Category Archives: House-to-Home

Budget friendly projects with a big Return of Investment (ROI)

crop_sm_Remolding

Not all home improvement projects are created equal. Some renovations may cost a lot but not add significant value to your home. This list goes in the opposite direction: Here are some inexpensive home improvement projects that will not only increase your enjoyment of your home, but will also increase the home’s value.

  1. High quality ceiling fans: In a recent National Association of Home Builders survey, ceiling fans ranked No. 1 as the most-wanted decorative item. If your ceiling fans are outdated, replace them with something in the $400 range—it’ll make a big difference when it’s time to sell.
  2. Trees: Mature trees can be worth as much as $10,000 toward the value of your home. Trees also protect your home from the elements and prevent erosion.
  3. Energy efficiency: Buyers are increasingly interested in saving energy, so any efficiency update is worthwhile. Switching from a wood to gas fireplace is a great start.
  4. Outdoor lighting: Exterior lighting is great for highlighting the accents of your home, and you can typically expect a 50 percent return on investment.
  5. Molding: You can finish a room with crown molding or railing for as little as $1.50 per foot if you take a DIY approach, and it’s extremely desirable among prospective buyers.

Are you thinking about selling soon but are not sure if your house is “ready”? Since each listing should showcase its own personality, it helps (and it is encouraged) to have a Professional tour your property for advice on how to properly and effectively prepare your listing. A professional Property Stager, a Certified Home Marketing Specialist (CHMS), and/or a REALTOR® can create a custom list of “to-dos” to help dress your house for a successful sale. Having a pre-listing walk-through with a Pro can save you from spending money on the wrong home improvements.

An experienced local REALTOR® is likely to have a team of people who can assist you with listing preparations. Make one call and get it all done – call your favorite REALTOR® first!

We know what it takes to get a house sold the quickest and for the most money. Let our experience help get you the biggest bang for your buck!  ~Agent Val, metro realty

Have Questions? I’m here to help. Send a quick message for a FREE CONSULTATION:

Val-A-Homes

Val J Aranda, REALTOR® & Certified Home Marketing Specialist

“Coaching Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”

Metro Realty Logo

4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #477
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Call/Text Val: 210-378-5987

The advice and opinions expressed and shared on AgentVal.com are the sole opinions and advice offered by Val J Aranda, Metro Realty. This is not intended to solicit business from consumers under a Buyer/Broker Agreement or Listing Agreement with another Real Estate Firm.

WHICH WEBSITE IS THE BEST AND MOST ACCURATE FOR LOCAL HOME SEARCHES?

In short, there are NO PUBLIC SITES who can publish listings in real-time. Real-time listings are limited to REALTORS® who are members of their local Board and who are subscribed to the Board’s Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

The closest to “real-time” you can get today is from REALTOR.com. REALTOR.com updates every 15 minutes. All other public websites update so sporadically that it’s difficult to know what’s current. Some sites are even known to throw in some OLD & SOLD listings just to generate business. So, be careful where you register your personal information.

For THE MOST CURRENT listing data, you can rely on your REALTOR®. Not only do we have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), but we can and will contact listing agents for the most updated listing status, current offer situation, and/or showing availability.

REAL TIME LISTINGS.jpg


REAL-TIME LISTINGS FOR CLIENTS COMING SOON!

If you are a customer or client of Val J Aranda, Metro Realty, and would like REAL-TIME LISTINGS when they come available, please submit the form below. Your information will be kept confidential. NO WORRIES – NO SPAM!

Five ideas that can dramatically improve your living room

wet bar stagedCan’t seem to create a living room that feels quite right? Looking for some styling tips that will bring your living room up a notch? Here are five ideas that can dramatically improve your living room.

