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The Woodlands and Spring TX Real Estate Blog

Jutta "Utah" Burden


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 468

Why Is My Home Not Selling?

by Jutta "Utah" Burden


When you first listed your home with your real estate agent probably he or she gave you some advice, that the market is tough, that buyers are picky, and that you'll have to do some work to get your home to "show" well. Maybe you didn't have the time or the money to do the repairs and updates your real estate agent suggested. Now, it’s three months later, and you've had few showings and no offers. So what can you do to help the situation?

You overpriced your home

You didn't listen when you were told that you're asking too much money. Sit down with your real estate agent and have a new price strategy to attract more buyers.

Repaint your home.

Pick a nice neutral paint color. Take everything you can out of the rooms to be painted, Put back only what is sleek, new looking, and in great condition. Anything else doesn't need to be seen by buyers, it will only drag down your home's value.

You’ve got too much stuff.

Buyers don't like overstuffed closets, and toys strewn everywhere, it just makes your house look smaller, dated and storage-deprived. So pack anything that isn't absolutely necessary for daily living and put it in storage.

Clean everything

Cleaning is essential to remove the daily odors and stains of living. Kitchens and baths are the two areas where eat-off-the-floor cleanliness is called for. Scrub tiles of mold and mildew stains, and remove hard water deposits. Clear  counter tops and polish appliances to shiny brightness.

Do those repairs

Nail down loose boards, trim bathroom drawers that stick, brighten the rooms with higher watt bulbs, and fix that leak and anything else that got you negative feedback from previous showings.

Stage the house.

Set a nice tone for showings by lighting a candle in the bathroom, putting out pretty place settings on your dining table, adding fresh flower arrangements, opening the curtains, and lighting a fire in the fireplace. Having a room do too much confuses buyers and makes the home look inadequate.

Putting Your Home on the Market

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

1. Have a pre-sale home inspection. Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before open houses begin.

2. Organize and clean. Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and exercise equipment. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.

3. Get replacement estimates. Do you have big-ticket items that are worn our or will need to be replaced soon, such your roof or carpeting? Get estimates on how much it would cost to replace them, even if you don’t plan to do it yourself. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home, and will be handy when negotiations begin.

4. Find your warranties. Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house.

5. Spruce up the curb appeal. Pretend you’re a buyer and stand outside of your home. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? Are pretty flowers or plants framing the entrance? Is the walkway free from cracks and impediments?

Five Reasons to Use a Real Estate Agent When Selling

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

Five  Reasons to Use a Real Estate Agent When Selling

When selling real estate, sometimes it better to hire the professional that to ensure the job gets done right.  This can be said for many things in life.  Nobody is an expert at everything, which is why there are trained and experienced professionals in every industry. Unless you’re experienced in selling real estate, hiring a real estate agent to sell your home is the smart way to go.

U.S. News & World Report came up with 5 reasons why they think it’s important as well….

1. Employ an expert: A typical property owner does not have anywhere near the home-selling experience of a real estate agent. Agents can recommend relatively simple improvements—painting, making repairs, de cluttering—that can help a home sell faster and for a better price. “The Realtor is the neighborhood expert,” Moore says. “We can walk through a property and see right away what needs to be done to [get the home sold].” Independent sellers might not be aware of these tricks of the trade.

2. Use better tools: Homeowners using agents can get their property listed on, “which has more far-reaching access to market that property—with over 3 million properties on it—than the for-sale-by-owner sites, which have tens of thousands,” Moore says. Independent sellers do not have access to this service.

3. Sidestep lawsuits: Agents can also protect sellers from potential litigation. “There are all kinds of liability issues that a seller could potentially face when…dealing one on one with a buyer,” Moore says. A homeowner could, for example, tell a potential buyer that hardwood floors extend to all corners of the house underneath the wall-to-wall carpeting. But if even one room has cement flooring, the homeowner could be sued, Moore says. Agents, who have experience dealing with these liability issues, can help homeowners dodge such scenarios.

