All Posts by Diana

5 Ways I Serve Alamo Heights Home Sellers by Diana L. Faulkner, REALTOR®

Graphic Thinking about selling your home? 5 Ways I Serve Alamo Heights Home Sellers

So, as you begin the new year, you, or someone you know, may have already made the decision to sell your/their home.  I recommend that you begin the process early.  In fact, the sooner, the better.  One of the first things to do is to identify a real estate agent, preferably a REALTOR®, as they are held to a higher Code of Ethics standard.

When it comes to choosing the right agent to sell your home, avoid the “Post & Pray” agents who are known within the industry as the type of agent who will simply put up a sign in your front yard, post a few ads, and pray for a buyer to come along.

How do you pick the right agent?  First of all, ask your family, friends and neighbors if they know a good agent.  After obtaining their recommendations, review that agents business practices.   And, please, please, please, don’t select an agent based upon the reviews on their website or social media.  Amazingly enough, reviews are easily purchased from services selling reviews.  This is one of those instances where the phrase “the internet says it, therefore it must be true” does not apply.

Seasoned, experienced and professionalism go a long way in this business.  Avoid the part-time, social (they are just in the business to sell their friends house), and unprofessional agents, if at all possible.  I will say that I know many part time agents who are better than some agents with 20+ years of experience.  They may be part-time due to their family obligations.  Just make sure that their situation does not affect the sale of your house.

Graphic: Maturity, experience and practice quote by Tim S Grover

Pick an agent who will go the extra mile for YOU.

Here are 5 things that are signs that you have selected a good agent:

They Excel in Communications

Most agents will provide you with regular updates and feedback, so you will always know what is going on with the sale of your property.  Choose an agent who communicates in the manner in which you like to be communicated with.  Some agents don’t communicate at all.  Know which style you like and choose accordingly.

I am an over-communicator.  I do have one client who only wants to hear if an offer is coming.  I will adjust my communication style to meet your needs.

They Will Price Your Property Correctly

It’s easy – very easy – to tell a seller what they want to hear and price a property too high, but in the long run it can only cause harm. If a property is priced too high, buyers avoid it, and if they avoid it for too long, it soon gets a bad reputation as an unsalable property.  (This is not necessarily true of luxury homes which can stay on the market longer as the buyer pool is much smaller).

I use my extensive knowledge of the Tri-City area (Alamo Heights, Olmos Park and Terrell Hills) property market and make sure that the selling price of your home is accurate and in keeping with similar properties.  And, pricing is difficult in this area due to the wide variety of homes.

I am willing to give you hard truths, even if it is not what you want to hear.

They Will Market Your Property – Properly!

Alamo Heights ISD homes is a unique property market, with homes ranging from $75 per square foot to over $1,000 per square foot.  This creates a large market gap, meaning that different price ranges needed to be marketed to differently.  Getting the word out about great real estate opportunities is a challenge, and sellers need an agent well-versed in the ins and outs of local marketing.  My professionally optimized website draws traffic and showcases all my properties for sale.

Over 87% of buyers find the property they want to buy  by searching the internet.  Therefore, the photographs are worth a thousand words.  Further, BAD photographs can severely limit interest. I pride myself on hiring one of the most respected professional photographers in our area which costs approximately $350- $500+ per session, depending upon the size of the home.  Many high end brokerages in the area are using services which use less seasoned photographers and cost about $85 per home.  I believe in providing you with the best photos of your property; photography which show your property off in its greatest and most desirable qualities.

I also make extensive use of digital marketing such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms to draw attention to your property.

They Make Sure the Buyer is Qualified

If you have a luxury home, this is especially important.  A Buyer’s offer on a home doesn’t necessarily mean they’re financially able to buy it.

Is the buyer pre-qualified or pre-approved?   Pre-qualification does not include an analysis of the buyer’s credit report, nor does it verify income or employment.  I recommend that sellers view pre-approved buyers more favorably.  This buyer knows what they want, have taken the steps necessary to get their affairs in order.  In other words, they are really READY TO BUY!

If a buyer is simply pre-qualified, the seller runs the risk of having the transaction fall through due to circumstances which would have been discovered during the pre-approval process.

Cash doesn’t mean squat unless you have a Proof of Funds verification.  Cash is an interesting transaction.  Buyers who offer cash often times believe that CASH IS KING and that they don’t have to show the POF to the listing agent; that they are the king, and that you as the peasant must bow down to them.  Be careful, especially if the funds are foreign funds.  A cash transaction can be misleading and lull a seller into complacency.  Buyers who actually have the cash understand the risks you, the Seller, are taking.  A truly qualified Buyer will gladly provide you with their POF.  It is BUSINESS 101.  I ask those hard questions of the Buyer’s Agent.

Paperwork, Paperwork, and Details

Selling a property in Alamo Heights involves a lot of work.  There are many little details that must be taken care of before a deal can close.  Once you’ve accepted an offer for your house and are ready to sign, I take care of all of the paperwork, details and follow up required by title company, the lender (if the property financed), collect condo fees, maintenance and utility receipts, easing the last-minute stresses of closing and making sure the sale of your property goes as smoothly as possible.


