Apply For Your 2021 Homestead Exemption

It’s a new year, new you and time to apply for your Homestead Exemption for your primary residence. Did you buy a home in 2020? Then you don’t want to forget to apply for your Homestead Exemption. It’s actually a super simple process, but I’m here to help you through it! Let’s break down this whole Homestead Exemption thing…

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Homestead Exemption /ˈhōmˌsted ex·emp·tion/ noun

According to the Texas Comptroller, a homestead can separate structure, condominium or a manufactured home located on owned or leased land, as long as the individual living in the home owns it. A homestead can include up to 20 acres, if the land is owned by the homeowner and used for a purpose related to the residential use of the homestead. You can apply for a homestead exemption on your main residence to lower your taxes.


Who qualifies for a Homestead Exemption?

Requirements to receive the exemption:

  1. Must own the property on January 1 of the year you are applying. January 1 is not required if you’re over 65 and/or disabled. 
  2. Must reside at your home as primary residence.
  3. Must be individual homeowner, not entities or corporation.
  4. Can be house, manufactured home or mobile home. Can include up to 20 acres if land is used as yard and owned by homeowner.
  5. Must apply between January 1 and April 30 for year you intend to use exemption.

How to apply?

  1. Find and complete APPLICATION FOR RESIDENTIAL HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION.
  2. Include copy of Driver’s License or Identification Card. The address on the card must match your homestead address, so if you haven’t already – run down to the get that changed!

Remember, this can ONLY be used on your primary residence. Not investment properties, not land. The best resource to use when applying for your Homestead Exemption is your local county appraisal district’s office/website or the Texas Comptroller.

File today and get that tax break! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

The Dollhouse: Sunroom Before & After

Keeping it sunny, keeping it cute! Whether it’s chilly or toasty outside, a sunroom has already been a MUST on my home wish list. There’s just something about being able to sip on coffee in a screened-in porch that gives me all the homey vibes I could dream of. It’s the little things that make the smallest home feel the coziest.

You’ve seen all the beauty and glory of the interior of The Dollhouse, so now it’s time to show you one of my favorite rooms that truly took the most creativity… my sunroom! It is located at the back left corner of my house and is what I like to call the perfect wine drinking room! There were some debates on adding a half bathroom to my home, but it would have needed to be where the sunroom is and that was just a non-negotiable for me to take such a fun room away.

The good news from when I purchased The Dollhouse is that the bones for the sunroom were already there. The room just needed a little bit more fun and a whole lotta love to make it more me! I always had this vision of black and white hand painted flooring with cedar colored furniture and while the vision shifted here and there, it truly came out to exactly what I was envisioning.

THE SUNROOM

Matching the brick with the exterior white color and have the painters also paint the concrete floor white really were the biggest game changers before decor and stencil painting came into play. My mother and I hand painted the floor with a stencil and while it was totally worth it, it was quite the ordeal to have done. This was the perfect sized space to hand stencil, but anything larger than this room would have been quite the job to take on.

I plan to do a blog post going into full detail on how we stenciled the floors because there are a lot of different details that helped throughout the process. In a summed up version, though – it took me about two days to stencil the floors and a hand dobbed with a round paint brush. I learned very quickly that sponges seep through underneath the stencil and had to redo a couple of portions. My biggest blessing was having a high speed fan to help the paint dry faster but the hardest part was the edges. My worst edges thankfully have furniture over them, so I didn’t feel like I had to be as much of a perfectionist.

This is one project that my Dad did not touch at all as I (the painter contractors daughter) wanted to prove I could handle it. He was actually very impressed, but no worries I did consult on types of paint and he made me veer away from sealing it as it’s white and outdoor so the weather changes may turn it to yellow once sealed.

What I really wanted this room to have were those black and white accents with pops of green full of plants and pillows that made me look like a crazy plant lady although they’re almost all succulents that don’t need much love at all. Work smarter and plant easier, y’all!