 

  1. Move the furniture away from the walls: The tendency is to place your furniture against the walls, but giving it a little room to breathe will make the seating area seem cozier while also making the room seem more spacious.
  2. Mix old and new pieces: Using the same furniture set to furnish an entire room can make it seem a bit sterile. Try mixing and matching different pieces and styles to give your living room a more eclectic feel.
  3. Keep everything low: Arranging photos and artwork lower on walls will make a room appear larger, and can also draw more attention to the pieces themselves.
  4. Place a bookshelf behind the sofa: It doesn’t have to be your entire personal library. Mix and match books with knick-knacks and other items to add some depth and texture to the space behind your sofa.
  5. Try a smaller coffee table: Your current coffee table is probably larger than it needs to be, and it may be dominating the room. Try downsizing to a table that can still hold magazines, a centerpiece, and a few drinks, but will also give you a bit more room to move around your furniture.

fam room

These are all great tips for staging a living area, too!
~Agent Val

Five maintenance resolutions for your home

We may be a little removed from New Year’s Day, but it’s not too late to make some new resolutions for your home.

1. Start a home repair slush fund: Things in your home are going to break and need to fixed. It’s just a fact that comes with home ownership. Rather than letting expensive repairs take you by surprise, start planning for them. Set aside some money each month that you can eventually draw from when an appliance breaks or unexpected.

2. Inspect your fireplace: Even if you have a gas fireplace, you should still inspect the valves and ceramic logs yearly to ensure that everything is operating safely and correctly. If you have wood fireplace, hire a certified chimney sweep to do the job.

3. Maintain your garage door: Garage doors are big and heavy, and that puts a lot of stress on the hinges and tracks that are use to open and close the door several times a day. A regularly scheduled $50 inspection could save you hundreds or thousands in the long run.

4. Tune up your furnace: Regular furnace inspections will help identify minor problems before they turn into major ones. Also, set reminders to replace your furnace filter.

5. Clean your coils: The No. 1 refrigerator maintenance task should be cleaning the condenser coils. They can get clogged with hair and dust, reducing your fridge’s efficiency. Have you cleaned yours lately? You can hire a professional to do it, but it’s also an easy do-it-yourself job.

QUICK NOTE FROM AGENT VAL: Preventive maintenance is so important when owning a home. Fixing the little things now can save from big dollar expenses down the road.

If you are in or around the Greater San Antonio area and need a list of recommendations for handymen, plumbers, electricians, etc…, let me know. I’ll be happy to pass along a few recommendations.

REQUEST A LIST OF LOCAL CONTRACTORS OR SEND YOUR GENERAL REAL ESTATE QUESTIONS:

At your service!

~Val~

***

Val-A-Homes

Val J Aranda, REALTOR® & Certified Home Marketing Specialist

“Coaching Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”

Metro Realty Logo

4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #477
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Call/Text Val: 210-378-5987

Home staging: Does it make a difference?

It seems to be universally accepted that home staging will help your home sell faster or for the best price—it’s been the common practice in the real estate business for a long time, and on the surface it seems like a no-brainer. Of course potential buyers will be more interested if a home is properly decorated, right?

That’s not necessarily true, according to a recent academic study. The study surveyed 820 homebuyers by showing them one of six virtual tours of the same property. In some instances the home was decorated with traditional furniture and color schemes, while in others more eccentric furniture and colors were used. In other tours there was no furniture at all, just empty rooms.

The overall results of the study were that staging is unlikely to increase a home’s sale price, and that staging isn’t quite as important as everyone believes.

Of course, real estate trends vary greatly from market to market. If you have questions about staging, talk to your trusted real estate professional.


A Special Note from Agent Val: In many neighborhoods within the greater San Antonio area, staging is extremely helpful. Want to know what’s best for your property? Contact me today. I’ll be happy to preview your property and offer a free no-obligation consultation.


HAVE GENERAL REAL ESTATE QUESTIONS?

At your service!

~Val~

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Val-A-Homes

Val J Aranda, REALTOR® & Certified Home Marketing Specialist

“Coaching Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”

Metro Realty Logo

4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #477
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Call/Text Val: 210-378-5987

Three ways to ease your fears about making a move

With low inventory in many markets throughout the country, many homeowners are afraid to sell their homes because they’re concerned that they may not be able to find a new one. This can be a real problem, but if you are seeking to sell—whether to upgrade or find a new neighborhood—there are a few ways to combat the low inventory.

