Friday, October 30, 2009

Home Inspection - A Buyer's Best Friend (and Seller's too?)

In San Antonio, after a buyer has contracted with a seller to purchase their home, there's usually an option period during which the buyer can hire a home inspector to inspect the home.  During that period, the buyer has three options.  They can terminate the contract for any reason, or re-negotiate with the seller to do repairs or lower the price based upon what the inspector finds.  And, of course, the buyer can continue with the purchase without any further negotiations.

Sellers sometimes are alarmed at how "picky" the inspectors are, but it is actually to the seller's benefit for the inspector to identify problems with the home.  Just because a problem is not identified prior to the sale does not necessarily mean that the seller is no longer responsible.  So, the better the disclosure on the inspector's report, the better the seller is protected.

So what do the home inspectors look for?  They look for items that are in need of repair, and also inform the buyer when the current building codes have not been met in an older structure.  They check the overall structure of the home, such as the foundation and roof structure. 

The home inspectors also look at the exterior of the home, including siding, trim, drainage, windows, doors, decks and balconies. The inspectors normally will walk the roof to check it's condition and probable age, and look for any signs of poor drainage, leaks, damaged shingles, or problems with the chimneys or gutters.

Inside the home, the inspection includes the plumbing system, the electrical system, the heating and air conditioning systems, the hot water heater and the fireplaces. Kitchen appliances that are built-in are checked for proper operation, like the stove/oven, dishwasher and microwave oven.  Ceilings and floors, stairways and railings, and interior doors are inspected.  In the garage the inspector will check the operation of the garage door opening system.  If the home is built with crawlspaces underneath, the inspector will check that area of the home.
So, as a buyer, it is money well spent to have the home inspected.  It is also helpful for the buyers to be present at the inspection so the inspector can "de-brief" there on the spot and show you the items he is putting on the written report. 
If you are working with a Realtor in the purchase of your next home, ask your Realtor to recommend several inspectors they are familiar with, or if you are purchasing a home in the San Antonio area, contact SATAREI , the San Antonio Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors to hire your next home inspector.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10 Ways to Give Your Home's Exterior A Facelift

Saavy sellers know that a buyer's first impression can make or break a sale. So in this buyer's market, how can a seller make their home more inviting?

1. Trim the shrubs so they don't block windows or the architectural details of the home.

2. Put a pot of bright flowers on the front porch.

3. Install new doorknobs on the front entry door, and paint or stain the door if it doesn't look fresh.
4. Buy a new doormat for the front door.

5. Edge and mow the grass, even around walks and trees.
6. Upgrade the outside lighting fixtures.

7. Clean windows, inside and out. Sweep the front porch.
8. Polish or replace the house numbers.

9. Keep garden tools and hoses out of sight.
10. Place a seasonal wreath on the front door.

Your home only gets one chance to make a first impression, so make it a great one!

Friday, October 23, 2009

San Antonio Neighborhoods, Old and New - Part 10: Hollywood Park

My home, Hollywood Park

I've saved my home, Hollywood Park, for the 10th and last subdivision in my series on "San Antonio Neighborhoods, Old and New".  We have lived in Hollywood Park since 1995, and have sold over 85 Hollywood Park homes.  While Steve and I sell real estate all over the San Antonio area, we specialize in  Hollywood Park, called one of the "Top 100 Best Places to Raise Your Family" in the US!  The friendly small town atmosphere, and nice blend of "old-timers" and young families make Hollywood Park an ideal place to live.  Having on-site police and fire departments and a low crime rate are an added bonus.

The Town of Hollywood Park was incorporated December 7, 1955, and is a quiet, suburban community located in the north-central San Antonio area, just inside Loop 1604, at the Highway 281 interchange. It is bound by Loop 1604 to the north, Mecca Drive to the south, Blanco Road to the west and San Pedro Avenue to the east.   Hollywood Park is a diverse mix of residents, including businessmen, young families and retirees.  Some of the hallmarks of Hollywood Park include quiet streets, oak trees, deer,  and large family homes with large lots.  Currently there are approximately 3000 residents in about 1300 homes.

