Monday, December 31, 2012


After spending the holidays with family and friends, this is a time of the year to start thinking about changes to make in our lives, both personal and in business.  We wanted to share one of ours with you.

Our goal is to become your REALTOR® for life.  We want you to think of us first when you need to buy or sell and that you’ll recommend us to your friends too.  That kind of trust has to be earned and we’re committed to helping you be a better homeowner even when you’re not buying or selling.

The strategy is simple.  A well-informed homeowner will make better decisions.  We’ll periodically offer information through articles and social media on a wide variety of home-related topics like maintenance tips, tax law changes, financing suggestions, insurance, equity building strategies, and rental property investments. 

Please contact us if you need a recommendation on a service provider.  Our experience has built a list of reputable and reasonable contractors that you can rely upon.  When you have any kind of home-related questions, I hope you’ll have the confidence to call us.

Happy New Year.  We sincerely look forward to helping you or your friends.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Avoiding Unexpected Expenses

It's common for sellers to consider offering and buyers might find it an incentive, but a growing number of homeowners are purchasing the home warranties themselves to limit the unexpected expenses of repairs and replacements.

A home protection plan is a renewable service contract that covers the repair or replacement of many of the components in a home. Some homeowners especially like the convenience that it organizes a qualified service provider as well as the cost of the items.

There are a variety of companies that offer home warranties and the coverage may differ but the majority of things will include heating, air conditioning most built-in and some free-standing appliances, as well as other specific items. Additional specific coverage may be available for other things like pool and spa equipment.

Some investors are even placing this coverage on their rental properties to limit the amount of maintenance repairs during the year. It is a viable alternative to managing the financial risk and the stress dealing with unexpected expenses.

If you're interested in home warranties, I'll be happy to send you more information.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Let Your Tenants Send Your Kids to College

Most people have lots of things to save for but not always enough discretionary income after the family essentials have been met.

A relatively small investment in a rental home can control a good home that will easily rent, generate positive cash flows and pay for itself. The borrowed funds create leverage that earn a return on the total value of the home and not just the amount of cash you have invested.

The strategy is simple. Find a slightly below average priced home that will rent well. It will appeal to a larger group of people while it's rented and when it's ready to be sold.

Rent the home and maintain its condition over the years. As the loan amortizes and the value increases, the equity will grow. When your student is ready to start college, you'll actually have several options.

You can sell the property; pay the tax on the gain at the reduced capital gains rate and fund the education. Another option would be to refinance and take the proceeds to pay for the tuition. This would allow you to continue to own the asset but would free your equity and under current tax laws is a non-taxable event.

Regardless of whether you're trying to plan for your children's education or your own retirement, rental property offers many solid investment opportunities. Contact me if you want more information.

Monday, December 3, 2012

FHA to Cost Borrowers More

FHA has announced a major change to its loan program which allows borrowers to cancel the mortgage insurance premium (MIP) when their unpaid balance reaches 78% of the original purchase price. While no specific date has been set for the change, sometime in 2013, new FHA loans will require the mortgage insurance for the life of the loan.

At existing rates, the monthly MIP on a $168,875 mortgage is $178.99 per month. Under the current rule with normal amortization, the MIP would no longer be required in 9 years and 9 months. However, under the new rule, it would last for the entire 30 year term.

They also announced that the annual MIP will also be increased from 1.25% to 1.35% at some point in the near future. HUD, the parent agency for FHA, is making the changes to restore the capital reserves of the program that are needed to fund failed loans.

People that can close a FHA loan before the change takes place will fall under the old rules for canceling MIP and the lower rates. Since no date was announced, it is not known exactly when the changes will take effect.

While this information will probably not make the evening news, it will have a big impact on borrowers planning to use an FHA loan. Please pass it on to anyone you know who might be considering purchasing or refinancing with a FHA loan.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dripping Dollars

Conserving water to be green while lowering your monthly bill to save green is a beneficial combination. Little things can contribute significantly to a large water bill.

