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Houston Holiday Event Guide

The most wonderful time of the year is here, and the upcoming months are full of events to help ring in the holidays. From awe-inspiring light displays to dazzling performances, there is no shortage of family fun this Christmas season. Our comprehensive event guide has something for everyone, so gather your loved ones and get ready to explore the holiday happenings in the Greater Houston area.

98th Annual Mayor’s Holiday Celebration & Tree Lighting
Hermann Square at City Hall
901 Bagby
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: 832-393-0868

Attractions: Music · Santa · Fireworks · Tree Lighting · & Family fun!

November 30th 6:00-8:00PM / Admission is free & open to the public!


Holiday on 19th Street
300 19th Street
Houston, TX 77008

Enjoy free in-store cocktails, roaming carolers, and real snow as the shops on historic 19th Street open their doors for a special Friday evening of shopping and holiday cheer.

Friday, December 7th 6:00-10:00 PM / Free to attend


Festival of Lights at Moody Gardens
One Hope Boulevard
Galveston, TX 77554
Phone: 409-744-4673

Attractions: Ice Land · Festival of Lights · Holiday 3D Films · Rudolph 4D · Ice Skating · Arctic Slide · Train Rides · Photos with Santa Plus Live Entertainment, Great Food, Group Rates, Free Parking, Hotel Packages and More!

Open Daily November 17 – January 6


Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo
6200 Hermann Park Dr.
Houston, TX 77030
Phone: 713-533-6500

Attractions: The star attraction at Zoo Lights is well…the lights! The animals will be enjoying a full night’s slumber. There will also be a number of options for food and drinks. The BBQ Food Truck will serve up delicious smoked meats and roasted corn.  You can even find quick snacks at carts and kiosks including make your own s’mores, hot chocolate, and craft beer. Santa will be available for photos on select nights during Zoo Lights and a professional photographer will be with him.

Open November 17 – January 13


German Christmas Market in Tomball
Old Town Tomball / Near the Historical Train Depot Plaza
201 S Elm
Tomball, TX 77375
Phone: 281-379-6844

Attractions: 4 Music Stages · 200+ Street Vendors · Ethnic & Festival Food · Beer & Wine · Petting Zoo · Street Performers · Souvenirs · Arts & Crafts · Antiques · Heritage Center

Open December 7th 6-10PM, December 8th 10AM-10PM, & December 9th 10AM-6PM


The Nutcracker presented by The Houston Ballet
Wortham Theater Center
501 Texas St.
Houston, TX 77002

November 23rd – December 29th / Tickets starting at $30 / Call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org 


Lights in the Heights
Woodland Heights Neighborhood
Houston, TX 77009

Bask in the Christmas spirit and take in the beautifully decorated homes of the Woodland Heights while enjoying holiday musical performers on front porches.

Saturday, December 8th 6:00-9:00 PM / Free to attend

 

 


Wishing you every happiness this holiday season,

Your friends at The Loken Group

How Rising Interest Rates Will Affect Homebuyers

What do interest rates really mean for homebuyers? And how, specifically, do rising interest rates affect your ability to buy a home? If you’re a homebuyer keeping a close eye on today’s rising interest rates, these questions have probably crossed your mind. After all, buying a home is an important decision and interest rates plays a huge factor in determining what your mortgage payments will be. We sat down with Kelly Rogers, Market Leader at Movement Mortgage and one of the leading mortgage lending professionals in the Houston area, to discuss her predictions on how rising interest rates will affect buying power, as well as possible solutions that will help you as a homebuyer.

1. How do interest rates effect how much home I can buy?

Interest rates play a huge role in home affordability. When interest rates are low, home ownership is more affordable. If you don’t have to spend that much money on interest, you may be able to take on a larger loan. Conversely, higher interest rates increase the long-term cost of owning a house. For example, in a rising rate market such as the one we are in right now, the difference between 4.5% and 5.5% could reduce your buying power by about 10-20%.

2. Are interest rates expected to increase?

Interest rates are expected to continue increasing. In fact, the Federal Reserve have announced that they expect to raise interest rates one more time this year, as well as 3 more times in 2019, which could make a big difference in what you could afford a year from now as compared to what you could afford today.

