Friday, October 22, 2010

New Terminal Opening at the San Antonio International Airport

The new terminal is opening at the San Antonio Airport this week.  Terminal B, as it is being called, cost $108 million and will begin serving passengers next month.  The goal is to have final certifications complete and security checks done before Thanksgiving, when holiday travel hits high gear.

Terminal B replaces an aging 1950's era building that was last upgraded in the 1960's for Hemisfair '68.  The 251,000-square-foot structure is the crowning piece of a $635 million capital program at the airport that has created more long-term parking, doubled the facility's vehicle-carrying capacity with a bi-level roadway and improved other features, including its baggage-handling and screening system.  San Antonio hopes the new Terminal B at International Airport will have an oversized impact on both travelers and the city's aviation future.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sales of Existing Homes In San Antonio Have Slowed

From the San Antonio Express News' Jennifer Hiller comes:

San Antonio home sellers and real estate agents aren't quite singing the summertime blues, but sales of existing homes slowed considerably in July.  The number of home sales dropped 25 percent in July when compared with the same month in 2009, dipping to 1,491, according to data released Tuesday by the San Antonio Board of Realtors. 

The likely culprit of the unseasonable doldrums: the federal government's $8,000 carrot offered to first-time home buyers and $6,500 to some current homeowners, which was available to those who could go under contract by the end of April.  The tax credits boosted the number of home sales in the springtime, but most of those deals had closed by the time July rolled around.  “What we saw in the spring market was a surge in sales for the tax credit,” said Marietta Alba, SABOR chairwoman. 

But sales volume is still up 6 percent for the year, with 10,922 sales so far compared with 10,297 by the same time in 2009.  The expiring federal tax credits are also a likely reason the median sales price rose slightly, to $160,800.  Alba said that July saw an unusually high number of sales of homes above $500,000 — a group of buyers unlikely to be swayed by the federal tax credit — and a lower number of sales below the $200,000 mark most popular with first-time buyers. 

Earlier in the year, the number of first-time buyers in the market helped push the median price down slightly.  As the market moves out of its traditional peak season, Alba said SABOR expects the rest of the year to be steady, if unspectacular. 

“Our interest rates are still remarkably low and we're glad about that. Job growth continues,” Alba said. “We're still a steady and stable market.”  Homes sold slightly faster in July than they did in 2009, in an average of 84 days, which was 11 fewer than last year. And there were 1,430 pending sales at the end of July. 

Real estate agents and home builders both have noticed a drop-off in business from the usual summer frenzy. Most home buyers try to close a deal and move before the school year starts.  “I think we saw an increase until the month of May. In June we saw a drop,” said Richard Zepeda, an agent with Keller Williams Heritage.  Now Zepeda said he has noticed that builders again are offering good incentives to buyers and larger-than-usual agent commissions, as high as 7 percent, to spur interest. 
“The interest rates are so historically low,” Zepeda said. “It's the best time to buy if you can, especially while other people are still sitting on the fence.” 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What's that Pretty Blue Flowering Shrub I See All Around San Antonio?

That pretty blue flowering shrub you're seeing in San Antonio right now is the
blue plumbago.  It is the favorite blue-flowered plant for our area. It has a growth habit like a tomato. It will grow up fences or walls or spread along the ground if it is not contained.

The foliage of blue plumbago is light green and generally evergreen. The winter of 2009-10 was an exception when most plumbagos froze to the ground but resprouted.  The quarter-size flat flower is light blue. Butterflies will feed from the flowers all year if the winter is mild. Blue plumbago prospers in sun or shade.  This photo is from my back yard in an area that gets morning and afternoon sun.  It's light blue color looks amazing near the blue waters of my pool.

There are other blue-flowering plants and shrubs in the San Antonio area... blue salvias,  the blue-flowered vitex, and the dwarf Mexican petunia which comes in blue or pink varieties.  It is an outstanding ground cover for sun or shade with an attractive blue-purple bloom. The bloom resembles a petunia but is more tubular. It is a favorite nectar source for butterflies and hummingbirds.

Happy gardening San Antonio... and why not add a little blue into your garden this summer?

Monday, July 5, 2010

1906 Creek Mountain in Encino Park - New Listing

Just listed at $179,900 in Encino Park in far north San Antonio, this home at 1906 Creek Mountain features over 2000 square feet with three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, and a full 2 car garage.  There's a living room down with tall ceilings, brick fireplace, and an open staircase.  Upstairs is a large loft for the kids to enjoy.  Located in Encino Park near the community center, the whole family can walk to the neighborhood pool and playground.  French doors off the living room lead to a tree shaded side patio.  Updates include recent paint and carpet, and a new roof is on the way.  Cement fiber siding, storage building, front yard sprinkler system and a water softener are included.  Don't wait, call today for an appointment to see this fine home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Home Sales are Increasing in San Antonio; Prices are Not

The May real estate numbers are in for San Antonio, and the number of sales of existing homes in May increased 19 percent to 1,928 sales compared with the same month in 2009, according to a new report from the San Antonio Board of Realtors.  But the median price of a San Antonio home dipped 4 percent to $145,900 compared with May 2009.

