Monday, November 24, 2014

10 Ways to Get Your Kitchen Thanksgiving-Ready

The Claus Team is getting ready for Thanksgiving, and we've come across a wonderful article to sweeten the process of preparing your home before the big feast! Read on, below guys. :)

Article found on from Zillow contributor Natalie A. Wise, M.A. 12 NOV 2014

Whether it’s your first time hosting or you’re a seasoned pro, planning and cooking a Thanksgiving feast can be stressful. These 10 tips will help keep the day smooth, your sanity intact and your kitchen a little cleaner. Just don’t forget to take the giblet packet out of the turkey!

Clear the counters

This is the best place to start for a clean mind and clean kitchen. Load the dishes in the dishwasher, put away the random candy still lingering from Halloween and file the bills that are cluttering the counters. Now you’ll have a nice fresh space to sit down and write out your menu.

Finalize and post your menu and shopping list

Source: Beth Whitlinger
Source: Beth Whitlinger
Grab your cookbooks and holiday magazines, go through your Pinterest feed and don’t forget Grandma’s heirloom recipes. While you’ve got all of the recipes in front of you, make a list of everything you’ll need and post the menu and list on your fridge for inspiration.

Clean oven/stovetop

Next up, clean the oven and stovetop. For a non-toxic approach, remove all of the racks and any loose grime from the bottom and walls of the oven. Then, make a paste of baking soda and water and spread it on any dirty areas. Let sit for 15 minutes, then scrub with warm water and rinse clean.

Clean out the fridge/freezer

These will soon become packed with ingredients, leftovers and of course, a giant turkey. Cleaning them out now will save aggravation later. While you’re at it, throw a fresh box of baking soda with the lid open in the refrigerator to soak up any lingering odors and keep things fresh.

Declutter drawers and cabinets

Source: Peter Cardamone
Source: Peter Cardamone
Get rid of expired food, stale chips and cereal boxes with only crumbs left. You’ll need the space for ingredients and snacks. De-cluttering drawers is a good idea, too, so you can easily reach or direct guests to butter knives or candles when you need them.

Take inventory of your ingredients

Now that you have a clean slate, you should be able to make sure all of your staples such as flour, salt, pepper, butter and olive oil are full and ready to go for the big day. If you already have five cans of green beans, you likely won’t need to buy more. Cross items off your shopping list, but just be sure not to use them in the meantime.

Stock the pantry

Now it’s time to refill the pantry. Don’t forget quick-grab snacks for guests and plenty of coffee. You might also want to have one or two quick meals on hand for when everyone gets tired of leftovers.

Grab containers for leftovers and food wrapping

When you’re at the store, don’t forget to stock up on disposable plastic containers, baggies and food wraps. These will be indispensable. If your guests aren’t traveling far, they’ll be grateful for a take-home container they don’t need to return.

Prep your serving platters, silver, etc.

Once your menu is planned, you can make sure you have enough serving dishes, platters and utensils for each dish you’re making. Use sticky notes to remind yourself what goes on each platter. This way you won’t forget to serve anything, either.

Plan and gather your table decorations

Last but not least, make the tablescape pretty by collecting your decorations ahead of time and keeping them at the ready. You can even set the table the night before. Place cards, centerpieces, candles, napkin holders and cloth napkins will make the meal memorable but can often get forgotten in the last-minute rush. Not this year!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


The Claus Team came across the article below at\\, My Realty Times,  written by  on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 5:42 am

