5 Steps for Clean Window Screens

Cleaning your window screens is a chore few homeowners look forward to.






No matter how shiny you can get your window panes, if your screens are scuzzy, your windows will look less than well washed. Below are several tips for properly cleaning your pesky window screens.

Start by removing your screens. To really deep clean your screens, you’re going to have to remove them. While it may seem like a pain, the extra effort is worth it in terms of dirt removal. However, if you’ve done a deep window clean recently and are just doing a monthly touch-up, keeping your screens in place will work fine.

Death to dirt. If your screens are moderately dirty, you may be able to remove dirt with a lint roller or the soft brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner.  If your screens are grimier, they will need a scrubbing. Use dish soap or vinegar mixed with warm water. Wet your screens with a hose (do this outside, folks!), then dip a soft, clean cloth in your cleaning solution and have at it.

Detail. Do your window screens still look filthy after you washed them with a cloth? Time for detailing. Grab an old toothbrush and really get in there.

Rinse and dry. Once your screens are sparkling clean, rinse them with a hose and let them fully dry before replacing, to avoid mold or warping your wood.

Patch. If you found any holes in your screens, seal them with a screen-patching kit before putting them back.

Hopefully these tips will prove to be helpful to you!  Clean home exteriors make for excellent curb appeal.

Should you be in the market to buy or sell a home, please contact us, we’d love to assist you!

The Villarreal Team
Recognized as one of the Top Real Estate Teams in Texas

5 Upgrades to Enhance Your Outdoor Space

Outdoor space

How have you been spending your summer? Have you been tending to your outdoor garden, grilling dinner on the patio or taking dips in the pool?

No matter what your property offers or how you and your family like to spend your free time, there’s almost always something you can do to make your outdoor space more inviting and enjoyable.

Could your home’s exterior use some sprucing up? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Arrange a living area. Outfit your patio with weatherproof furniture, a bright rug and some cozy blankets. Take it a step further by propping up a projector screen for movie nights.
  • Hang string lights. Inexpensive and easy to install, string lights provide instant ambiance to your deck, pergola or gazebo. You can even attach them along a fence corner to create an outdoor nook.
  • Install stone pavers. Use pavers to design or add to an existing patio. Pick something that matches your home’s aesthetic. For example, if your style is rustic, you could try cobblestone pavers. For a modern look, go with classic gray concrete.
  • Build a porch swing. If you’re the handy type, you’ll just need a few pieces of wood, some rope and anchors to set up the perfect place to watch the sunset. Add cushions and pillows for an extra touch of comfort.
  • Add plants and flowers. You really can’t go wrong with greenery. Include hanging and potted flowers, or grow a small garden in a sunny spot. If you’re looking to add shade, plant a fast-growing tree or two.

A beautiful outdoor space can make your home more enjoyable for you now and more marketable when it comes time to sell. For more value-adding ideas or info about the housing market, contact us today!

The Villarreal Team, RE/MAX Integrity

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

Flood Insurance

Flooding can occur anywhere and at any time of the year.

Even if you do not live near a body of water, you could still be at risk. Hurricanes strike large portions of the country every year or a large rainstorm could flood your basement. A blizzard could even dump a foot or more of snow, and when that snow melts, the water will need to go somewhere and could flood your home.
Even a relatively small amount of water can cause significant damage. Just a few inches can be enough to flood your basement and damage your house’s foundation. Water can damage hardwood floors, carpet, furniture, electronics and other possessions. The costs can easily total several thousand dollars.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Flood Damage?

Many people mistakenly believe that homeowners insurance covers flood damage. That is generally not true. In most circumstances, you will only be covered for flood damage if you purchase a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The program is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Most cities and towns participate in the NFIP. You can check online to find out if your community participates. You can also purchase a policy that is sold and administered by a private insurance company through an insurance agent.

