempts to influence rates up without negatively affecting economic growth.

The final key trend is that rents will rise more rapidly than prices, adding to the already burdensome level of rents that exist in more than 85% of the markets in the country. In the near term, this reinforces the consumer’s decision to buy.

18 Ways to Add Instant Curb Appeal to Your Home

  1. Paint your front door. (There’s an app called “Front Door Paint” that allows you to see what different door colors would look like)
  2. If you don’t want paint, just give your door a good scrub.
  3. Spray paint your existing door hardware. Anything is more modern than contractor’s brass.
  4. Give your house numbers a font upgrade.
  5. Frame your door. Painting the trim and adding matching molding can make any door frame look tons better
  6. Add a stylish door knocker.
  7. Put in some new porch lights. Or upgrade the ones you already have.
  8. Add tile to plain concrete entryway, or make faux tiles with concrete stain.
  9. Adding layers of plants will give more dimension to you porch.
  10. Wood-stain your aluminum garage door to give your home a more rustic feel.
  11. Cover an exposed foundation with ready made panels.
  12. Camouflage the ugly electrical boxes and hide your A/C unit.
  13. Give your mailbox a makeover.
  14. Revamp your welcome mat.
  15. Pressure wash everything!
  16. Hang up your water hose.
  17. Create a flower bed around your trees for another well-contained pop of color.
  18. Top it all off with a porch swing.

If you have any more ideas on what could make your home pop out, please let us know in a comment below!

How to Sell Your Home for More

You always want to make a good impression and sell your home for as much as you possibly can. Below are 10 tips to help you increase the value and look of your home.

  1. Price Below Market Value
    Pricing your home slightly below market value can create urgency among active buyers who know the market. Increasing the odds of multiple offers.
  2. Brighten Up the Rooms
    A dark room can feel dark and cluttered. Clean the windows, open up the blinds and turn on the lights.
  3. Clean Out the Closets
    Remove 50% of everything in the closet and pack it away. Buyers want to see more closet space and less clutter.
  4. Paint the Front Door
    Make your home stand out! A freshly painted door can leave a great first impression to an excited home buyer.
  5. Enhance the Landscaping
    Spruce up the landscaping! The front of your house is the first thing buyers see online and when they pull-up in the driveway.
  6. Stain Deck and Driveway
    Staining your driveway is simple and cost effective. Cover up those old oil spots and make it look new again.
  7. Paint Walls Neutral Color
    Painting the rooms throughout the house a neutral color is less distracting and can be more comforting for visitors.
  8. Clean. Clean. Clean.
    Make sure your home is clean from all odors and debris. Clean up before every showing:
    – Vacuum
    – Wash Floors
    – Clean Windows & Blinds
    – Clean Baseboards
  9. Pack Away Picture Frames
    De-personalize. Take the time to pack away certain items like pictures, trophies, and awards.
  10. Kitchen Improvements
    No matter your budget, you can make improvements to your kitchen that can make a big difference when selling.

Don’t Be Intimidated by These Real Estate Terms!

Real estate can be scary at times, especially when you aren’t in the industry. If you aren’t familiar with the lingo in real estate, it can sometimes add to more frustration. To prevent any additional pressure and keep you from being overwhelmed when buying or selling for the first time, we are providing a few very helpful real estate definitions.

Appraisal – the estimate value of a property.

Certificate of Title – document that ensures the property is legally owned by the person who claims it.

Closing Costs – all the fees and expenses associated with closing on a home, usually around 6% of the cost of the home.

Comparative Marketing Analysis (CMA) – a study of how comparable local homes have sold to help determine a reasonable price for the property.

Contingencies – conditions that must be met in order for the offer on a home to proceed.

Due Diligence – actions that a responsible buyer must address in to protect the real estate investment.

Debt to Income Ratio – in order to qualify for a loan, your monthly debt cannot exceed 43% of your monthly income.

Earnest Money Deposit – payment made to the seller with the offer to show serious intention.

Escrow – an account where all closing costs are collected while the lender approves the deal.

FICO Score – numerical value assigned to lenders based on their credit history.

Fiduciary Duties – the responsibilities of the broker that the real estate agent works for.

Good Faith Deposit – payment made to the lender  with the offer to show serious intention.

HOA – homeowners association; the organization that determines community rules and standards.

Loan to Value Ratio – how the lender determines if the loan is worth the risk associated with it.

Mortgage – simply put: the home loan.

Pre-qualification – the process to determine if a borrower is qualified for a loan; amount is approximate.

Payment Terms – principle, interest, taxes, PMI, etc. all the buyers really needs to know is the monthly and cumulative totals.