Monday, July 7, 2014

7 July 2014 San Antonio Realty Related News You Can Use

These nifty San Antonio realty related news nuggets are compliments of Steven Gragg, Realtor® and Broker at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio.
  1. Jobless claims are down slightly.  
  2. The composite index of leading indicators  increased slightly last month for the 4th month in a row, indicating the national economy will continue to improve in the months to come.
  3. Mortgage rates have eased down slightly.
  4. Nearly 2 million people in the world became millionaires last year - a 15% increase year-over-year.  San Antonio has more than its share of millionaires plus 6 known billionaires.
  5. Baby Boomers are liking big houses again.  A recent study shows boomers not only are not downsizing, they want homes as big as when they were raising children.  The average sized new home in 1960’s was 1500 sq.ft., by 2004 was 2100 sq.ft. and grew to 2600 sq.ft. in 2013.
  6. The new HEB Market has opened in Stone Oak at Hardy Oak and Wilderness Oak.
  7. San Antonio Board of Realtors® (SABOR) May Stats: 
  • San Antonio's average single family residential sales price reached a record in May at $225,114.
  • Days-on-the market from listing to contract was down to 65.
  • There's a 4.7 months inventory of homes for sale.
  • Compared to May 2013, home sales decreased 6%.  That's the first decrease in 2 years.
  • Average apartment rents were up 4.1% in May to an average of $830.  Occupancy remained       steady at 91.4%.
     8.  San Antonio area foreclosures are at the lowest in 12 years.  In July, there were only 469 foreclosure
          postings.  The year-to-date foreclosure trend is steadily downward from 8398 in 2012, to 5305 in
          2013,  to 3744 in 2014. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Top 3 Free Things You Can Do to Sell Your Home

Do you ever watch "Hoarders" on TV?  I think it comes on HGTV.  I'm not sure why it would be on that network, but it serves as an inspiration for those of us that fall into the "almost hoarder" category. 

When folks are thinking about listing their homes for sale, some of  my colleagues are able to convince their listers to hire a stager, rent furniture and spend lots of money, while my clients tend to want to hang on to their hard earned money and spend as little as possible. My job is to figure it out, give them a list of what they can do at little or no cost and get it sold for the most money in the least amount of time possible. 

Placing a home on the market instantly changes its status from home to product.  Think about buying a new dress or even a new car.  A new dress that's missing a button or has a dirt spot or a ripped hem will be discounted by the merchant or it will never sell.  A car with dings or dirty carpet will not sell for full price.  It just doesn't happen.  So why do people think that they can get top dollar for their home when it is cluttered and even worse dirty and in a sad state?

My top three things you can do if you seriously have no money to invest in prepping your home for sale involve the 3 C's.  Clutter, Cut and Clean.

1.  Your first step should be to de-CLUTTER.  Seriously.  Hoarders - get rid of your junk.  Less is more and yes, that does include your garage.  Breaking up is hard to do, but If you haven't used it in 6 months, you probably don't need it. Buyers will open drawers and closets and refrigerators. They will see your clutter and the accompanying dirt.  That clutter could cost you a few coins when they bring an offer.  You should be able to walk around the furniture on easy paths in the living, sleeping and dining areas.

 Minimize the decorative items.  Kitchen counters should be cleaned and all but 3 functional items removed.  Maybe a toaster, a coffee pot and your knives will be enough for most except for the very largest kitchens.  Buyers will want to see the countertops. 

Bathrooms follow the same rule.  Flush the toilet (yep, some sellers don't) and put the lid down.

Remove shampoo bottles , soaps, lotions  bathtub toys and just about everything.  Minimize and put what you absolutely must have under the sink or grouped in a decorative basket or box. Simplify!

The same rules apply for the dresser, armoires and any furniture with a horizontal surface anywhere in the house.

 Remove any religious, political and personal pictures and decor.  Fair housing laws require that agents show the home to any and all protected classes, but that does not prevent a prospective buyer from discriminating when comparing your property with others.

