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Three tips for buying a new home in Fort Bend

Brandon Spaulding - Thursday, September 03, 2015

Are you looking to buy a new home in Fort Bend? Whether it's your first time buying a home, upgrading to expand for your family, or you are new to the area, there are many things to keep in mind before you begin your hunt. Here are the top three tips to try when you start your house hunting!

Budget

It's important to set a budget and stick to it when you start your hunt for a new home. It's often very easy to begin straying away from your budget, especially when you find your dream home! But going over your budget is never a smart idea. Closing costs can fluctuate, and if you aren't buying new, you might stumble upon some hidden home repairs that can become costly to fix.

Custom Built

If you have a particular taste, then buying new is the way to go! If you plan on staying long and growing a family, then why not get it the way you want it? Pick out the style, architecture, floors, wall colors ahead of time, and make sure to include your spouse too! This is a fun way for you and your spouse to bond, and it will include a style that you will both enjoy. Keep in mind, if you plan on selling in the next couple of years, you might want to tone down the custom taste to something more neutral to make it easier to sell.

Warranty

If you're buying new, your home will most likely come with a warranty, in which the builders will cover the costs of any repairs needed. But if you're not buying new, it's smart to look into what warranty you have, if any. When you get a warranty you should always read the fine print! Know the fine details, so that you can research additional warranty coverage if you feel it is not sufficient.

History of Richmond: From Old Homes to New Homes

Brandon Spaulding - Tuesday, September 01, 2015

As many people are moving to new homes in Lakes of Bella Terra, it is interesting to reflect on the rich history of Richmond.

In 1822, a group of Austin's colonists went up the Brazos River, stopping near present day Richmond where they built a fort called Fort Bend. Named after Richmond, England, the town was among the 19 cities first incorporated by the short-lived Republic of Texas, in 1837.

Before the Civil War Richmond became a center of the "cattle empire" that grew between the Brazos and Colorado rivers; cattle were branded on ranges just west of the town before being sent north to market centers in the Midwest. In 1878 the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway extended its tracks through the area but bypassed Richmond; a new, rival community called Rosenberg was built on the railway three miles from the old town.

In 1884 2,000 people lived in Richmond. That year, along with the courthouse and four churches, the town had a bank, sugar mills and refineries, and six schools. Cotton, corn, livestock, hides, sugar, and molasses were being shipped from the town. A wooden bridge across the Brazos was built at Richmond about 1888, and when that collapsed five years later it was replaced by a sturdier steel structure.

Early residents of the city include many prominent figures in Texas lore such as Jane Long, Deaf Smith, and Mirabeau Lamar, who are all buried in Richmond. On August 16, 1889, the town was the site of the "Battle of Richmond," an armed fight culminating the Jaybird-Woodpecker War, a violent feud over post-Reconstruction political control of Fort Bend County. The Mayor from 1949 until his death in 2012 was Hilmar Moore.

Then

The Long-Smith Cottage was built around 1837

The historic McNabb House was built by Phillip Vogel in the 1850s

Now


Built by Trendmaker Homes in 2015   

Why More People are Buying New Homes in Fort Bend

Brandon Spaulding - Thursday, August 27, 2015

As people are moving to Houston, increasing amounts of people are finding that new homes in Fort Bend County are their best bet. Fort Bend is part of the Houston, Metropolitan Area and has been one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States since the 1970s. It is the tenth-most populous county in Texas according to the 2010 census when its population was recorded to be 585,375 residents. That increased dramatically to 652,365 in 2014.

Living in Fort Bend County

As a thriving suburb of Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, this county succeeds in being one of Texas’ most family-friendly communities and one that is superior for raising a family. The U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey named it a regional leader in high school graduation rate, and its Elkins High School was rated in the top 6 percent of the nation’s high schools by Newsweek Magazine.

The county has also been highly ranked for its safety, has the lowest crime rate in Houston’s eight-county area, and boasts of a low cost of living. There are thousands of custom homes located in beautiful surroundings with luxury amenities.

Working in Fort Bend County

The county was ranked Number Two on CNN/Money Magazine’s “Where the Jobs Are” in 2012. Many Fortune 500 companies and other businesses take advantage of the county's fiscal strength, business environment, and low unemployment rate. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked Fort Bend among the top 10 for employment growth out of the largest U.S. counties

Playing in Fort Bend County

Good weather with 204 days of sunshine a year added to 60 parks and area attractions add to making the county a fun place to live.