The biggest difference between living in an apartment building and your own home is definitely the amount of additional work that people living in private houses have to do almost on a daily basis to keep their house and its surroundings spick and span. Apartment tenants do not have such problems, since they are usually only asked to pay their monthly rent (or the loan installment) and their bills. Apart from that, they only have to add some furniture to their apartment.
On the other hand, if they are not owners, they just pay the rent and invest nothing. Living in a house requires a lot of investments and constant care, but the comfort that a house offers is unparalleled by other housing types. Here are some improvement projects that can add more value to your home and give you and your family an even more pleasant living environment.
Regular Gutter Checks
After every rainy or snowy season, you should check and clean the gutter around your house. If the gutter stays clogged and full of debris left from rains and snow melt down after the winter season, spring rains will have no place to flow away. If they fill the horizontal parts of the gutter, there is a high probability that the water is just going to spill all over your walls, ruin the paint and even harm the foundations.
Also, never let rainwater flow directly into the ground at the foot of the house. There always has to be a lead-away tube that will direct rainwater away from the foundations of the house. A regularly checked and cleaned gutter will make the house last longer and you will save some money that would otherwise be spent on strengthening the foundations or adding a new coat of paint to the outer side of the walls.
Plumbing Inspections
The plumbing system of every house has to be maintained in an effective ways if you do not want to experience real flooding catastrophes, which might ruin many parts of your house, as well as your belongings. Whenever you notice that water and other stuff flow away slowly down the kitchen or bathroom sink, you should react at once. First try unblocking the drain pipes with home remedies, which are usually made from vinegar and baking soda.
And in case the clogging has hardened so much that your home-made liquids cannot crack it, you should either borrow a steel wire and try breaking the heap accumulated debris with it or call plumbing professionals and let them do that. It is extremely important that you react at once. Sweeping such a problem under the (bathroom) rug can cause a pipe burst and a lot of damage to your walls, paint on the walls, flooring and many other difficulties.
Security Issues
Thinking too much about bad situations will most probably lead right to those same situations. However, security issues that every house is facing with should not be neglected. These precaution measures should be even stricter if your house is a bit remote from the rest of the village or a suburban area, I learned from the people who work at my local trustworthy locksmithservice. For houses that are isolated, installing an alarm system is one of the most efficient ways of increasing the security level.
Apart from that, owners of such houses should always go for high-tech locks, which will provide the best protection for them and their family members. If you are among those who are considering such security-raising steps, just ensure that the job is done by genuine professionals. You do not want your doors and the whole front of keeping your home and family safe from all the potential intruders be maintained by beginners. While this might sound like a midnight B-production stalking thriller from the 1990s, these things happen and you should always invest a cent more in making your home secure from unwanted visitors.
Every home can be turned into a fairy-tale mansion if its owners are united in that effort. Try suggesting your kids that they join you in your small home-improving enterprises. Do not forget to ask them about their opinion and their ideas. If you accept them as equal partners (given that they are at least 12), they will make the whole process easier for you and they will feel proud because you have shown them how much you respect them. With such a joint effort, your house will be cleaner, safer and highly protected from all sorts of inconveniences.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top 21 Handy Mobile Apps for Homebuyers & Sellers

Hey Guess What, You're invited to Appy Hour! (*cue laughter) Time, now.

Hello, real estate friends! Welcome to Appy Hour. We at the Claus Team know how exhausting the whole real estate process can be for both buyers and sellers. Sometimes it seems so complicated, doesn't it? Thank goodness we live in the Digital Age, where handy iPhone & Android apps make the process so much easier than it was years ago. Here are the top 21 we recommend (yeah, we know, 21 is an odd number, but we get tired of even sometimes, y'know?). Feel free to comment or suggest more! We love to hear from you.

1. & 2.  Zillow or Trulia: We love these apps because you can use them to locate homes for sale in the Neighborhood you happen to be driving through (and maybe fall in love with). :)
3. Open Home Pro: Real estate agents need this one! It’s useful for storing clients’ info, distributing listings, and keeping in touch with your contacts. 
4. Walk Score: For all you out there who love to walk for exercise, this is a good app to see the “walkability” score of a home and the surrounding areas.
5. AroundMe: Use this one to explore the neighborhood, surrounding features and businesses of the home you have in mind.
6. Wikihood: Learn about any neighborhood worldwide! There’s so much information on here such as culture, demographics, and geographical information.
7. My Measures and Dimensions: In the middle of nowhere, but wanna jot some measurements down? This app is cool for drawing and jotting them on-the-go.
Evernote: Speaking of jotting, this app will keep you on top of your schedule! It even auto-syncs with your computer to streamline your calendars.
9. & 10.  Agent Feedback or Market Feedback: Keep your clients updated effortlessly about the real estate buying-or-selling process.
11. Sex Offender Tracker App: You want to make sure you’re going to live in a safe neighborhood for your children. That’s why this app is a must-have for home buyers.
12. CompleteForeclosures: Find great foreclosure deals, with all the details you’re looking for.
13. Home Buying Power: This app helps you figure yours or your clients’ buying power with just a few clicks.
14. Redfin: It’s an app that shows you every home for sale on an MLS map. It’s easy to use, too.
15. Real Estate-Real Easy: This spiffy app lets you create your own branded real estate app.
16. Photo Measures: Save measurements on your phone so you don’t have to do it all over again later. Now that’s convenient!
17. Mortgage Calculator Pro: Figure fixed rate mortgages in a jiffy with this app, which allows you to e-mail the quotes to yourself in a .pdf document. (how convenient!)
18. ColorSmart: Create photos of all the rooms in your home in all the colors you can imagine, with this nifty visualization software (by Behr paint).
19. CrumbTracks: Store all the photos you've taken of homes, and even share them (if you want to).
20. Dictionary of Real Estate Terms: More than 300 terms at your disposal, all of which you can take notes next to and share with others.
21. My Agent: This app’s ideal for agents who want to keep track of their database and veer away from spreadsheets.