4. Duck the riffraff: Independent sellers might not have any idea whom they are letting into their homes during open houses. These potential buyers might not have the credit to make the purchase—and would therefore be wasting the homeowner’s time—or could even “try to rob them later on,” Moore says. “It’s a very scary kind of thing.” She says that homeowners working with agents will have qualified buyers visiting their properties.

5. Avoid hardball tactics: It’s a buyer’s market out there. And with all the information available online, today’s well-informed buyers are tough negotiators, too. Real estate agents have been through the home-selling process before and are trained in negotiating tactics—giving them a potential edge in hammering out a deal in the seller’s best interest. “It’s hard to do that with your own property, particularly if you are not a professional,” Moore says.

All these points are important, but #5 caught my attention the most. It is a buyer’s market, you know it and so do the buyers! If you are not trained in negotiating tactics when the potential hone buyer approaches with an offer, you could be manipulated to sell well below what you’re asking. A trained professional will ensure this does not happen.

In the end, paying the real estate agent fees may be worth it. It could cost considerably more to be out-negotiated.


The ability to reap additional profits on the sale of your home can be accomplished easily enough, if you make the ‘ improvements. Many changes can provide the prospective buyer with enhanced feelings about your home. Feelings of more space, more light, more rooms, more closet space, greater privacy, warmth and security. Basic, simple and inexpensive improvements can provide an improved emotional response in a potential buyer.

An example could be something as small as a crack in the paint on a wall. By simply applying some plaster and touch-up paint, you eliminated what may be an unstated concern that your home was poorly maintained. Though the feeling may be unconscious, it’s just as important that the potential buyer feel an overall sense of emotional desire for your home. If you are working with a small budget, these simple techniques will work absolute wonders.

1.         The Magic of Mirrors!

Mirrors can provide a greater sense of space and elegance when properly placed. Be careful not to overdo it, but when placed properly throughout your home, each area will seem larger to the potential home buyer. Try looking in your attic or basement for any old mirrors, but be sure they have a nice frame or at least give the frame a new coat of paint. You may also want to visit a local flea market or garage sale - you can often find a great deal on an old miror or two. Putting one- foot square mirrors on a closet door home in the master bedroom is always an attractive touch.

2.         Adding Additional Closet Space

One of the biggest complaints heard from potential buyers is that there just isn’t enough closet space! Simply purchasing an inexpensive closet organizer and installing it in any or all of your closets can make all the difference. You can also try putting a rod across one corner of a bedroom, for hanging clothes, further out put another rod higher up. From this rod hang a clothes-hiding screen made from a variety of choices. The screen could be matching material of the bedspread, drapes etc.. The idea here is to be creative so that the “fake closet” looks as though it was a part of the room

3.         Make a Bare Wall Beautiful

Wallpaper is inexpensive, quick and easy to do! The right wallpaper can brighten the room or hallway and bring it back to life. Be careful to choose something with a neutral design or pattern. Remember, you’re trying to move out!

4. Bring Old Floors Back to Life!

Nothing turns off a potential buyer quicker than dull, dingy, disgusting-looking floors. Whether you have wax, wooden or tiled floors, do whatever you can to make them shine again! For wax floors, either rent a


floor machine and do it yourself, or hire a professional if it’s in your budget. Have a professional give you an estimate and explain exactly what they would do to bring your floors back to life. If you have them explain what they would do, it may be just as easy to do it yourself. If you have carpeted floors you should either have the carpet steam-cleaned or, if it’s in your budget, install new carpeting. This may sound expensive, but new carpeting can add thousands of dollars to the value of your home.

5. Bring in Some Plants

Having plants in the house is not only healthy for you but you create a warm feeling with them. Ficus trees have become very popular and they can be purchased inexpensively. Attractive pots such as ceramic, brass or even designer plastic will add a designer flair to your home. Hanging plants such as Boston ferns are inexpensive, easy to care for and would go great in your new home wherever you move.

6.         Adding a Room Without Calling in the Contractor!

This simple but seldom-used technique can give a buyer the feeling there are more actual rooms in your house. Floor-to-ceiling room dividers are inexpensive and simple to install. When a buyer walks through your home, they will generally count the rooms in a subconscious manner. Each room will present an emotional response as they walk through your home. By dividing and designing each side of your room, you create a ‘separate room” feeling in the potential buyer. It may sound crazy, but it works.

