Living, working, and playing in San Antonio

Archive for December, 2009


Welcome to the most current Housing Trends eNewsletter. This eNewsletter is specially designed for you, with national and local housing information that you may find useful whether you’re in the market for a home, thinking about selling your home, or just interested in homeowner issues in general.

Please click on this link to view the DECEMBER-2009 Newsletter Housing Trends eNewsletter:

The Housing Trends eNewsletter contains the latest information from the National Association of REALTORS®, the U.S. Census Bureau, reports and other sources.

It also includes press releases with charts and videos, key market indicators and real estate sales and price statistics, a video message by a nationally recognized economist, maps, mortgage rates and calculators, consumer articles, plus local neighborhood information and more.

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Not the same old Christmas Music!

Music and Christmas go together but here in San Antonio you’ll find some unexpected presentations of Chrismas music to enjoy. There’ll be tubas on Saturday and saxophones on Sunday as special gifts to all!

At the Arneson River Theater on Saturday at noon you can enjoy musicians playing the tuba, the sousaphone, the euphonium and the baritone horn. It’s the 31st Annual Tubameister Christmas. Last year there were 141 players who participated when musicians from middle school to their 80s joined together.

Registration starts for participants at 9:45 a.m. and rehearsal starts at 10:30 a.m. The band will be conducted by Lee Hipp, principal tuba of the San Antonio Symphony. The concert starts at noon at the Arneson River Theater on the banks of the San Antonio Riverwalk. You’ll enjoy an hour of Christmas standards including “Deck the Halls”, “Jingle Bells”, “Silent Night” and more. Hopefully the weather will be beautiful  for the free outdoor concert.

If saxophones are more to your liking then be sure to catch the 27th Annual Holiday Saxophones at one (or both!) of two concerts on Sunday. There will be an afternoon 2 p.m. concert at The Buena Vista Theater on the downtown UTSA campus and an evening concert at 7 p.m. at the Guadalupe Theater. There is a charge for these concerts – $20 for each at the door. Check the Express-News or for location addresses and more ticket information.

The afternoon concert will feature five saxophonists, piano, drums, and bass. There will be some Christmas songs, some standards and some new material by Larry Slezak. The evening concert will have an even larger band with at least nine additional saxophone players – and probably more! Aaron Prado is quoted in the Express-News as saying, “People come from all over the state to play. People know about this.” Sounds like an event not to be missed and a great way to celebrate the season.

Just a few more things that make San Antonio, Texas one of the most special places to live, work and play in the Lone Star State!

Mortgage Loan Workout Options

In my last post we talked about options for homeowners who are having trouble making their mortgage payments and facing the possibility of foreclosure. Today I’ll go into a bit more detail about one of the options available – a loan workout program.

Let’s look at what’s available to get that mortgage back on track and save your home. Get more information here. Here are some terms you’ll want to know.

Forbearance – This is the process by which a lender allows a borrower to make partial payments or skip payments if they have a reasonable plan to catch up – such as a tax refund, a bonus, or a new job.

Reinstatement – Reinstatement occurs when all late payments are caught up and it usually occurs at the end of a forbearance period.

Repayment Plan – A plan is established to allow a borrower to make payments to catch up; the lender may allow payment of an additional amount each month until the delinquent payments are caught up.

Loan Modification – The lender may agree to amend the mortgage to avoid foreclosure. Options included adding all the missed payments to the loan amount and increasing the monthly payment to cover the larger loan; giving more years to pay off the loan, lowering the interest rate, and/or forgiving part of the loan to lower the monthly payments; switching from an adjustable rate mortgage to a fixed rate mortgage, so that the borrower is not exposed to increases in monthly payments; and/or requiring amounts for taxes and insurance to be included with monthly mortgage payments (escrowing) so that the borrower avoids large bills in addition to mortgage payments.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure – This is signing over the property to the lender in exchange for debt forgiveness.  WARNINGthis can hurt your credit but is better than having a foreclosure in a credit history.

Contact an attorney or accountant for advice if you’re considering any of these options.