We hope you find these apps handy. We definitely have. :) Have a appy buying or selling journey, friends!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

SABOR Releases October 2014 San Antonio Real Estate Market Statistics

According to the San Antonio Board of Realtors, San Antonio housing inventory remains low and average days on the market for listed homes has dropped again this October. The tight housing inventory kept home prices up while days on market fell 11 percent according to the October 2014 Multiple Listing Service report.

The average price of a home sold in October saw a year-over-year increase of three percent to $210,887 while the median price rose four percent to $176,200. The month ended with 2,164 total sales and 1,755 sales still pending. The San Antonio months of inventory are down to just 4.1 and homes in October only spent an average of 62 days on the market.

According to research from the National Association of Realtors, across the country homes that sold for one million dollars or more rose by eight percent th
is year, while homes at every other price point dropped by four percent. Here in San Antonio, 91 homes have sold over one million dollars since January, compared to 83 last year. In fact, the luxury home market has increased in 2014 with homes priced over $500,000 accounting for approximately 4.3 percent of sales this year (compared to 4.0 percent during the same period in 2013).

However, the largest growth has been seen in the homes priced in the mid-range. In October, the largest percentage of sales occurred between $200,000 and $250,000 with those making up 14.5 percent of sales. The second most popular range was homes priced between $300,000 and $400,000 which accounted for 10.4 percent of sales.

“Despite heading into the winter months which traditionally can be a little slower, we continue to see record numbers of sales and prices this season,” said Angela Shields, SABOR’s President and CEO in the organization's monthly market statistics press release. “We never really see San Antonio slow down. With our military families moving in and out of the city year round as well as a steady growth in jobs, there are always houses on the market and buyers eager to find their new home.”

San Antonio Home Sales Recap - October 2014
Total Month Sales: 2,164 (16% increase)
Average Price: $210,887 (3% increase)
Median Price: $176,200 (4% increase)

What does this mean to the average homeowner? Well, if you've been considering a sale but felt like you had to wait until Spring, that might not be true. With inventory at its lowest right now, the time to go on the market for maximum exposure is at hand. And if you're a buyer, right now it's more important than ever to have the help of a buyer's agent as you navigate this competitive market. To talk about current market conditions and what they mean for your unique situation, call the Claus Team at 210.566.6355 TODAY!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Dumpsters Available in Garden Ridge, Texas November 15 and 16, 22 and 23

Just a quick tip for our Garden Ridge, Texas friends and neighbors, dumpsters for brush, metal, wood, and furniture disposal will be provided on Saturday and Sunday, November 15 and 16 and 22 and 23, free of charge to Garden Ridge residents.

The disposal site, located on Municipal Parkway, will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and will be locked all other times. In order to use the site, Garden Ridge residents must show proof of their residency by presenting documentation such as a utility bill which includes the residents' name and Garden Ridge, Texas address or a valid Texas photo identification card with a Garden Ridge, Texas address.

If you have questions about the dumpster availability program, please contact Garden Ridge City Hall by phone at 210.651.6632.

Name for New SCUCISD Elementary School Up for Vote in December

A three-member committee charged with overseeing the naming of the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent school District's $34 million new elementary school, which will open next year and be located at FM1103 and Green Valley Road, has a list of 16 choices to consider. 

