Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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Watching Vacant Homes; Selling these Houston Lots for $1

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Houston Real Estate may be cheaper than many US markets, but did you know know that you could buy a lot for $1. Here is one way to get rid of a vacant home.

Last night, over dinner and drinks during a show at the Mucky Duck, I discussed part of the problems facing the police associated with real estate in Houston. My dinner companion works for the Sheriff’s department, so he had some good insights on his side. I brought my knowledge of what I see when inspecting foreclosures. We both recognized that there are problems which cannot be readily solved; however, I do see where Houston is taking steps to deal with crime or other problems that a community could face due to real estate trends. You may think that foreclosures may be the only problem, but increased rental properties could be another. (Renters care less for their living spaces than owners do).

Would you want to buy a lot in Houston for $1? I would love to buy land that cheap, but I am misleading a bit. The Land Assemblage Redevelopment Authority (LARA) with the City of Houston is selling land that cheap to qualified builders. There goes my dreams of building a real estate empire at a discount. This is a program that I hope works. The idea is to take vacant properties to ensure that they will be used to create affordable homes. Families will be able to purchase a new home, while the community benefits from having one less place for the unsavory to hang out. By owning the home, the new homeowners are more likely to invest in that house and the community, which is a great deterrent to crime. If you are a builder, maybe you should check out the facts for yourself.

Vacant homes can present a community with the threat of arson. The last two foreclosures that I inspected did have fires at one point, though they may not have been subject to arson. It is amazing how many signs of fires I do see during my home inspections. The best way for a neighborhood to stop arsonists or vandals is to create a community watch program. If Houston has not taken over the land for the project mentioned above, neighbors should get together to take care of the landscape around a foreclosure if no one else is. Of course, making the lender who foreclosed is best, but to protect yourself and the value of your real estate, you should ensure that vacant homes do not look to empty. The Houston Fire Department offers tips on home safety but also on arson prevention on their site.

The other method for deterring crime is to show that the city cares about our communities. Houston’s Capital Improvements Projects are being discussed now for the coming year. I know that there will be a meeting on Tuesday (2/17/09) night from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Tracy Gee Community Center. I hope to attend. I wish that I knew about the project on Lexington. I would not have driven down that street then :). You can find information about your area by doing a little digging on Houston’s e-government site. The main page for the CIP lists projects in categories, so just look through some topics there.

In other Houston news: are you ready for the dtv transition?We were to have are set top converter boxes in place by 2/17, or maybe even a new hdtv. The new date is June 12, 2009. Personally, I am one of those who was going to let two of my three televisions go dark. I would rather read to my children and play with them than have everyone sit in front of their own television. The city has a site for applying for a coupon to obtain the dtv converter box. I do not know how many are available through this program. I know we have to wait on the Federal program though. If you are going to be like me, then you will want to recycle that television. DO NOT LEAVE A TELEVISION OR MONITOR AT THE CURB; it will not be recycled. Follow this link to discover how these items can be dropped off, so they do not have the chance to harm our environment.

Houston real estate sales are doing well enough, but we do have to watch out for our neighbors if we want to begin turning the tide on crime. Maybe by loosing my televisions, I will spend more time talking to the residents of my community.

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© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States

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