Think about all the time for fun activities when you don't have to spend time cleaning and dusting all your chachkies (also know as bric-a-brac), not to mention how quickly you can be ready for an unexpected last minute showing.

2.  CUT the grass! That means mow the lawn. Water the grass and at a minimum rake the mulch, trim the shrubbery and pull the weeds.  If your city has a brush site like we do in San Antonio, you can get free mulch.  If the raking was not enought to "dress up the place", add the mulch.  If possible a dark color will make the yard "pop".  Red mulch is better than no mulch, but probably not the best choice.  When it comes to nature, think of the colors we really see in nature.  Flowers are nice, but to add them will cost money so that will be addressed in another blog.  This article is all about what you can do for FREE!

3. CLEAN If your house is really clean, you won't  need to cover up with candles that "smell good", or baking cookies or bread before someone comes over for a look-see.  Clean is clean.  That means wash the baseboards and walls, wipe the switch plates, move the couch and clean underneath.  Dust the ceiling fans and make sure the lightbulbs are all working.

 Windows should sparkle.  (There is a recipe for sparkly windows in a previous blog.)  You can take the screens off the windows in the front of the house for additional sparkle. Keep them in one spot in the attic, basement or garage, so the inspector doesn't give you a ding for not having screens. 

If your window treatments(curtains and drapes)  are dated, faded, or  torn, just take them down.  Leave the privacy treatments such as blinds or shutters, but make sure they are clean and in good repair.  If your curtains or drapes are stylish and you plan to leave them with the house, just make sure they are washed and pressed, or cleaned.  Drapes and furniture absorb odors, so if they are not clean, the house will not smell fresh. 

Vacuum and clean carpet. All of that decluttering that you did earlier will help make this job alot easier.  Be sure to check what I call the "gray edge" that I have seen in many houses that will develop along the edges of carpet on staircases or in corners.  It comes from an accumulation of dust over time. If the carpet is badly stained, the sad news is that the remedy for this condition is not free.  Offering a carpet allowances may help, but you only get one chance to make that first impression.

Setting out a bowl of vinegar overnight will help to remove lingering odors.  Be sure to get rid of the bowl before you have a showing! If the weather is accomodating, open the windows and "air the house".  Hanging pillows and throws on the fence to soak up some sun will improve the level of freshness when you bring them back in the house.

One more note - I mentioned first impressions.  The first thing a potential buyer sees is the walkway up to the entrance and the front door. They are standing there looking around while the agent accesses your property or while you come to the door.  The door, porch, any light fixtures  should be sparkling clean and in good repair. Remove any damaged or faded door mats, make sure the porch is swept and hosed off before any showing.  People should feel welcome when they come to your door.  Remove any personalized signs.  You want them to think of it as their own home.  

Of course the most important thing to consider is pricing your home appropriately.  With the help of your agent, you can consider comparable properties and their condition.  There are many other things to do to make your home "sellable".  Unless you are planning to discount the property, the home should be in good condition. 

These "FREE" suggestions are what I consider to be the most important and can be done without taking funds from your account.  Please let me know if you have more ideas, or if I can answer any questions about selling your property.

I am Stephanie Kelley, Realtor® at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio, Texas. If you have questions about San Antonio real estate or just want to chat a bit about our wonderful Alamo City, please call me at or (210) 867-8743, or E-mail me at Our experienced Realty Solutions Team is always ready to help you with your home buying or selling needs. Visit me at

Friday, January 11, 2013

Boosting your Home Value in the New Year

Time for the procrastination to be over - It's already mid January and I haven't even gotten back on my new year diet and exercise program yet!

Its been a long time since I posted.  Fun flies when you are having time, and I just didn't take the time to continue on my posts after about the middle of last year.  My weight loss program, some traveling and yes, even real estate took precedence over the blog and for that, dear readers,  I apologize.

