Friday, July 30, 2010


Among other things, recent changes in the federal Truth in Lending Act and RESPA can slow the closing process. There is now a new HUD-1 form (Closing Statement)that title companies are getting used to which may add several more hours of document preparation. Their unfamiliarity and the fear of making a costly mistake in the Good Faith Estimate are sometimes prompting lenders to ask for closing cost information more than once and in several formats. Be sure to use an experienced title company who will more than likely have had more than enough transactions under their belt to have mastered the new documents.

Lending rules have also made it harder to close on time especially if circumstances change late in the deal. Amendments to the Truth in Lending Act require a 3-day disclosure period if a borrower decides to change the loan amount or anything else that might effect the interest rate. A change in loan amount could be due to an agreed upon amount off sales price in leiu of repairs. And changes of more than 0.125% in the APR immediately trigger another disclosure.

To avoid delays, work with knowledgable, seasoned professionals and avoid last minute changes whenever possible.

Don't Believe Everythig You Read!

There's always lots of emails circulating with false information out there. One in particular states that the healthcare bill contains a 4% tax on home sales. According to, the truth is that bill imposes a 3.8% Medicare tax for some high-income households that have "net investment income". The tax, which goes into effect in 2013, applies only to households with adjusted gross income of more than $250,000 ($200,000 for individuals). Also, since the capital gains rule is still in effect, the tax would be charged only on home-sale proceeds that exceed the exclusion amount of $500,000 ($250,000 for individuals). That's an amount that touches few households according to the publication by Erica Christoffer and Robert Freedman.

If you have any additional questions, call your CPA, Tax Advisor.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thinking About Remodeling?

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy 4th of July, 2010 - Maybe a couple of days late but still sincere!

What a wonderful celebration Sunday night. It was our 4th year to attend The Woodlands' magnificent 4th of July fireworks display, and I swear it gets bigger and better every year! It's obvious no expense was spared and we sincerely thank the sponsors for providing us yet another year of spectacular celebrating. And a huge thank you to our law enforcement agency who have it down to a science. They were great directing traffic and people. And with literally thousands in attendance, I didn't see a single person misbehave.

We take our lawn chairs, our favorite adult beverage, cheese, crackers, fruit and this year I added sushi. We get there early to get "our spot" and then "people watch" before the main event begins because once it starts, all eyes are on the sky.

Now a little word to the wise if you've never been and think you can just waltz right onto the River Walk 30 minutes before it starts...think again. You'll find literally carloads of families, bumper-to-bumper on every street and shoulder-to-shoulder not only along the river, but on blankets on every strip of grass from Woodlands Parkway to Lake Woodlands, ontop of all the parking garages, in the Mall parking lot, up and down both sides of I-45 as well as packed in the shopping center parking lots in Oak Ridge.

And they come EARLY! I saw bar-b-q pits, tables, chairs, cots, even a few RV's! It was crazy! But crazy fun. And as in past years, by the time it's over and we're creeping 1-1/2 hours just to get out of the mall parking lot, I ask myself if I think we'll do it again next year and decide I would be crazy to do it again. But by July 3rd the following year, I'm busy getting my goodies together to keep the tradition going. Will we go again? We sure will!

COMING SOON! EarthQuest Resort

I've been telling folks it was coming for a couple of years now and it's finally coming to fruition! To be located between SH242 and FM 1485 on Highway 59 in Montgomery County, EarthQuest is coming to the East Montgomery County area. For much more information and a full description, log onto their website at Below is just a brief description of what EarthQuest Resort will have to offer.

The EarthQuest Resort is planned to be a family destination where guests of all ages and interests will have fun while exploring and learning about the wonders of our planet. Nestled in the beautiful rural landscape of East Montgomery County, Texas, this 500-acre, themed resort will pay homage to the Earth and all of its resources in a way that is entertaining, engaging, empowering and unique.

The project consists of an Eco-Resort with Hotel and Conference Center, a Theme Park with attractions and thrills based on the natural world, a Water Park based on the lost world of dinosaurs, a Family Entertainment Center, a Retail/ Dining/ Entertainment Promenade, and at the center of it all, the EarthQuest Institute, an innovative new education and research facility with hands-on exhibits dedicated to advancing our awareness and appreciation of the environment.

The EarthQuest Resort includes six major components:

EarthQuest Institute

The EarthQuest Institute is the fundamental heart of the EarthQuest Resort. It is a Not-For-Profit, scientific center for research and dissemination of information regarding our planet and the ways in which we can act to help provide the best possibilities for sustainable lifestyles.

