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Jutta "Utah" Burden


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 477

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC)

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) – What Is It and What is the Impact on Buying or Selling a Home?


Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have adopted the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (“the Code”) for all conventional, single-family loans originated on or after May 1, 2009, that are delivered to them.  The Code does not apply to multi-family home loans or loans insured by a federal agency such as FHA or VA loans. So far, only Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have adopted this Code.

Highlights of the Code: 

·        Appraisers must be certified by the state where the property that is being appraised is located.

·        It also provides that the home buyer must be provided with a copy of the appraisal report not less than 3 days prior to closing.  The borrower may waive this right.

·        The Code prohibits a lender from ordering a second appraisal when the lender is trying to influence the outcome of the new appraisal.  

Currently many lenders and title insurance underwriters own appraisal management companies. This is legal under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) so long as the lenders and title insurance underwriters disclose their ownership relationship within 24 hours of the referral.  The Code also permits this practice. Also, the home buyer does not have to use those companies.  As a result of this new Code, there could be a number of national appraisal companies that evolve who do not understand the local market. This could affect the home industry negatively by further depressing home prices because there is a fear that a national appraisal company would value homes based upon a process determined by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and that the valuation process would not accurately reflect local home values.     As a result, this would affect the buyer’s loan if the home does not appraise at the selling price. This means if the buyer wants to purchase the home, the buyer would have to make up the difference out of his own pocket between the appraisal price and the home value price or ask the seller for a price reduction.  This could cause the deal to fall apart.  We will have to wait and see if the Code has a negative impact or not on the housing market.

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Seller TIP Quick Fixes to Increase Value

by Jutta "Utah" Burden


With buyers scarcer, sellers must up the ante to convince them that their property offers what many want most — top value for dollar expended. Here are eight fast fixes:

1. Buff up curb appeal. You’ve heard it before, but it’s critical to get buyers to want to look on the inside. Be objective. View listings from the street. Check the condition of the landscaping, paint, roof, shutters, front door, knocker, windows, house number, and even how window treatments look from the outside. Add something special—such as big flower pots or an antique bench — to help viewers remember house A from B.

2. Enrich with color. Paint’s cheap, but forget the adage that it must be white or neutral. Just don’t let sellers get too avant-garde with jarring pinks, oranges, and purples. Recommend soft colors that say “welcome,” lead the eye from room to room, and flatter skin tones. Think soft yellows and pale greens. Tint ceilings a lighter shade.

3. Upgrade the kitchen and bathroom. These make-or-break rooms can spur a sale. But besides making each squeaky clean and clutter-free, update the pulls, sinks, and faucets. In a kitchen, add one cool appliance, such as an espresso maker. In the bathroom, hang a flat-screen TV to mimic a hotel. Room service, anyone?

4. Add old-world patina. Make Andrea Palladio proud. Install crown molding at least six to nine inches in depth, proportional to the room’s size, and architecturally compatible. For ceilings nine feet high or higher, add dentil detailing, small tooth-shaped blocks used as a repeating ornament. It’s all in the details, after all.

5. Screen hardwood floors. Buyers favor wood over carpet, but refinishing is costly and time-consuming. Screening cuts dust, time, and expense. What it entails: a light sanding, not a full stripping of color or polyurethane, then a coat of finish.

6. Clean out, organize closets. Get sorting—organize your piles into “don’t need,” “haven’t worn,” and “keep.” Closets must be only half-full so buyers can visualize fitting their stuff in.

7. Update window treatments. Buyers want light and views, not dated, fancy-schmancy drapes that darken. To diffuse light and add privacy, consider energy-efficient shades and blinds.

8. Hire a home inspector. Do a preemptive strike, since busy home owners seek maintenance-free living. Fix problems before you list the home and then display receipts and wait for buyers to offer kudos to sellers for being so responsible.