7.         Clean Up the Bathroom

We’ve probably all heard that phrase a hundred times growing up as children! Well guess some what? It’s still valid. Give your bathroom a face-lift if needed. Fresh paint, decorative moldings, tile grout, new designer faucets are attractive eye catchers.

8.          What is That Smell?

People don’t like to admit it but, everyone’s home has a certain smell to it. We just never notice because we live with it day in, day out. Strategically placing fresh scent devices throughout the home will be pleasant to the nose of any potential buyer. As a matter of fact, an old Realtor® trick is to pop some cinnamon rolls in an oven 5 minutes before a showing. I bet you thought all Realtors just had a sweet tooth!

My hope with this report has been to help you make simple changes that can add thousands of dollars to the ultimate selling price of your home. I hope you found the ideas useful and if there is ever any way I can be of service to you or anyone you care about, please contact my office. Your initial consultation is always completely free of charge and you’re under no obligation of any kind. We’ll sit down for 15-20 minutes... no high pressure, just plain, honest talk about what it’s going to take to achieve your personal goals. Go ahead, pick up the phone and give me a call. I’d love to hear from you!



Know Your Expenses Before You Buy

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

For many, home ownership is still a dream. Moving from renting can seem like it’s an impossible mission. But if you plan ahead and carefully budget, the goal of home ownership can be yours.

When budgeting how much home you can afford, it’s important to understand and anticipate the costs of owning and maintaining a home. Here are a few things that some first-time buyers forget to include. 

Private Mortgage Insurance

This is added on to your mortgage when the down payment is less than 20 percent. You can buy a home with less money but you’ll pay the PMI which covers the lender should a home buyer default on the loan. As you build up equity, your PMI drops off.


Property taxes generate revenue for municipalities, counties, and schools. It’s an expense that can vary across the U.S. However, on average, it’s 1.38 percent of the home’s value. Back East tends to have the highest property taxes.

HOA Fees

Homeowners’ Association fees (HOA) can add several hundred dollars to your monthly household expenses. These HOAs help to maintain common areas, typically within condominium complexes. They also govern what can be done to the unit and the surrounding area. While there is an up side to HOAs, some buyers prefer to have more freedom over their property, perhaps, until the neighbor paints his house turquoise with red accents.

Homeowner’s insurance

Lenders require homeowner’s insurance on your property. The amount you’ll pay depends on many variables including: where you live, the age, type, size of your home. For example, older homes can cost more to insure due to the fact that they may require more repairs than newer homes. Also, high-hazard areas can cost more to insure and some insurance companies may not offer an insurance policy for your home, if you’re in a high-risk area.

Utilities and appliances

These areas can be overlooked because, often, when people are renting the appliances are taken care of. When you own your own home, be sure to consider expenses such as the water heater or dishwasher breaking down. While, you can’t exactly figure out when an appliance is going to quit working, you can set a monthly allowance aside to start establishing a household repair fund. Just don’t touch the account or when you really need it, you’ll find it’s not there for you.

Inspections, appraisals, and closing costs

Many buyers understand they will have closing costs but they fail to budget for other items such as a home inspection. Sometimes inspections are paid for by the seller but it’s usually the buyer who pays for the inspection. And, even if the homeowner recently had a home inspection and has the report, a buyer still might want to pay for an inspector to have another look to compare the findings.

Depending on the home, there may also be other inspections such as for lead paint, pests or radon gas.

While the extra expenses do add up quickly, if you carefully budget and plan ahead, the goal of home ownership is achievable and very satisfying.



Kitchen Trends

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

Kitchens today are continuing to evolve into family rooms which can accommodate multiple cooks, family dining, and entertaining. 

Here are just a few of the major design trends emerging in luxury multi-purpose kitchens as 2010 begins. 

Kitchen countertops are increasing in mass – think thick – and demand is enlarging for new surface materials.  As granite wanes in popularity, crackle glass, concrete, and wood (with decorative edges) are all moving to the fore as popular countertop materials. One of the most contemporary counters combines glass with LED lighting.  The result is a glowing glass countertop which can be set up with most any color to match your mood of the moment. 