This last section is by far my FAVORITE! Where the now plant wall is was once a door to my bedroom that we had closed in. The door made the inside of my master bedroom very choppy and awkward and closing it in truly changed the layout of that space. Once we closed and insulated in this doorway, I was tasked with what to do to make this not quite look like an old door. There were many options: brick it in, paint it, add shelves and so on. I felt that you would still be able to see the bricked in section and it wouldn’t look natural if we went that route. Shelves wouldn’t be deep enough to hold enough plants or watering jugs but then I thought what about a plant wall?!

I am so, so pleased with how this plant wall turned out. Both the hooks and the planters are from Crate and Barrel. I really let my Dad (y’all he’s the best for all the projects I had him do!!) take the lead on this project with measurements and distancing of the planters. He was very exact and wanted to be able to measure with the planters and plants inside them to see the proper distance of what was needed. It was a task that took a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon, but didn’t they turn out great? It’s just the perfect pop on the wall that was once a doorway and feels far more natural of a focal piece than antyhing else did. This sunroom is my perfect like outdoor oasis and I’ve enjoyed making it my little wine drinking room for my friends, family and me!

Thank you always for following along on my little Dollhouse journey!

The Dollhouse: Bathroom, Guest Bedroom and Hallway Before & After

We are nearing the end of my Dollhouse before and after reveals! Lots of changes are continually happening in my home like drapery and pillows that took a little longer for me to decide on (no worries… I’ll share it down the road). You’ve seen the rooms like my master bedroom and the kitchen that took some of the most creativity in the home, but my guest bedroom and hallway area needed some cosmetic love. On the other hand, the bathroom was a total overhaul!

Just a reminder, I’m working with one bathroom in my home. We really tried to find a way to add at least a half bath elsewhere, but it would have taken away from other useful spaces and it’s just me to deal with in The Dollhouse for now anyway! For entertaining purposes it can be challenging to have just one bathroom, but it hasn’t become large enough of an issue for me to regret the decision. Older homes have their charms, so I guess one bathroom has to be part of that… right?

THE BATHROOM

For as much as I loved the archway to the bathtub/shower, it was truly disgusting and dark. It is too small of a space to have something like an archway make the shower area feel smaller. I love a good subway tile, but fell in love with these thin uneven styled tiles that lead the eye straight up to the ceiling making the shower space feel much larger than it actually is. I wanted this to be a bright and light space with pops of brass and funky colors.

A couple designs I’m happy I focused on were making the storage space larger (my shoe closet is behind the cabinetry), adding in a glass door for openness and finding function in my medicine cabinet and above the toilet storage. It was tough finding the perfect glass and hardware for the glass doors. I unfortunately couldn’t do the minimal hardware look with the swinging doors as there’s not enough room to have the door open both ways so it had to be a sliding door. My glass guys had never installed one with a white border and gold handle, but it turned out perfect – any other color would have taken away from the clean and minimalist look I was going for.

As you can see all the beatiful pepto pink tile is off the walls and it’s all a fresh gray look with pops of gold. I found this functional shelving/towel rack that allows me to store items for guests (or me!) and hang hand towels as well. Also, if you don’t know this saying “Please don’t do coke in the bathroom” then you’re obviously not a real housewives fan! My older sister Ilissa got me this and it’s the funniest and cutest addition on the wall.

While you can’t see the inside of the mirror, it is a functional medicine cabinet that I made into a space with a plug for my electric tooth brush and custom glass cuts for shelving to add perfumes, deodorant, etc. One of the best parts, though, of the bathroom is that I did get to keep the original pedestal sink. I think it adds a fun and frilly charm that I just couldn’t do away with!

THE HALLWAY

Nothing crazy here in the hallway other than taking away storage. What I took from the hallway was added in my master closet which is behind this wall. By adding storage in my bathroom, I could make sense of take away what was in the hallway.

GUEST BEDROOM

My guest bedroom (or as both of my sisters like to call their room) isn’t quite complete, but it’s getting there! You see this room directly to the right when you enter through my living room so I wanted there to be a bold look. I love, love the simple gold frame of my guest bed with the pop coming from the zebra hide. I originally wanted a metallic cowhide, but when I saw the zebra rug I was SOLD! I hung up an East Texas Yamboree posted from when my little sister was Yamboree Queen last year and I have a family chair that lots of my mother’s side of the family has been rocked in throughout the years below. It’s fun to have family pieces and memories in the home. When my cousin and uncle came to check out The Dollhouse, they knew exactly whose chair it was and made me promise to never get rid of it!