Sources: Ernie Roth, Roth Interiors, Los Angeles; Angel Petragallo, abr, Group One, Boise, Idaho; Melissa Galt, Galt Interiors, Atlanta; Steve Kleiman, CEO, Oakington Realty, Houston; Sid Davis, Sid Davis & Associates, Farmington, Utah, and author of First-Time Homeowners’ Survival Guide (Amacom, 2007); Steve Hochman, Friendly Note Buyers, Roxbury, N.Y.; Margi Kyle, designer and spokesperson for Hunter Douglas.

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Taking Mandatory "Time Outs"

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

A riveting article in the Wall Street Journal recently discussed how some people think they can fly off to a spa, have two weeks of idylic living, come back, and be ready to go.  A growing body of research, however, suggests that this approach is wrong and that multi-millions of people manage stress incorrectly, states Jeff Davidson, CEO of They stress out all day and defer relaxation to isolated blocks of time, such as evening yoga classes and weekend trips.

The problem with this approach to stress management is that the relentless exposure to daily, chronic anxiety is the most toxic form of stress. The body releases chemicals under high stress that can damage the immune system and increase the risk of all types of illness. Stress can harm neurons in the brain, hamper sexual performance, and even lead to heart attacks and premature death.

The conclusion from these findings: people need breathing space throughout the day, every day.

Eliminate headaches! Let me help you buy and/or sell a home! Find more information at

Where to Eat? The Best Restaurants in The Woodlands

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

With massive expansion underway, more and more restaurateurs are targeting the suburb for second and third locations of their popular eateries. Want to know where the best places to eat are at in The Woodlands? 

The aroma of beef or chicken being grilled over an open flame, or the sound of as sizzling platter of fajitas as they are transported to your table? Maybe the mouthwatering sight of your fresh, made-to-order, perfectly prepared meal served to your table with your choice of delicious sides would make your day? 

Here’s the Restaurant Directory to look for the Best Restaurants What are you waiting for? Go ahead try them out and let us know which you loved best! Enjoy!

Tips To Buy Real Estate; the Woodlands and Magnolia Texas Properties

by Jutta "Utah" Burden


Tips To Buy Real Estate; the Woodlands and Magnolia Texas Properties

The economy is slowly seeing a resurrection after the
collapse that happened some years back. So these are the times to invest in
real estate
. The Woodlands and Magnolia Texas regions have experienced a real
estate boom. Over the past decade, people have preferred these places due to
various factors.

When buying real estate, you have to consider some
basics. The following are some tips to buy properties without overshooting your budget.

Pre-approved home loan

Apply for a loan from a bank. Get it ready. By doing
this, you are ready to shop for real estate. The Woodlands and Magnolia Texas
real estate scene is blooming. When you have your loan papers ready, all you
need to do is find a property. This is better than finding a property and then
checking your loan eligibility.

When you already know your loan eligibility, you know
which properties to look for. You will look for real estate that is within your
buying power.

Find out about financing options

Banks provide numerous financing options for the
benefit of their customers. Get information on low down payments. Some banks
provide first time purchaser schemes. There is a new type of financing called
interest-only financing. You may get this loan faster, but read the fine print
before you commit on anything.

You can also avail down payment grants to buy real
estate. The Woodlands and Magnolia Texas real estate prices could also be a
touch expensive. A high down payment should not crush your dreams of buying a
property. And down payment grants help you navigate through this situation.

Sell your home before buying a new one

When you sell your existing home, you have cash in hand
to purchase a new one. You can make an offer to a prospective seller if you
have cash in hand. A seller would need some immediate cash to pay off a bank
loan. When you have cash in hand, the seller views you as a potential buyer and
a way to pay off the existing bank loan on the property. And in the bargain,
you may also get a lesser buying price.

Vacant real estate has more value

There is no doubt that there is more value for vacant
real estate. The Woodlands and Magnolia Texas property prices appreciate or
depreciate based on economic conditions. But vacant real estate always has
increasing value.

Consult a realtor who can help you see vacant real
estate sites. Within the urban regions it could be expensive. So don’t rule out
the opportunity to look for vacant sites on the outskirts. What are outskirts today
could become residential, urban, sub-urban and commercial centers in the
future. Spread your investments wisely. If you are new to the area, you may
have to rely on real estate agents.

