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Organize Your Home for the New Year

With a new year comes the urge to start fresh and set intentions for the future. It’s also a great time to stop procrastinating on those projects you’ve been putting off, particularly getting your home organized. Purging your home of unnecessary clutter promotes a healthier mindset and makes room for positive change in other areas of your life. We’ve compiled a list of tips that you can implement to help organize even the most cluttered of areas, leaving your home feeling beautiful, clean, and orderly in 2019.

 

Step 1: Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle

Start by thinking about what kind of house you want to live in and how you want to live in it. According to tidying expert and best-selling author Marie Kondo, when you imagine your ideal lifestyle, you are really clarifying why you want to tidy and envisioning your best life. The KonMari Method™ encourages tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, miscellaneous items, and, finally, sentimental items. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Many people have been drawn to this philosophy not only due to its effectiveness, but also because it places great importance on being mindful, introspective, and forward-looking.

Step 2: Make a Plan

It can be extremely easy to become overwhelmed when facing a big organization project. To lessen any anxiety, you should first make a list of specific, actionable items to accomplish; e.g. sort through “junk drawer” or organize the pantry. Checking the items off as you go will give you a real sense of achievement while helping to keep you on track.

Organize Your Shared Spaces

Kitchen

The kitchen is typically the messiest or must cluttered room in a home with a lot of hiding places and ways to cover up clutter. What’s more, the kitchen is a high-traffic area that everyone in the house uses, which means there are multiple hands in every space.

  • Start by focusing on an area that will be the easiest to tackle to help build the momentum (e.g. utensil drawer)
  • Empty each of the drawers and cabinets, placing the items on the countertop in their respective categories. Once everything is empty, review each category and get rid of the items that are no longer needed or wanted.
  • Tip: Use drawer dividers to keep your tools neatly separated

Living Room

Like the kitchen, the living room is another high-traffic area of the home that everyone uses. The living room (or family room) can have many functions, such as relaxing, entertaining, play, etc., which can often leave the space full of clutter.

  • Identify anywhere clutter accumulates, such as coffee tables and console tables, that serve as “catch-all” places for items
  • Return items that belong in another room to their storage spaces, then return living room items to their proper storage spaces

Organize Your Personal Spaces

Bedroom & Closet

Although your bedroom is meant to be a serene, calming space, it can often end up in a state of disarray with overflowing drawers, cluttered surfaces, and clothes strewn in all places. Your day begins and ends in your bedroom, so getting rid of any clutter will help you feel more at peace (and most likely sleep better too). Likewise, having an organized closet will save you time, space, and money, while also helping to get your day started on the right foot.

  • Buy storage for under the bed to stow away seasonal clothing or bulky items, such as extra bedding, pillows, or throws
  • Clear off nightstand surfaces (tip: choose a nightstand with drawers to stash all your miscellaneous items e.g. books, Kleenex, hand cream, etc.
  • Identify any clothing, shoes, and accessories that you haven’t worn in the past year and add them to a donation box
  • Reorganize your clothing by type and color

Home Office

Whether you work from home every day or routinely find your work following you home from the office, your home office can easily become one of the rooms that you spend the most time in. For this reason, it’s important to make your home office a clean, organized space that inspires creativity and fosters success.

  • Establish a well-ordered, efficient filing system and file away any loose papers (tip: make your categories color-coded)
  • Organize your books by genre, color, or size depending on your preference
  • Throw out any writing utensils that are dried up or no longer usable

How to file for Homestead Exemption

 

What is Homestead Exemption?

Homestead Exemption removes part of your home’s value from taxation, lowering your taxes. For instance, if your home is appraised at $100,000 and you qualify for a $20,000 exemption, you would pay taxes as if your home was only worth $80,000.

 

When to apply?

Regular Residential Homestead Exemption applications should be filed between January 1 and April 30.

