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Should You Invest in a Fixer-Upper?

Today I want to talk to you about a few things you should consider when purchasing a fixer-upper.

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Today I want to talk a little bit about buying a fixer-upper. Is it worth it? How can you tell?

The first thing you want to do when considering purchasing a fixer-upper is evaluate the price. Do your homework to make sure you can afford the project.

Treat the remodel like it’s a business, not a hobby or a get-rich-quick scheme. Determine the after repair value, the value of the home after it’s repaired, based on the market values of the homes in your neighborhood.

Next, start evaluating what improvements are needed. Some projects, like painting and landscaping, have more sweat equity involved and will give you more bang for your buck.

Get accurate estimates for professional projects such as getting a new roof or putting in new floors before you commit to buying the house. Those projects can add equity, but they can also be very expensive.

Treat the remodel like it’s a business, not a hobby or a get-rich-quick scheme.

Stress is a huge factor when taking on a fixer-upper, so you need to make sure you can handle it. There are hidden costs that always pop up during a remodel, so having some extra money set aside will help keep things running smoothly for you.

Lastly, hire an expert to help you through the process. Have someone who is familiar with fixer-uppers help you make decisions in order to stay on a clear path and stick as closely as possible to your budget.

If you have any other questions about fixer-uppers or if you have any other real-estate related questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I’m more than happy to hel

6 Staging Tips to Help You Sell for Top Dollar

If you want to sell your home quickly and for top dollar, you need to follow my top six home staging tips. 
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Staging your home is incredibly important when selling. Today, I’ll go over six tips to help you stage your home for top dollar.

1. First impressions are the only impression.
It’s important that people feel warm and welcome when they approach your home. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make sure the exterior of your home is clean and fresh for the spring market. Declutter your entryway, trim trees and bushes, and add some fresh mulch to your yard. These are cheap, easy ways to spruce up your exterior.

2. Always be ready for home showings.
You never know when a buyer is going to walk through that door, especially since so many schedule showings at the last minute. Before you leave for work each day, make sure that all of your beds are made and that the kitchen and bathrooms are picked up.

3. Kitchens and bathrooms really do sell homes. Small updates, like new paint or hardware, can make a dated kitchen look like new. Updating to stainless steel appliances or bronze fixtures can make a huge difference to buyers.

Depersonalize and declutter your house.

4. Take the home out of your house. That means you should remove any personal items, like personal photos. Invest in a storage unit and get rid of about a third of your stuff. Pull stuff out of your closets so that they appear half empty. The more open you can make your home, the better it will be for showings.

5. Conceal animal accessories. Not everyone likes animals in their home. If you have pets, the best rule of thumb is out of sight, out of mind. I also recommend that you get some air fresheners. You might not be able to smell your pets, but buyers will definitely detect the pet odor in your house.

6. Hire an informed real estate agent with an aggressive marketing plan who will price your home right. Pricing and marketing are key to selling your home, and if you follow the other five tips as well, you can sell for top dollar.

If you have any other questions about selling your home, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

3 Key Home Buying Considerations

Great cosmetic features are great to have in a home you're buying, but don't forget to consider these three extremely important factors.

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What should buyers look for in a San Antonio home?

We often see buyers look for homes with window dressings or modern fixtures and appliances. These are great, but it's just as important to look at these three factors when you choose a home:

1. Resale value. Don't just think about the house you buy, think of it as a house you'll have to sell in the future. Consider the neighborhood, the pricing, and the size. Buying the biggest and best house in the neighborhood could present major issues down the road when selling.

2. Make sure the house is structurally sound. It should have good windows, doors, floors, and roofing, and should not have water spots on the ceiling or cracks on the inside or outside walls. Look for the house that has the best 'guts' rather than just looking at the design. Always have a home inspection to make sure you're not overlooking something that could be a costly headache down the road.

3. Cost of repairs. Plumbing, heating and cooling, roofing, and water heaters are all very costly systems to repair or replace. Make sure they're all inspected and addressed during the inspection period of the home buying process before you're fully committed.