The increase in the number of sales this May has been credited to the tax incentives for homebuyers that ended April 30th. 

A report this week based on the Fiserv Case-Shiller Indexes said San Antonio home prices could slide slightly this year, but only by 0.5 percent. Nationally, a 3.1 percent decline is expected this year, with steep home price declines continuing in hard-hit markets such as Nevada, Arizona and Florida.  Once again, San Antonio is one of the more stable real estate markets in the country.

With around 7.8 months of inventory — meaning that if no more homes came onto the market, it would take 7.8 months, in theory, to sell the entire inventory at the current pace — the market remains tipped slightly in favor of buyers. About 6.5 months of inventory is considered a market balanced between buyers and sellers. 

The other good news?  The average number of days on the market for a San Antonio home that sold in May was 83, a quicker pace than the year before.

Friday, June 11, 2010

San Antonio Economy Gets a 400 Bioscience Jobs Boost

The big announcement yesterday was that InCube Labs is going to open a research facility in San Antonio.  It will be a research laboratory, focused on developing major medical breakthroughs.  InCube's founder and CEO, Mir Imran, is the developer of the automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator, which has become a standard in cardiovascular care.  He announced that he picked San Antonio over other Texas cities because of its research institutions, the military and the business community.

The good news for the San Antonio economy?  The company will create jobs with salaries ranging from $50,000 to over $200,000 which Mayor Julian Castro said is on track with his push for higher paying jobs in the city.  According to Imran, InCube will also launch five life science companies in San Antonio: three by the end of this year and two more within three years after that.  The companies will create about 400 jobs and will collectively spend $100 million.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bexar County Property Appraisals Have Dropped for Many Homeowners

According to Jennifer Hiller with the Express News, "After years of steady price increases, in 2009, Bexar County property values dipped 2 percent. Prior to that, residential appraisals hadn't decreased in Bexar County since the savings and loan crisis of the early '90s."

The higher dollar neighborhoods like The Dominion, Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills have remained steady while the lesser expensive, more tract-home neighborhoods in other areas of town have sustained larger number of foreclosures which have brought those neighborhood appraisals down.  The average San Antonio home value in 2009 stood at $146,702, while in 2010 it is at $145,682.  

Not all homes are going down. Some have seen increases in their valuations, and have received notices from the Bexar Appraisal District. Only those properties with an increase of $1,000 or more will receive a letter in the mail with the information on how to file a protest. Meanwhile, property owners can check the appraised value online at to see if the values have changed. All owners can protest, even if the values have decreased and the owner hopes to lower the value further.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Phil Hardberger Park Celebrates its Grand Opening

Phil Hardberger Park is the largest public park San Antonio has opened since 1899 when George Brackenridge began donating land that eventually became a park bearing his name.  The 311-acre former Voelcker homestead between Shavano Park and Castle Hills was acquired by the city at a cost of nearly $47 million in 2006 and 2007.

The initial Phase 1A of the park development plan involves 1.5 miles of nature trails, picnic tables, parking space, drinking fountains, barbecue pits, a playscape, vehicular access off Blanco Road and a public dog park that is now the city's largest.  10 percent of the park land has been developed thus far. According to master plans, 75 percent of the land's total acreage will remain untouched by park development.

Preserving much of the land on the former Voelcker dairy farm has been vital.  Most of the land was originally a savanna, grassland marked by trees and small woodland features, primarily live oaks.  The parks and recreation department, with help from volunteers, last year started restoring the savanna by planting 50,000 native grass and wildflower plants. 

Park staff members have spread seeds of more than 60 species of native prairie plants meant to help support a wide range of insects, reptiles, mammals and birds.  Park officials have said they will consider future artificial structures such as bat or bird houses to attract additional wildlife species. 

Hardberger Park is located where the Edwards Plateau Savanna, Blackland Prairie and South Texas Plains converge, further supplementing the park's potential of detailed study and preservation of local plants, trees and wildlife. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Country Views in the City - 15114 Circle Oak

Want country views in the middle of the city?  Come take a look at this newly listed property at 15114 Circle Oak in San Pedro Hills.  This beautiful home is set on .23 acres with large oak trees that back to a greenbelt.  Two large decks, one covered and one uncovered, give you a place to relax and enjoy the views.  Watch the deer and other wildlife from your own back deck!

The home is a one story, with three sides brick, ranch style home.  There's a full two car garage, plus sprinkler system, a large utilty room, and is wired for a security system.

There's four bedrooms, and three full baths.  Two bedrooms can be the master, and are split on opposite sides of the home.  Perfect for in-laws or guests.  The masters are 17 x 15 and 14 x 13. 

