San Antonio Demographics

August 10th, 2016

 

Why San Antonio? The Curtis Team has helped many families relocate to San Antonio, and we’d love to share answers to common questions about our amazing city.

Over the next several weeks, we will highlight San Antonio, along with tips on how to settle in quickly and easily. Whether you’ve already chosen San Antonio as your new home, or San Antonio has chosen you for a job relocation or military family relocation – we’ll give you all the information you need about your new home.

 

Here is the first of our series – let’s take a look at the San Antonio demographics:

 

San Antonio Demographics

 

We hope you’ll love San Antonio as much as we do!

Is there something missing? If there is something you would like to know about San Antonio that isn’t on this infographic, feel free to contact us. We’re always here to help and welcome any questions you may have.

Renovations To Get Your Home Ready To Sell

July 20th, 2016

When getting your home ready to sell, it is important to add sought-after, updated features. Buyers love turn-key homes! But, of course, you don’t want to renovate your entire home — where should you start? Here are my top recommendations on renovations to get your home ready to sell.

Let’s stick with three, high-impact areas of the home — kitchen, bathroom, and front entry.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 1.14.03 PM

The kitchen has become one of the most social rooms of the modern home. With this in mind, it has become increasingly important to stay up-to-date with the current trends to make your kitchen stand out to buyers.

How can you make sure your kitchen appeals to buyers? Here are the renovations I recommend to make your kitchen the talk of the market!

  1. Counter Tops
    Many buyers nowadays will not look at a house unless it has updated counter tops in the kitchen. Popular kitchen counter tops include granite and quartz. While they might be expensive, they are worth it! Granite and quartz counter tops will last longer and will add value to your home.
  2. Lighting
    Lighting, while it may not seem important, can add a “wow” factor to any room in the home, and pendant lights are the best option for the kitchen. Make sure they don’t overpower the room, but instead complement the features already present in the kitchen.
  3. Sink
    If you have the opportunity and money, consider updating your kitchen sink. A popular option in newly remodeled kitchens is the farmhouse sink.
  4. Cabinets
    Cabinets, just like counter tops, are very visible in the kitchen. Before you put your home on the market, make sure there are no paint chips or scratches in your cabinets. A fresh coat of paint of stain often does the trick! Also, if you want to do a little more, you can add new hardware (knobs) to the cabinets.
  5. Appliances
    Replacing appliances can be costly to a renovation budget. But, replacing them can be worth every penny. Stainless steel appliances are a popular choice among buyers.
  6. Flooring
    While flooring doesn’t top the list, buyers prefer to have updated flooring in the home they are buying. Consider adding hardwood floors throughout the home (except for bathrooms).
  7. Backsplash
    The kitchen backsplash can add a luxurious touch to any kitchen, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Tile backsplashes tend to get pretty pricey. However, you don’t have to use tile. It turns out that tin ceiling tile makes for a great and inexpensive backsplash.

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Even though the bathroom is not the most important room in the house, it deserves attention when it comes to renovating before getting ready to sell. Stick to tile, and update fixtures. As it was important to stay up-to-date with the kitchen, it is equally as important to remember the bathroom.

  1. Faucets
    Replace old faucets in the bathrooms before placing your home on the market. Research and see what type of metal is in style at the time — it could be very important to your buyers.
  2. Counter Tops
    If you’re going to update the counter tops in your kitchen, then the cost won’t increase much to include the bathroom. To keep it uniform, order the same counter top color. Your buyers will love that you have updated both parts of the home.
  3. Lighting
    Lighting is important in every room of the house! When replacing the faucets, consider replacing the light fixtures to match the new hardware. As always, remember what is in style.
  4. Shower
    Big, separate showers have become very popular recently. When remodeling your bathroom, remove the tub/shower combo, and put in a standing shower with glass doors. Also, add tile to the entire shower (walls and floor).
  5. Flooring
    Always use tile in the bathroom – in the shower and when flooring the entire bathroom.
  6. Cabinets
    Just as in the kitchen, cabinets are a visible part of the bathroom and buyers do not like to see them falling apart or in need of major maintenance. To keep it simple and cheap, just add a fresh coat of paint or stain.

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First impressions really do matter! Make sure your homes exterior looks just as good as its interior — start with the front entry. My top four recommendations are below.