  • Leaky faucets can waste over 1,000 gallons a year
  • Leaky toilets can waste 7,000 gallons a month
  • A five-minute shower saves more water than a tub bath
  • Water running while you brush your teeth or shave
  • Sprinkler heads need to be adjusted to spray on the yard only
  • Install a rain sensor on sprinkler system
  • Pool equipment can be a hidden source of wasted water
A larger than normal water bill can be your first indication you have a leak. Then, you'll need to track it down.
  1. Turn off all the water faucets and appliances; don't forget the ice maker.
  2. Open the water meter, usually located near the sidewalk in the front of the house. You may need a water key that can be purchased from a home improvement store or possibly borrowed from a neighbor.
  3. Locate the dial indicating water usage. It should not be moving since all of the water is off. If it is still moving, verify that you have turned off anything that might be using water.
  4. If it appears to be still, make a mark with a Sharpie and wait 15 minutes. If the flow indicator has moved, you probably have a leak.
  5. Now that you've confirmed that you have a leak, you may need help in locating it. A plumber or leak specialist may be able to help you track it down and repair it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

What's the Point?

Pre-paid interest, sometimes called "points", is generally tax deductible when a person pays them in connection with buying, building or improving their principal residence. When points are paid on a refinance, they are not a current deduction but have to be taken pro-rata over the life of the mortgage.

For instance, if $3,000 in points were paid on refinancing a 30 year mortgage, deduction of $100 per year is allowed. When the loan is paid off or replaced by refinancing again or the home is sold and the mortgage paid off from the proceeds, the balance of any un-deducted points may be taken in that tax year.

Your tax professional needs to be made aware of any of these situations so that he can accurately reflect the deduction in your return. Currently, the most common situation is where homeowners may be refinancing their home for the second, third or even fourth time. If there are points that have not been completely deducted, they need to be treated in the year of refinancing.

For more information, see points in IRS Publication 936; there is a section on refinancing in this publication. For advice considering your specific situation, contact your tax professional.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Changing the Lock is Key

There are times when you need to change the locks on your home to protect your family and possessions. It should always be considered when you move into a new home; when keys are lost, stolen or unreturned; or a cleaning or other service provider hasn't returned the key.

Replacing the lockset would give you a totally new mechanism that should work better and if you go back with the same manufacturer, you'll probably avoid any carpentry. You can order the locks online and have them work with the same key at no extra charge.

Another alternative is to have a locksmith rekey them. The locksmith can easily make all of the locks work with the same key. Compare the cost and decide which would be a better expenditure.

While you're considering your security, a key safe might be a very convenient addition. Most makers say that it is much easier to break into a home than a key safe. The cost is reasonable and you can attach it to your exterior wall. Generally, they're combination locks that would allow you access if you or another family member forgot their key. It's also convenient to give a house keeper the combination and can be easily changed if necessary.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Water Damage - Covered or Not?

A number of things can cause water damage to a home and it's important to know whether they're covered by your insurance policy. Some water damage may be covered and other may not be. Generally, you need an incident to invoke coverage rather than something gradual due to lack of maintenance.

However, some incidents are specifically exempt from homeowner policies such as floods. A flood can be described as rising water due to overflow of inland or tidal waters or unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface water from any source.

Homes in designated high-risk flood areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to have flood insurance.

Even if you don't live in a dedicated flood zone, you could be affected by flood damage. Review your policy about water damage and call your insurance agent to get a better understanding. Ask if you need to purchase additional coverage or separate flood insurance along with other questions.

Flood insurance can be purchased for the building and the contents. The average flood insurance policy costs about $600 per year. For more information, see the National Flood Insurance Program.

Monday, October 29, 2012

What a Deal!

A 30 year fixed-rate mortgage hasn't always been the standard. As part of FDR's New Deal in 1934, the Federal Housing Administration was created to help Americans purchase homes with affordable terms.

Prior to then, many loans had an amount due at the end of the term called a balloon. Most mortgages had adjustable interest rates even though some might be fixed for a short time. While banks would loan money on a home, they retained the right to call the note due at any time which could exert considerable stress on borrowers.

