Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Texas Antique and Junkers Mecca, Warrenton Texas

Every year for as long as I could remember I've gone to the spring and fall shows in Rountop/Warrenton, TX. It wasn't far from our home of Bryan and for me it was always a ceremonial decorating jumping off point for the spring and fall seasons.
I still have people ask "What is Antique Weekend?" and my best description would be when hundreds of antique peddlers, collectors, artists and junkers come from all over the country to sell their finds and creations. It's miles and miles of salvaged architectural pieces, rugs, recycled and up-cycled pieces, collector pieces, lighting, food...the list really does go on and on. I often say if you can't find it during antique week then it doesn't exist!  Designers from all over the country come to buy for homes and storefronts and bargain for those unique pieces that only Antique Week offers.
Senor Chancho

One vendor that I thought to be exceptionally creative, funky, fun and had the Mexican flare that I'm always attracted to was called Punkies Place located in the heart of Warrenton. Punkies really inspired me as a decorator and I can't wait to reproduce her genius in my own home this Christmas. The picture below was of the stairwell at Punkies. She used a metallic pink garland base then loaded it with paper flowers, glittered birds and pink lights....Fun Fun Fun!!!
My future Mantel

Mexican dresses made into cushions.
Punkies Place
I can't explain the draw in words other than for me it's inspirational. I see how others take something ordinary and create something visually awesome. It also reminds me of the "good ole days" and often transports me back to my childhood days with Shiney Bright ornaments and weathered paint layered furniture. It's my mecca, my favorite destination twice a year and a part of who I am today as a designer. 
See you next year at the spring show!

Mandy Barkley
Marketing Director for River Valley Real Estate
19202 Huebner Rd Suite 100
San Antonio, Tx 78258

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Caring For Your St. Augustine Lawn 

St. Augustine is a shade-tolerant warm season grass that is perhaps not the best suited, but is the most popular turf-grass in San Antonio.  It is recognized by its medium to dark green color and thick, coarse blades.  Here are some helpful tips to keep your St. Augustine yard looking its best during the hot months in San Antonio.

Mowing – St. Augustine prefers to be mowed at a taller height than other grasses.  Resist the urge to drop your mower height; it will not reduce the time between mowing, it will only reduce the quality of your grass.  The ideal mowing height during the summer is 3 to 3.5 inches.  This not only allows deeper root growth, it also gives the soil a little shade and helps it to retain water.  Do not bag grass clippings.  Besides the headache of constantly emptying clippings into trash bags, allowing the clippings to decompose in the yard will return large amounts of nutrients to the soil.

Watering – During the hot months, St. Augustine needs approximately 1.5-2 inches of water per week to thrive.  It is best to water for longer and less frequently than to water for a shorter time period and more frequently.  This lets the water penetrate deeper into the soil for stronger root growth of your grass.  An effective way to determine the amount of water is to place empty open top cans around your yard while watering, allowing you to measure the amount of water caught in each can.

Fertilizing – Fertilizer should be applied every 8 to 10 weeks.  After applying the fertilizer, immediately water it in thoroughly.  For most lawns, a fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium will work fine.  The nutritional analysis should be printed on every bag.

Weed Control – The best way to control weeds is by maintaining a healthy, dense lawn.  This gives the weeds nowhere to establish a foothold.  It is recommended to apply a pre-emergent herbicide during the early spring to prevent germination of any weeds, and again in the fall.  If weeds do appear, I usually pick them by hand while the soil is damp.  If you do apply a weed killer, do not use any products containing 2,4-D, as this ingredient will damage St. Augustine.

If managed properly, St. Augustine can provide a lush, thick yard that thrives in both sun and shade.