Fort Bend County Events

As one of the largest and most successful fairs in Texas, and having been held since 1933, this popular annual event runs for 10 days. The dates for 2015 will be September 25 through October 4. Youth education is the primary focus of the fair activities, and the scholarship program begun in 1979 has provided more than 600 scholarships to Texas colleges and universities for deserving students. The PRCA RODEO will find professional cowboys and cowgirls competing in seven events: Saddle Bronc Riding, Bull Riding, Steer Wrestling, Bareback Riding,Team Roping, Calf Roping, and Barrel Racing.

Grapes on the Brazos is a high styled wine event at the Fair where you can enjoy glasses of white and red wine as well as beer, sodas, snacks, light food, and nighttime entertainment.

There will be a Championship BBQ Cookoff on October 2nd and 3rd. Cookin' Up some great competition.

4th Annual Lil Wranglers BBQ CookoffSaturday, October 3, 2015, starting at 8:30 AM

The BBQ Contest has been a huge success in the past and is open to children under 16 years and a limit of 30 entries. The County Fair will provide to each contestant two pork chops, seasoning, sauces, charcoal, and a BBQ cooker to later take home.

Houston home sales rise with temperatures

Brandon Spaulding - Monday, August 24, 2015

Houston home sales rise with temperatures

Houston home sales are rising with temperatures and more and more homebuyers are looking for new homes in Fort Bend and Katy. Lakes of Bella Terra home sales have been increasing in the past year with the growing Houston market.

According Chron.com Houston has had another strong month in July as buyers closed on an estimated 8,147 single-family homes, new data from the Houston Association of Realtors show.

Sales were up 6.7 percent in July from a year earlier, according to the association, which estimates the figures to account for late reporting and other anomalies. The figures are later revised.

Last month, the group reported a 4.1 percent increase in sales for June, while revised calculations show a less that 1 percent increase. That number, however, could change again as the data continues to be adjusted each month.

Sales of high-end homes continued to be strong in July, while activity in the lower-priced market declined. Overall, the market has so far remained resilient amid a weakening economy.

“The Houston housing market has been blessed with another solid month of gains,” the association’s chairwoman Nancy Furst said in a statement. “Despite lingering concerns about falling oil prices and layoffs within the energy industry, I believe the strength of Houston’s housing market continues to be buoyed by our tremendously diverse economy.”

Inventory levels, which have been unusually low for the last couple years, have been slowly inching up.

In July, the estimated time it would take to exhaust the supply of homes on the market based on the last 12 months of sales activity increased to a 3.4-month supply. Experts consider a roughly 6-month supply of homes to represent a balanced market where neither buyer nor seller have the upper hand. The time it took to sell the average home was 45 days.

The median price of a home also increased in July to $220,000, up 8.6 percent from a year earlier. The median hit a record high in June at $225,000.

Year-to-date, single-family home sales were flat at 43,559, according to the data, which is based on sales handled through the Multiple Listing Service primarily in the Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.

Broken out by housing segment, July sales performed as follows:

$1 – $79,999: down 30.1 percent

$80,000 – $149,999: down 17.9 percent

$150,000 – $249,999: up 11.9 percent

$250,000 – $499,999: up 12.6 percent

$500,000 and above: up 18.3 percent

Why Homebuyers are Choosing to Live in Fort Bend County

Brandon Spaulding - Thursday, August 20, 2015

Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States. When relocating to the area, many people lean towards a suburb of Houston. One very popular county is Fort Bend. Following, are four reasons why homebuyers are choosing Fort Bend County.

1. Family Friendly: If you have a growing family or plan to have a family in the future, Fort Bend County has everything you could ask for. There are many reasons that contribute to the family-friendly county.

Low Crime Rate: Safety is the main priority for your family. Fort Bend County has the lowest crime rate out of the 8-county area.

Schools: Several schools in the area have been recognized nationally. The Washington Post ranked Clements, Austin, Kempner, Travis, Dulles, Hightower and Elkins High Schools as seven of the Top 2011 High Schools in the Nation. In addition, it leads the region in high-school graduation rate.

2. Work: Fort Bend County is booming in available jobs. It is home to several Fortune 500 companies. This offers the residents an abundance of opportunities. According to The Chamber of Commerce, since 2000 employment has increased 78%. It's hard to find numbers that high any place in the nation. Year after year, unemployment is less than the national average.