3. Do you think interest rates will decrease?

No –  interest rates have been artificially low for a long time. We can likely expect to level out at 6%, meaning that we can afford less house than we could 1 or 2 years ago. That being said, we can afford more house today than we can next year.

4. What is the solution for higher interest rates?

Luckily, there are several solutions that will help buyers be able to afford their housing. Lenders will start to offer buy downs on the interest rates, which is a great solution and common practice in the mortgage industry, while some people will start to lean towards adjustable rate mortgages. The interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage might change monthly, every six months, or annually, depending on the terms of the mortgage. There are also other creative solutions that your lender can provide to you, which is why it’s critical to consult with a good lender that will provide those solutions to you.

2018 Angel Tree

The holiday season is upon us and unfortunately, there are many families who have found themselves in difficult circumstances this year. TLG Gives is making a difference in the community with its 2018 Angel Tree initiative. The program supports local families, friends and past clients of The Loken Group who are experiencing hardship.

The Loken Group’s Angel Tree program was launched in 2016 by its founder and president, Karina Loken. “The purpose of creating TLG Gives was to uplift those in the community who needed extra support through difficult times. The program exemplifies the commitment that TLG Gives has made to the community,” said Loken. The TLG Gives committee are in the process of nominating several deserving families in the Greater Houston area for the program. Team members will shop and deliver gifts and meals for these families just in time for the holidays.

Start a Christmas tradition with your family of giving back to others. Help contribute to Angel Tree 2018 by submitting your donations to TLG Gives PayPal account. Monday, December 16th is the last day to make contributions.

Holiday Lighting Professionals Guide

Many of us know just how hectic the holidays can be. Now so more than ever, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the time and energy to put up your outdoor Christmas lights. To help out, we’ve compiled a list of holiday lighting professionals in the greater Houston area who can assist with your custom design and installation. Make the process easy and hassle-free with these trusted lighting professionals!


Fireman’s Custom Christmas Lights
22223 Greengate Drive
Spring, TX 77389
Phone: 281-862-0500

Service Area: All Areas


Aguiluz Landscaping
6009 Hertford Street
Houston, TX 77048
Phone: 832-602-9146

Service Area: Houston, Pasadena, Katy, Sugar Land, Pearland, League City, Stafford, Missouri City, Bellaire, Humble, Alief


Garrett’s Christmas Light Installation Services
3124 FM 646 North Road
Sante Fe, TX 77510
Phone: 832-221-9269

Service Area: League City, Friendswood, Clear Lake, Webster, Kemah, Dickinson, Seabrook, and Santa Fe


Mik Solutions
1607 Tucumcari Drive
Houston, TX 77090
Phone: 713-494-4005

Service Area: All Areas


Middle Earth Outdoor Services
16202 Walnut Springs Lane
Magnolia, TX 77355
Phone: 713-492-4576

Service Area: Spring, Cypress, Tomball, Conroe, Montgomery, Waller, Magnolia, Houston, Hockley


Bright Lights Houston
9572 Kempwood Dr
Houston, TX 77080
Phone: 281-764-8153

Service Area: All Areas


Houston Light
Phone: 832-726-1669

Service Area: All Areas


 

Happy decorating!

Your friends at The Loken Group

52 Carmel Ct. Montgomery, TX 77356

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52 CARMEL CT. MONTGOMERY, TX 77356

Listing Price: $299,900

Subdivision: Bentwater
Bedrooms: 3 | Bathrooms: 2.5
Stories: 1.5
Square Footage: 2,807 Built Sqft.

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This home is distinguished by plantation shutters, a tray ceiling and built-ins in the spacious living area, and lots of windows to let in ample natural lighting.

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The formal dining room is the perfect place for hosting holiday parties or formal gatherings among family and friends.

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Take cooking to new heights in the beautiful island kitchen, which includes granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and a breakfast area.

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Enjoy peace and tranquility in the elegant master suite with a walk-in closet, dual vanities, garden tub, and separate shower.

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The backyard is ideal for outdoor entertaining and leisure with a covered patio and plenty of room for your dream swimming pool or other recreational activities.

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Gracefully situated on a golf course, this home offers sensational views of the scenic pond and rolling green terrain.

