Time to file your Homestead Exemption!

Written by: Michelle Nelson

SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

Homestead Exemption Forms need to be submitted by April 30th, 2018

Click Here to download the Homestead Exemption Application Form

 

If you purchased a property last year that is your principal residence, you can now file for your homestead exemption. A Homestead exemption is an application filed with the county appraisal district that removes part of your home’s value from taxation, so they lower your taxes.

For example, if your home is appraised at $35,000, and you qualify for a $15,000 exemption, you will pay taxes on the home as if it was worth only $20,000.


Effective September 1, 2011, in order to qualify for a residential homestead exemption you must provide the following to the Central Appraisal District when submitting your application:

• Texas Drivers License or State ID Card
The address on your driver’s license or state ID card MUST match the physical address of the residence for which you are applying.

• Vehicle Registration Receipt
The address on your vehicle registration MUST also match the physical address of the residence for which you are applying.
Homeowners who meet certain conditions, such as being more than 65-years-old, a veteran or disabled, may claim additional exemptions.

  

Below you’ll find a list of local Appraisal District’s phone numbers and websites. There are also links to download your districts application form as well as a printable PDF with FAQ’s and .

  

Austin Area:  Download a Printable PDF

  •  Bastrop County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    512-303-1930 | www.bastropcad.org
  • Blanco County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    830-868-4013 | www.texascad.com
  • Burnet County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    512-756-8291 | www.burnet-cad.org
  • Caldwell County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    512-398-5550 | www.caldwellcad.org
  • Hays County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    512-268-2522 | www.hayscad.com
  • Lee County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    979-542-9618 | www.lee-cad.org
  • Travis Central Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    512-834-9138 | www.traviscad.org
  • Williamson County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    512-930-3787 | www.wcad.org
  •   

     San Antonio Area: Download a Printable PDF

  • Atascosa County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    830-742-3591 | www.texascad.com
  • Bandera County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    830-796-3731 | www.banderaproptax.org
  • Bexar County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    210-224-8511 | www.bcad.org
  • Comal Central Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    830-625-8597 | www.comalad.org
  • Guadalupe County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    830-303-3313 | www.guadalupead.org
  • Hays County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    512-268-2522 | www.hayscad.com
  • Kendall County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    830-249-8012 | www.kendallad.org
  • Uvalde County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    830-393-3065 | www.uvaldecad.org
  • Wilson County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    830-393-3065 | www.texascad.com
  •   

    Fort Worth/Dallas Area:

  • Collin County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    469-742-9200 | www.collincad.org
  • Dallas County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    214-631-0901 | www.dallascad.org
  • Denton County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    940-349-3800 | www.dentoncad.org
  • Ellis County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    972-937-3552 | www.elliscad.org
  • Rockwall County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    972-771-2034 | www.rockwallcad.com
  • Tarrant County Appraisal District - Download Form Here
    817-284-0024 | www.tad.org
  • 2018 San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo

    Written by: sarodeo.com

    We are #TrinityProud!

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Press icon

    Our greatest asset is our people: our team, our partners and our clients.

    5 Things to do Right After Closing

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk

    There are some important tasks to cross off your list before you get to the fun stuff.

    If you just bought your first home, you’re probably still celebrating and feeling the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with home ownership. You’re shopping for furniture, drawing up plans for renovations … but wait! There are some important tasks to cross off your list before you get to the fun stuff.

    1. *Change the locks: A lot of people came in possession of your keys during the home sale process, whether it was on the market for a year or a day. Protect yourself by changing all the locks, just in case a set of keys fell into the wrong hands.*

    2. Make copies: It’s good to have copies of all your closing documents, if only for reference. But in the worst case, you’ll be thankful you have your own copies if something goes wrong.

    3. Make sure you get your mail: The post office won’t deliver your mail if the mailbox doesn’t have a name, and it’ll be difficult to sign for packages if UPS can’t get to your front door. If you’re in a multi-unit building, make sure to put your name on your mailbox and verify that the buzzer or call box is working.

    4. Meet your neighbors: It’s not just about being cordial. It’s good to exchange contact info with your neighbors in case there’s a problem in the building or someone is being noisy.

    5. Prepare for emergencies: Store the contact info for insurance agents and services like plumbers and locksmiths in your phone. You don’t want to waste time searching the internet when you’re locked out on a winter night or your home suffers fire damage.

    2018 SABOR Housing Forecast Commercial

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Press icon

    Let us show you the future of Real Estate in Virtual Reality!

    We were honored to be a part of the 2018 San Antonio Board of Realtors Housing Forecast!

    We hope you will enjoy our commercial that ran at the event!

      

    Housekeeping Tips: Keep Dark Clothes from Fading

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Here are some suggestions for keeping your favorite clothes looking brand new.

    It’s disappointing when your darker garments look faded after a few washes. Here are some suggestions for keeping your favorite clothes looking brand new.

    Wash only when necessary: We tend to wash many clothes too often, especially coarser fabrics like denim. Washing is harsh on dark dyes, leading to a quicker fade. Wash denim items less, and if possible, spot clean them rather than washing the whole garment.

    Measure detergent: It’s easy to just pour detergent by eye when you’re doing the laundry, but take the time to properly measure, especially when it comes to darker clothing. Using too much will cause your clothes to fade faster. Be careful with drying: Dry your clothes on the lowest setting possible, and turn them inside out to shield them from extra friction with other garments. For the gentlest possible drying, hang dry your clothes on a rack or allow them to dry on a flat surface.

    Wash in cold water: Drying on high heat can damage and fade your clothes quickly, and the same is true for washing in hot water. Wash your darker garments in cold water (in the shortest cycle possible), and use a detergent that’s designed for washing in cold water.

    5 Steps for Organizing Your Garage

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Do you have a cluttered mess on your hands? Here are five steps toward organizing your garage for good.

    For many people the garage is the place you mindlessly store stuff just to get it out of the way, and before you know it, you’ve got a cluttered mess on your hands. Here are five steps toward organizing your garage for good.

    1. Make a plan: What do you want you garage to be? Is it a workshop, a storage space, or a nightly place to park your car? Before you roll up your sleeves and get to work, decide on a plan for your garage’s primary use, and prioritize around that goal.

    2. Be vigilant with clutter: There might be items in your garage that you haven’t touched in years—you’ve probably even forgotten they’re in there. It’s easy to justify keeping items when you’re in the moment, but look a the big picture. If you can’t remember the last time you used an item, it’s probably ready to be thrown out, recycled, donated, or sold.

    3. Make use of vertical space: Garages often have space in the ceiling where you can hang your gear or even store some boxes. Store the rarely used items—like holiday decorations—higher up and out of the way.

    4. Keep common items accessible: On the other hand, you don’t want it to be a hassle to get to the things you use often. Create a specific place for each item that is easy to reach.

    5. Stay vigilant: Now that you garage is properly organized, be more mindful of what you’re adding to it. If there’s something new that’s important, choose a specific place for it. If it’s just junk, go through the extra effort to just get rid of it!

    New Home? Here’s How to Save

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Here are a few things new homeowners can do to save on energy and maintenance.

    When you’ve just purchased a new home, there’s a ton on your mind. There’s moving, decorating, getting to know your new neighborhood, and more. Here are a few things that should be at the top of your to-do list, because they’ll save you a lot of money.

    Check on your water heater
    Set your water heater for 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is plenty hot enough for bathing, washing dishes, and any other household use of hot water, so heating water above 120 degrees is a waste of energy and money. And if your water heater is an older model, it’s worthwhile to invest in a water heater blanket to keep it insulated.

    Replace air filters
    Sellers often put in a lot of cosmetic work to get the home move-in ready, but they often skip or forget about air filters in the HVAC system. Filters can be found at your local hardware store (just make sure to get the right size) and are easy to replace. Doing so will improve air flow and quality, and save on energy costs.

    Get a smart thermostat
    A smart thermostat, such as Nest, will cost you some money up front but is well worth the long-term savings. It’s programmable so that your AC and furnace run at lower levels when you’re not home, so you’re not wasting money to cool or heat an empty house.

    Set up a space to air-dry clothes
    Whether it’s a rack in your laundry room or a clothesline in the back yard, air-drying clothes is a big money saver over even the most energy-efficient dryers. Air-drying your garments will also help them last much longer.

    Check for leaks and running toilets
    A leaky faucet or a constantly-running toilet will use up water unnecessarily, and that’ll show up on your utility bill. And in the worst case, they’ll cause expensive water damage and mold.

    Big Ideas for Small Spaces

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Here’s how you can keep a room feeling airy and spacious, even if it’s just a studio apartment or an attic.

    Smaller rooms can be difficult to decorate, because if you don’t know a few important tricks, the space can end up feeling a little claustrophobic. Here’s how you can keep a room feeling airy and spacious, even if it’s just a studio apartment or an attic.

    Breathing room
    Your first inclination might be to arrange all your furniture flush against the walls. Though this may add a little extra room to move through the room, it’ll make everything feel more crowded and congested. Instead, try arranging items at an angle, or pull them six inches away from the wall.

    Mirrors and strategic colors
    Dark paint will make the room feel smaller. Instead, opt for whites, light grays, and other light colors. A well-placed mirror will also expand the room’s appearance—think of the times you’ve been in a restaurant and a mirror made the space look twice as large.

    Multi-purpose items
    Look for storage everywhere—you can keep books and DVDs inside an ottoman, or store blankets in a bench or hollow coffee table. If you don’t have room for a dining table, you can invest in a coffee table with a pop-up section.

    Raise your window treatments
    It’s common to hang your curtain rods just a few inches above your windows, but to make the ceilings appear taller, you can hang them just a few inches below the ceiling. It can have a dramatic effect.

    Swap out the sofa
    The sofa is likely the biggest, most unwieldy item in your living room. What if you swapped it out for a settee or a pair of comfortable chairs? You won’t lose much in functional seating, but you’ll gain some precious space and room for foot traffic.

    Just Moved In? 3 Must Haves For Your New Home!

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Before you start buying furniture, there are some more important matters to attend to!

    Moving into a new home is an exciting time in your life. You’re making plans for renovations and choosing furniture, but before you get too far ahead of yourself, there are some more important matters to attend to.

    Staying safe: Make plans for home security and emergencies. What’s your escape route in case of a fire, or shelter in case of a severe storm? Do you have a home security system, a protective dog, or weapon available in your bedroom? Choose your “Stay Safe” tactics and make a plan for the worst-case scenarios that put your safety at risk.

    A disaster kit: Even if it’s as simple an inconvenience as a power outage, you want to be ready. Stock a flashlight, non-perishable food, water, a first-aid kit, and warm clothes/blankets that you can access in case of an emergency.

    A spare (secret) key: It’s no fun getting locked out of your house—especially in cold or wet weather—and no one wants to pay a locksmith to access their own home. Hide a key somewhere outside (just be more creative than hiding it under the welcome mat). There are plenty of devices you can purchase, such as magnetic key hiders, that can help you hide your key in places that a trespasser wouldn’t consider

    How an Agent Can Help Alleviate Stress

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Purchasing a home can be a stressful experience. Working with a real estate professional can help alleviate that stress!

    Purchasing a home can be a stressful experience, whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’ve been through the process before. But that’s one of the reasons that working with a real estate professional is so worthwhile. With your agent’s guidance, buying a home should be enjoyable, rather than stressful. Here are some of the more unique circumstances where your agent can make your life much easier.

    Out-of-town buyers: If you’re looking for vacation homes or moving to a job in a new city, there’s a good chance that viewing homes will be difficult—you could be a long drive or even a plane ride away. With today’s video messaging apps like Skype or Facetime, your agent can walk you through a property virtually. It’s not the same as walking through in person, but it will at least give you an idea about whether a property is worth pursuing further.

    When life is just too crazy: If you’re just getting too busy with everything else going on in your life, a good buyer’s agent should be able to recognize the situation and help you take a step back. They can suggest that you take a few weeks off from your home search to recharge, or only focus on properties that exactly fit your wants list.

    Inspection issues: You’re dreaming about move-in day, and then some unforeseen issues turn up during inspection. A good agent can work out those issues by negotiating a lower offer—to cover costs of repairs—or by getting the seller to fix the problem.

    The Best Things About Homeownership

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Here are the 5 best things about owning a home!

    If you own a home, there was certainly a lot that went into your decision to buy rather than continue to rent. Now you’re enjoying all the advantages of homeownership—here are the top five.

    1. Building wealth: When you own a home, you have an asset that will likely increase in value over time. It provides great security, and the opportunity to essentially live “rent-free” in your retirement years when the home is paid off.

    2. Freedom to make it your own: Landlords can be strict about customizing rental properties. Most don’t even allow their tenants to paint. But when you own a home, the possibilities are endless. Get rid of a wall, or paint it any color you like. It’s your property.

    3. Building equity: Every mortgage payment your make, and every improvement you make on the home, is putting money back into your pocket. Unlike with renting, owning a home gives you more than just a place to live. You can use your home equity to get loans and even cash for emergencies.

    4. More freedom and stability: Studies show that homeowners have a better sense of pride and security than renters. When you relax in your own home, you know it’s the result of hard work and planning, and that you have the freedom to change it as you wish.

    5. *Tax advantages: Homeowners can deduct the interest paid on home loans and property taxes—that’s a big break that comes up every April 15.*

    Selling Your Home in a Hurry

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    There are a lot of factors that will determine how quickly your house is sold, and it’s important to tackle the factors you can control.

    There are a lot of factors that will determine how quickly your house is sold, and it’s important to tackle the factors you can control. If you’re still living in your home while trying to sell it, these are a few simple ideas that can help speed up the home sale process.

    1. De-clutter: Buyers want to step into a prospective home and imagine the possibilities. That’s a lot easier to do when a space is airy and clutter-free. Get rid of the clutter that’s just taking up space in your home, and it can totally transform how a buyer sees the property.

    2. Offer an incentive: Don’t break the bank for add-ons that don’t make financial sense in the long run, but there are some reasonable expenses you can use to entice buyers, such as offering a home warranty.

    3. Focus on flow: Now that you’re working toward a new home, it’s important to position your furniture for easy movement through the space, rather than how you personally like it arranged. Position your furniture so that it’s natural to flow from one room to the next.

    4. Take care of your to-do list: There’s probably a list of small repairs that you’ve been putting off for a while, like fixing a dripping faucet or touching up paint on some walls. Make those repairs so that the home is more move-in ready for buyers.

    5. Commit to cleanliness: Just like removing clutter, keeping your place clean can go a long way toward appealing to buyers. It’s especially true in the kitchen—no dishes in the sink or coffee rings on the countertops!

    5 Steps for Winterizing Your Home

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon Tools icon

    It’s time to get your home ready for the months of harsh conditions that are on the way.

    The cold weather has arrived, and it’s time to get your home ready for the months of harsh conditions that are on the way. Here are five key tasks for winterizing your home.

    1. Get your HVAC system inspected: Some things are better left to the experts. Schedule a tune-up with an HVAC professional—they’ll check for carbon monoxide, inspect pipes, clean/change filters, and get your system running more efficiently.

    2. Reverse your ceiling fans: Did you know that there are separate settings on your ceiling fan for cool and warm months? You want it to rotate clockwise during the winter. It’ll force the warm air down and keep you comfortable at night.

    3. Disconnect all hoses: This is the most common cause of frozen pipes. One way to reduce this risk is by putting your hoses away in the shed or garage for the winter. That way, if someone connects a hose they will hopefully disconnect it to put it back in its place. Also, if you see a hose out of storage it will be a red flag that someone connected it.

    4. Keep an emergency kit: A blizzard can quickly leave you stuck at home with roads too dangerous to drive to get food and other supplies, and can even cause power outages. Prepare for the worst by stocking water, non-perishable foods, and plenty of blankets.

    5. Clean the gutters: Clogged gutters can fill with ice and cause roof leaks from water damming. Another problem is the gutter can become heavy and rip off, causing other damage.

    Organic Food on a Budget

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Organic food usually tastes better, and is better for you, but it can also be very expensive compared to non-organic products.

    Organic food usually tastes better, and is better for you, but it can also be very expensive compared to non-organic products. Organic food can cost nearly 50 percent more, thanks to the extra labor required to produce it and consumers’ demand exceeding supply.

    So how do you get tasty organic food without spending a ton of extra money? Follow these tips to get more bang for your buck.

      

    title insurance

    • Shop at farmers’ markets: You can get fresh organic produce for far less at a farmers’ market than you’d pay at the grocery store. It’ll taste just as good, and you’re getting your food straight from the source.
       
    • Choose seasonal produce: Out-of-season produce usually has to be imported, and that can really drive up the price. Focus your meals on in-season fruits and vegetables so that you don’t end up paying $6.00 for a pound of organic asparagus.
       
    • Shop more frequently, and plan your meals around bulk sales: The trick here is to only buy what’s needed for your meals, and to only plan for a week of meals at most. That way you’re less likely to throw food away, because you can use leftover produce for more meals before it goes bad.
       
    • Grow your own: A home vegetable garden will provide some extremely cheap organic produce, and gardening can also be a fun and rewarding hobby.

    Dealing with Scratched Hardwood Floors

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Hardwood floors are highly desirable for most homeowners, but they come with their share of challenges.

    Hardwood floors are highly desirable for most homeowners, but they come with their share of challenges when it comes to cleaning, maintenance, and repairs. After a few months or years of heavy use from kids playing with toys and chairs being shuffled around, it may be time for some DIY fixes.

      

    • Hiding scratches: If you’ve got a good eye for matching colors, you can actually use crayons or markers or purchase wax sticks from the hardware store to fill-in scratches. Try to match the stain color on your floors, but don’t worry if it’s a little off. If the color is close, once the scratch is filled, it’ll look like a variation in the wood grain . Polishing floors: You can make a polish solution for your floors from household ingredients. Mix olive oil and vinegar in equal parts, pour it directly into scratches, and then wipe it off after 24 hours. It may take several applications, but this homemade polish will fill and cover most scratches.
       
    • Clever decor: It’s not a long-term solution, but sometimes the most painless way to fix scratches in your floors is to cover them with a rug or furniture arrangement.
       
    • Spot sanding: For deeper scratches, you’ll need to spot sand with fine steel wool or sandpaper, use wood filler, and stain and seal the repaired area.

    How to Lower Your Cable Bill

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Don't get stuck with a huge cable bill. Here are some ways to reduce your cable bill!

    More and more people are cutting the cord and going without television service, but for many—especially those who watch a lot of live programming— cable is still a necessity. Cable and satellite companies love to sign customers to a two-year contract, but will dramatically raise your bill when a promotional period ends after one year. Suddenly, you’re paying $50 or more per month for the same services.

    Here’s how to get (and keep) the best deals on television service:

    • Know what’s in store: Cable and satellite companies seemingly make it impossible to go online to downgrade your services, cancel service, or choose a new bundle. Even online chat support gives the cable company the upper hand. Picking up the phone and negotiating remains the best way to get the lowest price for your television service.
       
    • Knowledge is power: Before you call, do some research. Understand the terms of your current contract, see which bundles your cable provider is currently offering to new customers, and price out similar service offerings from other companies. You’ll be in a better bargaining position if you have the freedom to cancel on your current provider.
       
    • Make the call: Make it clear to the support representative that you are calling because your rates have increased and you’re considering cancelling if they cannot lower your bill. The support representative will initially try to offer higher-priced bundles or short-term freebies, but don’t give up on the negotiation—remember, you already know you can switch to another provider. If the sales representative won’t budge, you can even end the call, and try again with a different representative. In most cases, they would rather find a package that works than lose a customer.

    Our Bandera Trails Office is Moving!

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon Press icon

    We're getting ready for a big move to new space in 2018!

    On October 11, 2017, our Bandera Trails team will be relocating!

     

    Mike LaRochelle has moved to our La Arcata office:

    115 N Loop 1604 E, Suite 2200
    San Antonio, TX 78232

    Office: (210) 496-0002
    Fax: (210) 496-3369

        


      

    Dawn Chapa, Renee White, and Sylvia Valdez have moved to our Shavano Center office:

    3522 Paesanos Parkway
    San Antonio, TX 78231
    Office: (210) 496-2223

    Dawn's Team will be located in Suite 104, Fax: (210) 492-1105
    Renee and Sylvia's Teams will be located in Suite 200, Fax: (210) 496-2228

      


      

    Our Northwest Marketing Team of Linsey Martin & Kathy Olivarez will continue to operate out of the Bandera Trails location until the end of November.

    This move helps us prepare for our new office location that will be completed in 2018! Our new, permanent location will be at the IH10 / Loop 1604 Interchange.

    If you have any questions, please just give us a call!

    Beat the Cedar!

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon

    Here are some tips to help keep your allergies in check.

    Let me guess. You are sneezing like crazy, have a stuffy nose, itchy throat, watery and itchy eyes. You are not alone. "Cedar Fever," or allergies to Mountain Cedar pollen, causes thousands to suffer every year, but here are some ways that you can minimize the effects this cedar season.

    • Pay attention to weather. If you notice that certain conditions trigger symptoms, watch out for them. Check local pollen and mold counts. Watch for Ozone Action Days. Reduce time outside when you're likely to have problems. If possible, avoid being outdoors in the early morning, when pollen is most widespread. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen.
       
    • Prepare for allergies. If you have a predictable allergy at a certain time of year -- ragweed in the fall, or tree pollen in the spring -- get ahead of it. Ask your doctor if you can start taking allergy drugs about two weeks before you usually start having symptoms. That way, you can keep the symptoms from starting. It’s better than waiting until they start.
       
    • Control your environment. You can't change what's happening outside, but you do have some control over conditions in your house. Use air-conditioning to filter out mold and pollen. Use a dehumidifier to discourage mold growth and dust mites. Close your windows and outside doors. Avoid using window and attic fans during pollen season. Use air-conditioning to cool your home. Roll up your car windows when driving. Use the air-conditioning, if you need it. Dry clothing and bedding in the dryer. Don't hang them outside. Remember that pets can bring in pollen on their fur, too. Don't allow pets that spend time outdoors in your bedroom.
       
    • Get treatment. Talk to your doctor about your options, like drugs and allergy shots. They can help keep your allergies under control, no matter what the weather or the season. 
       

    For more info, go to  http://www.webmd.com/allergies/.

    5 Negotiating Tactics that can Kill a Sale

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties.

    On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid:

      

    1.  Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.
       
    2.  Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
       
    3.  “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.
       
    4.  Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.
       
    5.  Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.

    Fall Maintenance Checklist

    Written by: John Riha, HouseLogic.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon Tools icon

    You’ll be ready for winter’s worst and head off expensive repairs when you complete this checklist of 10 essential fall maintenance tasks.

      

    1. Stow the mower.


    If you’re not familiar with fuel stabilizer, you should be. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.

    Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

    Another lawn mower care method is to run your mower dry before stowing it.

    1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole.

    2. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil, which keeps pistons lubricated and ensures an easy start come spring.

    3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out accumulated grass and gunk from the mower deck.

      

    2. Don’t be a drip.

    Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.

    Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.

    While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.

      

    3. Put your sprinkler system to sleep.

    Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.

    1. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve.

    2. Shut off the automatic controller.

    3. Open drain valves to remove water from the system.

    4. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.

    If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don’t have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.

      

    4. Seal the deal.

    Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.

    Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

      

    5. De-gunk your gutters.

    Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

    If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement.

    Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

      

    6. Eyeball your roof.


    If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.

    Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately.

    Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.

    A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar — called a boot — that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.

      

    7. Direct your drainage.

    Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.

    Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.

      

    8. Get your furnace in tune.

    Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup.

    An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

    Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter. 

      

    9. Prune plants.

    Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees — when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.

    For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

      

    10. Give your fireplace a once-over.


    To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.

    Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.

    You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.

    Trinity Title DFW Hurricane Harvey Donation Drive

    Written by: DFW Marketing

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon

    In an effort to support our fellow Texans, Trinity Title of Texas DFW will be accepting donations to be delivered to Hurricane Harvey evacuees.

    We are accepting a variety of items and have also included information on various ways to get involved.





    7 Tips for Improving Your Credit

    Written by: G. M. Filisko

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Here’s how to clean up your credit so you get the least-expensive home loan possible.

    1. Know your credit score

    Credit scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher, the better. They’re based on whether you’ve paid personal loans, car loans, credit cards, and other debt in full and on time in the past. You’ll need a score of at least 620 to qualify for a home loan and 740 to get the best interest rates and terms.

    You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the major credit-reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Access all three versions of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. Review them to ensure the information is accurate.

      

    2. Correct errors on your credit report 


    If you find mistakes on your credit report, write a letter to the credit-reporting agency explaining why you believe there’s an error. Send documents that support your case, and ask that the error be corrected or removed. Also write to the company, or debt collector, that reported the incorrect information to dispute the information, and ask to be copied on any materials sent to credit-reporting agencies.

      

    3. Pay every bill on time


    You may be surprised at the damage even a few late payments will have on your credit score. The easiest way to make a big difference in your credit score without altering your spending habits is to diligently pay all your bills on time. You’ll also save money because you’ll keep the money you’ve been spending on late fees. Credit card or mortgage companies probably won’t report minor late payments, those less than 30 days overdue, but you’ll still have to pay late fees.

      

    4. Use credit carefully


    Another good way to boost your credit score is to pay your credit card bills in full every month. If you can’t do that, pay as much over your required minimum payment as possible to begin whittling away the debt. Stop using your credit cards to keep your balances from increasing, and transfer balances from high-interest credit cards to lower-interest cards.

      

    5. Take care with the length of your credit


    Credit rating agencies also consider the length of your credit history. If you’ve had a credit card for a long time and managed it responsibly, that works in your favor. However, opening several new credit cards at once can lower the average age of your accounts, which pushes down your score. Likewise, closing credit card accounts lowers your available credit, so keep credit cards open even if you’re not using them.

      

    6. Don’t use all the credit you’re offered


    Credit scores are also based on how much credit you use compared with how much you’re offered. Using $1,000 of available credit will give you a lower score than having $1,000 of available credit and using $100 of it. Occasionally opening new lines of credit can boost your available credit, which also affects your score positively.

      

    7. Be patient


    It can take time for your credit score to climb once you’ve begun working to improve it. Keep at it because the more distance you put between your spotty payment history and your current good payment record, the less damage you’ll do to your credit score.



    Source: HouseLogic.com

    Top 10 Common Repair Costs

    Written by: Lisa Kaplan Gordon, HouseLogic.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    In the life of every home, repairs happen. Here are the top 10 most common repairs that, sooner or later, your house will require.

    Congratulations on buying your first house. Now, you have to learn how to keep it in good repair. To be safe, you should set aside money every year — 1% to 3% of your home’s purchase price — for repairs and maintenance.

    The good news is that most repairs are simple, inexpensive, and DIY-friendly. If you can fix stuff yourself, you’ll only pay for the cost of materials and save a bundle on these common repairs and replacements.

    title company

    1. Replace Toilet Fill Valves


    That annoying sound of water continually filling and draining from your toilet tank is often caused by leaky fill valve, which a plumber can replace, stopping water waste and restoring quiet. Plumber rates vary widely around the country, from $45 to $150 per hour, and the job will take about two hours — the minimum some plumbers require just to take the job.

    Labor: $50 to $200

    Materials: $11 to $23

    Total: $61 to $223

    Related: Home Maintenance 101: 7 Things Every Homeowner Should Know

     

    2. Repair a Leaky Faucet

    The water torture drip-drip-drip from a leaky faucet won’t just drive you insane, it can drive up water bills, too. Depending on the type of faucet you have, fixes typically involve replacing damaged rubber washers (10 for $2), O-rings (10 for $2), or a faucet cartridge ($8 to $30).

    Labor: $95 to $300

    Materials: $2 to $30

    Total: $97 to $330

    Related: The WaterSense Label: What to Look For

     

    3. Replace Ceiling Fan

    If you’ve got a ceiling fan, sooner or later the motor will burn out, the blades will warp, and fashions will change, so you’ll need to replace it. Replacing isn’t a big deal, because upgraded wiring, a reinforced ceiling box, and a light switch with ceiling fan controls are already in place. What you’re paying for is an electrician’s time — one or two hours — and a new fixture.

    Labor: $50 to $200

    Materials: $54 to $1,000 and up

    Total: $104 to $1,200

    Related: Ceiling Fans: Know the Spin Before You Install

     

    4. Repair Drywall

    Nicks, gashes, and smashes inevitably mar your beautiful walls. You’ll have to patch and paint to make them look as good as new. A painter can do both jobs and will probably give you a flat rate that will include patching or filling blemishes, then sanding, priming, and painting.

    Painters charge $25 to $62 per hour for labor or $2.68 to $4.60 per square foot including materials. Figure it will take about three hours to repair a wall, including drying time for the patching compound and paint. It’s a good idea to save up painting chores so you have enough to keep a painter busy while repairs cure.

    Materials include paint at $12 to $50 or more a gallon, which should cover about 350 square feet; plus another $10 to $50 for brushes, rollers, drop clothes, and drywall patching compound.