Counters in new kitchens may also differ in height to add visual excitement and to create work zones for special purposes and for both short and tall cooks.  Counters and islands are also increasingly designed to double as serving and dining areas.

Work zones
As more activities precipitate to the kitchen, designers are building in special purpose areas.  A quick food prep station makes simple meal preparation and cleanup simple.  A baking center offers ingredient storage within reach and a counter height designed for chopping, mixing, and rolling.  A coffee bar or a wine tasting and beverage center are other trendy special purpose work zones. 

Extravagant farm sinks are a favored trend and multiple sinks continue to be in demand.  Water saving faucets are part of a trend toward eco-friendly kitchens.

Mid-height cabinetry is a major trend in contemporary kitchens and beginning to develop in traditional kitchen designs as well.  Shorter cabinets may “float” on the wall or incorporate European-style legs and even be used as room dividers.  In-demand cabinet materials include stainless steel, environmentally-friendly bamboo, pecan or alder wood.  Cabinets are customized with interior fittings for efficient storage. Horizontal cabinet doors (sometimes motorized) are another emerging kitchen trend.  

Although the all white kitchen is still fashionable, cabinetry is also showing up in a variety of finishes and colors to give a kitchen the look of a furnished room.

Forget the concept of a cooktop, double oven, microwave, dishwasher and a refrigerator creating an adequate kitchen.  Today’s cooks want more.  Additional dishwashing drawers, elaborate coffee making appliances, warming drawers, additional ovens, wine coolers may all be part of a luxury kitchen and several of these appliances may be hidden within cabinetry. 

On the other end of the spectrum, forget subtle, some homeowners are using the refrigerator as kitchen art.  Coolers, an Italian company will silk screen a refrigerators with a bold animal print, your favorite photograph or most any other image.  The range hood or cabinet fronts can be silk screened to match. 

The kitchen is now home to televisions, computers, and sound systems.  With friends and family coming together in the kitchen, entertainment and information need to be convenient. 

Multiple kitchens

Luxury homeowners often want multiple kitchens.  In addition to the primary gourmet kitchen, a catering kitchen – where preparations occur for dinner parties and other entertaining – may be on the must have list.  A mini-kitchen in the master bedroom and another in the primary guest suite create a comfortable place for a midnight snack or that first cup of morning coffee.  Of course, what was once the barbeque grill has morphed into a full outdoor kitchen with ice maker, dishwasher, dining area and more.

The kitchen is the heart of the house and this decade begins with trends which focus on making it more practical for a variety of lifestyle purposes and more enticing as an entertaining center. 

How Can Good Pictures Help Sell Your Home

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

A very common mistake that most sellers
make is that they don’t have professional
pictures taken of the home!

And most Realtors don’t take the time
and energy to get decent pictures. They
will show up with their point and shoot camera,
take a few shots and call it good.
Professional pictures will make your home
look so much better. Photographers know what
to do to make their subject look its absolute best.
Whether it’s a cute puppy, a newly married couple,
or a home for sale, professional pictures are a
complete necessity in my book.


You have to view your house from a buyer’s
. If you owned the house in this picture, you may not notice the trees that dominate the photo, the blue coloring tint, or the really bad angle that that this was taken from. Heck, even if you don’t want to hire a photographer, at least get someone (I can do this) to touch h up the pictures and make them look their absolute best.If you’re trying to sell your home, I encourage you to list with a Realtor who will put the necessary time and energy into getting professionals made.

I consider myself one of the few Realtors who will put the necessary time and energy in the photos, but also the entire selling process. I would be more than happy to help you get your home sold and get you the price you’re looking for. Please contact me to set up a time to chat or set up a time for me to come check out the house.

