Saturday, December 28, 2013

Celebrating New Years Eve in Downtown San Antonio this Year?

Where will you be when the ball drops on New Years Eve this year? If you're in San Antonio and want to take part in South Texas' BIGGEST New Years bash, head down to Celebrate San Antonio. 

This year the party will run from 6:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. and features activities for every member of the family from kiddos to coeds to mom, dad, and grandma, too. 

For all the details, check out the official site of Celebrate San Antonio HERE. However you decide to spend your New Year, though, make sure you celebrate responsibly!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Want to Take Advantage of Your Full Homestead Tax Exemption? Buy Before January 1!

Living where there's no state income tax is a wonderful thing, but tax revenue has to come from somewhere. And in Texas, property tax makes up a big chunk of the state's income. As property owners, we all know our tax bills will come. To make them look a little better, Texas allows for property tax exemptions.

An exemption removes part of the value of your property from taxation and lowers your taxes. For example, if your home is valued at $150,000 and you qualify for a $15,000 exemption, you pay taxes on your home as if it was worth only $135,000. Other than exemptions for disabled veterans or survivors, these exemptions apply only for your homestead. They do not apply to other property you own.

If you want to take full advantage of your homestead exemption, you have to live in (read: own and use as your primary residence) your property by January 1, and that means closing by 11:59 p.m. on December 30. Time to buy in 2013 is getting very short, but a quick closing is still possible if you act now. What kind of savings are we talking about here? Here's a rundown:

School taxes for all homeowners
You will qualify for a $15,000 homestead exemption on your home's value for school taxes.
County taxes for all homeowners
If your county collects a special tax for farm-to-market roads or flood control, you will receive a $3,000 exemption for this tax. If you qualify for local-option exemptions for age 65 or older homeowners, or disabled homeowners (next section), you will receive only the local-option exemptions.
Optional exemptions for all homeowners
Any taxing unit, including a school district, city, county, or special district, may offer an exemption for up to 20 percent of your home's value. The amount of an optional exemption can't be less than $5,000, no matter what the percentage is. For example, if your home is valued at $20,000 and your city offers a 20-percent exemption, your exemption is $5,000, even though 20 percent of $20,000 is just $4,000.
Each taxing unit decides whether it will offer the exemption and at what percentage. This percentage exemption is added to any other home exemption for which you qualify. The taxing unit must decide before May 1 of the tax year to offer this exemption.
Age 65 or older homeowners
If you are age 65 or older, your residence homestead will qualify for more exemptions.
You will qualify for a $10,000 homestead exemption for the school taxes on your home's value, in addition to the $15,000 exemption for all homeowners.
If you qualify for both the $10,000 exemption for over-65 homeowners and the $10,000 exemption for disabled homeowners (see the following section), you must choose one or the other for school taxes. You cannot receive both.
In addition to the $10,000 exemption for school taxes, any taxing unit (including a school district) can offer an additional exemption of at least $3,000 for taxpayers age 65 or older.
Once you receive an over-65 homestead exemption, you get a tax ceiling for that home on your total school taxes. The school taxes on your home cannot increase as long as you own and live in that home. The tax ceiling is the amount you pay in the year that you qualify for the over-65 homeowner exemption. The school taxes on your home may go below the ceiling, but the school taxes will not be more than the amount of your ceiling.
Confused Yet?
Don't be. The Claus Team's expert agents can help you with the ins and outs of filing for your exemptions. And if you want to buy by the end of the year, we're ready to make it happen! We have a line on quick close listings in the area and can get you from contract to close in time to save!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Texas Homestead Property Tax Exemption: How Much Do You Know?

When December rolls around, property owners' thoughts often turn to their tax bills. Texas' property tax rules and Homestead exemption guidelines can be confusing.

 Check out this quick quiz from the Texas A&M Real Estate Center. If you score less than 100 percent, call the Claus Team! Our expert agents can talk to you about property tax issues like filing for your exemptions and disputing your property value. 