The back yard slopes down to the large greenbelt that's filled with mature oak trees.   

Call today (210-884-2572) if you'd like to set up an appointment to see this beautiful home.  The home is priced at $189,900 and has 2130 square feet per the Bexar Appraisal District.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

10 Tips to Make Your Home Stand Out When Selling

Want your home to stand out to buyers?  Take the extra steps when getting your home on the market.  There's a lot of competition out there, and buyers are seeking those homes that are truely "move-in ready". 

So use this checklist as a way to evaluate your home, and see if there's things you can do to enhance your home and your chance of selling.

  1. Create an attractive entry -- both inside and outside.  First impressions are really important.
  2. Hardwood floors are "in" with buyers.  Replace that old worn carpet with nice hardwoods.
  3. Update and improve the little details like cabinet hardware, bathroom faucets, and doorknobs.
  4. Make your bathrooms more attractive to buyers by replacing the large sheet glass mirrors with elegant framed mirrors and updated lighting.
  5. Countertops?  Go granite, it might be more affordable than you think and it scores big with buyers.
  6. Replace old ovens, cooktops and dishwashers with stainless finishes. 
  7. De-clutter and organize clothes closets and kitchen cabinets.  No cost here, just a little effort.
  8. Make the yard attractive to families with kids.  The grass should be well maintained and healthy. 
  9. Don't overlook lighting.  The interior needs to be bright, so add lamps or improve fixtures to make the house well lit.
  10. Stage the furniture to show off the best features of the home.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So What Happens When the Real Estate Tax Incentives End?

So what happens to the real estate market in San Antonio when the tax incentives end in a few days?  The $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers and $6500 for repeat homebuyers ends this Friday, April 30th.  Buyers who qualify for that incentive have to be under contract by that date and close the deal by June 30th to get the credit.

Ahh, but for San Antonio, there is an "escape clause".  San Antonio may benefit from an IRS provision that gives active-duty military members an extra year to buy a house and take the tax credits if they have been deployed for at least 90 days between Dec. 31, 2008, and May 1 of this year.  So with our large military bases here, we may see the market continue to be fueled by returning military buyers for the next year.  Time will tell.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Home Sales Improving in San Antonio?

Good News......

Sales of existing San Antonio homes increased 28 % in March, compared with March, 2009, as more than 1,700 homes sold, according to the latest data from the San Antonio Board of Realtors.  More than 3,700 resale homes have changed hands in the first quarter of the year, up 12 % from  the first quarter of 2009. 

There were 1,849 pending sales at the end of March.  Those are homes which are under contract but haven't yet closed. It was the highest number since August 2007, and the San Antonio Board of Realtors  is hoping it's another sign that the market is warming up for the traditional spring and summer sales season.  Homes were taking an average of 90 days to sell in March, compared with 103 during March, 2009.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Viva Fiesta in San Antonio, Texas!

The latest from the Alamo City... it's FIESTA TIME!

New Orleans has Mardi Gras. Rio de Janeiro has Carnival. And San Antonio has Fiesta — 11 days of partying, Texas-style. Fiesta began in 1891 with a single parade honoring the heroes from the battles of San Jacinto and the Alamo. Women in decorated horse-drawn carriages gathered in front of the Alamo to toss flowers at each other.

Today there are more than 100 events around the city celebrating the unique spirit of San Antonio with live music, food, dancing, fairs and art.  Not to mention all kinds of parades, including the floating Texas Cavaliers' River Parade, the nighttime Fiesta Flambeau Parade and the Battle of Flowers Parade — inspired by those bloom-tossing ladies.

The festivities kick off today with Fiesta Fiesta, the opening ceremony at the Alamo that includes live music, food and children's activities, emceed by San Antonio native and ABC News anchor John Quiñones. Americana music star Kevin Fowler headlines.  They're not the only celebrities joining the fun. Former Spur David Robinson will head River Parade, while singer Vikki Carr will be the grand marshal of the Flambeau.

Fiesta's royalty are celebrities in their own right. There's King Antonio, who represents the order of the Cavaliers, and El Rey Feo, the “ugly king,” a monarch for the masses.  But there are no ugly queens at Fiesta — at the Coronation of the Queen of the Order of the Alamo, the queen, as well as princess and duchesses, wear elaborately decorated gowns. There's also Miss Fiesta San Antonio, the Queen of Soul and the Charro Queen.  And don't forget King Anchovy of Cornyation, the irreverent pageant that pokes fun at current events, and El Rey Fido, who's top dog at the Pooch Parade.

It seems like every Fiesta-goer has a favorite event. There's the Fiesta Carnival packed with games and rides. A Taste of New Orleans at Sunken Garden Theater boasts music and cuisine. A Night in Old San Antonio takes over La Villita with entertainment and food from different cultures. Fiesta Oyster Bake at St. Mary's University is all about music and eating. 