  1. Porch Flooring
    As a cheap way to improve your home’s curb appeal, look at the flooring on your porch. Is it cracked? Or does it have missing bricks or stones? If so, you may want to look into repairing it.
  2. Front Door
    Adding a new front door, or refinishing the paint is important to buyers. A buyer likes to know that you take care of the outside of your home just as much as the inside. Before placing it on the market, consider replacing the door. Or, if you don’t want to spend too much, add a fresh coat of paint or stain.
  3. Lighting
    Replace the cheap light fixtures that came with your home and add a nice, new light fixture to the front entry. Buyers will love the new touch.
  4. Welcoming Features
    When your home is on the market, it is nice to add welcoming features to the front entry. It will give buyers a great first impression of your home! Popular items include: wreaths, flowers, a welcoming mat, or new home numbers.

 

Renovating your home to get ready to sell can be a big and expensive project. But, it doesn’t have to be. Stick to the renovations above and your home will be one of the best on the market.

Let me know if you have any questions! I am always here to help you!

 

Resources:

http://homerenovations.about.com/od/legalsafetyissues/ss/renovatetosell.htm

http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/make-and-decorate/decorating/10-budget-updates-and-easy-cosmetic-fixes-pictures

http://www.trulia.com/blog/renovations-under-5000/

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20532123,00.html

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20515352_20996919,00.html

Is Smart Home Technology Right for You?

June 27th, 2016

What is a “Smart Home” and is Smart Home Technology Right for You?

A smart home is a home that is equipped with network-connected products (also known as “smart home technology”) – usually controlled by a device like a smartphone. This technology has the ability to control lights, temperature, security, entertainment, etc.

Here are four examples of smart home technology and how they can help your home:

smart home technology - start with these features

Smart homes provide a great opportunity for innovation and advancement of technology. While this may be true, sometimes the benefits of having a smart home are overshadowed by the high cost of installing the technology. Let’s do a cost comparison:

smart home technology costs

what are the savings - smart home technolofy

The savings may seem slim but consider this: it’s difficult to put a number on convenience, comfort and safety.

Safety with Smart Home Technology?

The security lock systems mentioned above have the ability to remotely lock your home from anywhere you may be…say you go on vacation and you are unsure you locked your home? Or, say you are already in bed and forgot to lock your door? These security lock systems operate remotely, from the comfort of your cell phone or laptop.

Is a Smart Home the Right Move for You?

Even though it will take some time to get your money back, you can’t put a price tag on convenience, comfort and safety. Just like upgrades, it may not necessarily increase the value of your home, but it will certainly affect your home’s desirability in the eyes of a buyer.

Have questions? Reach out to our professional real estate team anytime. We are always here for you.

Resources:

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/09/just-what-is-a-smart-home-anyway.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/smart-home-company-wemo-announces-nest-integration-2016-5

http://heavy.com/tech/2016/05/the-top-5-smart-home-technologies-every-home-needs/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2015/04/16/oilprice-dotcom-smart-home-costs/25877805/

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/much-smart-home-really-cost/

Secrets to a Great Outdoor Entertaining Space

May 21st, 2016

outdoor entertaining space

If you love bringing your indoor style outside, we’ve got you covered on how to create a great outdoor entertaining space. In fact, the construction of luxurious outdoor kitchens and entertaining areas is one of the biggest home trends in our area. They command a strong return on investment and nab year-long appeal in our mostly-temperate San Antonio weather. These spaces allow homeowners to relax, dine and celebrate in the comfort of their own home rather than heading out to restaurants or bar patios. Entertaining at home happens in style.

Getting Started

First, think welcoming and functional entertaining. The space should flow seamlessly, much like a house with an open floor-plan. Incorporate the clean lines and design elements from your interior into this outdoor space to tie everything together.

Kitchen

The heart of the home is also the heart of the outdoors. Plan the outdoor kitchen in close proximity to your indoor kitchen, as most prep work and storage is done inside. Consider installing some sort of roof or cover, as shelter from outdoor elements is also important for year-round use.