 

Here are some helpful resources about how to apply for homestead exemption for those of you who live in the Greater Houston Area…

 

Filing Homestead Exemption in Brazoria County

Brazoria County Appraisal District Information

Brazoria County Homestead Exemption Information

Download the Brazoria County Homestead Exemption Form

 

Filing for Homestead Exemption in Chambers County

Chambers County Appraisal District Information

Chambers County Homestead Exemption Form Submission Information

Fill out the Chambers County Homestead Exemption Form

 

Filing Homestead Exemption in Fort Bend County

Fort Bend County Appraisal District Information

Fort Bend County Homestead Exemption Information

Download the Fort Bend County Homestead Exemption Form

 

Filing for Homestead Exemption in Galveston County

Galveston County Appraisal District Information

Download the Galveston County Homestead Exemption Form

 

Filing Homestead Exemption in Harris County

Harris County residents can now file Homestead Exemption through a mobile app for iPhone and Android:
Click here to learn more about the Harris County app.

Harris County Appraisal District Information

Harris County Property Tax Exemption for Homeowners Info

Download the Harris County Homestead Exemption Form

 

Filing for Homestead Exemption in Liberty County

Liberty County Appraisal District Information

Fill out the Liberty County Homestead Exemption Form

 

Filing Homestead Exemption in Montgomery County

Montgomery County Appraisal District Information

Montgomery County Homestead Exemption Information

Download the Montgomery County Homestead Exemption Form

 

Filing for Homestead Exemption in Waller County

Waller County Appraisal District Information

Property Tax Exemptions for Homeowners in Waller County

Download the Waller County Homestead Exemption Form

 

Other Resources:

Homestead Exemption FAQs (resource from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts)

 

Still have questions? We’d be happy to help! Email or call us today:
Info@TheLokenGroup.com
281-861-4624

 

 

Giving Back This Holiday Season: Angel Tree 2018

The Tanko family, consisting of Robert, his wife Julie, and their two lovely daughters, received the news this past March that their youngest daughter has Retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye, which happens to be right on her optic nerve. In addition, Robert was recently the victim of an identity theft crime that has taken a heavy toll on his credit. After learning of their hardships, TLG Gives arranged a fun night out for the family at Shen Yun, and also provided the family with clothes, toys, and gift cards to various grocery stores, restaurants, and family-friendly entertainment.

Laura and her husband live in Cypress with their 2 children. Laura is a fourth grade teacher who shows up big for her students every day, demonstrating such strength and positivity that most would never guess the devastating time she and her family are going through. Laura’s husband has an aggressive form of cancer that he has yet to beat, despite extensive treatments, including a stem cell transplant. TLG Gives gifted the Acosta’s with a Visa and Kroger gift card, Nintendo Joy-Con, and a fun family day at Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park.

Don and Dana Faulk live in Cypress and have two beautiful little boys – Jackson and Landon. Dana recently suffered from a stroke, which put her in the hospital for over two weeks. Dana is hopeful that with physical therapy she will be able to gain movement back. Although Don has been working full-time, Dana was laid off from her job just a few weeks prior to suffering a stroke. We wanted to make their holidays a little bit brighter, so TLG Gives provided them with toys, pajamas, an Amazon Echo, and gift cards to various retailers, restaurants, and family-friendly entertainment.

Amy and her two children, Keenon and Hannah, are recovering from the recent loss of their beloved husband and father. Hannah is in middle school and Kennon is currently enrolled in high school with the intention of graduating early and working full-time in an effort to help support the family. Since his father’s death, Keenon has been working non-stop performing various tasks such as mowing lawns and doing handyman work within the neighborhood to contribute financially. After learning of the Vickers’ heartbreaking loss, TLG Gives arranged a holiday meal for the family, as well as a Bose speaker, pet toys and treats, school supplies, slipper socks, a spa voucher, and gift cards.

In February of 2017, Kaye Griggs was found unresponsive in her home by her mother. At first it was thought that she suffered a heart attack. Further testing revealed that she had Type 2 diabetes and a kidney stone, which had led to an infection. As a result, Kaye lost her right hand, several fingers on her left hand, and all of her toes. Before her medical emergency, Kaye was in business for herself as a personal chef and caterer. Since her amputation, she is unable to continue the job she loved doing for others. After learning of her struggles, TLG Gives provided Kaye with gift cards to Kroger and Bed Bath & Beyond, a recliner chair that would be easy for her to get in and out of, and a throw blanket.