I understand nuances.  For more information about how I can help you sell your Alamo Heights ISD home, condo or  property, contact me at 210.413.2085 or email me at


Wishing you the best in 2017!

Why Can’t My REALTOR® Sell My House?

Cartoon monster asking Why Can't My Realtor Sell My House
Cartoon monster asking Why Can't My Realtor Sell My House

Why can't my realtor sell my house?

My realtor can’t sell my house!  What’s wrong?

As an experienced REALTOR® in San Antonio, I hear this a lot from home owners.   And, many sellers struggle with this if there home has been on the market for just one week!  With the crazy seller’s market we are in, the sellers have expectations that their house will sell the first day. If that doesn’t happen, the wheels start turning in the seller’s mind and this thought begins to run through their head.  Often times, the first thing that comes their mind is that it is their agent’s fault.  I specialize in homes for sale in Alamo Heights, and can tell you …. there is no easy answer.

The hard truth is, oftentimes, it isn’t directly the agent’s fault.  Most of the time it is due to the small decisions that the homeowners make when the put their house on the market, or the location of the home.  The agent does bear some responsibility if they haven’t shared with you the things you will need to do to sell your house quickly.

Also, do you want to sell your house quickly…. or, do you want your price?  These scenarios would have your agent marketing the property differently.  Most sellers want to sell quickly for the highest price possible.

If your house isn’t selling, hasn’t had many showings, hasn’t received an offer, then rethink your position and be positive about the possibilities.  It is in your best interest to think through some of the potential reasons that it might not be selling.  Part of the resolution of a problem is recognizing that there might be a problem.  There might actually be many reasons why your home has not sold.

Here are some of the top reasons that homes don’t sell and a solution for each on how to remedy the situation.  Of course, all things being equal must be taken into account.

1.  Your house is a little tired looking

Buyers expect every home they see to look like the homes they like on HGTV.  SIGH.  If your home does not look that appealing, the home will be on the market longer, because the flipper down the street knows that the Buyers are looking for that type of home.  Buyers know how to shop, and they want the most house for their money.  If there is a fresh, newly updated/remodeled house down the street, which is priced exactly the same as yours, you can bet that the Buyers will be flocking to the one which is the most appealing.

Solution:  Your house should be comparable to the other houses on the market in the same area.  You might need to upgrade the hardware in the house, update some of the lighting, and please, please, please …. have the popcorn texture removed from the ceilings.  Yep, you are going to have spend money to spruce and spiff up the tired house.  For most Sellers, they struggle with the thought of spending the money on items they won’t enjoy.  However, if you are looking to get full price offers on your house and a quick sale, you will need to get it to a condition which buyers want.  Buyer generally don’t buy based upon a price per square foot.  They fall in love with the home which is updated and in pristine condition.

If the home is tired looking and you aren’t in a position to update it, or don’t want to do the work, then a reduction in price should remedy the situation.  All things being equal, an out of date house should be priced at 5% to 20% below the other homes in your area.

2.  The house smells bad

There’s a saying in real estate: “If I can smell it, I can’t sell it”.  If you’re immune to the smell of your home, get a friend’s honest opinion.  There is nothing like entering a house and smelling a refreshing scent.  There are even commercials about “Stank Face”, which is the term for the curl of the lip and the scrunched up nose when a person encounters a foul smell.

If you have pets, if you are a smoker, if you cook odiforious foods, then the odor may the reason your home isn’t selling.

Solution: Sometimes the remedy is simple like freshly baked cookies or using essential oils in a diffuser. But if your house’s odor is persistent, it’s a good idea to determine what’s causing it and address it.  Take care of mold and mildew buildup, pet urine on the carpet, or set-in smoke odor.

3.  The appliances are old

Stainless steel is still in, and old, yellowing-white refrigerators are out.  Although potential buyers realize they can replace a refrigerator, if your appliances look as if they belong in their parents home, buyers might wonder what else might need replacing.  You won’t get a pass on the HVAC system, either.  Although the buyer doesn’t generally notice, the system will be inspected by the buyer’s inspector.

Solution:  Update your appliances if at all possible.  Ask your agent what buyers are looking for in a home such as yours.  They will generally know as they work with buyers and hear what buyers are looking for.  If your HVAC has a problem, you’re going to have to pay to fix it, or at least come down in your asking price.

4.  Horrible photographs

The first seven seconds is the time your photographs have to make an first impression.  Over 90% of buyers start their home search online and they will make a decision to include or exclude your home based upon a very quick skimming of the listing photographs.  The more photos the better; professional photography is best; an uncluttered home …. all are more appealing even if the house is the exact same floor plan as the house 2 streets over.  Buyers quickly move on if you don’t grab their attention with good photographs.  There are plenty of homes with good photos for them to look at.

Solution:  Be open to the idea of having your house staged and photographs by professionals.  Yes, we know your sister, who loves purple with pink stripes, wallpaper and popcorn ceilings, has good taste.  However, unless she is a realtor, she may not be aware that professional real estate photographs have the ability to generate over 118% more internet views and sell listings at the amaze rate of 50% faster, and at 39% closer to list price.  The numbers speak for themselves…. it is money well spent.