Look to buy first In most markets it is a real mistake to put your home up for sale before you start looking for your new property. Identify the geographic area where you are interested in buying. Even if you don’t see anything on Zillow, it doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t find the right home.

Think outside the box Be proactive! Keep in mind that there are probably many people like you who want to make a move but are afraid as well. Have your real estate agent send a letter to the neighborhoods in the geographic areas where you want to live. The letter should be heartfelt and personal while announcing that you are ready to buy a home in that neighborhood. You could find a home to buy that may not even be currently listed or for sale.

Protect yourself legally Each state varies in how the purchase process is conducted. Talk to your real estate professional about adding a clause in the purchase contract for the home you are selling that will enable you to not sell the home if you cannot find a suitable home to buy.


Have questions? Send a message or feel free to comment.

Refinancing: The Right Move?

yay or nay to refi

The federal reserve recently raised interest rates, and if you have an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM), it may be a good time to consider refinancing your home. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to whether your should refinance, so here are a few of the main considerations.

How long does your introductory rate last?
Most ARMs have a fixed rate for the beginning of the mortgage. This is an introductory period (usually 3-10 years) when your rate will remain constant before it can be adjusted. If you have several years left in your introductory period, you can monitor interest rates for a while before making a decision. But if the intro rate is ending soon, it’s a great time to explore refinancing at a fixed rate.

How long are you staying?
If you plan to sell your home soon—especially if you’re still on a fixed introductory rate—there’s not much motivation to refinance. But if you’ll be at your home indefinitely, you should consider your refinancing options. You could eliminate the stress of not knowing what your future mortgage rate and payments will be.

What’s your loan balance?
The change in your mortgage payment will of course be determined in part by your remaining balance. If you owe $100,000-$200,000, a new interest rate may not greatly affect your monthly payment. On the other hand, if you owe $500,000, a change in interest rate could lead to a much higher payment.

Other factors
The previous items are just a few of the factors that should go into a decision about refinancing. Changes in income and your current credit score should also be considered, so be sure to weigh your options and make an educated decision.

Have questions? Send a message or feel free to comment.

Val-A-Homes

Val J Aranda, REALTOR® & Certified Home Marketing Specialist

“Coaching first-time Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”

Metro Realty Logo

4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #477
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Call/Text Val: 210-378-5987
*I’m ALWAYS on-call*

Five apps for easy home decorating

The holidays are coming to an end. The fireworks will bring in the new year soon. Once the confetti settles, it’s time to get our homes back in order.

If you’re thinking about a new and snazzy look for your home’s decor in 2016, you may enjoy the smartphone/mobile device apps listed below!

apps for home decor

Five apps for easy home decorating

Technology has made it easier than ever to bring your home decor ideas to reality. There are countless smartphone apps that help you plan a space or do some valuable comparative shopping. Here are five apps to use on your next decorating project. Most are available on both iOS and Android devices.

1. Color Capture: Ever see a color that would make for a perfect paint scheme? Benjamin Moore’s Color Capture app allows you to take a photo of anything and instantly get a matching paint color.

2. iHandyLevel: Hanging photos and artwork? Rather than searching through your toolbox for a level, you can use something that’s already in your pocket: Your phone. The iHandyLevel app functions just as well as a dedicated level, turning your phone into the ultimate picture-hanging companion.

3. LikeThatDecor: Let’s say you see the perfect Chesterfield sofa in a coffee shop, and you want to see where you could get one of your own. Use the LikeThatDecor app to take a photo of furniture and instantly see similar items from dozens of retailers.

 4. IKEA Catalog: Forget about the nightmare of navigating the parking garage, showroom, and warehouse at your nearest IKEA. The IKEA Catalog app allows you to virtually place furniture in a room. If only there was an app for easy IKEA assembly!

 5. DesignSponge: DesignSponge is one of the best DIY and home decor websites out there. Now there’s an app that makes it easy to access all of their awesome content on your smartphone.