RECenter Logo

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Schertz named safest city in San Antonio real estate market

According to research done by Safewise, a home security company, the city of Schertz is the safest place to live in the greater San Antonio area. 
Safewise ranked Schertz at 28th on a list of the 50 safest cities in Texas. The rankings were based on FBI crime statistics and community overviews. The company paired data from the most recent FBI “Crime in the U.S.” report with its own research to create a comprehensive list of the top 50 safest cities in Texas with 20,000 or more residents as of 2011. Schertz' FBI Crime Report shows authorities reported 70 burglaries in 2011, with no murders or arsons recorded.
“Foresight, innovation and its location within the desirable San Antonio metropolitan area make Schertz a popular place to move to,” Safewise officials said in a press release. “The community is also decidedly family-oriented and safe.”
Kerrville, ranked at No. 42, was the only other San Antonio-area city on the list.
It's never a surprise to the Claus Team when positive information about the City of Schertz appears. We're long time Schertz residents ourselves and understand exactly what makes the community so special. 
"If I were choosing a place to bring my family in the San Antonio area, it would without a doubt be Schertz. From the excellent schools to the community programs, Schertz is the kind of community you want to be a part of," said Brad Claus, Claus Team operations manager and buyers' specialist. "When rankings like these are released, that just reinforces what we already know--that Schertz is something special in the greater San Antonio real estate market." 
If you'd like to talk to a member of the Claus Team about buying or selling in the City of Schertz, give us a call at 210.566.6474.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Appreciating our Clients at an AWESOME Event!

The Claus Team had a great time at our first client appreciation pumpkin patch! Our clients and their friends and family enjoyed free barbecue, free pumpkins, and kids games and activities. Here is the entire Claus Team at our Fall-theme photo set.

Want to come next year? Give us a call at 210.566.6355, and we'll put you on the guest list!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How did the Government Shutdown Affect Mortgage Rates?

Over the last few weeks we've gotten a lot of questions about the impact of the government shutdown on mortgage rates. One of our favorite resources for mortgage industry news, Mortgage News Daily, has been tracking the effect of the shutdown from start to finish in its Mortgage Rate Watch blog.

An excellent informational resource, we wanted to share the link with you and encourage you to go on and take a look! Once you do, if you'd like to talk about the mortgage market, give us a call. The Claus Team can answer basic questions, and we'd love to connect you with one of our preferred lenders to get more in depth info!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This Real Estate Review Made Our Day!

Thanks so much to one of our valued buyer clients who just left a fantastic review for the Claus Team on our page at Zillow!

If you've gotten great service from any member of the Claus Team, please take a second and leave us a review on the site of your choice!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Will you review?

Customers today rely heavily on their peers past experience in making purchasing decisions, and selecting a real estate service provider is no exception to that rule. If you've worked with the Claus Team as either a buyer or seller, we'd like to ask that you take a moment to share your positive experience with the world.

While there are many review outlets available, right now the Claus Team is focusing on our web presence and would love it if you'd leave us a review or a rating for our service to you. To rate the Claus Team on Zillow, CLICK HERE.

And if there's anything we need to adjust to make your experience with us five-star worthy, then please call our office at 210.566.6355 and discuss it with us, and thank you!

The Claus Team

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Top Ten Tips to Finding the Perfect Home this Summer Season

At the height of the summer home buying season, the Claus Team is ON FIRE! As we work with our buyers and sellers moving properties, we thought we'd take a minute and share with you our Top 10 Tips to Finding the Perfect Home...

1. Figure out what your 'perfect home' looks like. Write down on a piece of paper all of the things you must have in your new home, things that would be nice to have and things that don't really matter. Here's an example one of our buyers used...

Really Want
Could Work
Absolutely Not
Three Bedroom+
Two Bedroom + Study/Den
Two Bedroom w/o Flex Space
At Least 1500 sq. ft.
1200-1500 sq. ft.
Under 1200 sq. ft.
Covered Parking

2 Baths
1.5 Baths
Only 1 Toilet
Payment Under $1400/month
Payment Over $1600
Townhouse or Condo
Easy Drive to Work – Schertz
Cibolo, Selma
South of 1604
1 Story
Secondary Bedrooms Up
All Bedrooms Up
All appliances included
No fridge or washer/dryer included
No dishwasher
Comal ISD

2. Purchase a home that stays in budget. Make sure to get pre-approved for a loan before going out to look at houses. It will make the buying process much easier and you will know which houses to look at.

3. Bigger isn't always better. While we all dream of having a huge mansion, it's good to think about what will be best for your family. Figure out how many rooms you need to fit your family comfortably and look in that range.

4. Think about remodeling. Many homes you will look at may not be in the best condition, but think about the potential of the house. Would painting and new wood floors turn it into your dream house? How about a kitchen or bathroom remodel? There are many easy fix-ups such as adding new light fixtures and painting that can turn your house into the perfect home.