There’s still so much to be done in my guest room, though! I have pink curtains and abstract pillows that are ordered and in the making that will totally complete the room. I’m excited to see it all come together and make it even more of a Dollhouse than it already is!

The Dollhouse: Office Space Before & After

Working from home is the new reality for most of us in 2020. In most homes, it’s basically looked at as a luxury to have a designated and separate work space and is honestly desired by most buyers. The back room in The Dollhouse was a TV room when I bought it, but I wanted to turn it into a potential bedroom that also served as an office space and workout room.

The original room was something, y’all! There was fabric wallpaper. Yes, like a wall of curtains collecting all the dust and dirt it wanted to over time. Talk about an asthma attack waiting to happen! I appreciate the vibe that these fabric walls once gave, but they had their moment and it was time to graduate to a fresher look. It was surprisingly super easy tearing down the fabric and taking out the Styrofoam ceilings. The demo was probably the smoothest for this space and I was thankful for that!

The biggest challenge this room provided was the TV cabinet. I wanted to turn this cabinet into a closet to make it a room. Did you know that in order to be considered a bedroom there must be a closet? It wasn’t difficult to tear it into a closet, but it was challenging determining the size it would be. The back of the closet lined up to the kitchen where the refrigerator was placed. I battled with doing a skinnier fridge for more closet space but am so happy I went with the larger fridge size and sized down that bonus closet. It’s now used as a dress closet (like a true dream for me to have an individual closet for my daily dresses) and it can in the future be used as a bonus room or nursery for growing families down the road. I’ve learned from real estate to never take away a functional bedroom, just utilize it for your needs – but keep the closet!

OFFICE SPACE

Cosmetic updates were really all this office space needed! A little TLC getting rid of that wild fabric, refinishing hardwoods and adding in a nice little gray wall with a pop of gold from my light fixture and BAM! I needed this room to flow as a work space and work out room. It also doesn’t hurt to bring in a little bit of my agriculture roots and add in some Hereford hide. I seriously looked everywhere to find the right type of rug that could work for a corner desk and then thought about how a Hereford hide rug might just work and boy did it!

I honestly had to move my desk around a couple of times before I found the right flow and layout I wanted for my office. The first desk I bought was a beautiful wooden mid-century desk, but it truly wasn’t big enough to fit my computer, monitor and my printer. I love, love this Ikea desk that is wide enough yet deep enough as well for me to lay out my thank you notes or write to do lists. You would be surprised how difficult it is to find a simple white desk without weird accents on it.

My diploma frames are hands down my favorite! I had the original and traditional diploma frames with the college crests, but it just wasn’t fitting the vibe of the room. I took a chance on ordering these custom floating acrylic frames and they’re simple enough yet also show off my undergraduate and masters degrees. They needed a place to shine – and this was the space!

With this small wall space, I originally thought that I wanted a big gallery wall (which could have been cool). I know myself well enough to know that the second I put up a gallery wall that I wouldn’t love the placement or the art and would want to completely redo it. I thought on it for a while and found a better solution, which was to do shelves and treat the decor like a gallery wall. These acrylic shelves give more attention to the decor and awards and don’t overwhelm the space. I can change it up seasonally and move around books or awards as I feel the need!


It’s all about that work from home flow and I’ve set my office space up to do just that! It’s simple yet has all the finishes and touches that just work for me. This room flows right off my sunroom, enters to my master bedroom and goes to my pantry/kitchen area. Because there are so many different access points, it really is hte perfect space for my office. Hope you enjoyed this peak into The Dollhouse!

Home Warranties: What Are They and Do You Need One?

I’ve been getting this question more and more from my buyers and my past clients when it comes time to renew the home warranty they got when they first purchased their home or for my first time home buyers on if having a home warranty is even worth it. So first things first, let’s break it down…

home war·ran·ty

/hōm/ /ˈwôrən(t)ē/

an annual service contract that can cover a cost to replace or repair home appliances or systems that may break down

Now that we know what a home warranty is, let’s talk about what it can do. Home warranties can cover as much or as little as you choose to pay in coverage. It’s like a little insurance policy on your appliances and systems. Sounds peachy, right? It can be! There are some huge perks of having a home warranty, but for some people there can be downfalls or frustrations.

