Teen Driver Alert!

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My oldest son turned 16 years old in December, and though I’ve had sixteen years to prepare for this moment I don’t think you’re ever really ready. For sixteen years now, I have been the one in the driver's seat. I have wracked up hundreds of thousands of miles driving him to football practices, friend's houses, restaurants and school. I have always made sure he was strapped in, prepared for whatever we were doing. I have done whatever I could to keep him safe. But now the time has come for him to get his own car and take off on his own. There is so much that goes through my mind  when imagining my son now being a teen driver in our household. There' s a big part of me that is nervous and worried but  we trust him and know he is technically ready. He’s taken his drivers ed courses, has had his permit for a year, and has been practicing his driving with us as much as possible, but the idea of him driving alone is still so nerve-wracking!

My wife and I  have been discussing if we give him one of our old  cars that we have kept around or if we should buy him another car such as a small pickup. I’ve been told by many before me that I definitely should not get him anything nice as odds are they will  end up dinging it a few times here and there. Heck, If it were all up to me… I would buy him a beat up pinto with manual roll-up windows and no a/c with busted up speakers. Which is not too different from what MY  first car looked like until I purchased one on my own.

However, my wife will not allow me to do that as she insists he needs a reliable, safe car that won' t leave him stranded somewhere. I don’t see what the big deal is since he’s a strong, capable teenager that can easily push a car if it left him stranded… The odds are he will be 10 min from our house either at Whataburger or at Klein Oak HS, so worst case scenario he can walk home. But I do also see my wife’s point and since it’s two against one, he’ll probably end up getting a good, reliable car.

The last thing I  need to figure out are what rules I need to implement for him. Should I set a curfew, boundaries of where he can drive too,  who he can drive around with him,etc..?. I don’t want to be too strict but he needs to understand that one little mistake could cause you to swerve far off course. When it comes to making mistakes on the road, the cost could be significant. I worry that no matter how much we drum this into his head, he--like almost every other teenager--are insulated with some self-protective mechanism that tells them "it won't happen to me." I know. I remember when I was the one sloughing off my own parents concerns with the right words on the surface. Parents out there with current or past teen drivers please enlighten me with helpful advice!

Overall, I’m looking forward to no longer being his UBER driver and making those late night trips to Whataburger for a Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich meal or a box combo from Raising canes, or both at the same time if he’s extra hungry. Then again, I’ll probably end up missing just that, as that was our time to catch up and talk about his day while I see him devour a whole meal before we make it back home all while he messes with my playlist to listen to his choice of music. Ahhhh… getting old definitely has its price, I guess!

As always, I hope my letter finds you great and somehow helps you with any upcoming milestones, remember “The days are long, but the years are short.” I know we’ve raised a good son and we have to trust that regardless of what car he drives he will be careful and respectful of the road. Drivers beware of another teen driver on the road that frequents burger and chicken fast food drive-thrus!

Top 5 Home Staging Tips for Sellers

By – Lindsey Savell, Home Staging Specialist & Marketing/Brand Manager Simple Solutions Home Staging

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The busy season in real estate is in full swing and with buyer’s standards on the increase, it is more important than ever to incorporate home staging if you are planning to sell! Thanks to networks like HGTV, buyers have higher than ever expectations of what they want to see in a home. Proper staging before the listing goes live, whether it is occupied or vacant, could mean the difference between your listing sitting on the market for weeks or months. In fact, more than 77% of buyers find it “easier to visualize the property as their future home” when its staged, according to National Association of Realtors.

To help you put your best foot forward, we’ve come up with five simple solutions to help you prepare to list your home. The ultimate goal is to not leave any money on the table, so let’s get to work!

1.       Declutter

Buyers find it difficult to visualize themselves living in a cluttered home. It is important to eliminate any distraction that could pull the focus away from the home itself. When a home appears clean and tidy, buyers automatically assume other items in the home have been well maintained. So detach from the stuff and get a head start on the packing process!

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2.       Depersonalize

While your family wall may be your favorite feature in the home, buyers find it difficult to see past the feeling of “invading someone’s space”. To help potential buyers become emotionally connected to your house, it is critical for them to be able to see the home as their own. Remove any personal pictures, wall art with names, etc. and think about where those will go in your NEW home!

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3.       Create Space

Whether it is a 1500 sq ft home or a 5000 sq ft home, buyers want to see space! Lots of large or over-sized furniture in any room gives the appearance of little space. The potential buyer will assume that their things won’t fit if the room appears small. Consider removing furniture or anything else that may be obstructing windows or arrange furniture in a way that creates the illusion of more space. Here is a perfect before and after example of the power of proper furniture placement. By moving the sofa to the center of the room, we create a cozier space while also giving the illusion of a larger living room.

