Question: We are looking at an older home in The Heights. The owner has a survey, but it’s more than 20 years old. Do we need to spend money on a new survey before closing?
Answer: Yes. In Texas, buyers should always pay to have a new survey of their own made, especially in neighborhoods that have become popular and highly developed. The denser the neighborhood, the higher the chance that boundary lines have overlapped. No doubt your mortgage lender will insist on a new survey as well.

Question: What is the difference between a “spec home” and a “custom home”?
Answer: “Spec” home is shorthand for speculative, and it refers to a home built by a builder on land that he/she owns with no particular buyer in mind. A spec home is often fully completed before being sold. By contrast, a custom home is one that is built according to a buyer’s tastes on a lot that the buyer or builder has purchased. A custom home offers buyers the opportunity to choose plans, materials and finishes at every step of the process.

Question: What three things most turn off homebuyers?
Answer: Just three things? Ha! There are so many. These include: bad smells (e.g. pet, cigarette smoke, mildew, old cooking odors), unmade beds, dirty dishes in the sink or on the kitchen counter, the presence of pets (especially those that bark or whine), an over-abundance of personal items and photos, scratched or faded front door, messy overstuffed closets, dirty carpets … and many other housekeeping sins. The biggest turn-off of all: presence of the seller. Buyers cannot look around freely and speak candidly if the owner is in the next room.

Question: I love the chandelier that is in our dining room – it belonged to my grandmother – and I want to take it with me when we sell our house. How do I make that happen?
Answer: Many sellers want to take a sentimental item or two with them when they sell. Ask your agent to list the chandelier as an “exclusion” in the listing agreement and then again in the sales contract.

Question: What’s the best time of year to put our house on the market?
Answer: That is a complex question. Last year Zillow did a study that claimed the best time to sell a home in the U.S. is – generally speaking – between May 1 and May 15. However, any given neighborhood will have its own market forces. The school year is one strong factor, of course. But what if the house you are selling would appeal most to empty-nesters who are immune to the school year calendar? Price level is another consideration. At the very high end, many homes in affluent neighborhoods sell best in November and December, because that is when executive bonuses are announced. Looming property taxes at the end of the year provide another incentive to buy or sell a house. Our best advice is to call a realtor for a consultation about timing.

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