- Defroster fan on highest setting
- Temperature control on its hottest
- A/C turned on
- Recirculate turned off
- Crack your windows
In my 18 years as a REALTOR®, I’ve seen hundreds of deals, and am happy to say that most go smoothly. However, since so much is negotiable in a real estate transaction—from price to the closing date to whether the drapes will stay or go—the potential for misunderstandings and disagreements is tremendous.
To keep your next deal on track, avoid these 4 common mistakes:
Taking it Personally
If you are the seller, this house is much more than a place to live—it’s your home. Maybe you marked the kids’ growth on some trim in the kitchen, or perhaps this was the first place you bought when you were newly married. Whatever the case may be, you likely have more than just dollars invested in your home–you are emotionally attached to it. But this emotion can cause real problems during the negotiating process. I counsel my sellers to keep cool when a buyer presents a lower offer for their home. It’s not meant to be an insult, and I prefer to reframe it as the first step towards a great deal. It’s also part of the reason I ask my sellers to leave when their house is being shown. An overheard comment about the “awful” choice of paint color in the kitchen can color a seller’s reaction to that buyer’s offer.
Much like a gambler may give away the strength of his hand with a “tell,” buyers may also signal their emotional attachment to the property and thereby put themselves at a disadvantage in negotiations. When a buyer isn’t able to walk away, they’ve lost all bargaining power, and that’s when bad decisions like paying 10% over an appraisal get made.
What’s the lowest price you’ll accept for your home? How quickly do you need your home to sell, and what concessions, if any, will you make? I work to answer these questions with my sellers before we put their home on the market. All of this, along with an in-depth market analysis, helps us to set a price that will achieve the best outcome. Knowing the price is right helps my sellers to feel comfortable waiting for the right deal rather than jumping at the first offer. Buyers also need to hold firm to their target price range. It’s easy for buyers to let that top number creep upwards, especially in a hot market, and strap themselves financially for years to come.
Ignoring the Market
There are buyer’s markets and seller’s markets, and negotiating a good deal requires understanding which side the market is favoring. A buyer asking for lots of concessions in a seller’s market, or a seller who won’t compromise on anything in a buyer’s market, will likely end up without a deal. How do you know what the market’s doing? Ask your REALTOR®, and take a look at the last few monthly market analysis provided on SABOR’s website.
Are you willing to jeopardize the sale of your home because the buyer wants the refrigerator and microwave to convey? I’ve seen half-million dollar deals fall apart over similar negotiating points. Flexibility pays off, and both buyers and sellers should avoid overemphasizing minor details if they want to get to closing.
Remember, as a REALTOR® and north San Antonio luxury home specialist for over 18 years, I can help you avoid these mistakes by identifying an appropriate buying or selling strategy for your specific circumstances.
Check out these five “egg-cellent” events over the next two weekends for some family-friendly Easter-themed fun.
Children’s Easter Egg Hunt
This Saturday, March 24th at 11 am, the Alley on Bitters welcomes children of all ages to their epic Easter egg hunt. Hundreds of eggs filled with treats will be hidden on their back lawn, just waiting to be gathered in baskets and taken home. Dress the kiddos up in their Sunday best for pics with the Easter Bunny afterwards.
Click here for more information at the Alley on Bitters website.
Also this Saturday, March 24th, Traders Village hosts an egg hunt (and more) from 10 am to 1 pm—rain or shine. There will be four egg hunts, by age groups: 0–3 years, 4–6 years, 7–9 years, and 10–12 years, totaling 30,000 eggs. Plus, there will be door prizes, and pictures with the Easter Bunny at the train depot from 12:00–1:30 P.M. The event is free, although parking is $4.
Click here for more information at the Traders Village website.
Underwater Easter Egg Hunt
Annual spring event with fun activities for kids in and out of the pool, including mini golf and giant Jenga and Connect Four. Egg hunts will take place every 30 minutes for different age groups. $2 per child. Click here for more information on the San Antonio Parks And Rec website.
Annual Easter Egg Hunt
The City of Boerne hosts its annual Easter Egg Hunt at Boerne City Lake Park, Saturday, March 24 at 10:30 am. Festivities include pictures with the Easter Bunny, an inflatable obstacle course, face painting and kids crafts, along with the egg hunt at 11:15 am SHARP! “Hunters” will be divided into 4 different age groups (ages 3 & under, 4-6, 7-9 and 10+) with over 15,000 stuffed eggs to find! Mobil food vendors will be available at this event, and parking fees at the lake will be waived until noon.