    Labor: $75 to $186

    Materials: $22 to $100

    Total: $97 to $286

    Related: Patch a Drywall Hole

     

    5. Repair Cracked Tile

    Tile is hard and durable, but drop something heavy on it and it’s likely to crack — a reason to always order more tile than you need so you’ll always have spares. To replace cracked tiles, a handyman must pry out the damaged tiles, scrape away old fixative, re-glue new tiles, and spread new grout. Replacing a 2-foot-by-2-foot section of tile should take one to two hours, not including the drying time required for the adhesive to set.

    Labor: $30 to $125 per hour; with possible $150 to $350 minimum charge for a handyman

    Materials: $1 to $20 per square foot

    Total: $34 to $430

    Related: Smart Tips for Choosing Bathroom Flooring

     

    6. Replace Caulk Around Tubs, Sinks, and Showers

    Caulk is the waterproof seal around sinks, tubs, and showers that prevents moisture from seeping through gaps and onto drywall and flooring. When caulk cracks or peels, it should be replaced immediately to prevent mold and rot.

    A handyman can dig out old caulk around a tub and reseal with new in about an hour.

    Labor: $30 to $125 per hour; with possible $150 to $350 minimum charge for a handyman

    Materials: $1 to $4 for a tube of bathroom caulk

    Total: $31 to $354

    Related: How to Remove Caulk



    7. Fix Gutters

    Gutters and downspouts carry water from rain and snow away from your house and onto the ground. Sometimes the weight of wet snow and soggy leaves puts too much pressure on gutters, causing them to pull away from the house or pitch at inefficient angles.

    A gutter contractor will clean gutters, and replace or reinstall supportive hardware and hangers. To restore the correct pitch, the contractor must detach and reattach each gutter section.

    Labor: $127 to $282 (depending on length of gutter)

    Materials: $10 for five hangers; $6 to $9 for gutter sealant

    Total: $143 to $301

    Related: How to Unclog a Gutter



    8. Fix Out-of-Alignment Doors

    Over time, your house moves as its foundation settles and building materials expand and contract with changes in humidity. The movement often is noticed when doorframes shift slightly, causing hinges to creak and doors to not shut properly.

    Adding wooden shims to frames and hinges can bring doors back into alignment and let them easily open and close once again. Replacing worn-out screws with longer screws helps secure hinges tightly.

    A handyman can fix a door in about an hour. Materials will include shims and screws.

    Labor: $30 to $125 per hour; with possible $150 to $350 minimum charge for a handyman

    Materials: $5

    Total: $35 to $355

    Related: Cool Improvements: Replacing Your Interior Doors



    9. Repair Ice Damming

    If your house isn’t insulated correctly or your roof isn’t designed correctly, melting roof snow can run off and freeze around roof edges. Eventually, this can form an ice dam that creeps up your roof, damaging shingles and forcing melting water into your home.

    One popular solution to ice damming is to install a heating cable along the roof’s edge, which warms the area and prevents freezing. It’s not a DIY job. Roofing contractors will install the cable, and an electrician will install outlets that will juice up the cable. If you want a thermostat to turn the cable on and off automatically, that’ll be extra, too.

    Labor and materials: $30 to $60 per linear foot

    Total: $371 to $1,319 (average job cost)

    Related: How to Prevent Ice Dams



    10. Fix a Faulty Light Switch

    Sometimes you turn on the light but nothing happens; or sparks crackle, and the light turns on. It’s disconcerting, but most likely it’s an easy fix. An electrician will turn off the power, take off the faceplate, check and perhaps tighten wires; or replace the switch. All told, it will take less than an hour.

    Labor: $50 to $100 per hour

    Materials: $1 to $6 for a single pole light switch

    Total: $41 to $106

    Open House Activities and Ideas

    Written by: Michelle Nelson

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Tools icon

    Open houses accomplish win-win scenarios. Sellers are happy because of the exposure, Agents are thrilled to have happy Seller’s and the leads for more potential buyers and sellers.

    The National Association of Realtors says that 45% of all buyers used Open Houses as a part of their home search process.* Open houses accomplish win-win scenarios. Sellers are happy because of the exposure, Agents are thrilled to have happy Seller’s and the leads for more potential buyers and sellers. Below you’ll find a list of ideas to help you make the most of your open house should you decide to have one.
     

    OPEN HOUSE ACTIVITIES AND IDEAS

    1. 5 or more days in advance: Advertise the Open House on Zillow, Truila, Realtor.com, Austin Home Search (or your local area app) and Craiglist. Use a free service like  postlets.com to create a digital flyer to host.
       
    2. 4 or more days in advance: Put up a yard sign with the date and time of the Open House and invite the neighbors.
       
    3. Give the Sellers of list of items to prepare for the open house. Download ideas here.
       
    4. Have a sign in sheet or use an app like Open Home Pro to capture attendee’s names for prospecting and have a report for your sellers.
       
    5. Have a Welcome “Yes, This is the Right House” sign for the front door.
      Perhaps a “Please Remove Your Shoes” sign as well if the Sellers have requested it.
       
    6. Set up a “Knowledge Center” that has information about the home and the surrounding area. Use an app like AroundMe to find all the hot spots surrounding your listing. Also leave CMA’s and light refreshments in this area.
       
    7. Consider having a sheet that lists repairs and improvements, with dates as well as a list of the average monthly utility costs.
       
    8. Create little place cards to show off unique features and details to place around the house.
       
    9. Replace personal photos with framed images of local landmarks and landscapes. Check with your Trinity Title Rep for images and ideas.
       
    10. Create a flyer about yourself for buyers that may have a home to sell. “If you like what you’ve seen at this Open House… I would be happy to visit with you about listing yours!”
       
    11. Connect with visitors by making your open house interactive. Instead of the usual walkthrough, give each guest a clipboard questionnaire to solicit their feedback. Keep it simple; ask them to rate individual rooms, rate the overall feel of the home, rate the home’s curb appeal – whatever you want! It’ll motivate visitors to view the entire home and notice any features they may have glossed over otherwise. Plus, it will provide valuable info for you and your sellers.
       
    12. Leave a report for the Sellers. Let them know how many people attended and what the response was.
       
    13. Follow Up with your attendees.
       

    Follow up is important, more than once, twice or even three times with a potential
    client. Be sure to ask Qualifying Questions of buyers. Are you working with an agent?
    What is your time frame? Do you have a home to sell? Will you need financing? 

      

    Sales.jpg

    SOURCES:
    *2013 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

    http://marketing.realtor.com/star/2013/OpenHouse/OpenHouse.html
    http://blog.rismedia.com/2014/open-house-tips/
    http://www.trulia.com/pro/buyers/open-house-ideas-modern-agent/

    Keep Your Home Sale from Falling Apart

    Written by: G. M. Filisko, HouseLogic.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    After finding a buyer, all you have to do to make it to closing is to avoid these five traps.

    Finding a buyer for your home is just the first step on the homeselling path. Tread carefully in the weeks ahead because if you make one of these common seller mistakes, your deal may not close.

      

    Mistake #1: Ignore Contingencies

    If your contract requires you to do something before the sale, do it. If the buyers make the sale contingent on certain repairs, don’t do cheap patch-jobs and expect the buyers not to notice the fixes weren’t done properly.

      

    Mistake #2: Don’t Bother to Fix Things That Break

    The last thing any seller needs is for the buyers to notice on the pre-closing walk-through that the home isn’t in the same condition as when they made their offer. When things fall apart in a home about to be purchased, sellers must make the repairs. If the furnace fails, get a professional to fix it, and inform the buyers that the work was done. When you fail to maintain the home, the buyers may lose confidence in your integrity and the condition of the home and back out of the sale.

      

    Mistake #3: Get Lax About Deadlines

    Treat deadlines as sacrosanct. If you have three days to accept or reject the home inspection, make your decision within three days. If you’re selling, move out a few days early, so you can turn over the keys at closing.

      

    Mistake #4: Refuse to Negotiate Any Further

    Once you’ve negotiated a price, it’s natural to calculate how much you’ll walk away with from the closing table. However, problems uncovered during inspections will have to be fixed. The appraisal may come in at a price below what the buyers offered to pay. Be prepared to negotiate with the buyers over these bottom-line-influencing issues.

      

    Mistake #5: Hide Liens from Buyers

    Did you neglect to mention that Uncle Sam has placed a tax lien on your home or you owe six months of homeowners association fees? The title search is going to turn up any liens filed on your house. To sell your house, you have to pay off the lien (or get the borrower to agree to pay it off). If you can do that with the sales proceeds, great. If not, the sale isn’t going to close.

    From Decorating to Home Staging

    Written by: Breakthroughbroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Once you've decided to put your home on the market, you're looking to sell quickly for the best possible price. One tactic that can help sell your home faster is staging.

    Once you've decided to put your home on the market, you're looking to sell quickly for the best possible price. One tactic that can help sell your home faster is staging. At first, staging may seem like a real estate term that doesn't actually mean anything. Isn't staging just decorating? Well, not exactly…

    Appeal to the masses

    Your home is likely decorated to your tastes. It could be colorful and eclectic, or rugged and industrial. But when you're staging your home, rather than appealing to a specific decorating sense, you want to furnish your home in a way that appeals to everyone-and more importantly, doesn't turn anyone off who just isn't into your personal style.

    Tone down the personal flourishes

    Buyers want to be able see themselves in a home and imagine how they'd make it their own. Unfortunately, that means less of your own style as you're preparing for your move. Cut down on family photos, bold artwork, and unusual furniture. Do some major decluttering so the buyer can see all the space and storage opportunities. It may be sad to start removing the items that make your house a home, but it's an important part of the process.

    Mass appeal doesn't mean “boring"

    Your staged home can still be colorful, just stay away from extremes. If you paint, stick to whites, grays, or neutrals. Add flourishes of color with window treatments or accent furniture, but try to choose items that will appeal to both genders.

    Call a pro

    There are likely several staging companies in your area. If you need a recommendation, reach out to your trusted real estate professional.

    Meet Lori Criss

    Written by: Trinity Title Marketing DFW

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon

    Meet Lori Criss, an Escrow Officer with Trinity Title of Texas in Fort Worth!



    Lori Criss brings 14+ years of experience to Trinity Title of Texas.

    At the start of her career, she worked for a title company that dealt with a production builder. Within a year of starting, Lori was able to become a licensed escrow officer. Lori had been an escrow officer in Dallas her entire career, until finding Trinity Title of Texas in Fort Worth. She specializes in closing lenders and builders but has started building business with realtors here in Fort Worth.

    When asked what she thought set Trinity Title of Texas apart from other title companies Lori noted that “Trinity Title is a Christian based company who stands by their values. Trinity cares about our clients and loves to get to know them better.”

    In her free time, Lori loves to spend time with her family. She enjoys camping on the weekends and dove/turkey hunting season. 

    We are so glad to have you on our team, Lori!

    8 Tips for Finding Your New Home

    Written by: G. M. Filisko, HouseLogic.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    A solid game plan can help you narrow your homebuying search to find the best home for you.

    House hunting is just like any other shopping expedition. If you identify exactly what you want and do some research, you’ll zoom in on the home you want at the best price. These eight tips will guide you through a smart homebuying process.

    1. Know thyself.

    Understand the type of home that suits your personality. Do you prefer a new or existing home? A ranch or a multistory home? If you’re leaning toward a fixer-upper, are you truly handy, or will you need to budget for contractors?

    2. Research before you look.

    List the features you most want in a home and identify which are necessities and which are extras. Identify three to four neighborhoods you’d like to live in based on commute time, schools, recreation, crime, and price. Then hop onto REALTOR.com to get a feel for the homes available in your price range in your favorite neighborhoods. Use the results to prioritize your wants and needs so you can add in and weed out properties from the inventory you’d like to view.

    3. Get your finances in order.

    Generally, lenders say you can afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. Create a budget so you know how much you’re comfortable spending each month on housing. Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to investigate financing.

    Gather your financial records and meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter spelling out how much you’re eligible to borrow. The lender won’t necessarily consider the extra fees you’ll pay when you purchase or your plans to begin a family or purchase a new car, so shop in a price range you’re comfortable with. Also, presenting an offer contingent on financing will make your bid less attractive to sellers.

    4. Set a moving timeline.

    Do you have blemishes on your credit that will take time to clear up? If you already own, have you sold your current home? If not, you’ll need to factor in the time needed to sell. If you rent, when is your lease up? Do you expect interest rates to jump anytime soon? All these factors will affect your buying, closing, and moving timelines.

    5. Think long term.

    Your future plans may dictate the type of home you’ll buy. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in the home for five to 10 years? With a starter, you may need to adjust your expectations. If you plan to nest, be sure your priority list helps you identify a home you’ll still love years from now.

    6. Work with a REALTOR®.

    Ask people you trust for referrals to a real estate professional they trust. Interview agents to determine which have expertise in the neighborhoods and type of homes you’re interested in. Because homebuying triggers many emotions, consider whether an agent’s style meshes with your personality.

    Also ask if the agent specializes in buyer representation. Unlike listing agents, whose first duty is to the seller, buyers’ reps work only for you even though they’re typically paid by the seller. Finally, check whether agents are REALTORS®, which means they’re members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. NAR has been a champion of homeownership rights for more than a century.

    7. Be realistic.

    It’s OK to be picky about the home and neighborhood you want, but don’t be close-minded, unrealistic, or blinded by minor imperfections. If you insist on living in a cul-de-sac, you may miss out on great homes on streets that are just as quiet and secluded.

    On the flip side, don’t be so swayed by a “wow” feature that you forget about other issues -- like noise levels -- that can have a big impact on your quality of life. Use your priority list to evaluate each property, remembering there’s no such thing as the perfect home.

    8. Limit the opinions you solicit.

    It’s natural to seek reassurance when making a big financial decision. But you know that saying about too many cooks in the kitchen. If you need a second opinion, select one or two people. But remain true to your list of wants and needs so the final decision is based on criteria you’ve identified as important.

    Priority Tasks for Your Move In

    Written by: Breakthroughbroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you're probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first.

    Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you're probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first.

    Change the locks

    Even if you're promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It's worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money.

    Steam clean the carpets

    It's good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It's pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner-your local grocery store may have them available.

    Call an exterminator

    Prior to move-in, you probably haven't spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home.

    Clean out the kitchen

    If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances.

    Avoid These Two Big Mortgage Mistakes

    Written by: Breakthroughbroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    We all know that searching for and viewing potential homes is the fun part of the home-buying process. The not-so-fun part? The mortgage.

    We all know that searching for and viewing potential homes is the fun part of the home-buying process. The not-so-fun part? The mortgage.

    But if you don't pay attention to the details, your mortgage can end up dragging down the enjoyment of your new home and cause some major regrets. Here are a few mistakes to avoid to ensure that you love your mortgage terms as much as your hew home.

    Don't find your home first: Shopping around for the best mortgage rate should be the first step in the home buying process. You may even want to talk to a mortgage broker a full year before you plan to buy. It'll give you time to get your affairs in order to qualify for the best rate, could save you thousands of dollars in the long run, and you won't feel rushed to accept an unattractive loan because you're worried you'll miss out on your dream home.

    Don't forget your real budget: There's often a big difference between what a lender says you can afford and what you can actually afford. Your debt-to-income ratio doesn't include the money you spend on hobbies, or the cost of commuting to work, or maintenance and utility costs. Really sit down and examine your spending before committing to the loan amount the lender is offering. You won't enjoy your home nearly as much if it's eating into your favorite hobbies.

    Where to Watch Fireworks in San Antonio!

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon

    Not sure where to enjoy the 4th? We've got a complete list of free places to catch some great festivals and fireworks displays!

    June 26–July 4

    Big Splash 4th of July Week at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park-Camp Resort (Canyon Lake)—Happy Birthday, America! Help celebrate American heritage big time with red, white, and blue crafts and tie dye, the 4th of July Bike Parade with Yogi Bear™, Cindy Bear™, and Boo Boo™! Enjoy karaoke, the best-decorated site contest, and everything else that is Jellystone Park™. On Sunday morning you can enjoy a delicious, all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. Schedules available for June 25–30 and June 29–July 4. Reservations required.

    Saturday, July 1

    4th of July Celebration, 10:00 A.M.–6:00 P.M. at Downtown and Comfort Park (Comfort)—Parade begins at 10:00 A.M., followed by BBQ in the park and then live music, food trucks, and raffles starting at 2:00 P.M. Free.

    4th of July Celebration, 12:00 P.M.–12:30 A.M. at Convention & Civic Center (Pearsall)—Featuring country singer, songwriter, and producer Kyle Park.

    Independence Day Celebration, 6:00–10:00 P.M. at Helotes Municipal Complex (Helotes)—This event includes a free concert by the Helotes Area Community Band, a bouncy slide, food vendors, family-friendly activities, and fireworks at dusk. Arrive early to grab your spot and enjoy free hot dogs, ice cream, and apple pie (while supplies last). Families are encouraged to bring chairs/blankets, food, and drinks. Free.

    Freedom Fiesta, 6:30 P.M.–midnight at Central Park (Seguin)—Presented by Seguin Radio KWED. Food, games, and kiddie parade. Musical entertainment by Broken Duckfeet.

    July 1 & 2

    Freedom Fest, 12:00–7:00 P.M. at Historic Market Square—A fun-filled weekend event good for the entire family. Enjoy delicious food, artisan crafts, live music, dancing for everyone, and much more. Call (210) 207-8600 for more information. Free.

    July 2–4

    4th of July Festivities at Central Park (Seguin)—Patriotic concert on Sunday at 7:00 P.M. Fireworks Fiesta on Monday at 9:30 P.M. Get the best view of the spectacular firework display at Seguin Starcke Park or surrounding area. It’s sure to be a big hit with an awesome finale. Flag-raising ceremony and parade on Tuesday beginning at 9:00 A.M. Free.

    July 4th Fest at Six Flags Fiesta Texas–Present a can of any Coca-Cola® product along with a park admission or Season Pass, and you’ll receive exclusive early access to select rides one hour before the park opens, from 9:30 A.M. to 10:30 A.M. each day. Lights of Liberty is scheduled to begin at 9:15 P.M. on all three days and can be best viewed in Lone Star Lil’s. Event is included with park admission.

    Tuesday, July 4

    City of San Antonio 4th of July Celebration, 8:00 A.M.–9:30 P.M. at Woodlawn Lake Park—Families are invited to participate in a fun-filled day of games, food, and musical entertainment. Event begins with Zumbathon and races, followed by children’s parade at 11:00 A.M. Fireworks extravaganza begins at 9:30 P.M. Free.

    Jubilee 2017, 9:00 A.M.–10:00 P.M. at Pickrell Park (Schertz)—Enjoy the Freedom 5K, parade, carnival, live music, fireworks, and much more! Watermelon eating contest for kids ages 5 to 18. Grab tickets for the coolest seat in the house for just $3 (gets you into Pickrell Park Pool to enjoy the fireworks display). Free.

    4th of July Celebration, 9:00 A.M.–4:00 P.M. at Morgan’s Wonderland—Free food for guests will be offered from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. while supplies last. Hot dogs and apple pie will be served, sodas, and bottled water will cost a dollar. Military members, first responders, and their immediate families who present valid ID cards at the Welcome Center can obtain a special discounted admission of $9 per person. Individuals with special needs and children ages two and younger are always admitted free of charge.

    Fourth of July Parade & Program, 9:15–11:00 A.M. at Main Plaza (New Braunfels)—The Sophienburg presents the perfect small town parade followed by and patriotic program. The parade kicks off at 9:15 A.M. with a flyover by Commemorative Air Force. Bring the family and your lawn chairs and enjoy plenty of flag-waving and patriotic music to celebrate America’s birthday. Free.

    Independence Day Celebration, 9:30 A.M.–4:30 P.M. at the Alamo—Music, living history, readings of the Declaration of Independence, photo opps with reenacts, and more. Free.

    4th of July Parade & BBQ, 10:00 A.M.–1:00 P.M. at Great Northwest Community Improvement Association—Line up on Timber Path road to watch the parade 10:00 A.M. from Zachry Middle School and ends at the Silver Creek Lodge. Stick around after the parade for a BBQ pool party. Free hot dogs, chips, and lemonade will be served at the Silver Creek Pool (first come, first serve). Free.

    Stinson Commemorative Air Force Independence Day Celebration, 10:00 A.M.–2:00 P.M. at Stinson Municipal Airport—Vintage military aircraft on display and available for flights and tours. Event also includes free family fair, music, children’s activities, and exhibits. Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for children under 12; $20 for a family of five.

    4th of July Festival & Fireworks Spectacular Celebration, 10:00 A.M. to dusk at Raymond Rimkus Park (Leon Valley)—Food, drinks, music, and carnival all day. Parade starts at 10:00 A.M. Fireworks begin at dusk. Absolutely no outside food, beverages, ice chests, or fire arms allowed. Free.

    Red, White and Blues, 12:00–6:00 P.M. at The Historic Pearl—Featuring music by Jackie Vensen, Nakia and the Blues Grifters, and Will Owen Gage. Celebrate the holiday with a picnic, live music, family activities, water park dance contest, hula-hoop demos, and more. Free

    Fireworks in the Park, 2:00–10:00 P.M. at Friendship Park (Kirby)—Event includes a car show, live music, kids activities, food, fellowship, fun, and fireworks. Free.

    Robert Earl Keen’s Fourth on the River, 2:00–10:00 P.M. at Louise Hays Park (Kerrville)—Live musical performances starting at 4:00 P.M. Robert Earl Keen performs at 8:00 P.M. Largest fireworks display in the Hill Country starts at 9:30 P.M. Free.

    4th of July Firework Extravaganza & Car Show, 6:00–11:00 P.M. at San Antonio Raceway—Celebrate with fireworks and cars! The car show categories on display will include: street car, door car, race car (dragsters, fuel altered, etc.), drift car, truck. Free.

    SummerFest, 6:00–10:00 P.M. at San Marcos Plaza Park (San Marcos)—Celebration will feature live music, a children’s parade, a patriotic costume contest, food vendors, and a grand finale fireworks display. Free.

    Movie Night at the Park & Fireworks, 6:00–11:00 P.M. at Somerset City Park (Somerset)—Free food and activities for the family, followed by fireworks. Event includes an outdoor screening of the movie Sing. Bring picnics, lawn chairs, and blankets. Free.

    H-E-B 4th of July Spectacular, 6:30–10:00 P.M. at Landa Park (New Braunfels)—Event features live music starting at 6:30 P.M. and fireworks over Landa Lake at 9:30 P.M. Come early, bring a picnic, and enjoy the show. Free.

    4th of July Fireworks, 7:00–10:00 P.M. at San Antonio Botanical Garden—An amazing view in a beautiful garden setting. Fireworks start at dusk. Bring your own picnic or purchase from The Box Street Social’s delicious menu, including beer and wine. General admission applies ($10–$12). Members receive free admission.

    Fourth of July Fireworks, 8:00 P.M. at Boerne City Park (Boerne)—Fireworks will start a little after dark. The fireworks can be viewed in many places around Boerne, but the best place is Boerne City Park. Bring chairs, picnics, and your American spirit! Free.

    Fireworks Spectacular at SeaWorld San Antonio–Witness a colorful fireworks display at Ski Lake. This stunning mix of pyrotechnics set to a triumphant musical score will begin at 9:45 P.M. all three days. Prior to the show, guests can enjoy live music and entertainment for all ages. Event is included with park admission.

    Source: Alamo City Moms Blog

    Hidden Homeowner Costs

    Written by: Breakthroughbroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Budgeting for buying a home can be difficult enough when you're just weighing mortgage options and a purchase price. But there are many other factors that go into the cost of home ownership.

    Budgeting for buying a home can be difficult enough when you're just weighing mortgage options and a purchase price. But there are many other factors that go into the cost of home ownership. Some of them are one-time expenses that you'll pay during the home buying process, while others will be recurring costs for as long as you own the home.

    Closing costs

    There are several smaller fees that add up to a rather large sum when you're going through the closing process-loan fees, attorney fees, underwriting fees, and more. They typically add up to 2-5% of the purchase price. For a $300,000 home-roughly the national median-that's in the neighborhood of $10,000, so be sure to budget for it.

    Appraisal

    Your lender will require an appraisal, and the appraisal fee (a few hundred dollars) comes out of your pocket. Inspection

    The few hundred dollars you'll pay for a home inspection is money well spent, but it's something you have to keep in mind during the purchase process. You'll have the peace of mind of knowing the house is free from any major issues, and you're making a smart, solid investment.

    Insurance

    Although homeowners insurance isn't legally required, it'll almost certainly be required by your lender. Further insurance, such as flood insurance, may also be required (depending on your location).

    Home Owners Association

    If you're living in a property or community with shared spaces, you'll almost certainly have an HOA fee. This pays for things like trash removal, maintenance of common areas, and for recreational facilities like gyms and swimming pools.

    Free Summer Movies in San Antonio

    Written by: Trinity Title of Texas

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon

    Summer is almost here and before you know it, the kids will be out of school and looking for something to do. Get the family together and check out some of these free movies!

    Click here to download a printable copy!

    Movies By Moonlight at Travis Park

    301 E. Travis
    7:30 p.m. pre-entertainment
    8:30 p.m. showtime

    June 6 - Moana

    June 13 - Secret Life of Pets

    June 20 - Space Jam

    June 27 - Surf’s Up

    July 11 - Finding Dory

    July 18 - Storks

    July 25 - The Little Mermaid

    August 1 - Zootopia

      


      

    Bulverde Community Park

    29815 Bulverde Lane
    Bulverde, TX 78163
    Movie starts at sunset

    May 12 - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    June 9 - The Secret Life of Pets

    July 14 - Finding Dory

      


      

    Helotes City Hall

    12951 Bandera Rd.
    Helotes, TX 78023
    Movie starts at sunset

    May 19 - Finding Dory

    June 16 - The Secret Life of Pets

    July 21 - Pete’s Dragon

    August 18 - Moana

    September 15 - The Jungle Book

     


       

    Mission Marquee Plaza

    3100 Roosevelt Ave.
    Movie starts at sunset

    May 6 - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    May 18 - The Outsiders

    May 20 - Moana

    June 3 - Viva Poesia

    June 10 - The Jungle Book

    June 15 - Sixteen Candles

    June 17 - Trolls

    July 8 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    July 17 - The Princess Bride

    July 22 - SING

    August 5 - Star Trek: Beyond

    August 17 - North by Northwest

    August 19 - Zootopia

      


      

    Alamo Heights Pool

    Nature Trails Park
    (Next to Heights Pool)
    Movie starts at sunset

    July 14 - SING

    August 14 - Skull Island

      


      

    Santikos Free Movies

    Every Tuesday & Wednesday @ 10 am
    At Palladium IMAX, Silverado, Mayan Palace, Embassy, Rialto, Northwest Theatre

    June 6 & 7 - Kubo & the Two Strings

    June 13 & 14 - Trolls

    June 20 & 21 - Angry Birds Movie

    June 27 & 28 - Secret Life of Pets

    July 11 & 12 - LEGO Batman Movie

    July 18 & 19 - SING

    July 25 & 26 - Storks

    August 1 & 2 - Minions

      

    All information based on available data and is subject to change.

    10 Free Ways to Generate Leads

    Written by: Trinity Title of Texas

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    The only way to put food on the table in this business is to generate leads...

    Click here to download a PDF copy!

      

    And to generate leads you need to prospect. But you’re new, broke, and don’t have a clue where to start. Here are some proven tips from successful Real Estate Agents who were new once too. Remember that devoting just 1 hour a day to lead generation can put you at the top of the stats and keep you there consistently.

      

    Open Houses

    Advertise with a sign in the yard for at least a week
    • Invite the neighbors over for an exclusive time before the actual open house
    • Get contact info on feedback sheets or with a cool Open House Pro app
    • Follow up!

     Door Knocking - Consistently

    • Door knock for at least 1 hour each time out
    • Make a commitment to at least 25 doors at a time
    • Books appointments for later times
    • Typical results are 1 appointments for every 50 doors knocked

     Call Your Sphere of Influence

    • Send out introduction letter /email first then follow up with call
    • List 100 people who would say HI if they saw you at HEB
    • Call 5 per day
    • Typical results are 1 lead for every 50 calls

     Call Your Past Clients

    • Easy to call someone you already did business with and ask for the referral
    • Follow up with a personal thank you note for taking time to talk to them

    Call Duty!

    • FREE incoming calls – they want information
    • FOLLOW UP!
    • Put them in your database

    Cold Calling: FSBO/Expired Listings

    • Do not leave a message if the person isn’t home. 
    • Follow up if they are interested

    Use Facebook

    • Comment on your clients activities. 
    • Offer advice 
    • Ask a lot of stimulating questions
    • Keep at it! It doesn’t happen over night
    • Mix it up and DO NOT TALK ABOUT REAL ESTATE ALL THE TIME! 
    • Never brag on yourself. It’s all about THEM not YOU! 
    • 80% personal and 20% business 
    • Set up a neighborhood FB page/group exclusively for the neighbors to engage with each other 
    • Harness the Power of a Picture

    Use Craigslist

    • Post ads for target markets: Foreclosures, types of properties, neighborhoods, ethnic groups, etc.
    • Post in Spanish to capture target market
    • The headline must be short, related to the target audience and attention-grabbing
    • Don’t have listings? Ask another agent to market their listing. Or ask a builder permission to marketing their community and homes.