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4.    Less is More… But Don’t Go Overboard!

 In the first three tips, we focus on depersonalizing, decluttering and creating space – all of which involve removing things. However, it is also important for the space to look warm, inviting and livable! If you remove too much, you end up with a house that looks cold and empty. Be strategic and create a space that you would want to live in. It should be neutral, comfortable and livable so that potential buyers can “feel” themselves living there.

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5.       Keep it Up!

It is important to make sure the home look exactly like those amazing listing pictures of a beautifully staged home for all of your showings and open houses. Buyer’s will fall in love with your listing online, call up their agent and want to “feel” the house in person. Make sure what they see online matches the reality and I promise you will have offers rolling in!

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The key takeaway here is that simple changes can have a profound impact on the quality and effectiveness of your listing pictures, which ultimately drives foot traffic to your front door. The more buyers who see your house, the better your odds are of selling quickly and not leaving any money on the table! A little work on the front end can mean a BIG payout in the end! And you can sit back with confidence knowing you’re putting your best foot forward.

About Us:

At Simple Solutions Home Staging, we offer vacant home staging and staging for occupied listings in and around the Greater Houston area. If you are planning to sell, we would love the opportunity to put our knowledge of what motivates a buyer to work for you!

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Buying a Home

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You have decided to buy a new home, Congratulations! Buying a new home can be overwhelming and stressful, we are here to make this process something you want to remember. Before you hand over your hard-earned cash, there are a few things you should know about the home-buying process. We have made a full guide that walks you through the approval process, home selection, and finally the steps to get to the closing table.


Inside the guide you will find a complete list of paperwork you need for your loan officer. They will asses your credit, income, assets, and taxes to see what your loan approval amount and with what interest rate. This step is crucial for not only figuring your budget but for making sure no hiccups come up later in the process.

Wants & Needs

I’m sure you have a dream vision of what home you want and the must have items. Create a list of all the wants and needs for your dream home. You need to know these things to ensure you buy the right home without any of the headache!

Meet with a REALTOR

You can expect a REALTOR to be a guide during your home buying process. Take time to interview potential candidate and see if they have the experience to get the job done. Things to consider when finding a realtor are how long they have been in business, if there are any reviews on the agent, how well they know your desired neighborhood, etc.

Home Search

Once you meet with a REALTOR you can start the exciting times of touring homes and attending open houses. It is easy to get overwhelmed with viewing so many homes and even forgetting that last house to the next. Its good to keep notes on what you do and don’t like about each home and even taking photos or videos. Remember to keep your eye on the prize and keep your eye out for neighborhood appearance, work commute, parking, and so on.

Monthly/Yearly Cost

First-time home buyers should consider all costs of owning a home. Other expenses include insurance, property tax, homeowners association (HOA) fees, and maintenance and upkeep. Including all of these cost will give you a better idea of your monthly and yearly dues. To prevent a rude awakening, add these up.

Money for Down Payment and Closing Cost

A down payment is the money you spend upfront to purchase a home. Typically, you pay around 3.5% for a deposit and then you will also need additional funds for closing.


During inspection, you will really dig deep into everything about the home and its history. Every home comes with maintenance and that is just part of being a home owner. Inspections will help you understand the pitfalls and repairs you might have to take on. This is true whether you’re buying a fixer-upper or not.

Closing Table

Everything is complete and you are now getting to the closing table. You are a home owner. Congratulations!

Want a Full Printable Guide for your home buying experience? Click the link below to have a Free Guide sent right to your inbox!

Goal Planning with the Gonzalez Boys

Goal Planning

Hello Friends,

I still can’t believe the holidays came and went so fast… it seems it was just yesterday we were all ringing in the New Year! To top it off, we are somehow already done with January and steam rolling into February like it's just nothing. Which is why I want to share in this letter what I did this month with my family to ensure they too will get the most out of the New Year.

Several years ago, I read a book that talked about the importance of helping your children create goals for themselves. I have since then sat down with my oldest son for 3 years now to do this and we carefully selected his spiritual, physical, social and learning goals for each year. However,  for the first time I did it with my 3 year old son, Nicolas Max.

He was super excited without knowing what we were going to do. He just knew he was going to get to sit in the study with me and his big brother. He was so thrilled I could hardly keep his bottom to the chair. I grabbed some paper and to make it fun I let him use color markers and crayons too. Now I know what some of you may be thinking… what goals would you possibly write down and try to explain to your 3 year old, Ricardo?!


For Nicolas, I focused on just simple things such as his responsibilities and rewards for fulfilling them. For ex. We tend to struggle with him getting dressed for school in the mornings. I decided what better way to get him to move quicker than by making it clear to him that if he does do it we will reward him! We agreed he would get 5 min of screen time on our iPad when he comes home from school. I offered him the same thing on brushing his teeth as he tends to run like a bandit as soon as he sees us get his toothbrush out!