5. Location is important. Check the surrounding area of the home. Drive around the 2 mile radius to see what is around your home. Make sure it is in an area you feel comfortable with. Find out what school district you'll be in. Even if you don't have kids, you may want to think about the school district you live in for resale. You may also want to take the commute to your work and see how long it will take you.

6. Do your research. Research property values in the area. Stalk your neighborhood and find out what it's like at all times of the day. Is it a family friendly neighborhood? You could even knock on the neighbors' doors before buying.

7. Do a home inspection. The home inspector will look at everything in a home and give you a non-biased opinion. They will also tell you the true value of the home you are looking at. It's better to spend a couple hundred dollars doing a home inspection than finding out the house had several problems.

8. Picture your family living in the house. When you walk into the home, can you picture your family living there? Does it have a good feeling? Picture your family living in each room and see you how feel.

9. Leave room to grow. Make sure your 'perfect home' has extra storage and gives you room to grow.

10. Don't put your expectations to high. Realize that most houses aren't perfect to begin with. Even if you are building your dream home, there are always things that could have been different. Be flexible. Once you move in and add your own style it will soon become your dream home.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Give the Claus Team a Wave at Schertz 2013 Fourth of July Jubilee Parade!

Schertz is gearing up for its annual Fourth of July Jubilee Celebration and Parade, and the Claus Team will once again be marching as part of the parade! 

This year's parade theme is "Honoring our First Responders." Look for the Claus Team's "Real Estate Emergency? Call the Claus Team!" t-shirts on the day of the parade. We'll be passing out Dum-Dums to remind everyone that, "Smart Buyers and Sellers Choose the Claus Team!" 

The parade kicks off at Clemens High School at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 4, but we'd like to invite you to stop by our office at 2901 Ashley Oak Drive, Suite 200 in Schertz between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesday or Wednesday, July 2-3 to pick up either a koozy or one of our fantastic red Claus Team Tervis cups. 

If we see you with our gear at the Jubilee, we'll register you to win a $50 gift card!

Questions? Call us at 210.566.6355! Want to know more about the parade, visit the City of Schertz Jubilee webpage. See you at the festival!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

SABOR Releases April 2013 San Antonio Real Estate Market Statistics

According to the San Antonio Board of Realy's (SABOR) April 2013 Market Statistics report, average and median home prices continue to rise in April.

The median home price in San Antonio rose six percent, and the average price had a five percent gain.

The report also shows that sales for the month were up 21 percent from last year with 1,998 home sold and a reported 2,149 sales still pending. This is excellent news for San Antonio sellers, who will also be heartened to hear that 96.8 percent of homes being sold for list price.

For complete details of the April 2013 Market Statistics Report, check out SABOR's full press release online.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lukemia Lymphoma Society 2013 Man of the Year Campaign Coming to a Close

Every spring the the San Antonio chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society participates in a ten-week national campaign to raise funds to help find cures for blood cancers. 

In San Antonio, the Man & Woman of the Year campaign includes individuals in the community who agree to utilize their leadership abilities and resources to conduct their own fundraising campaigns to help LLS fund blood cancer research and provide education and support services for patients and their families. The male and female candidates who raise the most funds during the campaign will be awarded the title of the chapter's Man & Woman of the Year. 

Candidates are judged solely on their success in raising money, each dollar counting as one vote. Their totals are then considered for the national title. Candidates run in honor of the Boy & Girl of the Year, who are local blood cancer patient survivors and sources of inspiration to others.

This year, the Claus Team has worked in partnership with Josh Sigman of Legacy Mutual Mortgage in his fundraising efforts, and today those weeks of work will come to an end. The LLS Man of the Year campaign ends at 11:59 p.m. on May 16, 2013. The final numbers will be announced in the coming weeks, but between now and then take a moment to watch THIS VIDEO about Josh's campaign, and keep in mind that donations are being taken until midnight. 

For more information about the San Antonio chapter of LLS or to donate, visit

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Keller Williams Red Day Coming Up!