Price Breakdown

Home warranties range in price depending on the company and package you order. They typically range from $500-$800 and your service charge can range from $50-$75. There are add-ons like pools, septic systems and more than can hike up the cost a little, but can be totally worth it. For first time home buyers, the seller typically pays for the home warranty to cover the first year at closing – but this is all dependent on negotiations. When I say it’s dependent on negotiations, I mean sometimes a seller doesn’t want to pay for a home warranty (that’s their right) or it may make that buyers offer look sweeter in a multiple offer situation to remove it and buy their own before or after closing.

Companies that my clients love to work with include:

What Does It Cover?

A basic plan typically covers the following:

  • Heating, Central Air Conditioning, Ductwork, Electrical system, Garage Door Openers, Attic – Ceiling – Exhaust Fans, Plumbing System, Plumbing Stoppages, Water Heater, Sump Pump, Dishwasher, Oven/Range/Cooktop, Built-In Microwave, Garbage Disposal, Trash Compactor

More premium plans can include:

  • Clothes washer/dryer, Kitchen Refrigerator, Plumbing Upgrade, Heating – Air Conditing Upgrade, Appliance Upgrade, Permit Fees, Code Violations, Haul Away Services, Improper Installation — Repair – Modifications

Potential add-ons to services:

  • Roof Leak, Central Vacuum, Additional Refrigerator, Geothermal Heating System, Septic System, Septic Plumbing, Above Ground Pool, Standalone Freezer, Well Pump, Pool/Spa, Ice Maker

How Does It Work?

  1. Make a Service Request. You will contact via phone or website the claims department and request servicing on the item that is deficient.
  2. Schedule Appointment. You’ll be assigned a local service technician that the home warranty company works with that will coordinate with you to schedule a mutually convenient appointment.
  3. Pay Service Fee. You will directly pay the local service technician directly for the service fee that is in your agreed upon contract. It’s running from $50-$75 with most companies. The perk of keeping your home warranty year after year is that you can get grandfathered in at the same payment and it won’t go up while new clients may have service payments that are $100 down the road and yours stays at $65.
  4. Have item repaired or replaced. The service technician will determine if the item is reparable or needs to be replaced. This can get tricky when it comes to replacements – the warranty company will determine coverage eligibility and see if its a complete replacement of the item or explore a claim buyout (i.e. they would cut you a check for the item and you go get another one). There’s no one size fits all on the solutions… but this is where a lot of frustration can come from clients with home warranties as you may need an item needs to be replaced while the warranty company may say it needs one small repair or will cut a check that wouldn’t cover the expense of a new item.

Do I Really Need One?

Talk about a loaded question. I go through the should we or shouldn’t we question on the home warranty with my buyers all the time! My answer is that it truly depends for the buyer and their situation. I do think that home warranties can be very useful, especially for first time home buyers. When an appliance or item breaks down, it’s nice to have a home warranty company direct you to a local service technician and know that they’re a licensed professional coming in to repair or replace and you know upfront what that service fee will look like. I find it to be especially useful for my clients that are transferring from another city or state and they don’t yet know who their preferred electricians or plumbers are.

Advantages of having home warranty coverage in place is just like having insurance on your home. It’s most beneficial for the biggest mishaps. When a big ticket item like a hot water heater or air conditioning unit breaks down, they could potentially replace the whole unit. Imagine not having that warranty… that would cost one pretty penny! It’s even useful for when a smaller item like a dishwasher breaks down… they’ll get out their and replace the broken piece and you know what you’re paying versus blindly hiring out.

When it comes to a downfall with a home warranty, it’s truly when they can’t cover what you’re needing. They get to say yes or no to replacement of the product or how much it will be covered for. This can be frustrating… but hey, that’s ~$500 to cover the potential to replace items versus having nothing in place and paying everything out of pocket. I’m not going to lie, I do have a lot of client that never touch their home warranty. They’re lucky and nothing breaks down. That’s great! But the clients that do utilize the home warranty services, truly have benefited.