5. The house is priced incorrectly

Currently our San Antonio market is a Seller’s market…. but not for every price point.  Economic supply and demand conditions come into play in a seller’s market: There’s high demand, yet low supply/inventory.  Technically, a seller can expect to get more money for their house during a high demand/low inventory cycle.  However, the are limits as to how high you can list your home.  One of the most important duties of a realtor is the proper pricing of the home.  If your home is listed at a price that is too low, Buyers will conclude that there is a problem with the home.  On the other end of the spectrum are those houses which are priced above market value which generally cause the home to sit on the market longer.  

Did YOU price the home at a high price?  Did YOU insist that that your realtor put it on the market for that price?  If so, I am sure you already know now, that it is priced too high.  Consult with your realtor for a “price improvement” (real estate lingo for lowering the price of the home).

Solution:  Revisit your pricing with your agent to determine if the price of your home needs to be adjusted.  It is critical that you price it correctly.  The agent may need to do another analysis to update their files on what has sold in the last 2 months.  Maybe the fresh data from the comps will reveal that the market trend has shifted downward (real estate lingo for falling prices).

6. It just might be your agent

If you have none of the other issues going on in this post and there’s nothing wrong with your house at all:  then, then it just might be your agent.  Like every profession, real estate has 5% to 10% of agents who may not be competent and just don’t care.  It is not reflective of the entire industry, and  with a little research, you will be able to easily find another one.

There are all sorts of things which go on behind the scenes which are controlled by the agent:  did they input the listing into the MLS correctly, is it located on the MLS map correctly, do they have the correct phone number listed for the buyer’s agent to call to set up an appointment, etc?  It might be that they have done a poor job in getting the information out to the public (marketing).  Yet, it might even be that your agent could be turning people off.  Your agent is your front-line representative.  Maybe they have a bad reputation within the real estate community and are difficult to work with, don’t return phone calls, think they are king of the universe, they are the #1 agent in town and can’t be bothered, are known as a bully, etc.  Some realtors won’t show homes to buyers where they know the agent to be the problem because it can reflect badly upon them as well as result in a bad/bumpy transaction.  It shouldn’t be this way, but the truth is…. it happens every day.

Solution:  Is your agent nice?  Would you invite them to a dinner party?  If YOU don’t find them to be interesting and pleasurable to work with, who will?  You might consider breaking up with your current agent and then do your homework to identify a great agent who might be easier to work with.  Also, be skeptical of the reviews posted online.  There are companies which specialize in writing false reviews for agents.  Instead, consider talking with your friends, family and colleagues to identify a good agent.  Identify a good one and then interview the heck out them.  It is in your best interest to hire an experienced agent for your type of home.  If you have a relative who is an agent in another city, call them and let them do some of this research for you.  They will be happy to assist you.


Here are a few more reasons:  Unusual and/or unique; luxury; and other factors

1.  Unusual or unique home:  If you have a unique home, it will take longer to sell.   We have a saying:  “unique it, and you keep it”.

Modern kitchen with chartreuse cabinetry

Unique kitchen which may limit the number of buyers for this home.

For instance in San Antonio, the Buyers prefer traditional homes with open floor plans.  This San Antonio preference means that a mid-80’s homes with contemporary angles will take longer to sell as there are fewer buyers who are looking for this type of home.

2.  Luxury home:  If you have a luxury home, it is usually a Buyer’s Market.  Less than 1% to 2% of the market can afford a luxury home.  This means that it can take quite a bit longer to sell a luxury home than a non-luxury home.  If you have a custom luxury home which has unique features, then it will take even longer.  I take a different stance than most realtors.  A price adjustment isn’t always the remedy in order to sell the home.  Often times, these homes just need to be on the market long enough for the right buyer to come along.  It is always about timing.  Unfortunately, some luxury buyers will hire a buyer’s agent who isn’t a luxury agent.  That inexperienced agent won’t know how the listing agent was able to price the home.  For instance, 2 similar homes with a similar floor plan, except House A (Mercedes car) has double studded walls, chandeliers which costs over $50,000 each along with upgrades throughout is NOT comparable to House B (Hyndai car) which was built by a spec builder with single studded walls, $200 chandeliers and inexpensive builder grade materials.  That sort of agent who would think they “look sort of the same” is the luxury home sellers and luxury listing agents worst enemy.  And, they aren’t servicing their buyer in an informed manner.  The higher the price point in luxury homes, the lower the number of buyers who can afford the home.  For instance, there is a $18,000,000 home listed in San Antonio.  There may be 10 to 20 people in San Antonio who can afford that home.  If that 10 to 20 people are not yet in the market to buy a different home, then that home will not sell….. not because it isn’t desirable or there is something wrong…. simply the timing isn’t right.  Should they reduce the price to $8,000,000, $ 4,000,000?  Of course not, unless they are desperate to sell, or the seller just wants to be done.  A famous example of this is the The Manor house  built by Aaron Spelling in Los Angeles.  It sold for $85 million after it had been on the market for two years with an asking price of $150 million.