Those same Fiesta-goers know how to make the most of the party: Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen. See how many Fiesta medals and pins you can collect. And beware friends bearing cascarones, colorful eggshells that spill confetti over your head. 

After more than a century, Fiesta continues to evolve. This year, it is making strides toward a greener celebration.  The Fiesta Commission is working with the city to provide recycling containers at several events, including NIOSA, Fiesta Fiesta, King William Fair and Fiesta de los Niños at Port San Antonio. At the major street parades, groups that sell seating will collect recyclables. 

But some things about Fiesta that never change — it raises thousands of dollars for various charities every year, and it brings residents and visitors together to celebrate San Antonio's diverse heritage and culture. ¡Viva Fiesta!

Article by Jessica Belasco from the San Antonio Express News

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Top High Schools in San Antonio Area

Top 10 High Schools in Greater San Antonio Area

1. Health Careers High (Northside ISD)

2. International School of the Americas (North East ISD)

3. Alamo Heights High (Alamo Heights ISD)

4. Reagan High (North East ISD)

5. D’Hanis School (D’Hanis ISD)

6. Winston Churchill High (North East ISD)

7. Medina High (Medina ISD)

8. Sandra Day O’Connor High (Northside ISD)

9. Medina Valley High (Medina Valley ISD)

10. Clark High (Northside ISD)
A group called “Children At Risk” evaluated and ranked 57 high schools, 101 middle schools, and 257 elementary schools in Greater San Antonio.  Children At Risk ranks high schools based on factors like graduation rate, participation in advanced coursework, and performance on college entrance exams. 
Congratulations to these fine schools and their students and faculties on a job well done!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It's Bluebonnet Season in South Texas!

It's bluebonnet season in south Texas, including our very own San Antonio.  The bluebonnet is the Texas state flower, and grows along Texas highways as a wildflower, returning year after year from seeds from the previous growing season.  The wind helps to spread the seeds, so you can find large areas of beautiful blue flowers along highways and in neighborhood yards, including mine!  These photos are from my backyard bluebonnets. 

You'll note there are also bluebonnets that are not blue!  Texas A&M University developed a hybrid bluebonnet that is Aggie maroon (Go Aggies!).  So in my yard, you'll see both colors that have come up from seed from last year's crop.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

NCAA Women’s Final Four to boost S.A.

The upcoming NCAA Women’s Final Four is going to be a big boost the San Antonio economy, according to William Pack of the San Antonio Express-News.    The games will be played in the Alamodome in downtown San Antonio on Sunday, Apr. 4th and Tuesday, Apr. 6th.  It is estimated that the Final Four is going to generate $20.9 million in spending from about 28,000 visitors from outside the San Antonio area.

Sporting events such as the Final Fours have become big economic generators because of the large number of out-of-town fans they draw, and the amount those fans spend at local restaurants, auto rental outlets, hotels and tourist attractions.  In addition, this time there are two teams from the region, Baylor and Oklahoma, and more fans than originally estimated may decide to attend in person.  Seating in the Alamodome has been capped at 23,000 for the championship, but it could be expanded if demand warrants.

Compare the projected $20.9 million impact to previous San Antonio events:

  • 2009 Washingston State vs. Notre Game football game at the Alamodome - $15.6 million
  • 2008 Rock 'N' Roll Marathon - $20.9 million
  • 2008 Mens Final Four at the Alamodome - $47 million
  • 2007 Valero Alamo Bowl - $42.6 million
  • 2007 Big 12 Championship football game at the Alamodome - $30.5 million
  • 2002 Women's Final Four at the Alamodome - $17.1 million to $20.3 million
On a personal note, as a graduate of Baylor University, Go Lady Bears!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Break was Very, Very Good for S.A.

From the San Antonio Express News newspaper, William Pack writes that Spring Break has been very, very good for S.A.  Alamo Plaza in downtown San Antonio was "swarming with people.  It was really encouraging."

Tourism officials welcomed the increased traffic, especially after a dismal 2009 and barely any growth in January and February of 2010.  The owner of Ripley's Haunted Adventure and two other Alamo-area attractions, Davis Phillips, thought it was a good indicator of strong summer activity.  Attendance at his attractions were up 16% over last Spring Break.

The San Antonio Zoo had two record setting days last week.  When visitors number over 10,000 daily, it's considered great.  Last week saw days with over 18,000 visitors enjoying the animals and beautiful weather.

Local restaurants, hotels and historic sites also noted increases in the 2010 Spring Break business.  "There's the perception that things are getting better", said a spokesman for the city's convention bureau.  And that's good news for the Alamo City.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Home Sales Up, but Prices Dip Slightly

"San Antonio's home sales shook off a bit of the winter chill in February, as more buyers entered the market.  Sales of existing homes jumped 6 percent over February 2009 and were up 43 percent over a sluggish January, with 1,195 sales, according to data released Monday by the San Antonio Board of Realtors."