The only reason I would say to not worry with a home warranty is if you have loyalty and connections with local plumbers, electricians and HVAC specialists. It may not be worth it to pay that $500 when you know you want to call your trusted crew regardless. I totally get that. But they can’t cut you a deal (or maybe they can) when that refrigerator breaks down or dishwasher busts.

Overall, home warranties can be a great tool for homeowners. It’s all about having a little bit of protection when stuff breaks down and life ya know… happens!

The Dollhouse: Living Room Before and After

One year later and here we are! Last September, I closed on my perfect little Dollhouse and now get to share the practically finished result with you! It’s been a labor of love for not only me, but my family and many friends that listened to me obsess over paint colors, decor and light fixtures. I’m so excited to open my door to you and show you room by room how The Dollhouse has little pieces of my personality layered throughout.

My biggest goal when starting the demo and renovations on my home was that it be an entertainers home and flow for parties and events. Now COVID put a damper on me hosting events anytime soon, but The Dollhouse sure is ready for one! Since this is a smaller home (~1,500 SF), it was crucial that my living room, dining room and kitchen all flowed comfortably and felt open enough without taking away from the original charm of the home.

Documenting the complete gut and renovation of my first home has been so important simply for the memories to one day look back on, but I’ve also so appreciated everyone that has followed along from beginning to end! The door is open and I hope you enjoy…

THE LIVING ROOM

Rug // Coffee Table // Couch // Lamp // Crown Light Fixtures // Pouf // Gallery Wall Frames

For the most part, I really did try to keep the character and charm of this home in mind during the process. I chose tall baseboards, worked with the original mantle and simply refinished the original hardwoods. My assumption is that the previous owners attempted to strip the original wall coverings from what you can see in the images, but once we got behind it (many people thought it was shiplap… it certainly wasn’t and was truly wood holding up the structure of the home) we got it quickly insulated and all the good stuff like drywall and paint followed suite.

I was most excited for the fact that I was able to keep the original mantle and front door. I needed the mantle to pop, but didn’t want it to contract too much with the rest of the colors so black felt like the best bet and I’m a big fan! Having a mantle that I can decorate was also huge for me. I love florals and seasonal decor, so I’m excited to change this out through the seasons.

Hands down, the best part of The Dollhouse is the natural light. There’s a window at just about every corner in this home (there’s 12+, y’all!!), but it helps bring a beautiful light into the home. Next, I’m focusing on window dressings and I cannot wait to share it with you all.

Keeping the furniture to a minimum but with ample room for flow and entertaining was obviously top priority. My living room flows directly into the front guest bedroom and the dining room. I love that this home gives space for a sectional but that I can see through to the other rooms and the dining/kitchen area.

Sitting and watching TV every evening above this mantle is always my favorite. Minus the funky and retro tile, the floor bricks, mantle and blocks in the fireplace are all original. It was a simple paint job for those and finding a tile that felt retro, but wasn’t too simple and not too busy was actually quite a challenge. Very thankful for the crew at Paint Etc. that helped me with all my tile and paint colors because those were some of my hardest decisions. I also had my sweet friend Designs by Dylan create this beautiful floral piece for my mantle and it truly changed the space!

A COUPLE MORE PRETTIES…

The Dollhouse is now bright, inviting and full of personality! Yes, I know a velvet pink couch is a little much but doesn’t it just make sense! It’s functional, though. I made sure that if I was going to buy this couch that it needed to pull out into a bed (that’s my form of function!!). It was so fun decorating my living room and finding the right pieces that matched and complimented the home without being overwhelming or too busy in the home. I’ve always heard that you should have one statement piece per room, and I’ve tried to stick to that principle.

I hope you enjoy and love The Dollhouse’s living room as much as I do! I am excited to bring you more room updates throughout the next few weeks. Thanks for letting me share my Dollhouse with you!


Dollhouse Update: Flowers, flowers and more FLOWERS!

It’s been a minute since I’ve given y’all an update on The Dollhouse! I officially moved in at the end of February, but it’s taken a little while to get all settled in. This whole stay at home order has actually been quite useful in transforming my little dollhouse into feeling like a cozy little home! And making it cozy means adding FLOWERS!

