You Will, Too!

First Time Home Buyers


I’ve spent the last 30 days looking at houses for a first time home buyer….who is on a budget (aren’t most)?   We began by searching houses that had three bedrooms and two baths….and then quickly discovered that the elementary schools that matched up with those homes placed sometimes in the 4,000 range….out of 4,357 schools in Texas.  Should that matter?  Well….it might if you want your children to actually learn something while they attend classes….like this savvy Mom expected.

We then began searching for the best schools first….and quickly discovered that if you want to buy a house that has elementary AND middle schools that rank in the 500 or under range we had to spend more than she planned on spending…..AND be FIRST in the door with a strong prequalification letter in hand AND pray we were offering enough to get the seller to sign the offer immediately.

Of the 100 plus homes we viewed, took video’s of, FACETIMED and more…..days, weekends and nights consumed with searching for anything we might have missed…offers written on houses the seller’s assumed they didn’t need to repair to sell or homes out of state investors snapped up by taking them off the market for a week or so because they supposedly were buying with cash…we found success.

Even if the buyer hadn’t wanted good schools…..if you want a successful rental or a house that has potential to appreciate you should consider the schools.  Renters want great schools and will pay more rent for a school that ranks well….and homes tend to appreciate if they are located in areas with great schools.

One of the best sites I found for searching for school scores was SchoolDigger.  It also advertises homes on the site….but we found the homes they advertised were dated listings and not really available to buy….so use the site for school scores only.  A special note….new schools that were recently built might not show up on the site…..and a lot of new schools are being built in the San Antonio area.

If you’re considering buying a home to live in or for investment purposes, give me a call.  It’s hard work and long hours…….but I LOVE the end result…..finding the right house for YOU!


Getting a Home Loan

Before you begin your home search you should talk to a mortgage loan officer and get prequalified.  Why?  Because you need to know how much your monthly payments will be including taxes, insurance and HOA fees BEFORE you fall in love with a house that might be as much as $50,000 more than you feel comfortable committing paying every month.  You want to make sure you have money for a pizza every once in a while….new tires on the car when you need them and of course,  when the baby needs new shoes.

Getting prequalified means giving a loan officer all the paperwork they request….which includes paystubs and monthly commitments like how much your car payments are.  The loan officer will run your credit… be honest with them about how many credit cards you have and how much a month you pay on them or if you’ve ever been late on a payment.  Once the lender has verified that you qualify for a home loan you can begin shopping for your new home knowing you are looking at houses you can afford.

Your lender will now issue a “prequalification letter” that will be part of your sales paperwork the seller will review with your offer on the home.  In Texas all lenders have the same forms for issuing this letter…….so don’t be fooled by fast talking lenders that suggest their letter is better than other lender letters.  It is a state form….and they all use the same form.  Your Realtor may be able to provide the other agent with a bio on you, maybe a story about what a cute family you have, how wonderful you are and why you are better than any other buyer that may be competing with you for the home….but having the prequalification letter is a must if you want the seller to consider your offer.

In Texas you will probably ask the seller for an “option period”… you can hire inspectors of your choice and then ask the seller to make repairs for items your inspector may find.  Some sellers may agree to make repairs….others may say no to any repairs….but this is something you will do during the option period.

During the option period you should also review the terms your lender is offering you and possibly check on other lenders to see if they can offer you a loan with less charges.   Having lenders compete for your loan is important and could possibly save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.  As a Realtor I recommend loan officers….but do not receive any compensation from any lenders……so any lender your Realtor recommends is probably someone they personally know does a great job and closes on time.  Check with your Realtor or ask your friends if they recommend  a good lender.  Get them competing for your business.  No one’s feelings get hurt if you choose to use a different lender…..this is YOU looking out for YOU.  If you do choose another lender make sure to get a new prequalification letter and provide it to your Realtor.

Once you are sure which company you are getting your loan from you should request that they order the appraisal.  It is important that you wait to order the appraisal until after you have negotiated repairs…..because if a seller receives a phone call requesting the appraiser visit the house….they will be less willing to do any repairs.   They know you are moving forward with your purchase when the appraiser calls to visit….so why bother making any repairs for you if they haven’t been negotiated already?

The appraiser will measure the house and review the most recent sold properties in the area surrounding your new home.  They will give a value to the property…..based on the size, condition of the home, upgrades and homes that have recently sold.