More information by clicking here for the City of Boerne’s website.
Eggfest at University Bowl
Easter Sunday, April 1, from noon until 5 pm, enjoy unlimited bowling, face painting, egg hunts, Easter piñata break, and a special visit from the Easter Bunny at University Bowl! $15.99 per person. Call 210-699-6235 for more information.
We are shaking off the winter doldrums here in the Alamo City, and it seems like the real estate market is following suit. Buyers continued to find properties to call home in February, with a three percent year-over-year increase in sales for a total of 2,012 homes sold, according to the Multiple Listing Service Report from the San Antonio Board of REALTORS® (SABOR). Meanwhile, the average and median sales prices each climbed six percent from last year, with a median sales price of $215,100 and an average of $247,300.
The majority of homes sold, 51.3 percent, were those priced between $200,000 and $500,000 while 44 percent of sales were homes priced under $200,000. The remaining 4.6 percent of sales were those over $500,000 with nine of those homes priced over $1 million.
“With tight supply and high demand for homes, 97.6 percent of sellers in February were able to sell their homes for list price,” said Lorena Peña, SABOR’s 2018 Chairman of the Board. “But even though the market is favorable to sellers right now with just 3.3 months of inventory available, we still continue to see a steady flow of houses come on the market which is good news for buyers.
Here on the Northside, I’ve seen a similar increase in inventory in March. My phone has been ringing with people looking to list their homes, especially in perpetually hot Inwood. Luckily, San Antonio’s economic forecast continues to be strong, meaning plenty of buyers for those homes. “With people continually moving into the city for jobs, including our military and medical personnel, there is always a market for both buyers and sellers at many different price points,” according to Gilbert Gonzalez, SABOR’s Interim CEO.
When I first meet a seller, one of the topics they are most eager to discuss is their listing price. Some sellers have a “magic” price in mind, and others are looking for guidance on finding the perfect number that will attract the most buyers without leaving money on the table unnecessarily. It’s a delicate balance, and there is now another issue to consider: searchability.
Over 44% of all home buyers begin their home search online, and 90% will search online at some point in the process, according to a 2017 study by the National Association of Realtors. That means most buyers are using popular sites like Zillow and Realtor.com, and buyer’s agents are using their MLS, to efficiently narrow down candidates. So why does this change the way sellers should think about pricing?
These and other sites allow buyers to use a dropdown menu to conduct their searches, and the range of options provided are even numbers that increase by $25,000. For example, a buyer is able to search for homes from $300,000 – $325,000 or $350,000 – $400,000 but there isn’t an option to search from $335,900 – $355,900. So, the formerly popular “charm pricing” strategy of setting prices just below a round number, such as at $399,900 instead of $400,000, now has some very real drawbacks of which I want my sellers to be aware. Take a look at the graphic below for a quick primer on how raising a listing price by as little as $100 can make all the difference in the amount of exposure the home will get.
Technology has changed the way we buy and sell houses. From sites that display millions of listings to sensitive transaction documents sent through email, the internet has made buying and selling a home easier than ever. But all of that personal information floating out in cyberspace, along with the large sums of money that real estate transactions require, has caused scammers to take notice.
By now, you probably know that if a “Nigerian prince” contacts you, or you get a Facebook notice from a distant relative saying they lost their wallet while overseas, it’s time to hit the delete button. But cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated over the years and have come up with new scams that have fooled even the most savvy consumer.
The National Association of REALTORS® recently warned its members and consumers about one example—a wiring scam during the closing stage of the home buying and selling process. Hackers will break into the email accounts of consumers to get basic details about a real estate transaction. Then the hackers send an email pretending to be the buyer, seller, real estate agent, title officer or someone else involved in the closing process and say there has been a last minute change. That change—new wiring instructions—sends the closing funds directly to the hacker’s bank account. And just like that, the money vanishes.