If you have any other questions about the important things to look for in a home, or you're thinking about buying or selling a home in the San Antonio market, give me a call or send me an email. We'd be happy to help.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe While on Vacation

 If you want to ensure that your home stays safe and sound while you’re away during your holiday vacation, take these five precautions before you leave. 

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While you’re relaxing on a tropical beach or strolling through a quaint European resort during your holiday vacation, thieves could be planning on invading your unoccupied home and ruining more than just the vacation. The good news is that there are five easy steps you can take to make sure that you don’t come back to an empty house:

1. Get a Wi-Fi doorbell. Products like the SkyBell actually videotape any visitors that come to your front door and sync that video to your smartphone so you can keep a watchful eye. Not only are these devices cheap, but they are also easy to install. I would recommend buying one for your home at all times—not just during vacations.

2. Utilize exterior lighting. A well-lit property is less likely to be an attractive target for potential intruders. Motion-activated lights that pop on whenever they detect movement are an excellent deterrent. A watchful spotlight will send any unwanted visitors scurrying.

3. Let your (trusted) neighbors know that you’ll be gone. If those that live closest to you know that you’re away, they’ll likely monitor your home for any strange noises or unfamiliar faces skulking about and alert the police is they see any suspicious activity.

Check once, check twice, and after that, check one more time.

4. Alter your mail and newspaper delivery service. You can either call your mail service provider and temporarily suspend your deliveries or ask one of your neighbors to pick them up for you as they arrive. An overflowing mailbox and a pile of newspapers are sure signs that no one is home.

5. Double-check that all doors and windows are locked before you leave. Statistics show that roughly 33% of all home invasions happen through an unforced entry, meaning they likely occur through an unlocked door or window. A good rule of thumb is to check once, check twice, and check one more time before you and your family depart. If you have kids, this step is especially important.

Following these steps will help you rest easier while you’re away and ensure that everything is safe and sound when you come back. If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email. I’d be happy to help!

Our Top 3 Tips for Selling Your Home in the Winter

Today we’re here with our top three home selling tips for those of you who are trying to sell your homes this winter. 

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There are several things you can do to prepare your home to sell in winter. Here are our top three selling tips for this time of year: 

1. Pay close attention to your curb appeal. When it comes to styling your front porch, there is a slippery slope between a nicely decorated porch and a farmer’s market. The idea is to enhance your curb appeal, not obscure it. While too many fall decorations will take the focus off your home and its best features, a few tasteful accents will make your home feel inviting and fresh.

You also want to make sure that all of the fallen leaves haven’t taken a toll on your yard. Buyers may be understanding if your yard is unkempt because they are dealing with the same thing, but that doesn’t mean your home will make a good first impression. Do your best to make sure your yard is neat and tidy before showings.

2. Go easy on the holiday displays. Tasteful displays will show the home in its best light. Outfitting your home to compete with the Griswolds will make your home a spectacle, but won’t necessarily make it sellable.

Keep the lights on during the short, dark winter days.

So, let in the light. Always make sure that your blinds are open and the windows are sparkling when trying to sell your home. It is especially important to maximize the light in your home during the shorter days this time of year. Light will make your home look larger, fresher, and highlight your home’s best features. Place plenty of lamps throughout the home for additional illumination.

3. Make your space inviting. As the weather cools down, a warm and cozy atmosphere will make the buyers feel at home. Use plush throws on the couch and beds and add fall-accented pillows to your chairs. You can even display fall foliage or seasonal fruit in vases or bowls throughout the home.

These tips will definitely help your home appeal to buyers this fall and winter. If you have any other questions about the home selling process or about real estate in general, give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

Energy & Home Maintenance Savings: Part 2

In the conclusion of our two-part series on how to save money on energy and maintenance costs, we're back with the final eight tips.

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Welcome back to our two-part series about increasing your home's efficiency and saving money on your energy bills. In Part One, we discussed the first nine things in our list of 17 things you can do to reduce your energy and maintenance costs. Today, we'll go over the final items in the list.