About the Area

Ideally located along 12.5 miles of Lake Conroe shoreline, the 1,400-acre master-planned community of Bentwater is Houston’s premier waterfront and golf community. Perfectly positioned between the 22,000-acre Lake Conroe and the 160,000-acre Sam Houston National Forest, Bentwater offers a lifestyle that is both relaxed and vibrant. Residents have access to a wealth of amenities, including a 24-hour manned gated entrance, Country Club offering 54-holes of championship golf, Yacht Club, Marina, swimming pool, tennis courts, fitness center, and more. Commuters will appreciate the community’s proximity to major roadways, such as I-45 and TX 105, as well as several major employment centers. Enjoy an easy drive to popular shopping, dining, and entertainment destinations, including The Woodlands Mall, Market Street, Waterway Square, and the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

About the Neighborhood

https://www.bentwater.com/

Area Schools

This home is zoned to Montgomery Independent School District – Montgomery Intermediate School (7.2 miles from property), Montgomery Junior High School (9.6 miles from property), and Montgomery High School (9.6 miles from property). 


What’s Your Home Worth?

See the recently sold homes near you, and find out how your home compares. Get trusted advice about local market conditions from experts in the industry.


Understanding Your HVAC System

Keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter isn’t always as easy as it sounds. As a homeowner, it is critical that you understand the key roles your HVAC system plays in the air quality and overall balance of your home, as well as how you can get the most out of your system. We met with Jared Hatfield of Douglas Mechanical to cover the basics of HVAC, including everything from purchasing a brand new system to improving the amount of dust and dirt in your home.

1. How long does an average heating and air conditioning system last?

Due to the fact that the Greater Houston area is a little more humid than your typical climate, the average heating and air conditioning system will usually about 8-12 years.

2. What is one thing that I can do in my home to increase energy efficiency?

The most effective strategy for improving household energy efficiency is often times upgrading or replacing your system. Despite the fact that many people believe this to be the most costly solution, the average homeowner is overpaying on their energy bills by an estimated 25-50%.

3. How can I reduce the amount of dust and dirt in my home?

To reduce dust in your home, clean or replace the filters in your central heating and cooling system every 1 to 3 months. A standard air filter will only filter about 25-50% of your total household dust, which is typically a mixture of animal dander, carpet fluff, clothing fibers, and dirt that gets tracked indoors. To help prevent dust from accumulating, it is recommended that you use high-quality paper or pleated fabric filters that are disposable.

4. How do I eliminate hot and cold spots in my home?

Hot and cold spots are relatively common and can be an issue in many homes. This problem usually stems from poor duct work design and layout, which can lead to not only inconsistent temperatures in your space, but also stuffy air, lingering odors, more wear and tear to your equipment, and even mold growth in your ducts from excess humidity. Therefore, it is essential to involve knowledgeable HVAC professionals early in your renovation process to ensure that your duct layout is correct for the design and usage of your space.

A Beginner’s Guide to Building Your Smart Home

There are many ways in which we can use modern technology and automation to improve our lives, and the ability to build a truly smart home is now more accessible and affordable than ever before. The idea is to grow your own smart home system that meets your individual needs, at your convenience, and within your own budget. Whether you’re looking to automate individual household items such as the door locks within your home, or are thinking of a fully connected system of intelligent devices, this basic guide to smart home technology will help you achieve your specific home automation goals.

1. What is a smart home?

At its core, smart home technology is about using automation to improve your home life. A smart home can mean any device or appliance connected to the internet that you can control using a smartphone or whose function you can automate. Most applications relate to lighting, home security, home theater and entertainment, and thermostat regulation.

2. What are the benefits of having a smart home?

The first and perhaps most obvious benefit of having a smart home is time management. Ordinary tasks such as setting the thermostat or closing the blinds, although mindless, can eat up precious minutes of your day. Secondly, the accessibility and convenience of having a smart home is a huge motivating factor for many people to make the switch. Smart technology can also end up saving you a lot of money in the long-term. In fact, smart home owners who use thermostat controls alone saved 10-30 percent on their energy bill. Consequently, you reduce your carbon footprint as you eliminate needless energy consumption.

3. How do smart homes work?

Any device in your home that uses electricity can be put on your home network and at your command. Whether you give that command by voice, remote control, tablet or smartphone, the home reacts.

4. What is a smart home hub? 

A smart home hub provides a uniform platform through which you can control and automate multiple smart home devices that otherwise wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other.