Buying properties is not easy as it looks. It is a huge
investment that you are making. Probably an investment of your lifetime. So
invest wisely in real estate. The Woodlands and Magnolia Texas real estate prices
are sure to reward you in the future.

How to Guarantee You'll Get Your Home Sold This Time!

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

how to sell your home fast

Answer:  Focus In On The Major Key Issues And... Ask The Really Tough Questions When You Interview Your Next Agent! When You Do,You’re Guaranteed To Sell Your Home Faster And For More Money!

So, your listing has expired and you’re wondering: “What am I going to do?” You need your home sold!

The most important thing you can do right now is ask, “where did I go wrong?”

You see, marketing a home takes more than just sticking a sign in your yard and putting your property up on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).., any agent can do that! It takes aggressive, innovative marketing to sell your home in today’s market place!

What do I mean?

Well.., in today’s market place there are only so many buyers out there who are ready and able to purchase a home. So, if you want to sell your home this time, your new agent has to aggressively identify these potential buyers before other agents “get their hooks into them” and guide them into a different property

The fact is, when you enter the market to sell your home, you enter one of the most competitive businesses in existence... anywhere! Competition is fierce and if you’re not ready for it... your home just sits on the market. So, the first major key to effectively market your home is to identify potential buyers.

Remember, there are only so many buyers to go around... and your agent has to find those buyers first... before one of the hundreds of other agents out there reaches them and guides them into a different property!

So, how does an agent identify these “hot” prospects before the competition? This is where the “rubber meets the road”! This is what separates the weak agent from the shrewd, business-minded marketing professional you want to hire.

Your Agent Absolutely Must Have An Aggressive Marketing Strategy!

The best agents use eery available marketing tool, technology, approach, contact or potential avenue to generate prospective buyers for your property!

One key element is they understand the value of “effective” advertising! They realize that in today’s competitive market they have to create ads that generate a response. They can’t just splash their name out there and expect people to call.., they have to craft their ads... and give prospects a compelling reason to call.

Advertising is a crucial factor in the success of marketing anything! Your home included. So, how does the agent you’re considering separate him or herself from competitors? All their ads look virtually the same. So, what’s unique about your new agent that’s going to grab prospects and get them to pick up the phone and call?

In today’s market place, it’s tough! Potential buyers have been harassed, high-pressured and pushed around so much... it’s no wonder that it’s hard to get them to call! I’m tired of pushy salespeople too... I can relate!

They use razor-sharp strategy & cutting-edge technology as THE ADVANTAGE!

The best agents overcome this huge obstacle with a razor-sharp marketing strategy, combined with cutting-edge technology, to generate buyer after buyer!

Remember, the major key to generating a buyer for your home is to reach your prospect first ! And... with the soft, gentle, service-minded way I follow up... people simply love it! So, don’t worry about that part... again, the professionalism of your agent makes all the difference!

With more potential buyers, it only makes sense... you’ll sell your home faster and for more money! It’s supply and demand... plain and simple.

So again remember, the first one to reach your prospect wins the sale. So, if you want to get your home sold this time... don’t settle for anything less!

The first two questions then are: 1. How are they going to make the phone ring with lots of new prospects for your home? 2. What’s going to give them the edge and get thçm to the “starting block” first?

Then comes the next question. How sharp are your agent’s negotiating skills? What kind of results have they produced for past clients? This is so crucial!

Most people think that selling a home is like being a tour guide. Show the prospect around, ask if they like it and write up the paperwork. Well, if that’s all there was to it, your former agent would have closed on your house already!

Your Agent Absolutely Must Have Strong Fundamental Negotiating Skills!

If you want to get your home sold this time, your next agent absolutely must have a deep understanding of “The Art of Negotiating”. These skills are vitally important! Without these skills, you could lose big! With these skills, your agent will ensure you get the highest possible price for your home.