As you plan your outdoor kitchen space, think about the following: task lighting, sink and water supply and electrical outlets. It is important to include adequate counter space or your kitchen will not be functional. All appliances will need “landing areas,” or space where work can be done, cooking supplies stacked or food served. The following are general rules of thumb for counter space: sinks need 18 inches of open counter on either side; grills need 12 inches on one side and 24 on the other; if a sink sits next to a grill, there should be 36 inches of space between them.

The most popular countertop material is stone, including Texas stone, as it endures weather and sun well. Soapstone, granite or even glazed lavastone are recommended in rapid freeze/thaw areas. Other more modern finishes include concrete, Dekton and porcelain slabs like Neolith. Ongoing maintenance is important for your countertops; plan on sealing them a few times each year (unless your countertop professional recommends otherwise).

Outdoor kitchen equipment is an evolution of indoor amenities with a durability twist. Below are just a few options:

  • Weather-tight storage cabinets that include racks and deep or shallow drawers
  • Food-safe refrigeration (consider a multi-drawer unit)
  • Beverage center
  • Outdoor-rated dishwasher
  • Built-in grill
  • Built-in Big Green Egg or smoker
  • Built-in Artisan Fire Pizza Oven

Fireplace

A fire in an outdoor fireplace is appropriate any time and serves as the perfect focal point in your outdoor gathering area. This investment also aids year-round functionality; you will be able to enjoy the outdoors whether it is hot or cold.

Ambiance

Lighting is important, even outdoors. Nothing kills ambiance like harsh lighting at night. Opt for integrated recessed LED lighting underneath your kitchen counters and other incognito areas.

Furniture Lounge Set

The days of rickety plastic poolside chairs are gone. Design for comfort in your outdoor entertaining space. Choose an all-weather outdoor lounge set. These pieces will be an extension of the interior of your home.

Return on Investment

ROI is crucial with any home improvement. Adding an outdoor kitchen garners a whopping 100-200% return on investment, according to Inman and Williams Ski & Patio. Variations depend on climate, with higher ROI in warmer areas like San Antonio. The use of more durable materials also improves ROI.

 

Sources:
Inman, Outdoor Renovation Projects with the Highest Return on Investments, Staff Writer, July 9, 2015.
Williams Ski & Patio, Outdoor Renovation and Design Ideas, Blog, May 8, 2015.

Oak Wilt and Why Prevention is So Important

April 11th, 2016

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What is Oak Wilt?

Oak wilt is a fungal disease that spreads rapidly and kills oak trees. It is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum and is destructive, incurable and deadly. Symptoms vary by tree species but generally consist of leaf discoloration, wilt, defoliation and death. Oak wilt is a very real threat to oak trees, and it threatens property values and communities as well.

Why is the Fight Against Oak Wilt Important?

Oak wilt doesn’t simply impact trees. It affects our community. Because trees with oak wilt don’t typically survive, the consequences of the disease affect aesthetics and property values. If preventative measures are not taken, the costs associated with managing the disease are very high. Prevention is key.

How Does Oak Wilt Spread?

  1. Above Ground through Beetles – Diseased red oaks produce fungal mats generally in the spring. These fungal mats attract small beetles and spores become attached to their body. Beetles, which can travel long distances, are then attracted to fresh cuts and other exposed wounds on ALL oak trees.
  2. Below Ground through Root Connections – Live oaks grow in dense groups with interconnected roots and this is how it is most commonly spread. Although less common, it can spread through interconnected roots of red oaks too.

How to Prevent Oak Wilt?

  • Avoid pruning oak trees from February 1 to June 30th. This is the time beetles are most active and fungi mats produce spores.
  • Disinfect pruning tools. Disinfect tools prior to cutting. Use an all-purpose household disinfectant or denatured methyl/isopropyl alcohol.
  • Paint wounds immediately. Oak tree wounds need to be painted immediately, regardless of the season, with latex or commercial tree wound paint. This paint minimizes exposure to beetles.
  • Hire only licensed tree pruners. Hire qualified professionals who have a tree maintenance license through the City of San Antonio.

Learn More About Steps Taken by San Antonio to Prevent Oak Wilt

Visit the City of San Antonio’s Tree Preservation page here.

To search for licensed tree pruners in San Antonio, click here and select “TRM – TREE MAINTENANCE LICENSE” from the drop-down list.