    Leadsblog23.jpg

    Get Active in Something You Already Love to Do

    • Skydiving, Art, Sign Language, Wine tasting, book club, etc.
    • People do business with others who have a common interest .
     

    Network!

    • Attend weekly or monthly networking groups and ASK for the referral 
    • Refer business to others

    Trinity Title of Texas Opening Day 2017

    Written by:

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon

    We had such a great time celebrating Opening Day 2017 with our Trinity Title of Texas family and our Texas Rangers. Thank you to all our sponsors who made this event such a success!

    Connect with Trinity Title DFW on Facebook!

    6 Tips for a Perfect Lawn

    Written by: HouseLogic.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    April is lawn season and these six tricks will get your lawn on track for summer!

    perfect lawn info graphic

    April is prime lawn growing season and the perfect time to do some basic lawn maintenance, according to Grass Seed USA, the trade association for seed and turf farmers. They recommend six steps to get your lawn summer-ready:

    1. Rake

    Raking your lawn removes dead grass, leftover winter leaves, and other debris, allowing you to control thatch and see bare or worn areas that need attention. It also permits new, young grass to grow more easily and increases soil contact when seeding

    2. Test your soil

    Doing a soil test is simple and inexpensive (do-it-yourself kits are available at your local garden center), and it provides valuable information about your soil’s current pH level. Simple amendments like lime or sulfur can be added to neutralize overly acidic or alkaline soil and help your grass thrive.

    3. Aerate

    Older or heavily trafficked lawns can suffer from soil compaction. A core aerator with hollow tines will pull small plugs of soil out of the ground, allowing increased movement of water, nutrients, and oxygen into the soil. Lawn aeration can also increase the soil contact with new seeds and improve the success rate of new growth. You can rent an aerator or hire a professional to aerate your lawn for you.

    4. Seed

    Spring offers optimal conditions for establishing new lawn spaces or repairing thin or bare patches in existing lawns. Expanding your current lawn or repairing high-traffic areas will allow the grass to grow in healthy and strong before summer, when the lawn will likely experience the heaviest use. For best results, talk to a turf specialist at a garden store or your local university extension office to help you select the right seed for your area and usage. After you plant the new seed, water lightly but regularly to make sure the reseeded areas stay damp until the new grass grows in. Applying a starter fertilizer is an option, though not required.

    5. Control weeds  

    The best way to control weeds is to maintain a healthy, lush lawn, which will in turn squeeze out the weeds. If, however, you experience problems with crabgrass or dandelions, herbicides may help. Talk to a local garden specialist about which herbicide is right for your lawn and the best way to apply it. Applying a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring before weed grass emerges can reduce problems down the line. Herbicides can kill grass seeds, so if you’ve applied seed you’ll want to make sure you use a product that will not affect new growth. For dandelions, digging them up is often an effective solution. If not, a broadleaf herbicide can be applied.

    6. Tune up your lawn mower

    Get ready for the first mow by giving your lawn mower a tune-up. Keep it running smoothly by changing the oil, changing the spark plug, swapping out or cleaning the air filter, and sharpening the blade. Most lawns are ready to be mowed when the grass reaches a height of 3 inches, although newly seeded areas or recently overseeded existing lawns should be mowed closer to 2 inches until the new grass is established. Remember to mow with a frequency that allows you to cut less than one-third the height of the grass. An easy-to-follow rule is to let it grow no taller than 3 inches and cut it to no shorter than 2 inches.

    10 Cardinal Rules for Buying a Home

    Written by: Trinity Title of Texas

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    These 10 Cardinal Rules home buyers must follow may seem like common sense to many. However, buyers can sometimes forget with all the excitement surrounding the buying of their new home.

    1. Do not change jobs, become self-employed or quit your job.
    2. Do not buy a car, truck or van (or you may be living in it!).
    3. Do not use charge cards excessively or let your accounts fall behind.
    4. Do not spend your money you have set aside for closing.
    5. Do not omit debts or liabilities from your loan application.
    6. Do not buy furniture.
    7. Do not originate any inquiries onto your credit.
    8. Do not make large deposits without first checking with your loan officer.
    9. Do not change bank accounts.
    10. Do not co-sign on a loan for anyone.

       

    If you are in the process of buying a home, remember that your credit must not change or be affected in any way until you actually sign the paperwork and get possession of your new home. Lenders will not only look into your credit when you first get pre-approved, they will check it again (and sometimes again and again) before they let you sign the mortgage. If you want to buy new furniture for your home or change jobs, just be patient. There will always be time to do it after the closing.

    Why You Need Title Insurance

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    When you buy a home, you want to be certain it’s safely yours.

    When you buy a home, you want to be certain it’s safely yours. But even the most diligent search of the public records could fail to disclose a number of title defects.

      

    Defects may include a forged will or deed. A title transfer by someone under age or a married person conveying real estate without his or her spouse. Fraudulent impersonations, invalid divorces and false affidavits. These are just a few of the problems that can suddenly surface. Without the protection of title insurance, you’ll be in jeopardy of losing your investment.

       

    Title Company

    A service known as a title search describes, as well as possible, the condition and quality of the title to the land you are buying. Then, your title insurance protects you against mistakes or threats that might otherwise result in financial loss to you including hidden, unknown items. 

      

    Your Coverage: Your title insurance protection is a permanent assurance that your ownership and use will be defended promptly against claims at no cost to you, whether the claim is valid or not. 

      

    The Lenders Coverage: If a mortgage is to be placed on your new home, the mortgage lender will probably require that you purchase title insurance to protect the institution’s position as a holder of a mortgage loan. However, this mortgagee’s title insurance policy doesn’t protect you, the homeowner. You need an owner’s title insurance policy to protect your investment. 

      

    You pay only once. There are no renewal premiums, and there is no expiration date on the policy. Yet the protection lasts as long as you, or your heirs, retain an interest in the property.

    Property Tax Remedies

    Written by: Michelle Nelson

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    If you feel the market value of your property is lower than the appraised value, then you should protest. If you are not sure what the appropriate market value for your property is, contact your real estate agent. An agent can access real time comps to help you determine the correct market value of your property. 

    Property Tax Remedies

    When you purchased your property, you likely had it appraised first. This single fee appraisal is very specific to your property. When it comes to property tax appraisal values, the appraisal districts usually use a mass appraisal technique. Both types of appraisals utilize the same basic principles and theories. However, mass appraisals span the entire county, appraising market areas, neighborhoods, subdivisions, and large groupings of similar properties all at one time. Dealing with this type of aggregate data over a large area can result in a few unanticipated discrepancies.

    Here are some things you can look out for:

    Receiving Your Notice of Valuation

    •  Appraisal districts must send required notices by May 1, or by April 1 if your property is a residential homestead.

    •  You should verify the appraisal is for the correct property (Lot Size or Legal Description) and that any exemptions filed are included in the assessment. (Homestead, Over 65, etc.)

    •  If you think the assessment of your home is higher than it should be, you should challenge it immediately. You generally have 30 days to inform the appraisal district of your intent to protest. (In Travis County, you must file by May 31.) Procedures for protest are outlined on the notification.

    Should I Protest?

    •  If you feel the market value of your property is lower than the appraised value, then you should protest. If you are not sure what the appropriate market value for your property is, contact your real estate agent. An agent can access real time comps to help you determine the correct market value of your property.

    How to Protest

    •  Protests must be submitted in writing. Any format is accepted as long as it identifies the owner and the property, as well as states that the owner disagrees with the valuation made. Most counties also offer forms or e-file capabilities.

    •  The benefit of online protesting is that appraisal district staffers can review your information and decide whether to offer you a settlement without you having to attend a hearing at all.

    •  If fill out the form, pay particular attention to which check box or boxes you use stating the reason for your protest. This will affect what kind of evidence you can present later on. If you believe, your assessed value is incorrect, make sure to mark “Value is unequal compared with other properties.”

    Travis County: traviscad.organd click on “E-File”
    Williamson County:wcad.organd click on “Online Protests”
    Hays County: hayscad.com

    Prepare for Protest Hearing

    •  First, be prepared to wait. It can often take several months for the appraisal district to schedule an informal hearing. The purpose of this informal hearing is for you to present any evidence you have to support your claim that they have over-valued your property. The following evidence could be valuable for your hearing.

    •  Comparable Market Analysis: A comparison of recent sales for homes that are similar to your property in size, age, location and type of construction. Work with your real estate agent to obtain the most recent comps in your area.

    •  Documentation of your properties condition: Do you have foundation issues or other conditions that would adversely affect your properties value? If so, take photos and bring them with you to your hearing.

    •  Documentation of your properties location: Bring any documentation concerning the location of your property that could adversely affect it’s value to present at the hearing.

    •  Closing Statement, recent appraisals or engineer’s report: If you recently purchased your property and the purchase price or fee appraisal was lower than the current assessed value, bring a copy of your settlement statement or other reports from closing.

    What is an ARB?

    •  The ARB (Appraisal District Board) is a board of citizens that hears the property owner protests. It has the power to order the Appraisal District to make changes. The ABR has several options: grant your request, refer you to a hearing of the entire board, schedule a physical inspection of your property, or deny your request. If you are denied, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the Appraisal District.

    •  The Appraisal District is responsible for setting the appraised value; they have nothing to do with the tax rate.

    •  Bring extra copies of your supporting documentation to leave with the ARB.

    More Information


    http://www.traviscad.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/PropertyTaxpayerRemedies_2016-1.pdf

    http://projects.statesman.com/news/tax-protest-flowchart/

    Fiesta 2017 Event Schedule

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon Press icon

    From parades to carnival rides, there’s something for everyone. So bring the whole family. Fiesta® San Antonio is waiting for you!

      

    Click here to download a printable version!

      

    APRIL 20, 2017


    5 – 9 PM
    Fiesta® Fiesta at Hemisfair
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Hemisfair
    434 S Alamo St

    6 PM – 11 PM
    Fiesta® Carnival
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Alamodome
    Parking Lot C
    100 Montana St.

      

    APRIL 21, 2017


    9 AM
    JBSA-Lackland Fiesta® Military Parade
    37th Training Wing, JBSA-Lackland
    JBSA-Lackland Parade Grounds
    1820 Bong St.

    9 AM – 1 PM
    Senior Fiesta®
    Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of San Antonio, Inc.
    Wonderland of the Americas Mall
    4522 Fredericksburg Road

    10 AM – 5 PM
    Natural Beauty: Fiesta of Land, Water, and Sky Exhibition at the Witte Museum
    Witte Museum
    Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway

    10 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square
    Rey Feo Educational Foundation
    Market Square
    514 West Commerce St.

    11 AM – 3 PM
    Fiesta® UTSA
    University of Texas at San Antonio
    UTSA Sombrilla Plaza
    One UTSA Circle

    5 PM – 11 PM
    Fiesta Oyster Bake®
    St. Mary’s University Alumni Association
    St. Mary’s University
    One Camino Santa Maria

    5 PM – 12 AM
    Taste of New Orleans
    San Antonio Zulu Association (SAZA)
    Sunken Garden Theater
    3875 N. St. Mary’s St.

    5 PM – 12 AM
    Fiesta® Carnival
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Alamodome, Parking Lot C
    100 Montana St.

    5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    Crown The King!
    Public Crowning of Rey Feo
    Rey Feo Educational Foundation
    Main Plaza, 115 West Main Plaza

    5:30 PM – 11:30 PM
    Alamo Heights Night®
    Alamo Heights Rotary Club
    University of the Incarnate Word
    4301 Broadway

    7 PM – 12 AM
    Rey Feo Crown Celebration
    Rey Feo Consejo Educational Foundation
    Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
    Lonesome Dove Room, 200 E. Market St.

    7:30 PM – 12 PM
    WEBB Party
    San Antonio AIDS Foundation
    The Bonham Exchange
    411 Bonham Street

    8 PM – 1 AM
    Fiesta® Masquerade Party
    Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
    Psi Alpha Chapter
    Hilton Garden Inn
    8101 Pat Booker Road

    8 PM
    Fiesta® POPS
    San Antonio Symphony
    The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
    100 Auditorium Circle

      

    APRIL 22, 2017


    7 AM – 1 PM
    Fiesta Especial® 5K
    Reaching Maximum Independence, Inc.
    Windcrest City Hall, 8601 Midcrown

    7 AM – 2 PM
    Walk for Autism
    Any Baby Can of San Antonio
    Helotes Cornyval Grounds
    12210 Leslie Road

    8 AM
    Fiesta® Mission 10K Run
    San Antonio Road Runners
    Mission County Park #1
    6030 Padre Dr

    8 AM – 11 AM
    Caminada de Fiesta®
    Texas Wanderers
    Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
    10750 Pleasanton Rd.

    8 AM – 5 PM
    Texas Corvette Association Car Show
    SJRC Texas
    Boerne Main Plaza, Main Street

    8 AM – 8 PM
    Fiesta® Women’s & Co-Ed Soccer Tournament
    Women’s Soccer Association of San Antonio
    Star Soccer Complex, 5103 David Edwards Dr. and Schertz Complex, 75 Maske Road

    8:30 AM – 2:30 PM
    Southwest Olympic Fiesta®
    Southwest ISD
    Spring Sports Complex
    11914 Dragon Lane

    9 AM – 1 PM
    Zeta Fiesta® Track Meet
    Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
    Sam Houston High School
    4635 E. Houston St.

    9 AM – 2 PM
    Earth Day
    City of San Antonio
    Woodlawn Lake, 1303 Cincinnati

    9 AM – 3 PM
    Fiesta’s® Feathered Friends
    Alamo Exhibition Bird Club
    San Antonio Botanical Gardens
    555 Funston Place

    9 AM – 4 PM
    Fiesta® Lacrosse Invitational
    San Antonio Lacrosse Tournament
    St. Mary’s Hall, 9401 Starcrest

    10 AM – 12 PM
    San Jacinto Victory Celebration
    DRT, Alamo Heroes Chapter
    Alamo Cenotaph, Alamo Plaza

    10 AM – 2 PM
    Viva Botanica
    San Antonio Botanical Garden
    555 Funston Place

    10 AM – 1 AM
    Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square
    Rey Feo Educational Foundation
    Market Square, 514 West Commerce St.

    10 AM – 4 PM
    Celebrations of Traditions Pow Wow
    United San Antonio Pow Wow, Inc.
    Woodlawn Gymnasium, 1103 Cincinnati

    10 AM – 4 PM
    Fiesta® Festival
    Volunteer Service Council for the San Antonio State Supported Living Center
    6711 S. New Braunfels, Ste. 500

    10 AM – 6 PM
    Fiesta® de los Ninos
    Port San Antonio
    Port San Antonio, 200 Donald Goodrich Rd

    10 AM – 6 PM
    Fiesta® Arts Fair
    Southwest School of Art
    Southwest School of Art, 300 Augusta

    10 AM – 11 AM
    El Rey Fido Coronation
    San Antonio Humane Society
    Grand Hyatt San Antonio, 600 E Market Street

    11 AM – 11 PM
    Fiesta Oyster Bake®
    St. Mary’s University Alumni Association
    St. Mary’s University
    One Camino Santa Maria

    11 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta® Carnival
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Alamodome, Parking Lot C100 Montana St.

    12 PM – 2 PM
    This Hallowed Ground
    Sons of the Republic of Texas, Alamo Chapter
    Alamo Plaza

    12 PM – 10 PM
    Piñatas in the Barrio
    AUEDA
    Plaza Guadalupe, 1327 Guadalupe St.

    12 PM – 12 AM
    Taste of New Orleans
    San Antonio Zulu Association (SAZA)
    Sunken Garden Theater
    3875 N. St. Mary’s St.

    1 PM – 4 PM
    Miss Margaret’s Victorian House Tour
    Perry-Gething Foundation
    Margaret Gething House
    409 E, Guenther St.

    6 PM – 7:30 PM
    Investiture of King Antonio
    The Texas Cavaliers
    The Alamo

    7 PM – 11 PM
    All-American Canteen
    Preservation Fort Sam Houston
    Sunset Station
    1174 E. Commerce Depot 1

    7 PM – 11 PM
    Chips N’ Salsa
    SA Youth
    Check fiesta-sa.org for location

    7 PM – 11 PM
    Patriotic and Historical Ball
    State Association of Texas Pioneers
    401 Villita St.

    8 PM – 11 PM
    “INCOGNITO” Fiesta’s Masked Ball
    URBAN-15 GROUP
    2500 S. Presa San Antonio, Texas 78210

    8 PM
    Fiesta® POPS
    San Antonio Symphony
    The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
    100 Auditorium Circle

      

    APRIL 23, 2017


    8 AM – 5 PM
    Fiesta® Wildflower Ride
    Morgan’s Wonderland
    Rolling Oaks Mall, 6909 NW Loop 1604 E

    10 AM – 2 PM
    Fiesta® Olé
    Pan American League
    San Antonio Shrine Auditorium,
    901 North Loop 1604 W

    10 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square
    Rey Feo Educational Foundation
    Market Square, 514 West Commerce St.

    10:30 AM – 3 PM
    Champagne and Diamonds Brunch
    Lo Bello Women’s Association
    Witte Museum – Mays Family Center
    3801 Broadway St.

    11 AM – 5 PM
    Fiesta® Arts Fair
    Southwest School of Art
    300 Augusta

    11 AM – 11 PM
    Fiesta® Carnival
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Alamodome, Parking Lot C
    100 Montana St.

    11 AM – 8 PM
    Fiesta® de la Familia
    St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church
    700 Dewhurst

    12 PM – 4:00 PM
    Fiesta® Kings Cup
    San Antonio Polo Club
    Olmos Basin Park, 651 Devine Rd

    12 PM – 5 PM
    Natural Beauty: Fiesta of Land, Water, and Sky Exhibition at the Witte Museum
    Witte Museum
    Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway

    12 PM – 8 PM
    Deco District Arts and Music Festival
    Network for Youth Artists
    Deco District, 1800 Fredericksburg Road

    12 PM – 11 PM
    Taste of New Orleans
    San Antonio Zulu Association (SAZA)
    Sunken Garden Theater
    3875 N. St. Mary’s St.

    1 PM – 9 PM
    Fort Sam Houston Fiesta® Ceremony & Fireworks Extravaganza
    Fort Sam Houston, MacArthur Parade Field
    1 PM – 4 PM

    Miss Margaret’s Victorian House Tour
    Perry-Gething Foundation
    Margaret Gething House, 409 E, Guenther St.

    2 PM
    Fiesta® POPS
    San Antonio Symphony
    The Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
    100 Auditorium Circle

    3 PM
    A Day in Old Mexico & Charreada
    Asociación de Charros San Antonio
    Rancho del Charro, 6126 Padre Drive

    3 PM – 8 PM
    Chili Queens Chili Cook-off
    The Happy Foundation
    The Bonham Exchange, 411 Bonham

    3 PM – 9 PM
    Throwback Fiesta®
    San Antonio Parks Foundation
    Maverick Park, 1000 Broadway St

      

    APRIL 24, 2017


    10 AM – 5 PM
    Natural Beauty: Fiesta of Land, Water, and Sky Exhibition at the Witte Museum
    Witte Museum
    Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway

    10 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square
    Rey Feo Educational Foundation
    Market Square, 514 West Commerce St.

    11 AM
    Air Force at The Alamo
    U.S. Air Force
    The Alamo

    1 PM – 4 PM
    Miss Margaret’s Victorian House Tour
    Perry-Gething Foundation
    Margaret Gething House
    409 E, Guenther St.

    4 PM – 5 PM
    Pilgrimage to the Alamo
    DRT, Alamo Mission Chapter
    Alamo Plaza

    6 PM – 9 PM
    SAC 22nd Annual Multicultural Conference
    San Antonio College
    San Antonio College, 1819 N. Main

    6 PM – 11 PM
    Fiesta® Carnival
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Alamodome, Parking Lot C
    100 Montana St.

    7 PM – 9 PM
    The Texas Cavaliers River Parade
    The Texas Cavaliers
    San Antonio River, Riverwalk

      

    APRIL 25, 2017


    9:15 AM – 12:30 PM
    Children’s Texas History Forum
    DRT, Alamo Couriers Chapter
    Casa Navarro, 228 S. Laredo

    10 AM – 3 PM
    Fiesta Especial® Celebration Day
    Reaching Maximum Independence, Inc.
    Alamodome, Parking Lot C
    100 Montana St.

    10 AM – 8 PM
    Natural Beauty: Fiesta of Land, Water, and Sky Exhibition at the Witte Museum
    Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway

    10 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square
    Rey Feo Educational Foundation
    Market Square, 514 West Commerce St.

    11 AM
    Army at The Alamo
    U.S. Army
    Army at The Alamo

    1 PM – 4 PM
    Miss Margaret’s Victorian House Tour
    Perry-Gething Foundation
    Margaret Gething House
    409 E, Guenther St.

    2 PM – 4 PM
    Fiesta® Flower Show
    The Woman’s Club of San Antonio
    The Woodward House
    1717 San Pedro

    5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
    NIOSA® (A Night In Old San Antonio®)
    San Antonio Conservation Society
    La Villita, 418 Villita Street

    6 PM – 9 PM
    SAC 22nd Annual Multicultural Conference
    San Antonio College
    San Antonio College, 1819 N. Main

    6 – 11 PM
    Fiesta® Carnival
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Alamodome, Parking Lot C
    100 Montana St.

    6:30 PM – 10 PM
    Ford Mariachi Festival & Kickoff
    Paseo Del Rio Association
    San Antonio River Walk
    602 E. Commerce

    7 PM and 10:30 PM
    Cornyation
    Fiesta® Cornyation
    Charlie McCombs Empire Theater
    226 N. St. Mary’s St.

    7 PM
    Fiesta in Blue
    United States Air Force Band of the West
    Laurie Auditorium
    One Stadium Drive, Trinity University

      

    APRIL 26, 2017


    10 AM – 4 PM
    Fiesta® Flower Show
    The Woman’s Club of San Antonio
    The Woodward House
    1717 San Pedro

    10 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square
    Rey Feo Educational Foundation
    Market Square
    514 West Commerce St.

    11 AM
    Marines at The Alamo
    U.S. Marines
    The Alamo

    11 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta® San Fernando
    San Fernando Cathedral
    115 W. Main Plaza

    5 PM – 12 AM
    Fiesta® Gartenfest
    Beethoven Maennerchor
    Beethoven Halle and Garden
    422 Pereida Street

    5 PM – 12 AM
    Fiesta® Carnival
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Alamodome, Parking Lot C
    100 Montana St.

    5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
    Taste of the Northside
    Brighton Center
    The Club at Sonterra
    901 E, Sonterra Boulevard

    5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
    NIOSA® (A Night In Old San Antonio®)
    San Antonio Conservation Society
    La Villita, 418 Villita Street

    6 PM – 9 PM
    SAC 22nd Annual Multicultural Conference
    San Antonio College
    San Antonio College, 1819 N. Main

    7 PM – 10 PM
    Ford Mariachi Festival
    Paseo Del Rio Association
    San Antonio River Walk
    602 E. Commerce

    7 PM and 10:30 PM
    Cornyation
    Fiesta® Cornyation
    Charlie McCombs Empire Theater
    226 N. St. Mary’s St.

    8 PM – 10 PM
    Coronation of The Queen of The Order of the Alamo
    The Order of the Alamo
    Majestic Theater, 224 E. Houston St.

      

    APRIL 27, 2017


    9 AM – 5 PM
    San Antonio Cactus & Xerophyte Show & Sale
    San Antonio Cactus & Xerophyte Society
    San Antonio Garden Center
    33110 N. New Braunfels Ave.

    10 AM – 6 PM
    St. Philip’s College CultureFest
    St. Philip’s College
    1801 Martin Luther King Drive

    11 AM
    Navy at The Alamo
    U.S. Navy
    The Alamo

    11 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta® San Fernando
    San Fernando Cathedral
    115 W. Main Plaza

    12 PM – 12:30 AM
    10th Street River Festival
    VFW Post 76
    10 Tenth Street

    12 PM – 10 PM
    PACfest
    Palo Alto College
    Palo Alto College, 1400 W. Villaret

    5 PM – 9 PM
    Family Fiesta®
    Colonial Hills Methodist Church
    5247 Vance Jackson Rd

    5 PM – 12 AM
    Fiesta® Gartenfest
    Beethoven Maennerchor
    Beethoven Halle and Garden
    422 Pereida Street

    5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
    NIOSA® (A Night In Old San Antonio®)
    San Antonio Conservation Society
    La Villita, 418 Villita Street

    6 PM – 9 PM
    SAC 22nd Annual Multicultural Conference
    San Antonio College
    San Antonio College, 1819 N. Main

    6 PM – 12 AM
    Fiesta® Carnival
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Alamodome, Parking Lot C
    100 Montana St.

    6:30 PM – 9:30 PM
    Battle of Flowers® Association Band Festival
    Battle of Flowers® Association
    Alamo Stadium
    110 Tuleta Street

    7 PM – 10 PM
    Ford Mariachi Festival
    Paseo Del Rio Association
    San Antonio River Walk
    602 E. Commerce

    7 PM and 10:30 PM
    Cornyation
    Fiesta® Cornyation
    Charlie McCombs Empire Theater
    226 N. St. Mary’s St.

    8 PM – 10 PM
    Fiesta Comedy Explosion
    Priest Holmes Foundation
    Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club
    618 NW Loop 410 #312

      

    APRIL 28, 2017


    10 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square
    Rey Feo Educational Foundation
    Market Square, 514 West Commerce St.

    11 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta® Carnival
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Alamodome, Parking Lot C
    100 Montana St.

    12 PM – 12:30 AM
    10th Street River Festival
    VFW Post 76
    10, 10th Street

    12:20 PM – 4 PM
    Battle of Flowers ® Parade
    Battle of Flowers® Association
    Parade Route

    1 PM – 10 PM
    Fiesta® World Class Jazz Concert
    St. Mary’s University Department of Music
    St. Mary’s University
    One Camino Santa Maria

    5 PM – 12 AM
    Fiesta® Gartenfest
    Beethoven Maennerchor
    Beethoven Halle and Garden
    422 Pereida Street

    5:30 PM – 10:30 PM
    NIOSA® (A Night In Old San Antonio®)
    San Antonio Conservation Society
    La Villita
    418 Villita Street

    7 PM – 10 PM
    Dance with the King
    Fiesta® Square Dance
    Alamo Area Square & Round Dance Association
    Tri-Point Center
    3233 North St. Mary’s Street

      

    APRIL 29, 2017


    7:45 AM – 11 AM
    Fiesta® Pooch Parade
    Therapy Animals of San Antonio
    Alamo Heights Swimming Pool
    250 Viesca

    9 AM
    Starfish Dash Run/Walk
    The Chromosome 18 Registry & Research Society
    UT Health San Antonio
    7703 Floyd Curl Drive
    San Antonio, TX 78229

    8 AM – 5 PM
    Alamo City Fiesta® Rugby Tournament
    Alamo City Rugby Club
    Brooks Park
    3605 Goliad Road

    8 AM – 5 PM
    Fiesta® Jazz Band Festival
    St. Mary’s University Department of Music
    St. Mary’s University
    One Camino Santa Maria

    9 AM – 6 PM
    King William Fair
    King William Association
    King William Historical Neighborhood
    122 Madison St.

    10 AM – 5 PM
    Natural Beauty: Fiesta of Land, Water, and Sky Exhibition at the Witte Museum

    Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway

    10 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square
    Rey Feo Educational Foundation
    Market Square, 514 West Commerce St.

    10 AM
    The Circle for Life Motor Rally
    The Circle for Life
    Javelina Harley-Davidson
    29078 Interstate 10 Frontage Rd, Boerne, TX

    11 AM – 3 PM
    United Way Kids Festival
    United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County
    Lockwood Park
    801 North Olive Street

    11 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta® Carnival
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Alamodome, Parking Lot C
    100 Montana St.

    11 AM – 1 AM
    Fiesta® San Fernando
    San Fernando Cathedral
    115 W. Main Plaza

    12 PM – 12:30 AM
    10th Street River Festival
    VFW Post 76
    10, 10th Street

    4:15 PM
    Fiesta® Fandango Run
    San Antonio Road Runners
    Parade Route

    6:30 – 10 PM
    Fiesta Flambeau® Parade
    Fiesta Flambeau
    Parade Association, Inc.
    Parade Route

      

    APRIL 30, 2017


    10 AM – 12 AM
    Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square
    Rey Feo Educational Foundation
    Market Square
    514 West Commerce St.

    10:30 AM – 3:30 PM
    Fiesta® Nueva
    Saint John’s Lutheran Church
    502 E. Nueva

    10:30 AM – 10:30 PM
    San Jose MissionFest
    Mission San Jose Church
    701 E. Pyron Ave.

    1 PM
    All Veterans Memorial Service
    Alamo Chapter 366
    Vietnam Veterans of America
    Veterans Plaza
    E. Martin at Jefferson Street

    1 PM – 4 PM
    Healthy Choices Conference
    Top Teens of America, Inc.
    West End Baptist Church
    Robert E. Brown Educational Bldg.
    923 Culebra Rd.