3.  Oddball scenarios:  Location within a subdivision and other factors also come into play.  If you have some of the following conditions, the property is considered by many to be less desirable than the others within the subdivision, and should have been priced 10% below what other comparable homes in your area:

  • electrical power towers running in the green belt behind your property
  • an apartment complex or a commercial shopping center is behind your property
  • a major street is directly behind your property
  • a bus stop is within 3 house of your property
  • a drainage ditch next to the property (side or back)
  • your next door neighbor has not kept up with their yard work AND their house is painted purple
  • your next door neighbor has barking dogs who run the backyard fence.


I feel your pain.  My personal home is for sale; it is a luxury home AND it is unique!   Needless to say, I am nearly insane, too!  Patience, Grasshopper, patience.


Keep up your positive thinking!  Your house WILL sell.  Get ready to move!












San Antonio New Home Construction Neighborhoods

New home in Remuda Ranch, Ashton Woods Homes

If you are looking to buy a new home in the San Antonio area, there are many neighborhoods to choose from.  As a town grows, the growth generally happens on the outskirts of town where developers can purchase raw land to develop.

Far West San Antonio:  This area has experience the most explosive growth as there remains a great deal of undeveloped land.  Therefore, there are more new neighborhoods located here.

  • The Highlands of Remuda Ranch is located outside Loop 1604 on FM 471.  The schools are in the highly acclaimed (NISD) Northside Independent School District.  It is allows easy access to Lackland AFB, Camp Bullis, Westover Hills, Medina Lake and Government Canyon State Natural Area.   Builders include:
  • The Meadows at Remuda Ranch is also located outside Loop 1604 on FM 471.  The schools are in the highly acclaimed (NISD) Northside Independent School District.  It is allows easy access to Lackland AFB, Camp Bullis, Westover Hills, Medina Lake and Government Canyon State Natural Area.   Builders include:
  • Alamo Ranch is a large 1,600 acre master-planned community located outside Loop 1604 near Culebra Rd.  There are several gated sections found within Alamo Ranch.  Community amenties include a club house, a barbecue area, playgrounds, a park, a soccer field, a swimming pool and a volley ball court.
    • Enclave at Alamo Ranch
    • McMullen Grant
    • Santa Maria at Alamo Ranch
    • Terraces at Alamo Ranch
    • The Hills at Alamo Ranch
    • The Preserve at Alamo Ranch
    • The Trails at Alamo Ranch
    • The Westwinds-Summit at Alamo Ranch
    • Williams Grant
  • Redbird Ranch is located at Loop 1604 and Potranco Rd.  This great community provides its residents with amenities for the entire family:  a top notch recreational center with exercise room, dining room, meeting room, lap pool, and large children’s pool.  Also included are sport courts, playground, and extensive trail system.



Use an Experienced San Antonio REALTOR® When Buying a Home

Garden Gnome with a House For Sale sign

A question I am often asked:  Why do I need to use an experienced REALTOR® if I am buying a house in San Antonio?  Aren’t you all of the same?  What’s the difference?  And, why do I have to use an agent anyway?

If I have a good relationship with them, I answer:  Yep, we are all the same just like basketball players…. After all, isn’t Michael Jordan the same as a 7th grade basketball player?

Then the light-bulb lights up over their head.  However, it is not their fault.  The general public doesn’t know how to evaluate agents.  Below are some pointers.


Real estate purchases tend to be the most expensive purchase that majority of Americans will make in their lifetime.  It is done so infrequently by most buyers, that they are at a loss to know why the experience level of their REALTOR® is important.

Real estate is a serious transaction with significant financial and emotional ramifications for the parties involved, and having proper representation is critical.  Today’s buyers agree.  According to, in 2015, 87% of buyers used a real estate agent or broker.

For real estate transactions, Realtor® representation is important.  Here are five important and primary reasons to use an experienced San Antonio realtor:

Fiduciary responsibility. When you work with a REALTOR®, they have a fiduciary duty to you.  A REALTOR® (who is seasoned and experienced) is an an expert looking out for your best financial interests.  They are also contractually bound to do everything in their power to protect you.   This is huge….  the strict Code of Ethis and Professional Standards (COE) by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) needs to be emphasized as the general public is not aware of that the COE even exists.  Since May, 1908 (108 years), real estate agents and brokers across the country have recognized the need for standards and regulations in the real estate industry.  The real estate agents who are a member of NAR are referred to as a REALTOR®.  Thus, the designation puts a higher fiduciary duty on the agent.  Experience = longevity.


Garden Gnome with a House For Sale sign

Did you know that not all real estate agents are REALTOR®S?


Real estate regulations are complex and change, frequentlyBuying a home is not a simplistic transaction, such as purchasing a car.  Everything about purchasing a home is unique… all homes are different, all buyer’s needs are different, all neighborhoods are different, etc.  Throw in the mix of regulations, which are constantly being put into place to protect the consumer, and you have a recipe for complexity.  Most home owners purchase a new home approximately every 7 to 10 years.  This means that the regulations have changed since their last transaction; notwithstanding that the average homeowner doesn’t keep up with those changes.  Experienced REALTOR®s work with these transactions daily.  Continuing education in Texas is mandatory in order to keep a license.  Therefore, REALTOR®s tend to be current on the day-to-day practices, contracts, law and regulations.  Once you have identified, interviewed and retained a REALTOR®, all of their knowledge comes into play and they put that to work for you.  Experience = a ton of knowledge.