Since spring has sprung, that means florals are a necessity! I mean flowers just take a place from drab to FAB. I’ve been working on not only the exterior of my home with my flower beds and shrubbery, but my interior as well. I love a little color and vibrance, so it’s been fun getting creative with my family and friends on what I’m doing throughout the home.

What’s going on inside…

I know myself a little too well and decided not to overwhelm myself with too many live plants on the interior of my home. There are some times when you can DIY and others when you hire a professional. I knew that pulling together faux floral pieces would stay on the back burner for me and never get completed. That’s when you know it’s time to bring in the professionals! So I hired the very talented Designs by Dylan help me design some pieces to go throughout my home and he D E L I V E R E D! We collaborated and really found something that matches my v i b e and the dollhouse in general.

First was my fireplace mantle. I wanted something seasonal but I also just didn’t want to decorate a mantle with different nicknacks, so a garland style mantle piece was the choice! I also have a very large tv box that needed to be hidden and hydrangeas did just the trick. I love how girly and colorful it turned out! Dylan provides great videos and tutorials on how you can make your own florals, so check out his page and subscribe!

I also wanted frilly, pretty florals throughout the rest of my home, so we put orchid arrangements in my dining area and a fun succulent in my breakfast nook. I would have never thought about orchids, but they were the perfect chill flower to add into my very loud dining/kitchen area. I love finding fun ginger jars at estate sales and we actually ended up using a soup bowl ginger jar for my succulent arrangement. It’s a fun way to add a personal touch!

While I do have my faux florals, I did decide to go brave season and get some REAL plants. You know… get that clean air and purify a little bit. I got the cutest plant holders from Wayfair and hopped over (safely, through social distancing) to a local plant store and got a Fiddle Leaf and Snake Plant. A lot of your local stores will let you call ahead or order online and all you have to do is pick up your plants!

When it came to using real plants on the interior of my home, I wanted low maintenance but also pretty! I chose a fiddle leaf plant because they grow large and the leaves are grand and beautiful. It’s a plant that can take over a certain corner and be used as decor versus hanging a piece of art. The next plant I chose is the snake plant solely because they are legit low maintenance. Not a lot of love is needed for those little things!

Now my mother is a master gardener… like literally. So I’m working toward that! Being a new plant mom, though, I have learned some tips and tricks:

  • Water by using ice cubes. This helps prevent over-watering and lets the water drizzle down slowly. I do it once a week (I’m doing every Sunday evening to stay consistent) and I test the soil to see if it’s dry or still moist.
  • Clean off the leaves. I’ve used a damp towel to clean off the dust that the leaves can attract.
  • Look for the light. These plants don’t need direct sunlight, but they need to be near a window or area with indirect sun shining in.
  • If there’s a brown spot, cut it off! It won’t go away, so do away with that spot and let your plant shine.
  • Give it a name for no other reason than it’s just fun! My fiddle leaf is officially named Figgy Fresh and my snake plant is Ms. Snake. They only have names because honestly I feel like that helps me not forget them!

I also ordered small plant saucers from Amazon for the bottom of my planters to hold in moisture and placed these planters by indirect sunlight near one of my living room windows. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been moving the plants around a lot to see where they thrive… all about surviving right now over thriving, though.

I am planning on adding a couple more interior plants and even plan to transform my sunroom into a little green space/oasis. I’m dreaming of ivy hanging and spider plants throughout! I highly recommend adding in some beautiful florals to your home whether it’s fresh from the yards, air purifying plants or even some faux florals to keep it cute! It can really liven a place up.

Staying Green While Staying Home

Right now, we are all spending more and more time at home during COVID-19. And with all of this time inside our homes, we are likely using up more energy and not being quite as green as we want to be. We are leaving lights on, cranking up that A/C and maybe leaving that back door open a little longer.

While we are home and since today is Earth Day, I’m going to share ways we can conserve and stay green while at home. Now there’s no need to get all crazy and make drastic changes in our homes because we’ve gotta stay sane. So let’s keep it simple.

Unplug appliances. Honestly, I’m guilty of just leaving everything I own plugged in. So don’t mind me while I go and unplug the toaster I haven’t used in a hot minute.