Once he gets older I will add more detailed goals for sure. The funniest thing happened the very next day that he needed to get dressed for school and brush his teeth. He actually remembered all on his own and said to me “Daddy, I'm going to get dressed and brush my teeth so I can get screen time, ok!!” I was shocked and quickly told my wife what he said. The fact of the matter is that even at his very young age writing these down made an imprint on him. I was very proud of him. Albeit, I still do have to remind him from time to time about our little agreement. Ever since its been much easier to get him to comply once we remind him. Baby steps, right?!

Below are some goal setting sheets you can do with your family or even staff. Taking the time to understand your goals and the goals of those around you truly impact your outlook. Take care and all the best to you and your loved ones in 2019!

Best Regards, Ricardo Gonzalez

Holiday Gift Guide for the Home 2018

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Make a house feel like a home with these curated picks in our holiday gift guide!

These Linge Particular Napkins are the perfect finishing touch to a holiday table setting.
Everybody needs coasters, and these chic Terrazzo Coasters offer the perfect look.
The Cozy Pom Pom Throw is great for cuddling up on those chilly nights in with a good movie.
Make cleaning up after holiday guests easy with the iRobot Roomba!
Get smart with the Google Home Mini and Chromecast Bundle!
Give the gift of perpetually hot coffee with the Ember Temperature Control Ceramic Mug.
Channel your inner Joanna Gaines with the recipes from the Magnolia Table Cookbook.
Be a ‘sharp’ shopper and gift the Cuisinart Knife Set for the chef in your life.
Gift the Chemex Pour Over Coffee Maker for something both practical and stylish.
Need a gift they’ll like a ‘latte’? You can’t go wrong with the Nespresso VertuoPlus!

Holiday Gifts for the Home

Tis the season to be giving, but how about decorating? Functional, practical, or just plain fun, we're rounding up some of our favorite gifts that would be perfect for any of our homes (and yours as well!)


1. Gift this Ralph Lauren cocktail set and break it out at your next soiree, or keep it as a talking piece in your living room.  

2. Abstract and eye-catching. Brighten up a dull room with a print from West Elm.

3. Light up a room (literally) with this modern yet neutral lamp

4. Cozy up by a warm fire and snuggle up with this faux fur throw

5. Quite puzzling, this gift! When Jenga meets decor- we're loving this twist on a classic game

6. Shake up your dessert game! Perfect for the tabletop or bar cart. 

7. Jazz up the library and display your books between these horse bookends

Little "green" tips that make a BIG impact

Whether you're looking to buy a new home or you've just signed on a new space, there are several tips and tricks that you can apply to go green, help the environment, and save money. Check out our list of tips to not only save the environment, but save you some bucks along the way! 

Photo credit: Shorewest

Photo credit: Shorewest

1. Look for yellow based LED lighting options. Not only do these use less energy but will also save you $$$ on your next electric bill. 

2. Cut down on harsh cleaning chemicals and substitute for all natural ingredients such as apple cider vinegar

3. Recycle, recycle, recycle!

4. Use power strips to also cut costs on your energy bill!

5. Low flow shower heads decrease water consumption by 40% or more!

6. Using healthier No-VOC paints are better for your family and better for the environment. It doesn't cost any more than regular paint and lasts just as long. More about this, here

Costa Rica Listing!

Our Costa Rica casa can be your casa.
 If you're in the market for a vacation home, stop looking - we've found it for you!

Located in a gated community in the very exclusive area in Escazu, San Jose, this 2016 built home is situated on a 1008 m2 site at the highest point on a hill. The vertical construction home is a multipurpose space surrounded by large windows and easy access to the outdoors. It was not only named "one of the best Latin American sites in architecture" by Arch Daily, but also deemed energy saving due to its design and detail.

The building program is divided into three levels. The third floor, which houses the bedrooms, provides the main volume. In spite of its heaviness, this floor appears to float in the air thanks to a strategic use of materials, shapes, and tonality; this volume is held up by concrete columns on the second level that starts out wide and ends in a thin steel union. The main access to the residence on the main floor is through a suspended bridge. This bridge recalls childhood playfulness and yields onto a balcony that envelops the main social area. The bridge acts as an invitation to discover the distant landscape, guiding entrants towards the inside of the house. 

If you or someone you know is looking for a vacation home in the tropics of Costa Rica, give us a shout! For more specs on this home, visit this link

Link Roundup

Lots have been happening in the residential real estate world. To keep you in the loop, we've garnered a link roundup of our favorite industry reads! 