Prior to signing for the purchase of your new home you should review repair receipts if your seller has agreed to make any repairs for you…..and visit the house if possible before signing your closing documents.  On a purchase of my own I went to the house the day of closing to “walk” the property and discovered all the curtains and rods were missing along and the sellers digging up the solar landscape lighting…..I closed on the home but not without bags of curtains and rods and an apology from the sellers.    If you are a seller be sure to read the contract so you are aware of what remains in the house at closing….and as a buyer, be sure to walk the property and confirm that everything that is supposed to remain is in the house.  Before closing is the time to address those items…not after.

Towns Near San Antonio

Maybe you don’t want to live in a big city….even though living in San Antonio is like living in a small town to me since I seem to run into someone I know no matter where I am.  So many military folks like to retire here or maybe you’re finding the real estate seems to be getting too pricey in San Antonio proper and don’t mind a short commute, here are some possible choices:  New Braunfels, San Marcos, Floresville, Pleasanton, Boerne, Universal City, Schertz, Selma, La Vernia, Von Ormy, Castroville, Helotes, Canyon Lake, Spring Branch, Marion.

July 4th Fireworks


Still trying to figure out what to do on July 4th? Here is a list of things to do:

Woodlawn Lake:  The City of San Antonio is hosting this huge party that begins at 8 am with Zumba classes, live music, dancing, carnival rides, bull riding, food vendors and more!

El Mercado: Freedom Fest at Market Square!  Musical acts, dancers, arts & crafts, shopping, restaurants…..who doesn’t love Market Square?

Red, White and Blue at the Pearl: looking for a more hip vibe?  It’s always cool at the Pearl!

Independence Day at the Alamo: Where real independence begins…why not hit downtown and check out the Alamo?

4th of July Jubilee in Schertz:  9 am to 10pm in Pickrell Park with live music at 5, food, vendors, games, rides, watermelon and pie eating contests….a true down home party! Schertz, Texas

Red, White & Buda: begins at 5 pm with fireworks at 9:30, Buda Sportplex, Buda, Texas

Kyle Independence Day: 6pm with fireworks at 9:30.  Plum Creek Golf Course, Kyle, Texas

July 4th Frontier Days:  10am parade, Fireworks at dark.  Old Settlers Park, Round Rock, Texas

Shopping in San Antonio

It’s no secret that I LOVE to shop….so here’s my list of where to spend your money when you visit beautiful San Antonio.


Shops at Rivercenter:  Enjoy a drink outside while others hit the pavement and SHOP!  Unique shops and high end shopping….something for all.  10AM to 9PM and 12AM to 6PM Sundays

Pearl Brewery: 200 East Grayson, 78215 Absolutely one of the coolest places to visit and includes the Culinary Institute and an Aveda School where you might be able to book a haircut and look even cooler when you leave!
My Favorite: Hotel Emma…..a fantastic spot for a cool drink!

LaVillita:  if you’re downtown, be sure to stroll through the cute shops in La Villita off the River Walk!  10 AM to 6PM and 11 AM to 4 PM Sundays.

My favorite: BesArte…..eclectic collection of American made crafts, jewelry and cool stuff! Super friendly staff and fabulous collections of fun stuff at great prices.

The Shops at La Cantera, 15900 La Cantera Parkway, 78256  An outside mall with lots of choices for food and drinks and upscale shopping.

My favorite: Neiman Marcus:  totally Texas upscale and fabulous with all the bells and whistles.  LOVE all the high end brands that include LOUIS VUITTON.  The make up counter has choices you wont usually get to see in person and the make-up professionals know their stuff.  10AM to 9PM and Sundays 12PM to 6PM.  Be sure to visit Mariposa, their restaurant with upscale cuisine served by a warm and welcoming staff.  Perfect for a light snack.  Restaurant hours:  11AM to 4PM and Sunday from 12PM to 4PM.