Once a year, Keller Williams Realtors around the country come together to give back to their communities for RED Day. Renew, Energize, and Donate (RED) Day is an initiative dedicated to celebrating Keller Williams Realty’s year-round commitment to improving our local communities.  RED Day is always the second Thursday in May, and project initiatives run the gamut from rebuilding homes, refurbishing local parks, giving to local food shelters, hosting blood drives, beautifying beaches and so much more. Projects are chosen by each individual market center based on a need they see within its community.
This year, the Claus Team will be working at Morgan's Wonderland, a park created with special needs kids in mind, with a team of volunteers from our home office, Keller Williams Heritage. We'll be cleaning up, sprucing up, and generally making the the best it can be for the kids and parents who play there. 

If you'd like to read more about RED Day and how you can help with our charity initiative, visit to read more about the program!

Claus Team Members at past RED Day Project

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How Many Bedrooms Do You Need?

Right now in the Schertz-Cibolo real estate market, there are around 400 homes on the market. When you break down the number of bedrooms, it looks something like this:

With the majority of homes on the market falling into the four-bedroom slice of the pie, buyers looking strictly for three- or five- bedroom homes might discover that their search is a bit more competitive. T

When it comes to purchasing a new home, there are lots of things to take into consideration. Price and location might be the two biggest factors, but one of the things almost every buyer thinks about is how many bedrooms he or she needs. his Spring, we've spent a lot of time helping our buyers determine what the TRUE "right" number of bedrooms is for their family. Here are some of the things we've suggested our clients take into consideration when determining their search criteria:

No. 1 - Family Size. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Not entirely. For a family with two kids, a three-bedroom home might sound perfect. But maybe not. Would the flexibility of a fourth bedroom (office, guest room, playroom, space for a "surprise" baby) be something that would make your new home work longer for your family? Or are your children getting ready to leave the nest and allow a two-bedroom, two-living area home to work for you? When deciding number of bedrooms, planning for the future is almost as important as taking your present circumstances.

No. 2 - Size of the Rooms. An 1,800 sq. ft. home with three bedrooms will have an average bedroom size of about 125 sq. ft., while a 2,100 sq. ft. home with three bedrooms will have an average bedroom size closer to 150 sq. ft. If you're deciding whether or not to put two children in a room, this is an important factor to take into consideration. Rather than asking how many rooms you need, consider thinking about how much actual space you need.

No. 3 - Selling the Home in the Future. Because number of bedrooms is such a large factor in YOUR home selection, it makes sense that it's a statics that would matter to whoever eventually buys the home when you're ready to move on from it. Does choosing a three- or five-bedroom mean you'll have an edge in a more limited market when you're ready to sell, or does going up or down one room mean that your potential buying audience will be bigger?

How many bedrooms do you currently have? If you were buying today, what number of rooms would you include in your search criteria? Let's talk about it in the comments section below!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Four ways you can help West, Texas explosion victims

By now news of the explosion in West, Texas on April 17 has spread across the state and the country. In addition to our thoughts and prayers, the Claus Team wanted to share information on a few ways people outside the West area can help families affected by the tragedy.

1. American Red Cross - Waco Chapter. Coordinating relief efforts for multiple assistance organizations, the Waco Chapter of the American Red Cross is available online at Donations of money, time, or materials can be made directly through the site.

2. Prayers for West Facebook Page and In Memory of West, TX Firefighters Facebook Page- With more than 62,000 "Likes," the Prayers for West Facebook Page is a one stop resource to offer support and find resource needs requests and the In Memory of West, TX Firefighters Facebook Page is an outlet for supporting the families of firefighters killed in the blast.

3. The Salvation Army of Texas - With a huge number of residents displaced, the Salvation Army of Texas will lead efforts to aid in replenishing the loss of physical possessions  To contribute to the Salvation Army of Texas' relief efforts in West, visit them online at

4. Donate Blood - The South Texas Blood Center is currently taking appointments for blood donations for victims of West. If you live in the San Antonio area and would like to donate blood, call 210.731.5590 to schedule an appointment.

If you know of other ways to help, the Claus Team would love to share them with our network. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below or call us at 210.566.6355, and we'll add them to this post.

Our prayers and support are with the people of West today.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

If Selling Isn't Right, Consider Property Management

Right now, the real estate market in San Antonio's Northeast I-35 corridor (Schertz, Cibolo, Garden Ridge, and New Braunfels,) is on a steady climb back to pre-2008 levels. But even with the rapid growth we're experiencing, it might not be time to sell for every homeowner who's ready to make a change.