Visitors will be able to participate in many interactive and hands-on activities that will help them understand the value of our natural resources, show cause and effect relationships and offer positive approaches to preserving many aspects of nature that we so deeply value.

EarthQuest Adventures Theme Park

EarthQuest Adventures Theme Park is an exhilarating new theme park filled with entertaining attractions that encourage us to explore and appreciate the amazing wonders of our planet. Rides, shows, and interactive experiences will engage the young and old alike, creating instant memories while sparking curiosity and inspiring further interest in protecting and preserving the earth.

Accessible on its own or in combination with other components of the EarthQuest Resort, a day at the EarthQuest Adventures Theme Park includes a visit to five themed zones, each focused on a different fundamental feature of the earth: Water, Land, Sky, Life and Pangaea (the ancient world). Attractions within the zones present a wide variety of thrills, challenges, and excitement, making the park a perfect family destination that will be popular for locals as well as tourists.

Cretaceous Cove Water Park

The whimsical idea of a retreating glacier when dinosaurs ruled the world creates the perfect setting for a themed water park filled with water slides, raft rides, wave pools, and other attractions. This highly imaginative and playfully immersive water park covers approximately 12 acres of themed attractions, all centered around a mountain of icy glacial fragments and the refreshingly cool run-off spilling down from its melting slopes.

The mix of attractions appeals to both active water enthusiasts and visitors who just want to relax and unwind. Unique dining and refreshment centers provide quick and easy access to fast food and snacks, and themed shops cater to the needs of regular visitors and first-time tourists.

Green Gadget Garage – A Family Entertainment Center

What do the scientists of an eco-friendly resort do with all their left-over stuff? In the spirit of “waste not-want not,” they recycle it, retool it and turn it into the foundation of a really cool and funky family entertainment center. All the classics are here – Go Karts, Mini Golf, Ferris Wheels, Soft Playgrounds, Arcade Games and more. But because they are built with recycled products they will have an innovative, homegrown and eclectic feel. And whenever possible, they will all utilize a variety of alternative power (solar power, wind power and people power).

EarthQuest Resort Hotel

Reconnect with yourself and with nature at the EarthQuest Resort Hotel and Tree Houses. Surrounded by lush waterfalls, natural woods, native plants and eco-friendly facilities, guests will have no trouble escaping the hustle-bustle of everyday life and finding the peace, serenity and inspiration this delightful resort has to offer.
Vacations and business gatherings alike will be exciting and memorable!

With a state-of-the-art conference center and first class amenities, EarthQuest will be a much sought-out destination for small business meetings, events and conferences. The Hotel will have a direct connection to the Conference Center and access to the associated amenities of the Institute. In addition, it will feature lush Forest Cabins and Tree House Suites.

Ecotourism Activities

Guests can celebrate the natural beauty of the property through low-impact activities such as horseback riding, hiking trails and kayaking on the creek. Rope-courses and zip-lines will add a more active and adventurous flavor to the menu, as well as bird watching and flora and fauna guided nature walks.

EarthWalk – Retail, Dining and Entertainment

When guests arrive at the EarthQuest Resort they’ll stroll first along a shady street filled with 60,000 sq. ft. of eco-friendly shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. This is EarthWalk, the gateway entrance to the Theme Park, Water Park, Family Entertainment Center, Institute and Hotel. It is the base camp from which we prepare for the journeys that lie ahead, and afterward relax and unwind from the day’s adventures.

Retail shops along EarthWalk’s main thoroughfare offer the finest in environmentally friendly goods: clothing, outdoor gear, and native crafts from around the world. Small pavilions and kiosks house changing displays and demonstrations from the EarthQuest Institute. Restaurants offer a rich range of international cuisine in themed settings and some of the food is grown using sustainable agricultural methods in selected areas of the EarthQuest Resort.

I'm so excited that these invisionaries chose our area for this unique blend of family entertainment. What a great area to live in!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Market Street Happenings for July 2010!

Carriage Rides at Market Street! - July 2

Independence Parade - July 3

Cars & Coffee for a Cause - July 4

Popular Children s Series - Peanut Butter & Jamm - Returns to Market Street July 10th-August 14th!