Assistance in identifying the RIGHT home, not just giving you a tour of the houses you have selected to view.  Over 90% of homes today are found by buyers browsing online.  It is a terrific help to the whole process of not only finding homes you like, but in also ruling out homes which you don’t care for.  It is of great value to have assistance of a professional who can view the home realistically after you think you have found THE one house which you have fallen in love with.  However, can you see that the house has had a foundation repair?  There are clues, such as a elevated garage apron, which will hint that the home’s foundations has had additional piers installed.  A realistic set of eyes on the property can assist you make the right decision.  REALTOR®s live and breathe real estate, and most love to share their knowledge about certain conditions about a home that you wouldn’t otherwise know.  Another example is the knowledge of the property.  Is the house a flip?  If it was a flip, was it done with quality?  The experienced Realtor® can point out important details about the homes you’re considering.  However, REALTOR®s knowledge does not take the place of an independent inspection.  In my opinion, all buyers should hire a professional inspector to inspect the home.  Experience = awareness of what to look for in the neighborhood you are focused on.


6 pane window set in ivy covered wall

Why will this ivy concern an experienced REALTOR?

The value of the home your want to buy.  There are a lot of websites which will provide an estimate of the homes value which are listed for sale.  Beware….. in Texas, as it is a non-disclosure state, those values listed have absolutely no truth or substance to them.  However, the website owners in California/Mars/The Moon are not regulated and they can give estimates all day long, even if it confuses and complicates the buying/selling process.  REALTOR®s know the market, and they know the inventory.   They also have access to all of the latest sales data, which is helpful.  They will make sure that you don’t pay too much for a house by using all of the tools at their disposal.  Experience = knowledge of the neighborhood pricing and it’s current economic cycle.

Contracts and negotiations.  YIKES!  You get through the fun part of finding the perfect home.  Now the real work begins. REALTOR® will be there to provide you with an upper hand in negotiations…. again because they do this every day.  The complexity of contracts, addendum and numerous other documents will be explained to you by your REALTOR®.  Experience = smoother transactions.

As a consumer, it is in your best interest to educate yourself on the process.  Know that a REALTOR®  who has had years of experience can offer you an entirely different experience than one who has only done one or two transactions.  Do your homework and you will find an advocate who can skillfully handle the 100+ tasks involved in buying a home.

Feel free to call me and ask questions.  I earned my license in 1995 and I work with both buyers and sellers.  I am an experienced San Antonio REALTOR® … yet, everyday I encounter something new.













The 5 P’s of Selling your Terrell Hills Home

The 5 P's of Selling Your Terrell Hills Home on blue back ground

A neighbor of mine in Terrell Hills called me asking my advice about what they should be doing now to prepare their home for sale next spring.  As both a buyer’s agent and a listing agent, I know what Buyers are looking for as well as what most Sellers really need to be focusing on.

The sooner you start the process, the more control you will have, which leads to less stress.

Forbes names Terrell Hills as one of the most expensive suburbs in the US.  As the San Antonio market continues to boom, so does Terrell Hills.

So, if you (like my neighbor), are thinking about putting your home on the market next year, here are some tiny bites to think about and tackle now.