Realtors An Invaluable Resource

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

Realtors An Invaluable Resource

Realtors in Magnolia Texas can be an invaluable resource throughout the real estate property hunting process. First time homebuyers may be tempted to stray on their own without a realtor in Magnolia Texas, relying on online resources to view and select properties to visit. Though this is most definitely a great resource for prospective real estate buyers, nothing can top the expertise of a professional realtor in the home buying process. Realtors in Magnolia Texas specialize in dealing on a daily basis with the issues that come along with the property hunting business. Realtors know what properties are priced reasonably and where a diamond in the rough can be found. When it comes to the real estate purchasing business, realtors are the experts that everyone should consult. No prospective buyer should be deceived by the idea that they can find everything that they need to know online. You simply cannot get the same valuable advice that realtors can provide from an online listing service. Seek out the assistance of a realtor if you are considering purchasing a home in the near future. You will be glad you did.

Local Realtors in Magnolia Texas

Local realtors in Magnolia Texas have looked at properties in the exact same areas that you are considering buying in. However, unlike you, realtors have the knowledge of the average pricing of the homes in that area. While the figures that you find on online listing services can tell you how a seller’s asking price compares to the asking price of other sellers in that area, it cannot provide you with background information as to whether any of these asking prices are realistic to what homes in that area have historically sold for. Realtors dealing in the local market can let you know when a price is outrageously priced compared to the listings in that area that have sold recently. Realtors can help you to make the personal decision as to whether or not the asking price on a home is reasonable, but also whether or not that asking price is negotiable. Negotiating the price on a home is tricky business. However, it is tricky business that realtors encounter on a daily basis. Do not attempt to do the job of a realtor and negotiate your own deal. Without background information on the pricing of homes in that area, you are clueless as to the reasonability of the sticker price on the property you are considering purchasing without realtors.

Identifying Red Flag Issues

Realtors can also assist homebuyers in identifying red flag issues with a listing that may have gone unnoticed because of a bargain asking price. No one wants to be fooled by a seller in Magnolia Texas who is hiding issues with a property that will soon cost them a sizeable amount of money. Realtors assist prospective buyers in noticing issues that may not be noticeable to an untrained eye. Once again, this is a profession. Realtors see issues with listings on a daily basis. Realtors can identify the trends in these issues and then are quick to spot them out when they see them in a different property. Do not let your naivety allow you to purchase a bargain priced home simply because you think that you can get it quickly and cheaply. Have a realtor take you on a tour of this home and take a look at some common issues that may incur hidden costs. You will be thankful that you identified any issues before closing a deal with a seller so that you can negotiate those values into the closing costs. However, if you do not have the assistance of a realtor, you may not identify the issue before closing and you may end up footing the bill yourself.

Magnolia Texas Realtors

Realtors are professionals whose advise is extremely valuable to the prospective homebuyer IN Magnolia Texas. Whether it is dealing with the sticker price of a home or the condition of a home that is going cheap, realtors have the expertise to assist you in assessing the situation with a level head.

Should I Buy a Home Now?

by Utah Burden

I’m often asked if this is a good time to buy a home.  Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall further than they have already.  They are assuming that the best course of action is to wait for the bottom in the market and then buy.  The problem with this approach is that you don’t know where the bottom is until you see it in the rear view mirror, meaning until you’ve missed it!

Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability.  Even though interest rates have gone up in the last six months, they are still near historic lows.  Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, if home prices come down a little further but interest rates go up, it could cost you even more to service a mortgage on an identical home!

While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life.  It’s important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial “comfort zone.”  To that end, it may be more important to lock in today’s relatively low interest rates and low home prices, rather than to hope for a further break in prices in the future.

Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today’s market.

Photo Credit:

The most Important Factor when Selling a House

by Jutta "Utah" Burden


What Are the Two Most Important Factors When Selling a Home?

Price and condition are the two most important factors in selling a home, even in a down market. The first step is to price your home correctly. Use comparative sales information from your agent,  to objectively evaluate your home's worth. Second, go through the house and repair any obvious cosmetic defects that could deter a buyer.

In a down market, you may have to consider lowering your price and/or making a major repair, such as replacing the roof, in order to lure a buyer. Also, make sure that your home is getting the exposure it deserves through open houses, broker open houses, advertising, good signage and a listing on the local multiple listing service or online listings provider.

My site for your home value:

Looking for a new home:

Happy house hunting and selling,


Keller Williams, The Woodlands,Texas 77380


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 468




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