FHA, during this time, introduced mortgages that offered a fixed rate of interest to the borrower for a 30 year term. This fully amortized loan provided borrowers a financial vehicle that would help them achieve the American Dream while minimizing the risk of having a loan called without the resources to pay it off. It brought long-term stability to the housing market and helped stimulate the economic recovery at a very difficult time in our nation's history.

Roughly, a third of the mortgages created in 2011 were less than 30 year terms. Many homeowners, similar to those after the Great Depression, would like to get their home paid for as soon as possible. Shorter term mortgages typically have a lower interest rate but higher payments due to fewer years to amortize the mortgage.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Rent or Buy?

The question plaguing every tenant who wants a home of their own is whether they should continue to rent or is it the right time to buy?

The combination of good prices and low mortgage rates make it considerably cheaper to own than rent in most markets. Assuming a person is qualified with a down payment and won't be moving for several years, there may not be a better time to buy a home.

In the example below, the total house payment is $1,281.01 compared to $1,500 to rent the same home. Before you consider any of the financial benefits attached to home ownership, it's cheaper to own than to rent.

The net cost of housing falls to $764 or just more than half the house payment when you consider the principal reduction due to normal amortization, a modest appreciation and the tax savings along with a reasonable maintenance expense that a tenant would not have to pay.

One of the biggest benefits is the growing equity. As the value goes up, the unpaid balance goes down. A favorable leverage causes their low down payment to grow to $40,609 in a short seven years based on a modest 1% appreciation.

There's an expression often heard in real estate circles: "Whether you rent or buy, you pay for the house you occupy." You're either buying it for yourself or you're helping the landlord buy it.

Check out a Rent vs. Own to see how your numbers will compare to this example or call me to do it for you.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pearland Sam Kidney Update

There's not much to update on "the kidney front, but a terrific new listing client sent me this email:

A customer on your RE/MAX of Texas web site has sent you a message.

Sam, My sister had a kidney transplant last year and is doing well, hers was as a result of PKD. Her donor has seen no ill effects as a result of the donation and she has said she would do it all over again. [emphasis added] My family and I wish you well and the best of luck in your search for a kidney. I already know neither of us are suitable for a donor but good luck and God bless. John Cathey

Want more information about becoming a live kidney donor?  Visit my kidney blog,  Thank you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Contributing Factors

Rental properties have four primary factors that contribute to a return on investment. Based on market conditions and investor strategies, the individual motivating factor can change for property owners.

There was a time when the benefit of tax savings to offset income from other sources was considered important to some investors. However, in today's environment, they are more likely valued as incidental benefits.

Some investors expect appreciation to deliver the satisfactory results which can be reasonable over time if a reliable appreciation rate is used. Savvy investors today are using conservative estimates for long-term holding periods.

Leverage occurs when borrowed funds are used to control a larger asset. Positive leverage can actually increase the yield on an investment.

The fourth component that contributes to a property's yield is the cash flow. When the rents are greater than the expenses of operating the property and servicing the debt, there is a positive cash flow. A property with a good cash flow doesn't have to go up in value to justify the investment.

The combination of lower prices, incredibly low mortgage rates and rising rents are attracting investors to rental properties that include single-family homes in predominantly owner-occupied neighborhoods.

Even if you were to ignore the benefits of tax savings, potential appreciation and leverage, the attractive cash flows make rental property a very smart investment alternative. If you're curious, contact me for more information.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Who Do You Call?

While the Internet is a great resource to locate information about food, travel and a number of other things, it isn't necessarily the best place to find a local service provider.

Sure, you can run the search, get quick results and may even see some fairly impressive websites. The problem is that sometimes, those sites are run by companies that sell the leads to providers who may not be as experienced as you're expecting.

Instead of taking a chance on a total stranger, a personal recommendation could yield you more satisfactory results. Most real estate transactions require some work to be done to the house either in preparation prior to the sale or to meet requirements from the buyer or inspector after the sale is made.