Learn more about the Eight Step Program to Oak Wilt Management by Jerral Johnson and David Appel.

Who is the Texa A&M Forest Service?

The Texas A&M Forest Service was created in 1915, and its mission is to provide statewide leadership and professional assistance to assure that the state’s forest, tree, and related natural resources are wisely used, nurtured, protected, and perpetuated for the benefit of all.

San Antonio Tomorrow

March 25th, 2016

What is San Antonio Tomorrow?

San Antonio is expected to grow by over one million people by 2040. San Antonio Tomorrow is an interactive, strategic approach to growth covering three different areas: the Comprehensive Plan, Sustainability Plan and the Multimodal Transportation Plan.

The Comprehensive Plan is a detailed, collaborative look at our land use, urban design and municipal policy in conjunction with various City resources and incentive programs to plan for projected growth and provide more choices for residents.

The Sustainability Plan addresses three facets of a thriving community — social, economic and environmental factors, and it includes metrics for benchmarking success along the way. The vision is for a vibrant economy, healthy environment and an inclusive and fair community.

The Multimodal Transportation Plan encompasses all means of transit, including cars, mass transit, bicycles and pedestrians. This plan communicates the City’s transportation strategy and serves as a tool to analyze transportation needs, priorities and methods to best meet the community’s goals.

Your Voice Matters

The San Antonio Tomorrow approach includes everyone, especially YOU. Our leaders are looking for feedback on issues like transportation, jobs, housing, air and water quality and energy efficiency. San Antonio Tomorrow has established a virtual town hall to encourage ongoing dialogue among community members and government officials to ensure your voice is heard.

More About San Antonio Tomorrow

SA Tomorrow (Subtitled) from MIG, Inc. on Vimeo.

Tips for First-Time Home Sellers

March 8th, 2016

tips for first-time home sellers

 

Selling your first home is exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Buyers have more tools in their toolbelts to quickly and easily compare your home to other homes on the market. How can you make your home stand out from the rest? Let’s take a look at these tips for first-time home sellers:

1) Price your home right, right from the start. The volume of showings should be highest during the first two to three weeks your home is on the market. The majority of buyers hire real estate agents who set them up with automatic home alerts. The minute a home fitting their criteria pops up, they want to see it, especially in our competitive market.

Keep in mind how you price your home. For instance, if you price your home at $176,900, you miss home buyers with a price threshold of $175,000. Consider bumping the price down just a bit to capture the hearts and minds of additional buyers.

2) Study sales prices in your neighborhood, not asking prices. If a neighbor has his/her home listed for $195,000 and it has sat on the market for 9 months, chances are that it isn’t worth $195,000. Instead, opt to price yours in-line with similar homes that have sold within the last 90 to 180 days.

You’ll also want to be a bit flexible. Your house is worth what an able buyer is willing to pay. No more. Your highest offer is almost always the first offer you receive.

3) Choose an agent who uses professional photography. The threshold into a buyer’s heart is the internet. An overwhelming number of home buyers use the internet to begin (and continue) their home search. A well-staged home with professional photography stands tall among the competition.

When interviewing agents, ask to see his or her marketing plan for your home. A qualified agent should be able to provide information on how he or she will market your home to your target audience.

4) Use appliances like your washer, dryer and refrigerator as chips in your negotiation. If you’re close on coming to an agreement with a potential buyer, consider “sweetening the deal” with appliances that are typically considered personal property. A simple gesture like this may increase the likelihood of a full-price offer and make your life easier (no bulky appliances to move).

5) Clear the clutter. The way you show a home and the way you live in a home are vastly different. Consider hiring a stager to provide you with recommendations on what to do to show your home in its best light.

6) Make necessary repairs prior to going on the market. Have a leaky faucet that you’ve been putting off repairing? Now is the time to fix it. Completing obvious (and hidden) repairs will help prospective buyers to see your home in a better light. If issues don’t jump out to a buyer, he or she is also less apt to worry (or complain) about hypothetical conditions.

If you have questions or if you’d like to hear about our marketing plan for seller clients, call (210.477.4855) or fill out this quick form anytime. We’re always here for you.