Turn off lights. Not in the room? Turn the lights off. An even better and easier solution could be to switch over to smart lights and do it from an app on your phone. I’m a BIG fan of my smart lights and have them hooked up to my Alexa system.

Switch to LED. Change out those old light bulbs and change over to more energy efficient lights like LED. First of all, LED is brighter and just really can change up the vibe of a room.

Check that Temperature. Keep an eye on your thermostat. Are you heating or cooling a room you don’t use? Keeping your home too toasty or like the antarctic? Adjust to save energy. Even better, invest in a NEST Thermostat. I have one and love that it automatically sets to ECO Mode when I leave the house.

No waste pact. Make a deal with yourself to waste no food in your pantry/fridge. Cook all that you have before you head to the grocery store. This may give you an opportunity to get creative with your cooking!

Switch to paperless. When paying bills for your home, do it online and reduce wasting paper. Opt out of receiving mail.

Plant inside. Make your own indoor green space. Get a fiddle leaf or snake plant and add a little oxygen flow in your interior. It looks cute, too!

Open those blinds. Natural light is the best light! No need to turn on lights or lamps when you’re using that nice sunshine from outside.

There are so many other great ways to keep your home, but these are just a few items you can add to your daily checklist. Stay home and stay green!

What Am I Even Signing: One to Four Family Residential Contract

Not to be the bearer of bad news here, but when it comes to buying or selling a property it’s more than just house hunting. There’s a big portion of the process that all about contracts. Sounds boring… I know. But this is really the most important part! You’re signing your life away on a very, very expensive piece of property, so it would probably be nice to know what you’re signing…right?

While you typically trust your agent and would prefer them to just tell you to initial here or sign there, I always make an effort to sit down with my buyers or sellers (especially first-time home buyers) to walk through the contract they’re signing. Luckily as a REALTOR® in Texas, we are giving contracts and forms that have been prepared by attorneys that protect our clients, but regardless you should still know what you’re signing! I’m not going to break down the whole property contract line by line, but I will tell you what a lot of the verbiage means at a high-level help you understand what you’re signing.

I would like to always note that you should to consult an attorney if you have any questions about a real estate contract.

WHAT ARE YOU EVEN SIGNING: ONE TO FOUR FAMILY RESIDENTIAL CONTRACT

Now here’s to the heavy stuff. There’s a lot of information, numbers and details. I find it important that you understand every page of this document before you sign it and this is why you sit down with your agent prior to signing to have any questions answered, but for this blog’s purpose I will breakdown the top items to understand.

Sales Price: This is your total purchase price. It is broken down by your cash portion brought to closing and your borrowed funds through your loan.

Earnest Money: This is typically 1% of the purchase price of the property. You’ll input to amount and what title company you’ll be using (both the earnest money and title company are negotiable). This is credited at closing.

Title Policy: The seller normally pays for the title policy, but this is negotiable.

Survey: The title company and your lender will likely need a good survey on file but sometimes a neighborhood plat works. If the seller has a survey on file then great! If not, this is something to consider whether the buyer or seller purchases. Depending on the property, they can be pricey.

Property Condition: Allows for you to conduct inspections, confirms you’ve received a seller’s disclosure about the property and acceptance of the property. The main takeaways from this portion is to ensure you’ve received and thoroughly reviewed the seller’s disclosure (if applicable for the property) and accept the property as is. Yes, you will still have an inspector come out to the property, but the main reason you wouldn’t accept the property as is would be if the roof must be repaired and other major defects that could be there and are obvious.

Residential Service Contracts: It’s always nice to have a home warranty on the property to protect your HVAC or hot water heater. You will determine what type of home warranty you prefer with your agent and input the price in the contract. You don’t have to ask for one, but they’re great and this is typically covered by the seller for the buyer.

Closing: This is the determined date you plan to close on the property. There is always a possibility the date can move up or be pushed back. It’s typically pushed out 30 to 45 days from the day of signing the contract.

Possession: You’ll either have possession of the property upon closing and funding or there will be a leaseback on the property. Leasebacks are needed if the seller needs more time to move out or buyer needs to move in earlier.