Looking for a service provider on the Internet is easy. Contact me for a recommendation is easier still and you can trust that they'll be reputable and reasonable. I want to be your personal source of real estate information.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Refinancing Too Soon?

Some people believe they shouldn't refinance more often than once every two years. The determining factors are if you'll lower your payments and plan to stay in the home long enough to recapture the cost of refinancing. If so, you should consider refinancing.

Interest rates have actually come down significantly in the past 12 months and even more in the past 24 months. According to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey®, rates on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage are down to 3.6% in August, 2012 compared to 4.27% one year earlier.

Refinancing in the example below would save the homeowner $67.04 per month and they would recapture the cost of refinancing in 3 years and 9 months based on approximately $3,000 of closing costs.

Click Here to make your own projection on a Refinance Analysis calculator.

Monday, September 24, 2012

FHA MIP Release

FHA loans require mortgage insurance premium to cover a possible loss to the lender if the property has to be foreclosed and sold. The premium is substantial and eliminating the MIP would reduce the payment considerably.

The MIP must remain in effect for five years but after that, when the balance is 78% of the original purchase price, FHA will release the requirement and your monthly payment will go down. Since amortization is affected by interest rates, the normal time to reach this 78% point could be from 9 to 12 years at today's interest rates.

In the example below, the MIP would be released in 9 years 6 months with normal payments. An extra $100 a month would allow the borrower to reach the release point in 7 years 1 month. To reach the release point in the minimum five years, the borrower would have to make an extra $268.04 per month principal contribution.

Releasing the MIP in this example would save the borrower $177.67 per month. The borrower would also save interest, build equity and shorten the term of their mortgage. Once the MIP is released, the borrower could continue the same payment schedule to further accelerate the debt reduction.

To make some projections on your mortgage, click here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Home Safety & Security Tips

house-padlock.pngA quick once-over of the items on this list may improve the safety and security of your home and could protect your family and friends. It is important to periodically pay attention to these things because things change over time.


  • Does each exterior door have a deadbolt?
  • Does the lock on each window work?
  • Have you added pins or clips to your windows for additional security?
  • Do you have dowels or broom sticks in the track of windows and sliding glass doors?
  • Do you have security company labels or signs displayed prominently?
  • Do you have an alarm system? Is the system monitored?
  • Do you have a dog that barks when strangers approach the home?
  • Are emergency numbers posted near the telephones?


  • Do you have smoke detectors near all sleeping areas?
  • Do you check the batteries monthly and change them annually?
  • Do you have two carbon monoxide detectors?
  • Do you have an escape ladder for upper floors?
  • Do you have fire extinguishers near exits and in the kitchen?
  • Do you have an emergency escape plan and is the family familiar with it?
  • Are any outlets or switches warm to the touch?
  • Are kitchen ventilation systems working properly?
  • Is the dryer ventilated to the outside and is the exhaust free of lint?
  • Is the furnace cleaned and serviced yearly?
  • Is the space around the hot water heater clear of combustible materials?


  • Are all electrical and phone cords out of the flow of traffic?
  • Are rugs and runners slip resistant?
  • Is your step-stool sturdy and in good condition?
  • Are stairs clear of objects that could cause a fall?
  • Are all entrance ways, exits, halls and walks well lighted?
  • Do bath tubs and showers have non-skid strips or suction mats in them?


  • Do you keep drugs and medicines out of reach and sight of small children?
  • Are interior doors designed so small children cannot lock themselves in rooms?
  • Are pool and play areas fenced to keep small children in and uninvited guests out?
  • Are firearms kept out of reach and sight of children?
  • Is a well-stocked first aid kit available for emergencies?
  • Is there one member of your family trained in first aid, CPR and the Heimlich maneuver?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Rates Are Down But It Costs More?

The latest Housing Affordability Index from the National Association of REALTORS® shows an interesting trend taking place this year that needs buyers' attention. Most people know that the mortgage rates are still at incredibly low rates but don't feel there is much sense of urgency.