  1. Pack.  Face it.  We all have too much stuff.  This stuff clutters up the minds of Buyers when they are viewing your home.  Current Buyers expect homes to look like something on the reality shows of HGTV.  Less is more as it is less distracting to the Buyers.  Therefore, go through your home, room by room, and pack away the clutter and the personal items.  Pack the treasures you want to take with you, like that photo of your great grandfather riding a horse, and store it in a safe place until you move into your new home.  The clutter which no longer has purpose in your life can be donated or gifted to someone who may have room for it in their life.  No Clutter image for experienced realtor Diana L Faulkner
  2. Paint.  Fresh, neutral paint is the least expensive improvement you can do.  If you don’t have a “inner designer” in your household, consider hiring a designer or stager to come and assist you with this task.  Most Buyers want a home which is “ready to go”.  They are not inclined to have to go to the expense of having a home repainted before they move in.  The added bonus is that the home looks fresh, smells fresh, and put the best face forward for your home.  If your daughter’s room is purple, you might be interested to know that according to a University of Texas study, purple and orange enduced feelings of sadness and depression in men.  Every single time I have encountered a room painted purple, every single male Buyer has said to me:  “I am not buying a purple house”.  The house wasn’t purple, the room was… but the male Buyer extrapolated that to the entire house.  Who knew that the science tells us that purple is gloomy to a male?
  3. Presentation.  The house is best presented as if it will be visited by the President of the United States.  I am not kidding.  The real estate shows on television know this well.  You have to start “wowing” the Buyers from the moment they pull up the photos on the internet, to when they pull up to the curb and walk up the steps to the front door.  First impressions count and the better the impression, the better the price garnered.  Have your neighbor, if they are the friendly, helpful sort, do a mock run.  Let them tell you what they notice when they tour and view your property.  Ask them to be cruel.  By being cruel, they are helping you tremendously.  If they tell you to lose the purple plaid couch with lumpy cushions which Oma gave you… lose it to the storage unit.
  4. Photos.  Professional photos are a must.  Currently over 95% of homes are first identified by the Buyers through the internet.  I use an expensive real estate professional photographer for my listings.  If your agent isn’t paying over $350 for the photos in the Terrell Hills market, they are doing you and your home a disservice.  The more expensive the home, the better the photography needs to be.  The more unique the home, the better the photography needs to be.  There are some statistics which indicate that a Buyer must be engaged in the first twenty seconds by the photographs of your home, or they move to the next internet house listing.  Those of us who market luxury homes understand strongly that the most professional photographs do you an advantage in the market.  When you are interviewing potential listing agents, ask pointed and informed questions about how they intend to market your home online.  If they tell you the have special software on their iPhone to take the photographs…. please call a different agent.
  5. Price.  Pricing is both an art and a science.  A great agent will do more than just agree with what your think your house might be worth.  They have data available to them which you don’t know exists.  Generally the type of home valuations provided by online services do a great disservice to the industry.  Especially in non-disclosure states such as Texas.  A great agent won’t just spit out a price until they have visited the home and viewed it in detail.  They will then go back to their office and do hours worth of work to determine the value.  With home value price per square feet in Terrell Hills ranging from $100/sf to well over $1,000/sf, the agent can zero down to the most realistic number based upon facts.  Be leery of the agent who gives you a verbal price without providing you with the documentation to back it up.

These five points are just the tip of the iceberg and present a mile high view so that you can get started now on preparing your home (and your head) to put the property on the market.

For a time line estimate…. a well executed plan to put your home on the market needs a minimum of 10 to 12 days after you have completely prepared your home for sale.  It takes time to get the best photographer for your home.  Do we need drone shots, do we need sunset shots, is it the rainy season, what day is trash day so we don’t get any garbage cans in the shots, etc.?  The best listings are well planned and executed, like a Broadway play.

Selling your house doesn’t have to be crazy…. owners make it that way by choosing not to plan or not knowing the truth about how long the process takes.  Sometimes life happens and we aren’t able to plan.  Most home owners will need a good 6 to 9 months of prep time to prepare their home to sell.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call me.  I do this every day and am happy to assist you through the entire home selling process.  I can also assist you with the purchase of your new home.

Or, I will celebrate with you if you are chucking it all in and moving to the ranch for good.

Longhorn cattle near ranch in Alamo heights

Have a Happy Day!















Alamo Heights & How It Developed Into A Neighborhood

Spanish Style Stucco Home for Sale Alamo Heights

So, you are a Buyer you were just transferred to San Antonio and need to find a luxury home for sale.  Where to start?  If you are looking for the best school district in the area, that would be Alamo Heights Independent School District. At the time of this post, it is considered the highest performing district in the greater San Antonio Metropolitan area.

Spanish Style Stucco Home for Sale Alamo HeightsSpanish Style Stucco Home for Sale Alamo HeightsSpanish Style Stucco Home for Sale Alamo Heights

Many newcomers to San Antonio refer to the three municipalities of Alamo Heights, Olmos Park and Terrell Hills collectively as Alamo Heights or the Tri-City area of San Antonio.  This area has long been the luxury and old money neighborhood of San Antonio.  These towns continue to hold their appeal and value as their proximity to downtown, the airport, the arts, shopping and restaurants, combined with some of the best schools in the city, make them desirable and enjoyable neighborhoods.

Alamo Heights sits at the geographic headwaters of the San Antonio River.  After the fall of the Alamo, it was settled by George Washington Brackenridge and Charles Anderson in the mid-1800s.  The development of the site as a neighborhood began to occur in the 1890s and several large homes were built.  However, those efforts stalled as there wasn’t a road to connect the area to downtown.  In 1908, smaller homes began to be built and a pattern of scattered building by different developers ensued, which was reflected a community of varied sizes and architectural styles.  The advent of the automobile helped Alamo Heights become more desirable.  After 1921, the community began to grow and residential development grew.

In 1922 Alamo Heights became a municipality and had a population of about 3,000 residents.  The census of 2000 indicates a population of 7,031.

The esteemed historian, T. R. Fehrenbach, characterized the city by saying, “Alamo Heights, whatever else it is, reflects three qualities: good government, stable neighborhoods and a feeling of intimacy.”  It is still true today.

Within the City of Alamo Heights, you will find estate sized homes on estate sized lots.  The cottage district is known for small homes on small lots.  There are condos, town-homes, high rise self contained luxury buildings, and a mix of large apartment complexes and homes which have been divided into apartments.  A buyer has many choices when it comes to purchasing a home for sale in Alamo Heights.

One of the most popular areas of Alamo Heights is known as The Cottage District.  These homes, at the time of their construction, were smaller homes built on small lots.  Here is a drive down one of the streets in the cottage district.



