| Randy Elgin
10999 W IH10 Ste 175
Are You a First-Time Buyer? Get My Free Guide
Buying your first home is a big step and one that is likely to impact your financial future for years to come.
Make it easier by requesting my free guide “How First-Timers Can Make a Wise Buy.”
Just reply to this email and I’ll send it right out to you.
Each month I’ll give you a new question.
Just reply to this email for the answer.
Kale chips can be a nutritious substitute for what snack?
Recipe: Spring Shaved Asparagus Salad
To make this a light main dish, add shredded chicken, sliced steak, or marinated tofu.
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 small shallot, finely minced
- 1 pound asparagus, woody ends snapped off
- 3 medium radishes
- 1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Whisk together the honey, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, water, and shallots in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Once asparagus is trimmed and cleaned, use a vegetable peeler to shave off slices of the asparagus, working from the tip to the end of the stalk. Place in a serving bowl. Cut radishes in half then slice into half-moons and add to the bowl with asparagus. Toss with dressing and pecans and top with the cheese to serve.
Ask the Agent: This Month’s Question
How do I decide on a selling price?
Finding that sweet spot between undervaluing and overvaluing your home can be difficult. As a homeowner, your personal attachment to your home, and the money you’ve put into it, can color your judgment. You need to price your home correctly by considering a variety of factors: the current local market prices of similar homes that have sold recently in your neighborhood; any upgrades; landscaping or condition issues; and proximity to schools, shopping, transit, and recreation.
It may be tempting to use online home evaluators for a quick quote. But in most cases, their data may not capture the full picture – such as whether the house needs extensive cosmetic upgrades – and error margins can often vary widely from city to city. So take their results with a grain of salt.
Real estate agents have years of experience, and great tools to help you set your price so that it accurately reflects all factors. Best of all, your agent will be more objective than you can be.
|| Online Estimates: Informative or Misleading?
Online real estate information sites are routinely used by homeowners, home buyers, real estate agents, and developers as gauges of a home’s market value.
Some of these sites use automated valuation models (AVMs) to provide information on estimated market value, usually for homes currently on the market. The information is available on many home search websites across North America.
AVMs are often proprietary, but generally these use algorithmic calculations that take into account characteristics such as square footage of both home and property, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, footprint of the structure, and property tax information and prior sales prices for nearby homes. The factors are weighted differently according to the specific geographical location.
Consumers often rely heavily on AVMs – sometimes too heavily. According to industry executives, some have median error rates of 8 percent. Of course, the accuracy of the information varies according to the individual website.
In fact, AVM error rates vary widely, and in some places they far exceed the national median. In large urban areas, as well as in desirable suburban and waterfront locales, AVM estimates may be off by tens of thousands of dollars in either direction. Sometimes online valuations are higher than actual on-the-ground selling prices, and sometimes they are significantly lower.
There are several reasons why AVMs can be off. For one thing, an algorithm can’t determine the actual physical condition of a residence. Sometimes homes have specific characteristics that add to or detract from value, such as a poorly located bathroom, a tiny bedroom, an unusual layout, or an obstructed view. Moreover, AVMs don’t take into account title issues, such as concern over surveys or boundaries.
Many agree that AVMs can be a good place to start when you’re in the research stage of house hunting. However, once you’re in search mode, forewarned is forearmed: ask your real estate agent for more detailed comparatives.
Kitchen Talk: A Fun, Easy Way to Connect with Your Kids
For many parents, it can be difficult finding time to spend with their children.
But there is one easy and inexpensive way for parents to connect with their kids in a meaningful way: in the kitchen.
When parents and children cook together, the shared experience can be special. Older children feel valued when asked for their input around the stove, and, for the very young, an invitation to help out in the kitchen will make them feel like a “big kid.”
You can even use baking as an opportunity for kids to learn, in a very real way, about fractions and measuring.