This report shows that mortgage rates have fallen from 4.37% in January to 3.81% for June. However, the report shows that the payment as a percentage of income has gone from 12.1% to 13.9% which simply means that buyers have to spend more of their income on a home.

The reason is that the median price of homes nationally has gone from $154,600 in January to $190,100 in June which is a 23% increase. The two major components of housing affordability are the price of the homes and the mortgage rates a buyer must pay.

Even if one of those components is going down, the other could have a significant affect as is shown in this year's trend in housing affordability. In the past few weeks, the effects of which are not show in this report, mortgage rates have been moving up.

Home buyers and investors who have been taking a wait and see approach need to make a decision if now is the time to act.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Remodeling and Updating Pearland Real Estate

Renovate.  Remodel.  Enhance.  Update.

These are the key words that we tell our home sellers these days.  Unfortunately, what was "hot" 10 years ago -- brass light fixtures and doorknobs, white porcelain sinks, Corian countertops, white appliances -- are not "hot" today.  Today's buyer is looking for updates like granite, brushed nickel finishes on fixtures, stainless steel appliances and sinks (not to mention hardwood floors).

In fact, it has become difficult -- if not impossible -- to sell the 10-year-old homes without these updates!  These are the homes that just "sit" on the market.

So what to do?  The new buzz is "Renovation Financing," with conventional conforming and FHA 203(k) lending.  This isn't a new concept, on the contrary -- this type of financing has been around for years.  However, it has been typically cumbersome to use, and consequently, no one used it.

Now, however, lenders are developing and devoting entire departments at their banks for this type of lending ONLY!  In fact, one lender has committed to making 10% of their entire loan portfolio in renovation financing!

How does it work?  A buyer finds a wonderful home in a great location, but it has all those things I mentioned above that no one wants.  So, an approved contractor and the buyer (along with a coordinator/consultant for the lender) choose the work to be done, the colors to install, and voila!  The bank makes one loan to the buyer for the purchase AND the remodeling -- and the payments won't start for up to 6 months after closing, to allow time for the remodeling!  So . . . if your lease won't be up for a few months, get started now!

Get the home you want -- where you want it -- and how you want it!  For specifics, call me.  Sam Ferreri.  832-200-5656.  With my extensive home remodeling experience and my appraisal experience, I can help you through the process.

And now . . . I'm practicing what I preach!  I've started remodeling my own home (built in 2000) and my office building (built in 2002).  Yes, time for updates, renovations, and remodeling -- for my customers, clients, agents, staff, and myself.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Handling the Eyesore

It can be unsightly and upsetting when a home in a neighborhood isn't being maintained like the others. It might be an overgrown yard, a fence in need of repair, paint peeling on the home or even a car parked in front of the home that hasn't moved in weeks.

I believe most people want to be good neighbors and may be willing to correct the issue once it is brought to their attention. In some cases, they may not agree with the same urgency and it might be necessary to seek other remedies.

The most expedient solution may be to contact the responsible person and describe your perception of the problem. An owner-occupant may be sympathetic to the neighbors and more than willing to correct the issue.

However, if you suspect that it is a rental property, check with the county tax records to identify the owner. They may be unaware of the situation and would actually welcome the "heads-up" to protect their investment.

The next step might be to notify the homeowner's association if there is one. The covenants or bylaws will specify how properties must be maintained and the association can enforce them.

The final step would be to notify the city for a possible code violation. Most cities have a separate code and neighborhood services division and some cities have 311 for non-emergency assistance.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Alive and "Kicking it" in Pearland!

Sam Needs a Kidney, but still Kicking it in Pearland!  (No, not the bucket!)

It seems that with all the blogging and marketing for a kidney donor, many people have gotten the idea that I'm near death's door.  Although I don't fear death, I don't welcome it either.......but I'm alive and kicking it here in Pearland!