Ladies Night Out! RSVP Today - July 12

Market Street Day Knitters - July 1

Story Time at Borders - July 2

The Woodlands Songwriters Association - July 12

Literary Ladies Book Club - July 13

Cru ~ A Wine Bar
Girl's Night Out! Celebrate Women & Champagne! - July 1

Big Bottle Night Every Wednesday At CrĂș~A Wine Bar - July 7

Vueve Clicquot Wine Dinner at Cru - July 15

Reynolds Family Winery Winemaker Dinner at Cru - July 16

Langford Market
Meet the Artist Event at Langford Market - July 15

Luke’s Locker
Run The Woodlands - July 10

Run The Woodlands - July 24

Norton Ditto
Happy Hour and Sale at Norton Ditto - July 8

FREE "Flyfishing 101" at Orvis
July 3

Red Mango
Mango Monday at Red Mango

Sweet & Sassy
Sweet and Sassy Glam Week Summer Camp

Sweet and Sassy open at 7:30AM to get the girls sparkling and ready for the parade! Star Spangled package - July 3

Market Street-The Woodlands Presents The Return of its Popular Children’s Series Peanut Butter & Jamm!

Fashion Boutique Couture Lounge Signs Lease to Open at Market Street

Woodlands Wellness & Cosmetic Center - Summer Savings
THERMAGE 40% OFFThermage is the skin tightening procedure that smoothes, tightens and contours without surgery, injections or

Jamba Juice - Summer Feel Good Specials
See these awesome specials...

Bobby Chan - Join us for free wine and shopping at Bobby Chan!
Summer Sale continues through July with everything 30% off! Bobby Chan's offers free refreshments every

Aaron Brothers - Get a frame or canvas for a penny!
June 24th will be the first day of our Penny Sale. During the Penny Sale customers can purchase any frame or canvas and get a

Langford Market - Langford Market offers complimentary Personal Shoppers -Stop by for styling tips and ways to look your best!
Not everyone looks forward to swimsuit season, but we want to encourage you to focus on your whole ensemble.Try d

Eddie Bauer - Ultimate Summer Sale through July 11th at Eddie Bauer
These are the last days of the best prices of the season! Beginning, July 12th, we launch our Annual Gear event. A

Cos Bar - Special Beauty Events in July at Cos Bar
Make-up artist events: Artist, Sisley Regional - July, 3,10, 17, 24, 31 Treatment Thursdays: July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Foundati

Red Mango - Get your passport to FREE 16oz smoothies at Red Mango
Introducing new smoothies including boosts, fresh fruit and tea chillers! Stop by to pick up your Passport for free 16oz Smo

Sweet & Sassy - Fourth of July Specials - Sweet and Sassy will be open early to get the girls sparkling.
Two new fabulous parties just for summer- July only - Hawaiian beach party and the "So Sweet" party-call Swee

Sweet & Sassy - Glam Week Summer Camp
Different fun filled themes each day Monday-Friday, 10:30 - 2:30. July 19-25, and another session July 26-29. $185/wk, $40/da

Francesca’s Collections - Summer Sale at Francesca's Collections - Up to 75% off!

Dr. S. Bret Cope D.D.S. - Dr. Cope Gives Market Street Something to Smile About...

Norton Ditto - Summer Sale at Norton Ditto
Up to 30% discount on suits, sports coats, dress and casual slacks, long sleeve and short sleeve sport shirts, dress shirts,

Lilly Pulitzer - Lilly has Red, white, Blue & Pink Dresses!
Come to Lilly Pulitzer for your 4th of July attire. We have lots of Red, White, Blue and Pink dresses, skirts, tops and part

Em & Lee - Coupon for $10.00 during the month of July at Em & Lee
Great savings plus a coupon for $10.00!

Dionysus Salon-Spa - July is hot and steamy....and so is our hair!
July is hot and steamy....and so is our hair!!! Dionysus has several selections from Aveda to keep your hair tame and under c

LMD Boutique - Save 15% at LMD Boutique on 4th of July Weekend!
15% off throughout the store on July 3rd and 4th!

AVIA Boutique Hotel - Live music every week on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
Featuring Ramon Torres and Anthony Caceres.

AVIA Boutique Hotel - Drink in the experience at the Avia Hotel. Happy Hour Specials!
Sunday - S.I.N. Industry Night $2.00 off beer + wines by the glass - 1/2 off libations Martini Mondays - Whether shaken or s

Great opportunities available at:
• Aaron Brothers
• Cru ~ A Wine Bar
• Luke s Locker
• Sweet & Sassy
See all Job Opportunities

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Buying a New Home from a Builder?

So you’re in the market for a new home and decide to go looking around to see what’s out there. If you are already working with a Realtor, be sure to register them with each builder before wandering around a single home. That way you’ll start off on the right foot with the builder and it will also send the builder the message that they can’t pull one over on you....and trust me, many will try. No matter how friendly the sales rep for the builder is, ultimately they will be looking after the interests of the one signing their paycheck and that’s not you. The same holds true with the builder’s superintendants and inspectors.