In an article in Monday's San Antonio Express News newspaper by Jennifer Hiller, data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the San Antonio Board of Realtors showed that  homes in San Antonio were taking an average of 96 days to sell in February, compared with 106 during the same month the year before.  Prices remained relatively flat, with the median price at $141,900, down 1 percent from last February.

So, the real estate market in San Antonio continues to be a good news / bad news scenario for sellers.  More homes being sold, but slight depreciation in the prices. 

Looking to purchase a home in the San Antonio area?  Contact us -- we've helped over 550 buyers and sellers in our combined 37 years of experience selling San Antonio homes!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

San Antonio Home Sales - Is it a Good time to Sell or Not?

So is it a good time to sell a home in San Antonio?  Yes!  It is a good time to sell because whether you are staying in town or moving elsewhere, there's an abundant supply of homes to pick from when you become a buyer.  Interest rates are still near all time lows, and loans are still being made, as long as you have decent credit and a job that looks secure.  Big if's for many nowadays, but a bonus for those that do.

So, how does this market compare to '09's market and '08's market? The graph below shows that the last three months for which we have data to compare,  November and December of 2009 and January of 2010, sales have outpaced the previous year, and hopefully will continue to do so. 
San Antonio Home Sales Per Month

As a seller, it may take a little longer to get your home sold, but houses are still selling. Prices have remained somewhat steady in most areas of town, but as the number of foreclosures increase, we may see more drops in home sales prices.  The next graph compares the distribution of sales prices in San Antonio, comparing sales in 1999, five years later in 2004, and five years later in 2009. 

Price distribution of San Antonio Home Sales

The sales of homes from $120,000 up last year (2009) outpaced the comparison years, 1999 and 2004, while the sales of homes below $120,000 lagged considerably behind.  When comparing homes in the upper ranges of $200,000 and up, sales in 2009 were two to three times as plentiful as 10 years earlier in 1999.  Obviously inflation plays a part in this change, but as the city has grown in the last ten years, more companies have re-located to San Antonio bringing higher wages, and the growth of our medical industry and military commands continues to create a demand for higher end housing. 

Optimism reigns in the San Antonio real estate markets, at least at the present time!

Statistical information from the Texas A&M Real Estate Center.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pricing Mistakes When Selling Your Home, and How to Avoid Them

When selling your home, your pricing strategy can make or break your chances for a successful sale.  Listing your home at a proper price will encourage a buyer to snatch up your home for fear of losing it to another buyer, while listing too high can cause your home to sit on the market for months.  Especially in our current slower market, proper pricing is crucial.

In her article, "Pricing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them,"  Shannon Petrie of lists six mistakes that home sellers most often make.

Mistake #1: Forgoing research
Sellers sometimes base their prices on hearsay or by checking the asking price of the home down the street.  Instead you should base your price on a competitive market analysis, or cma, done by a real estate professional that looks at recent sales in the same area that are similar.  These cma's are usually free because agents are hoping to get to list the home for sale.  Another option is to hire a real estate appraiser to do the job.  Cost:  Several hundred dollars.

Mistake #2: Hiring the agent who offers the highest list price for your home
Beware of agents trying to "buy" your listing by suggesting an unrealistically high asking price.  This is unethical and costs you time and money in the long run, since you'll most likely have to cut the price later after being on the market a long time.  The agent you choose to list your home should be able to back up their list price with comparable sales data.

Mistake #3: Getting emotionally involved
Try to stay objective during the pricing process by focusing on the comparable sales in the cma.  Everyone thinks their home is the best home on the block, and worth more than it really is.  Listen to the agents you interview to see how your home really compares.

Mistake #4:  Pricing too high at the beginning
If the home enters the market over-priced, you've lost many buyers who otherwise could have afforded your home.  By the time you adjust the price, those buyers have already bought something else.  Then when you do put a proper price on the home, buyers want to know why it has sat on the market for so long.  Your best opportunity for a quick offer is in the first two weeks the home is on the market, so don't waste that time by being overpriced.

Mistake #5: Overpricing because you have "time"
Time does not equal dollars.  Being on the market longer actually costs you money.  Especially in a market where home prices are declining or just staying flat, being on the market longer is not a good option.

Mistake #6:  Chasing the Market
If prices are dropping and your home is overpriced, then as you lower the price, you are still falling behind the market that's declining.  List the home as competitively as you can from day one, and then assess market feedback and numbers of showings to see if further cuts need to be made.

Monday, February 22, 2010

San Antonio Park for Disabled Children to Open Soon

San Antonio's new park for disabled children, Morgan's Wonderland, is opening soon.  It is being called the world's first ultra-accessible family fun park for people with special needs.  Named for his daughter, Morgan, philanthropist Gordan Hartman dreamed of having a special place in San Antonio where his daughter could play and enjoy outdoor activities.  He formed the Gordon Hartman Foundation in 2007 and construction began in the Spring of 2009.  Occupying 25 acres on the northeast side of town, the complex is part of a larger 106 acre city venture with 14 lighted soccer fields, and a high school stadium that seats 11,000.  Admission to Morgan's Wonderland will be free for the disabled, and $5 for those who accompany them. 