Potential namesakes for the school include titling it after former Texas governor Ann Richards; former Schertz mayor Hal Baldwin; former district educators Marion Dolford, Mary Pevoto, Rhea Haxton, Ruth Tienor, and Mike Jinks, former Steele High School football coach.
Another option would be naming the school after its location, which would be in line with a new district policy. Those location-based name choices include Cibolo Valley and Comanche. 
Voting on the name will take place at the December 18, 2014 board meeting. Between now and then, the board invites public comment on the issue at their website, on the meeting agenda sections for the November 20 and December 18 agendas. 
What do you think the new name should be, and do you think the name of a school matters in the long run? We'd love to hear your opinion! 
And if you're interested in searching for a home that will feed to the new elementary school, contact us at 210.566.6474 today and let us start a school-based search for you.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Keller Williams National Real Estate Market Snapshot - November 2014

As members of the Keller Williams family, the Claus Team leverages national resources to bring you exemplary personal, local service. Take a look at Keller Williams' monthly recap of the national real estate market for November 2014

To discuss what these national numbers mean to the San Antonio real estate market, call the Claus Team TODAY at 210.566.6355!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Moving During the School Year in San Antonio

Moving doesn't always happen at the perfect time. Around the holidays, many of our buyers and sellers talk to us about concerns they have with moving their children during the school year. We understand - changing schools because of a move is difficult. But it's even more difficult to make that change partway through a school year. 
But if you're a parent who has to move during the school year, take heart. Children will adjust; it might just take a little more effort on your part to help them through the transition. Here are a few tips we've shared with our buyers and sellers over the years
  • Talk to teachers and school administrators in advance of the move. School administrators will be the first to tell you that it's important for the school to be notified of your child's arrival, any special needs your child may have and if there were any problems at the old school. You may also want to discuss how your child feels about the move, if your child is shy or academic challenges you're concerned about. Remember, teachers and staff are there to help you with the transition. The more you're willing to share, the easier you'll make it for your child to succeed.
    While the list above speaks more to your concerns, it's also equally important to point out your child's strengths, their passions and what they might miss about their old school. For instance, if your child played in the school band, and the new school doesn't have a band program, you may ask the staff what the community offers or if they have other suggestions on how you can keep your child engaged. It's critical that things your child loved to do in the old school be transferred to the new community.
  • Talk to your children. Remember that each child will have their own way of dealing with the change. Some children will be vocal, while others may have a harder time expressing their feelings. Ask them what they need, how you can help and how they're feeling about the change. The sooner you start to talk to them about the move, the sooner they'll start to open up. Remind them that you know the move will be hard on them and that you're there to help. And when a child shares their feelings, make sure you try to understand what they're going through and be sympathetic even though you're going through your own transition and change.
  • Help them get involved. With your child, talk about the activities at the new school that they might be interested in joining. Knowing ahead of time what the school offers is a great way to help your child begin the transition. If possible, get in touch with school coaches, teachers, councilors - whoever can assist in getting your child immersed in their new environment. Find out if the school has a buddy system for new students and ask for the buddy's name in advance.
  • Encourage them to stay in touch, but to also make new friends. A great way to start the transition to the new school is to contact your child's new teacher and ask that soon-to-be classmates offer to be pen pals. Teachers are usually quite open to this idea as it helps bridge the gap and encourages students to become active in another child's experience. While it's a great idea to encourage your child to stay in touch with old friends, it can also make it harder to create new friendships in the new school. Try to balance contact with old friends and contact with new friends. Often you'll find that once your child is in their new school, it'll just take a few weeks before the new friends begin to take center stage.
  • Keep in touch with the new school administrators and teachers. Just because it seems that your child has adapted to their new school, make sure you ask to speak to teachers and administrators who may have a better view of just how well your child has adjusted. They may see signs of trouble before you do; some children hide problems from their parents and want you to think that everything is fine.
If you'd like to talk to one of our Realtors about the logistics of moving during the school year, give us a call at 210.566.6355 or e-mail Experts in the area, we're have lots of information to share about school districts in Bexar, Comal, and Guadalupe Counties.