    1 PM – 5 PM
    Tom C. Clark Funday Sunday
    Clark High School Band Boosters
    Tom C. Clark High School

    1 PM – 8 PM
    Festival De Cascarones
    Texas A&M – San Antonio
    One University Way
    San Antonio, TX 78224

    3 PM
    A Day in Old Mexico & Charreada
    Asociación de Charros San Antonio
    Rancho del Charro
    6126 Padre Drive

    3 PM – 4:30 PM
    9th Annual Fiesta® Concert
    San Antonio Symphonic Band
    Concordia Lutheran Church
    16801 Huebner Road

    4 PM – 6 PM
    Praise Dance Celebration
    Alpha Tau Omega Chapter of Alpha
    Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
    Carver Community Cultural Center
    226 N. Hackberry

    4 PM – 7 PM
    La Reina de la Feria de las Flores Reception
    LULAC Council No. 2
    Check fiesta-sa.org for location

    5 PM – 6 PM
    Music from St. Mark’s
    St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
    315 E. Pecan St.

    11 AM – 11 PM
    Fiesta® Carnival
    Fiesta® San Antonio Commission
    Alamodome, Parking Lot C
    100 Montana St.

    Meet ​Cheryl Finney!

    Written by:

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Press icon

    Cheryl began her deep roots in the title and settlement services industry as an escrow officer - right in the heart of where she grew up in Lewisville, Texas.

    Cheryl Finney is the Division President for Trinity Title, Greater Dallas area.

    She is a proven leader with a rich background of experience working for Fortune 500 companies in operations and management. She is expert at building and retaining high performance teams and client trust, through her loyalty and motivation skills. Whether working with direct branch or fee attorney offices, she has the talent for streamlining operational processes that ultimately leads to efficiency and best practices. The results from her efforts stimulate profits and exponential growth both for the offices as well as the employees.

    Cheryl began her deep roots in the title and settlement services industry as an escrow officer - right in the heart of where she grew up in Lewisville, Texas. She and her husband Larry enjoy spending weekends at their home in Denton County with their 3 children and 6 grandchildren.

    Our 2017 Housing Forecast Commercial!

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Press icon

    We are honored to have won our 4th consecutive award for Best Video Commercial!

    We are excited to share that our team as won its 4th consecutive award for Best Video Commercial at the San Antonio Board of REALTORS® Housing Forecast! This project is one our favorites and we look forward to it every year. The requirements forced us to keep it to 15 seconds this year so it is short and sweet!

      

    We hope you enjoy this year's commercial!

      

    And now, our 2017 SABOR Housing Forecast Commercial, "Be a Social Media Pro"

      

    Job Posting: Business Development - DFW

    Written by: Rashan Ferkel

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Press icon

    Trinity Title of Texas is looking for a Business Development Representative to join our Dallas/Ft. Worth team!

      

    Business Development Representative Position (Full-time)

    Trinity Title of Texas, LLC | Dallas/Ft. Worth

     

    Needed for following areas: Fort Worth, Burleson, Heritage Trace, Colleyville & Dallas  

      


      

    About the Position:

    - Book of business preferred, but not required

    - Full Time Sales

    - Title Industry experience not required

    - Some Evening Events 

        

    Must Possess the Following:

    -Positive Attitude

    -Team Player

    -Listening Skills

    -Ability to Overcome Objections

    -Willingness to Learn

    -Extreme Social Skills

    -Computer & Internet Literate

      

    Benefits: Competitive Pay (Salary + Commission), Medical, Dental, Vision, 401K, Short Term and Long Term Disability.

      

     Click here to submit your resume.

    What is a Survey?

    Written by: Michelle Nelson

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    A land survey is the process of measuring the dimensions of a particular area of land for the purposes of identifying boundaries and features to determine ownership.

    WHAT IS A LAND SURVEY AND WHY YOU SHOULD BUY A NEW ONE?

    What is a Survey?

    A land survey is the process of measuring the dimensions of a particular area of land for the purposes of identifying boundaries and features to determine ownership.

    What does a survey cover?

    A survey can help you understand exactly what you own, where you may build or amend property and what easement rights other entities may have access to on your property.

    Why you should buy a new survey?

    In addition to defining the boundaries of the property surveys can track changes over time. Decks, sheds, and fences may have been added by property owners or neighbors that could have inadvertently crossed property lines. Old easements may be vacated and underground easements need to be known before permits for additions can be issued.

    You also need a new survey if you wish to buy an extended title insurance policy. Most lenders require this coverage and the title company will require to see current easements and additions on the property so they can take exception to existing issues.

    Easements and Permits

    If you are planning to make additions or changes to your property after closing you will likely need to provide a survey to the municipality when seeking a construction permit. Property owners should also be aware of public and underground easements as to not cause trouble later. One such case was noted where a municipality had an easement on a portion of property to extend sewer lines to adjacent properties. The property owner unknowingly placed a shed on top of the easement and now that the adjacent property is being developed and the shed will need to be removed to allow access.

    Transactions Without Surveys

    Although a survey is an additional expense, it’s a crucial component of a landowner’s long-term ownership plan. Transferring a property without a new survey is taking a risk that your rights in the property may not be what you think they are. A new survey and subsequent title coverage will protect your investments. 

    Pumpkin Patches around San Antonio

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon

    It's that time of year! Here are some great pumpkin patches around San Antonio to check out with the family!

    Click here to download a printable version.

      

    Good News Pumpkin Patch
    11020 Old Corpus Christi Hwy.,
    San Antonio, TX
    (210) 549-7133
    Opens Saturday, September 24 Sunday–Friday, 12:00–8:00 P.M.; Saturday, 10:00 A.M.–8:00 P.M.

      

    Alamo Heights United Methodist Church
    825 E. Basse Rd.
    San Antonio, TX 78209
    (210) 826-3215
    Open daily October 13–31, Monday–Sunday, 9:00 A.M.–7:00 P.M.

      

    Bracken United Methodist Pumpkin Patch
    20377 FM 2252
    San Antonio, TX 78256
    (830) 606-6717
    September 20 – October 31, 9:00 A.M. to Sun Down

      

    St. Thomas Episcopal School Pumpkin Patch
    1416 N. Loop 1604 East
    San Antonio, TX 78232
    (210) 660-8290
    Open daily October 12–31 Monday-Sunday 9 am to 4 pm.

      

    Oxford United Methodist Church Pumpkin Patch
    9739 Huebner Rd.
    San Antonio, TX 78240
    (210) 696-0192
    Opens October 2 Monday–Saturday, 10:00 A.M.–8:00 P.M.; and Sunday, 11:30 A.M.–8:00 P.M.

      

    Northwest Hills United Methodist Pumpkin Patch
    7575 Tezel Rd.
    San Antonio, TX 78250
    (210) 681-3751
    Open October 1–31 Monday–Sunday, 9:00 A.M.–9:00 P.M.

      

    University United Methodist Student Ministry Pumpkin Patch
    5083 DeZavala Rd.
    San Antonio, TX 78249
    (210) 696-1033
    Open October 1–31

      

    The Pumpkin Patch San Antonio
    8756 State Hwy. 151
    San Antonio, TX 78227
    (210) 627-4533
    Open October 1–30 Friday, 3:00–10:00 P.M.; Saturday, 11:00 A.M.–10:00 P.M.; and Sunday, 11:00 A.M.–dark

      

    Owl Creek Pumpkin Patch (formerly Fiesta Farm)
    8497 FM 1560
    San Antonio, TX 78254
    (210) 316-3166
    Open in October Monday–Friday, 9:00–1:00 P.M.; Saturday, 9:00 A.M.–7:00 P.M., Sunday 11:00 A.M. - 7:00 P.M.

      

    Helotes Hills United Methodist Church
    13222 Bandera Rd.
    Helotes, TX 78023
    (210) 695-3761
    Open October 2–31 Monday–Friday, 12:00–8:00 P.M.; and Saturday–Sunday, 10:00 A.M.–8:00 P.M.

      

    Braune Farms Fresh Produce Pumpkin Patch
    1300 Link Rd.
    Seguin, TX 78155
    (830) 643-9974
    October 15–16 and 22–23, 12:00–4:00 P.M.

    Fiesta 2016 Event Schedule

    Written by: Trinity Title San Antonio

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon

    For well over a century, Fiesta® San Antonio has offered fun for all ages. From parades to carnival rides, there’s something for everyone. So bring the whole family. Fiesta® San Antonio is waiting for you!

    Click Here to Download a Printable Version!


    Thursday, April 14
    5:00 PM
    Official Open Ceremonites: Fiesta® Fiesta at the Alamo - Alamo Plaza
    6:00 PM
    Fiesta® Carnival - Alamodome Parking Lot C

    Friday, April 15
    9:00 AM

    JBSA-Lackland Fiesta® Military Parade - Lackland Parade Grounds
    10:00 AM
    Fiesta® de los Reyes at Market Square - Market Square
    11:00 AM
    Fiesta® UTSA - UTSA Sombrilla
    5:00 PM
    Fiesta® Carnival - Alamodome Parking Lot C
    Fiesta® Oyster Bake - St. Mary’s University Campus
    Taste of New Orleans - Sunken Garden Theater
    5:30 PM
    Alamo Heights Night - University of the Incarnate Word
    Crown the King! Public Crowning of Rey Feo - Main Plaza
    7:00 PM
    Rey Feo Crown Celebration! - Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center
    7:30 PM
    WEBB Party - Lambermont Estate
    8:00 PM
    Fiesta® Pops - Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
    Fiesta® Masquerade Party - Omni Colonade

    Saturday, April 16
    7:00 AM

    Walk for Autism® - Helotes Cornyval Grounds
    8:00 AM
    Alamo City Fiesta® Rugby Tournament - Brooks Field Park
    Caminada de Fiesta® 10k - Mitchell Lake Audubon
    Fiesta® Women’s Soccer Tournament - STAR Complex
    Texas Corvette Assn. Car Show - Boerne Main Plaza
    8:30 AM
    Southwest Olympic Fiesta® - SWISD Spring Sports Complex
    9:00 AM
    Earth Day-Presented by City of San Antonio - Woodlawn Lake
    Fiesta® Lacrosse Invitational - St. Mary’s Hall
    Feathered Friends of Fiesta® - San Antonio Botanical Garden
    Zeta Fiesta® Track Meet - Wheatly Heights Sports Complex
    Viva Botánica! - San Antonio Botanical Garden
    10:00 AM
    Celebrations of Traditions of Pow Wow - Woodlawn Gymnasium
    El Rey Fido Coronation - Grand Hyatt San Antonio
    Fiesta® Arts Fair - Southwest School of Art
    Fiesta® de los Niños - Port San Antonio
    Fiesta® de los Reyes at Market Square - Market Square
    Fiesta® Festival - San Antonio State Supported Living
    San Jacinto Victory Celebration - Alamo Plaza
    11:00 AM
    Fiesta® Carnival - Alamodome Parking Lot C
    Fiesta® de los Veteranos - Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital
    Fiesta® Oyster Bake - St. Mary’s University Campus
    Taste of New Orleans - Sunken Garden Theater
    12:00 PM
    Piñatas in the Barrio - Plaza Guadalupe
    1:00 PM
    Miss Margaret’s Victorian House Tour - Margaret Gething House
    This Hallowed Ground - Alamo Plaza
    5:00 PM
    Investiture of King Antonio XCI - The Alamo
    7:00 PM
    Incognito: Fiesta’s® Masked Ball - La Villita
    All-American Canteen - Sunset Station
    Patriotic & Historical Ball - TBA
    8:00 PM
    Fiesta® Pops - Tobin Center for the Performing Arts

    Sunday, April 17
    8:00 AM

    Fiesa® Mission 10k Run - Wheatly Heights Sports Complex
    Fiesta® Women’s & Co-Ed Soccer Tournament - STAR Soccer Complex
    10:00 AM
    Champagne and Diamonds Brunch - Alzafar Shrine
    Fiesta® de los Reyes at Market Square - Market Square
    Fiesta® Olé - Dominion Country Club
    11:00 AM
    Fiesta® Arts Fair - Southwest School of Art
    Fiesta® Carnival - Alamodome Parking Lot C
    Fiesta® de la Familia - St. Gregory Catholic Church
    Taste of New Orleans - Sunken Garden Theater
    12:00 PM
    Deco District Arts & Musical Festival - Deco District
    1:00 PM
    A Day in Old Mexico & Charreada - Charro Ranch
    Fort Sam Houston Fiesta® Ceremony & Fireworks - Fort Sam Houston
    Miss Margaret’s Victorian House Tour - Margaret Gething House
    2:00 PM
    Fiesta® Pops - Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
    3:00 PM
    Chili Queens Chili Cook-Off - Bonham Exchange
    Throwback Fiesta® - Maverick Park

    Monday, April 18
    10:00 AM

    Fiesta® de los Reyes at Market Square - Market Square
    11:00 AM
    Air Force at the Alamo - The Alamo
    2:00 PM
    Fiesta® Flower Show - Woman’s Club of San Antonio
    4:00 PM
    Pilgrimage to the Alamo - Alamo Plaza
    6:00 PM
    Fiesta® Carnival - Alamodome Parking Lot C
    Multicultural Conference - San Antonio College
    7:00 PM
    Texas Cavaliers River Parade - San Antonio River Walk

    Tuesday, April 19
    9:00 AM

    Children’s Texas History Forum - Alamo Hall
    10:00 AM
    Fiesta® de los Reyes at Market Square - Market Square
    Fiesta® Flower Show - Woman’s Club of San Antonio
    Fiesta® Especial Celebration Day - Alamodome Lot C
    11:00 AM
    Army at the Alamo - Alamo Plaza
    5:30 PM
    A Night In Old San Antonio® (NIOSA®) - La Villita
    6:00 PM
    Fiesta® Carnival - Alamodome Parking Lot C
    7:00 PM
    Fiesta® in Blue - Laurie Auditorium-Trinity University
    Multicultural Conference - San Antonio College
    Mariachi Festival - San Antonio River Walk
    7:30 PM & 10:00 PM
    Fiesta® Cornyation - Charline McCombs Empire Theatre

    Wednesday, April 20
    10:00 AM

    Fiesta® de los Reyes at Market Square - Market Square
    10:30 AM
    Fiesta® Hat Contest & Luncheon - Alzafar Shrine
    11:00 AM
    Marines at the Alamo - Alamo Plaza
    12:00 PM
    Fiesta® San Fernando - San Fernando Cathedral
    5:00 PM
    Fiesta® Carnival - Alamodome Parking Lot C
    Fiesta® Gartenfest - Beethoven Garten
    5:30 PM
    A Night In Old San Antonio® (NIOSA®) - La Villita
    A Taste of the Northside - The Club at Sonterra
    7:00 PM
    Mariachi Festival - San Antonio River Walk
    SAC Multicultural Conference - San Antonio College
    7:30 PM & 10:00 PM
    Fiesta® Cornyation - Charline McCombs Empire Theatre
    8:00 PM
    Coronation of the Queen - Order of the Alamo - Majestic Theatre

    Thursday, April 21
    9:00 AM

    San Antonio Cactus & Xerophyte Show & Sale - San Antonio Garden Center
    Senior Fiesta® - Wonderland of the Americas Mall
    10:00 AM
    CultureFest & Rib Cook-off - St. Philip’s College
    Fiesta® de los Reyes at Market Square - Market Square
    11:00 AM
    Navy Day at the Alamo - Alamo Plaza
    12:00 PM
    10th Street River Festival - VFW Post 76
    Fiesta® San Fernando - San Fernando Cathedral
    Palo Alto College PACFest - Palo Alto College
    5:00 PM
    Family Fiesta® - Colonial Hills United Methodist Church
    Fiesta® Carnival - Alamodome Parking Lot C
    Fiesta® Gartenfest - Beethoven Garten
    5:30 PM
    A Night In Old San Antonio® (NIOSA®) - La Villita
    6:30 PM
    Battle of Flowers Band Festival - Alamo Stadium
    7:00 PM
    SAC Multiculture Conference - San Antoni College
    Mariachi Festival - San Antonio River Walk
    7:30 PM & 10:00 PM
    Fiesta® Cornyation - Charline McCombs Empire Theatre
    8:00 PM
    Fiesta® Comedy Explosion - Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club

    Friday, April 22
    9:00 AM

    San Antonio Cactus & Xerophyte Show & Sale - San Antonio
    Garden Center
    10:00 AM
    Fiesta® de los Reyes at Market Square - Market Square
    11:00 AM
    Fiesta® Carnival - Alamodome Parking Lot C
    12:00 PM
    10th Street River Festival - VFW Post 76
    Fiesta® San Fernando - San Fernando Cathedral
    12:20 PM
    Battle of Flowers® Parade - Parade Route
    1:00 PM
    Fiesta® World Class Jazz Concert - St. Mary’s University
    5:00 PM
    Fiesta® Gartenfest - Beethoven Garten
    5:30 PM
    A Night In Old San Antonio® (NIOSA®) - La Villita
    7:00 PM
    Fiesta® Square and Round Dance - Plaza Club
    Dance with the King Fiesta® Square Dance - TriPoint YMCA
    Mariachi Festival - San Antonio River Walk

    Saturday, April 23
    7:00 AM

    Fiesta Especial® 5k & Parade - Windcrest City Hall
    8:00 AM
    Fiesta® Jazz Band Festival - St. Mary’s University Campus
    LUNG FORCE 5K Run / Walk - Sea World San Antonio
    Fiesta® Pooch Parade - Alamo Heights Swimming Pool
    9:00 AM
    King William Fair - King William Historic District
    San Antonio Cactus & Xerophyte Show & Sale - San Antonio Garden Center
    10:00 AM
    Fiesta® de los Reyes at Market Square - Market Square
    The Circle for Life Motor Rally - Javelina Harley-Davidson
    11:00 AM
    Fiesta® Carnival - Alamodome Parking Lot C
    United Way Kids Festival - Lockwood Park
    12:00 PM
    10th Street River Festival - VFW Post 76
    Fiesta® San Fernando - San Fernando Cathedral
    1:00 PM
    UTSA Football Fiesta® Spring Game - Alamodome
    4:15 PM
    Fiesta® Fandango Run - Parade Route
    6:30 PM
    Fiesta Flambeau® Parade - Parade Route

    Sunday, April 24
    8:00 AM

    Fiesta® Wildflower Bike Ride - Morgan’s Wonderland
    10:00 AM
    Fiesta® de los Reyes at Market Square - Market Square
    10:30 AM
    Fiesta® Nueva - St. Johns Evangelical Lutheran Church
    11:00 AM
    Fiesta® Carnival - Alamodome Parking Lot C
    San José MissionFest - Mission San Jose Church
    1:00 PM
    A Day in Old Mexico & Charreada - Charro Ranch
    All Veterans Memorial Service - Veterans Square, Auditorium Circle
    Family Funday Sunday - Tom C. Clark High School
    Festival de Cascarónes - Texas A&M-San Antonio
    2:00 PM
    Healthy Choices Conference - Robert E Browning Education Building
    3:00 PM
    8th Annual Fiesta Symphonic Band Concert - Concordia Lutheran Church
    Reina de la Feria de las Flores Reception - Witte Museum
    4:00 PM
    Praise Dance Celebration - Carver Community Cultural Center
    5:00 PM
    Music from St. Mark’s - St Mark’s Episcopal Church

    Digital Home Buying Guide

    Written by: Michelle Nelson

    SA Riverwalk

    Need a Home Buying Guide for your more digitally apt clients? Try Trinity Title's flip book version. 

    San Antonio Commercial is a Winner!

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Press icon

    Trinity Title earns its 3rd consecutive win in the SABOR Housing Forecast video commercial contest!

    We are excited to announce that our team as won its 3rd consecutive award for Best Video Commercial at the San Antonio Board of REALTORS® Housing Forecast! We look forward to producing these commercials each year and we have a blast creating them.

    A special thanks to Brian Cox & Erin Padron for starring in the commercial, Trish Herzig for the concept, Jill Cortissoz for overseeing the project and Colin Smith, our Director!

    And now, our 2016 SABOR Housing Forecast Commercial, "Don't be a Real Estate Dinosaur!"

      

    CFPB Readiness

    Written by: Michelle Nelson

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon

    October 3rd marks the official start of TRID. Trinity Title is prepared to assist you and your clients through the changes. 

    2015 San Antonio Area School Ratings

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon Press icon

    Texas Education Agency (TEA) recently released the 2015 state accountability ratings, and all San Antonio area school districts have met the state academic standard!

    Click here to download our
    2015 San Antonio Area School Ratings Guide!

      

    Districts, campuses and charters receive one of three ratings under the accountability system: Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard, or Improvement Required.

      

    “The 2015 state accountability system takes into account a number of factors unique to the 2014–2015 school year,” said Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. “As in previous years, most districts, charters and campuses met the state standards, which reflects well on our public education system and for the economic future of our state.”

      

    Here is a quick overview of quick overview of the state accountability system and what goes into the annual ratings of schools, districts and charters:

      

    Patio Shade Ideas Under $300

    Written by: Jan Soults Walker, HouseLogic.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Not all shady deals are bad. These patio shade projects are each under $300.

    If you hop-skip like a rookie firewalker across your sun-drenched patio, then patio shade projects are probably a hot priority.

    But there’s no reason to get burned on price; you’ll find plenty of low-cost shade-giving options to cool your tootsies.

    If you’re looking for shade beyond the typical market umbrellas ($45) and freestanding gazebo kits (starting at $200 at home improvement centers), check out these other easy, affordable patio shade projects -- all for under $300:

    Tall order: vertical trellis

    Even if you have overhead shade, low morning or late afternoon light can make your patio uncomfortably hot in summer. Filter low-flying rays with a vertical trellis for growing leafy climbing plants.

    The taller the trellis (60 inches or more), the more time you enjoy in the shade. Plus, an attractive trellis adds structure, lush greenery, and home privacy to your outdoor getaway.

    Trellises can be made of weather-resistant wood, metal, PVC, or a combination of materials. Build one from scratch in just a few hours for less than $100 using vertical posts and cross members that plants grip and climb.



    Or, make a simple frame and add pre-made garden lattice, $20 for a 4-by-8-foot sheet.

    Trellises also come in kits ($40-$250 and up) or ready-made ($15-$200 and up). In an hour or less, you’ll be ready to set the trellis in the ground.

    For plants, choose climbing leafy or flowering vines, such as English ivy, golden hop, morning glory, clematis, bougainvillea, or roses. Prices range from $10 to $40 and up for climbers.

    Or, start veggie climbers from seed ($1 or less per packet), such as pole beans or sweet peas, and harvest the rewards later.

    Patio-dwelling trees

    Add leafy shade by planting a sapling or ornamental tree in a container. A small (6-10 feet tall) tree will still throw plenty of shade -- Japanese maples and dwarf red buckeyes are favorites. You’ll pay $40-$100 for a young tree.

    Select a container large enough to stabilize the tree so wind won’t blow it over. Add a wheeled base for shade mobility. Fill out with these other ideas for container gardening.

    A potted tree requires more care than one in the yard. Feed it monthly during the growing season and water regularly (once or twice a day in dry weather). As your trees grow, transplant them to larger pots. Winter over container trees indoors -- anywhere with ample light and temperatures that won’t drop below 40 degrees.

    Potted citrus trees are a beautiful, bountiful option. A lemon tree loves a sunny patio while offering shade and juicy fruits for squeezing. Other fruit-bearing trees include fig and semi-dwarf apple trees.

    A potted palm transports your patio to the tropics with wide fronds for dappled shade and an island feel. Chinese windmill, or chusan palm (Trachycarpus), for example, can grow up to 7 feet tall in a container.

    Sailing in the shade

    Shade sails are triangular or square pieces of high-strength nylon that you suspend over your patio, adding color, pattern, and plenty of shade. The sails require connections to posts, trees, or rigid structural members of your house, such as exposed rafter ends.

    A sail with 11-foot sides starts at $40. More expensive shade sails ($170 and up) include hardware (turnbuckles, eye bolts, and cable) for sturdy, wind-resistant installations.



    As a frugal alternative, make your own shade sail using a canvas drop cloth ($15 for a 6-ounce, 9-by-12-foot piece). Install grommets ($10 for a kit) at the corners and loop clothesline ($5 for 50 feet) through the grommets.

    Shade from the islands

    Mix up a mai tai and enjoy a cool respite beneath these tropically inspired patio shade projects:

    • Top an existing structure, such as a pergola, with reed or bamboo fencing. A 6-by-16-foot roll of bamboo fencing starts at $22. Secure the fencing with galvanized staples or roofing nails.
    • Thatch panels ($200 for a 12 pack of 4-by-4-foot panels) are typically made from palm fronds cut into strips. Staple or nail the panels to the top of an existing pergola or awning frame for tiki-hut charm.

    Source: HouseLogic.com

    Client Retention & Closing Gift in One!

    Written by: Michelle Nelson

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Tools icon

    HomeBinder has a program specifically for Agents & Brokers that allows you to give branded HomeBinder accounts to your clients at closing.

    Did you know that 86% of buyers & sellers say they will probably use the same REALTOR® again or refer them to friends, but only 21% of clients actually follow through?

    Source: National Association of REALTORS® 2013 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers

    In searching for an answer to this ever popular problem, Trinity Title stumbled on what seems like the perfect combination of client retention and closing gift, www.HomeBinder.com. The website is available for free to home owners as a home maintenance management tool. It also keeps track of paint colors, receipts and photos, creating valuable records and reports that will help sell the home when the time is right.

      

    HomeBinder.com

      











     

    But how does this help you, the Realtor? Good Question!

    BUYERS AGENTS: HomeBinder has a program specifically for Agents & Brokers that allows you to give branded HomeBinder accounts to your clients at closing. Not only will this be a nice gift to help them keep up with their new home, it will help them remember you when it comes time to sell! You’ll also get the added benefit of all the information they’ve added into it over the years, hopefully easing the Seller’s Disclosure headache.

    LISTING AGENTS: Have your clients fill out a HomeBinder report that can be branded with your information for you to easily share with prospective buyers.

    Check it out and let us know what you think! I know I’m going to be using one for my personal property simply because I’m really tired of forgetting about the warranties on items I’ve purchased and forgetting the information I’ve gotten from friends and family about contractors and tree trimmers. 

    Movies Under the Stars!

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon

    Here is a rundown of San Antonio's outdoor movies this summer!

    Movies By Moonlight at Travis Park

    June 2 - Big Hero 6

    June 9 - Finding Nemo

    June 16 - Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

    June 23 - Paddington

    June 30 - Mary Poppins

    July 7 - Maleficent

    July 14 - The Lego Movie

    July 21 - The Princess and the Frog

    July 28 - 101 Dalmations

      

    Village at Stone Oak

    June 5 - Hugo

    June 12 - Hotel for Dogs

    June 19 - Adventures of Tin Tin

    June 26 - We Bought a Zoo

      

    Mission Marquee Plaza (former Mission Drive-in)

    May 23 - Toy Story 2

    June 6 - Annie

    June 20 - Madagascar 3

    July 11 - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

    July 25 - Big Hero 6

    August 8 - Muppets Most Wanted

    August 22 - Captain America

    September 12 - Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

    September 26 - Guardians of the Galaxy

        

    Helotes City Hall

    May 22 - Planes: Fire & Rescue

    June 19 - The Boxtrolls

    July 17 - Dolphin Tale 2

    August 21 - Earth to Echo

    September 18 - Big Hero 6

      

    Alamo Heights Pool

    June 12 – Big Hero 6

    July 10 – Into The Woods

    August 14 – Guardians of the Galaxy

      

    Click here to download a PDF copy!

      

    All information based on available data and is subject to change.

    6 Things Everyone Should Do When Moving Into a New House

    Written by: Courtney Craig, House Logic

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Moving into your first home is exciting! But it also means you’ve got work to do.

    When I bought my first house, my timing couldn’t have been better: The house closing was two weeks before the lease was up on my apartment. That meant I could take my time packing and moving, and I could get to know the new place before moving in.


    I recruited family and friends to help me move (in exchange for a beer-and-pizza picnic on the floor) and, as a bonus, I got to pick their brains about what first-time homeowners should know.

    Their help was one of the best housewarming presents I could have gotten. And thanks to their expertise and a little Googling, here’s what I learned about what to do before moving in.

    1. Change the locks. You really don’t know who else has keys to your home, so change the locks. That ensures you’re the only person who has access. Install new deadbolts yourself for as little as $10 per lock, or call a locksmith — if you supply the new locks, they typically charge about $20-$30 per lock for labor.



    2. Check for plumbing leaks. Your home inspector should do this for you before closing, but it never hurts to double-check. I didn’t have any leaks to fix, but when checking my kitchen sink, I did discover the sink sprayer was broken. I replaced it for under $20.

    Keep an eye out for dripping faucets and running toilets, and check your water heater for signs of a leak.

    Here’s a neat trick: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour window in which no water is being used in your house. If the reading is different, you have a leak.



    3. Steam clean carpets. Do this before you move your furniture in, and your new home life will be off to a fresh start. You can pay a professional carpet cleaning service — you’ll pay about $50 per room; most services require a minimum of about $100 before they’ll come out — or you can rent a steam cleaner for about $30 per day and do the work yourself. I was able to save some money by borrowing a steam cleaner from a friend.



    4. Wipe out your cabinets. Another no-brainer before you move in your dishes and bathroom supplies. Make sure to wipe inside and out, preferably with a non-toxic cleaner, and replace contact paper if necessary.

