Want to love where you live? North Central San Antonio offers the “triple crown” of established communities, excellent school districts and upscale urban amenities–all with a Hill Country vibe. Subdivisions include the amenity-packed, family-friendly neighborhoods of Inwood, the Vineyards, and Rogers Ranch plus acreage communities like Hill Country Village, Shavano and Hollywood Park. On the far north, Canyon Springs offers the convenience of a master-planned community centered around a beautiful golf course. With homes from the 300s to over a million, the area offers something for most every buyer’s price point and lifestyle. Take a look at this video for more information on all that the area has to offer.
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.
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®.
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!
Despite less than four months of inventory available, home buyers were not deterred and contributed to a five percent jump in total home sales in October, according to the Multiple Listing Service Report (MLS) from the San Antonio Board of REALTORS® (SABOR). Just over 2,500 homes sold during the month, while days on market dropped four percent to 55 days. October ended with 2,203 sales still pending.
This surge was driven by low and mid-range homes, with 47 percent of homes sold priced under $200,000 and 48 percent priced between $200,000 and $500,000. Higher-end homes—those over $500,000—accounted for just five percent of the month’s sales, with 15 priced over $1 million.
“The San Antonio area continues to be one of the most affordable metro areas in the state, with almost half the homes priced under $200,000. In fact, the median price of a home in Bexar County in October was $196,000 while homes in Travis County sold for a median close to $340,000,” said Yvette Allen, SABOR’s 2017 Chairman of the Board. “When we look at everything in the MLS, which includes some inventory in surrounding areas like Boerne, our median goes up to $207,100, which is still far less than other parts of Texas and below the state median of $220,500.”
“With prices remaining stable and new listings continually coming on the market, there is something for both buyers and sellers here,” said Gilbert Gonzalez, SABOR’s interim CEO. “For buyers, there tends to be less competition in the off-season and they can see how the home functions in the colder weather. For sellers, homes are selling for 97.4 percent of list price.”
While the news is certainly heartening, those selling higher-priced homes need to make sure their property stands out to a more limited pool of buyers. That’s where a realtor with expertise in your area of town can be crucial. I have over 18 years of specialized experience working with sellers of fine properties in North Central San Antonio. Give me a call if I can help you understand and navigate the ever-changing real estate market in your neighborhood.
SABOR Multiple Listing Service Report: Home Sales Recap
|October 2015||October 016||October 2017|
|Total Month Sales||2,223 (5% increase)||2,399 (8% increase)||2,507 (5% increase)|
|Average Price||$229,637 (10% increase)||$240,373 (5% increase)||$241,127 (0% increase)|
|Median Price||$186,900 (6% increase)||$203,300 (8% increase)||$207,100 (2% increase)|
*Percentage increases are based on a year-over-year comparison.
School buses are back on the roads and the weather is cooling. With these sure signs of fall comes another—the predictable slowing of the San Antonio real estate market. Home sales in September totaled 2,587, a 13 percent decrease from the 2,984 homes sold in August.
“It is not unusual for sales to taper off once the summer season winds down. Kids are returning to school so families want to remain in one place, and many buyers and sellers like to be settled for the coming holiday season as well,” said Yvette Allen, SABOR’s 2017 Chairman of the Board. “This has still been a busy year for real estate in the San Antonio area. In fact, since January, a total of 23,414 homes have been sold, which is three percent more than this time period last year.”
Homes priced between $200,000 and $500,000 made up 50.3 percent of the homes sold in September and homes priced under $200,000 made up 45 percent of the month’s sales. Homes priced over $500,000 accounted for 4.8 percent of September’s sales, with 12 of those priced over $1 million.
Meanwhile, days on market plummeted seven percent from the previous year to just 52 days in September and months of inventory also remained low with 3.8 months available.
A tight market with inventory below 4 months generally favors sellers. My team excels at acting quickly to help our buyers write an attractive offer that will stand out from the rest. When conditions are competitive, working with an experienced REALTOR® can make all the difference.