Don’t wait until a major storm is in the forecast to purchase flood insurance. Policies typically do not take effect for 30 days after they’re signed. You need to plan ahead and purchase insurance before storm season begins.
Cost of Flood Insurance
The price of flood insurance varies depending on several factors. One is the level of flooding risk in your community. If you live close to a body of water, your rates will be higher than those located in a low-risk area. The cost of the policy will depend on whether you insure just the house or also choose to include its contents in your policy.

When Is It Required?

In some cases, you may be required to purchase flood insurance. If you have a mortgage through a lender that is federally regulated or insured and you live in a high-risk area, your lender will require you to obtain insurance. A lender will probably not require flood insurance if you live in a low-risk area, but some lenders do still require homeowners to purchase coverage.

Protect Yourself from Flood Damage
Flooding is more common in some areas than others, but it’s a possibility everywhere. Even if you do not live in a high-risk area, you could still be in danger. Just a few inches of water could cause major structural damage to your house and destroy your property. Purchasing insurance can help you protect your home and possessions in the event of a disaster.  If we can assist you with obtaining insurance or any other matter regarding real estate, please contact us, we’d love to be of assistance!
The Ruben and Nancy Villarreal Team

Top Reasons People Are Moving Right Now!

The months of quarantine and shutdowns across the US gave people plenty of time to think about what they’re looking for in their next home. And now that restrictions have been lifted in many parts of the country, a large percentage of those people are reentering the market, looking for homes, and getting ready to move.

But what, exactly, are the motivations behind those moves?

recent survey from HomeLight, which polled real estate agents seven times between April and June, examined the question “what are the top reasons motivating people to move currently?”
According to the survey, the most popular motivators, driving 44% of people’s moves right now include needing more space.  A desire to buy a property instead of renting 41%, and getting out of the city and moving to the suburbs 37%.

The Takeaway:

So, what does this mean for you? The pandemic has given a lot of people clarity on their motivations to move and what they’re looking for in their next property.  If you’re one of those people, now is a great time to make a move and buy a home.
Ruben & Nancy

The Villarreal Team

Smart Home Gadgets That Will Elevate Your Home

 Technology seems to mutate with the speed of light, but is your home keeping up with the changes? Smarten it up with a few smart-home gadgets that will boost safety, increase comfort and may even save you a few bucks:

Video Doorbell
The VTech Video Doorbell, about $115, lets you screen and even video chat with visitors before you answer the door. And the system takes a snapshot each time the doorbell is pressed, so you’ll always know who came a-knocking while you were away.
Smart Door Lock
The August Smart Lock uses keyless technology to keep your home safe no matter where you are. From your smartphone, you can let guests in, check to make sure you locked up before you left, keep a record of who has entered and exited, and unlock your door from the driveway. Cost? About $220.
Home Automation
You can ease into wireless control of your lighting and appliances with Insteon’s Start Here Kit, about $125, before moving on to automating other household needs, like irrigation control and occupancy sensing.
Water Saver
The WaterPebble Water Saver memorizes the length of your first shower and uses it as a benchmark to measure future shower times. Using a series of ‘traffic lights,’ it reduces your shower time by a fraction each time, helping you save on your water bill without trying. About $12.
Learning Thermostat
For about $250, the Nest programmable thermostat will learn your heating and cooling schedule and program itself. It can even be controlled from your phone and could save you up to 20 percent on energy costs.
Smart Watering
Is your sprinkling system over-watering or under-watering your lawn? Toro’s wireless Xtra Smart Soil Moisture Sensor keeps the moisture level just right. Not only will the health of you lawn improve, but your wallet (and the Earth) will benefit, too. About $115.
As always, we hope this information proves to be helpful to you.  If we can be of any further assistance to you or anyone you might know looking to buy or sell now or in the new future, please do not hesitate to contact us @ 713-557-7095 or email: – We are never to busy for you or your referrals!

Making the Most of Your Credit Card Rewards

Using a credit card to earn rewards is pretty simple. Just use the card to buy things and you’ll get cash back or reward points from your credit card company.  Getting that free money of 5 percent or even more on every purchase is easy, but there are some things you should pay attention to if you want to get the most rewards possible.