    When I cleaned my kitchen cabinets, I found an unpleasant surprise: Mouse poop. Which leads me to my next tip . . .

    5. Give critters the heave-ho. That includes mice, rats, bats, termites, roaches, and any other uninvited guests. There are any number of DIY ways to get rid of pests, but if you need to bring out the big guns, an initial visit from a pest removal service will run you $100-$300, followed by monthly or quarterly visits at about $50 each time.

    For my mousy enemies, I strategically placed poison packets around the kitchen, and I haven’t found any carcasses or any more poop, so the droppings I found must have been old. I might owe a debt of gratitude to the snake that lives under my back deck, but I prefer not to think about him.



    6. Introduce yourself to your circuit breaker box and main water valve. My first experience with electrical wiring was replacing a broken light fixture in a bathroom. After locating the breaker box, which is in my garage, I turned off the power to that bathroom so I wouldn’t electrocute myself.

    It’s a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly. This will take two people: One to stand in the room where the power is supposed to go off, the other to trip the fuses and yell, “Did that work? How about now?”



    You’ll want to know how to turn off your main water valve if you have a plumbing emergency, if a hurricane or tornado is headed your way, or if you’re going out of town. Just locate the valve — it could be inside or outside your house — and turn the knob until it’s off. Test it by turning on any faucet in the house; no water should come out.

    9 Easy Mistakes Homeowners Make on Their Taxes

    Written by: G. M. Filisko

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Don’t rouse the IRS or pay more taxes than necessary — know the score on each home tax deduction and credit.

    As you calculate your tax returns, consider each home tax deduction and credit you are — and are not — entitled to. Running afoul of any of these nine home-related tax mistakes — which tax pros say are especially common — can cost you money or draw the IRS to your doorstep.


    Sin #1: Deducting the wrong year for property taxes

    You take a tax deduction for property taxes in the year you (or the holder of your escrow account) actually paid them. Some taxing authorities work a year behind — that is, you’re not billed for 2014 property taxes until 2015. But that’s irrelevant to the feds.

    Enter on your federal forms whatever amount you actually paid in 2014, no matter what the date is on your tax bill. Dave Hampton, CPA, tax manager at the Cincinnati accounting firm of Burke & Schindler, has seen home owners confuse payments for different years and claim the incorrect amount.


    Sin #2: Confusing escrow amount for actual taxes paid


    If your lender escrows funds to pay your property taxes, don’t just deduct the amount escrowed, says Bob Meighan, CPA and vice president at TurboTax in San Diego. The regular amount you pay into your escrow account each month to cover property taxes is probably a little more or a little less than your property tax bill. Your lender will adjust the amount every year or so to realign the two.

    For example, your tax bill might be $1,200, but your lender may have collected $1,100 or $1,300 in escrow over the year. Deduct only $1,200. Your lender will send you an official statement listing the actual taxes paid. Use that. Don’t just add up 12 months of escrow property tax payments.


    Sin #3: Deducting points paid to refinance

    Deduct points you paid your lender to secure your mortgage in full for the year you bought your home. However, when you refinance, says Meighan, you must deduct points over the life of your new loan. If you paid $2,000 in points to refinance into a 15-year mortgage, your tax deduction is $133 per year.


    Sin #4: Misjudging the home office tax deduction

    The deduction is complicated, often doesn’t amount to much of a deduction, has to be recaptured if you turn a profit when you sell your home, and can pique the IRS’s interest in your return. But there’s good news – there’s a new simplified home office deduction option if you don’t want to claim actual costs. If you’re eligible, you can instead claim $5 per sq. ft. up to 300 feet, or $1,500.


    Sin #5: Failing to repay the first-time home buyer tax credit

    If you used the original home buyer tax credit in 2008, you must repay 1/15th of the credit over 15 years. If you used the tax credit in 2009 or 2010 and then sold your house or stopped using it as your primary residence, within 36 months of the purchase date, you also have to pay back the credit.

    The IRS has a tool you can use to help figure out what you owe.


    Sin #6: Failing to track home-related expenses

    If the IRS comes a-knockin’, don’t be scrambling to compile your records. Many people forget to track home office and home improvement expenses, says Meighan. File away documents as you go. For example, save each manufacturer’s certification statement for energy tax credits and lender or government statements to confirm property taxes paid.


    Sin #7: Forgetting to keep track of capital gains

    If you sold your main home last year, don’t forget to pay capital gains taxes on any profit. You can exclude $250,000 (or $500,000 if you’re a married couple) of any profits from taxes. So if your cost basis for your home is $100,000 (what you paid for it plus any improvements) and you sold it for $400,000, your capital gains are $300,000. If you’re single, you owe taxes on $50,000 of gains. However, there are minimum time limits for holding property to take advantage of the exclusions, and other details. Consult IRS Publication 523.


    Sin #8: Filing incorrectly for energy tax credits

    If you made any eligible improvements in 2014, such as installing energy-efficient windows and doors, you may be able to take a 10% tax credit (up to $500; with some systems your cap is even lower than $500). But keep in mind, it’s a lifetime credit. If you claimed the credit in any recent years, you’re done. Fill out Form 5695.

    The first part of the form, which covers systems eligible for a larger tax credit through 2016, such as geothermal heat pumps, can be complex and involves crosschecking with half a dozen other IRS forms. Read the instructions carefully.


    Sin #9: Claiming too much for the mortgage interest tax deduction

    Taxpayers are allowed to deduct mortgage interest on home acquisition debt up to $1 million, plus they can also deduct up to $100,000 in home equity debt.

    This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.

    Source: HouseLogic.com

    Bring on the Buyers

    Written by: Michelle Nelson

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon

    With mortgage rates at a 20 month low and Austin rent prices projected to rise by 4.5% this year, the 2015 market looks promising for buyers ready to enter the market.

    With mortgage rates at a 20 month low and Austin rent prices projected to rise by 4.5% this year, the 2015 market looks promising for buyers ready to enter the market.

    KVUE reported the average rent in Austin this year will hit $1,185. The “City of Austin staff consider "affordable" housing to be 30 percent of a person's monthly income. That means a person would need to make $3,950 a month or $47,400 a year if their rent is $1,185 a month.” Considering those figures along with current mortgage rates, homeownership becomes an affordable housing option for many consumers. The additional tax and equity benefits of ownership will also attract to buyers.

    For consumers still in the rental market finding that perfect space will remain a challenge. Even with inventory expected to increase by 10,670 new units, occupancy is still at near capacity. Statistics released by Berkadia, a brokerage and financing firm, stated “renters quickly absorbed 9,150 of the 9,340 new apartments that were delivered in 2014. The overall vacancy rate stands at 4.5 percent, the lowest since 2006.” Predictions show these numbers are not likely to change for 2015.

    Zillow mortgage posted a rate of 3.58% on a 30 year fixed loan Tuesday afternoon, marking a 20 month low. Low rates coupled with high occupancy and rising rent costs should have agents targeting move-up ready renters this quarter.

    CFPB regulations will be getting their first test runs in August, so lenders may tighten up in response to the new regulations. The process of closing consumer driven loans will substantially change andthe time frames will lengthen. So, buyers looking for financing should start shopping today.

    As agents begin to share their market expertise with potential buyers, the current market conditions and forthcoming changes in lending should give the buyer that extra incentive to choose home ownership now.

    Sources:

    http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/blog/real-estate/2015/01/hold-onto-your-wallet-rental-rates-may-climb.html?page=all

    http://www.kvue.com/story/news/local/2015/01/15/austin-rent-expected-to-jump-45-percent-in-2015/21832787/http://www.zillow.com/mortgage-rates/

    http://www.zillow.com/mortgage-rates/

    CFPB Timeline Example

    Written by: Michelle Nelson

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    As we ready ourselves for the New Year, we are also steadily preparing for the new closing disclosure forms and regulations that will go into effect on August 1, 2015.

    As we ready ourselves for the New Year, we are also steadily preparing for the new closing disclosure forms and regulations that will go into effect on August 1, 2015. As most of you know the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) has made some changes to the closing process when it comes to Mortgage Disclosures.

    Most Consumer driven closed-ended mortgages will be affected by these new regulations except:

    • Reverse Mortgages

    • HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)

    • Mobile home

    • Commercial Purpose Loans

    • Creditors making five or fewer loans per year

    • Certain No-interest, subordinate special purpose loans such as Buyer Assistance or Rehab Property Loans.

    One of the biggest changes that we see upon us for standard consumer financing loans is the addition of a 3-Day Reviewing Period in which the lender must disclose an accurate Loan Estimate (a new form replacing TILA and GFE) to the consumer 3 days in advance of the closing. Should any substantial changes occur in those three days such as an inaccurate APR, a change in the loan product or a pre-payment penalty addition, the lender will be required to re-disclose the Loan Estimate, thereby triggering a new 3-Day waiting period before a closing can occur.

    Click here to see a Timeline Example of Events, issued by the CFPB . This calendar has BOLD boarders around the days that signal either triggers for requirements or satisfaction of disclosure obligations.

    Trinity Title is working diligently to inform ourselves and our clients of the upcoming changes. Should you have any additional questions or concerns about CFPB feel free to give us a call! (512) 342-8993. We will continue to post updates and FAQs about CFBP as the effective date nears. 

    Trinity Title is offering CFPB Classes on January 21st click the links below for the times and additional information on your desired location.
    Seating is limited, Sign Up Today!

    (AUSTIN) Lakeway – 9:30 – 10:30 (Sign Up Here)

    (AUSTIN) Northwest – 12:30 – 1:30 (Sign Up Here)

    (AUSTIN) Georgetown - 3:00 – 4:00 (Sign Up Here)

    ​5 Things Sellers Would Tell Buyers If They Could

    Written by: Melissa Elizondo, Marketing Executive

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Here are a few of the insider secrets from the seller’s side of the bargaining table that they would tell buyers…if they could.

    Last week we looked at things from the buyer's perspective. Now it's time for the seller.

     

    Oil and Water: That is the belief about buyers and sellers. Meaning they don’t go together at all. Some say that they are at odds simply by sitting across the table from one other – creating the presumption that they want totally different things.

    The prime example of competing buyer and seller interests is this: The buyer wants to pay as little as possible, while the seller wants to get top dollar for the place. But there is another way to look at this entirely. In fact, there is a point of view from which the buyer and the seller want exactly the same thing: The buyer wants to buy the place, and the seller wants to sell it to them. And I’ve seen many buyers and sellers act cooperatively to achieve just that.

    Nevertheless, there are things that the seller can see from their side of the table that you cannot. If we get into the insight of the seller, it can be a very powerful tool in helping buyers optimize their approach and to offer an interaction with the seller that benefit both parties.

    So, in the interest of helping both buyers and sellers move closer to an outcome that helps them achieve their mutual goals, here are a few of the insider secrets from the seller’s side of the bargaining table that they would tell buyers…if they could.

    1. Trashing my house doesn’t make me want to sell it to you at a discount.

    To a seller, their home is their castle. It’s the place where they’ve raised their children, and has been the backdrop for many of their memories. It’s the asset into which they’ve invested the lion’s share of their time and money, sometimes for years. It’s an intensive expression of their personal tastes. And it’s also the asset they must convert into as much money as possible to move forward with the next phase of their lives.

    All that said, the average seller knows most things about their home that you can see with the naked eye. So if you, as a buyer, think trash talking a home, pointing out obvious flaws or issues are a good strategy for getting the price down, rest assured that you are not telling the seller anything they didn’t already know when they set the list price. In fact, you might very well be doing your case more harm than good, as this “strategy” is highly likely to alienate and insult the seller whose cooperation you seek.

    If you feel strongly that something about a place makes it less valuable than the comparables the seller seems to have based the list price on, work with your agent on how best to communicate your offer price rationale to the listing agent in a way that is diplomatic and fact-based.

    2. Knowing that you have cash makes me feel comfortable taking your offer.

    Mortgageweb.jpg

    With distressed properties, over-asking multiple offers, and the generally warm-to-hot seller’s market in many areas, it has become increasingly common for sellers to request proof of a buyer’s cash to close. (This usually takes the form of bank or other asset account statements, with the sensitive account number information blacked out for security purposes.)

    Some buyers in competitive situations have begun to proactively offer such proof, even when it hasn’t been requested, and even for non-cash offers.

    Other buyers, though, take offense. Why shouldn’t the mortgage pre-approval letter be enough? Why should you have to jump through yet one more documentation hoop? Is the seller just plain nosy? Why are they all in your business?

    One word: comfort. Over the last few years, the number of home sale transactions that went into - and fell out of - escrow due to last minute loan problems of pre-approved buyers hit a record high. While this is awful for buyers to go through, it’s even more disruptive for sellers, who are relying on the transaction to close in the time frame the buyer provided to move forward with their own lives. It’s also a worst case scenario for a seller who had 5 offers on the table to choose one and then have it fall out of escrow later on.

    And sellers’ agents know this - often, the issues which derail a buyer’s loan can be resolved with money, extra cash down, extra cash at closing, extra cash to put in escrow for post-closing repairs required by the lender or the city. So, proving that you have more cash than you appear to need to close the deal doesn’t necessarily set you up for the seller to ask for more cash - but it might help them feel that you’re the buyer most likely to sidestep mortgage obstacles and seal the deal.

    3. It’s all about the Benjamins - but close-ability is a close second.

    Buyers be on notice - all the love letters, cute dog pics and cookies in the world will not make your offer win out over others that are offering significantly higher than yours, financially speaking. Now, please don’t write in telling me about the case of your cousin’s dog groomer’s tarot card reader who got a home for less than 10 other offers because she helped the little old lady seller take her garbage cans to the curb - most little old ladies need cash to get through their later years.

    There is always an exception to the rule, and it does sometimes happen that a seller will take a slightly lower offer than the highest for one reason or another. But if you’re trying to create a plan that stacks the decks in your favor in a multiple offer situation, your first priority should be to offer as much as you can, without spending beyond what is affordable for you and beyond the home’s fair market value.

    That said, sellers also care - a lot - about how likely the offer they accept is to close escrow. And when multiple offers get so numerous and so frenzied that buyers seem to be throwing money at a home, smart sellers pay attention to the fact that their home might very well not appraise at a crazily high price and focus on offers that seem realistic and close-able, which can mean offers below the highest.

    Approval letters, proof of cash to close, the professionalism with which the offer is prepared and presented (see below), and even things like your credit score, your choice of mortgage broker/professional - all these things contribute to or detract from a seller’s estimation of how close-able your offer is. If you’re competing against other offers, you should be maxing out both your price and your offer’s close-ability, as evidenced by these characteristics.

    4. Your agent represents you to the world of sellers. Choose wisely.

    See above. A buyer’s broker or agent has a lot of influence on whether the transaction closes, and how smooth or bumpy the ride is. If your agent’s level of professionalism is lacking, it will show - and listing agents might actually rank your offer below others, in terms of close-ability. If your agent’s level of professionalism is stellar, the opposite can occur.

    Before you choose an agent, ask around your circle of friends and do a little online searching or even calls to past clients to see what you can find out about their reputation for professionalism.

    5. Ask nicely - the old “flies with honey” adage is true.

    The conventional narrative about buyers and sellers is that they are adversaries. But I’ve been around this block a few times, and I think the average buyer would be absolutely surprised at the number of times sellers are actually ready, willing and able to agree to their requests throughout a transaction. This is especially the case where:

    - The buyers’ requests are reasonable and not nickel-and-dime nitpicks

    - The buyers phrase their requests nicely, and

    - The buyers have been living up to their end of the bargain throughout the course of the transaction.

    Compare this with buyers who try to hold sellers hostage to their requests with the threat that they’ll kill the deal if the seller doesn’t do every single penny-ante thing the buyer wants.

    I’ve seen sellers agree to leave valuable personal property behind, have repairs made, give thousands of dollars in repair credits or price reductions after a concerning inspection report - despite a hot seller’s market - all because they were good people, could afford to, and the buyer’s approach was more sweet than it was sour.

    5 Things Buyers Would Tell Sellers If They Could

    Written by: Melissa Elizondo, Marketing Executive

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    We reveal a handful of helpful insider insights that the buyers would reveal to sellers, if they could.

    The majority of buyers and sellers never connect in person, never talk, and never exchange insights or information except in the most formal, written formats – despite being effective business colleagues in one of the single most important transactions of their lives. And here is the fact: buyers sit on a wealth of knowledge that sellers crave t know. Namely, how to attract more buyers to their home (or at least, not turn them off). So since buyers and sellers can’t get together, allow me to reveal a handful of helpful insider insights that the buyer’s I have worked with over the years would reveal to sellers, if they could.

    1. You should see what your home looks like online. No, really. 

    If you did your due diligence before listing your home for sale, met with agents and reviewed marketing plans they use for their listings, chances are good that you chose an agent who takes online marketing very seriously an said as much during your listing interview. But somehow, there are still hundreds of listings in every major city that receive a failing grade on their online presence, once the home has actually been listed. Every day there are listings with only one or two pictures, no pictures, poor pictures, and listing descriptions that bemuse the buyers, but would befuddle and even anger the homeowner.

    But it is free for you, seller, to hop online and just do a quick audit of the way your home is represented on the same listings, virtual tours, and property websites that the buyers will see. Often the only way these glitches will be fixed is to bring it to the attention of the listing agent so they can get it rectified. So you should.

    2. If your home is seriously overpriced, I will wait for the price to come down before I even come see it.

    You might be thinking the best plan of action is to list your home high, planning on the fact that the prospective buyers will want to bargain the price down. And, in fact, this might be true to your area – your agent can brief you on what the standard negotiation practices in your neck of the woods are, and you can work together to factor them into your pricing strategy.

    RealtorHeader.png

    That said, even in an area where homes generally go for below-asking, buyers are willing to do some basic negotiation. They are not, generally, interested in correcting a seller’s belief system about their home and its value that are clearly not based in the realm of reality. That seems daunting and like too much work to do - as well, there are so many properties to see, and buyers have to invest so much time, energy and emotion in making an offer, they don’t like to do that in cases where the seller’s list price is so bizarrely above-market that the chances of coming to a meeting of the minds about price are slim.

    If your home is dramatically overpriced, compared to the others in the area or compared to its market price range, most serious home buyers in the market for a home like yours will either (a) never come see it, because it doesn’t show up in the price range they are searching online, or (b) not come see it unless and until you drop the price, because it simply isn’t worth their time and energy until you correct your pricing into the realm of the realistic.

    3. There are a whole lot of fish in the sea - I only have to find one.

    Agents and mortgage brokers talk to buyers a whole lot about compromising, and what they can expect on the market as a whole, and such. But my reality is this: home buyers are not in the business of market analysis. They are in the business of finding a home. Only. One. Home.

    Yes, ultimately, every buyer has to make some compromises. No home is perfect, and every person who buys a home eventually gets that. But even in a heating market like the one we are in right now, there are lots of homes coming onto the market every single day. Any given buyer only has to find one that works for them. To buy your house - any house - that buyer really does need to feel inspired by it enough to feel like it could work for their family, their needs and their life as their home.

    If you take shortcuts when it comes to primping and prepping your home for the market, it becomes super obvious to buyers when they scrutinize it, even if it’s really priced well. On the other hand, the homes that were well cared for, prepared and priced shine above the others, at every price point.

    4. If I nitpick your house, that probably means I like it.

    Every buyer’s broker has a horrific moment, at some point in their career, where they realize their buyer has been trash talking a home - its nasty wallpaper, vomit-rocious carpet, silly stylistic choices, etc. and so forth - and the home’s seller has managed to overhear this diatribe. The pool boy who was at the property turns out to be the seller’s son, the sellers turn out to have been next door or in the workshop through the entire showing, or the teddy bear-cum-Nanny Cam has advanced audio capabilities.

    Here’s why this horrifies buyer’s agents: the buyer that goes to all that trouble to dissect precisely what they would do differently if a given house belonged to them is a buyer who is thinking about making an offer on that very house.

    The more questions, critiques, nitpicks, What-I-would-do and such a buyer rattles off about a home, the more likely they are to make an offer on it. Of course, the occasional curmudgeonly amateur designer likes to just rip other’s decor choices apart for the fun of it, but many otherwise lovely individuals do this when they get serious about a home as part of the exercise of visualizing the property as theirs, and envisioning themselves, their families and their stuff in it. This is how buyers take a place that might not be perfectly move-in ready for them, and figure out how they might be able to make it work.

    So if you happen to overhear a nitpicky buyer dissecting your home and verbally tearing down walls or ripping up carpet, don’t despair. They might simply be mentally trying on your home as their home.

    5. When it comes to staging, the bar is high. Really high.

    HGTV. Houzz. Architectural Digest. All these outlets which constantly publish beautifully designed and decorated homes have influenced what the average American expects their home to look like - and yours, for that matter. Additionally, all the do-it-yourself publications and shows along with the advent of home improvement stores which double as DIY design emporiums have given everyday people of modest means the power to live in beautiful and functional homes, without breaking the bank.

    Stockvault-living-room152187.jpg

    Beyond all this, professional home staging has taken off in recent years, as data has repeatedly shown that staged homes sell faster, for more, and more certainly than homes that are not staged, nor well-prepared by their owners. So not only is your home competing with the homes buyers are seeing on TV and in the magazines, it is also competing with professionally staged homes for sale right in your own neighborhood - homes that the very buyers who will come to see your home will also have seen, possibly right before or after they view yours!

    So, if you want to and can afford to have your home staged, do. If you can’t, you should still take the preparation of your home very seriously, and include your agent or a stager you hire for an hour of advice in the process, taking their input on things like: what furniture to get rid of, which improvements will get you the most bang for your buck, what paint, flooring and other finish materials will appeal to the broadest buyer segment in your area.

    These pros often also have contacts with local handy-people, painters, landscapers and other vendors who can get your home ready for market in a time and cost-efficient manner.

    Staging Works!

    Next week, it is SELLERS turn to give BUYERS the advice they would if they could!

    San Antonio Holiday Guide

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon

    The Holidays in South Texas are full of amazing events. Check out some of our favorites!

    Ford's Holiday River Parade & Lighting Ceremony

    November 28, 2014, 7pm-9pm

    For over 30 years, this spectacular one-hour parade along San Antonio's River Walk has featured illuminated floats with celebrities, bands and lavishly-costumed participants. The parade goes on RAIN OR SHINE. Children 2 years of age or older will need a ticket. Tickets are non refundable. Click here to buy tickets.

    Holiday In The Park

    Six Flags Fiesta Texas is transformed into an amazing winter wonderland for their Holiday in the Park festival. Over a million colorful lights illuminate the park. There's a gigantic 60-foot Christmas tree and a new skating rink. The kids can see Santa Claus at Santa's Castle and the choreographed light show is a spectacle you shouldn't miss. One of the best holiday shows at Fiesta Texas is The Majesty of Christmas -- the story of the Nativity. Though an additional fee is required, it's worth the price. The park offers special holiday snacks including roasted nuts, hot chocolate and cookies. They also have several holiday shops and a number of live holiday performances. Look online to save some money, many websites offer discounts of $15 or more per ticket.

    Santa's Ranch

    Just outside of San Antonio, you'll find one of the best drive-thu Christmas light parks in South Texas. Santa's Ranch features a mile of holiday scenes with over a million lights and over 100 displays and animations. If you have young kids, this light spectacular is definitely a must-see. Because you stay in the car, you don't have to worry about tracking down your little ones. Yet unlike many other light displays, you can actually see everything from your vehicle and won't be disappointed. Santa's Ranch is priced at $22 per car and if you think you are going to go back often, you can buy a season pass for $42. Check out their website where you can find a map, directions and a coupon for a couple bucks off.

    Cowboy Christmas

    If you want to experience Christmas Old West style, head to Enchanted Springs Ranch in Boerne for their Cowboy Christmas festival. The 86-acre working ranch offers all day activities and events including their "Texas' Night Before Christmas" puppet show, tractor rides through the wild animal park, free ornament making, train rides and more. Kids love the decorated Old West town, Cowboy Santa and all the Christmas music and entertainment. Admission is $14 for adults, $7 for children, and kids under three are free. Located about 20 minutes outside San Antonio in Boerne, Enchanted Springs Ranch also offers train rides, stick pony races, a kids' playground and much more. Don't use your GPS to try to get there -- you'll end up getting lost. Instead visit their website for accurate directions.

    Light The Way

    For more than 20 years, Light the Way has been a holiday tradition in San Antonio. Visitors flock to the sprawling campus of University of the Incarnate Word to witness the glittering wonder of over a million twinkling lights. Bring your whole family and take a driving tour of the campus to check out this amazing Christmas light display. It can definitely get crowded, so try to make it to Light the Way on a weeknight if you don't want to deal with all the traffic. The lights stay up until the first week of January, so you have plenty of time to check it out.

    Celebrate San Antonio

    Ring in the New Year with over 250,000 people in downtown San Antonio. This annual event features four stages of entertainment, 50 food and beverage booths, a special children's area, carnival games and much more. The highlight is the spectacular fireworks display showcasing the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas. Free and open to the public, Celebrate San Antonio is located on S. Alamo Street between Market and Durango and throughout Hemisfair Park and the historic La Villita District. If you have never been to Celebrate San Antonio, you need to go at least once to experience such a massive party. The designated kids area makes this New Year's Eve celebration a family event.

    How To Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests

    Written by: Lisa Kaplan Gordon, House Logic

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Is your home ready for holiday visits from friends and family? Here’s how to prepare for the invasion.

    I'm lucky and have a guest suite always ready for holiday guests. But even with a dedicated space, preparing my home for the annual onslaught of friends and family takes time and forethought. 

    Some preparations for holiday guests take only a few minutes; some take a lot longer. My advice: Start preparing your home for the holidays now. 

    Prioritize

    The day before guests arrive is no time to pull apart junk drawers and clean out linen closets. Declutter guest rooms and public areas — foyer, kitchen, living room, den, and dining room. Remove anything unnecessary from countertops, coffee tables, and ottomans; if it’s out of sight, keep it out of mind, for now. 

    If you run short of time, bag up the clutter and store it in car trunks, basements, and out-of-the-way closets. Sort and arrange after your guests depart. 

    Safety

    Light the way: Even though you can navigate your home blindfolded, your guests can’t. Make sure outside lights are working so they don’t trip on the way to your door. Put motion-activated night lights in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms to ensure safe passage after the sun sets.

    Child Proofing: Ask parents to bring hardware that keeps their small ones safe, such as baby gates and cabinet locks. Transfer toxic cleaners and medicines from base to wall cabinets. Hide matches and lighters.

    Fire prevention: If you didn’t freshen smoke detector batteries when you switched the clocks to Daylight Savings Time, change them now. After your guests arrive, run a quick fire drill: Make sure they can locate exits and fire extinguishers, and that they know how to open windows and doors. 

    Entryway upgrades

    - Your home’s foyer is the first place guests see, so make a good first impression. 

    - Upgrade exterior entry doors or give old doors a new coat of paint. Polish and tighten door hardware, and oil hinges to prevent squeaks. 

    - Remove scratches from hardwood floors, stairs, and wood railings. Place a small rug or welcome mat at the entrance to protect floors from mud and snow. 

    - Clear out shoes, umbrellas, and other clutter. 

    - Add extra hooks to walls so guests can hang coats and hats. 

    - Add a storage bench where guests can remove boots and shoes. 

    Kitchen prep

    - Your kitchen is command central during the holidays, so make sure it’s ready for guests and extra helpers. 

    - To increase storage, install a pot rack to clear cooking items off countertops and ranges. 

    - Move your coffee station into a family room so guests don’t crowd the kitchen when you’re trying to fix meals. 

    - If you like to visit while you’re cooking, place extra stools and chairs around the perimeter of your kitchen so guests can set a spell. 

    Sleeping arrangements

    If you’ve got a guest room, replace the ceiling fixture with a ceiling fan and light combo, which helps guests customize their room temperature without fiddling with the thermostat for the entire house. 

    To carve sleeping space out of public areas, buy a folding screen or rolling bookcase, which will provide privacy for sleepers. Fold or roll it away in the morning. 

    Bathroom storage

    Bring toilet paper, towels, and toiletries out of hiding, and place them on open shelves so guests can find them easily.

    If you don’t have enough wall space for shelves, place these items in open baskets around the bathroom.

    Also, outfit each tub with a bath mat (to avoid falls) and each toilet with a plunger (to avoid embarrassment).

    2014 WCR & NAR National Convention

    Written by: Lisa Harvell, Branch Manager & Escrow Officer - Trinity Title Preston Georgetown - DFW Division

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon

    The 2014 WCR & NAR National Convention this year was held in New Orleans. Over 17,000 Realtors & Affiliates descended on the city for their respective events during the weeklong convention!

    The City of New Orleans was hospitable, gracious and thriving during the 2014 WCR & NAR National Convention this year. Over 17,000 Realtors & Affiliates descended on the city for their respective events during the weeklong convention! The hotels and convention center were well prepared and quite simply, took great care of our massive group. Spotless busses transported folks between the hotels and convention center so everyone had the opportunity to attend the Realtor Expo and various classes and speakers hosted by WCR & NAR. Hundreds of booths with everything from High Tech APP’s, Real Estate Related Products, Industry Vendors, Games & Prizes were featured in the Realtor Expo and of course, thousands of folks attended throughout the week. Most people went to the Expo multiple times because there was a lot of real estate to cover and simply too much great stuff to absorb in one trip!