Park Facts

Morgan’s Wonderland ...

•Located at the former site of the Longhorn Quarry

•25 acres in size, and is the first Ultra Accessible Family Fun Park in the world!

•8 acre lake stocked with a variety of fish

•Controlled entry and exit

•Features RFID locator wristbands and touch screen display monitors so parents and caregivers can keep track of family and friends

•Fencing around lake edge as well as security fencing around the park’s perimeter for added safety

Activities & Amenities include:

•Specially designed air conditioned/heated and oversized ADA accessible restrooms

•3 Playscapes

•Train Rides with wheelchair accessible cars

•Ultra Accessible Carousel


•Catch-and-Release Fishing

•Water Cannons & Remote-Controlled Boats

•Gymnasium (basketball, volleyball & tennis)

•Special Event Center for up to 700 guests

•Walk and Roll Path around lake

•“Around the World” – themed rest areas

•Water Works - Water Play Area

•Off-Road Adventure Ride

•Music Garden

•Swings (several types including wheelchair swings)

•Sand Circle™

•Sensory Village™

•Garden Sanctuary with Memorial Wall

•Several Rest Stops, Picnic Areas & Pavilions

•2 First Aid Stations & Feeding Room

•Braille Signage, 3-D Park Model & Service Animal Rest Area

•2 Gift Shops

•VIA Transit Center

Another first for our great Alamo City!  Way to go San Antonio!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What's the San Antonio Housing Market Doing in 2010 So Far?

In the San Antonio Express newspaper, Jennifer Hiller reports on the sluggish San Antonio housing market.  The highlights of her article include:
  • The median price of a San Antonio resale home was $139,700 in January, down 6 percent from the same month last year.
  • The number of January sales in San Antonio was essentially flat: 834 sales this year compared with 836 sales in 2009.
  • Homes  in San Antonio were taking an average of 92 days to sell in January.
  • In January, 127 sales, or about 15 percent of all San Antonio sales, were lender-owned.
Based on some encouraging fourth-quarter 2009 numbers, SABOR in January projected an increase in the number of home sales this year, along with possibly some price appreciation.  But the January 2010 numbers did not show that strength in our local market.  Hopes are still high for a strong recovery this Spring due to the coming warmer weather, the low interest rates and the tax credit deadline.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Showing homes in San Antonio, Texas

Thankfully, business has been good lately.  We've had the opportunity in the last few weeks, to work with four sets of really good buyers.  The fun part is that we have a buyer in the $150's, the $250's, the $350's and the $700's+.  So we're getting to show a wide variety of homes in San Antonio and nearby neighborhoods.

What has made this experience fun and interesting, is the unique floorplans we've seen, the unique furnishings in those homes, and the various styles of decorating and staging home sellers have worked to achieve.  For the most part, an overwhelming percentage of the homes we've shown have been really ready to show, and were in move-in condition.  I suspect that as the numbers of foreclosures increase, I won't be able to say that much longer.  But in the meantime, a big thank you to San Antonio's home sellers.  Job well done! 

It makes the Realtor's job a lot easier and a lot more fun when the buyer can see themselves moving into a home without having to do a lot of clean-up or re-do's to make the home livable.  And that translates into more money in the Seller's pocket.  Keep up the good work Sellers.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What do the New FHA Lending Changes Mean to Buyers?

What do the new FHA lending changes mean to buyers?  The sweeping set of policy changes for FHA announced in late January were designed to strengthen the FHA's capital reserves to support the nation's housing market recovery, says David H. Stevens, US Dept. of HUD.  Included in those changes are:

  1. An increase in the up-front MIP (Mortgage Insurance Premium) and a future increase on the annual MIP.  This will go into effect in the spring.
  2. New borrowers will need a 580 or better credit score in order to only put 3.5% down on their loan.  If lower than 580 they will need a 10% down payment, beginning this summer.   This allows FHA to lower its risk and to be able to continue to provide loans to borrowers who have shown themselves to be good credit risks.
  3. Increased FHA lender enforcement of adhering to FHA guidelines and standards, also going into effect this summer.
  4. Reduction of seller concessions from 6% to 3%.  The current level exposes FHA to excess risk by creating incentives to inflate the appraised value of the home.  This, too, will go into effect this summer.
So what do these changes really mean for future borrowers?  It means a return to the sound business practices lenders used to follow whereby the borrower needed good credit and a substantial down payment before becoming a homeowner. 