Photo Credit: Samsung

Photo Credit: Samsung

1. TV or art? You tell us! Samsung has released a new television that will fit into any home's aesthetic. 

2. Speaking of tech, have you checked out Apple's newest campus yet? Booking a flight to Cupertino in 3...2...1...

3. Hurricane Harvey has impacted many within our community. We are so proud of our city and all of the money they have raised. Check out this list of ways you can give back to Harvey victims through our local businesses. #HoustonStrong! 

4. What would you do without A/C? Read this article to find out how people survived back in the day before it was invented. (Yes, even in the Houston heat!)

5. The White House might be the most well-known home in the country. But did you know that there have been dozens of renovations? Learn more on Architectural Digest!

Improve Your Move

Congrats on your new home! As exciting as it is to move into a new space, the moving process can be overwhelming. It takes a village for a transition like this but before you are able to settle into your new home, check out some of these tips for an easier move in day. 

Photo via Design Mom

1. Organization is 🔑 - This is not the time to procrastinate. Sort through your items weeks before the move and label each box with the name of the contents. Number each box so that when the movers have dropped off all of your belongings, you will know if anything might have been left behind at the previous residence. 

2. Figure out your strategy 🚚 - Are you going to hire a moving company? Borrow a friend's truck? How will you get your contents from point A to point B? How many trips will it take for the furniture and boxes? Plan at least a month ahead of your move in date to secure assistance. 

3. Establish an unpacking system 📦 -  You will be faced with hundreds of tasks to remember for your move in day. Create a master moving to-do list and assign each person a role. Each person can pick a room to unpack so that no overlapping occurs (such as forks in two separate drawers). Refer to an inventory list to make sure that you've unpacked and stored everything in it's set storage place.

Do you have any tips that we should add to this list? Let us know on social media!

Link Roundup

Lots have been happening in the residential real estate world. To keep you in the loop, we've garnered a link roundup of our favorite industry reads! 

1. The man behind the multi-billion dollar operation of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, recently upgraded his crib. Check out his new $23 million digs here

2. Shoutout to the Woodlands! This neighborhood was recently named the 6th Best City to Live in 2017

3. On a more serious note, this article stands out to us on the recent real estate trends for this year. 

4. You've bought the home! Now it's time to put your personality into it! If you don't know where to start on this new project, check out this article on the beginner's guide to decorating. 

5. Have kids? Make sure they have the best available education. Check out the top public schools in Houston for 2017! 

The RG Team Premiere Party

Recently we gathered family, friends, and clients for a celebration of our brand new website and rebrand.
The party, hosted at Churrascos in the Woodlands, was a blast! The intimate gathering of friends and family who have been with us from the beginning made it a special night to remember. Thank you to all who came out to celebrate and we hope you enjoyed the show!
 Take a look at this recap for more from the night! 

A Guide to the Houston Guides

As a realtor, I have my finger on the pulse of the city, but I'm always curious to see Houston as curated by other tastemakers. Here's a roundup of the guides by some of Houston's biggest bloggers! Even I have found a few Houston spots I've yet to try out that I am excited to experience with my family. 

photo via wear + Where + well

photo via wear + Where + well

Photo via House of harper

Photo via House of harper


1. Say cheese! Wear + Where + Well's mural guide pins down the eclectic color walls in town and provides information on parking, best times for lighting, and maps so that you can get the perfect 'gram. 

2. Looking for an underrated and quiet yet trendy bar in town? Urban Swank will hook you up with their guide

3. Got kids? Houston City Moms Blog will hook you up with their list of top kid friendly restaurants. Let them run wild! 

4. Houston is a city with a plethora of shopping. House of Harper breaks down the best spots to shop in each category! 

5. Grab your significant other for an adventure from one of It's Not Hou, It's Me's date night picks

6. To end the roundup, L. Avenue's guide is filled with the best of beauty, bites, and boutiques

Tips for Buying a House in the Summer

With the summer market surge approaching, Ricardo advises that this season is the peak time in the industry to buy a house. He advises clients to go over their home needs and wants when meeting with their realtor beforehand that way they can start looking earlier and beat the rush of homebuyers that come with school being let out.


  • Sit down with a trusted agent and be sure to write down your wants vs. needs with them. This way you will spend more time viewing only the necessary homes and not miss out on the perfect home when it hits the market - the best homes tend to sell quicker! 
  • If you are in a lease agreement, take the time to talk to your landlord and propose an exit strategy that benefits both parties. There are times when a landlord will allow you to exit out of your lease if you allow the landlord to list the home for sale/lease much sooner. 
  • Be flexible with your closing date with the seller. Often times a seller wants a buyer to give them more time to move and in exchange, you can obtain more favorable terms for your purchase by giving this concession to the seller.