The Vasquez’s are a family of 6, including Sergio, his wife Janine, and their children Alyssa (14), Joaquin (13), Kaylen (9), and Hailey (3). Sergio lost his job due to Hurricane Harvey and was out of work for 6 months, which eventually led to them losing their rental home. They were forced to sell off most of their belongings and move in with Sergio’s parents, where the whole family has been living together in one bedroom. Their oldest daughter, Alyssa, has Scoliosis and Marfan syndrome, which affects her heart, eyes, blood vessels, and bones. She is in and out of the hospital and doctors’ offices a lot, and the medical bills have put further financial strain on the family. Kaylen also has scoliosis, which requires occasional monitoring. TLG Gives provided the Vasquez’s with a 1-year pass to Sea World San Antonio and Aquatica, clothes, toys, a Nintendo game console, furniture, and gift cards.

TLG Gives does 2 main philanthropic outreach projects annually: TLG Gives Angel Tree in December and TLG Home Transformation in the summer, where we surprise one deserving family in need by transforming their home, giving them peace of mind and a comfortable home environment. We take year-round donations to fund these projects in our community, with 100% of donations received going directly towards TLG Gives efforts. To make your tax-deductible donation, donate using the link below. To learn more about TLG Gives, visit our website. To make donations to TLG Gives, please visit our Paypal.

Holiday Safety and Security Tips

The holidays keep many of us preoccupied with last-minute shopping, festive parties, and traveling, which can make us vulnerable to robbers. Prevent yourself from becoming an easy target with these tips from security expert and award-winning author Roger Eckstine.

1. How can I avoid my packages being stolen?

Package theft is an increasingly prevalent issue, especially around the holidays. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can prevent your packages from being stolen from your front door or porch. The most obvious solution is to ensure that you are home when your package is being delivered, which you can monitor through the online tracking service offered by most couriers. Another alternative is to have the package delivered to your office or place of work. Thirdly, you can choose to have your package delivered to a locker or access point – which are typically located in safe, convenient locations such as a convenience store – or to the nearest UPS facility.

2. What can I do to reduce the risk of being robbed?

Jugging, a term commonly used by law enforcement, is used to describe the stalking of potential victims as a prelude to burglary or robbery. This form of robbery is reported to be on the rise in the Houston area, which is why it is critical to be properly informed on what to do should you find yourself in this situation. Jugging occurs when a criminal will stake out a bank or popular place of shopping with big-ticket items and lie in wait until the victim loads the car and drives away. They will then follow them to their next stop. If that stop is a place like a restaurant or the dry cleaners, they will smash and grab, meaning they will break into the car and steal the merchandise while the victim is otherwise occupied. In the worst-case scenario, the criminal may follow you home, which can lead to a driveway robbery, carjacking, or home invasion. The best thing you can do to stay safe is to be aware. Watch your rear-view mirror, keep your money or purchases hidden (never leave them in the car), and always stay alert.

3. How can I know when I’m being followed by a car and what can I do about it?

If you think you’re being followed into your neighborhood, make a circle and see if they continue to follow you. If you are being followed, continue driving – don’t stop – and don’t confront. While you’re driving you can call 911.

4. What can I do to make my house less vulnerable to break-ins?

The most common type of break-in is having your door kicked in. In fact, an estimated 70% of home invaders enter through a door (as opposed to a window), which includes front doors, patio doors, and even garage doors. A good way to combat this is by installing two doors and having one of the doors pull outward (i.e. high impact storm doors).

5. Are motion-activated lights effective for home security?

Motion-activated lights are an extremely valuable addition to your home security because they can deter potential robbers and stalkers. However, you must pay attention to how they’re adjusted, and be sure to avoid any blind spots!

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 members of the community who are experiencing hardships.

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?

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