Wendy Johnson - Top Houston Realtor®

Wendy Johnson

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Wendy Johnson

Wendy Johnson

The Woodlands, TX
Real Estate Agent
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Why a higher offer is not always better

If you received two offers on your house that were $5,000 apart, you should take the higher one, right? Not so fast.

Sure, money plays a huge role in your decision to accept an offer, but it shouldn’t be the only one. Here are some other questions to ask:

Does the Buyer Have the Money?

Without cash or a letter from a lender, your buyer may not be able to afford the price he’s proposing. Your REALTOR® can help you tremendously by making sure that anyone who places an offer on your home is qualified.

How Much Earnest Money is Included?

Earnest money is an amount a potential buyer will put towards the sale in advance of the closing to show he’s entering into this transaction in good faith. A high amount of earnest money usually indicates a serious buyer. If the transaction closes, the money counts toward the downpayment; if it doesn’t close, the seller in some circumstances gets to keep the earnest money.

When’s the Closing Date?

Determine if the timeline for the transaction matches your schedule—you and the buyer may have deadlines that don’t mesh well.

Is the Buyer Asking for Anything Unusual?

Buyers can put all kinds of things in an offer. They can request an option to terminate, ask for repairs, see if you’ll leave the appliances, and make the offer contingent upon the sale of their current home. Your REALTOR® can help you decide what is reasonable.

It’s a wonderful feeling when someone presents you with an acceptable offer for your home. Just make sure you understand all parts of an offer, not just the dollar signs.

Think You’re Experienced in Selling and Buying Property? Read This Before You Do Anything

It’s easy to assume that because you’ve purchased and sold property in the past that you know what you are doing. Maybe you had one of the trickiest transactions among your acquaintances, experienced the smoothest closing your title company had ever witnessed, or were able to get top dollar for your listing. Here are a few things to check before you decide to go through the homebuying or selling process again.

Make sure you have the time

Especially if you are juggling selling your property while buying a new one, you’ll need to make sure you’ve allowed yourself the appropriate timeline to accomplish your goals. For instance, if you need to renovate before selling, ensure you know how long it will take to make repairs. Talk to you REALTOR® to get a better sense of steps you’ll need to take for your specific situation.

Get clarity about your financial situation

When markets are hot, it might seem like you can make a real profit on selling your property. Do research to find out if that’s the truth. Consider all the costs associated with moving up—even furniture to go into a new space should be considered in your calculations.

Forget what happened in the past

Unless you bought or sold property this week, it’s unlikely that the marketplace is exactly as it was during your last real estate transaction. Your REALTOR® can give you a better sense of today’s market, including attractive amenities, pricing trends, and current programs and resources available.

What Sellers Should Know About the Risks of Recording Buyers

If you have smart-home technology that can record video or audio, make sure you don’t run afoul of the law when your home is being viewed by potential buyers. Illegally recording is a felony offense in Texas, and anyone who has been recorded in violation of the law can bring a civil suit to recover $10,000 for each occurrence, actual damages in excess of $10,000, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs.

If you are putting your house on the market, here’s how to avoid trouble with your technology.

The One-Party Rule Won’t Protect You

If you think you can get away with eavesdropping on a buyer showing, think again. Although Texas law allows you to record audio of your own conversation without the consent of the person you are speaking to, this “one-party rule” does not apply when you are not present and participating in the conversation. You cannot record audio of a conversation merely because the conversation happens inside your home.

Be Careful With Video

Many homes have security cameras that record video. Silent video from security cameras is generally allowed as long as it isn’t in a private area of a home. For example, silent video from a common part of your home—such as the exterior, foyer, or garage—is likely OK. Silent video from a bathroom is not allowed. It’s never a good idea to record video and audio together during a showing.

Visitors’ Privacy is Protected by Law

Just because someone is in your home does not mean you can record whatever you want. Texas privacy laws exist to protect individuals, and courts have found in favor of visitors when a homeowner goes too far with surveillance.

Don’t risk a lawsuit just to overhear what a buyer thinks about your property. Leave feedback-gathering to your REALTOR®.

5 To-Do’s for First-Time Homebuyers

There’s a lot to consider when you’re buying your first property. Make sure you do these five things before you make an offer. 

  1. Make a checklist and use it. Determine what features are essential to you and refer to your list when viewing properties. Your list may change, but it can be a good starting point.
  2. Consider all of your expenses. When you’re calculating what you can afford, be sure to factor in other expenses like taxes, insurance, commuting costs, and utilities.
  3. Ask for the paperwork. If you’re looking at property in a homeowners association, request a copy of the HOA rules before submitting an offer to see if you’re willing to abide by them.
  4. Research funding sources. You may qualify for homebuyer-assistance programs based on your profession, income, or the property’s location.
  5. Think about resale value. You may appreciate a home’s unique features, but will potential buyers love them when you’re ready to sell?

One of the best decisions you can make you’re ready to buy your first home is to hire a REALTOR®. These professionals have the experience and knowledge to help you reach your real estate goals.

When it’s Best Not to Keep Your Opinions to Yourself

It’s perfectly normal to change your mind about what you’re looking for during your house hunt. Maybe the properties you’re seeing aren’t what you expected or you’ve learned something in the process that changed your perspective.

Just remember that your Texas REALTOR® selects potential properties for you to view based on the search criteria you provide, so it’s in your best interest to tell her right away if the homes you’re viewing don’t cut it.