Texas home sales volume, home prices and listing activity experienced strong gains in the first half of the year, according to the Texas Association of REALTORS® 2017 Texas Real Estate Midyear Report. San Antonio was no exception, as we saw median prices slide up 5 percent and price-per-square-foot increase 6.2 percent over 2016. But Hurricane Harvey, and the massive devastation left in its wake, will have an incredible influence over the next six months–and beyond. Most of us have friends or relatives who are now dealing with their losses from flooding and gale-force winds, and the challenges they are facing in rebuilding are enormous. Those affected will have to make the decision about whether to rebuild or try to sell and move, and either option comes with both a human and economic pricetag. Businesses from “Mom and Pop” operations to blue-chip companies will need to make the same determination. I have already seen buyers from Houston taking a look at relocating to San Antonio, and I also think area developers will face shortages of skilled workers (already in short supply), such as electricians and masons, as Houston and the coastal areas rebuild. Though we were spared the direct effects of Harvey’s wrath here, we will certainly see the ripples from it in our market for some time to come.
Jim Gaines, Ph.D., chief economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, cautioned that Hurricane Harvey will likely negatively impact housing market statistics for some time to come. “Houston’s housing market accounts for roughly 25 percent of the Texas housing market,” said Gaines, “and it could take months before the Houston area begins to enter the recovery phase and a few years before the impacted communities fully recover.”
When I help my clients prepare their home for sale, one of the topics I discuss is staging. Not every home needs staging, but over the years, I have found most homes photograph and show better with a little professional editing. I work with an experienced interior decorator with a knack for making little changes that create a dramatic impact. It’s surprising how simply turning a sofa or moving a rug or a lamp can make a huge difference in a room, and my clients often remark that they wish they had thought to make the changes years earlier.
Helping buyers fall in love with a property takes more than making the beds and running the vacuum. It requires decluttering, depersonalizing and styling. So what common mistakes do stagers see and address with my clients? These top offenders seem to come up most often:
Mistake: Decluttering into Closets. Most clients have momentos, collections, extra clothing and furniture that will need to be removed. But cramming all of that clutter into every corner of every closet is a major problem. Storage is an important consideration for most buyers, and overstuffed closets give the wrong impression. Sellers can streamline the moving process by donating or throwing out unwanted items, and consider renting a storage unit or using a corner in a friend’s garage for the excess.
Mistake: Lawn and Patio Neglect. Withering plants give buyers pause; if a seller doesn’t take care of the landscape, what else aren’t they maintaining? Trim the bushes, keep the lawn mowed and edged, and add new blooming plants in large pots near the door or on the patio. Get rid of rotted or rusty furniture, and power wash patios and walkways.
Mistake: Misused Space. Bedrooms should be bedrooms, not closets. Dining rooms should contain a table and chairs, not the children’s video game equipment and a sofa. Although a non-traditional arrangement of space might have worked wonderfully for the seller, to appeal to the greatest number of buyers, each room should have a clear, traditional function. An easy rearrangement of furniture is usually all that is needed to give buyers a clearer picture.
Mistake: Hunting Trophies. Although many sellers and buyers are avid hunters, especially here in Texas, a wall full of deer heads is a turnoff for some. Now is the time to remove the trophies and put them in storage, then patch and paint walls.
Mistake: Getting Personal. Buyers have trouble picturing themselves in a home if the seller’s interests and opinions are represented in every corner. Ditch the kitsch, remove university affiliations (this means you Aggies and Longhorns), take down political signs, and store family photos, awards and collections.
Mistake: Forgetting about Fido. Pets are like family members, but even buyers who adore animals don’t want to smell them in their potential new home. Sellers should ask a trusted friend to give their home the sniff test. Cleaning carpets, repairing any damage pets have done to moulding or door frames, and moving kennels and extra-loved doggie toys to the garage can go a long way towards easing buyers’ concerns over lingering pet problems.
So what can my sellers expect when working with a stager? Most staging appointments last between 1 to 2 hours. The stager will walk through the house with the seller, and make most of the necessary changes right on the spot. Most of my sellers have a notebook handy, and make notes about any staging tasks, such as taking boxes to storage or rehanging artwork, that will need to be completed as “homework” after the stager leaves. Once the staging is complete, we schedule our photographer, and then my sellers can relax—their home is ready to impress at its first showing!