    Highlights of the Convention included National Awards at NAR and the Installation of National Officers at both organizations. WCR even had their own epic parade down Bourbon Street, complete with a Jazz Band, masks, beads and police escorts! Thousands of folks lined the streets and cheered us on as we sashayed in our evening clothes, block after block, basking in the fun and dancing to the music!

        Eloise Martin (center)
        flanked by Lisa Harvell & Jana Smith.
        NAR Hall of Fame Award Ceremony
        for Eloise Martin.


        National Association of Realtors Convention
        New Orleans 2014

    One exciting event was “Realtors Got Talent”, which featured six outstanding Realtor/Entertainers from around the world, with a grand prize of $2,000 for the 1st place winner and $500 for the other participants. They started off the night with a bang and were followed by a special event strictly for WCR & NAR attendees. Ticket holders were treated to a wonderful private concert by Grammy Award Winning JENNIFER HUDSON! She was phenomenal and had the crowd on their feet most of the night! Her strong, rich voice, six giant screens and a great audio system made the night truly special and one we will not soon forget.

    WCR and NAR are the industry gold standard for Education, Information, Networking and Referrals and this convention was a true celebration of our industry’s success. To get involved, join your local WCR Chapter or Real Estate Board and soar to new heights in our industry! 

    Making Commission All Month Long

    Written by: Lisa Harvell, Branch Manager & Escrow Officer - Trinity Title Preston Georgetown - DFW Division

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon

    When most Real Estate Contracts are written, the closing date is frequently designated set to occur at the end of the month. The idea is that the Buyer will have a smaller amount of daily interest to pay thus reducing their closing costs when they buy their property. But is that true??

    Bet that got your attention! You may be asking yourself, “What does that mean”?

    When most Real Estate Contracts are written, the closing date is frequently designated set to occur at the end of the month. The idea, prompted by Realtors and Lenders is that the Buyer will have a smaller amount of daily interest to pay on their new loan at closing, thus reducing their closing costs when they buy their property.

    This practice has slowly been evolving but there are many times when closing at month end is not necessary or even practical for the buyer or seller. Most people who are buying a home are in one of two situations:

    1)They are paying rent on their current place of residence

    2)They are paying a mortgage(s) on their current place of residence

    Most people who are selling a Home buy another property and take out a mortgage. This means they too are faced with a mortgage to pay off and a new mortgage, both with interest accruing rapidly. If a Realtor is representing a client who is both a Seller and a Buyer on separate transactions, it is critical to pay attention to the loan type that is being paid off and correlate the closing date accordingly if at all possible.

    When you factor in the difference between the daily interest charge on the old loan or rent payment, versus the daily interest on the new loan, there is usually very little cost difference.

    In either scenario, that means the Consumer is spending money on another place to live before closing on the next property.

    More specifically, that means if the buyer closes sooner on another property, they may have the opportunity to cut off the rent or mortgage payment sooner than month end. Sometimes the rent or daily interest cost of the first property is more expensive than the property they are buying, particularly in this low interest rate climate. Another thing to consider is that closing sooner than month end may provide flexibility for a longer period of time to move out of their current place of residence.

    Ask questions and determine what their actual rental renewal date is or if there is a mortgage to pay off and this information can help when selecting an actual closing date. Most people simply go along with whatever date their Realtor gives them so having these types of conversations is essential.

    If there is a mortgage to pay off, it is important to understand WHAT TYPE of MORTGAGE they have. Some mortgages have daily interest and others have monthly interest. If a buyer has a property to that is financed through an FHA loan, it is imperative that they close their sale several days before month end, otherwise, there may be an additional month’s interest due on the loan that is being paid off. This alone will cost several hundred dollars, depending on their loan balance. It is almost impossible to close a transaction on the last day of the month and have an FHA payoff be made the same day. Closing involves many parties, including a Lender, Buyer, Seller, Title Company and all must be synced perfectly to finalize the transaction.

    Keep in mind when closing multiple transactions, or the Purchase of one property is contingent on the sale of another, most people prefer to move directly from one property to another so having the closing dates lined up is essential. Either way, there will be costs involved that will not necessarily be negated by closing at month end.

    One of the most compelling reasons in my mind to close deals throughout the month is that the service level improves dramatically when lenders and title companies have sufficient time to complete the last part of transaction. This occurs when there is no bottleneck of last minute documents being delivered from lenders to title companies who are working frantically behind the scenes to get everything ready for last minute deals.

    A title company must have sufficient time to work the final settlement statement based on the lender’s instructions, printing the loan package, and finally, review and organization of the loan documents. This is a time consuming process under the best of circumstances and when everything happens at the last minute, there is an increased margin for potential error.

    All parties in a real estate transaction generally are striving for the common goal of getting the deal closed with the least amount of disruption to the client. We all hope to get referrals based on our good service and we have high expectations for each party to perform their duties to the best of their ability on every transaction, every single time. We also expect to get paid at the end of the transaction and have the confidence to move on to the next task quickly.

    Doesn’t every client expect the absolute best service and attention to detail? They deserve a great, competent Realtor who keeps their needs first and foremost, a Lender who delivers documents and money on time and a title company who closes, funds and records quickly and accurately. One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to spread closings dates through out the month, instead of trying to close everything at the last possible minute.

    After all, who doesn’t want to “Make Commission All Month Long”? 

    San Antonio Fall Festivals

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon

    Check out some of these great festivals and events around SA this fall!

    BOOtanica! Fall Festival and Plant Sale 

    This annual event celebrates Halloween and the season in a fun atmosphere suitable for even the smallest kiddos. Visitors to BOOtanica! will have a ghoulishly good time with a variety of fun events for the whole family, including a children’s costume parade! Enjoy Trick or Treating along WaterSaver Lane. 

    October 25th 10am-2pm @ San Antonio Botanical Gardens

     
       

    The Pumpkin Patch San Antonio

    The fourth annual Pumpkin Patch San Antonio celebrates the advent of fall with harvest-themed entertainment, running Friday through Sunday for the entire month of October near Sea World. 

    Friday, Oct 3 - Sunday, Oct 26 8731 Texas 151, San Antonio, 78245  


       

    Zoo Boo 

    Join the Zoo for some “spook”tacularly scary fun at the 28th Annual Halloween event, ZOO BOO at YOUR San Antonio Zoo. Zoo Boo is an exciting, safe, and non-scary Halloween event for families with children 12 years of age or younger, held on the grounds of the San Antonio Zoo. 

    Thursday, Oct 30 - Friday, Oct 31 6:00 p.m. - 9 p.m. @ San Antonio Zoo 


     

    SAY Sí’s 8th Annual Muertitos Fest Celebrating Día de los Muertos

    SAY Sí’s 8th Annual Muertitos Fest provides a comprehensive perspective of the significant cultural holiday and will feature local artists, folk art exhibits, and more! 

    Friday Oct 31 - Saturday, Nov 1, 1518 South Alamo, San Antonio, 78204  


     

    Morgan’s Wonderland: More Delightful Than Frightful 

    With greater emphasis on fun rather than fright, Morgan’s Wonderland will be open on Halloween evening. Children ages 12 and under and special-needs individuals of all ages can wear their more-delightful-than-frightful Halloween costumes and go trick-or-treating while they enjoy the 25 acre theme park and all its attractions that are accessible to everyone.

    Friday, October 31, @ Morgan’s Wonderland 


       

    Luminaria - Arts Come To Light

    All manner of creative endeavors — art, music, poetry, performance, light shows — explode across San Antonio. Luminaria is San Antonio’s annual celebration of art and artists. Overseen by San Antonio’s creative leaders, it is free of charge and showcases all art forms in an outdoor setting and inside various venues downtown.

    Friday Nov 7 - Saturday, Nov 8, Hemisfair Park - Downtown  
     
     

    Download a printable PDF here!

    More Links:

    http://visitsanantonio.com/english/Trip-Ideas/Halloween-Thrills-Chills

    http://visitsanantonio.com/english/Explore-San-Antonio/Events/Major-Events-And-Festivals

    http://www.texashalloween.com/2013/07/23/san-antonio-halloween-events/

    2014 TEA Accountability Ratings

    Written by: Michelle Nelson

    SA Riverwalk Education icon

    Every year the TEA (Texas Education Agency) releases the year’s accountability ratings for more than 1,200 school districts, charters and more than 8,500 campuses.

    Every year the TEA (Texas Education Agency) releases the year’s accountability ratings for more than 1,200 school districts, charters and more than 8,500 campuses.

    Over the last several years the ratings as well as the system that creates them has changed, shifting from the Exemplary, Recognized, Acceptable and Unacceptable ratings of the TAKS test to the more seemingly streamlined Pass/Fail system of the STAAR test. In order to show specific areas of higher achievement the new STAAR ratings also incorporate 7 distinctions in the areas of: Reading/English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Top 25% Student Progress, Top 25% Closing Performance Gaps and
    Post-Secondary Readiness.

    This year the TEA has published a couple of short  informational videos explaining how the ratings are calculated.

    Check them out here: 
    English: http://youtu.be/cbEgrdijuc8    
    Spanish: http://youtu.be/eidlyApBSkY

    If you would like copies of your local school districts accountability ratings, we have complied them into regional pieces fit for printing and passing out to your clients. Explore our Helpful Documents page or download copies here.

    Greater Austin Area

    Greater San Antonio Area

    Dallas County

    Tarrant County

    Collin County

    Denton County

    Johnson County

    Rockwall and Kaufman Counties

    7 Things Every Homeowner Should Know About the Aquapocalypse

    Written by: Deirdre Sullivan, HouseLogic.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon

    Right now close to 50% of the U.S. is experiencing some level of drought. Why should homeowners care?

    1. Thanks to climate change, California’s aquapocalypse is spreading. Over the next couple of decades more than 400 counties in the U.S. may be going through an extreme dry spell, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council. How bad can it get?

    Dry yard in California droughtImage: Michael Dubois - Hollister

    2. You won’t be able to flush the toilet during daylight hours, take a shower longer than five minutes, or wash your dishes using fresh water. Parts of the Southern plains and Western states already are facing water restrictions.

    FYI: The 1930s drought that turned the Great Plains into a dust bowl was also caused by environmental damage.

    Shower timerImage: Simon Yeo

    3. Running your sprinkler will be forbidden — just like in water-scarce Sacramento where “water police” fine homeowners for illegal lawn watering.

    Fact: If the drought continues through Oct. 1, it will be California’s driest year in half a millenium.

    Watering a sidewalkImage: jlsohio/iStockphoto

    4. And since water is vital to agricultural and energy production, drought also causes exorbitant grocery bills, soaring electricity rates, and killer gas prices.

    Fact: Lake Mead could dry up by 2021. It’s already hit its lowest level since the dam was built in the 1930s. Currently, it supplies water to 22 million people in the Southwest.

    Lake MeadImage: wholden/iStockphoto

    5. Even chilling at home with a cold one can become a pricey luxury. Right now in parts of the country breweries are being asked to reduce their water use. Mandatory reductions may make beer as expensive as a prestigious champagne.

    If drought persists, you may not even like how beer tastes in the future. Using quality local water is key when it comes to making stellar suds. Brewing with anything less, which may happen if our rivers run dry, can make your favorite beer taste like a Popsicle stick.

    Drought beer bottleImage: Libby Walker for HouseLogic

    6. As our population increases and our water withdrawals grow higher, cities all over the country — including Atlanta, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, and Washington D.C. — may run bone-dry by mid-century, according to NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences.

    Atlanta skylineImage: Andre Engels/Wikipedia

    7. You CAN take action now to help future-proof your home against drought by eliminating your home’s worst water-hogging habits.

    The worst water hog is landscaping. Our yards consume 30% of our home’s total water use — more than the household yearly average for washing clothes and showering combined. What’s the problem? Up to 50% of the water we use outside is wasted on over-watering our lawns.

    First steps:

    • Give your sprinkler a break. Grass is not supposed to be bright green during the dog days of summer, according to the EPA. So water your lawn only when it’s truly thirsty. To check, step on your grass. If it doesn’t spring back, it’s time to water.
    • Let the grass grow. Longer grass reduces water evaporation, and as a bonus you’ll have fewer weeds.
    • Give your sprinkler system a tuneup. Leaks and clogs can waste lots of water. A broken sprinkler head can pour 25,000 gallons of water down the drain over a six month period.

    Big strides:

    • Water your lawn more efficiently with a Watersense-labeled irrigation controller. It’s like a programmable thermostat for your sprinkler system because it controls when and how much you water your lawn.

    Drain barrelImage: Karen MacEwan

    Giant leaps:

    • Hydro-zone your yard by grouping plants with similar watering needs in the same area. It make it easier to avoid over-watering
    • Landscape using parch-proof plants. It’s a great way to conserve water without sacrificing curb appeal.
    • Go with fake turf. It’s a low maintenance solution that never needs watering.

    The second biggest water hog is the toilet. Up to 19% of your abode’s total water-use is flushed down the loo.

    First step:

    • Check if your toilet is hemorrhaging water. Toilet leaks can waste up to 200 gallons of water daily (and that can total $840 per year!). To test for leaks put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet’s tank (but don’t flush) If the water in your bowl changes color within 15 minutes, it’s leaking.

    food coloring on toiletImage: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

    Big stride:

    • Have an ancient commode? Upgrade to one with the Watersense label. They use 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf) or less compared to standard toilets made after 1992 that meet the federal standard of 1.6 gpf.

    Giant leap:

    • Go with a composting potty. They require little to no water, and modern models are easy to use and look like regular toilets. They’re also a great solution to sanitation and environmental problems in unsewered, rural, and suburban areas.

    The third biggest water guzzler is the clothes washer. It can account for as much as 15% of your household’s yearly total. A washer can also drive up your electricity bill from heating hot water to wringing clothes during the spin cycle. Here are three ways you can avoid getting hosed:

    First step:

    • Check your washer’s settings. Don’t opt for second rinse cycle. If you have to wash a small load use the appropriate water level or load size selection.

    Big stride:

    • Your standard washer is about to become an energy-sucking dinosaur. All basic front loaders will have to meet today’s Energy Star requirements by 2015, and top loaders by 2018. If you replace your washer with an Energy Star model, you’ll use around 35% less water and 20% less electricity.

    Giant leap:

    Greywater systemImage: Ecology Action/Greywater Action

    Showers and faucets round out the top five ways we consume water: Showers account for 12% and faucets account for 11% of our yearly use. Here are the top three ways you can cut back.

    First step:

    • Wash like you’re in the Navy. To conserve water on naval ships, sailors would hop in the shower and quickly douse themselves in water, then turn off the water, get all sudsy, and turn back on the water to quickly rinse off. While a regular shower can use around 60 gallons of water, washing like a sailor can use as little as three gallons.

    Big stride:

    • Replace your standard shower and bathroom faucet fixtures with ones marked Watersense. Doing so will shave 700 gallons off your faucet use and trim 2,900 gallons per year off shower use.

    Installing WaterSense faucetImage: Jennifer Griffin of Dimples & Tangles

    Giant leap:Stop running your faucet or shower while waiting for it to turn hot. A hot water recirculating system can save water and energy, according to Energy Star. Instead of sending cool water that’s been sitting in your home’s hot water pipes when a water fixture is turned on, the system sends the cool water back to the heater via the cold water line while sending hot water directly from the heater.

    Bonus Fact: If you make water conservation improvements to your home now, you’ll not only save money on utility bills, your home will be more marketable and may even garner a higher price than less water efficient homes.


    Follow HouseLogic: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

    Top 10 Safest Neighborhoods in DFW

    Written by: Lindsey Ellard, Business Development

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon

    While the Dallas/Ft Worth area is a great place to raise a family, some neighborhoods stand above the rest. Check out our top 10!

    1. Frisco (north of El Dorado)

    New subdivisions like Panther Creek Estates benefit from Frisco's overall low crime rate.


    2. Double Oak

    The six-person police department keeps things quiet and the crime rate down in this Denton County town of 2,900 west of Flower Mound.


    3. West McKinney

    If you drive west on US Highway 380, you might almost miss this area to your left, just past Custer Road, that's home to the Aero Country fly-in communities.


    4. Frisco (east of Preston)

    Between College Parkway and State Highway121 sit several thousand residences built in the '90s and 2000s. And it's not just houses; the area also includes the Tuscany Square townhomes.


    5. North Dallas

    Snuggled between Preston Hollow and Central Expressway along Walnut Hill Lane sits an area, near NorthPark Center, Temple Emanu-El and Hillcrest High School, that criminals steer clear of.


    6. Eastern Colleyville

    The half of Colleyville east of State Highway 26 has a lot to recommend it besides safety, but the area of $300,000 and $400,000 homes near picturesque Pecan Park and highly regarded OC Taylor Elementary boasts some of the safest streets in North Texas.


    7. Bent Tree, Oakdale and Country Brook

    This group of Far North Dallas neighborhoods snuggles between Addison and the Bush Turnpike. Inside it, the Bent Trail, Briar Ridge and Moss Creek area due west of Pres-ton Road is even safer than the rest.


    8. Frisco (west of Stonebriar Mall)

    Just west of the excellent shopping at one of Collin County's premier malls sit Stonebriar Country Club and communities such as Stonebriar Village. Maybe it's because of that gated community and its full-time security force, but homeowners here have little to fear from crime.


    9. Timber Creek

    When you get off I-35E in Lewisville, head west on Bellaire Boulevard for about a mile. To your left will be a group of subdivisions that includes Timber Creek Acres and Oak Creek Estates. Beyond safety, it's practically within shouting distance of Lewisville's Central Park.


    10. North Richland Hills

    This northeast Tarrant County bedroom community hired its first town marshal and night watchman when it incorporated in 1953. The town and police force have grown a lot since then, and there's even a website where residents can email the cop on their neighborhood beat.

    How to Keep Your House Cool Without AC

    Written by: Lisa Kaplan Gordon - HouseLogic.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Tools icon

    You don’t have to switch on the air conditioner to get a big chill this summer. These tips will help you keep your house cool without AC, which will save energy(and avoid AC wars with your family).

    Block that Sun!


    When sunlight enters your house, it turns into heat. You’ll keep your house cooler if you reduce solar heat gain by keeping sunlight out.

    Close the drapes: Line them with light-colored fabric that reflects the sun, and close them during the hottest part of the day. Let them pillow onto the floor to block air movement.

    Add awnings: Install them on south- and west-facing windows to reduce solar heat gain by up to 77%, says the U.S. Department of Energy. Make your own by tacking up sheets outside your windows and draping the ends over a railing or lawn chair.

    Install shutters: Interior and exterior shutters not only reduce heat gain and loss, but they also add security and protect against bad weather. Interior shutters with adjustable slats let you control how much sun you let in.

    Apply high-reflectivity window film: Install energy-saving window filmson east- and west-facing windows, which will keep you cool in summer, but let in warming sun in the winter. Mirror-like films are more effective than colored transparent films.

    Here’s more information about energy-efficient window coverings.

    Open Those Windows

    Be sure to open windows when the outside temperature is lower than the inside. Cool air helps lower the temps of everything — walls, floors, furniture — that will absorb heat as temps rise, helping inside air say cooler longer.

    To create cross-ventilation, open windows on opposite sides of the house. Good ventilation helps reduce VOCs and prevents mold.

    Fire Up Fans

    Portable fans: At night, place fans in open windows to move cool air. In the day, put fans where you feel their cooling breezes (moving air evaporates perspiration and lowers your body temperature). To get extra cool, place glasses or bowls of ice water in front of fans, which will chill the moving air.

    Ceiling fans: For maximum cooling effect, make sure ceiling fans spin in the direction that pushes air down, rather than sucks it up. Be sure to turn off fans when you’re not in the room, because fan motors give off heat, too.

    Whole house fans: A whole-house fan ($1,000 to $1,600, including install) exhausts hot inside air out through roof vents. Make sure your windows are open when you run a whole-house fan.

    Power Down Appliances

    You’ll save money and reduce heat output by turning off appliances you’re not using, particularly your computer and television. Powering down multiple appliances is easier if you connect them to the same power strip.

    Don’t use heat- and steam-generating appliances — ranges, ovens, washers, dryers — during the hottest part of the day. In fact, take advantage of the heat by drying clothes outside on a line.

    Plant Trees and Vines

    These green house-coolers shade your home’s exterior and keep sunlight out of windows. Plant them by west-facing walls, where the sun is strongest.

    Deciduous trees, which leaf out in spring and drop leaves in fall, are best because they provide shade in summer, then let in sun when temperatures drop in autumn. Select trees that are native to your area, which have a better chance of surviving. When planting, determine the height, canopy width, and root spread of the mature tree and plant accordingly.

    Climbing vines, such as ivy and Virginia creeper, also are good outside insulators. To prevent vine rootlets or tendrils from compromising your siding, grow them on trellises or wires about 6 inches away from the house.

    Speaking of shade, here are smart, inexpensive ideas for shading your patio.

    Want more tips for staying cool this summer? Substitute CFL and LED bulbs for hotter incandescent lights.

    Also, try insulating your garage door to prevent heat buildup.

    Tips for Buying in a Tight Market

    Written by: Realtor.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Increase your chances of getting your dream house in a competitive housing market, and lower your chances of losing out to another buyer.

    In today's housing market, it can be a challenge to not only find your dream home, but to have an offer accepted. Follow these tips to help you get into the house you've always wanted!

    1. Get prequalified for a mortgage. You’ll be able to make a firm commitment to buy and your offer will be more desirable to the seller.
    2. Stay in close contact with your real estate agent to find out about the newest listings. Be ready to see a house as soon as it goes on the market — if it’s a great home, it will go fast.
    3. Scout out new listings yourself. Look at Web sites such as REALTOR.com, browse your local newspaper’s real estate section, and drive through the neighborhood to spot For Sale signs. If you see a home you like, write down the address and the name of the listing agent. Your real estate agent will schedule a showing.
    4. Be ready to make a decision. Spend a lot of time in advance deciding what you must have in a home so you won’t be unsure when you have the chance to make an offer.
    5. Bid competitively. You may not want to start out offering the absolute highest price you can afford, but don’t go too low to get a deal. In a tight market, you’ll lose out.
    6. Keep contingencies to a minimum. Restrictions such as needing to sell your home before you move or wanting to delay the closing until a certain date can make your offer unappealing. In a tight market, you’ll probably be able to sell your house rapidly. Or talk to your lender about getting a bridge loan to cover both mortgages for a short period.
    7. Don’t get caught in a buying frenzy. Just because there’s competition doesn’t mean you should just buy it. And even though you want to make your offer attractive, don’t neglect inspections that help ensure that your house is sound.

    Outdoor Movies in San Antonio!

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon

    San Antonio is full of summer fun for the family! Check out this list of outdoor movies!

    Click here to download a printable PDF!


    Alamo Heights Pool

    June 20 – The Lego Movie
    July 18 – Gravity
    August 22 – Frozen


    Travis Park

    June 3 Brave
    June10 Frozen
    June17 Monsters University
    June24 Finding Nemo

    July 1 Toy Story 2
    July 8 Cars 2
    July 15 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
    July 22 The Smurfs 2
    July 29 Despicable Me 2


    Pearl Brewery

    July 12 - Blues Brothers
    July 19 - Fandango
    July 26 - Sugarland Express
    August 2 - Thelma and Louise


    San Antonio Botanical Gardens
    Sept 19 - An Affair to Remember
    Sept 26 - High Society

    Open House Timeline: Countdown to a Successful Sale

    Written by: Dona DeZube

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    An inviting open house can put your home on buyers’ short lists.

    Get ready for your open house—stress-free—by starting early and breaking down your to-do list into manageable chunks. Use this timeline of 35 tips and your house will stand out from the competition on open house day.


    Four weeks before the open house

    - Ask your parents to babysit the kids the weekend of the open house. Then book a reservation for your pet with the dog sitter or at the kennel. Having everyone out of the house on the day of will help you keep your home tidy andsmelling fresh. Plus, no dogs and no kids equal more time for last-minute prep.

    - Line up a contractor to take care of maintence issues your REALTOR® has asked you to fix, like leaking faucets, sagging gutters, or dings in the walls.

    - De-clutter every room (even if you already de-cluttered once before). Don’t hide your stuff in the closet—buyers will open doors to size up closet space. Store your off-season clothes, sports equipment, and toys somewhere else.

    - Book carpet cleaners for a few days before the open house and a house cleaning service for the day before. Otherwise, make sure to leave time to do these things yourself a couple of days before.


    Three weeks before the open house

    - Buy fluffy white towels to create a spa-like feel in the bathrooms.

    - Buy a front door mat to give a good first impression.

    - Designate a shoebox for each bathroom to stow away personal items the day of the open house.


    Two weeks before the open house

    - Clean the light fixtures, ceiling fans, light switches, and around door knobs. Aspic-and-span house makes buyers feel like they can move right in.

    - Power-wash the house, deck, sidewalk, and driveway.


    One week before the open house

    - Make sure potential buyers can get up close and personal with your furnace, air-conditioning unit, and appliances. They’ll want to read any maintenance and manufacturer’s stickers to see how old everything is.

    - Clean the inside of appliances and de-clutter kitchen cabinets and drawers and the pantry. Buyers will open cabinet doors and drawers. If yours are stuffed to the gills, buyers will think your kitchen lacks enough storage space.

    - Put out the new door mat to break it in. It’ll look nice, but not too obviously new for the open house.


    Week of the open house

    - Buy ready-made cookie dough and disposable aluminum cookie sheets so you don’t have to take time for clean up after baking (you can recycle the pans after use). Nothing says “home” like the smell of freshly baked cookies.

    - Buy a bag of apples or lemons to display in a pretty bowl.

    - Let your REALTOR® know if you’re running low on sales brochures explaining the features of your house.

    - Clean the windows to let in the most light possible.

    - Mow the lawn two days before the open house. Mowing the morning of the open house can peeve house hunters with allergies.


    Day before the open house

    - Make sure your REALTOR® puts up plenty of open-house signs pointing in the right direction and located where drivers will see them. If she can’t get to it on the Friday before a Sunday open house, offer to do it yourself.Open House

    - Put away yard clutter like hoses, toys, or pet water bowls.

    - Lay fresh logs in the fireplace.


    Day of the open house

    - Put checkbooks, kids’ piggybanks, jewelry, prescription drugs, bank statements, and other valuables in the trunk of your car, at a neighbor’s house, or in your safe. It’s rare, but thefts do happen at open houses.

    - Set the dining room table for a special-occasion dinner. In the backyard, uncover the barbeque and set the patio table for a picnic to show buyers how elegantly and simply they can entertain once they move in.

    - Check any play equipment for spider webs or insect invasions. A kid screaming about spiders won’t endear buyers to your home.

    - Clean the fingerprints off the storm door. First impressions count.

    - Put up Post-It notes around the house to highlight great features like tilt-in windows or a recently updated appliance.

    - Remove shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, and other personal items from the bathtub, shower, and sinks in all the bathrooms. Store them in a - shoebox under the sink. Removing personal items makes it easier for buyers to see themselves living in your house.

    - Stow away all kitchen countertop appliances.


    One hour before the open house

    - Bake the ready-to-bake cookies you bought earlier this week. Put them on a nice platter for your open house guests to eat with a note that says: “Help yourself!”

    - Hang the new towels in the bathrooms.

    - Put your bowl of apples or lemons on the kitchen table or bar counter.

    - Pick up and put away any throw rugs, like the bath mats. They’re a trip hazard.


    15 minutes before the open house

    - Open all the curtains and blinds and turn on the lights in the house. Buyers like bright homes.

    - Light fireplace logs (if it’s winter).

    - Didn’t get those cookies baked? Brew a pot of coffee to make the house smell inviting.


    During the open house

    Get out of the house and let your REALTOR® sell it! Potential buyers will be uncomfortable discussing your home if you’re loitering during the open house. Take advantage of your child- and pet-free hours by treating yourself to something you enjoy–a few extra hours at the gym, a trip to the bookstore, or a manicure.


    Source:  HouseLogic.com

    Home Ownership Better for Children, Survey Finds

    Written by: HouseLogic.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Children do better at school when their family moves from renting to home ownership.

    Becoming a homeowner makes families smarter, happier, healthier, and richer, according to a survey of Habitat for Humanity Canada homeowners by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.


    Habitat homeowners contribute 500 hours of sweat equity toward the purchase of their home and in exchange receive interest-free mortgages with no downpayment. CMHC surveyed more than 300 Habitat homeowners and found, across the board, the homeowners reported improvement in their children’s well-being and school performance including:

    • Higher grades
    • Increased enjoyment of school
    • Better attendance
    • Higher participation rates in sports, music and arts, and volunteering


    The respondents also reported other gains:

    • 89% said their family life improved.
    • 78% said their own health and their family’s health was better.
    • 58% reported they were better off financially.
    • 25% had spouses who entered the workforce.
    • 17% returned to school, and 21.5% did something else to upgrade their skills.