While it may seem like there are hundreds of ways for a criminal to take advantage of a consumer online, there are just as many ways consumers can protect themselves. Here are a few tips to help home buyers and sellers recognize and avoid real estate scams:
♦ Do not send your social security number—the skeleton key to your entire financial life—banking information, or anything else that could be used to comprise your identity over email or text. A REALTOR® will be sure to send all correspondence/ documents over encrypted channels.
♦ Do not click on unverified email. If you do not recognize the name or email address of the sender, do not open the email. Many scams involve “spoofing,” where a fraudulent sender pretends to be a legitimate one, including using pictures and brand marks that closely mimic legitimate sites. These can be very convincing. Look for strange subject lines (“Second Delivery Attempt” and “Urgent Action Required” are popular with hackers because they work), misspelled words, incorrect or informal grammar and requests to open or download files that you aren’t expecting.
♦ Always call the sender to verify instructions. If you do receive an email asking you to wire funds, even if it looks legitimate, it’s a good idea to call the sender just to verify. It only takes a moment and could save you thousands of dollars. Your REALTOR® can also tell you what to expect to receive and in what format.
♦ It may seem harmless to check banking information using the free Wi-Fi at your local coffee shop or airport, but using an open connection can leave you vulnerable to hackers and scammers. Only access sensitive information on your home computer or on a secured network.
♦ If you suspect that fraud has or is in the process of occurring, contact all parties pertinent to the transaction immediately. Once your money leaves your account, there is virtually no way to get it back.
♦ For more information on how to safely and securely buy or sell a home, visit SABOR.com and use a San Antonio area REALTOR®.
Ever wonder why the stove stays but the washer and dryer usually go when a house is sold? In Texas, if an item is permanently attached, or the property might be damaged by the items removal, it stays with the property. If a seller wants to keep a sentimental item, such as a rare cactus they planted in their outdoor rock garden, or the curtains that Aunt Erma made, the items should be specifically excluded in the contract. Likewise, a buyer who would like to retain a dining room table that was built to fit perfectly in the space, will need to state this in the Non-Realty Items Addendum. A REALTOR® can help make sure any variances from the standard contract are properly documented and agreed to by all parties. Take a look at this graphic from Texas Realtor Magazine for more on inclusions and exceptions.
SAN ANTONIO RESTAURANT WEEK
January 15-27, 2018
Just when you thought it was safe to stay home eating takeout and watching reruns wrapped up in your Snuggie—the folks at Culinaria are back with two weeks of tempting offers to lure you out of your pajamas and into area restaurants. San Antonio chefs will be showcasing their talents January 15-27 with special three-course prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner throughout the city. Plan your cheat day in advance, and make your reservations (which aren’t necessary, but why take chance) now for lunch or dinner at one of the participating establishments. Been reading all the buzz about Jason Dady’s new downtown steakhouse, Range? Now’s your chance to see what the fuss is about. Craving a pork chop the size of your head at one of your fancy favorites? J. Prime or Bob’s Steak and Chop House have you covered, at a fraction of the usual cost. When you arrive, show you’re in the know and ask for the Restaurant Week menu to take advantage of the curated fare and special pricing.
Tier 1 restaurants are offering a $15 lunch and $35 dinner multi-course menu, and Tier 2 restaurants will have a $10 lunch and $25 dinner menus. Just don’t forget to show your server some love, as tips (and tax) aren’t included.
And you can feel good about treating yourself. With each meal ordered, restaurants will donate $1 for lunch and $2 for dinner to Culinaria and the programs it supports.
Check the Culinaria website for a list of restaurants and menus.
Okay, San Antonio. We all made it through our big snow day, and while it may be another 30 years before we see whiteout conditions here again, it was the perfect reminder that we DO get winter weather in the Alamo City. Cold temperatures and icy conditions are a part of most winters here, and now is the time to make sure you are prepared for them.
In thinking about my own preparedness for winter storms, I took a look at several websites and found some helpful information I thought I’d share. Ready.gov has some great resources on making an emergency plan for your family, as well as a checklist of what to put in your emergency supply kit to make it comfortably through extended power outages. They also have a kit to create for your pets.
Texas Department of Public Service has some good home winterization tips. One I found interesting is finding the shutoff valve for the water to the house. For most of us, there is a hole with a metal cover in the front yard somewhere that has a meter and valve, but how many of us know where it is, where our shutoff tool is, and how to use it? A burst pipe can cause an incredible amount of damage, and everyone in the house, from young teens to adults, should be aware of the valve’s location, and try their hand at operating it. If you aren’t sure how to do it, Mr. Plumber SA has a great video you can find by clicking on the link.
