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The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can be busy.  Between dinners, cooking, decorating and shopping, many buyers and sellers decide to put real estate concerns on the back burner, which can make for a slower market.  However, the holiday season can be a jolly time for buyers and sellers looking for opportunities.

Buyers who are willing to trade some gift shopping for house hunting will enjoy a greater selection and fewer competing offers.  They’ll also have an easier time scheduling showings, arranging meetings with home inspectors and securing appraisals.  In addition, sellers with homes still on the market during the holidays may become more motivated, so bargains abound.  Lastly, buyers who purchase homes during the last few months of the year are able to take advantage of tax benefits and attractive interest rates.

 If you are thinking of selling your home in a time of turkeys and tinsel, the holidays can be a joyful time for you, too.  While a home for sale during the holidays is likely to have fewer showings, visits from prospective buyers may be fruitful with motivated, qualified buyers.  During the holidays there is also ample vacation time, providing buyers more time to look for a home than other months.

Many sellers may use holiday decorations to add appeal to their home.  This can be a good idea, but be sure not to go overboard.  Just like any other time of the year, you want to make a good first impression and highlight the selling features of your home.  While inflatable snowmen and Santa collections are fun, too much holiday décor can be seen as clutter and potentially distract eyes from great selling features, such as a nice front door or lovely view from the living room windows.

Also, remember that some home buyers who visit your home may not share the same religious beliefs that you do.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate your holiday, but keep it simple and strive for neutrality.

As always, if your house in on the market, you should keep it presentable and ready for sale, regardless of the season, weather or holiday.  You never know who will be buying your home and celebrating the holidays in it next year!

By: John Horton, Chairman, Austin Board of REALTORS®

While other areas of the country have seen unprecedented foreclosures and significant loss in property values, we in Central Texas have been very fortunate to be in a much better real estate market. In fact, the slight down turn in real estate values that we have experienced has created a perfect opportunity for some homebuyers to buy or build homes in neighborhoods that they could have only dreamed of before. If you are one of the fortunate who is considering a new home, consider which architectural styles will be the best choice over the coming years.

As recently noted by Roy Braswell, accomplished architect of Braswell Architecture, Inc., buyers of upper-end homes are no longer going for traditional brick that was once the standard in the U.S.  Instead, styles that reference other countries and or periods of history are the looks that sell.  I agree with builder Mike Holloway that the Tuscan design which has been so popular over the past few years is here to stay. It just works for San Antonio, and is a classic design for the Hill Country as well. Roy Braswell, in his recent comments in the San Antonio Express News, stated that he thinks another Old World look that high end buyers might successfully replicate is Spanish Colonial, which has a long history in San Antonio, and is used successfully in older neighborhoods like Olmos Park and Monte Vista. Other styles mimic Mediterranean architecture from California. California has always set the trends for designers and builders in Texas. I will say that lately I have seen a slight trend toward more modern looks but those that seem to work well in our area are more classic with simple, clean lines.  However, remember that it is only 1% of San Antonio that want modern homes.

When you have decided which architectural style best suits you and your lifestyle, consider which interior elements will best complete the house of your dreams.  For any style, and especially the Spanish Colonial look, come and let us draw, design and manufacture that perfect entertainment center or bedroom group for your home. And remember, drawing to delivery is less than a month on our custom wood furniture made from the finest Canadian Alder. As I have always said, “If you can dream it, we can build it”.

I could go on and on about remodeling and decorating, and I will! Look for new trends and great ideas in Urban Home, or give me a call at “Catrina’s at the Ranch,” 830-755-6355, IH-10 West in Boerne, and look for our new store, “La Catrina,” which is Spanish slang for “all dressed up,” coming to 1604 in October!

-Catrina Hoelke, Catrina’s at the Ranch & La Catrina    830.755.6355

   When we think of design, we often think of colorful couches, contemporary dining sets or trendy paint colors.    However, in our zeal to make our homes an attractive, welcoming place to live, we often overlook the best designer money can’t buy: Mother Nature.

In Texas, we’re fortunate to have a diverse landscape that supports a wide array of flora and fauna. By utilizing Texas’ natural offerings, we can create outdoor spaces that are inviting to you and to Mother Nature’s livelier children – the local wildlife.

Native Texas plants come in a wide range of colors and sizes that allow you to make your outdoor space an extension of your artistic aesthetic. In addition to providing endless design options, they’re accustomed to Texas’ climate, which makes them hardy and drought-resistant. This means you can spend more time and money enjoying your yard than maintaining it.

The best feature of many native plants is their appeal to wildlife. Plants such as hibiscus or honeysuckle attract hummingbirds while lantana and sunflowers attract butterflies. These stunning visitors offer you entertainment while also nourishing your plants.

You can also create a Zen-like retreat in your yard by adding water features. For example, fountains provide water to sustain wildlife as well as the soothing sound of running water for visitors and birdbaths are a great way to attract our feathered friends and the beauty and melodies they bring with them.

Using Texas’ natural gifts, you can create an outdoor space that is truly an expression of your individual personality and make your backyard a place that feels like home.

-By: John Horton, Chairman, Austin Board of REALTORS®

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