    Source:  HouseLogic.com

    Creating a Home Inventory for Insurance

    Written by: Gwen Moran

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Create a home inventory before disaster strikes to make filing an insurance claim a smoother process.

    Experiencing a theft, flood, fire, or other casualty loss is devastating enough. Now imagine trying to list from memory for your insurance claim every single item that was damaged or destroyed. The task becomes less daunting if you create a home inventory in advance and keep it in a safe place.

    Creating a home inventory can be done with pencil and paper alone, but a digital camera and camcorder make the job easier. Set aside enough time to review your insurance policies, dig up receipts, document your possessions, and figure out where you’ll store your records. One day should be sufficient.

    A home inventory is essential

    From appliances, plates, and glasses to collectibles, rugs, and furniture, the average home is packed with an array of items collected over the years. And while you may be able to list many of them in a pinch, chances are you’d miss some important possessions if you ever needed to reconstruct your home’s contents from memory, says Mark Goldwich, founder of GoldStar Adjusters, a Jacksonville, Fla., claims adjusting firm.

    “Home inventories are a must no matter what the value of the home’s items are,” says Goldwich. “If you’re going to insure your property and pay for that insurance, you really should be able to document the ownership and the value of the items that you’re insuring. If you don’t have proof of the items you owned, it makes filing your claim much more difficult.”

    Your job doesn’t end once you’ve compiled a home inventory, a detailed list of everything in your household. Be sure to compare estimated values to your policy’s coverage to ensure that you’ll be able to replace your belongings in case of damage or theft, says Goldwich, who is the author of “Uncovered: What Really Happens After the Storm, Flood, Earthquake or Fire.” In some cases, he says, you can purchase additional coverage if the value of your possessions exceeds the limits on your home owners, flood, or other disaster policy.

    Take photos and video of possessions

    Jack Hungelmann, author of “Insurance for Dummies,” says a picture can be worth more than just a thousand words—it can add up to thousands in cash if you ever need to file an insurance claim. Hungelmann recommends using a digital camcorder or camera to take pictures of each room to document your belongings. “I recommend that people open up their cupboards and drawers. Be sure you have a record of all the things you own,” he says.

    Goldwich says that creating such a home inventory might seem daunting, but digital video—you can pick up a decent camcorder for about $150—can make the task much easier.

    Home owners can literally walk from room to room and record narrative descriptions of items. You should note whether something is an antique, for example, or if it has other qualities that make it especially valuable such as the size of a television screen or the type of stones in a piece of jewelry. Get close-up shots of serial numbers on electronics, power tools, and the like.

    Filling in a printed checklist with serial numbers, brands, quantities, and estimated values will prove indispensible if an insurance claim ever needs to be filed. The adjuster will likely ask for such a list, and you can use the video or photos as proof of ownership. Download our free home inventory checklist to create your own.

    Keep your home inventory safe

    Of course, such documentation is useless if it’s destroyed in a natural disaster, consumed by fire, or stolen along with your personal computer. Hungelmann says that using digital media allows you to store the files on online backup services like Carbonite.com or iBackup.com in case your home is destroyed.

    If you’d like to save the $10 or more per month these services typically cost, you could also save the files on a USB drive that’s kept in a safe-deposit box, at a relative’s home, or in your emergency bag. The bag should include essentials your family needs in case you’re forced to flee on short notice.

    It’s also a good idea to keep a file with receipts and any appraisals of valuable items you own. Store these documents off-site as well. Goldwich says that the more documentation you have to prove what you owned and what it was worth, the easier the claims process will be.


    Source: HouseLogic.com

    How To Move Into A New Home

    Written by: Courtney Craig

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Moving into your first home is exciting! But it also means you’ve got work to do.

    When I bought my first house in May, my timing couldn’t have been better: The house closing was two weeks before the lease was up on my apartment. That meant I could take my time packing and moving, and I could get to know the new place before moving in.


    I recruited family and friends to help me move (in exchange for a beer-and-pizza picnic on the floor) and, as a bonus, I got to pick their brains about what first-time home owners should know.

    Their help was one of the best housewarming presents I could have gotten. And thanks to their expertise and a little Googling, here’s what I learned about what to do before moving in.

    1. Change the locks. You really don’t know who else has keys to your home, so change the locks. That ensures you’re the only person who has access. Install new deadbolts yourself for as little as $10 per lock, or call a locksmith — if you supply the new locks, they typically charge about $20-$30 per lock for labor.



    2. Check for plumbing leaks. Your home inspector should do this for you before closing, but it never hurts to double-check. I didn’t have any leaks to fix, but when checking my kitchen sink, I did discover the sink sprayer was broken. I replaced it for under $20.

    Keep an eye out for dripping faucets and running toilets, and check your water heater for signs of a leak.

    Here’s a neat trick: Check your water meter at the beginning and end of a 2-hour window in which no water is being used in your house. If the reading is different, you have a leak.



    3. Steam clean carpets. Do this before you move your furniture in, and your new home life will be off to a fresh, clean start. You can pay a professional carpet cleaning service — you’ll pay about $50 per room; most services require a minimum of about $100 before they’ll come out — or you can rent a steam cleaner for about $30 per day and do the work yourself. I was able to save some money by borrowing a steam cleaner from a friend.



    4. Wipe out your cabinets. Another no-brainer before you move in your dishes and bathroom supplies. Make sure to wipe inside and out, preferably with a non-toxic cleaner, and replace contact paper if necessary.

    When I cleaned my kitchen cabinets, I found an unpleasant surprise: Mouse poop. Which leads me to my next tip …

    5. Give critters the heave-ho. That includes mice, rats, bats, termites, roaches, and any other uninvited guests. There are any number of DIY ways to get rid of pests, but if you need to bring out the big guns, an initial visit from a pest removal service will run you $100-$300, followed by monthly or quarterly visits at about $50 each time.

    For my mousy enemies, I strategically placed poison packets around the kitchen, and I haven’t found any carcasses or any more poop, so the droppings I found must have been old. I might owe a debt of gratitude to the snake that lives under my back deck, but I prefer not to think about him.



    6. Introduce yourself to your circuit breaker box and main water valve. My first experience with electrical wiring was replacing a broken light fixture in a bathroom. After locating the breaker box, which is in my garage, I turned off the power to that bathroom so I wouldn’t electrocute myself.

    It’s a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly. This will take two people: One to stand in the room where the power is supposed to go off, the other to trip the fuses and yell, “Did that work? How about now?”



    You’ll want to know how to turn off your main water valve if you have a plumbing emergency, if a hurricane or tornado is headed your way, or if you’re going out of town. Just locate the valve — it could be inside or outside your house — and turn the knob until it’s off. Test it by turning on any faucet in the house; no water should come out.

    Ignore These Maintenance Tasks and You’ll Pay



    Source: HouseLogic.com

    Tips to Revive Your Winter Grass

    Written by: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Tools icon

    Has the polar vortex wrecked your lawn? Here’s how to bring back the green.

    A polar vortex has pounded lawns this winter with ridiculous sub-zero temperatures and record snowfalls. So don’t be surprised if parts of your lawn — especially in low-lying areas — are dead on arrival in spring.

    “Snow acts like a cover, but ice is bad for turf,” says Chris Lemcke, technical director of Weed Man USA lawn care. “Ice freezes plant cells and crushes blades and leads to death.”

    Freeze-thaw-freeze conditions are even worse for turf roots, which can become brittle and die. Road salt also is bad for lawns. The turf near streets and along driveways and paths may need resuscitation or replacement when spring grass should be greening up.

    Dead or Sleeping?

    When your late-winter turf starts awakening from hibernate, it changes from brown grass to green; if your lawn died, it won’t change color.

    The best way to see if your lawn is dead or sleeping is to tug the brown areas. If the turf comes up easily, the roots have failed and the grass is dead. If there’s resistance, then there’s hope.

    How to Bring Lawns Back

    When is the right time to bury your dead lawn — grass, roots, clinging soil — in a compost pile and start growing new grass?

    • - After the last chance of frost
    • - When night temperatures top 35 degrees
    • - When soil temps reach 50-65 degrees

    Dead patches of lawn are easy to pull up because no roots bind the turf to the soil. Cut around dead areas with a spade, then yank up the patch.

    Then it’s time to reseed.

    1. Scatter seed on soil and lightly rake it in.

    2. Water daily with a light mist for 15 minutes to keep soil moist. If the soil dries out, seed will not germinate.

    3. When seed germinates, water deeply.

    4. Feed young blades a high-phosphorous fertilizer.

    5. Let grass grow at least 3 inches before its first cut. 

    If you can afford sod — 8-30 cents/sq. ft. compared with $28 for a 5-pound bag of seed that’ll cover 2,000 sq. ft. — Lemcke recommends laying sod on dead patches instead of seeding. Sod is more forgiving when it comes to watering and resists weeds better than seed.



    An Ounce of Prevention

    You can’t control the weather, but you can mitigate winter’s affect on your lawn.

    - Add topsoil to low areas of your yard to reduce the impact of ice. Then reseed or sod.

    - If you notice dead turf where you piled shoveled snow, spread out your snow pile next year.

    - To reduce salt damage, apply deicers after you shovel snow, so salt doesn’t seep into your grass. Also, use calcium chloride-based deicers, which do less damage than sodium chloride-based salts.

    Source: Houselogic.com

    How to Claim Your Energy Tax Credits

    Written by: Donna Fuscaldo

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Energy tax credits on select improvements available through the end of tax year 2013.

    If you upgraded one or more of the following systems last year, you may be eligible to take a tax credit — up to $500 — on your return.

    - Biomass stoves

    - Heating, ventilation, air conditioning

    - Insulation

    - Roofs (metal and asphalt)

    - Water heaters (non-solar)

    - Windows, doors, and skylights


    The energy tax credits are small, but at least a credit is better than a deduction:

    -Deductions just reduce your taxable income.

    -With a credit, you get a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax liability: If you get the $500 credit, you pay $500 less in taxes.


    Limits on IRS energy tax credits besides $500 max

    -Credit only extends to 10% of the cost (not the 30% of yesteryear), so you have to spend $5,000 to get $500.

    -$500 is a lifetime limit. If you pocketed $500 or more in past years combined, you’re not entitled to any more money for energy-efficient improvements in the above categories. But if you took $300 back then, for example, you can get up to $200 now.

    -With some systems, your cap is even lower than $500.

    -$500 is the max for all qualified improvements combined.


    Certain systems capped below $500


    No matter how much you spend on some approved items, you’ll never get the $500 credit — though you could combine some of these:

    System Cap
    New Windows $200 Max (overall, not per window)
    Advanced Main Air-Circulating Fan $50 Max
    Qualified natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler $150 Max
    Approved electric and geothermal heat pumps; central air-conditioning systems; and natural gas, propane, or oil water heaters

    And not all products are created equal in the feds’ eyes. Improvements have to meet IRS energy-efficiency standards to qualify for the tax credit. In the case of boilers and furnaces, they have to meet the 95 AFUE standard. EnergyStar.gov has the details.


    Tax credits cover installation — sometimes

    Rule of thumb: If installation is either particularly difficult or critical to safe functioning, the credit will cover labor. Otherwise, not. (Yes, you’d have to be pretty handy to install your own windows and roof, but the feds put these squarely in the “not covered” category.)

    Installation covered for:

    -Biomass stoves

    -HVAC

    -Non-solar water heaters

    Installation not covered for:

    -Insulation

    -Roofs

    -Windows, doors, and skylights


    How to claim the energy tax credit

    -Determine if the system you installed is eligible for the credits. Go to Energy Star’s website for detailed descriptions of what’s covered; then talk to your vendor.

    -Save system receipts and manufacturer certifications. You’ll need them if the IRS asks for proof.

    -File IRS Form 5695 with the rest of your tax forms.


    This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but isn’t intended to be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice, and remember that tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.

    Source:  HouseLogic.com

    4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

    Written by: G. M. Filisko

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    By knowing how much mortgage you can handle, you can ensure that home ownership will fit in your budget.

    1. The general rule of mortgage affordability

    As a rule of thumb, you can typically afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. If you earn $100,000, you can typically afford a home between $200,000 and $300,000.

    To understand how that rule applies to your particular financial situation, prepare a family budget and list all the costs of homeownership, like property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care costs.

    2. Factor in your downpayment 

    How much money do you have for a downpayment? The higher your downpayment, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home's cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment.

    The lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.

    3. Consider your overall debt 

    Lenders generally follow the 28/41 rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes, and insurance shouldn’t total more than 28% of your gross annual income. Your overall monthly payments for your mortgage plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn’t exceed 41% of your gross annual income.

    Loanblog2.jpg

    Here’s how that works. If your gross annual income is $100,000, multiply by 28% and then divide by 12 months to arrive at a monthly mortgage payment of $2,333 or less. Next, check the total of all your monthly bills including your potential mortgage and make sure they don’t top 41%, or $3,416 in our example.

    4. Use your rent as a mortgage guide

    The tax benefits of homeownership generally allow you to afford a mortgage payment—including taxes and insurance—of about one-third more than your current rent payment without changing your lifestyle. So you can multiply your current rent by 1.33 to arrive at a rough estimate of a mortgage payment.

    Here’s an example. If you currently pay $1,500 per month in rent, you should be able to comfortably afford a $2,000 monthly mortgage payment after factoring in the tax benefits of homeownership.

    However, if you’re struggling to keep up with your rent, consider what amount would be comfortable and use that for the calcuation instead.

    Also consider whether or not you’ll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a “what if” tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.

    G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who’s owned her own home for more than 20 years. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

    Consumer Electronics Show Highlights: Some Very Needy Appliances

    Written by: Deirdre Sullivan

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Tools icon

    The home of the not-too-distant future will be filled with appliances that want to share stuff with you.

    The Consumer Electronics Show featured plenty of household gizmos that can hold your attention 24/7.


    On display at the event were Wi-Fi-enabled appliances that can be operated remotely and communicate with users. While these high-tech gadgets appear to be both efficient and convenient, they have the potential to be just another digital distraction.

    If I lost you, here’s a great example:

    The Parrot Flower Power is a smart sensor for your household plants. It’s designed to send you an alert via smartphone or tablet whenever your plant is thirsty, cold, or even lonely (okay, I made the last part up). While I’ll admit this gadget seems awesome, do you really need your houseplant texting you on top of all the other digital messages you get every day? To learn more, check out the video below. Or check out our earlier post on a different version of a plant sensor. 

    LG’s new line of “smart” appliances also commands attention. Thanks to an app, you can closely monitor the stuff in your oven so you’ll be in the know if the temperature fluctuates. Even LG’s new line of washers and dryers will keep you updated while doing laundry. (Although they aren’t the first washer and dryer with Wi-Fi capability — Samsung introduced their Wi-Fi washer and dryer last year.)

    Sure, these machines are energy efficient and easier to maintain, but they seem too needy. I don’t communicate with my current oven and washer, and they seem fine with that. Check out the video below and tell us what you think. (Or for a bit of nostalgia, check out thisslideshow on vintage appliances.)

    Of course, there were some products at CES that I wouldn’t mind monitoring or getting a call from, like AT&T’s new security system that can open doors if you’re locked out, or can send you a text message if something suspicious is going on.

    But appliances like Samsung's T9000, a Wi-Fi fridge that features a 10” LED screen with Evernote integration and a few apps, including Twitter, sound really overwhelming. While Evernote is great for creating grocery lists, do I really need my fridge to share my Twitter feed with me? I’m just saying.

    Did You Sell Your Home After Making Improvements?

    Written by: Donna Fuscaldo

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Keeping track of the cost of capital improvements to your home can really pay off on your tax return when it comes time to sell.

    The tax break doesn't come into play for everyone. Most home owners are exempted from paying taxes on the first $250,000 of profit for single filers ($500,000 for joint filers). If you move frequently, maybe it's not worth the effort to track capital improvement expenses. But if you plan to live in your house a long time or make lots of upgrades, saving receipts is a smart move.

    What counts as a capital improvement?

    While you may consider all the work you do to your home an improvement, the IRS looks at things differently. A rule of thumb: A capital improvement increases your home's value, while a non-eligible repair just returns something to its original condition. According to the IRS, capital improvements have to last for more than one year and add value to your home, prolong its life, or adapt it to new uses.

    Capital improvements can include everything from a new bathroom or deck to a new water heater or furnace. Page 9 of IRS Publication 523 has a list of eligible improvements. There are limitations. The improvements must still be evident when you sell. So if you put in wall-to-wall carpeting 10 years ago and then replaced it with hardwood floors five years ago, you can't count the carpeting as a capital improvement. Repairs, like painting your house or fixing sagging gutters, don't count. The IRS describes repairs as things that are done to maintain a home's good condition without adding value or prolonging its life.

    There can be a fine line between a capital improvement and a repair, says Erik Lammert, tax research specialist at the National Association of Tax Professionals. For instance, if you replace a few shingles on your roof, it's a repair. If you replace the entire roof, it's a capital improvement. Same goes for windows. If you replace a broken window pane, repair. Put in a new window, capital improvement. One exception: If your home is damaged in a fire or natural disaster, everything you do to restore your home to its pre-loss condition counts as a capital improvement.

    How capital improvements affect your gain

    To figure out how improvements affect your tax bill, you first have to know your cost basis. The cost basis is the amount of money you spent to buy or build your home including all the costs you paid at the closing: fees to lawyers, survey charges, transfer taxes, and home inspection, to name a few. You should be able to find all those costs on the settlement statement you received at your closing.

    Next, you'll need to account for any subsequent capital improvements you made to your home. Let's say you bought your home for $200,000 including all closing costs. That's the initial cost basis. You then spent $25,000 to remodel your kitchen. Add those together and you get an adjusted cost basis of $225,000.

    Now, suppose you've lived in your home as your main residence for at least two out of the last five years. Any profit you make on the sale will be taxed as a long-term capital gain. You sell your home for $475,000. That means you have a capital gain of $250,000 (the $475,000 sale price minus the $225,000 cost basis). You're single, so you get an automatic exemption for the $250,000 profit. End of story.

    Here's where it gets interesting. Had you not factored in the money you spent on the kitchen remodel, you'd be facing a tax bill for that $25,000 gain that exceeded the automatic exemption. By keeping receipts and adjusting your basis, you've saved about $5,000 in taxes based on the 15% tax rate on capital gains. Well worth taking an hour a month to organize your home-improvement receipts, don't you think?

    For 2013, the top rate for most home sellers remains 15%. For sellers in the new income tax bracket of 39.6%, the cap gains rate is 20%.

    Watch out for these basis-busters

    Some situations can lower your basis, thus increasing your risk of facing a tax bill when you sell. Consult a tax adviser. One common one: If you take depreciation on a home office, you have to subtract those deductions from your basis. Any depreciation taken if you rented your house works the same way. You also have to subtract subsidies from utility companies for making energy-related home improvements or energy-efficiency tax credits you've received. If you bought your home using the federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers, you'll have to deduct that from your basis too, says Mark Steber, chief tax officer at Jackson Hewitt Tax Services.

    This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but shouldn’t be relied upon as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Consult a tax professional for such advice.



    Source: HouseLogic.com

    Experienced Problem Solvers are Invaluable!

    Written by: Dan Minnich, Commercial Marketing Executive

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Collaboration is the key to outside of the box thinking and problem solving!

    So often we are asked to solve problems in our daily lives. When challenged with a new business objective or problem, most of us go directly to our mind filter labeled “How did I solve this type of problem or objective last time?” This is a great place to start and when we have time limit constraints that don’t allow one to critically think through options, we all go with the “best possible” solution.


    However, in today’s ever changing technology, upgrades, and people new to the industry, we have an opportunity to hear others think “outside the box” for solutions. This is just one way to recognize and remind ourselves there are other ways to solve business objectives and problems.


    Wouldn’t it be great to increase our “solutions file” in our brains with bullet points that save us time? We just need to be able to slow down and be open to someone else’s idea. My hunch is that “others” may add a component to our tried and true solutions that will enhance and improve how we solve problems and objectives if given the opportunity.

    Valentine’s Day in San Antonio

    Written by: Nikki Kutach

    SA Riverwalk Around Town icon Blog Posts icon

    Ah, Valentine’s Day! A day to celebrate love... The most romantic day of the year... A day where cards, chocolates and flowers are exchanged between friends and lovers.

    It’s love day!


    Where will you spend Valentines’ day? Did you know that we live in the most romantic city in the United States? Yes, that’s right. San Antonio was voted the most romantic city in the US by Amazon.com. Whether riding in a horse-drawn carriage under the stars on the streets of our historic downtown, eating an intimate candlelit dinner at a famous restaurant on the River Walk, or having a cocktail atop the Tower of the Americas, San Antonians know how to spice up a date.

    You still have time to make the 14 th an unforgettable day for you and your sweetie. The historic Pearl Brewery is filled with new and one-of-a-kind restaurants and bars with a variety to make every palate smile. (www.atpearl.com) Other local dining establishments are preparing set menus for the evening. Kirby’s Steakhouse, for example, is preparing a 5 course meal, compliments of their award-winning chef. (www.kirbys.com) I would not waste another minute! Start calling now!

    Want to catch a great concert? Hit up Sam’s Burger Joint (www.samsburgerjoint.com) with your valentine for a low key, great burger dinner and hear some amazing tunes. How about a Broadway show right here in San Antonio?! Our historic Majestic Theater Downtown is a sure pleaser for anyone. The ambiance in the theater is simply phenomenal and EVERY seat in the house is a great one! (www.majesticempire.com)

    How about a night in? Seafood on the brain? Groomer Seafood (www.groomerseafood.com) is the largest retail fresh fish and seafood market in San Antonio, located just outside of downtown. Visit their website to check out their weekly specials and even great recipes! Not feeling the surf? Go for turf! Hungry for a fresh cut outstanding steak? Visit Bolner’s Meat Market (www.bolnersmeatmarket.com) downtown for the freshest cuts from Akaushi and Kobe to the Porterhouse or Filet. They also have a fresh spice market that will make your taste buds dance!

    I hope I have given you some great ideas for you and your loved ones this Valentine’s Day. No matter if you are out on the town in the most romantic city in America or a have night in the comfort of your own home, I hope you have a wonderful night!

    xoxo
    Nikki

    5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale

    Written by: G. M. Filisko

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Working to get your home ship-shape for showings will increase its value and shorten your sales time.

    1. Have a home inspection

    Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. For $250 to $400, an inspector will warn you about troubles that could make potential buyers balk. Make repairs before putting your home on the market. In some states, you may have to disclose what the inspection turns up.


    2. Get replacement estimates

    If your home inspection uncovers necessary repairs you can’t fund, get estimates for the work. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home and the repairs. Also hunt down warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for your furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items you expect to remain with the house.


    3. Make minor repairs

    Not every repair costs a bundle. Fix as many small problems—sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, dripping faucets—as you can. These may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression your house isn’t well maintained.


    4. Clear the clutter

    Clear your kitchen counters of just about everything. Clean your closets by packing up little-used items like out-of-season clothes and old toys. Install closet organizers to maximize space. Put at least one-third of your furniture in storage, especially large pieces, such as entertainment centers and big televisions. Pack up family photos, knickknacks, and wall hangings to depersonalize your home. Store the items you’ve packed offsite or in boxes neatly arranged in your garage or basement.


    5. Do a thorough cleaning

    A clean house makes a strong first impression that your home has been well cared for. If you can afford it, consider hiring a cleaning service.


    If not, wash windows and leave them open to air out your rooms. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Wash light fixtures and baseboards, mop and wax floors, and give your stove and refrigerator a thorough once-over.


    Pay attention to details, too. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, clean inside the cabinets, and polish doorknobs. Don’t forget to clean your garage, too.



    Source:  HouseLogic.com

    Cleaning House: Secrets of a Truly Deep Clean

    Written by: Jane Hoback

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Deep clean your house and you’ll brighten rooms and help maintain your home’s value.

    De-bug the light fixtures

    See that bug burial ground within your overhead fixtures? Turn off the lights and carefully remove fixture covers, dump out flies and wash with hot soapy water. While you’re up there, dust bulbs. Dry everything thoroughly before replacing the cover.


    Vacuum heat vents and registers

    Dirt and dust build up in heat vents and along register blades. Vents also are great receptacles for coins and missing buttons. Unscrew vent covers from walls or pluck them from floors, remove foreign objects, and vacuum inside the vent. Clean grates with a damp cloth and screw back tightly.


    Polish hardware

    To deep clean brass door hinges, handles, and cabinet knobs, thoroughly wipe with a damp microfiber cloth, then polish with Wright’s or Weiman brass cleaner ($4). Dish soap shines up glass or stainless steel knobs. Use a Q-tip to detail the ornamental filigree on knobs and handles.


    Replace grungy switch plates

    Any amateur can wipe a few fingerprints off cover plates that hide light switches, electric outlets, phone jacks, and cable outlets. But only deep cleaners happily remove plates to vacuum and swipe the gunk behind. (OK, we’re a little OCD when it comes to dirt!) Make sure cover plates are straight when you replace them. And pitch plates that are beyond the help of even deep cleaning. New ones cost less than $2 each.


    Neaten weather stripping

    Peeling, drooping weather stripping on doors and windows makes rooms look old. If the strip still has some life, nail or glue it back. If it’s hopeless, cut out and replace sections, or just pull the whole thing off and start new. A 10-ft. roll of foam weather stripping costs $8; 16-ft. vinyl costs about $15.


    Replace stove drip pans

    Some drip pans are beyond the scrub brush. Replacing them costs about $3 each andinstantly freshens your stove.



    Source: HouseLogic.com

    How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

    Written by: G. M. Filisko

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    When you buy a fixer-upper house, you can save a ton of money, or get yourself in a financial fix.

    1. Decide what you can do yourself

    TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult remodeling job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results that won’t increase the value of your fixer-upper house.


    -Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.

    -Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate your fixer-upper house? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?


    2. Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer 

    -Get your contractor into the house to do a walk-through, so he can give you a written cost estimate on the tasks he’s going to do.

    -If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies.

    -Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that often arise with a fixer-upper house.


    3. Check permit costs 

    -Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it'll cause problems when you resell your home.

    -Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit.

    -Factor the time and aggravation of permits into your plans.


    4. Doublecheck pricing on structural work 

    If your fixer-upper home needs major structural work, hire a structural engineer for $500 to $700 to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full extent of the problems.


    Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues.


    Don't purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:

    -You’re getting it at a steep discount

    -You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem

    -You know the problem can be fixed

    -You have a binding written estimate for the repairs


    5. Check the cost of financing 

    Be sure you have enough money for a downpayment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings.


    If you’re planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:

    -Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer.

    -Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.

    -Consider the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program, which is designed to help home owners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation. The program wraps the purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into a single mortgage. To qualify for the loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area, as with other FHA loans. A streamlined 203(k) program provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s a simpler process than obtaining the standard 203(k).


    6. Calculate your fair purchase offer 

    Take the fair market value of the property (what it would be worth if it were in good condition and remodeled to current tastes) and subtract the upgrade and repair costs.


    For example: Your target fixer-upper house has a 1960s kitchen, metallic wallpaper, shag carpet, and high levels of radon in the basement.


    Your comparison house, in the same subdivision, sold last month for $200,000. That house had a newer kitchen, no wallpaper, was recently recarpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in its basement.


    The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $40,000. Your bid for the house should be $160,000.


    Ask your real estate agent if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove your offer is fair.


    7. Include inspection contingencies in your offer 

    Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections like:

    -Home inspection. This is key in a fixer-upper assessment. The home inspector will uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You may know you want to replace those 1970s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector has a meter that will detect the water leak behind them.

    -Radon, mold, lead-based paint

    -Septic and well

    -Pest

    Most home inspection contingencies let you go back to the sellers and ask them to do the repairs, or give you cash at closing to pay for the repairs. The seller can also opt to simply back out of the deal, as can you, if the inspection turns up something you don’t want to deal with.


    If that happens, this isn’t the right fixer-upper house for you. Go back to the top of this list and start again.



    Source: HouseLogic.com

    What Not to Do as a New Homeowner

    Written by: John Riha

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    If you're new to homeownership, you'll definitely want to avoid these boneheaded but easy-to-prevent mistakes that could cost you big time.

    1. Not Knowing Where the Main Water Shutoff Valve Is


    Water from a burst or broken plumbing pipe can spew dozens of gallons into your home's interior in a matter of minutes, soaking everything in sight -- including drywall, flooring, and valuables. In fact, water damage is one of the most common of all household insurance claims.

    Quick-twitch reaction is needed to stave off a major bummer. Before disaster hits, find your water shutoff valve, which will be located where a water main enters your house. Make sure everyone knows where it's located and how to close the valve. A little penetrating oil on the valve stem makes sure it'll work when you need it to.

    2. Not Calling 811 Before Digging a Hole

    Ah, spring! You're so ready to dig into your new yard and plant bushes and build that fence. But don't -- not until you've dialed 811, the national dig-safely hotline. The hotline will contact all your local utilities who will then come to your property -- often within a day -- to mark the location of underground pipes, cables, and wires.

    This free service keeps you safe and helps avoid costly repairs. In many states, calling 811 is the law, so you'll also avoid fines.