If any of these thoughts pop into your head, speak up ASAP:

Not Another Two-Story

You told your REALTOR® that you were OK with viewing homes with multiple floors, but now you dread the idea of climbing those stairs. Just say so. She will eliminate those properties from her search, and you never have to consider the cost of installing an elevator again.

It’s Only Five More Minutes to Work

You were only willing to consider homes within 10 miles of your office, but the few listings in the area are at the top of your price range. Let your REALTOR® know if you’re willing to add a few miles to your drive to increase your options.

We Have One on the Way … or One on the Way Out

Do you expect your family situation to change? Maybe you’re planning to have children in a few years, or your teen is leaving for college soon. Tell your REALTOR® so she can build some flexibility into her search criteria, like proximity to schools or number of bedrooms.

We’re Going to Want a Bigger Boat

Just because you’re pre-approved or pre-qualified for a certain amount doesn’t mean you have to only view homes at that price. Let your REALTOR® know if you’re open to homes at a price that gives you room for other expenses.

4 Costs Homebuyers Should Consider From the Start

A real estate purchase includes costs more than just the sale price. Here are other considerations to include in your homebuying budget.


Some lenders require a 20% downpayment at closing. While it can take time to save up that much, paying a lump sum up front will lower your monthly payment. 

Monthly Payment 

Your payments will cover principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. You may also have other recurring expenses, such as HOA dues, that you should factor into your budget.

Mortgage Insurance 

If you don’t pay at least 20% of the purchase price as a downpayment, your lender will probably require you to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). This isn’t insurance for you—it protects the lender if you default on the loan. 

Closing Costs 

A buyer and a seller can negotiate how much each party pays at closing. But unless the seller agrees to pay all of the closing costs, you’ll be responsible for paying a portion of these fees. 

When you’re ready to become a homeowner, contact a REALTOR® to determine how much you can realistically afford. 

Managing Rental Properties Doesn’t Have to be Stressful

If you’ve ever wondered if the headache of managing your own investment properties is worth it, you’re not alone. A recent survey of landlords by the home improvement company Porch found that 88% had experienced stress in renting out their properties. But the solution isn’t to divest or grin and bear it. Hiring a property manager can help alleviate the stress and potentially improve the financial health of your investment. Here are four examples of ways a property manager can make life as a landlord easier.

Property Managers are Experienced in Handling Tenant Disputes and Issues

Nonpaying tenants, evictions, and altercations between tenants are just some of the major headaches of being a landlord. A property manager will be able to handle those issues in a professional manner with as little stress to you as possible.

Property Managers are Versed in Real Estate-Related Regulations

Do you know how federal fair-housing laws apply to you and your property? Do you know if there are local anti-discrimination ordinances? And do you know what you can and can’t ask about requests for assistance animals? Property managers do. Hiring a property manager can help
you reduce your legal risk and remove the need for you to stay on top of complicated regulations.

Property Managers are On Call so You Don’t Have to Be

Whether it’s a 3 a.m. plumbing emergency or a last-minute showing, you’ll be relieved to have a professional handling time-consuming or inconvenient tasks instead of them falling to you.

Property Managers Can Benefit Your Bottom Line

The fees associated with hiring a property manager can be offset by timely payments, competitive rents, low vacancy, and other benefits of professional management. Property managers often have case studies that show how they’ve helped other properties and what they may be able to do for yours.

Reduce your stress and boost your investment by contacting a Texas REALTOR® who specializes in property management.

How Many Buyers Skip the Inspection?

A home inspection is a typical part of the buying process and required by many mortgage lenders, but over 10% of homebuyers reported not using an inspector in their most recent purchase, according to a survey from home improvement website Porch.

Of those that did use an inspector, 72% considered just one option and only 13% compared three or more. Not only can comparing inspectors allow buyers to compare prices and services offered—nearly half of those surveyed by Porch paid between $301 to $500— interviewing potential inspectors can help distinguish the best professional for the property under consideration.

Eighty-six percent of inspections found something that needed to be fixed, according to Porch, and 46% of respondents used those results to negotiate a better deal on the property, with an average savings of $14,000. 

Learn more about the most common issues found, what buyers saved, and other details of the inspection process in the full survey results


Are You Interested In A Fixer-Upper? Read This First

Maybe you like the idea of landscaping, decorating, and remodeling. But if you’re a first-time buyer, it’s easy to romanticize the outcomes and forget about the steps it takes to get to a final product. Consider the following before you buy a home that requires some work.

It takes time to get results. Enjoy those home-renovation TV shows? Everything gets demolished and rebuilt in an hour or less. Sometimes they show the tough stuff, but there’s a lot that ends up on the cutting-room floor. And, projects can take hours, weekends, weeks—even months. Compare what you’re interested in tackling with what you can sensibly handle. Determine how much DIY work you can manage or if it’d be better to hire a pro.

It’s not free. Any type of change will cost you something, whether it’s $75 for some plants or $7,500 for a brand-new deck. Be prepared for costs outside of the typical home-purchase calculations, such as tools and supplies, hiring professionals, permits, and unexpected surprises over a project’s duration. Your  REALTOR® can help you get a clearer picture of those potential costs.

You’ll experience the most enjoyment out of your own home if you’re honest with yourself about what you’re capable of. Don’t be afraid to ask your REALTOR® for information about what it takes to undergo home renovations.

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