Your Next Home and The Curtis Team “Buyer Plan of Action”

February 15th, 2016

It takes a proactive and aggressive approach to find you the best home at the best price. Every buyer has access to the homes for sale in the Multiple Listing Service through various free websites such as Zillow or Trulia. So what makes The Curtis Team stand out?

The reason more buyers choose to work with us than any other agent is what we do above and beyond the Multiple Listing Service to find our clients the best deals.

Door Knocking

We constantly door knock through the specific neighborhood or area you, as the buyer, would like to live. This is one of the best ways we find our clients a great home not yet on the market. We come across many potential sellers this way, including neighbors who know of someone interested in selling their home.

Tele-market

Similar to door knocking, once you, as the buyer, identify the area you want to live in, we will also call throughout those neighborhoods in search of potential sellers who are not yet on the market.

Expired, Cancelled, Withdrawn Listings

These are homes that were on the market at some point in the past three years and, for whatever reason, did not sell. Often times, these sellers would still like to sell their home without having to go through the hassle of fully marketing their home.

Database

We have a database of over 1,500 clients who we actively communicate with. We have many clients who, with the right buyer, would be happy to sell their home without having to go through the hassle of having their home on the market.

It’s incredibly fulfilling to know we are helping our clients open a new chapter of their lives. That’s why we work so hard to not only find that perfect home, but also handle every last detail of the purchase process, from negotiating the terms of sale to recommending moving companies.

If we can help your journey, reach out to us anytime. We’re always here for you. Call or email today to set up a customized Home Buyer’s Appointment with our team.

The Curtis Team: Michelle, Doug and Susan
Phone: (210) 477-4855
Email: Doug@TheCurtisTeamTX.com

The Curtis Team

Let’s Rodeo San Antonio!

February 2nd, 2016

Let’s Rodeo San Antonio! San Antonio is known for many things – The Alamo, The Riverwalk, The 5-time world champion San Antonio Spurs, to name a few.  But this time of year, the San Antonio Rodeo reigns supreme.  One of the most famous pre-rodeo events was held on the 29th of January – the Annual Cowboy Breakfast. From the website of the Cowboy Breakfast – The postman doesn’t have anything on the Cowboy Breakfast, which draws over 30,000 people no matter if  there is good weather, torrential downpours, sleet, snow, hail or temperatures in the teens.  The first event  in 1979 at Central Park Mall began as an impromptu send-off for trail riders heading out for annual pilgrimages to the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is entertaining for fans of all ages. From rides to livestock sales, to all the food you can eat, to some of the best entertainers in country music – this event promises to please.  This year’s lineup of entertainers includes Martina McBride,Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Chris Stapleton, to name a few.  You can even find Pat Benatar, Pitbull, Casting Crowns and Becky G performing this year.

Rodeo

Get a ticket for one of the performances and it includes the Rodeo competition for that evening – a great way to spend the evening with your significant other or the family.

Things for the kids to do include the Texas Wildlife Expo, carnival rides, BMX stunt show, and the Brick Fest.

This year’s Rodeo runs from February 11 to February 28.  Don’t miss one of the best rodeos in the country and help support the program which has “…donated more than $160.1 million to the youth of Texas through scholarships, grants, endowments, auctions, programs and show premiums.”

Let’s Rodeo San Antonio!!

Visit their Facebook page for daily updates.

 

 

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What is Your Favorite Home Search Engine?

January 21st, 2016

What is your favorite home search engine?  I am always curious where people prefer to search for homes.  Locally, some people prefer one broker over another.  Some people use Movoto and a handful of other search engines.  Redfin seemed to be the most popular for a while, but that was before Rupert Murdoch and company bought Move Inc, the parent company of Realtor.com.  Now it seems whenever I ask anybody what tools people are using to search for houses – the answer is Realtor.comTrulia and Zillow were leading the pack at one point, but it seems they have lost some of their luster.  Is this true or just my perception?

Each engine has its pluses and minuses and they are all making changes to stay in the forefront of the real estate market – so I’m curious to hear what you’re using.

RealEstate Pic

There are a host of other tools available for doing “real estate things,” from DIY projects on HGTV and project ideas on Houzz.com to finding out the value of houses in other neighborhoods – Homesnap.  What tools do you use and what tools have you found to be the most useful?

Join the conversation and let me know your thoughts. BTW – I like my newest local search engine provided by Boomtown.