    3. Not Checking the Slope of Foundation Soil


    The ground around your foundation should slope away from your house at least 6 inches over 10 feet. Why? To make sure that water from rain and melting snow doesn't soak the soil around your foundation walls, building up pressure that can cause leaks and crack your foundation, leading to mega-expensive repairs.

    This kind of water damage doesn't happen overnight -- it's accumulative -- so the sooner you get after it, the better (and smarter) you'll be. While you're at it, make sure downspouts extend at least 5 feet away from your house.

    4. Not Knowing the Depth of Attic Insulation

    This goes hand-in-hand with not knowing where your attic access is located, so let's start there. Find the ceiling hatch, typically a square area framed with molding in a hallway or closet ceiling. Push the hatch cover straight up. Get a ladder and check out the depth of the insulation. If you can see the tops of joists, you definitely don't have enough.

    The recommended insulation for most attics is about R-38 or 10 to 14 inches deep, depending on the type of insulation you choose. BTW, is your hatch insulated, too? Use 4-inch-thick foam board glued to the top.

    5. Carelessly Drilling into Walls

    Hanging shelves, closet systems, and artwork means drilling into your walls -- but do you know what's back there? Hidden inside your walls are plumbing pipes, ductwork, wires, and cables.

    You can check for some stuff with a stud sensor -- a $25 battery-operated tool that detects changes in density to sniff out studs, cables, and ducts.

    But stud sensors aren't foolproof. Protect yourself by drilling only 1¼ inches deep max -- enough to clear drywall and plaster but not deep enough to reach most wires and pipes.

    Household wiring runs horizontally from outlet to outlet about 8 inches to 2 feet from the floor, so that's a no-drill zone. Stay clear of vertical locations above and below wall switches -- wiring runs along studs to reach switches.

    6. Cutting Down a Tree

    The risk isn't worth it. Even small trees can fall awkwardly, damaging your house, property, or your neighbor's property. In some locales, you have to obtain a permit first. Cutting down a tree is an art that's best left to a professional tree service.

    Plus, trees help preserve property values and provide shade that cuts energy bills. So think twice before going all Paul Bunyan.

    Source: HouseLogic.com

    Getting the Most Out of Your Remodel Dollars in 2014

    Written by: Dona DeZube

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon

    As a serial remodeler, I’m looking forward to spending part of my winter holiday curled up on the sofa planning the wonderful things I’m going to do to my home in 2014. If you’re also day-dreaming about your next home improvements, these ideas (plus some eye candy) from the experts at realtor.com can help you balance the impulsive and emotional (I must have purple countertops!) with the long-term value-adds (Buyers don’t like my purple countertops!) of remodeling.

    Plus, if you’re thinking of financing your project -- with equity or a refi -- we’ll help you plan with the a housing market forecast.

    Future-Proof Kitchen

    I’m nearing the end of what turned out to be a nearly two-year long kitchen remodel, but if you’re still in the contemplation stage, consider some of 2014’s top kitchen remodeling trends care of property listing site realtor.com:

    Modern design with white or gray cabinetry

    Simple countertops

    Minimalist designs

    Appliances that blend into the cabinetry

    Hammered, matte brass hardware

    Several of these kitchen “trends” -- particularly white, minimalism, and simplicity -- are actually not trendy, but enduring. You’ll find most of them on HouseLogic’s definitive list of timeless kitchen features. They’re the features you’ll love now and in 10 years -- and that will be marketable when it’s time to sell.

    Flex Rooms

    The hordes of relatives visiting your house this year say they’re staying just a little while, but chances are, one of them will want to move in with you at some point. Embrace themultigenerational trend, says realtor.com, by creating flex rooms.

    Adding or converting a bedroom to include a sitting area and bathroom makes a lovely sanctuary for your guests now and a cozy space for your mother in her later years. Consider a separate entrance, too. When you get up there in age yourself, you can supplement your retirement income by renting out the space.

    600x380-bigstock-renovation-diy-paint-couple-in-48117731 copy.jpg

    Paint Color

    The official color of 2014 (according to the official arbiter of color, Pantone) is radiant orchid -- a souped-up lilac. Purple accent pillows for the sofa? Definitely yes. But radiant orchid as a dominant color in your house? Not so much.

    “Be wary of any trend that has the potential for a short shelf life,” realtor.com advises. Stick to neutral colors for anything in your home (inside and outside) that’s not as easy to replace as a pillow.

    Home Equity Rising

    OK, now for the brass tacks part of remodeling: paying for it. A few real estate predictions for 2014 might help your sort out your options.

    Experts predict home prices should rise in 2014, which means you could have the home equity you need to fund your next renovation. Areas where foreclosures are falling and buyer demand outstrips the number of homes on the market have the best chance of seeing rising prices.

    Interest Rates Headed Up

    You may have more home equity in 2014 than you did in 2013, but doing a cash-out refinance to pay for your remodel will be harder and more expensive to do in the year ahead due to rigid underwriting rules and rising interest rates. Lenders say loan files are now routinely hundreds of pages long, so lower your expectations about how fast and how easy it is to refinance. Don’t let your frustration with the process wreck your enthusiasm for your remodeling dream.

    And Now for that Eye Candy

    Whenever you’re remodeling, it’s smart to make sure you don’t over- or under-improve compared with neighbors’ homes. So check out some of the home listings on realtor.com in your Zip code, many of which include interior pictures.

    Once you’ve spied on the Joneses, check out these hilarious pictures of the wildest home features of 2013.

    I won’t even guess what installing a rowboat bathtub or cathedral-themed wine room would do to your home’s resale value, but looking at them could sure amuse you on a long winter’s night.

    Source: HouseLogic.com

    When is the Best Time to Buy Appliances?

    Written by: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    A major appliance should never be an impulse buy. We pinpoint the best moments to buy, on and offline.

    Generally, that means you can get more value for your money:

    September, October, and January when manufacturers roll out new home appliance models, and retailers are eager to move last year’s inventory. (Refrigerators are the exception. New models come out in the spring.)

    Last days of the month when stores are desperate to meet quotas and are more likely to dicker over prices.

    Thursday, the day before the weekend rush when aisles are less crowded.

    Major holidays -- Labor Day, Memorial Day, President’s Day, Black Thursday (Friday, Saturday) -- when stores take advantage of your day off and slash prices.

    Fall and winter are the best seasons to buy air conditioners and gas grills, because few buyers think about warm-weather appliances when leaves and snow cover the ground.



    Online Bargains

    You can’t haggle with a website, so buying appliances online is more computer science than art of the deal. That’s where online data trackers, like Hukkster and TrackIf, can help you find the best time to get the best deals.

    After crunching some numbers for us, TrackIf CEO Doug Berg pinpointed the very best times to buy appliances online:

    November

    Thursdays (Retailers are twice as likely to reduce prices on Thursdays.)

    The 4th or 5th of the month (when people get their paychecks), and the 23rd to 29th of the month (quota desperation).

    3 p.m.

    So, theoretically, the very best time to buy appliances online would be the last Thursday of November at 3 p.m. In other words: Thanksgiving. (Baste your bird and buy a new oven.)


    More Appliance Buying Tips

    In store, don’t be afraid to haggle over prices. The squeaky wheel often gets an additional discount, and it costs you nothing to say, “Is this the best price you can give me?”

    When shopping online, compare prices using different browsers. An appliance deal viewed on Firefox could be priced differently when viewed on Safari.

    Many stores offer additional discounts if you apply for their credit card. (But only apply if yourcredit score can handle another card.)

    Sometimes appliance repair businesses stock slightly used or flawed -- but deeply discounted -- appliances. Check with your service guy before buying retail. (I bought a double oven this way and saved $700!)

    If you can’t shop on sales days, you may discover the next time the store is going to lower prices by peeking into the metal price stand next to the appliance, which often is stuffed with cards stating the price and date of upcoming sales.

    Source:  HouseLogic.com

    What You Should Know About Your Home and Your 2013 Taxes

    Written by: By: Dona DeZube (www.houselogic.com)

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon

    It’s the last year for three sweet home tax benefits, but the first for a way simpler home office deduction.

    These days few things start a fight on Capitol Hill faster than taxes. Despite the fact that three important tax benefits used by millions of American homeowners are days from expiring, Congress is unlikely to do anything to re-up them any time soon.


    So if you’re eligible, tax year 2013 is possibly the last time to claim the private mortgage insurance (PMI) deduction, the energy tax credit, and debt forgiveness benefit, all of which all expire on Dec. 31, 2013.

    At least there’s one piece of good news for homeowners: If you have a home office, there’s a new, simpler option for calculating the home office deduction for which you may qualify on your 2013 taxes.

    Meanwhile, here’s what you need to know about those expiring benefits as you ready your taxes:

    PMI Deduction

    This tax rule lets you deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance, which is what you pay your lender each month if you put down less than 20% on a home. PMI protects the lender if you default on the home loan. Your deduction could amount to a couple hundred dollars depending on your tax bracket and other factors.

    Find out if you qualify for and how to take the PMI deduction.

    Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

    This sweet little tax credit lets you offset what you owe the IRS dollar-for-dollar for up to 10% of the amount you spent on certain home energy-efficiency upgrades, from insulation to water heaters. On the downside, the credit is capped at $500 (less in some cases). But on the bright side, the right improvement could lower your utility bills indefinitely.

    Related: Take back your energy bills with these high-ROI energy-efficiency practices.

    Debt Forgiveness

    When you go through a short sale, foreclosure, or deed-in-lieu, your lender typically lets you off the hook for some or all of what you owe on your mortgage.

    That forgiven mortgage debt is income, on which you’d typically have to pay income tax.

    Suppose you’re in financial distress and your lender agrees to let you short-sell your home, say for $50,000 less than you owe on the mortgage, and forgive you for the balance. Without the protection of the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, you’ll owe income tax on that $50,000.

    It’s likely if you had the money to pay income tax on $50,000, you’d have used it to pay your mortgage in the first place.

    New Simplified Option for the Home Office Deduction

    This may be the last year for the benefits above, but a new one kicks in for the 2013 tax year. If you work from home, you may qualify to use a new, simplified option for claiming the home office deduction when you file your 2013 taxes.

    How much simpler is it? It lets you claim $5 per sq. ft. for up to 300 sq. ft. instead of having to compute the actual expenses of your home office using a 43-line form. To calculate the square footage of your office, just multiply the length of two walls. For example, an 8-by-10-foot room is 80 sq. ft. And at $5 per, that’s $400.

    Although using the simplified option is obviously easier, the basic requirements for claiming the home office deduction haven’t changed. Your home office still must be used for business purposes:

    • Exclusively, and
    • On a regular basis.

    Related: Which Home Office Set-Ups Qualify for a Deduction?

    Why Might the Tax Benefits Not Be Renewed?

    Although the expiring tax benefits were renewed retroactively in past years, that may not happen in 2014 because many in Congress would like to see comprehensive tax reform rather than scattershot renewals of individual provisions. This could delay a decision on the homeownership tax benefits until the big picture budget and tax issues are resolved.

    So if you can, enjoy them now!



    Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/blog/tax-deductions/tax-deductions-credits-for-homeowners-2013/#ixzz2rpA2bJvw

    If You Were Selling Today, Would You Have the Home That Buyers Want?

    Written by: Dona DeZube

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Tools icon

    Knowing what appeals to today’s homebuyers, and considering those trends when you remodel, can pay off years from now when you sell your home.

    Two new surveys about what homebuyers want have me feeling pretty smug about my own home choices. Maybe you'll feel the same.

    Privacy from neighbors remains at the top of the most-wanted list (important to 86% of buyers), according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS’® "2013 Community Preference Survey." Privacy is no doubt the best feature of my mid-century ranch home, since I can only see one neighbor’s house and it’s a couple hundred feet down my driveway.

    It may not be practical to move your neighbors farther away (although I’m sure many people wish they had that superpower), but you can increase your home’s privacy (and therefore its resale value) by planting a living privacy screen of trees and shrubs or by physically screening off your patio.


    3 More Takeaways for the Next Time You Remodel


    1. More and more generations are living together. Another NAR survey, the "2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers," found 14% of buyers purchased a home suited to a multigenerational household due to children over the age of 18 moving back into the house, cost savings, and the health and caretaking of aging parents.

    I did that back when my parents were still alive, and it worked out great for everyone. I didn’t have time to let my infant daughter nap on my shoulder all afternoon, but my mom did. She couldn’t drive to church meetings at night, but I could take her. And neither of us liked cleaning the gutters, but my husband didn’t mind that chore.

    Even if you’d rather live in a cardboard box than with your mother, you might want to consider the multigenerational living trend when you’re remodeling. For instance, opting for a full bath when finishing the basement could offer more convenience for you now and boost your home’s resale value by making it more appealing to a multigenerational family.


    2. On average, homeowners live in their home for nine years. That’s up from six years in 2007. Since you’ll be in your home for a long time, it makes sense to remodel to suit your taste but also with long-lasting marketability in mind. After all, you don’t want to have to redo stuff. For instance, you can go for trend-defying kitchen features, like white overtones and Shaker-style cabinets, which work with a variety of styles.

    I feel compelled to caution against going so far out of the norm for your neighborhood that it’ll turn off potential buyers even nine years from now. (It never hurts to get your REALTOR®’s opinion on your remodeling plans.)


    3. Homebuyers love energy efficiency. Heating and cooling costs were "somewhat" or "very important" to a whopping 85% of buyers. If your home could use an energy-efficiency upgrade, go with projects that have a solid return on investment, like sealing your air leaks and adding attic insulation. You’ll save money on your utility bills now and when you’re ready to sell, your home will appeal to buyers looking for efficiency.

    By the way, to take back your energy bills, you need to do at least four things. One to two fixes won’t cut it, thanks to rising energy costs.

    About two-thirds of survey respondents also thought energy-efficient appliances and energy-efficient lighting were important. Tuck away your manuals and energy-efficiency information when you buy new appliances and lighting. When you’re ready to sell (in nine years) you can pull those out and display them where buyers will see them.


    Source:  HouseLogic.com

    Flood Insurance Rates Going Up? Here’s What to Do

    Written by: Dona DeZube

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    Why Are Rates Going Up?


    Two reasons:


    1. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is updating its flood maps to be more accurate, which could change your flood risk designation. If your risk is higher, your premiums will go up. If it’s lower, your premiums could go down.

    2. Last year, a new law took effect that requires the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to phase out subsidies for some older properties to reflect the full risk of flooding.

    Phasing out the subsidized rates and discounts over the next five years will help the NFIP stay solvent.

    Some subsidies have been given in the form of “grandfathering.” A grandfathered rate is a discount given to homes built in compliance with then-existing standards in a flood-mapped community where the flood risk has since increased.

    Congress and FEMA are reviewing these properties to determine whether to phase out these grandfathered rates. FEMA won’t make a decision on this until late 2014. By then, Congress could pass a law delaying the increase indefinitely.


    Do You Have a Subsidized or Discounted Rate?


    Only 20% of NFIP policies are subsidized. Most hom eowners already pay the full rate and won’t see an increase.

    If your property isn’t your principal residence, is in a special flood hazard area, and was built before the first flood insurance rate map was implemented for your community, you may be getting a subsidy for being what’s called Pre-FIRM (pre-flood-insurance-rate-map).

    TIP: To find out if your home is Pre-FIRM, look up your area in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Community Book.

    1. Click your state.

    2. Look for the date in the “Init FIRM Identified” column for your area.

    If your home was built before that date and it’s in a special hazard zone, you probably have subsidized flood insurance.


    If Your Premiums Aren’t Subsidized or Discounted


    It’s possible you still could see a change in your flood insurance premiums if your home is in a community that adopts a revised flood map after July 6, 2012. If that revised flood map puts you in a different zone, your rates could go up or down.


    When Will the Rate Changes Take Effect?


    If your home is Pre-FIRM and it’s a second home (rental or vacation), you may already have seen your rates change. A 25% increase was implemented for policies renewing after Jan. 1, 2013. Increases will continue each year until they reach full-risk rates.

    In October 2013, more subsidized homes will start seeing rate increases of 25% each year:

    Severe repetitive loss properties

    Business properties

    Properties with previous flood claims for more than the market value of the property If you have a Pre-FIRM home, and it’s your primary home, and it doesn’t fall into the above-mentioned categories, (lucky you!) you get to keep your subsidized rate until:

    You sell your home.

    You let your policy lapse.

    You have severe, repeated flood losses.

    You buy a new policy. 


    Can You Get a Better Rate?


    You may be able to get a lower flood insurance rate by changing your home’s flood risk. Congress appropriated a large sum of money for property owners to raise their homes onto piers, posts, columns, or pilings. Check with your local community to see if grant money is available to help you do that. Talk to your insurance agent about how elevating your house will change your flood insurance premium.

    There’s also a Community Rating System that could reduce flood insurance rates by up to 45%, depending on which flood plain management regulations your community adopts.

    Check with your local officials or insurance company to see if your community participates and if you can get a discount for that. If your community doesn’t participate, write a letter to local officials urging them to join the Community Rating System.

    Other things you can do to trim your flood insurance premiums:

    Opt for a higher deductible on your excess insurance policy if you have one.

    Convince local officials to put more money into community flood mitigation projects to lower your flood risk. It won’t lower your premium, but having a flood cleanup kit on hand will make your life easier if you do have a flood.

    By the way, NFIP is the best deal. Without it, you have to take your chances in a virtually nonexistent private market for flood insurance at rates only the wealthy can afford.

    Some of the same companies that provide private flood coverage also sell “excess coverage” flood insurance. Excess coverage pays to rebuild homes valued at more than the NFIP limit of $250,000.


    Mistakes in Flood Insurance Premiums


    It’s possible the rate you’re quoted for flood insurance is wrong. If you disagree about whether your home is in a particular flood zone or the insurer didn’t take into account the pilings that raise your home 12 feet in the air, you can appeal your home’s flood zone determination.

    An elevation certificate from a surveyor or engineer can lower your premium if it proves your home sits above the predicted flood level.

    You’ll also want to correct insurer mistakes that lower your premium. For example, if your policy says your home doesn’t have an elevator or crawlspace and it does, tell your agent, even if your premium will rise when those are included. That ensures your property and possessions are fully covered and recoup what you’re owed.

    Think the FEMA map itself is wrong? Check with local zoning officials, your builder, prior owners, a local surveyor, and FEMA to see if anyone has filed a Letter of Map Amendment asking for a map review.

    If no one has filed, you can do your own appeal.


    Source:  HouseLogic.com

    December 2013 Market Statistics

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Press icon

    2013 was the biggest year for San Antonio's housing market since 2006! 

    With 23,390 homes sold in 2013, San Antonio saw a 17% increase from 2012's closing number and only 8% less than the amount sold in 2006. According to the San Antonio Board of REALTORS® Multiple Listing Service, the median price of a home in 2013 rose 6% to $170,200 and the average price rose even more, seven percent from the previous year to $207,884.

    “At our recent Housing Forecast event, we learned that job opportunities and population are both steadily growing in San Antonio, meaning more people are relocating here and searching for a home,” said Missy Stagers, SABOR’s 2014 Chairman of the Board. “We certainly saw this in 2013’s boom in sales, and expect 2014 to continue with that trend.”

    Couple-in-front-of-new-home

    San Antonio ranked second on Forbes Magazine's list of U.S. metro areas to watch in 2014. San Antonio’s rank was due to its 6.2% growth in jobs during 2013 and a 6.2% unemployment rate; well below the national average.

    “Not only are homes selling fast, with 2013 reporting an average of just 78 days on the market, but 97 percent of homes are selling for list price,” said Angela Shields, SABOR’s President and CEO. “That means both buyers and sellers are reaping the benefits of a healthy housing market.”Homes sold over $500,00 steady increased in numbers over the last year. December reported the highest percentage of sales in that bracket, making up 4.66% of the total 1,760 homes sold during the month. Homes priced under $200,000 made up 61.76 percent of sales and homes priced between $200,000 and $500,000 accounted for 33.52 percent of the total homes sold.

    San Antonio Homes Sales Recap


    December 2011     December 2012      December 2013 
    Total Month Sales          1,361 1,548 1,760
    Average Price $184,708 $193,374 $212,151
    Median Price $149,500 $160,400 $171,400


    Data:  SABOR.com

    5 Ideas for Repurposing Unused Items

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Tools icon

    You undoubtedly have some items in your home that you’d like to get rid of or you’re having trouble finding a use for. Rather than throwing them out, consider repurposing them.

    You undoubtedly have some items in your home that you’d like to get rid of or you’re having trouble finding a use for. Rather than throwing them out, consider repurposing them. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:


    1. Turn an old dresser into a kitchen island: Do you have a beat-up old dresser that’s currently an eyesore? Dress it up with some bright new paint, and then put it in your kitchen. You’ll suddenly have a new surface for preparing food, as well as a colorful accent piece.


    2. Use that old door as a table or desk surface: Just pick up some table legs from IKEA or order some online, attach them to the door, and now yo’ve got a cool repurposed workspace.


    3. Convert a wooden ladder into a bookshelf: Attach the ladder to the wall horizontally. The ladder frame will support the bottom of your books, the rungs will serve as dividers, and the wall itself will keep the books from falling off.


    4. Make a rack out of a wood shutter: Attach the shutter to the wall, and the slots will be perfect for organizing your envelopes and mail. Add hooks for keys and clothespins to attach other objects.


    5. Add a chalkboard surface to a coffee table: This is a great one for the kids. Get some chalkboard spraypaint from a home improvement store, and use it on your old coffee table. It’s the perfect play surface for Legos, action figures, and more.

    Five websites for DIY inspiration

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Tools icon

    Taking a do-it-yourself approach to your home decor can not only save you a ton of money, but can also be incredibly rewarding.

    Here are five sites that offer great ideas for DIY projects.

    1. yourmoderncouple.com (right) is a blog from a young married couple (an architect and an interior designer) in San Antonio that do both home improvement DIY projects and personal style tips. Everyone is sure to find something of interest here.

    2.  apartmenttherapy.com has been around since 2007 and is the web’s most popular resource for DIY projects. You’ll find tutorials, inspiration galleries, photo home tours, and more.

    3. vintagerevivals.com is a great site if mid-century modern is more your style. You’ll get some tips on how to capture that Mad Men look.

    4. brightnest.com combines the DIY spirit with important home maintenance tips, and even reminds you when you need to complete a task, like replacing smoke detector batteries.

    Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.55 .20 AM .png

    5. thedesignconfidential.com (left) is perhaps the most complete online DIY resource. It has illustrated instructions and complete materials lists for hundreds of projects. The handier you are, the more useful this site will be.

    Room to Spare

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Education icon

    A few ideas for making the most of unused space

    Already have a home office or a guest bedroom, but there’s still some empty space to fill in your home? Here are a few suggestions for making the most of a spare room.


    Pet room
    This is especially useful if you’re trying to sell a home. Give your dogs, cats, or other pets a place to congregate, which will lower their usage of other rooms and help keep pet-related clutter (or destruction!) confined to one place.


    Library or music room
    It’s easy to fall into the habit of gathering around the TV every night. Place some comfy furniture in your spare room and create a space where you can enjoy your favorite music or a good read without competition from the television.


    Home gym or yoga studio
    Instead of spending money on a monthly gym membership, you can put those fitness center dues toward gradually building your own personal workout space. Add a good stereo, a TV, and some mirrors, and your home will become your favorite place to work out.


    Game room
    Find an old Pac Man arcade game on Craigslist or eBay, add a foosball or pool table, and set up a TV for video games. The room will be a hit when you’ve got guests over—especially for the kids.


    Source: breakthroughbroker.com

    5 Cool Tech Ideas for Your Home

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon

    Who says you have to keep up with the Jones's? Pick up a few of these cool gadgets for your home and you might have to change your last name.

    1. Laser Robot Vaccuum

    These awesome little robots do the dirty work for you. Not only will it clean the house after you go to sleep, but it has a special laser that maps the home. This little guy knows where it’s been and where it hasn’t, and when it’s done it drives itself back in the closet!


    2. Heated driveway
    If you live in a cold weather state, shoveling snow is a dreaded fact of life. What if you could throw the shovel away? Heated driveway technology, utilizing mats and cables within the driveway, can eliminate strenuous snow removal from your life.


    3. Thermal Imaging Gun
    High energy bills taking their toll? Try the  Black and Decker thermal leak detector. With this little guy you can check your home for energy leaks. The infrared thermometer will detect leaks and let you know where the hot and cold spots are.


    4. Sun Tunnel
    Looking to add natural light but a sky light may not be viable? Try the  Velux Sun Tunnel. This cool flexible tube can find its way around obstructions and deliver a perfect amount of light into your room.


    5. Wireless Can Light Speaker
    The  Klipsch LightSpeaker system gives you the best of both worlds. This wireless speaker screws right into your can lighting. It even comes with an efficient LED light. 

    The Trinity Title Closing Cost App

    Written by: Colin Smith

    SA Riverwalk

    Try it at Calculators.TrinityTitleTX.com on your mobile device!


    In our fast paced world, you need a tool that can help you get the job done quickly. Our new Trinity Title Calculator App is how we are announcing our commitment to developing the latest emerging technologies for Realtors like you... and this is just the beginning.

    InHand1.png

    Why we did it

    We thought you deserve better.

    We wanted to provide the fastest, easiest, and most accurate calculator app that a real estate agent has ever seen. We designed this app with the Realtor and home buyer in mind. There has never been a simpler way to estimate closing costs. We also didn't want people to be left out. Our app is designed to work on all types of smart phones and tablets so almost anyone can use it!

    To use our Web-Based App, go to calculators.trinitytitletx.com on your smartphone or tablet!

    Are you using it?

    Help us make it better!

    Do you always find the typo in an email? Do you notice when something isn't perfect? We could use your help. We always appreciate feedback that can help make our app better!

    Email Colin Smith at  cnsmith@trinitytitletx.com with feedback!

    Texas Builders Housing Forecast

    Written by: Dale Lewis, President of Trinity Title San Antonio

    SA Riverwalk Blog Posts icon Press icon

    Texas is one of the most likely states to see continued growth in 2014.

    The 29th Annual San Antonio Housing Forecast through the Greater San Antonio Builders Association was held on Jan 6, 2014, and likes every year, those in attendance were both optimistic and apprehensive about the new year ahead. The three speakers who participated were Jack Inselmann, Henry Cisneros and Jon Hockenyos. Each speaker addressed the state of Texas as part of their presentation and listed below are their positives and concerns for the coming year:


    Positives:

    -Unemployment under 7%

    -State & Local governments are hiring again

    -Housing markets continuing to recover nationally

    -Texas Consumer Confidence is at 9%, better than the national average of 7%

    -Texas is #1 in job growth over all other states

    -Texas had the most single family permits of all states in 2013


    Concerns:

    -A possible rise in interest rates may cause rates to exceed 5%, which is still a good rate. However, it will impact the market.

    -New Federal Regulations - Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - More controls on loans that the lenders and consumers will have to deal with in purchasing or selling residential properties.

    -We may see rising costs in both material and labor on new construction.


    A reference was made to an article done by Praxis Strategy Group regarding the 52 Largest Metropolitan Statistical, where the economy may be picking up steam, using the following four metrics: GDP growth, job growth, real median household income growth, and current employment, from 2007 through 2013. The following Texas metropolitan areas were ranked as follows:

    - Austin #1

    - San Antonio #2

    - Houston #4

    - Dalls/Ft. Worth # 6


    Texas is one of the most likely states to see continued growth in 2014 versus 2013.

    Start the Year Off Right by Reviewing Your Bills

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk

    The start of the year is a great time to review your finances.

    As 2014 starts—hopefully with a bang—it is an ideal time to take a look at all of your bills. As the past year cruised by you may have added cell phone plans, changed cable and internet subscriptions, and signed up for trial offers (which automatically turned into pay subscriptions).

    It is a good habit to look at your bills and inspect them for ways to save money. Call your services and see if you can take advantage of new promotional offers or remove services that you are no longer using. Common bills to find new savings on are cell phones, cable TV, internet service, home phone, streaming video services, and any other online subscriptions you may have.

    Staging: Yes or no?

    Written by: BreakthroughBroker.com

    SA Riverwalk Education icon

    Will staging increase your home’s value?

    It’s obvious that you want your home looking as good as possible when you’re trying to sell it. You want to give buyers a great first impression, and there’s a long-held belief that professional home staging will lead to buyers paying more for a house. 

    However, that may not be the case, according to recent research by Michael Seiler, a real estate and finance professor at William and Mary. Seiler studied how 820 different buyers reacted to contrasting stagings of six various homes, and found that there was little effect on what the buyers were willing to pay.

    Some buyers were shown a home with neutral beige colors and traditional furniture. Others were shown the same home, but with “ugly” purple paint and wacky furniture, or even no furniture at all. The average price the buyers were willing to pay for each property was roughly the same, regardless of which version of home staging was present.

    "We were able to parse out what you consciously believe and subconsciously believe," Seiler said. "Beforehand, everyone thinks poor staging is going to be a problem. But when we actually did the experiment, we found it doesn't matter."

    Of course, Seiler’s study only looked at one of the many aspects that affect a home’s value and how fast it will sell. Contact your trusted real estate professional if you’re considering selling your home.

    For more on Seiler’s study, visit this link: on.wsj.com/KhkSyT