Did you leave a restaurant on Friday to find an inch of snow on your car, or wake up in the morning with twice that on your windshield? Put a scrapper in your car to be prepared for unexpected ice and snow. A warm blanket and some kitty litter wouldn’t hurt either. (If your vehicle gets stuck on a slick road, cat litter can help create the traction you need to get out. The non-clumping kind works best for extra traction on slick roads.) Better safe than sorry. And to settle the old argument, the proper way to defrost your car windshield, according to Car and Driver is:
You can also find a cool 6-minute video about the science behind this at the link I included.
A last note on winter safety: please check your carbon monoxide (CO) detector’s batteries! Experts recommend that you change yours every year during daylight savings time, but if you missed out, do it today. Any time you burn fuel in stoves, lanterns, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces, CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and you have no way of knowing if you are at risk without a working detector.
I hope everyone enjoyed our little version of a white Christmas, and that you all take this opportunity to make sure you stay safe and sound for the rest of the season.
The Platinum Top 50 awards celebration has become such a special event for me. Not only have I felt tremendously honored to be listed among the top 50 residential Real Estate Professionals in San Antonio since 2002, but this year I was privileged to speak as we recognized Amber Thomas, Owner/President of Platinum Top 50. Amber has lead the PT Top 50 since 2008, and has reinvented the program so that it stays on top of what’s new in the marketplace. It is an organization with which I am proud to be affiliated.
The Platinum Top 50 Awards Program recognizes more than just sales—the fifty residential Real Estate Professionals selected annually must also represent high achievements in education, industry participation and civic leadership.
I am honored to be recognized as a Platinum Top 50 Centurion for 2018, and I am so thankful for the trust my past and present clients and referring friends have placed in me. I truly couldn’t do it without them, or my hard working team.
Congratulations to my fellow Phyllis Browning agents who were also named as winners and finalists this year. I truly feel I am surrounded by “The Very Best” each day.
Selling a home from November to January isn’t at the top of anyone’s holiday wish list. But a last-minute job transfer or the desire to get kids moved and settled mid-school year sometimes necessitates just that. While the mere thought of selling your home during the winter months may bring out your inner Scrooge, it has some distinct advantages.
Because some buyers take their homes off the market during the holidays, and others delay listing until spring, you won’t have to compete with dozens of other homes just like yours to get buyers’ attention. Reduced inventory means more buyers checking out your home.
Another pro is that anyone who takes time out of their hectic holiday schedule to go on showing appointments is probably serious about buying. Perhaps they are buying a home now for tax purposes or are relocating to start a new job in the new year. But whatever the reason, as a general rule, buyers who are on the hunt for a home during the holidays are motivated and ready to buy.
So how do you sell your house while decking the halls—without losing your holiday spirit? I give my clients a few tips that help keep the holidays merry and bright while maximizing their home’s potential.
Keep Décor Simple
Tasteful decorations and a minimum of clutter allow buyers to see their own families celebrating the holidays in your home next year. Think about your home’s best feature, and highlight it. Dangle mistletoe in a graceful arched doorway, or display your menorah on the ledge of a bay window.
Use Lighting for Emphasis
Keep lighting simple, and use it to highlight unique and interesting parts of your home’s landscaping. Twinkling white string lights can make any home entry sparkle during the holidays, or draw attention to your beautiful live oaks.
Don’t Hide Gifts in the Closet
Buyers always open up and look in closets. The fewer hanging clothes, luggage or random objects tucked away, the better. Get a storage unit, or ask family or neighbors for a corner in their closet or garage.
Consider Hiring Help
The holiday season is hectic enough without having to spend time keeping your home immaculate for showings. One solution—hire help. Most national cleaning services offer short-term cleaning options.
When I’m working with sellers over the holidays, I stress the importance of staying flexible with showings while still blocking off a few dates that will allow them to enjoy their home and celebrate the season with friends and family.
Above all, I tell my clients to relax. My team and I are there to help make the entire selling process run smoothly from listing to close. It’s really can be “the most wonderful time of the year”—to sell your home!