connie vallone

Mortgage Rates Continue to Fall

In Buying a new home, Contract Terms, Home Buying, Home buying in West Houston, Home Selling, Home Value Reports, Houston Real Estate, Marketing your home, Pricing your home, Sellers, Selling Your Home, West Houston Real Estate, West Houston REALTOR Connie Vallone on February 3, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Mortgage rates move lower for the fourth consecutive week as the Fed held interest rates steady at its FOMC meeting on Wednesday, according to Freddie Mac’s recently released  Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®).

Results show that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.79 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending January 28, 2016, down from last week when it averaged 3.81 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.66 percent.

“The yield on the 10-year Treasury stabilized around 2 percent this week, and the 30-year mortgage rate dipped 2 basis points to 3.79 percent,” says Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac. “The recent market turmoil has given the Fed pause; as was universally expected, the Fed stood pat this week but kept its options open for a rate increase in March. This week’s housing releases confirmed the momentum of home sales going into 2016. A hesitant Fed, sub-4-percent mortgage rates (at least for a little while longer), and strong housing fundamentals should generate a three percent increase in home sales this year.”

The 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.07 percent with an average 0.5 point, down from 3.10 percent last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.98 percent.

Results show that they 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.90 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.91 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.86 percent.

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Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

Do you have real estate questions?   Contact Connie Vallone at (713) 249-4177 or or visit  or

8 Essential Tips for Winterizing Your Home

In Home Buying, Home buying in West Houston, Home Improvement, Home Maintenance, Home Selling, Home Values, Houston Real Estate, Tax credits, West Houston Real Estate on January 19, 2016 at 12:26 pm

The snow is falling, the fire is roaring and all your daily worries begin to melt away as you sip on a piping hot cup of tea. This is probably what you’d like to be doing during a winter storm, but things like failing HVAC systems, frozen pipes and clogged chimneys can turn your home from cozy to chaotic, all in the drop of a hat (or tree limb). To avoid annoying (and occasionally dangerous) winter related problems, here are eight essential steps to keep you happy and your house healthy:

Seal windows and doors.
Everyone hates a draft–especially in the morning. Having carefully sealed windows and doors is imperative to keeping the cold air where it belongs: outside. Before winter weather hits, double-check the seals around your home to ensure they’re not leaking warm air. Also, if you have the time (and budget), look into having your doors and windows re-sealed with weather-stripping.

If you’re in search of a quick fix, old blankets or other thick linens placed under doors will work as a temporary solution. Your local home improvement store will also carry a window insulation kit to help stop leaks (if you’re into DIY projects). Checking the drywall and exterior of your home for any holes and re-caulking them is a great way to give your home an additional edge.

Check your heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system.
When was the last time you serviced your HVAC system? Since you don’t want your heating to dip-out during a winter storm, it’s important to make sure your current system is in good shape. Typical HVAC upkeep includes: filter changes, pipe/connection inspections and thermostat tests (especially if you have a smart system). Additionally, if there are issues with the wiring or face of the machine, it’s time to invest in repairs for the thermostat. Unless you have extensive experience repairing HVAC systems, it’s best to leave these repairs up to a professional.

Clean chimney.
Before you build that big holiday fire in the family fireplace, make sure to have it professionally cleaned. (And by “it,” we mean the fireplace and the chimney.) Weather damage, shifting foundations and creosote buildup can lead to some pretty serious problems if ignored. Again, because of the potential cost of a do-it-yourself inspection, it’s highly advised that you have a professional inspect and clean your chimney.

Inspect the roof, gutters and downspouts.
Before winter weather hits, it’s always a good idea to have your roof inspected by a professional. If any holes, leaks, or missing tiles/shingles are discovered, it’s important to have the problem fixed immediately. Also make sure your roof is properly insulated– a lack of insulation will increase your heating bill if left unchecked.

Downspouts and gutters systems also need a thorough check to prepare for snow and ice. Gutters clogged with leaves or dirt prevent moisture from running through your system. Instead, precipitation begins to collect en-masse–causing serious gutter and siding damage. To avoid gutter issues, make sure you have them cleaned before the next winter storm.

Insulate your pipes.
If you have any exposed pipes, now is the time to insulate them. Use foam, newspapers, or anything insulated (be careful, some pipes become hot and can cause fires if they’re in contact with something flammable) and wrap the pipe using duct tape to secure the covering. Also make sure that any sprinkler systems or pipes leading to a pool are insulated and turned off. Any outdoor faucets should be insulated and covered for the winter as well.

Prepare the yard.
To avoid your yard becoming a springtime mud pit, take steps to keep it maintained throughout the winter. This includes: trimming trees/bushes, putting away furniture and planters, as well as periodically shoveling snow and ice away. If you need help getting rid of winter precipitation, you can always hire a snow removal service to help.

Put the ceiling fan in reverse.
To keep your home warm, another preparatory step is to reverse the circulation of your ceiling fan. Doing so allows the cold air to be pushed to the ceiling, while the warm air is forced back down into the living room. When spring comes around you can always change the circulation back, but utilizing this step gives you more warmth for less money–that’s a win-win. Keep the heater temperature down.

Modern heaters are great (no hauling/splitting wood, no severe fire hazards and they actually heat your home), but they don’t have to run constantly to do their job. Try dropping the temperature at night so your heater works less while you’re asleep. This way you can optimize the heater during the day and just use a space heater at night. You can also insulate your heater to help it withstand any potential damage from freezing temperatures.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

If you are interested in buying or selling real estate in West Houston, please contact Connie Vallone with First Market Realty at 713 249 4177  or visit  or


Top Financial Resolutions for 2016

In Buying a new home, Home Buying, Home buying in West Houston, Home Selling, Home Value Reports, Home Values, Investment, Marketing your home, Selling Your Home, Texas, West Houston Real Estate on January 15, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Not surprisingly, the top financial resolutions for 2015 were to save more, spend less, and pay off debt. It’s a list that rarely changes from year to year, say financial mavens at The Fiscal Times, a digital news service reporting on fiscal policy. Yet results are almost always mixed.

As we enter 2016, financial experts advise, consumers focused on improving their fiscal well-being would do well to make these financial resolutions:

  • Know your credit history – Having higher credit scores can save you big bucks on interest over the years. Pull your credit report for free every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian – at Once you have it, check for and correct mistakes that could be hurting your credit profile.
  • Get on the same page with your partner – If your finances are co-mingled with a spouse or significant other, get everything out in the open, including debts, salaries, credit scores and spending habits. Together, figure out how you will manage your obligations, what financial goals are most important, and how you plan to reach them.
  • Live below your means – Start by tracking where your money goes. Spending is a key variable, so record every penny spent in one month in a notebook or an Excel spreadsheet. That will show you whether you are spending too much and where you can cut back.
  • Start saving more – Max out your 401(k) contributions or at least contribute enough to get the full employer match your company offers. Determine what you want to save toward. To build emergency savings, aim to sock away at least six months’ worth of expenses. Have a certain amount of money direct deposited into a savings account – or set up automatic transfers to a savings account after each paycheck.
  • Whittle down debt – Maximize monthly payments to the greatest extent you can. Make one extra mortgage payment each year. Consult with a financial planner about debt consolidation.
  • Review your wills and beneficiaries – Make sure your insurance policies are adequate, for your home as well as life and disability. Reread your policies, as well as your will, powers of attorney, retirement benefits and health proxies and make any necessary updates to reflect any changes in family circumstances.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2016. All rights reserved.

If you are interested in buying or selling real estate in West Houston, please contact Connie Vallone with First Market Realty at 713 249 4177  or visit  or


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