5. What can you connect to your smart home setup?

There are a myriad of different components that can make up a smart home, some of which include lights (all smart lights are LEDs), speakers (such as the Amazon Echo), smart plugs, locks, security cameras, thermostats, video doorbells, smoke detectors, robot vacuums, universal remotes, and garage door openers.

Home Warranties: What You Need to Know

Home ownership and all the responsibilities that come along with it can sometimes be difficult to navigate. First and foremost, it’s a good idea to get a home protection plan. A home warranty can provide peace of mind, defray unexpected costs, and protect your new investment as a homeowner. We met with Kim Dockins, an Account Executive at Home Warranty of America, to have her answer some of the most commonly asked questions regarding home warranties.

1. What is a home warranty?

A home warranty offers you protection against unexpected things that could come up after the purchase of a home – specifically big-ticket items that may breakdown or malfunction, thereby protecting you from costly repairs.

2. What is covered under a home warranty?

A home warranty will cover repairs and replacements on systems and appliances due to normal wear and tear. This typically includes plumbing, electrical, appliances (stove, oven, trash compactor, dishwasher, and microwave), cooling, and heating.

3. What is not covered under a home warranty?

Damage done to items outside of normal wear and tear are not covered under a home warranty, as well as any problems that predate the coverage or are due to lack of maintenance. This means if you were hoping to cover a particular item that has been on its last leg for a while, you’ll be disappointed. Items outside of systems and appliances that are not covered include, but are not limited to, sprinklers, faucet repairs, swimming pools, spas, and permit fees.

4. How is a home warranty different from homeowner’s insurance?

Unlike a home warranty, home insurance covers your home’s structure and belongings in the event of a fire, storm, flood, or other accident.

5. Do I have to have a home inspection before I can enroll?

Although an inspection report is not required, it is always nice to have. Be prepared for the vendor to ask for it if something looks negligent.

5630 Cheena Dr. Houston, TX 77096

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5630 CHEENA DR. HOUSTON, TX 77096

Listing Price: $475,000

Subdivision: Mayerling Meadows
Bedrooms: 3 | Bathrooms: 2
Stories: 1
Square Footage: 2,536 Built Sqft.


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This beautifully renovated home in Mayerling Meadows is a must-see! The open floor plan feels both spacious and inviting, with fresh paint, tile and wood flooring throughout, and tons of natural lighting. The generously-sized living area features custom built-ins that serve as the focal point of the room.

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The sophisticated dining area is perfect for intimate meals with family and friends. With plenty of room for a large dining table, this space is the perfect setting for creating lasting memories.

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Imagine yourself creating chef-inspired delicacies in the gorgeous island kitchen equipped with a double oven, freestanding range hood, breakfast bar, and wine refrigerator that will come in handy when hosting parties and get togethers.

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The open floor plan flows seamlessly from room to room, demonstrated by this charming space located just off the kitchen. Customize this area to your heart’s content!

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Enjoy evenings of pampering and relaxation in the private master, where you’ll find a spacious walk-in closet, dual vanities, and shower.

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The large backyard is ideal for entertaining with a patio, pergola, well-manicured landscaping, and tons of green space.

About the Area

Located just over 5 miles miles from Rice Village/West University, one of Houston’s most prominent destinations for upscale living inside the loop. The area is the perfect fit for both families and young professionals, with an array of homes nestled within some of the city’s most elite neighborhoods. Situated about a half mile west of Rice University’s campus is the Rice Village District, one of Houston’s oldest and most luxurious shopping destinations. There you will find something for everyone, with stores ranging from big name retailers to local boutiques. The area boasts some of the trendiest restaurants and happy hour spots in town, in addition to top-rated theatrical performances at Main Street Theater. Residents also enjoy an easy commute into to the Medical Center and Downtown Houston.

About the Neighborhood

https://www.har.com/pricetrends/mayerling-meadows-realestate/3801

Area Schools

This home is zoned to Houston Independent School District – Parker Elementary School (0.4 miles from property), Meyerland Middle School (0.8 miles from property), Westbury High School (2.0 miles from property). 


What’s Your Home Worth?

See the recently sold homes near you, and find out how your home compares. Get trusted advice about local market conditions from experts in the industry.