I know that many of my competitors secretly wish it was doomsday for me . . . but that's just not the case.  In fact, I'm developing new marketing plans for my team and my company right now.  And here's a preview of what's to come:

  • New agent development program for new and existing agents at RE/MAX Top Realty (this is where we train agents how to be extraordinarily successful as Realtors in the present and future markets)
  • New lead generation and management platform designed to increase agents' production at RE/MAX Top Realty (with support built-in to help them develop, capture, and convert far more leads)
  • New office design (our building is nearly 10 years old, so we're updating the look and the technology to help agents succeed at never-before levels)
  • New, younger office development and management team (Rachel and I are still here, but we're training the next gen -- Katie and Travis -- to assist with the support and skill building systems that we're implementing)
We think the market will improve over the next 5-10 years, so we're planning to continue to "kick it" into the next millenium!  Want to learn more?  Call me at 832-200-5656.

If you're a Realtor, and you're dissatisfied with the high cost and low production that you're experiencing by associating with your current broker, you should consider the advantages of RE/MAX Top Realty, and how surprisingly low our cost of doing business is (as compared to other national brands).  Yes, it's less!  I know that you've always heard of "high fees at RE/MAX," but that's not true.  We've kept our costs down, we own our building, we have little to no debt.  Our cost of doing business is better . . . and our market share exceeds all the others!  Find out how Top Agents at RE/MAX Top Realty make more money.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Determining Home Value in Pearland

Pearland House Values

Knowing the current value of your home is important when you're considering a move, refinancing or getting a home equity loan. Prices are determined by recent sales and the supply and demand of current inventory.
The process of selecting comparable properties involves matching similar features like bedrooms, baths, square footage and updates. In addition to price, there are other factors that affect the value and ultimately, the sale of a home.
Location plays a significant role because by the unique combination of improvements and land. Beneficial considerations would be convenience to schools, shopping, transportation and proximity to freeways. Undesirable concerns could include being in the vicinity of busy streets, high-tension lines, commercial property and other things.
To receive a computerized estimate on the value of your home that includes prices of comparable homes that have sold recently and homes currently for sale, click here.
Value is not totally objective and does require a certain amount of subjective considerations. If you have questions after you receive your report by email, contact us and we'll be happy to talk to you about your concerns.

Dated homes don't sell

(or, More Confessions from Pearland Sam)

I went on a listing appointment in Silverlake on Saturday to a very nice 2-story home that has been impeccably maintained.  This home was built in 1999 and is currently vacant (the owners bought a newer, larger home nearby) and has been on the market for over 6 months with no offers.  And I must say, "it's nice."

From the original white carpet (no shoes have ever touched it) to the lovely vinyl floors in the kitchen, all intact and in mint condition!  The oak finish cabinets are trimmed with beige Formica countertops and 4"x4" white ceramic tile backsplash -- all like new! 

The splendid polished brass chandeliers glisten and gleam in the entry, formal dining, den (with fan kit), kitchen, and breakfast nook.  The carpet and vinyl flooring in the bathrooms (with tile "step-outs") are spotless! 

And it's the lowest price in the neighborhood!  But really . . . who wants it?  (Simple answer:  no one.)  Why?  It looks like it did 13 years ago when new.  It's dated.  Today's buyers are rejecting dated homes in favor of farther commutes and crummier neighborhoods to get granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, laminate/wood floors, nickel-plated or other shades of silver fixtures and door knobs.   And it's nearly impossible to discount the home enough to sell it as-is!

Buyers want to buy a home with no up-front repair costs -- which translates to "the house must be updated and in good condition in order to sell it."  There.  I've said it.  It's true.  Believe it or stay put. 

Need help getting yours ready for sale?  Let our professional design/stage/shoot team help you get yours ready for market.  Call TheSamTeam today at 832-200-5656 and let's get started.  That is, IF you want to sell it. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Torch is Passing . . .

