Category Archives for Buyers

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.

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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 realtor.org, 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.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.