For any San Antonio or Houston real estate needs that you, your family or your friends might have just send me an email. I’m always here to help with “Service Beyond Your Wildest Expectations!”

Know Someone Having Mortgage Trouble?

You hear about it everyday. People continue to have problems paying their mortgages. Maybe they’ve lost their jobs; maybe unexpected medical bills have taken a toll on their finances; or maybe they have one of those ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) that now has adjusted them past their ability to pay.
Maybe it’s not them but you with the problem. Either way there is hope and I’ll be talking about what to do if you have the problem and give hope that there is a way out of the financial problem so you can stay in your home. But if that doesn’t work, I’ll tell about other options to hopefully save your credit and get you out of trouble in upcoming blog posts.
While the San Antonio real estate market has not been hit as hard as other areas, we do still have problems and there is still help available. If you need answers right away please contact me by email and I’ll be glad to answer your questions. Just email me at .


Refinance – Homeowners occupying a one to four unit home; with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed loan; with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio above 80% but no more than 125%; and are current on existing mortgage payments and with enough income to support new mortgage payments MAY qualify to refinance their home. Contact HOPE NOW at to see if you qualify

Sell and Take Cash to Closing – Homeowner can avoid the credit damage of a short sale of foreclosure by selling their home and curing any deficiencies at closing if they have the assets to do so. Might this be your answer?

Lender Workout – Lenders often will work with distressed homeowners to help them keep their homes by reducing or rolling back interest rates, forgiving back payments, adding them to the loan amount, or possibly recasting the entire loan and wrapping all fees into a fixed-rate mortgage. Contact your lender and talk to them about it.

Short sale – A situation in which the seller (1) owes more money on the loan than the sale of the property will likely produce on the market and (2) is unable or unwilling to bring money to closing. The seller may or may not be in pre-foreclosure.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure – The homeowner signs over the property to the lender in exchange for debt forgiveness. Warning – this can hurt credit but is better than having a foreclosure in a credit history.

Foreclosure – The legal process by which a defaulted borrower is deprived of his or her interest in the mortgaged property.

Do nothing or walk away – Before considering this option a homeowner should definitely contact an attorney for advice.

Actually you should contact your attorney or accountant for advice if you’re considering any of these options.

Here’s another place to check out avoiding foreclosure. Available at:

7 Holiday Events that Better Your Community

Create holiday traditions that build community spirit and strengthen your neighborhood.

Make friends and influence your property values by creating neighborhood traditions. The winter holidays provide the perfect excuse to march up to your neighbors’ doors and invite them to a holiday event that brings neighbors together and builds strong community bonds.


There are smart reasons to start a holiday neighborhood tradition that fosters good relationships with your neighbors. Higher property values, strong schools, and lower crime rates are tangible benefits of neighbors’ connecting with their fellow residents and their neighborhood, according to studies by Dennis Rosenbaum, director of the Center for Research in Law and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

There are also intangible benefits. “People feel better about themselves when their house becomes a home and their street becomes a neighborhood,” says Peggy Allen, author of Block Parties and Poker Nights: Recipes and Ideas for Getting and Staying Connected With Your Neighbors. “When you have some connection with the people whose yard you share and whose cars get parked next to yours on the street, you know they’re looking out for you.”


Organizing an event is easier than you think. “The key is to not jam an agenda down people’s throats,” says Allen. “Float your idea, make it as flexible as possible, and don’t be the only one who wants to do it.” Here are seven event ideas from your neighbors across the country:

  •  Sing songs. “We’ve been caroling every year since 1967, and we missed only one winter because it was below freezing,” says Marge Othrow of the Clinton Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y. A few residents scout the route by identifying streets heavy with holiday decorations under the theory that those residents will be receptive to carolers. A community group donates the money to print flyers, and volunteers post the flyers and provide refreshments. “A lot of residents are expecting us,” says Othrow. “Sometimes we’re invited in, and some people even plan their parties so we’re the entertainment.”
  • Party with a purpose. New Orleans’ historic Strachan House is the site of the Coliseum Square Association’s annual Christmas party, where the highlight is an award ceremony honoring first emergency responders who’ve made a difference in the city’s Lower Garden District neighborhood. “We want to thank our first responders,” says Matt Ryan, CSA president, “but the end result is that we’re building our community.” The CSA spends about $1,000 for the food and the several-hundred-dollar cash awards for the first responders.
  • Swap food. With a cookie or dessert exchange, no single neighbor bears the burden of providing food for the entire neighborhood. “We have an open house,” says Audra Krell of Scottsdale, Ariz., “and people bring one tray of any kind of dessert.” Krell relies on Evites and Facebook to spread the word, so her overall time managing the event is under 10 hours.
  • Organize a search party. Families compete in a neighborhood-wide scavenger hunt in Maineville, Ohio. “I come up with a list of holiday items, like tinsel and candy canes, and give everybody a half hour to collect them,” says Tracie Watkins. “The family that comes back first or has found the most items in that time gets a $50 gift card. Last year we had 15 to 20 families.”
  • Pay it forward. The holidays are a great time to tap into feelings of goodwill toward others. Krell pairs her dessert exchange with a request for partygoers to bring toys to donate to needy children through Childhelp USA. In Logan, Utah, Jenny Johnson and 50-60 of her neighbors forego giving gifts and goodies to each other, instead purchasing Christmas gifts, food, and personal hygiene items for three to four needy families through the Sub for Santa.The average family’s financial contribution runs about $30, and the families get together at a neighborhood party to wrap the gifts they’ve purchased.
  • Feed your friendly neighbors. “We have a progressive holiday party at three houses on the Sunday before Christmas,” says Margee Herring of Wilmington, N.C. Each homeowner foots the food bill for about 100 guests, but you can share the cost by asking neighbors to sign up for a potluck dish. To create a twist, announce a different theme each year or ask homeowners to host the cuisine of a different country.
  • Light it up. Many neighborhoods come together to line their streets with candles on Christmas Eve. “We use plastic milk or water jugs,” says Herring. Costs include purchasing milk or water throughout the year and about $10 worth of 12-hour votive candles. Setup and removal takes 30-45 minutes. An alternative to luminaries is a holiday lighting contest in which neighbors vote on the home with the best holiday display.

By: G. M. Filisko 
G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who will never forget her family’s tradition of opening gifts with her brother and six cousins on Christmas Eve at their grandparents’ house in Solon, Ohio. As the day turned into evening, all eight kids would be anxiously asking, “Can we open presents yet? Can we open presents yet?”

Reprinted from HouseLogic ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS (R).
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

River of Lights

Well I hope you’ve had the chance to visit the new Museum Reach of the San Antonio River by now. I’ve only been a couple times but I sure plan to get down over the holidays to see the new River of Lights. Check out the link for the schedule of events that begin this weekend.

  • Saturday, December 5, Santa will be at VFW Post 76 from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm and at 6:00 pm they light up the place. Now that’s going to be special! After all that building dates back to 1904 and it at one time had 17 rooms, 5 fireplaces and two kitchens. The Victorian style home features Corinthian columns and a lovely veranda. I can’t wait to round the bend of the River and see it aglow.
  • Sunday, December 6, is Family Day: The Arts of the Missions at the San Antonio Museum of Art. That runs from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Free parking is available. The event is free for SAMA members and free for children ages 12 and under. Adult admission is $8. SAMA is located at 200 West Jones Avenue, near the intersection of Broadway and Jones.

There are more activities that you’ll find on the River of Lights link above; see all the festivities that will continue through January 2. There will be more activities at the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Southwest School of Art and Craft, and the Pearl Brewery. That last one is kind of close to my heart because the Pearl Brewery was the reason my family moved to San Antonio back in 1972. It’s neat to see all the exciting things happening at that venerable old building. I love the way old things become new again here in San Antonio – especially now that I’m becoming one of the old things!

Have a great weekend in beautiful San Antonio.

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