3. Diversity: Along the same lines as work, diversity is a large attraction to the county. With so many jobs, there is a diverse mix of professional, technical, skilled and nonprofessional employment. This creates a good mix of families and statuses. You are sure to find many families and friends with common interests.

4. Play: Entertainment is important to all of us. Fort Bend County offers many recreational facilities. It houses more than 60 parks. This is great with the sunny weather in TX. Many Fort Bend cities are ranked in the top places to live list. These include, Sugar Land and Missouri City.

With so much to offer, Fort Bend County's population is on the rise. It offers great suburbs just outside Houston. It is convenient to everything. To learn more about a great place to live in Fort Bend County, contact us.

Area school districts do well on TEA ratings

Brandon Spaulding - Monday, August 17, 2015

Houston Chronicle

The fast growth west of Houston did not appear to set back academic success in the area, according to ratings released Friday by the Texas Education Agency.

Lamar CISD improved its overall record from last year, with no campuses requiring improvement compared to two last year.

The smallest of the three area districts, Lamar CISD has an impressive growth rate and expects to add roughly 2,000 students each year over the next 10 years. Growth like that could overwhelm a district of some 28,000 students. But district officials said that good demographic reports tracking the enrollment and regular bonds have helped them stay ahead of the change.

The rating system itself is largely the same as last year's in that schools and districts are graded as either meeting standard or needing improvement. The Texas Education Agency did provide some wiggle room for schools as they continue to adapt to the tougher standards of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, such as omitting math results this year for grades 3 through 8.

"The 2015 state accountability system takes into account a number of factors unique to the 2014-2015 school year," said Michael Williams, education commissioner in a release from the TEA.

In its third year, the current rating system looks at four indices to measure campus and district performance. This year, campuses had to meet goals for students passing state exams or showing significant annual progress. They also were evaluated on the scores of low-income students and students of different racial and ethnic groups and had to hit targets for post-secondary readiness.

This year, 94 percent of districts and charters met standard and roughly 86 percent of all rated campuses met standard. Another 7 percent required improvement, according to the TEA.

And in Lamar CISD, two middle schools, Navarro and Wessendorff, went from improvement needed to met standard since last year's ratings.

Katy ISD also had two elementary school campuses, Katy and Ursula Stephens, earn all five of the possible distinctions for elementary schools.

Valerie Voigt, academic administrator over curriculum and instruction for the district, gave credit to school leaders.

"It's the principal who sets the culture, the achievement level, the expectation for the campus and then within that culture they deploy technology," she said. With so many students coming in to the district, staff coordinate records to assess where the student is at, in addition to meeting with parents.

"They find out their needs," said Voigt, "It's being conscious about doing that and the controller in all of that is the principal. It sounds a little pie in the sky but that's what it boils down to."

Realtor Safety Tips

Brandon Spaulding - Thursday, August 13, 2015

It is essential to screen all your prospective buyers. This doesn't mean just running their credit reports -- this also means making sure that everything is copacetic before you even bring them to the point of sale. For example, if someone calls you and claims to know all about you, or makes unusual demands on you and your time, STOP TALKING IMMEDIATELY, and end the call.

Another example: if you're hosting an open house, make sure you take full account of the comings, and goings, of everyone in attendance. Criminals have been known to target open houses, especially towards the end of the open house. Take heed!

Follow all the best practices for open houses -- it may seem annoying, but don't veer too far off script. The best way to protect yourself is to require all people who attend an open house to fill out a form with their name, address, telephone number, email, and basic vehicle information. This will make it easier for you to report any suspicious activity to the police, should you encounter it during the open house, or notice any sort of damage or theft thereafter.

Don't walk into an open house with full hands -- that is to say, if you carry a purse, keep it filled only with paperwork and other non-valuables when you go into an open house. If you carry a briefcase, the same rules apply -- paperwork only. Lock all of your valuables -- your cell phone, your wallet, your laptop, your tablet -- in the trunk of your car before you go inside.

If a property has been on the market for a while, make sure you introduce yourself to the neighbors before you host an open house. Not only will this help you identify yourself to the neighbors -- and vice versa -- but it will help them recognize such things as your car, alert the police to any suspicious activity, and provide you with safe havens if something should go horribly wrong.

If the property you're showing isn't vacant, make sure you tell your clients to hide all of their valuables under lock-and-key before hosting an open house. Tell them, as well, to make sure that they periodically take an inventory of all of their valuables to make sure that everything is where it needs to be, and that they need to file police reports and insurance claims should anything turn up missing after an open house.