(or, "Pearland Sam Confesses")

I returned from a three-day business trip to Denver Friday night, a trip I took with my daughter Katie to meet our newest client, PEMCO.  For those of you who don't know, PEMCO is one of three HUD contractors who manage HUD-owned homes.  For a long time, Katie and I have serviced HUD Homes for HomeTelos, but we recently got the opportunity to apply for a PEMCO contract.  Out of over 1200 applications received from eager listing brokers, only 63 were selected as "LLB's" or "listing brokers" for their organization -- we were one of the 63.  (If I sound "bragadocious," maybe I am a little, but my team and I worked hard to build an amazing application presentation both in print an online, so I am very proud of them all!)  The addition of PEMCO to our HUD base that we've previously built with our outstanding association with HomeTelos, will allow us to bring more options to our future -- and existing -- customers and clients.  

But more interesting than that, was what I observed from my "outsider-looking-in" approach to what we experienced.  In my 37+ years as a Realtor, Appraiser, Trainer, Speaker, etc., I am quite used to the attention I get at Realtor conferences.  Frankly, I've learned to like and expect it!  But that's not what greeted me in Denver!  Instead, the attention was focused on my "up-and-coming" 25-year-old protege, my beautiful daughter Katie.

In the past few years, I've seen her grow into what I now see as a smart, savvy businesswoman.  From the little girl who graduated from Pearland High School, to the young woman who graduated from Houston Baptist University (some 30 years to the date after I did), to the smart young businesswoman who obtained her Texas Broker License at a young age . . . I confess that I really didn't see it coming.  And why not? 

Did I not want to see my baby grow up?  Did I get too involved with all the "little" issues of growing up and overlook the big picture?  Possibly all of the above . . . but the Denver trip "opened my eyes." 

In November, Katie is getting married to her long-time sweetheart, another amazing young person who works at RE/MAX Top Realty, Travis See.  (See photo above.)  Travis started working with us when he was 17 years old, and a student at Pearland High School.  He was an office boy, intent on finishing his degree.  When our bookkeeper suddenly quit in May, Travis stepped into the position (with no bookkeeping experience at all) and has handled it in a way even I couldn't have done!  (In case you're reading this, Travis, I am very proud of your achievement.)  There.......I said it.......and those who know me know that I'm not one to "coddle" anyone! 

And so, the beat goes on.  I grew up in a real estate office under the watchful eye of my mother, (last known as "Lou Johnston,") and now Katie has grown up in this business, becoming the third generation Realtor in our family.  The torch is passing . . . .

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Own Part of Pearland

Pearland Real Estate Ownership

The American Dream of owning a home is still alive. People still want a place of their own; where they can raise their family; share with their friends; feel safe and secure. Homeownership creates emotional and financial benefits.
The government supports that dream by allowing deductions for mortgage and home equity interest as well as property taxes. The capital gains exclusion on profits from a home is incredibly generous and a low long-term capital gains tax rate applies to excess profits.
It's reported that some of the social benefits of owning a home include higher voter participation, better physical health, higher student test scores, lower teen delinquency, neighborhood stability and pride in the community.
If for no other reason, the decision to buy a home should be considered when it costs much less to own a home than it does to rent. With the unusually low available mortgage rates, the payment is generally less than comparable rent. However, the decision becomes more obvious when the other benefits are considered like amortization, appreciation and tax savings.
It's not uncommon for the net cost of housing to be half of the actual mortgage payment. In most cases, it is significantly more to rent than to own which could amount to more than the down payment in the first year alone. Calculate your cost of Renting vs. Owning.

I've got the Pre-Election Blues! :-(

The presidential election isn't until November, and I'm already sick of it.  And frankly, what's really going to change for me?  NOTHING!  NADA!  NO MATTER WHICH ONE GETS ELECTED!

What are the real issues?

1.  Huge Medicare cuts?
2.  Gay marriage?  (a/k/a Eat More Chik'n)
3.  Roe v Wade?
4.  Spending cuts?
5.  Tax breaks for the wealthy?
6.  No more social security?  (I haven't been counting on that one!)

Will any of this actually have an effect on my life?  It could, but it won't!  And I've voted in every election since Jimmy Carter!  And yes, I'll vote again. 