So, how do you find out about your prospective agent’s negotiating skills? Investigate! Check references. At the very least, call two or three of your agent’s most recent clients. In fact, call at least one or two of your agent’s cun clients. See what kind of effort he or she makes to get the job done!

So, in conclusion, really think these things through! This is such an important decision. Get prepared! Really fire away with questions when interviewing an agent. Make them stand the test of fire... the best agents thrive on it! They can’t wait to tell you all about the innovative methods that separate them from the agent that’ 11 poke a sign in the ground and act like that’s enough! In today’s market, it’s most definitely not enough!

Thanks for taking the time to read this information. I hope you found the ideas thought provoking and beneficial.

My entire aim with this report is to help point you in the right direction and give you some common sense guidelines to help you make the right decision this time.

If there is ever any way I can be of service to you or anyone you care about... please give me a call.

Your initial consultation is always under no obligation and completely free of charge. We’ll sit down for 15-20 minutes and I’ll show you the latest strategies and technology for selling your home. No high-pressure, just plain honest talk about what it’s going to take to get your home sold this time.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Warmest regards,

Jutta "Utah" Burden

Keller Williams Realty


Read more important information for selling your home at


7 Ways to Make Your Home Smell Nice

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

smell niceRather than spraying chemical-laden, store-bought air fresheners, choose one of these seven natural ways to make your living space smell a little delicious!

1. INVEST IN HOUSE PLANTS: Have your favorite plants and herbs growing in your kitchen, living room and bathroom in small pots. Green plants will help reduce indoor air pollution and keep clean air circulating in your space.

2. SAVE YOUR CITRUS FRUIT SKINS: Save the peels of oranges, lemons, limes and other citrus fruits. You can place them in boiling water to have a fresh aroma in the kitchen, or run them in your garbage disposal with boiling water. Also, put some citrus skins in your vacuum bag the next time you vacuum your carpet.

3. DILUTE ESSENTIAL OIL WITH WATER IN A SPRAY BOTTLE: You can spray your furniture and carpet to make the whole room smell a specific scent. To diversify, you can have different scents for different areas of your home. For example: lavender for the living room, sandalwood for your bedroom and peppermint for the bathroom.

4. PLACE BOWLS OF WHITE VINEGAR IN CORNERS OF THE ROOM: The vinegar will neutralize and absorb any offensive odors.

5. PLACE FABRIC SOFTENER IN YOUR SHOES AND CLOSET: It will take away any stale clothing smells. For another closet air freshener, place a cedar block at the bottom of your closet. Use sandpaper for a new layer once a year.

6. LIGHT SOY CANDLES INSTEAD OF REGULAR CANDLES: Soy candles are longer-lasting, preferred for the environment and have a more robust smell. (They are also safer than carcinogen- emitting candles.)

7. BAKE BREAD OR COOK YOUR OWN MEALS: Few things are as welcoming as the smell of freshly baked bread or the herbs of a home-cooked dinner.

Woodlands Real Estate Agent,

Homes in Spring Texas

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

Homes in Spring Texas

Jutta Utah Burden Broker at the Woodlands Realty Group  provides a range of valuable real estate services to home seekers and home sellers in the Woodlands and surrounding areas. Whether you are looking for homes for rent Spring TX or homes for sale in Spring Tx, we are your ultimate source of finding your dream home in the Woodlands and Spring area.

Spring Texas is adequately connected to all other major metropolitan areas in the Woodlands and it is situated at just 25 minute ride from downtown Houston to the South and suburb of The Woodlands to the north. With plenty of options for shopping, restaurants and schools in the Klein ISD school district, it is one of the most desirable places to live in the Woodlands.

Whether you wish to buy a Tudor, Mediterranean, French Country, Traditional, town home, lake view or golf course view home, we carry numerous housing options in Spring Texas. At our website, you can view the numerous listings, see photos and search for new and existing properties in Spring Texas area. We also provide complete guidance and information to help you in taking wise decisions. If you seek any assistance for finding homes for rent Spring tx or homes for sale in spring Tx, feel free to contact us.