Credit card rewards

Register for Bonus Categories

To get the most out of a cash-back credit card, look for a card that gives bonus rewards on certain purchases.
While 1 percent cash back is common on all purchases, some cards offer a 4 percent bonus for a total of 5 percent for buying from certain types of merchants. These can include restaurants, travel, grocery stores, gas stations, airfare or hotels.
The categories may change every quarter, with airline purchases earning 5 percent back for three months, then changing to movie theater purchases for the next three months, for example. The category may even have a cash back limit.
To get in on these bonus categories, some cards require you to opt in each quarter and manually select which category you want to earn money back on. Some credit cards make it as simple as registering your card online, logging in to your account and clicking a button.

Use the Right Card for Bonuses

If you have a few credit cards, it can be difficult to juggle them and remember which card has which bonus for the purchase you’re making. With the bonus categories changing each quarter, it can be difficult to remember which card to use to get the most cash back from it.
Using a cash-back card that you thought had a bonus at gas stations but instead had a bonus at department stores can leave you with a lot less cash back than you thought you’d be earning.

Avoid an Annual Fee and Interest

Paying an annual fee on a rewards card is normal, but be aware of how much more money you’ll have to spend to earn enough cash back or rewards points to make up the difference between the fee and what a no-fee card charges.
If a cash-back credit card has an annual fee of $75, for example, and pays 5 percent cash back for grocery store purchases, it would require spending $1,500 to get that $75 fee back. That’s a lot of groceries to buy before getting money in your pocket.
Another area where cash rewards can be eaten up is by card holders who don’t pay off their balances in full each month or on time and pay interest on their credit card balance. People who pay interest each month are often charged a higher interest rate on their cash-back card than if they did the same thing on a credit card with no rewards.
If you regularly carry a balance on your credit card, look for a card with the lowest interest rate. Don’t look for one with rewards.
The Ruben & Nancy Villarreal Team is here for all your needs!  Give us a call, we’d love to assist you. 281-370-5100
Oh by the way…. we are never too busy for your referrals!
Ruben & Nancy Villarreal
Office Phone: (281) 370-5100
Mobile Phone: (713) 557-7095

The Villarreal Team
Recognized as one of the Top Real Estate Teams in Texas

5 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Saving Money

The savings rate in America is pretty abysmal. Fifty-seven percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts, according to a 2017 GOBanking Rates survey.

Without savings, people can be forced to take on debt when they lose their job, get sick or have major car repairs. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to trick yourself into saving money, whether for retirement, college, a new car, vacation or a rainy day.

Here are five helpful tips for saving:

Automatic Transfers
Having money automatically moved from your paycheck to a retirement account.  Maybe even perhaps from your checking account to savings, can be a painless way to save money without realizing you’re doing it. It’s called “Pay yourself first” and it is meant to pay into your retirement or other savings accounts so that you pay your future self first. Otherwise, it’s money you’re likely to spend.

Hide It
Automatic transfers are one way to hide your money and keep it out of your sight so you don’t spend it. There are other ways to hide your savings.  Although you don’t want to hide it so well that you forget it exists.

Set up savings accounts at another bank than where your checking account is. This will help you avoid seeing the balance when you log in to your checking account. It also makes the savings account a little more difficult to get to since it’s not at the same institution as your checking account.

Sign up for paperless statements where your savings accounts are, so you don’t see the balance too often. Check in a few times a year and set up text or email alerts for withdrawals or unusual activity so you aren’t a victim of fraud.

Here are the final three keys to help SAVE or stash money away:

Digital Savings
Did you ever have a container at home to put your spare change into? Apps on your phone can do the same thing. Apps such as Digit and Acorns transfer spare money from your checking account to a savings account, or invests it. Some banks round up debit card purchases and transfer the change to your savings account.

Bank Any Extra Money
If you save money by canceling a cable TV subscription or other service, move that monthly savings into a savings account each month. Otherwise, the money will stay in your checking account and will likely be spent elsewhere.

For one-time windfalls, such as a tax refund, deposit it into your savings account or buy a one-year certificate of deposit. If you try to take out the money early from a CD, you’ll be charged a small penalty.