North Star Mall, 7400 San Pedro, 78216 This was the first place I learned how to drive my car to when I moved to San Antonio at 16….still a fabulous mall with lots of shops to get lost in.  It’s worth going to just to see the largest Cowboy Boots in Texas.  It’s indoors…so if the heat is getting to you, it’s a great spot to cool off and buy some new clothes!  10AM to 9PM and Sundays 12PM to 6PM

Artisans’ Alley:  555 Bitters Road, 78216  I fell in love with this spot at 18 when my best friends sister opened a shop in the alley…..its full of quirky shops including an antique shop with lovely treasures and even has a Painting with a Twist shop for painting fun.  Open 10AM to 6PM and Sundays from 1PM to 4PM.  My favorite:  Rhonda J’s Shoppe which features my favorite Annie Sloan paint and really cool Consuela bags that are a must have if you visit our city!

Homestead Handcrafts, 21518 Blanco Road, 78260 Love this place…..looking for unique gifts, handmade clothing, shabby chic furniture….they have it all.  It’s worth me visiting at least once a month to see what’s new.  10AM to 6PM and Sundays 12PM to 5PM.

SteinMart:  my favorite location is at 18134 San Pedro, 78232.  It’s hard to pass up their bargain priced high end shoes and clothing….and don’t forget the “bling” in the costume jewelry as they have some of the best finds in the city.  10AM to 9PM and Sundays 11AM to 6PM.









History on a House

When you are looking for a new home the previous MLS history may tell you a lot about the house.  Things to look for?  From the previous MLS sometimes your agent is able to pull up:


  1.  What the house looked like when the current owner purchased it.  This sometimes can be worth a lot….maybe it was a foreclosure and was abused for years before this owner put some “lipstick” on it…like new carpet and paint.  Maybe they haven’t done a thing to it…and bought a few months ago.  Maybe they have obviously spent a LOT of money on it and it’s worth tons more than what they paid for it…but if you can view the previous photos…you might learn a lot.
  2. How much they paid for it.   Yes, it’s fun to know this…but how much they paid for it doesn’t equal how much it’s worth now.  Sometimes this is good information as it might give you an idea of whether or not the seller might be willing to accept less than they are asking….but what they owe and what it is worth are very different and their agent probably showed them comparable sold properties to determine what they should be selling it for.  Be sure to ask your agent to include an updated CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) of what has sold in the last year and what has more importantly sold in the last 90 days.
  3. A copy of the survey.  This can help you determine if you can add that pool you want…or where you can build a deck after your purchase.  Any maybe you can reuse this survey and save yourself approximately $500 or more if the house is on acreage.
  4. What the previous seller disclosed on their seller disclosure.  I love this part…sometimes the previous owner might have disclosed information that the current owner forgot about…like foundation repairs or fires or that they paid for flood insurance…….information that might not be on the current seller’s disclosure and it may be very informative.  Some seller’s truly don’t remember what was wrong with the house when they bought it…but they accepted a credit in lieu of the previous owner making those repairs prior to their purchase…and then when they put the house on the market a new inspector discovers those same items.  It’s not that they are lying….they truly forgot about the back door sticking or the hot and cold water being reversed as they just got used to those items being broken.  Whatever you do…have a home inspector inspect the property for you… don’t save money by skipping this step.
  5.  A square footage discrepancy…..this is SO strange but the tax office today may disclose a house shrunk or got larger….and years ago it said something else.  You may be basing your offer on the average price per square foot….and if the house is 100  feet different that could be a difference of $15,000 if the average sale is $150 a square foot.

Be sure to ask your agent to run the history for the property you are considering buying.

If you need help and a great agent, call us at 210-273-6161.


Distressed Pantry Door


Call me crazy…. I took a brand new door and made it look old!

I painted the outside with Annie Sloan Burgundy paint (3 coats) and the inside top panel was painted with black chalkboard paint.  David sanded it with an electric sander to make it smooth and to distress the edges….and then we wiped it down with Annie Sloan dark wax.  Online I found the Pantry Door stencil….and the door was rehung!

It seemed a little strange to take a brand new door and make it look old….but I love it.  And that’s all that matters, right?  What do you think?


Wanna be a Realtor?

A few times a week I get told from someone new that they want to be a Realtor.

I hear:

“I want to have free time with my kids”

I think I can make a whole bunch of money part time”

“I love looking at new houses”

“I love watching Property Brothers”

I’ve always been great in sales”

So…if you really think you want to be a Realtor….let me tell you a few things to help you with your decision.