Hollywood Park was originally a rural community that has seen a steady increase in population because of its close proximity to San Antonio.  Hollywood Park still offers quiet, country living with the conveniences of the city nearby. This township is a popular choice for families looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Hollywood Park real estate consists mainly of single family homes with a nice mix of architecture and builders sitting on ½ to 1 acre lots.

Two garden home areas, the Gardens of Hollywood Park, and the Enclave of Hollywood Park, were developed in the last 20 years, and provide alternatives to buyers who want the neighborhood amenities without the responsibilites of maintaining a large residential lot.

Hollywood Park Real Estate....

Currently there are over 25 homes on the market in Hollywood Park, ranging from the high $190's to over $400K.  In the last 12 months, sales have remained strong with 43 closed sales.  Prices vary greatly according to age of home, lot size, condition of the home and location within the Park.  Sales ranged from $158,000 to $500,000, and from $65 to $155 per square foot.  Sold homes were from approximately 1600 square feet to 5000 square feet, and were from 55 years old to new construction.

Life in Hollywood Park...
There is an active voluntary HOA that puts on activities for Hollywood Park residents, like the annual 4th of July Parade and Picnic, the annual Halloween Party, special beginning and end of school Free Swim nights at the township's pool, and an annual Tamalada dinner honoring residents who are new to the neighborhood.  Also available are opportunities to participate in the Woman's Club, Garden Club, Swim Team, and many other fine organizations that bring residents together to make Hollywood Park an outstanding place to live!

For more information on Hollywood Park, contact Steve and Barbara Linick at


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

San Antonio Neighborhoods, Old and New - Part 9: Downtown Condos

Having folks live in a downtown San Antonio condo is a relatively new thing for us.  We've long been known for our nightlife on the Riverwalk, and the great hotels that tourists enjoy, but nobody wanted to LIVE downtown.... until recently. 

San Antonio's small downtown is full of hotels, restaurants and bars, surrounding the River Walk. The river is scarcely 50 feet across, but its banks are lined with stores, restaurants and nightclubs. A 1939 WPA project, the River Walk, developed at a time when riverbanks were avoided rather than embraced  and it became the precursor to urban entertainment zones such as Baltimore's Inner Harbor. A second 2-mile section has just opened, which brings the total River Walk to 4 miles.  So for downtown condo dwellers, the River Walk is an entertainment dream just a short walk away.


1.  Camp Street Lofts

Except for a few newly constructed buildings, many of the condo units are new inside, but have historic exteriors.  One such building is the Camp Street Lofts, which is a candy factory built in 1926 converted to 20 units that range from 1900 square feet ot 3800 square feet.  The units were developed as a shell with ductwork, plumbing and wiring and the buyer then will finish out the space.  Units available there currently range from $235,000 for a 2000+ square foot condo to $549,000 for a larger 2400+ square foot unit.

2. Vidorra

A newly built downtown condo, Vidorra, is comprised of one, two and three-bedroom luxury condominium units, along with town homes that are adjacent to the twin 20 story towers. In-house features include  efficient floor plans, high ceilings,attached garage parking, a business and fitness center, swimming pools and sundecks. The Vidorra is located at 235 Center Street, just north of Sunset Station  and showcases a nice blend of contemporary and traditional architecture with sensational, panoramic city views.  Currently available are nine units ranging from $269,900 to $625,000.

3. The Andalusia

Also recently constructed, the Andalusia, at 221 Lexington,  has 20 units, some of which include lofts, and there's a rooftop deck with a great view. These are among the newest lofts downtown, and each contains hardwood floors, one to three bedrooms, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.  Prices on the currently available units run   from $139,950 to $289,000, and the units range from just over 600 square feet to almost 1200 square feet. From here you can walk to the Riverwalk or the Majestic Theater to catch dinner and a show.