If it's time to move but not time to sell, consider the Claus Team's property management services. Owning a rental property can be a very rewarding experience if you partner with the right person to help you handle its day-to-day management. From screening and placing qualified tenants to addressing maintenance concerns and collecting rent every month, the Claus Team takes the headache out of being a landlord. Our owners are our top priority, and we pride ourselves in being extraordinary stewards of your property.

We were reading this interesting blog post from a financial planner who found herself trying to decide whether to sell at a lower price than she wanted or rent her home anyone considering rental property ownership as an alternative to sales challenges might find an interesting read.

What are your thoughts on rental property ownership? What can we as a management company do to help you as a property owner make your rental decision?

Comment below, call us at 210.566.6355, or e-mail to talk about your thoughts on property management!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Big News in the Mortgage Industry This Week

Change is happening in the mortgage industry right now. Recently, the FHA released a new Mortgagee letter that, according to our friends the financing experts at Legacy Mutual Mortgage's Sigmund Team, contains a few bullet points worth covering.

For new case numbers after opened after April 1, 2013, it the monthly Mortgage insurance will increase by an additional .1% on maximum financing scenarios. In addition annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) are now required on all 15 year mortgages regardless of loan to value ratio effective June 3, 2013. But perhaps the biggest, most impacting change is that the monthly MIP will likely extend to the LIFE OF THE LOAN in most cases. 

Unless there is another Mortgagee letter change, these new policies will stick. For buyers and sellers, this means the time to act is now if you want to take advantage of current policies before the change takes affect--at this point, waiting could cost tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Anytime large scale changes like these come, there is understandable confusion and trepidation. But there are also opportunities. For sellers, buyer circumstances changing means that motivation to close deals before April 1, 2013 will increase significantly. And for buyers, inventory stands to increase as savvy sellers who've been on the fence may be more motivated to ensure their homes sell before the change. 

It all boils down to this: Spring 2013 is going to be an exciting time in real estate. Now more than ever, it's important to have a partner you can trust as you navigate the market. Whether you're buying or selling, the Claus Team has the knowledge and skill to help you achieve your real estate goals. Call us TODAY at 210.566.6355 or e-mail to schedule a consultation.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Unfamiliar with the ins and outs of real estate financing? Not to worry, when you work with the Claus Team, our trusted lender partners will be with you every step of the way to help get you ready to buy and facilitate the process from beginning to end. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Real Estate Really Is All About Presentation...

When buyers are looking at homes on the market, sellers have only a few paragraphs and 25 photos to tell the entire story of their home. That means that every word and every picture counts. As part of our listing service, the Claus Team not only develops a custom description tailored to highlight the important features in your property, we've invested in high-quality, professional camera equipment that lets our photography really shine.

If you'd like to talk about our strategy for showcasing your unique home, give us a call today at 210.566.6355 or e-mail

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Good news for Real Estate in Fiscal Cliff deal

While the last minute fiscal cliff deal didn't satisfy everyone, the Real Estate sector emerged as a clear winner in several areas. The Senate bill that finally passed in the House (By a 259-167 vote) extended several federal tax code provisions of great importance to buyers, sellers, builders, and real estate professionals in addition to making reduced tax brackets permanent for all but the highest income earners in the country. 

A permanent patch to the alternative minimum tax, which could have left millions of middle class homeowners with higher taxes, was part of the final legislation. Other pieces of the bill that concern the housing agency include:

1. Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief -- this means that short sales will be able to continue without underwater amounts "forgiven" being taxed like traditional income. 

2. Deductible Mortgage Insurance Premiums -- borrowers with an adjusted gross income under $110,000 per year will still be able to write of their PMI payments and guarantee fees along with their mortgage interest on their federal tax returns

3. Tax Credits for Energy-Efficiency Home Improvements and Tax Credits for Energy-Efficient New Houses -- Homeowners who install energy-efficient windows, insulation, and other upgrades designed to cut consumption in 2013 will be eligible for tax credits of $200 to $500. And builders and contractors can claim a $2,000 tax credit on new homes constructed in 2012 and 2013 that meet federal energy conservation standards. 

There are a few negatives for the industry. Homeowners int he highest income brackets ($450,000+ per year, filing jointly) will face a 20 percent tax rate on long-term capital gains like those from investment real estate and home sales that gain beyond the $250,000/$500,000 threshold. 

For more information on the specific affects of the Fiscal Cliff deal on the real estate industry, check out's break down of the bill's components at: Or call the Claus Team directly at 210.566.6355 and let us chat with you about what you can expect from the real estate market in 2013!