Its the new year and this year will be even bigger and better than the last.  (The last was actually pretty good, and I am still about 16 pounds lighter than I was in 2012). I plan a better blog schedule to keep you informed on fun stuff, and real estate developments  around San Antonio, my weight loss ideas and encouragement, and of course how to improve your Texas home if you are thinking of selling, renting or just improving for your own enjoyment, 

As super bowl rapidly approaches, folks begin to think not only about football, but about moving.  Maybe they just need more wall space for a bigger screen TV or better entertainment areas or a major life change, but thoughts of a new living space for the new year just seem to happen, particularly in an improving economy.  Here from a recent survey are 5 low cost ideas to improve your homes value without breaking the bank.

  1. Clean and de-clutter     The average cost is $290. with a $1,990 increase for a 586%  ROI
  2. Lightening and brightening The average cost is $375 with a $1,550 price increase for a $313% ROI
  3. Home staging  The average cost is $550 with a $2,194 price increase for a 299% ROI
  4. Landscaping  The average cost is $540 with a $1,932 price increase for a 258% ROI
  5. Repairing electrical or plumbing  The average cost is $535 with a $1,505 price increase for a $181% ROI
If you are planning to sell, you should at a minimum do #1.  People don't want to buy other peoples dirt and all of that clutter makes it almost impossible to see the good features of a property.  Besides that, its just good feng shui to get rid of the junk and simply your life in the new year, even if you don't plan to sell.  It's the reason the container store runs the Elfa shelving system on sale every January. 

For more information, check out the website or call me!  Real Estate is always local, and prices for improvements may vary.  Any repairs or improvements that you can do yourself will save you money in the long run, provided you can do those repairs in a safe environment and provided that the results are professional in their appearance.  Consult with you real estate professional before beginning any projects. 

I am Stephanie Kelley, Realtor® at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio, Texas. If you have questions about San Antonio real estate or just want to chat a bit about our wonderful Alamo City, please call me at or (210) 867-8743, or E-mail me at Our experienced Realty Solutions Team is always ready to help you with your home buying or selling needs. Visit me at

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Time Block Blues

I don't know about you, but I really, really, seriously hate it when I get the overly long drawn out message that sounds something like:  " Hello, your call is very important to me, blah, blah, blah, I am in meetings or in an appointment and I will be returning calls between 4 & 6 or after 9."Blah, Blah, Blah, if this is an emergency please call the receptionist, secretary or Uncle Charlie (choose one - none of them answer the phone)  Cheerio.  

If I sound frustrated, it is because I am.  It's really nice that the very important person that we are trying to contact has a booming business and busy life.  (Look up Girls Raised in the South for the meaning of "That's Nice", and if you don't get it, you don't really know any girls from the south).

The problem that I have is that my life is busy and sometimes hectic, too.  While it is nice to know what time the important person is planning to call back, I have an issue with the assumption that I am going to be available in the particular time block that works for him (or her).  Shoot, it might interfere with MY  time block.

Recently an agent told me that he couldn't possibly present an offer after 6:00 pm, that he had 2 kids to feed and bathe.  Now I understand about the feeding part, but any kid I know would gladly time block that bath until next week.  The feeding part could be handled with a chicken nuggets happy meal from the Mickey D drive through.  Be sure to block in 15 minutes for the wait time in line.  That leaves a couple hours to manage an appointment or even just a phone call, so that my clients don't have to miss their flight the next morning, pay for an extra day in a hotel, and can make a decision that will affect their families for at least (based on national averages) the next 5.5 years.  

My point is that Real Estate is a service business.  I really would like to have my own life and my own time and maybe I am just a poor scheduler, but when I have clients that are sitting in a hotel room waiting for a response from a very important person, I  wonder about the level of service that is being achieved.  The person who has so perfectly maintained his own schedule is wrecking and attempting to control the schedule of everyone else around him.  That is a disservice to the customer.  

I am Stephanie Kelley, Realtor® at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio, Texas. If you have questions about San Antonio real estate or just want to chat a bit about our wonderful Alamo City, please call me at or (210) 867-8743, or E-mail me at Our experienced Realty Solutions Team is always ready to help you with your home buying or selling needs. Visit me at

*For those of you following my weight loss and a little less of the home girl. . . I am down 31 pounds since the first of the year and sticking with it!  Join me at my fitness pal!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Losing it while Hiking around San Antonio

I bet you didn't think I would stick with it. Well. So far, so good. I am down 15 pounds since I last posted, and determined not to give up until I reach my goal.