The Woodlands Realty Group 


What do Texas Homeowners Care About?

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

 Most Texans know that Realtors are there to help you buy or sell your home. But many folks may not realize the role that Texas Realtors play in advocating for public policies benefiting homeowners.

Earlier this year, the Texas Association of Realtors commissioned a telephone survey of Texas homeowners. The purpose was to get a better idea of the issues foremost on their minds. Austin-based Baselice & Associates conducted the survey Jan. 24-29, interviewing homeowners from all parts of the state. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percent.

The top concern … Are you ready? Property taxes and appraisals, with 36 percent saying this issue concerns them the most, and 18 percent citing it as their second-most pressing concern. Combine these, and 54 percent of Texas homeowners are worried enough about property taxes and appraisals to rate it No. 1 or 2.

Other issues that concern homeowners in Texas:
• The prospect of higher taxes – 18 percent rated this their top issue and 20 percent their No. 2 issue 
• Crime – 16 percent rated it No. 1 and 21 percent No. 2 
• Public education – 16 percent No. 1 and 19 percent No. 2 
• The economy – 10 percent No. 1 and 15 percent No. 2 

Property taxes, appraisals worrisome

The survey results show that a majority of Texas homeowners are mainly concerned over property taxes and appraisals. The public policy goals of Texas Realtors are closely aligned with these concerns. During the 80th Texas Legislature, which ended May 28, the Texas Association of Realtors was successful in urging lawmakers to pass several measures reforming the property-appraisal process for homeowners. And Texas Realtors supported an amendment that provides property-tax relief to homeowners 65 years and older, and those who are disabled.

In public policy circles, Texas Realtors have been the chief proponents of property-tax relief for Texans. Texas ranks 42nd in the U.S. in homeownership, and high property taxes are partly to blame for this low ranking. The first phase of property-tax cuts was a 17-cent reduction in school maintenance and operations taxes per $100 valuation, passed during last year’s special session.

The second and larger phase of property-tax reductions, bringing an additional 33-cent cut in school maintenance and operations taxes per $100 valuation, kicked in this year, so your property-tax bill for next year will reflect the largest savings.

What legislators did, both last year in the special session and this year in the regular session, are steps in the right direction toward meaningful property-tax relief for Texans. But we still have a ways to go. We’ll continue urging lawmakers to make homeownership more affordable, whether for first-time or long-time homeowners. Besides continuing efforts to lower homeowners’ property taxes and make the appraisal process easier and fair, Texas Realtors work on other issues that benefit Texans. In case you’re wondering what these might be, here are two brief examples:

Mortgage fraud – curbing abuses protects consumers

In the recent 80th legislative session, Texas Realtors played a major role in passing legislation to curb mortgage fraud, protecting home buyers and sellers, and ensuring a viable real estate market.

Transfer fee – keeping a bad idea from taking root

At the 11th hour of the 80th session, the Texas Association of Realtors stopped a bad idea from gaining a foothold in Texas. A private transfer fee is a scheme (many call it a scam) where a person sells his home but files a covenant on the property requiring a fee – one percent is common – paid to the party who filed the covenant. The payment to the seller who filed the covenant is required every time the property is sold after that for as long as 99 years. We urged quick legislation that prohibits private-transfer-fee arrangements and makes any attempts to create them unenforceable.

Source: Texas Association of REALTORS®
Reprinted with permission.

Painting & Lighting

by Jutta "Utah" Burden




Painting & Lighting  

Brighten up your home. From DIY lighting that adds both value and light to your house, to unique painting ideas that go beyond picking out paint swatches, our real-life homeowner stories and expert advice can illuminate every room. What house painting tips can make the job go quicker with fewer mistakes? Which lighting ideas can create just the right ambiance 



Everything You Need to Paint With Confidence

Wield your paintbrush with poise. These easy-to-master tips will make it so.

 See the full Spotlight




Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 477




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