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Whether or not you’ve bought a home using my services, I’m always available to answer your house-to-home questions!  ~Agent Val

Val-A-HomesMETRO REALTY | Val J Aranda, REALTOR®

4007 McCullough Ave, Suite #477
San Antonio, TX 78212 | Direct to Val: 210-378-5987

HVAC – DIY Preventive Maintenance

I’ve toured and sold miles, and miles, and miles of homes. Most contracts start with a home inspection, and on almost every home inspection, the HVAC System needs to be serviced.  And if you don’t know by now, the HVAC system (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning), is one of the MOST EXPENSIVE items to replace in a home.

So… before the A/C or heating system freezes up and/or gives up – change your air filters every 30-days! It’s one of the most important (and least expensive) preventive maintenance tips you can follow. When you change your air filter, go ahead and pour about a cup of vinegar into the drain line of your interior A/C system. It’ll help clear up some of the goo and gunk that builds up in your drain line. Vinegar is said to be better than bleach since it’ll end up in your yard. Vinegar is less harmful to the kids and pets playing around in your yard.

DO-IT-YOURSELF HVAC PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE:
(as recommended by many HVAC Service Technicians)

STEP 1: Find your A/C drain line. Remove the plastic cap with a simple twist and pull.

STEP 1: Find your A/C drain line. Remove the plastic cap with a simple twist and pull.

STEP 2: Use about 1-cup of vinegar to pour into the drain line. (I use an empty water bottle).

STEP 2: Use about 1-cup of vinegar to pour into the drain line. (I use an empty water bottle).

STEP 3: Slowly pour the vinegar down the drain line. (I use a funnel for less mess).

STEP 3: Slowly pour the vinegar down the drain line. (I use a funnel for less mess).

STEP 4:  Check the drain line outside. Chances are it sticking out of your foundation. Make sure the vinegar is flowing out.

STEP 4: Check the drain line outside. Chances are it’s sticking out of your foundation. Make sure the vinegar is flowing out.

If the vinegar does not come out or if it’s a very slow drip, you may need servicing.

If you have a Home Protection Plan, but NEVER try these preventive maintenance tips, it’s very likely that your plan will not cover repairs and/or maintenance if your system breaks down. IT’S BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY.  There’s nothing worse than 105 degree TEXAS weather without an A/C!

If you need a local HVAC Technician who’s licensed, bonded and affordable, I recommend Frank Garcia, owner/operator of “Air Strike: Air Conditioning and Heating.”  He’s quick to respond and services the Greater San Antonio area.

Air Strike AC & Heating

Frank Garcia

Phone: (210) 639-9054

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http://val-a-homes.com - by Agent Val

http://val-a-homes.com – by Agent Val

Brought to you by- Val J Aranda, metro realty – “Coaching Texas Home Buyers and Sellers”

San Antonio, TX

IT’S A BIDDING WAR IN SAN ANTONIO!

I hadn’t even THOUGHT about selling my house, but after the month I’ve had, I’m thinking about it!  ~Agent Val

biddingWAR

It’s a bidding war!

The market started brewing at the beginning of the year, and it’s only getting HOTTER!

Listings are flying off the shelves!  If you happen to have a house for sale and you’re not getting any bites, you’re probably just priced too high.  If you’re still on the fence and waiting for the “right time to sell,” maybe these stories will push you off!

MY RECENT EXPERIENCES

REAL SCENARIO #1:
My San Antonio first-time home buyer was recently engaged to get married; we’ll call him Mr. Green (for the sake of privacy).  Mr. Green is ready to buy a home for himself and his bride-to-be.  One afternoon, I had arranged two showings for that same evening.  By 8:00 pm, we were touring house #2.

The house was in impeccable condition, priced within their budget and in an area they wanted.  In my book, that’s a grand slam!  I saw the stars twinkling in their eyes and knew I had to give them their fair warning,

“I know it seems quick guys, but if you want this home, we need to make an offer tonight!”