4. La Cascada

La Cascada, is a 12 story high rise condo with 46 units located at 230 Dwyer Ave, on the Riverwalk.  The building features a   fitness center, business center, multiple balconies and a rooftop pool and spa make home a fabulous alternative to going out. Inside each residence, you'll find hardwoods, granites, tile and marble finishes. separate tubs and walk-in showers in large bath areas, and walk-in closets. The building also features private, gated parking and a lobby staff to help maintain your privacy. And nearby is Hippos, a convenient small grocery / deli.  Prices on the La Cascada units range from just over $400,000 to almost $900,000, and all are between 2000 square feet and 3000 square feet.

5. Travis Park Lofts

The Travis Park Lofts are located smack dab in the middle of downtown San Antonio at 214 E. Travis.  This condo building includes 17 units with features such as exposed ceilings, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, stained concrete floors, and open floor plans. The Travis Park Lofts are popular among San Antonio professionals, young families and empty nesters.  Currently available are six units from just under $200,000 to $340,000.

For more information on living in downtown San Antonio, or for specific info on available units, contact me at 210-884-2572.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

San Antonio Neighborhoods, Old and New - Part 8: Sonoma Ranch

Continuing my journey through some of San Antonio's interesting neighborhoods, today we'll explore Sonoma Ranch,  a neighborhood in picturesque Helotes, and one of the newer master planned communities in the San Antonio area.  Sonoma Ranch is located just outside Loop 1604 on Kyle Seale Blvd., and was developed in 2000 on the site of the Kyle Seale Ranch.  The homes in this gated community are set upon normal residential lots to lots of one to three acres which are considered estate homes. Prices range from the entry level homes in the high $100's to Estate homes over $700,000.  Sonoma Ranch also boasts wonderful community amenities, including three swimming pools, a clubhouse, playgrounds, and tennis and basketball courts.    

Location, Location, Location....
Sonoma Ranch is convenient to major highways, Loop 1604 and IH 10, as well as the major shopping areas at The Rim and La Cantera Mall.  The local university, The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is about three miles away.  The Six Flags Fiesta Texas theme park is about five miles away, and Sea World San Antonio is about twelve miles away. 

The nearby town of Helotes, known as a friendly place where the Texas Hill Country begins, was originally a small stagecoach stop between San Antonio and Bandera. Today, the community, nestled within the scenic hills, is quiet and fun-filled, a place where small town tranquility and family-oriented activities are enjoyed throughout the year.

One local business, Floore Country Store, gained fame as the place where country-western singer and songwriter Willie Nelson got his start, and where he occasionally returns to perform.

Sonoma Ranch real estate...
It's been a busy year in Sonoma Ranch so far.  There are 70 homes on the market currently, ranging from $179,900 to $782,500.  There are 15 homes under contract, and thus far in 2009 there have been 105 homes sold in the community.  Those sold homes ranged from $150,000 to $700,000.  To find out more specifics about homes available in the area, you can contact me

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

San Antonio Neighborhoods, Old and New - Part 7: Garden Ridge

Located on San Antonio's far northeast side, and adjacent to Bracken, Tx, this beautiful hill country community is known to many only by it's famous store, Garden Ridge Pottery when in reality, the neighborhood of Garden Ridge  is home to many beautiful residences that share the area with deer and wildlife. Many of these homes are on sizeable lots and are perfectly manicured. 

Garden Ridge facts...
The neighborhoods of Garden Ridge,  Trophy Oaks, Forest Waters, Twisted Oaks, Country Oak Estates, Regency Oaks and Garden Ridge Estates, offer a small town country atmosphere with all the convenience of a big city living given its proximity to San Antonio.  The estimated population in July 2005 was 2,538, and the estimated median household income was  $108,900.  The median house value was $280,200 in 2005.

Garden Ridge history...
Before becoming a residential municipality, Garden Ridge was a ranching community. Garden Ridge became a "city" in a community rich in German heritage. Except for the new arrivals in Garden Ridge, the population was primarily German and Mexican. The town incorporated in 1972 to avoid being swallowed up by neighboring San Antonio or Schertz.