Building memories is as important as learning how to peel vegetables or dress a salad. While it can be especially difficult for parents to connect with their teenage children, dinner prep can help them develop skills that will stand them in good stead when they move out.
As one now-grown tween said: “I knew that someday I’d need these skills. And I still remember cooking with my mom.”
Following are some suggestions for kids’ tasks, ranked from beginner to expert: washing produce and mixing for the beginner; chopping, boiling, and following a recipe for children with some experience in the kitchen; and for your chef-to-be, well, take a chance on letting him or her experiment with tweaking recipes.
Working together in the kitchen is fun; so is eating the results together. Sure, they’ll make mistakes, but aside from overcooked vegetables, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. And so do they.
Forget Cleaning Marathons: Divvy Up Your Tasks
A home that is always squeaky clean and organized is everyone’s dream. But sadly, when you do find the time to tidy and scrub, the mess seems to come back within 24 hours. Experts say the trick is not to do a big cleaning every few months, but to divide and conquer. Do some tasks daily, some weekly, and some monthly.
Here’s how, courtesy of RISmedia.com and TidyMom.net:
Once a day
Make the beds in the morning. Sweep the kitchen after dinner. Wipe down kitchen and bathroom counters. Before bed, the whole family should do a quick survey of their bedrooms and the living areas, and put their own items back.
Once a week
Once a week, give your house a wipe-down: dust surfaces, clean mirrors, and wipe cabinets and the fronts and handles of appliances. Scrub the toilet bowl and clean the shower walls with a squeegee. Vacuum and mop all floors.
Once a month
Once a month, set aside time for a thorough cleaning. Wipe the tops of shelves, baseboards, etc. Clean out the fridge and freezer; check expiration dates on items and throw away anything moldy. Vacuum upholstered items and turn mattresses over.
Once a year
TidyMom.net suggests you assign yearly chores to certain months. For example, this month (April) wash windows both inside and out. In January, clean out medicine cabinets and check medicines’ expiration dates. Clean hard-to-reach spots (like behind heavy sofas and appliances) in February. In August, sort through drawers and closets. Wash your walls in September. And before each new year, go through all your personal files, sorting and organizing receipts and tax forms.
While this may sound just a bit too organized, consider the alternative. With this checklist, you’ll have a more pleasant and healthier environment for you and your family. And there’s a bonus: getting the kids involved teaches them some good life lessons for the future.
Wondering How Much Your Home is Worth?
How has the price of your home changed in today’s market? How much are other homes in your neighborhood selling for?
If you’re wondering what’s happening to prices in your area, or you’re thinking about selling your house, I’ll be able to help.
Click the market report below or select
San Antonio Real Estate Market and complete the requested information about your home!
Even the Tiniest Condo Can Feel Big: Read on…
As urban dwellers scramble for affordable living space, apartment sizes are generally shrinking. The prices, however, are not. In Manhattan, for example, 800 sq. ft. (74 sq.m) can easily eat up a million dollars.
Driven by this reality, residents of urban centers across North America are trying to squeeze into the smallest spaces they can to keep their downtown addresses. And they need to use their space creatively.
Designers are answering the call with mind-boggling space solutions. Here are a few that could make your 632 sq. ft. (56 sq. m) condo feel almost spacious:
- Movable walls – Sitting less than an inch off the ground, these are attached to runners on stationary walls. They can be moved around like furniture to create rooms at will. IKEA is currently testing them on Swedish families
- Sliding pantry – This extremely narrow rack is on wheels or sliding tracks and fits into otherwise unused space, like the gap between your cabinets and refrigerator. Slide it out, grab a can, and push it back.
- Drawer stairs – Why waste all that space under the stairs? Efficient designers have converted each step into a drawer.
- Picture frame table – Your large wall hanging is no longer just art. It’s also the dining room table. A hinge on the bottom allows you to pull the top away from the wall, making it parallel to the floor. Legs snap into place along the frame’s sides and fold out to reach the floor. Voila…dinnertime!