There are some wonderful builders out there who build really fine, quality homes. But you’ve got to keep in mind that there are many more unscrupulous ones as well. A home builder is only as good as his contractors, and construction workers tend to follow the money. The old saying, “Here today, gone tomorrow” can really be applied to building contractors. If a new subdivision opens up in the vicinity paying more money, you can bet a hungry contractor will pick up his hammer, nails, pipes and paint brushes and join his friends down the street.

So the first thing you need is your own advocate....someone who knows the ropes and will look after YOUR best interests. If you don’t have one, you need to hire a REALTOR. Why would you NOT, when you’re about to tie yourself to a mortgage for the next 30 years of your life while doling out thousands of dollars on the largest purchase you will more than likely ever make? And by the way, your Realtor’s commission is even paid by the builder! Builders like Realtors who bring them buyers so guess who benefits....YOU!

If you’re still waffling about a Realtor, consider the following:

Builders have their asking price just like an individual seller has a list price, and your Realtor can work alongside of you to negotiate the best deal possible. We've had alot of practice. We do it everyday. Another thing, builders may tell you that you have to use their lender, but that’s not true. You can use whomever you wish but many times the builder has worked out a deal with a particular lender to wave certain fees so using their lender is sometimes a good idea. Just make sure they are not making up the shortfall in additional or higher fees some place else. Shop around to make the best choice. Your Realtor can refer you to reputable lenders.

If the home is still under construction, visit it regularly, every step of the way. Once the walls are up, you can’t see what’s behind them. Your Realtor can be your other set of eyes. And take pictures! At the very least, it’ll be fun to have a collection of photos of your new home from start to finish.

Hire an inspector. Again, the builder has more than likely had inspections done at various times throughout the building process but you need an inspector who is not being paid by the builder to look after YOUR interests. Afterall, an inspector is beholding to the one who signs his paycheck. And don’t fall for the “you don’t need an inspector because we use city inspectors" line. Again, hire and PAY for your own, independent inspector. Your Realtor will have a list of reputable inspectors to chose from. Oh, and make sure ALL appliances are installed and utilities are on prior to the inspection.

Your Realtor will negotiate repairs for you. Just because it’s a brand new home doesn’t mean everything will be in working order. I’ve seen plumbing fixtures installed backwards (hot where cold should be and vice-versa) and electrical circuits not color coded properly. I’ve seen pin-sized holes in pipes that if not caught, could have caused mold at the very least. I’ve seen drainage issues and roof issues and so many other things that were caught by our own independent inspectors. An agent friend of mine even had an inspector find a beam missing in the attic. A structural engineer had to be called in. Negotiate the repairs and then by all means....PERFORM A FINAL WALK-THROUGH PRIOR TO CLOSING. I can't stress this enough.

Once you sign on the bottom line and the money funds, the house AND ITS PROBLEMS become yours! And no one is slower at handling fixes than a builder who has already closed on a home. Keep in mind that holding off a closing is much less costly for you than going through it with the promise the builder will make good on something not done. If you hold off the closing until the house is as you expect it, the builder will be forced to get on the ball and get things done because he doesn’t want another month of interest to pay.

I prefer to take my buyers to the house a few hours prior to closing, provided they’ve been stopping by periodically to monitor the progress so there are no surprises.



Received this late last night after posting my venting blog about the National Flood Insurance Program.


From: NAR (National Association of Realtors)Government Affairs
RE: Tax Credit Closing Date Extension/Flood Insurance Extension
DATE: 30 June 2010

After a close brush with the deadline, Congress has passed an extension of the Homebuyer Tax Credit closing deadline,the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act(H.R. 5623). The extension applies only to transactions that have ratified contracts in place as of April 30, 2010 that have not yet closed. The new closing deadline legislation designed to create a seamless extension for eligible transactions is now September 30, 2010. There will be no gap between June 30and the date the President signs the bill into law.

NAR worked closely with Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to enact this important legislation. Extending the Tax Credit Closing deadline will help provide additional stability to real estate markets across the nation. For additional information on the extension visit

Additionally, the United States Senate has passed the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2010,(H.R. 5569) extending the National Flood Insurance Program until September 30, 2010. This will allow transactions to move forward. The bill is retroactive and covers the lapse period from June 1, 2010 to the date of enactment of the extension. For more information on the flood insurance program visit