Nearby Garden Ridge...
The terrain is a split between rough hill country contour to the north and gently rolling hills to the south. The town sits on a beautiful dividing line between two Texas topographical landscapes.  Located nearby is the enchanting Natural Bridge Caverns, one of the largest underground caverns in Texas, discovered in 1960 by four San Antonio college students.

Also nearby is the famous Bracken Bat Cave, where for over 10,000 years millions of bats have come every Spring.  They emerge nightly, around dusk, to feed on approximately 200 tons of flying insects every evening.
For a fun day of shopping or dining out, try the Bracken Village, with houses, barns, and outbuildings from a late 1800's German farm which have been turned into restaurants, shops and a day spa.

Garden Ridge real estate...
Currently in the Garden Ridge communities, there are 24 homes on the market, ranging from $220,000 for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with over 2300 square feet, to $950,000 for over 6000 square feet in a 7 year old home with indoor pool, 5 bedrooms, 5 1/2 baths, and a 3 car garage.  The 28 sales in the last year have ranged from $196,000 to $750,000.   Thinking of moving to Garden Ridge? Contact me to get more information on what's available.

Friday, October 9, 2009

San Antonio Neighborhoods, Old and New - Part 6: Stone Oak

What is today known as the Stone Oak neighborhood, is actually a master planned community that consists of 40+ subdivisions with a population over 15,000 residents.  It is located in far north central San Antonio, located north of Loop 1604 between Blanco Rd. and 281 North.  Like Encino Park, it too was developed in the early 1980's, and was where the future growth of San Antonio was expected to take place.   The developer purchased four separate ranches, which totaled 4300 acres, and originally planned the area to become it's own city, but San Antonio did not allow that to happen.  The name Stone Oak was chosen because of the large amount of rock and oak trees in the area.

Medical Facilities....
Besides the residential developments, the area has attracted a large medical center, with the North Central Baptist Hospital and the newer Methodist Stone Oak Hospital, which

just opened in 2009.  Hundreds of doctors offices and other related facilities are in the area.  There's also large corporations that have chosen to locate their businesses there, including the home of Clear Channel Communications. 

The Club at Sonterra, a prestigious private golf course and country club, sits on approximately 200 acres within Stone Oak.  It connects with an existing golf course, formerly called Canyon Creek Golf Course, that lies just south of 1604 at Blanco Road, making the Sonterra South and Sonterra North courses a 36 hole private course that is very popular with golfers.

Many schools have been built in Stone Oak by the North East ISD in the last 15 years or so to accomodate the massive influx of students, and all are consistently top rated.  The crown jewel is the high school, Ronald Reagan High School, which opened in 1998. (We are proud parents of a Ronald Reagan High School graduate!)

Stone Oak Real Estate Market...

As you might imagine, with such a large number of smaller subdivisions making up Stone Oak, there are a wide variety of homes available for sale.  They range from $150K for a 10 year old home that's about 1800 square feet to $1 Million + for the huge estate sized homes on acreage.  Homes can be found in gated as well as non-gated areas, and some subdivisions have their own pool and playground, some are located on the golf course, some have hill country views, and all are located in a highly desired and highly affluent (median household income in Stone Oak is around $95,000) area of town.  Traffic congestion is a problem, but that doesn't seem to have hampered sales in the area.  For more specific information on Stone Oak housing, contact me by e-mail or by phone. (210-884-2572)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

San Antonio Neighborhoods, Old and New - Part 5: Encino Park


As neighborhoods in San Antonio go, Encino Park is a "teenager" when compared to the "elders" discussed recently ( Alamo Heights, Grey Forest, Mahncke Park and King William).  Encino Park was developed in the late 1970's as a planned community.  It is located in far north central San Antonio, just north of Loop 1604 and east of  US Highway 281.