Not winning The "biggest loser" contest could have been a major obstacle and was emotionally disappointing, but grit and determination won out, so I am hanging in there with my 2012 resolution. Yay homegirl!

The contest was actually kind of fun. With the help of, I learned by journaling what was going into my mouth and what kind of energy I was expending that this should really be a no brainer. If I cheat or fudge on what I journal in my fitness pal, I am really only cheating myself. If I am honest about the input, then my body responds with the appropriate weight loss in relationship to calories in and out.

There were competitors that lost much more than I did. The winning female lost 25 pounds in a month. Wow, now that's impressive. When I asked what she done to lose so much, so fast, she was a little hesitant, but said that she had cut to 500 calories a day and worked out twice a day. She drank no coffee, no soda, no simple carbs, very little fat and mainly existed on lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Even though she didn't tell me, I bet she had to avoid any Realtor functions like she would avoid the plague.

My lifestyle has changed, but not so much. I still manage to go out for dinner or happy hour with friends and clients. My diet has included almost anything you can imagine. Cooking light recipes are my friend, but I could still enjoy a dirty martini or 1 glass of wine. I could have a bite of fried avocado ( although indulging in the fried stuff or alcoholic beverages greatly reduces the other good things I could be enjoying). Dairy Queen visits mean that I order a plain small cone in lieu of a banana split. The bottom line is that I have to be accountable and disciplined.

Hiking in Government Canyon
The biggest change has been incorporating exercise into my lifestyle. Randy and I love to hike! Walking on a track or repeating the same routine is the ultimate boredom for me, so the exercise quest became an adventure. The goal of walking about 4 miles a day was surpassed by a need to explore and find more challenging paths. Even getting off the beaten path (in and away from urban development) was part of the process. San Antonio has many parks with hiking and biking trails to explore. Please follow the links below:

Downtown/ Southtown Route

River Walk / Museum Reach

Metro Health to Lexington

Brackenridge - Alamo Loop

San Antonio Highlights

San Antonio Greenway Map

Dry Creekbed in Government Canyon

I am Stephanie Kelley, Realtor® at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio, Texas. If you have questions about San Antonio real estate or just want to chat a bit about our wonderful Alamo City, please call me at or (210) 867-8743, or E-mail me at Our experienced Realty Solutions Team is always ready to help you with your home buying or selling needs. Visit me at

Post Script:  I have let almost a month pass without publishing - Sorry about that, but I am down another 5 pounds.  Yay me!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Better Life in 2012? Weight and See!

It's the second week of 2012 and this time I really am sticking to my number #1 resolution to lose a few pounds.  

You probably already know that losing a few pounds is one of the most common resolutions.  Did you know that January 9 is the most common day that people give up on thir resolutions?  Well, the Home Girl is no quitter, and the only kind of loser I want to be is "The Biggest", so I am steadily hanging in there.

There are all kinds of articles, websites and blogs offering helpful hints on how to best lose weight.  My favorite this year is  It's available as an app for your smart phone, your I-Pad or your Mac or PC.  ITS FREE! I  also like it because it makes you accountable for what goes into your mouth and it has almost every item I could think about eating and almost every (chain) restaurant's menu items and nutritional content listed in it's data base, so I don't have to spend a lot of time researching nutritional information and recording it in my data base.  I was very pleased when I pulled up HEB southwest spicy black bean soup and was able to find that in the data base.  Wow! a specific "generic" brand from my favorite grocery store.  Truly amazing.  Reports show that people who journal their diet lose twice as much weight as those who don't.  This app makes it easy to journal not only what you eat, but also tracks your exercise and your progress, and has the ability to invite friends to join in with you on the weight loss quest.   The home girl (along with thousands of other people ) gives this app 5 stars!