Blake Mayerhoff, Agent w/ River Valley Real Estate
19202 Huebner Rd Suite 100
San Antonio, TX 782588

Monday, September 12, 2016

When is the home buying season?
 (a case study of the Stone Oak area)

The title is a loaded question. So, let’s clear things up by stating that I am asking when is the best time of the year to look for and purchase a home within the Stone Oak area. 
To answer this question, I completed a market analysis of the general Stone Oak area inclusive of all single family homes regardless of size or price over the past three years. As a homeowner and Broker, my opinion tends to focus on price and competition more than on the amount of available inventory.  I like to think I made a good purchase price-wise, and I don’t like to be involved in bidding wars on a property with other buyers.  I understand that many of us are not afforded the luxury of purchasing when we want to but rather when we have too due to jobs schools or what have you.
When looking at the closed transactions over the past three years, July consistently has the largest number of closed transactions, and they were twice, if not three times the number as the corresponding January.  June is just slightly behind with August being third for all but one year.  It is important to keep in mind that these statistics are based on the date the home closed and funded.  Therefore, the homes were escrowed under contract between 30 to 60 days prior in most cases.  With that in mind, April, May and June are noted as the hottest selling months within the Stone Oak Area. 
Another interesting factor concerns price per square foot. Of the three months evaluated, February has the lowest price per square foot sale prices two of the three last years.  Remember, that these sales more than likely occurred during December or November.
So, what‘s the take away?  Well, if you are like me and value price and limited competition, the fall is the beginning of the home shopping season with the best deals being made in November and December.  

Last, I would mention that there is just as much valuable information contained within this study for those wanting to sell their home.  When you are considering a Realtor, remember there are some that really study the market tends and offer much more than a sign in the yard and an internet posting.  I invite you to allow us the opportunity to interview for your business.  You will appreciate our professional approach.

Bill Barkley
Owner & Broker of River Valley Real Estate
San Antonio, TX 78258

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

 All That is Gold Does Not Glitter

Touring the Dominion Hills in 78257

While touring the Dominion Hills Condominium Subdivision with a client, we ran across an interesting property that seemed a bit out of place. Typically, you’ll find that homes for sale in the Dominion Hills currently range from $329,000 to $2,099,999 or $158.50 to $362.06 per square foot. They’re condos with a residential home feel; Gated community with the option to join The Dominion Country Club. HOA amenities include landscaping, irrigation, pest control, and domestic water for daily use.

After completing our tour, my client asked me if I knew what the white house that seemed so out place was doing right in the middle of all these nicer homes. I jokingly replied, “I’m not sure, but I would assume the developer will be tearing it down as soon as possible.” Not satisfied with my answer, I stuck around a while after my client left. I walked over to the house and found several men working cautiously inside. I continued to ask, “Sorry to bother; but what is this older home doing here?” They replied that “This place has historical significance and it use to belong to the Lucchese family. As in Lucchese boots.” I never would have guessed. The next few minutes talking to these guys really helped put it into perspective. 

They proceeded to tell me a story they heard from the current owner of the property. Turns out this home was built back in the day in the middle of nowhere. They said it belonged to one of the Lucchese brothers and served as a safe house for the gangster brother. An artist friend by the name of Peter Hurd also took up residence there for a time. While a tenant, he produced several sketches, decorations, and hand painted tiles that are thought to be priceless.  This was the answer to our question of why this otherwise non typical Dominion home was there. I’m not sure what they plan on doing with the home or its treasures but it’s discoveries such as that keep me excited to do my job in real estate.

This proves that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Some things are more valuable than you’ll ever know. The new Dominion Hills homes are fortunate to be surrounding such a unique property. You can find additional information on the Lucchese family history and Peter Hurd online.

Oscar Felan

 Looking for someone who goes the extra mile to find out as much about a neighborhood as they can for their clients? Call me! 
                          Oscar Felan, Realtor / River Valley Real Estate Co.
(210)-793-3493 /

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

UTSA Intern Found His Niche

Real Estate Finance and Development Degree at UTSA: My Thoughts

Tim Ellis
After I graduated from high school, I took a year sabbatical and shadowed professionals in different industries to figure out what I wanted to study in college. During that time, I met with a couple of my parent’s friends who have had decades of experience in the local real estate industry. I was fascinated with what they had to say about their day to days and how they ended up in their field. Shortly thereafter, I knew that I wanted to go into real estate and work in my hometown, San Antonio.