If you have determined that you want to live in Alamo Heights, I live in Terrell Hills.  I know the streets in Alamo Heights well.  If you are looking for an experienced agent who knows the neighborhood, call me.  I would be happy to help you.






Are you ready to buy a house? REALLY?

Rock House Style in Terrell hills

Every day I am contacted by a Buyer who thinks he/she is ready to look at houses for sale in the greater San Antonio area and it’s 7 contiguous counties. They have certainly heard the phrase…. you must be pre-approved or pre-qualified for the loan.  The truth is they don’t know what it means. AND, most of them have done nothing to REALLY be ready to buy a house.


Rock House


This post will serve as a service to my clients who are just beginning the process.

Buying a house is like playing a very serious game.  I will set forth some of the rules of the game below.  If you follow the rules, you will find the game to be sort of fun and exciting.  If you choose not to follow the rules of the game, then you must not be that serious about finding a house.  If that is the case, I will help you find another agent.  I will tell you now, I like to work with Buyers who are serious about purchasing a home.

Here we go:

Step 1.  Get pre-approved by a lender.

Unless you are paying cash, you will need to obtain financing (mortgage).  If you do not have a lender, feel free to contact me and give me some basic information about yourself.  Most experienced Buyers agents will pair you up with a lender who specializes in the type of loan the agent thinks you are looking for.  For instance, if you are a first time home buyer and are self employed, that will take a different lender than a second or third time home buyer who has been employed by the same employer for several years.  You, as the Buyer, don’t know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of types of loans available.  The experienced agent will know which type of lender has the best service for your needs in our local area.  Keep in mind that the agent and the loan officer do not control the interest rate you receive.  The interest rates are dependent upon many variables, including your credit score, your debt to income ratios, and many other factors.  You are advised to know that if a lender tells you something which “sounds too good to be true”, then it generally IS too good to be true.

You will need to meet with the lender and provide them with all of the items they request.  Be prepared to give them everything they ask for.  Cash is King…. what this means, is that the man who has the cash, is the King.  In this case, the King is the lender.  If you are unwilling to meet with the lender, you will find that you will end up working with a newer agent who doesn’t have my experience, because … I like to work with Buyers who are serious about purchasing a home.

The lender will either discuss with me the top of your budget, or they will provide you with a letter which delineates the type of loan you want (FHA, VA, conventional, etc), the amount (the percentage) of the down payment, as well as any special conditions which both you and I need to be aware of before we start the home search.  It is best that you find out what you can afford BEFORE you fall in love with a house which you can’t afford.

Please note that there are vigorous regulations which prohibit lenders and agents from obtaining “referral fees”.  Neither the loan officer or the real estate agent are willing to lose their license for this sort of illegal activity.

Step 2.  Meet with the Buyer’s Agent.

This is a meeting to get to know each other.  You will discuss with the agent the findings of the lender.  For instance, do you need to wait three more months in order to get a better interest rate?  Or, will your car be paid off in six months and you won’t be able to get approved for a loan until the car note has been paid?  It is at this meeting that you see if your schedule meshes with that of the Buyer’s Agent.  Most Buyers are not aware that looking at houses is the tip of the iceberg of what a REALTOR or real estate agent does.  Most busy agents have schedule and a personal life.

Discuss communications.  Do you like to communicate by text? email? phone call?  I operate during normal business hours, even on Saturdays and Sundays.  Off hours are reserved for negotiations and family time.  Real estate negotiations tend to happen when all parties are off work.

Buying a home is an emotional process.  You will experience many ups and downs during the process.  Make sure that you LIKE the agent and that you get along.  Not everyone is a good fit.  I am happy to refer you to another agent who is exactly what you want … for instance if you want a single male, who is between the ages of 25 and 35, who has been in real estate for more than 5 years, who is bi-lingual, with a first name of Wesley, etc.  I can find him for you, and he will be another experienced and qualified agent who fits your specific criteria.  There are 10,000 real estate agents in San Antonio…. there is one out there for you.

At this meeting you will sign a document entitled Information About Brokerage Services.  This document is required by TREC (Texas Real Estate Commission).  It explains how real estate representation is viewed and I will explain further in person.  This document does not commit you to anything.  TREC requires that my broker have this on file.

Step 3.  The pre-search period. 

Once you have selected your Buyer’s Agent, you will be requested to sign a Buyer’s Representation Agreement.  This agreement is your commitment to work with the Buyer’s Agent who you selected.  Your Buyer’s Agent is not really your agent unless you have signed this document.  This agreement binds the two parties together.  Your agent is then able to negotiate on your behalf.  This is also your commitment to your agent that you will be working exclusively with them.

The agent will set up an automatic search in MLS to begin sending you homes which meet your criteria.  Such as:

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 4.5 bathrooms
  • 3 car garage
  • price range $1,000,000 to $1,300,000
  • near Cambridge Elementary
  • single story preferred
  • built after 2005
  • ADA compliant

It is quite easy to drill down and send you specific properties.  Keep in mind that I am familiar with most of the properties which are currently for sale in the San Antnnio area.  List of criteria of what you are looking for in a home in order that I may send you homes which meet your criteria which is automated from SABOR (San Antonio Board of Realtors).