Another incentive that is inspiring me was initiated by Shane Tokheim at Alamo Title Company.  He invited just about every real estate agent and related business workers to join in our own Biggest Loser Contest.  This is not to be confused with the one on TV.  He gathered a group of 17 women and I think about 12 men who contributed to a pool to see who could lose the largest percentage of their body weight.  Sometimes it is just being surrounded, supported, challenged by and competing (all at the same time) with my peers that gives me the initiative to work out, cut calories and get healthy. 

A couple of co-workers stopped by the morning and offered their advice on what the do to succeed in the never ending "Battle of the Bulge".  Besides "Just Do It", a couple more I Phone apps that help are Run keeper and Map my run.  I am using my Garmin Forerunner watch and heart monitor, which tracks not only my milage, but my time and heart rate and syncs to the computer.

Being healthy will help with every aspect of my life.  Losing a few pounds (or more) won't hurt. Lighter Realtors move faster & have more energy.  Love that - "move faster".  That's what most of my clients want - a faster move - HA!  I work in a business that can truly zap your youth and vitality if you let it.  Easting healthy, exercise and holding myself accountable should help give me the energy to do not only the physical but the mental gymanistics to help my clients successfully.  Sounds like a win-win!   You are cordially invited to join me in my quest.  Sign up for myfitnesspal and "friend me".
If you have any apps , suggestions or comments, please leave them at this site.  If you just want to follow the home girl and see if I succeed or fail, click on follow me.    I will keep you posted!

Need more help ?  Top Rated Gyms and Fitness Centers in San Antonio

Velocity Sports

Bella Women's Fitness

YMCA of Greater San Antonio

Gold's Gym - 9 Locations in San Antonio

Lifetime Fitness - 2 Locations in San Antonio

Spectrum - 10 Locations in San Antonio

I am Stephanie Kelley, Realtor® at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio, Texas. If you have questions about San Antonio real estate or just want to chat a bit about our wonderful Alamo City, please call me at or (210) 867-8743, or E-mail me at Our experienced Realty Solutions Team is always ready to help you with your home buying or selling needs. Visit me at

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Best Clean Windows in San Antonio or Anywhere Else for that Matter

The home girl has cleaned up all the Halloween Decorations at the homestead. (with a bunch of help from the hubby)

Halloween has got to be one of my favorite holidays for many reasons.
  1. Candy
  2. Grown ups can play dress up.
  3. You don't have to have a clean house for it to look absolutely marvelous!
  4. Chocolate Candy
  5. Dust and spider webs and windows you can't see through are appropriate.
  6. Snickers, Butterfingers, Peanut M&M's
  7. Everybody loves witches and its ok to act like like one.
  8. More Candy
Alas, it's over. The pumpkins are melting, the bats and ghosts are back in a box, the left over candy is hidden so that I will forget where  I put it and all that is left are a few cobwebs, some dust and  thoughts of the next big event - Thanksgiving.  

It's time to clear away the dust and the cobwebs and get the home clean, sparkly and ready for the holidays.

The best way for a truly great outlook is to clean up what you are looking out.  (That's terrible grammar, but I hope you get the gist of what I am trying to say.)  Clean your windows!

The best recipe that I ever found for sparkly windows came from an article in the San Antonio Express News in December 2001 by Maribel Zimmerman. 

Please read the whole article and you will find the recipe for sparkly windows at the bottom of the page. 


San Antonio Express-News Sunday Real Estate  Sunday Dec 9, 2001
By Maribel Zimmerman

Some windows look like they were cleaned with a good amount of spit and an oily mechanics rag.  Sticky fingers and wet noses pressed to the glass can wreak havoc on your view, too.  But some windows look worse after they have been cleaned.  Why?  What could possibly have gone wrong?  Plenty.

Hastily pursuing the perfect view can mean forgetting the most important credos of crystal clear windows:  clean water and the right tools.  So, how do you get windows to sparkle the first time?  It's really not that hard. 

There are several ways to do the job right.  Commercial cleaning solutions can work well, but are not necessary for the job. Old fashioned household cleaners are plentiful in most homes - and expensive. 