Although there are many reasons why I chose to attend The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), the main factor was that they had a burgeoning Real Estate Finance and Development (REFD) program within the College of Business.

The classes they offered, I feel, have emboldened my desire to become a real estate professional in San Antonio. The introductory class, Principles of Real Estate taught by Professor Thomas Thomson, as well as the class Real Estate Law, taught by Professor Ray Teske, had me hooked. Learning the principles and concepts as well as going over case studies was extremely interesting and gratifying. Both of these professors have been helpful in cultivating a friendly learning environment because they are truly passionate about educating. The REFD program is comprised of highly qualified instructors backed by many notable professionals who help guide and shape the program.

I’m very excited to be graduating in December 2016 with a degree in Real Estate Finance and Development from UTSA. But what I am most looking forward to in December is that I will be finishing my classes to become a licensed sales agent and start off my career with the wonderful team at River Valley Real Estate!

River Valley Real Estate
19202 Huebner Rd. Ste 100
San Antonio, TX 78258

(210) 853-5327

Friday, August 12, 2016

Sellers – Protect your interests and your money!

 I am starting to notice an alarming new trend happening during real estate transactions.  Sales not closing as per the signed and agreed to contractual closing date.  This is a violation of the terms of the sale, and grounds for termination of the contract by the seller. 

 Whether the delay is caused by the buyer, the lender, the association management company, the surveyor or the appraiser, is not the issue.  The issue is that the delay is costing you, the seller, money.  Real estate taxes, homeowner association fees and interest accrue every day the property is in your name, and these unexpected increasing expenses were not incorporated into the agreed upon sales price and contractual terms.

 Do you have recourse? Of course, you can terminate the contract and start over, or you can try to negotiate that the buyer be responsible for the increasing costs when they present you with an Amendment to extend the closing date.  Both options are unfavorable with the second adding risk to the negotiation and finalization of the deal.

 So, what do I suggest?  I’m working with an attorney to provide the appropriate legal verbiage to add to the Special Provisions section of the contract stating from the onset of the contract that the buyer will be responsible for any added expenses to the seller for any and all delays extending the closing beyond the original closing date as specified in the contract not caused by the seller.

 For you potential sellers out there, I just wanted to alert you to a potential issue, and provide you with ideas to advert loss of your hard earned money.

Written by, 
Bill Barkley, Owner & Broker for River Valley Real Estate

River Valley Real Estate
19202 Huebner Rd, Suite 100
San Antonio, TX. 78258

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Big Five

The Big Five

In a very short and simple fashion, I am going to give you my best advice when you are buying a home. Especially if it is your first home.
 Let us assume you have selected the house you want to purchase, and you have negotiated a price satisfactory to both you and the seller.  Next, let us assume that you purchased a Termination Option period for days to complete and review property inspection reports, and you have ordered and received both a General Inspection as well as a wood destroying pest inspection.

So, now you have to evaluate the inspections.  Obviously, if the wood destroying pest inspection indicates an active infestation, you must negotiate a reasonable solution with the seller. So, I’m going to treat this issue separate from the issues within the general inspection.
A general inspection can often times be both daunting as well as discouraging to read.  Inspectors are required to note all deficiencies including items not meeting the most recent building codes.  Their intention is not to make the home appear as if it is falling down although the report may seem otherwise.  As a general rule, I typically read the report, and mark all noted deficiencies with a highlighter.  I also make notes on the side such as “current building code”, “easily fixed” or “Home Depot”.

  That is unless the issue pertains to one of the Big Five.  The Big Five consist of the following: the foundation, the roof, the plumbing system, electrical system and the heating and air conditioning system. All five of these components can require substantial money to remedy or repair, and some such as the foundation can possibly be a lifetime battle.  Most inspectors will recommend getting a qualified inspector, licensed technician or a structural engineer to further inspect the issue.

Heed this recommendation!  It is in your best interest with regard to your finances as well as your personal happiness regarding your new home.

Written By, Bill Barkley, Owner and Broker of River Valley Real Estate

19202 Huebner Road
San Antonio, TX 78258