The borrowers who benefit from future FHA loans will be more likely to be able to repay those loans and not end up in  foreclosure like many folks today.  Fewer people will be able to purchase homes through the FHA, but those that do, will be able to pay their bills!  And FHA should be financially stable and around many more years to help future home buyers.  It's a good thing.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sellers Beware! Top 10 Ways to Turn off A Homebuyer!

We work with both sellers and buyers, and see a lot of San Antonio homes.  Some are ready to be on the market, and others not so much.  Sometimes it is hard to communicate to sellers what it takes for a home to be ready for prime time!  This list from Jay McDonald, 10 Ways to Turn off a Homebuyer, says it very well.

10 Ways to Turn off A Homebuyer....

  • Dirt  Cleanliness IS Godliness!  No one want to buy your dirty home and have to clean it!
  • Odors  Smoke odors or pet odors make buyers walk right back out the door!
  • Old fixtures  You didn't replace them because it cost so much, why should the buyers want to do it?
  • Wallpaper  A big no, at least at the present time.  Buyers don't want it -- take it down!
  • Popcorn acoustic ceilings  Can be removed, but it's a messy job.  Younger buyers hate it!
  • Too many personal items  You're not selling your family or possessions, just your home!
  • Snoopy sellers  When the home is being shown, LEAVE the HOUSE!
  • Misrepresenting your home  If buyers are expecting too much, they'll be disappointed and won't buy your home.
  • Poor curb appeal  Preparing the outside of the home is just as important as preparing the inside, maybe even more crucial!
  • Clutter  Piles of clutter tell the buyer that the home is TOO SMALL.  Ditch the clutter and organize the home's contents to emphasize the existing storage.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Were You a First Time Homebuyer in 2009?

Were you a first-time homebuyer in 2009?  When you get around to doing your taxes this Spring, do you know what IRS will need from you in order to get your tax credit? 

According to the IRS website,  there are five items you need to have in order to verify the details of your home purchase for the purpose of getting your tax credit.  They are:

  • A copy of the final closing contract (HUD-1 Statement)
  • A copy of your most recent monthly mortgage statement 
  • If the home was newly constructed, a copy of the occupancy permit

Plus two of the following four items:

  • Copy of your current drivers license showing home address
  • Copy of a recent pay statement showing your name and home address
  • Copy of a recent bank statement showing your name and home address
  • Copy of a current auto registration showing your name and home address
So, get your records in order, homebuyers, and enjoy the one-time benefit you are receiving.  And, welcome to the club of home-OWNERS!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Maintaining Your Kitchen Countertops from the DIY Network

From the DIY Network comes an excellent article about maintaining your kitchen countertops .   The article addresses the three most common types of countertops: plastic laminate tops, solid surface  and natural stone countertops.

Plastic Laminate Countertops
These are fairly easy to maintain, and therefore to increase their appearance and life.  Common sense tips like: wipe off spots and spills with a damp cloth and mild soap.  Don't allow water to stand on the seams or on the backsplash.  Don't use the countertop as a cutting board.  Be careful of cigarette burns, or damage from anything else that is hot that touches the tops.  Re-apply caulk as needed to keep out water penetration.

Solid Surface Countertops
Clean up spills immediately, but don't use abrasive pads.  Dry the top after cleaning.  Do not put hot items directly on the surface.  Don't use the surface as a cutting board.  Do not allow acetones, such as are found in paint cleaners and nail polish, to come in contact with the surface.

Natural Stone Countertops
Clean regularly with soap and water, but don't use abrasive pads. Wipe dry after cleaning.  Dust the countertop regularly.  Repair chips, scratches, burns and stains following the manufacturer's instructions.  Check to see if you should have your stone countertops sealed to prevent staining.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

San Antonio Area Companies Are On the "Best to Work For" List

Three San Antonio area companies are ranked in the "100 Best Companies to Work For" list from Fortune Magazine.  A relatively new company, NuStar Energy LP is ranked at No. 21, while nearby New Braunfels company Scooter Store is ranked No. 38, and San Antonio insurance giant USAA is ranked No. 45.  The score is determined by a random survey of employees and the pay, benefits, hiring, communication and diversity of the company.

NuStar showers employees with no-cost health insurance for them and their families, and an old fashioned pension plan.  Full time turnover is a low 3%!

The Scooter Store practices celebrations for employees, including quarterly pep rallies and daily birthday parties.  40% of employees are salespeople who earn commissions based on their performance.

USAA boasts top of the line benefits such as a 401(k) match of up to 8% of pay and performance bonuses up to 18% of pay for their almost 22,000 employees.

Congratulations for these three fine area companies in the Alamo City area!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Do's and Don'ts for Maintaining Your Kitchen Cabinets

The Do It Yourself Network has some great tips for maintaining your kitchen cabinets.  Whether you are getting your San Antonio home ready to sell, or just wanting to keep your cabinets looking like new,  follow these easy steps.

Do inspect the caulk around sinks and backsplashes to prevent water damage to cabinets.
Do clean knobs and drawer pulls using mild soap and warm water.  Dry with a soft cloth.