Experts at Andersen-Windows suggest beginning with the right stuff:  rubber gloves; two buckets or one bucket with two wells; sudsy ammonia; white vinegar; rubbing alcohol; several clean, dry rags, a squeegee; and a ladder, if necessary. 

Now, follow these steps to the best view you've ever enjoyed:

1.  First, read and follow the manufacturer's instructions on each cleaning agent and all tools before beginning.  In addition, use extreme caution when using ladders around open windows to maintain safe operation and avoid injury.  If elevation devices are required, do not use furniture, only equipment intended for that purpose, including ladders, scaffolding, and step stools.  And follow all the manufacturers instructions for safe operation.
2.  Fill both buckets with 1 to 2 gallons of the hottest water your gloved hands can stand.  Use caution in handling hot water to avoid burns and scalding. 
3.  In one of the two buckets, add one cup each of ammonia and vinegar, plus two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and stir.  The latter will help the water evaporate and add that "twinkle" factor.
4.  Begin at the top of the house at the top of the window.
5.  Wipe the entire surface with the solution.  If necessary, bugs, stickers, and stubborn marks can be removed with a new straight-edge blade, being careful to avoid personal injury or damage to the wndow.  Once the dirt is removed, wipe the window a second time with the clear water.
6.  Immediately squeegee the window, using a rag to wipe the squeegee dry after each swipe.  This will limit the streaks caused by wet lines of water at the squeegee's edge and eliminate dripping onto your sparkling windows with wet tools. 
7.  Use a clean cloth to wipe only the wet corners and the sill.
Some extra tips
  • Again, use extreme caution when working around open window openings.  Never leave a window unattended, especially when children are present.  Falls may result in serious injury or death. 
  • Try swiping in only one direction - horizontal or vertical on the inside of the house, and the other direction on the outside.  If you do find streaks, you'll know which side needs to be redone. 
  • Change the water often to eliminate streaks.
  • Tie a rope to the squeegee and secure it to the ladder or your belt in case you drop it.  Letting the solution dry onto the window while you climb down to retrieve your tools could be the difference between sparkle and debacle.
  • Try cleaning windows on sunny, but dry days. Sunlight dries the solution too fast and makes streaks more likely. 
  • Really dirty windows may need to be rinsed first with the garden hose, but be prepared to clean them immediately.  Hard water stains can be stubborn. 
For more information about windows, including maintenance, repair and replacement, contact the Greater San Antonio Builders Association at (210) 696-3800 for a free copy of the Remodelors Directory. 

The Greater San Antonio Builders Association is a local trade association that offers opportunities to its members to display their products and services. 
It makes no representations expressed or implied , regarding the qualifications of its members or the quality of their products and services, but invites you to examine them for yourself at

Maribel Zimmerman is an architecutral representatve for Black Millwork Co. Inc., a member of the Greater San Antonio Builders Association Remodelors Council
This is the recipe for sparkly windows

1 cup ammonia
1 cup vinegar
2 Tablespoons Rubbing Alcohol
1 to 2 gallons of HOT water (stir it all together)

After removing the dirt, wipe with clear water only, then squegee.

*Home Girl Note
This article was written almost 10 years ago. The website for The Greater San Antonio Builders Association is still good, but I'm not sure about the phone number or if they still have copies of the Remodelors Council Directory. 
I do know this recipe for cleaning windows works.  It did 10 years ago, and it still does.  I have had many clients and other agents ask for my secret, and it's really no secret!  I found this article last week when I was cleaning out a file, and thought this would be a great time to share it.
Sparkly windows just make us feel better.  They make a home look better and may be just the missing piece to help somebody's home sell.  If nothing else, clean windows give us  a better outlook.  :-)  

I am Stephanie Kelley, Realtor® at Keller Williams Legacy, San Antonio, Texas. If you have questions about San Antonio real estate or just want to chat a bit about our wonderful Alamo City, please call me at or (210) 867-8743, or E-mail me at Our experienced Realty Solutions Team is always ready to help you with your home buying or selling needs. Visit me at