Did you recently get a raise at work? Bank that extra money in your paycheck, as well.

Stuff $1 Bills Away
Along with saving your coins at the end of the day, put aside every $1 bill you have in your pocket. Put them in a change jar and, at the end of the week or the end of the month, gather them all and deposit them into your savings account.

If you really want to save big, save your $5 and $10 bills.




The Villarreal Team

Setting Up Your Surround Sound Speakers

When you move into a new house, there are numerous things you’ll want to do early on to get your house in live-in shape. One thing you should think about early is setting up the surround sound system in your new home.

Not everyone is adept at understanding all the wiring and how to properly set up your surround system speakers and an audio system. While you could hire someone to come in and do the job, watching a few DIY videos on YouTube may be enough for you to handle it yourself.
One of the most vital components of the surround system is the speaker and the placement of the speakers around your media room is paramount in creating an ideal surround sound system environment. Start by locating the “sweet spot” in your room where you will most likely be sitting to watch TV. Of course, multiple people watch at one time, and you might not always sit in the same place, but try to find the central area so you can work everything off of that area.

When it comes to setting up each speaker correctly, it is important to follow the display model.

For example, the center channel speaker should be located directly above or below the display. As the majority of the dialogue from a TV show or movie comes through this speaker. It’s recommended to place the center speaker as close to the television as possible while also being careful to angle the speaker towards your ears. The front left/right speakers provide the off-screen effects and project all the stereo soundtrack information including the background environments. Avoid placing these speakers too close together to avoid a sound stage or placing them too far apart, which will create a large gap in the sound stage. It’s best to place them as close to ear level as possible. One common mistake is putting them in corners, but that will muffle their sound.

The surround speakers are primarily the area in which homeowners tend to mix up the most. Despite their name, they aren’t supposed to be behind you, and are actually best when they are set up directly on your left and right. Most experts recommended that surround speakers be placed approximately 2 feet above ear level.

TVs are getting bigger and better and it would be a shame to have the HD picture of your dream and just the standard sound emulating from the set. Invest in a nice surround sound system and feel like you’re at the movies every time you watch.
Interested in more real estate tips? Feel free to contact us at 281-370-5100 or directly at 713-557-7095 or by email:    

The Villarreal Team
Recognized as one of the Top Real Estate Teams in Texas

Homes cost a lot of money to maintain.

Are you spending extra money unnecessarily on upkeep? Here are the 10 most expensive mistakes you could be making in your home.

  1. Using Traditional Light bulbs
    If you still have incandescent light bulbs in your home, you could be throwing a lot of money away every month on inflated electric bills. Over its life span, an incandescent bulb can use $180 worth of electricity. A CFL will only use $41 worth of electricity over the same time period. Even better is the LED bulb, which only uses $30 per bulb. Think what replacing every light bulb in your home could do to your home’s bottom line.
  2. Ignoring a Leaky Faucet
    A leaky faucet that drips one drop per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, which is enough water to take more than 180 showers. Some of us live in areas where water is plentiful, but for those of us in areas plagued with drought, this could be costing you a fortune. Fix or replace your leaky faucet and save a ton on your water bill.
  3. Using the Wrong Air Filter Size
    We all sometimes forget to change out the air filters for our HVAC systems or accidentally buy the wrong size. But using the wrong filter or a dirty filter can increase your power bill and cause expensive problems for your furnace down the road. Use the correct filters for your system, and set a reminder to change them after the recommended amount of time. You won’t regret it.
  4. Not Customizing Temperature
    Invest in a customizable thermostat. If you’re away at the office all day, you can program your heater to shift down a few degrees while you’re gone and then shift back up shortly before you return home. Heating or cooling an empty home wastes a lot of money in energy costs.
  5. Not Adjusting Air Vents Properly
    Is one room in your home hot, while the others are cold? Oftentimes homeowners will crank up the air conditioning in the whole house to combat hot temperatures in one area. Instead, adjust air vents to direct the flow of air more evenly throughout your entire home. Professionals will come regulate this to ensure that your entire home is receiving the same amount of air conditioning or heating.
  6. Over Watering Lawn
    Many homeowners have their sprinkler systems programmed to come on in the early morning hours for optimum lawn health. This can become a problem, however, if you’re never around to see what you’re actually watering. A broken sprinkler head could be causing a fountain, or the trajectory of your sprinkler may be directed at a fence instead of your lawn. Periodically run your sprinklers during the day so you can see how they are performing when you’re not around.
  7. Water Heater Temperature Set Too High
    Unless you have a tankless water heater, your water heater is keeping the water in its tank hot 24/7. If you don’t keep an eye on the temperature as each season changes, you may be paying too much to heat your water. Decrease the temperature in the summer, and bump it back up when winter comes.
  8. Leaky Windows and Doors
    Leaky windows and doors are great places for cold, winter winds to enter your home. Many homeowners simply ignore them and crank up their heaters. Caulk leaky windows and put rubber seal around doors to keep winter winds out and warmth in.
  9.  Paying a Handyman
    Don’t pay a handyman for a job that is simple enough to do yourself. If you’re unsure of how to do something, look up video tutorials online. Doing simple tasks yourself can save you a lot of money.
  10. Ignoring Curled Shingles
    It may be easy to ignore problems on your roof, but it will only lead to bigger problems later. If you see any possible issues with your roof, repair them as soon as possible, as this will save you significant costs later.