Free Time?  You work when someone calls you.  That could mean Monday through Friday from 8 to 5….AND Saturday and Sunday….AND nights and weekends.  Because you have to be available when your prospective buyer or seller is available.  If you aren’t available, someone else is.  If you list a house…..when you get an offer (you are going to sell the house, right?) you have to respond immediately.  If the buyer has to wait until you are back in town from the beach they may change their mind and move on to the next house.  If you have a buyer….the minute you get on a plane is when the new house that is perfect for them pops up on their iphone…..and if they don’t go look immediately, it’s already gone when you return.  So plan on being available from about 8 in the morning until 9 at night….I have been known to work as late as midnight negotiating offers.  It’s a fact.  And if you have another job….I hope they don’t mind if you are missing for several hours in the middle of your shift.  We work 7 days a week…..nights and weekends and holidays (or should I say especially holidays).  It’s NOT a part time job.

Money:  Half of the Realtors make zero.  That’s a fact and a national statistic.  The agents that net over $40,000 spend over $40,000 to make it.  If you don’t have a bankroll to start your business you probably aren’t going to make it.   Every 3 years thousands of Realtors don’t renew their licenses.  San Antonio has almost 15,000 agents….and last year approximately 30,000 homes were sold.  Half the agents  didn’t even sell ONE house.  Plan on spending money your first year and maybe…not making a profit.  95% of all the real estate sold is sold by 5% of the Realtors.

Property Brothers:  being a Realtor is NOTHING like the shows on TV.  We have to be computer literate (actually it’s better if you are a computer guru), good salespeople, friendly, good listeners, maids (I swept the floors in one of my vacant houses yesterday…..the seller doesn’t live here so SOMEONE has to), home stagers (more money to buy things you move from house to house and store when you sell the house), furniture movers (remember you stage houses….those of you with weak backs?  Forget it), photographers (and own a $3,500 camera or pay someone $300 to $400 every time you list a house to take photos you hope you love and you hope the seller loves because if the photographer has to come back its more money), familiar with home repairs so you can negotiate money or repairs when the home inspector gives a list to the buyer, know a lot of good contractors, have a nice car (preferably a luxury car) with a big trunk for your signs and plenty of room to take smaller items to and from houses and own a truck so you can move your staging items from house to house, be VERY familiar with neighborhoods, have additional insurance on your car for your errors and omissions insurance (in case you get sued….but then add another $5,000 for the deductible if you do get sued), buy your own health insurance at a ridiculous price since you are self employed (mine costs almost $1200 a month and it is basically catastrophic insurance as it doesn’t cover much and has a $15,000 deductible),  buy lots of candles and plug ins for empty houses so they smell good when they get shown,  have no retirement benefits unless you save the money yourself,  have no vacation days off and also be VERY careful when you buy your own investment properties as the seller may have seller’s remorse later and decide you took advantage of him or her and should have paid them more.   Opening houses is just a small part of what a Realtor does.

These are the things most people won’t tell you about….but the more you know about a prospective job the greater chance you have of being successful at it.

If you’ve read all the above and still are interested give me a call.  I might want you on my team!








Hot Market? Try 88 Days….

88 days is the average days on the market for homes in San Antonio as of today… why do we keep hearing about houses flying off the market?

Some do….but usually the ones that “fly off the market” are the more affordable homes…..AND homes that don’t need a lot of repairs.

So if you are considering putting your house on the market…..clean, clean, clean.  Pretend you are a homebuyer…..and take a good look around your house.  Open the front door with the key….if it’s hard to open, it immediately sends a message to the buyer to look for more items that might need to be repaired.

Todays buyer wants a house in MOVE IN condition….so if your house needs new carpet….install it now.  If your appliances are worn out, replace them now.  If you have walls that need paint….and the list goes on and on.  Every buyer I show homes to is looking for a house they don’t need to do work on…..because buyers don’t have time to do that work.  Unless your house is an incredible price…they will just pass on it and move to the next house.

The press says we don’t have a lot of homes on the market…. but the number of homes on the market is 7,767.  That’s right….seven thousand, seven hundred and sixty seven homes to compete with.

When you do have your house ready to sell…don’t make it hard for the Realtor to show it.  They might be showing ten homes in an afternoon to the same buyer….and if you make it too difficult, they will just pass and might not come back.

If you need help getting a list of what you need to do to get your house ready to sell  I’m happy to help.  (210) 273-6161

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