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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®

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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®


New words have crept into our vernacular since the green movement began: socially responsible, sustainable design, eco-friendly and right-size living, to name a few. Now a well-known builder of custom homes in the Lake Wylie area is introducing a new phrase to the Charlotte housing market: organic contemporary architecture. But this is much more than a buzzword to Doug McSpadden; it’s his passion.

T he term organic architecture was first coined in 1908 by Frank Llyod Wright to describe his idea that a home should be built inrelationship with its natural surroundings, and carefully thought out as if it were a unified organism.

For today’s homeowner, Doug McSpadden describes his enhanced architectural philosophy as mature, well-educated design that is more integrated with nature, features smaller square footage and makes more efficient use of space. “We’ve all heard ‘form follows function.’ In this case form and function are one,” he says….

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more about McSpadden Custom Homes.

To learn more about McSpadden Custom Homes, visit them online at www.mcspaddenhomes.com or call 704-825-7324.


Have you thought of building a custom home but been overwhelmed by the looming process? What if you could work with a builder with every service you need under one roof? Ah, a glimmer of hope.

“One of the challenges of custom building is always managing the building process for the client so it’s not overwhelming,” says Jocelyn Dienst, managing partner of Dienst Custom Homes. “We aim to make it enjoyable ending in a sense of fulfillment for the owner.”

This detail-oriented builder offers more than 23 years of experience; Dienst is unique in offering everything from design to construction services and selection services for the process; they also offer landscaping hand-in-hand with one of their valued contractors. Many builders leave the selection of items such as cabinets, tile, and all elements up to the client to go out and choose. Not Dienst.

“We feel our job is to manage everything for our client, and the day when their house is done and we go to the closing table they know exactly where each penny has gone. No surprises!” Jocelyn says. “By designating the designer to be owner’s eyes and ears we can design a home that stays in line for design and costs, as well as being as distinct and unique as the owner. We are the reality check for clients to keep them on point.”

Click here to view the entire article or visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to learn more about Dienst Custom Homes.

For more information on Dienst Custom Homes, call 704-892-8426, email Jocelyn at jdienst@diensthomes.com, or visit them at 9606-A Caldwell Commons Circle in Cornelius or at www.diensthomes.com.

Once a Client, Always a Client– Unveiling a new home or completed renovation is like Christmas morning. The homeowners are excited about their finished project. But what about later, when regular maintenance and warranty repairs are needed? Or you decide to add another bedroom for a growing family? Homes are dynamic environments subject to the elements, daily usage, and your own changing lifestyle.

 That’s why my company, Hubert Whitlock Builders, operates on a “Builder for Life”concept. Our intimate knowledge of your home is a continuing benefit that will sustain your home long into the future. To guide maintenance and plan any subsequent additions, who knows your house better than the builder? To complete warranty work, who has more leverage over the contractors who installed your systems and appliances than the builder who hired them?

 “Your builder should be for your house, like your trusted mechanic is for your car.” That advice comes from Tyler Mahan, our vice president of production. “When you hear a noise in your car, you take it to the mechanic who really knows your vehicle. And when you have an issue with your house, it’s the builder who understands the ramifications.”

Scott Whitlock is the president of Hubert Whitlock Builders. Established in 1957, they are known as one of the Charlotte area’s premier builders and can be reached at 704-364-9577 or whitlockbuilders.com.

Visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to view the entire article.


Planning a dream home is a lot of work and the most important step is to find the right architect.  Here are a few tips from Southern Accents:

  1. Create a wish list.
  2. Check the portfolio.
  3. Value chemistry.
  4. Be open and honest.
  5. Choose a listener.
  6. Communicate your vision.
  7. Take notes.
  8. Strive for collaboration.

For additional information visit southernaccents.com.


Whether you’re buying or selling a home there are several questions you should ask before agreeing to work with a real estate agent.

  1. How long have been in the real estate business?
  2. Are you a member of the National Association of Realtors?
  3. Are you a member of MLS?
  4. Do you work on weekends?
  5. Can you outline how you would represent us?
  6. Will you show us houses listed by other companies?
  7. Are you familiar with our area?
  8. How many homes have you sold?
  9. What’s your business style?

For more tips from the editors at the nest visit thenest.com.


What to Look for in a Builder’s Communications
Years ago, miners would keep canaries nearby to warn them of harmful gases. I thought about that last year when Susan Spencer asked me about remodeling her Charlotte home. She keeps four exotic birds—a Macaw, Cockatoo, Cockatiel, and Amazon—and as Susan explained, “They have tiny lungs and are susceptible to bad odors and temperature changes.”

O ur work for Susan involved renovating her 1970s kitchen, waterproofing and encapsulating her crawl space, and replacing the windows, roof, and HVAC system. Since her birds—Marti, Captain, Ruffles, and Hannah—were kept downstairs near the crawl space and utilities, we were concerned for their well-being… 

Scott Whitlock is the president of Hubert Whitlock Builders. Established in 1957, they are known as one of the Charlotte area’s premier builders and can be reached at 704-364-9577 or whitlockbuilders.com.

Visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to view the entire article


With market conditions as they are today, those looking to buy or refinance enjoy unprecedented opportunity to save money. And contrary to what you may have heard mortgage lenders are still making loans to qualified borrowers. So, what really makes today such a great time to consider a home purchase or refinance?

Perhaps most important are today’s historically low interest rates. While interest rates fluctuate from borrower to borrower, those with good credit histories often qualify for interest rates that are lower than they’ve been in decades. If you’re considering refinancing, a lower interest rate could possibly lower your monthly payment or give you cash for home improvements. Keep in mind interest rates alone may not determine the best loan program for you; examine your individual financial situation with an  experienced mortgage professional to determine your options.

David Woldman has been in the mortgage industry for over 23 years. He is a Top Producer at SunTrust Mortgage, Inc., specializing in renovation financing and construction loans. For a free mortgage analysis, call David at 704-651-8377.

 Visit Urban Home Magazine’s website to view the entire article

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