By election time, I'm sure that the media and each of the candidates will have exposed each other for the low-life filthy cheats that they will be made out to be.  All their skeletons will come out of the closet...........ugh! 

Is anyone willing to run for that office who is actually capable of handling it? 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Brazoria County MLS Stats for July 2012

Pearland Home Sales | Brazoria County | July 2012

Well, July sales sizzled in the Brazoria county market.  Sales are up for July this year over July last year.  In this side-by-side comparison, you can see a slight improvement for July 2012 over July 2011.  These include lower inventory, higher number of pendings and closings (ie, more sales!), higher closed price to list price ratio, and lower days on market! 

Are you ready to buy or sell?  Call me at 832-200-5656 and let's see where you fit in today's market.

Take a look at the statistics directly from MLS (or you may know it as
Monthly Activity Report: 7-2011
Property Type: Single Family
Office Code: RTOP01 Sam Ferreri
Area New Avg LP Pending Avg LP Closed Avg CP %CP/LP Avg DOM
5 411 $190,243 287 $178,376 249 $168,331 96.02% 87

Monthly Activity Report: 7-2012
Property Type: Single Family
Office Code: RTOP01 Sam Ferreri
Area New Avg LP Pending Avg LP Closed Avg CP %CP/LP Avg DOM
5 381 $195,954 303 $180,617 276 $186,654 96.20% 66

Monday, August 13, 2012

How Long Do I Have to Wait to Buy in Pearland?

How Long Do I Have to Wait to Buy in Pearland? - 8/13/2012

The question concerning people who’ve had a foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy is when they will be able to qualify for a mortgage loan. It takes different amounts of time to heal credit scores based on the event.
The following chart is meant to be a general guide for how long a person might have to wait. During this waiting period, it’s important that the person be current on all payments and maintains a history of good credit.
FNMA/Freddie Mac
3 years
2 years
3 years
7 years
7 years
Deed-in-Lieu of Foreclosure
3 years
2 years
3 years
2 years<80%
4 years81-90%
7 years> 90%
7 years
Short Sale
3 years
2 years
3 years
2 years<80%
7 years81-90%
7 years> 90%
7 years
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
2 years
2 years
3 years
4 years
7 years
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
1 year
1 year
1 year
2 years
7 years
A recommended lender can give you specific information regarding your individual situation and can make suggestions that will improve your ability to qualify for a mortgage. We want to be your personal source of real estate information and we're committed to helping from purchase to sale and all the years in between.
Ready to get started? Call The Sam Team today at 832-200-5656, or email

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Get Prequalified In Pearland for NO DOWN PAYMENT financing!

Pearland No Down Payment Homes

If you've been thinking of buying a home, but were unsure of your finances, read Sam Ferreri's special report, "How to Buy a Home with Little to No Money Down." 

Learn about USDA loans, VA loans, HUD Homes (with $100 down payment options), FHA financing with 3.5% down payments, and much more!

Sam Ferreri, a 37+ year Realtor, wants he and his team to help you to become a homeowner and take advantage of the lowest home prices and interest rates in years!  Call today.  832-200-5656 or email Sam at

Homeownership Rules in Pearland

Homeownership Rules - 8/9/2012

Most people agree that homeownership rules! When asked, people say they want a home they can call their own, to raise their family, share with their friends and to feel safe and secure. It also accounts for the majority of most people's net worth.
These rules can help protect your investment and make homeownership more enjoyable.
  1. Don't overpay for your home
  2. Maintain your home's condition
  3. Minimize your assessed value to lower property taxes
  4. Make extra principal contributions to save interest and build equity
  5. Validate the insured value of improvements and contents
  6. Stay current on surrounding property values
  7. Make mortgage interest payments deductible
  8. Invest in capital improvements that increase market value
  9. Don't over-improve the neighborhood
  10. Keep records of capital improvements and other maintenance
We want to be your personal source of real estate information and we're committed to helping from purchase to sale and all the years in between.  Call Sam at 832-200-5656 or email  Interested in the Pearland community of Silverlake?  Check this out!