I saw their hesitation, so I shared the one common mistake many first-time home buyers make:

First-time home buyers are often surprised to find “the one” so quickly that they choose to “look at a few more, just to make sure.”  More often than not, that extra time results in a missed opportunity.  It’s during that “loss” when a buyer realizes just how much they wanted that home.  The side-effects of this mistake result in deep regret along with the buyer comparing every home thereafter to, “the one that got away.”  (It’s painful to watch.)

I gave them a brief moment to soak in the information and then I asked the million dollar question:

If I call you tomorrow to tell you this home is already sold, how would that make you feel?

I explained that I’d be in their corner regardless of their decision.  They glanced at each other, gave each other an accepting nod and gave me the green light.  “Let’s do it!”

I rushed to my home office to start the paperwork; it was almost 9:30 pm.  I pulled up the listing in MLS to gather information and guess what?  The new listing status read, “ACTIVE OPTION.”  It was under contract.  It was gone.  TRUE STORY.  I called the buyers to let them know right away.  Of course they were disappointed, but I hope there was a sense of peace knowing they acted quickly.  If they had waited, they would have regretted it.

DAYS ON THE MARKET:  1

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REAL SCENARIO #2 – SAME BUYERS, DIFFERENT LISTING:
I showed them two more homes.  Mr. Green loved one and she loved the other.  Even after experiencing their first home “loss,” they still decided to wait and take the night to think things over.  I was behind their decision 100%.  I believe they should both fall in love with the same thing (or at least feel they can compromise).  Mr. Green called me the next morning to say he was ready to make an offer.  By the time our offer got into the hands of the listing agent, two other offers were already there.

I advised Mr. Green to make his best offer upfront.  At this point, trying to “wheel and deal” would not get the house.  Sellers are not required to counter all of the offers.  They usually pick the best one and decline the others.

“If you really want this house, show them you’re serious.  Make an offer so strong that if you still lose this house, you know you gave it your best shot.”

We lost.  The offer that gave the seller the highest net profit won.

DAYS ON THE MARKET:  2

REAL SCENARIO #3 – We’ll call this buyer, “Mr. Red”:
Mr. Red is a little more experienced and has watched listings quickly disappear online.  We saw a listing in his area and in his price range.  There was a particular feature he wasn’t crazy about, so we kept house-hunting.  The “feature” was probably one reason the house had been on the market a little while.  After seeing what else was out there (for about 2 weeks), we noticed that the “feature” house had a price reduction.  Mr. Red decided to make an offer.  We offered full price (at the new price).

Lo and behold, by the time our offer got into the hands of the listing agent, THREE other offers had been submitted.  This situation created quite a stir and a “bidding war.”  I alerted Mr. Red immediately and asked if he wanted to make any adjustments to his offer, to place him in a better position.  He decided to offer the original list price (before the price reduction).  We STILL lost.

TOTAL DAYS ON THE MARKET:  89

DAYS ON THE MARKET WITH THE REDUCED PRICE:  8

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How can someone improve their chances during a bidding war?

Don’t ask for too much – limit contingencies.  If you’re making an offer below list price, asking the seller to pay some of your closing costs, and needing two months to close (for example), you’re weakening your leverage.  If you give full asking price and ask for little to no closing cost assistance, your offer will show you’re serious.  If you REALLY want that house, offer a little more than what the seller is asking for and eliminate contingencies.  You’ll definitely grab some attention!

Are you a home owner who just got the itch to sell?  Are you ready to see a bidding war on your house?

Contact your local REALTOR® today!  Why wait?  The market hasn’t been this HOT in almost 10 years!  Don’t have a REALTOR®?  Contact me using the form below.  I’d love to help you.  If I’m not in your area, I’ll find someone who is!

~Agent Val

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METRO REALTY | Val J Aranda, REALTOR®
A Certified Home Marketing Specialist
coaching first-time Texas Home Buyers and Sellers.

4007 McCullough Ave.  #477
San Antonio, TX 78212
*At your service*

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