We will get some homework done early just in case we are operating in a competitive transaction.  Some of these things are:

  • Identify an inspector.  Call and get rates ahead of time.
  • Identify an electrician.  As a back up.
  • Identify a structural engineer.  As a back up.
  • Identify a home warranty company.  The seller will generally pay for this.  However, you must identify/select a company in advance so that I know the amount to negotiate.
  • Identify a insurance agent for home insurance coverage.
  • Have blank checks on hand in order to write Option and Earnest Money checks.

Step 4 .  FINALLY, the search begins. 

Long gone are the days when a buyer has to look at twenty homes.  With over 90% of the homes being viewed online, it has helped the buyers rule out certain houses ahead of time.  Prior to the internet, a personal visit was required to view the home.  Currently, you can view the home and see the measurement of the rooms online.  For instance, if someone in your family is in a wheelchair, you will need bathrooms with a turning radius of 5 feet (ideally).  You can now determine that online.

Most buyers will select their favorite homes from online and will visit an average of 3 to 7 homes.  However, again due to the internet, some buyers select the first property they see in person.  It happens all of the time.  The reason is that after they have viewed the fifth house, the buyer gets weary and they already really know what they want.  The most desirable homes generally go under contract early.

You should know:

  • the perfect property rarely exists.  SIGH.
  • you might fall in the love with the property and your significant other may hate it.
  • sometimes, as mentioned above, you will circle back to the first house.  It IS the one.

Step 5.  Make an offer. 

As your Buyer’s Agent, there is paperwork which I must prepare in order to make an offer.  I will also need to prepare an analysis to see if the house is priced correctly.  However, you, the buyer is in charge.  I will prepare an offer and present it to the listing agent.

Included in the offer will be the following two items where you will need to pay some money:

  • Option funds.  This is the amount of money you are willing to pay to have the home inspected.  This is usually a fee of $10 to $100 per day (based upon the value of the home).  Most option periods are for ten days to allow adequate time for inspections…. you see now why I had you select your home inspector ahead of time?  You already are more prepared than 99% of the other buyers (who are really your competition.
  • Earnest Money.  This is usually 1% of the amount of your offer in our market, but can reach as high as 5% if you are in a multiple offer situation.  For the 1% scenario, if your offer is $1,000,000, then a Earnest Money check in the amount of $10,000 would be written to the title company.  The title company will cash the check and hold the funds in escrow.  Here is a great explanation of Earnest Money.

I hope that this helps you prepare for the search process.

The purchase process has an entirely different set of steps which will be outlined in another post.


If you want to buy a house, please do your homework ahead of time.  This will allow you to have an advantage over most buyers.  And, please get pre-approved by a reputable lender.










Luxury Living in Alamo Heights

As a native of San Antonio, I look around in amazement at the number of luxury homes for sale in Alamo Heights area, including Olmos Park and Terrell Hills (collectively known as the Tri-City area in real estate circles).  For decades, San Antonio was a military town and a tourist town, with relatively few homes in the luxury category.  The technology boom has created a increased market for luxury homes in our area as we continue to attract larger corporate residents employed by companies like Rackspace, Valero, NuStar, USAA, AT&T, Geekdom, Medtronic, and a plethora of start medical device start-up companies like Bluegrass Vascular Technologies.  These types of companies bring higher paying salaried positions which leads to…. more luxury homes.

Just where are these homes located?  The good news is that luxury homes are located all over the city:  downtown, north, south, east and west.  There are some master developed areas which have been strategically placed near areas near large corporate headquarters (USAA), the airport, downtown, golf courses, etc.

Alamo Heights, Olmos Park and Terrell Hills have long been the luxury neighborhoods of San Antonio.  These towns continue to hold their appeal and value as their proximity to downtown, the airport, the arts, shopping and restaurants, combined with some of the best schools in the city, make them desirable and enjoyable neighborhoods.

So, you were just transferred to San Antonio and need to find a luxury home for sale.  Where to start?

Each Buyer has unique needs for choosing the location of the new home.  It is generally related to proximity to work or to a specific school.  If you search has lead you to the Alamo Heights Independent School District (AHISD), you have arrived at a website which specializes in homes in this school district.

Take a ride with me on Argyle Avenue, which is considered by many to be the most prominent street of Alamo Heights.



Diana L. Faulkner is an experienced real estate agent in San Antonio area of Terrell Hills, Alamo Heights, Olmos Park and Monte Vista.  She is a native of San Antonio.  She and her husband, Nicholas, are active residents of Terrell Hills.

If you are in the process of choosing a trustworthy concierge partner for your real estate transactions, Diana is well qualified due to her business savvy, marketing expertise and her attention to your security and confidentiality.

There is a big difference in the real estate agents.  Do your research to find one who specializes in the area of town where you want to live.  It will benefit you greatly if your agent knows the area, knows the history of the homes, knows the projected changes coming to the area, etc.  Choose wisely.