Oil Prices Down, But Home Sales, Prices Up

Brandon Spaulding - Monday, August 10, 2015

(Texas Association of Realtors) – Texas home prices hit an all-time high in second quarter 2015, while sales remained strong, according to theTexas Quarterly Housing Report released by the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR).

"The impact of lower oil prices continues to be delayed, leading to a surprisingly strong second quarter. In fact, Texas home sales are actually stronger than they were this time last year, when oil prices were nearly $100 a barrel," said TAR Chairman Scott Kesner. "This is further evidence of the strong and enduring demand for Texas real estate."

According to the report, Texas home sales increased 46.3 percent from the first quarter and 4.7 percent year-over-year to 88,906 sales.

Median price increased 8.1 percent from a year ago to $200,000. Average price increased 9 percent year-over-year to $258,786. This is the first time the median price for Texas homes has risen to $200,000, marking an all-time high for Texas home prices.

Monthly housing inventory continued to decline, falling 9.2 percent year-over-year to 3.8 months. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University estimates that a monthly housing inventory of 6.5 months is a level at which supply and demand for homes are balanced.

“Despite expected negative impacts from the decline in the oil price and rig counts, both existing housing development and new single-family home sales continue to be strong," said Center Research Economist Dr. Jim Gaines. "While a down oil and gas market makes it difficult to forecast Texas real estate for the rest of the year, preliminary numbers indicate a positive third quarter of 2015. Additionally, the expectation of rising interest rates in the near future could be stimulating demand as well."

Houston Master Planned Community Recognized as Developer of the Year by Texas Association of Builders

Brandon Spaulding - Thursday, August 06, 2015

Lakes of Bella Terra wins Grand Award plus two additional recognitions at the 2015 Texas Annual Star Awards 

HOUSTON, TX- (August 3, 2015) Ryko Developer of Lakes of Bella Terra, a Master Planned Community in Fort Bend, was recognized as Developer of the Year by the Texas Association of Builders at the Star Awards this past Thursday in Grapevine, Texas.

This highly coveted title serves as a milestone accomplishment for the development, as the Texas real estate market has been experiencing rapid expansion and steep competition between communities. In fact, the Texas housing market is growing faster than the rest of the country — despite the decline in the energy sector.

“It is an honor to stand out as Developer of the Year,” says Bassam Barazi, President of Ryko Development. “We have worked hard to create a tranquil atmosphere in a one-of-a kind community where residents can enjoy every detail of their surroundings, from an ideal location to winding nature trails.”

Ryko has earned a reputation as a premier developer in Houston and has built more than 1,500 homes in the 725-acre community of Lakes of Bella Terra—located on the southwest corner of Westpark Tollway and the Grand Parkway. The community boasts resort style amenities and a new section of lake front custom homes.

The prestigious Star Awards are given annually to recognize excellence in the home building industry. Entries were judged by a distinguished panel of industry experts, with more than 75 categories and hundreds of entries each year. 

Area Highlight: Houston to become Spaceport

Brandon Spaulding - Thursday, August 06, 2015


Photo credit: The Daily News

An exciting advancement is coming to Houston, as Ellington Field Airport is on its way to becoming a brand new commercial launch site spaceport. Recently approved by the FAA, this project will be called The Houston Spaceport.

"Top executives from Boeing, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, Paragon, Sierra Nevada Corporation and XCOR Aerospace, plus a host of suppliers and subcontractors, are working together to forge a more affordable and accessible space industry to serve a range of government and private customers." - The Daily News

Ellington Field is currently an expansive and spacious airport in Harris County. It's open for public and military use. With the addition of the spaceport, it will transition into a center for all kinds of aerospace activities. According to the official website, we can expect to see:

Component and composite development and fabrication

Space vehicle assembly

Zero-gravity scientific and medical experiments

Microsatellites

Astronaut training and development

Space tourism

Why Houston?

Officials selected Houston because of the size and power of the city. Houston has a large population, big numbers in manufacturing employment, access to a thriving seaport, and major interstates connecting it to smaller markets. The area is a hot bed for relevant industries like nanotechnology, aerospace, and biotech.

So what does this mean for Houston?

More than anything, it means Houston is going to become a strong force in the future of space exploration. This means big gains for the economy and people of the city. Tons of jobs will become available in the near future when construction begins. The FAA approved the site but construction has yet to begin. There is no public plan of action yet. The spaceport adds to a long list of reasons why Houston is an incredible place to live. With investments like these, the city will be thriving and growing for long time. 


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