Do lubricate and adjust drawer slides periodically.  Use a little silicone spray lubricant.
Do lubricate and adjust door hinges.
Do tighten loose knobs or pulls.

Don't put wet dishes in cabinets - dry thoroughly before putting them away.

Don't clean cabinets with harsh abrasives.

Don't hang wet dishcloths on the edge of the countertop or on cabinet doors or drawers.

The DIY article also gives specific tips for wood cabinets and plastic laminate cabinets.  Check it out!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

San Antonio Housing Forecast for 2010

On Monday, Jan 4th, local San Antonio Realtors, builders, developers, and other experts, gathered to hear the predictions for the 2010 San Antonio housing market.   They describe their outlook for new housing starts and closings as cautiously optimistic, expecting it to be as good or better than the '09 market.  Fueling the optimism is the expectation of an influx of jobs into San Antonio in the coming year.

In 2009, San Antonio housing starts and closings dropped 18% and 25% from the previous year.  But by the end of the year, the market showed signs of bottoming out, leaving builders and developers anticipating a much better year.  Currently San Antonio has a healthy inventory of available homes, and about 2,000 homes under construction, making us one of the top housing markets in the United States.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

REALTOR® Magazine-Daily News-Sellers Should List Homes Early

REALTOR® Magazine-Daily News-Sellers Should List Homes Early

The message here from the nation's realtor organizations is that in order to reach the homebuyers who are looking to take advantage of the tax incentive for purchasing a new home, home sellers should be putting their homes on the market NOW, and not wait until Spring.  The incentive ends April 30th, so unless it is extended again, the homes need to go under contract by late March, and the buyers should be out house shopping soon to find the best deals. 

Traditionally home sellers wait until March or April to list their homes, hoping to move after school is out in late May or early June.  That pattern will not work with the tax incentive deadline.  So if you are thinking of moving up, moving down, or just moving, you should contact a Realtor very soon to get your home out there for buyers to find.  The number of homes on the market will surely increase as the year progresses, so the competition gets tougher later.  Don't wait!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"River Walk cleanup is a drag for tourists"

No, they don't drain the San Antonio River along the famed Riverwalk looking for lost tourists!  It is a drag for those who chose to visit the Riverwalk in January because that is the time the city annually drains the river to give the river bottom a good cleaning.  In an article in the San Antonio Express News, reporter Vianna Davila tells the story of the annual ritual.

The scene could break a tourist’s heart.  The San Antonio River Walk — normally full of water and its walkways usually flush with visitors — was decidedly empty Monday afternoon.  “We were a bit disappointed,” admitted Betsy Price, visiting with her husband from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.  They had wanted to take a nice river stroll and only later realized they’d arrived in town just in time for the annual river draining.  “But you know,” Price said, “it has to be done.”

It’s a tradition visitors and businesses owners along the River Walk have no choice but to accept. The city drains the river for an annual cleanup every January, in which workers remove trash and debris that has accumulated over the year — tables, chairs, silverware and cell phones — plus check the drainage system to ensure its functionality.  “There’s a lot of very surprised people,” said Kent Oliver, a supervisor at Rio San Antonio Cruises, a company that provides river barge tours.  During one previous cleanup, the river clearly drained of any water, one visitor asked Oliver if they could still get a boat ride later that evening. 

Workers started draining the river around midnight Sunday, a process that takes about 24 hours to finish, said April Hernandez, public relations manager for the city’s Public Works Department.  The river should be refilled by Jan. 14, Hernandez said.  This year’s cleanup is several days longer than previous efforts because workers are also removing sediment that has built up along the river bottom in the south loop and extension; next year, the north loop will be cleaned. The project is the first of its kind on the River Walk, Hernandez said. 

While some tourists lament the water’s disappearance, businesses along the river took the opportunity to spruce up.  Oliver and his coworkers were busy Monday touching up the handrails beside their ticket booth with green spray paint. Down river, workers painted outside chairs and tables at the Republic of Texas restaurant; they are closed until Friday. 

But the cleanup endeavor is not without setbacks: on Monday afternoon, a track loader scooping out silt in front of Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub suddenly found itself stuck in the very mud it was trying to remove.  A larger, front-end loader arrived and tried to pull the smaller loader out with a chain, while tourists along the walk gawked and snapped photos.  A dazzled 7-year-old Nolan Borkowski, visiting with his family from Austin, stared at the giant machine, hunched over like a defeated yellow giant. A puzzled Nolan asked why would anyone put a crane in the water?  “It’s an attraction in itself to see the river drained,” said his mother, Julie Borkowski, who had already brought her family to the river Sunday night for one last-minute barge ride. 
But the transformed waterway, unfortunately, did not quite satisfy Nolan’s taste.  “When it was full of water, it was like a beautiful river,” he said. And now? “It’s not as beautiful as it was.”