By 1980 the neighborhood was chosen as the site of the annual Parade of Homes.  At that time, the pool and tennis courts were under construction.  By the end of 1982, about 280 families called Encino Park home.  A volunteer fire department had been formed, and the developer, Denton, had provided a temporary building on Encino Way until a permanent fire station could be built.  Community members were organizing groups like the Women's Club and the Home Owners Association.  A neighborhood newsletter was begun in 1983.  Also in 1983, residents petitioned the City of San Antonio to annex Encino Park, which took place in late 1984.   The community playground was completed in 1985.

The original part of Encino Park is now a thriving community of over 1000 homes surrounded by newer developments named after Encino Park (Vistas of Encino, Encino Ranch, The Oaks at Encino Park, etc.).  The original homes are set on large lots nestled amidst mature, sometimes hundred year old oak trees.  (Encino is Spanish for oak.)  Besides the Encino Park HOA and Women's Club, there's also the area's Blue Sharks Swim Team, Scouts group, and the Over 50 Club.  The events in the Park range from the Home and Garden Show, the Arts and Crafts Fair, the Fall Festival, and various monthly meetings.  Members can use the neighborhood pool, park and playscapes, basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts, as well as the large community center.  The under-construction PGA Players resort , opening in January, 2010, is just 5 miles away. 

Real Estate in Encino Park

Currently in Encino Park there are 20 homes on the market, ranging from $174,000 to $239,900.  Most are three or four bedrooms, with a two car garage. So far in 2009, there have been 26 homes sold, and sales were from $136,500 to $241,000.  They ranged from $56 per square foot to $128 per square foot, and of those, eight were over $90 per square foot, and nine others were between $80 and $90 per square foot. 

Want more specific information?  Visit our website, or contact us


Friday, October 2, 2009

San Antonio Neighborhoods, Old and New - Part 4: Grey Forest, Tx

The small town of Grey Forest, near Helotes in far Northwest Bexar County, began as a site along the stagecoach route through it's Scenic Loop Road.   Early settlers there often encountered hostile Native Americans in the area.  In the 1920's the Scenic Loop Playground was established as a getaway for the wealthy citizens of San Antonio, and in 1962 the Playground was incorporated into the city of Grey Forest.  Grey Forest now spans across Scenic Loop Road, and is only one mile long and 3/4's of a mile wide, and has about 400 residents. Located 18 miles northwest of downtown San Antonio, the area is rich with open space, lakes and small natural pools.  Robert E. Lee was said to be a frequent visitor to the area, and even has an established ranch bearing the Lee name.

Grey Forest Homes...
Many of the homes built in the 1930's are still present and occupied.  The stone architecture is prominent because lumber at the time was very expensive and difficult to find.  Other homes were built later that were more traditionally constructed.  The neighborhood is home to many artists that like the isolated location, and they hold open houses for tourists and visitors in the summer to showcase their art.

The Grey Moss Inn...

The major business in Grey Forest is the historic Grey Moss Inn.  The Restaurant and Patio are built under a canopy of huge Texas Oaks that beckons you to enjoy the "night." Tables are "candlelit" and the native rock walls and pine-wood floor "creaks" of romance. The adjacent "meadow'" home of the historic Treaty Tree, abounds with deer most evenings.  Owners Nell & Lou Baeten, together with their knowledgable staff  have maintained many of the traditional dishes while adding new "favorites"--such as the Buttermilk--marinated fried Texas Oysters and the Chorizo-stuffed Bandera Quail. Organic herbs from their garden are used whenever possible. The kitchen is lead by head chef Jason Cummins and his innovative Southern US style cuisine.

Grey Forest Real Estate Market...
Currently there are 7 homes available in Grey Forest, ranging from a $110,000,  800 square foot 1 bedroom home to a $482,000,  4300 square foot home with views.  In 2009 there have been four homes sell in Grey Forest, and they sold from $155K to $232K, at an average of $128 per square foot.  If you are interested in learning more about the neighborhood real estate contact me.