Use these 10 tips to cut maintenance costs on your home today.

Feel free to contact us for other helpful information.
#rubenandnancy #TheVillarrealTeam #RubenVillarreal #BethPerque #RayHumphrey #AndreeWard #DawnyaSimmons #RobinWebster #HomeTips #moneytomaintainhome


Building Credit Without Credit Cards

Building Credit

A credit card is one of the main ways to building your credit.

By using a credit card wisely and not running up huge bills and paying them off in full on time, consumers can improve their credit score. Building a good credit score can make getting a home, car and other loans easier, and at better interest rates.

Some people who have poor credit may have difficulty improving their credit score fast enough, and others may not even want a credit card. A credit card isn’t the only way to build credit. Here are some other ways:

Get a small loan

Apply for a small loan from your bank or credit union. If you’ve had an account in good standing for a few years, you should be able to get a small loan. Some banks may only offer secured loans, meaning you’ll have to come up with some collateral such as a car to qualify for the loan. However you get a bank loan, pay it back on time and your credit score should improve.

Monitor student loan payments

You should be working hard to pay all of your loans on time. Repaying student loans on time will help build your credit as much as any other loan. On the opposite side, missing a student loan payment can hurt your credit score.

Ask utility providers for help

Electricity, gas, cable TV, internet and other utility providers report delinquencies to the credit bureaus. Some, however, also report positive payment history, such as on-time payments, to the credit bureaus. Call your utility providers to see if they report positive payment history, which can improve your credit score. If they don’t, ask if they can give you a letter of reference in support of a credit application.

Report rent payments

Just like utility companies, not all landlords report on-time payments to credit bureaus. Ask your landlord if positive rent history is reported. If not, ask if it can use a third-party website such as Rental Kharma to verify your rent payments each month. Another way is to sign up with a rent payment service that uses Experian’s RentBureau. Your rent is paid through the service and independent verification that you’ve paid your rent on time isn’t needed.

Become an authorized user

A friend or family member who has excellent credit can add you to their credit card as an authorized user. It allows you to use their credit card and share their credit limit.

As long as the main card holder pays the bill on time every month and keeps the balance low in relation to their credit limit, your credit score may benefit. Check first that the card issuer reports authorized users to the credit bureaus.
You won’t be responsible for paying the bill, so being an authorized user won’t help your credit profile a lot, but it will help some if it’s reported.

Feel free to contact us for other helpful information.

Ruben & Nancy Villlarreal

The Villarreal Team

Office: 281-370-5100

19510 Kuykendahl Rd #B

Spring, Texas 77379