Settlements and Other Expenses: Are you needing closing cost assistance? This is the portion where you would put that amount. Your lender will know what your financial situation looks like and can guide you on this aspect.

Termination Option: This is the timeframe that you’ll use to have your inspection conducted. You can negotiate the amount of days and the amount of money paid to the sellers. People typically ask for 7-10 days and pay $100. This is credited at closing. Your termination option begins the day after the contract is executed.


While this does not include every little piece of wording in the One to Four Family Residential Contract, it does give you a good idea and understanding of what you’re signing. Your REALTOR® is there to protect you and answer any questions you may have when signing a contract. They always have your best interest, it’s our responsibility! Remember that no question is stupid, so ask away!

Preparing for your Custom Cabinetry

New, new, new! Whether it’s a new build or a remodel, custom cabinetry is typically part of the process. When it comes to cabinetry none of it is simple but it also doesn’t have to be complicated. Seeing as I just went through this tumultuous process, I wanted to share some of my pains, tips and things you don’t want to forget!

When it comes to cabinetry you’re main priorities are fitting in your appliances and leaving a little bit of rooms for storage. Some people may want simplicity and not need much storage while others may be the entertainer of the century and need rooms for platters, decanters and more. At the end of the day, though, what really is the most important is the space you’re allotted and the creativity of you and your cabinetry company.

Creativity – This is where Pinterest became my best friend! First of all, did you know you can save folders within boards? GAME CHANGER!! I pulled different aspects that I like in kitchen cabinets and created my own little vision board to showcase specifically what I was looking for and what was a priority for me.

Cabinetry Company – You’re likely going to meet with multiple companies (I recommend a minimum of three) to get quotes and see what they can envision as well. I met with about four companies and ended up going with the one that wanted to help me create my vision. You need to find someone that finds solutions for your wants and needs in cabinetry and makes it work! For example, I really wanted a wine fridge in my cabinetry and understood it was such a tiny space… but I finally found a company that helped me make it work for my area.

Let’s think about your wants and needs when it comes to cabinetry. Some add ins and necessities to keep in mind.

What are your cabinetry needs?

  • Room for appliances 
    • Stove – Are you doing a slide in or separate package units?
    • Dishwasher – Want it close to sink!
    • Microwave – Are you doing a vent hood microwave? Lower Cabinet? Drawer?
    • Refrigerator – Is it attached to cabinetry or not?
  • Pots and pans drawers – Trust me… you need some deep drawers near your stove!
  • Flatware and Utensil Drawers – Necessary!
  • Dish towel and oven mitt drawer – Need!
  • Spice Cabinet – So many alternatives for this with a vertical pullout near the stove or a drawer style. Don’t take this for granted – it is important.

What are your cabinetry wants?

  • Soft close hinges – It’s not necessary but people do LOVE these! They can also save from scuffing up cabinets from slamming the doors shut.
  • Cookie Sheet/Cutting Board Storage – Gives easier access and is a great use of space.
  • Hidden Trash Can – Don’t care if your trash can is seen? Then forget this. But if you do, these are a fantastic way to hide your trash!
  • Under Lighting – You may want room for hidden lighting above your countertops. It can REALLY brighten up the space.
  • Upper Cabinet Space – Do you want your cabinetry to go all the way to the ceiling or do you want a display area? I personally like more storage to keep all of my entertaining pieces close or candles near.
  • Wine Rack or wine fridge – You may have room above refrigerator for a wine rack or an end corner for a wine fridge. My big thoughts on this – go ahead and add something like this in so you don’t get one year down the road, wish you would have added it and then it looks like an afterthought next to your beautiful custom cabinetry.
  • Drawers within Shelves – These are a big plus when I show homes! Being able to pull out drawers once you open up cabinetry doors help you see EVERYTHING in that cabinet.

Wanting an example for a small space with an open floor plan? Here’s a look at mine! One bit I have from my cabinetry selections was to add the shaker doors to the front facing portion (back end of cabinets). I have one hidden storage spot but didn’t want there to be one odd door, so the company matched with false shaker doors. Big fan!

Kitchen Cabinetry 1


These cabinetry necessities are just a scratch on the surface for what you may want in your kitchen. Would love to hear what you love in your cabinetry or what you wish you would have added.