10. Install LED or CFL bulbs that are cheaper and last longer than incandescent bulbs. CFL bulbs are cheaper than LED bulbs if you're concerned about price.
11. Choose energy-efficient appliances, even if you have to pay a little more up front.
12. Set up your home electronics on one or multiple smart strips. When you set up your TV, video game systems, or cable box, make sure you have surge protectors. Also consider a smart strip, which allows you to unplug devices that aren't in use. Many of these devices eat up a lot of electricity when they're just sitting there plugged in or in standby mode.
13. Plant shade trees near your home. You won't see an immediate return on these trees, but if you plant trees on the east and west sides of your house, it will significantly lower cooling bills during the hot Texas summers.

These tips will save you a bucket of money in maintenance and energy costs.

14. Change the locks and make spare keys. Most only cost about $25 to $60 and it's easy to do yourself. It's better to not risk having old locks with copies of your keys floating around.  Remember to make an extra copy and hide it somewhere or give it to someone important so you don't have to pay a locksmith if you get locked out.
15. Air seal your home. In older homes especially, you need to be mindful of air leaks around doors, windows, and electrical outlets. These aren't just air leaks, they're money leaks. Use weather stripping or caulking to fix leaks.
16. Take advantage of tax incentives for things like solar power. There are many tax benefits available at the federal, state, and local levels right now. You can get up to 30% tax credits for solar power, which can be a great option if you plan to live in your house for nine years or more, because that's the average payoff period for solar panels.
17. Develop a home maintenance checklist and run through it. This should include monthly, quarterly, and annual checkup items like checking your AC filters and checking your vents. Make it a habit to run through these items regularly.
By taking advantage of these tips, you'll save buckets of money on energy and home maintenance costs. If you have any questions about these points or you're thinking of buying or selling a home in the San Antonio market, give me a call or send me an email. I'd love to help you out.

Energy and Maintenance Savings: Part 1

In the first installment of our two-part series, we’re discussing nine things you can do to immediately save energy and maintenance costs.

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Today I wanted to share with you the first nine of 17 things you can do to immediately reduce your home’s energy and maintenance costs as the first installment of a two-part series.

1. Check the insulation in your attic. Most homes have between six and nine inches of attic insulation, but here in South Texas, you should have 12 to 14 inches for the temperatures we have.

2. Lower the water temperature to 120 degrees on your water heater. This will save energy and prevent anyone from getting scalded or burned accidentally.

3. Put a water heater blanket on the water heater to keep the heat in. These blankets are cheap but effective in keeping the heater two to three degrees warmer.

4. Install ceiling fans in most rooms. This is especially important during the summer to keep air circulating through your house. This will actually keep the house one to two degrees cooler without turning down the thermostat.

5. Wrap any water pipes with insulation. We find that a lot of water pipes—exterior pipes included—are exposed since we don’t have as many freezing issues like they do up north, but occasionally, it does freeze. This will prevent freezing issues and keep hot water insulated.

These things will save you maintenance and energy costs.

6. Install a programmable thermostat and learn how to use it. People have reported average savings of 20% to 30% on heating and cooling costs. Nest and Honeywell both make good programmable thermostats.

7. Replace your air filters. This is especially important in Texas because we use our air conditioning so much. Look on the side of the filter for the dimension and go buy several at a time. Depending on the thickness, you can go 30 days to six months between replacements.

8. Make sure all vents are clean and clear of dust and obstructions. None of your vents should be covered, because if they’re blocked, your A/C and heater will have to work overtime to heat and cool the rooms. Dust them off at least once every other month to get rid of allergens and increase airflow.

9. Check all toilets for constant running and check sinks and plumbing for leaks. A toilet running constantly will cost you money in the long term, and you should also look under the basin of all homes for leaks. Dripping sinks can cause mold and other issues.

All these measures will help save you time and money when it comes to maintenance and energy costs. If you have questions about this topic, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. Stay tuned for part two, where we’ll discuss the rest of the items on this list.