Advice for Consumers

Why a 180-year-old event from Texas history remains relevant today

In Lehman's Terms

We do things a little different in Texas … we even have our own holidays. One such occasion was the discussion topic on my favorite drive-time radio talk show last Thursday. You may recognize April 21 as San Jacinto Day, the official state holiday commemorating the final battle of the Texas Revolution in 1836—the battle that secured the state’s independence from Mexico.

I was struck by one caller who said, “As a newcomer to Texas, I really cannot understand all the media attention given to this 18-minute battle. I have lived in seven other states and they don’t do this type of thing.”

That last statement got my attention because she’s right—other states don’t recognize their battles like Texas does. But that’s because other states don’t have the history of fighting for independence that makes Texas unique.

So, why should we continue to commemorate this event from 180 years ago? Here’s my take—in “Lehman’s” terms—on the relevance of San Jacinto Day today: It’s not just a day to celebrate a victory in battle ... it’s a day to celebrate Texas values.

It’s these values that entice hundreds of people to move to Texas every day. Corporations relocate because they like our business-friendly environment and stable tax structure. New residents appreciate that Texas doesn’t have a state income tax, real estate transfer tax, or tax on professional services, and homebuyers move here because the cost of owning a home remains low.

Texans have always had a can-do spirit that rivals most states and even other countries, and many people see the Battle of San Jacinto as the symbol of this spirit. A few hundred ragtag volunteers took only minutes to defeat one of the largest and most powerful armies in the world. Texas was born from the battle cries “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad” made famous at this fight.  

For the last 180 years, elected officials in Texas have maintained that San Jacinto spirit and determination when addressing the needs of our growing and ever-changing state. In fact, visitors to the Texas Capitol in Austin see firsthand that the chambers of the Texas Senate and House of Representatives are dominated by historic tributes to the Battle of San Jacinto.

The original 1836 San Jacinto battle flag hangs directly behind the speaker’s podium in the House chamber when the legislature is in session. (A replica takes its place between sessions to help preserve the flag.) And the artist Henry Arthur McArdle’s famous 1895 painting “Battle of San Jacinto” (pictured here courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission) is prominently displayed in the Senate chamber. Both historic treasures serve as daily reminders to current lawmakers of the important place they have in history.  

Although San Jacinto Day has passed this year, we don’t have to wait until 2017 to commemorate the occasion. We can honor our revolutionary heroes by maintaining the Texas spirit and taking pride in our state’s reputation for independence every day.

Mark Lehman is vice president of Governmental Affairs at the Texas Association of REALTORS®.

How much should you offer for that house?

You’ve likely heard that everything is negotiable in real estate. That’s because buying real estate isn’t like shopping at the mall or buying groceries, where you just pay the advertised price. Instead, a real estate buyer can submit an offer for less than the asking price, or more, or even offer the asking price but use other considerations to make their offer more attractive … and a seller can accept (or reject) any of these offers.

Start with a professional
The best way to present a strong offer is to work with a Texas REALTOR®. He or she will help you determine your realistic budget before you even start looking, and then use market knowledge and experience to help you arrive at the best offer for a property. In fact, a 2015 consumer survey found that the top three things buyers need from a real estate agent are: help finding the right home for them, help negotiating the terms of the sale, and help with price negotiations.

How much was the neighbor’s house?
One way your Texas REALTOR® will likely help you find the best offer is to review the sale prices of comparable properties nearby that have sold recently. He or she will look for homes in relatively the same area that have features similar to the property you’re considering. These features can include square footage, number of bedrooms, and age of the property.

Demand can play a role, too
If you’re in a market where properties are under contract soon after listing—a matter of hours, in some cases—your Texas REALTOR® will have advice for being ready to take action. This can mean offering more than the asking price or negotiating other items in the contract that make your offer attractive … something you definitely can’t do at the mall.

If you’re thinking about buying a home, use the Find a REALTOR® search at texasrealestate.com to locate a Texas REALTOR® in your area.                                                    

What is a Texas REALTOR®?

Not all real estate agents are REALTORS®.

Only those who agree to abide by a code of ethics that goes beyond what the law requires may join the Texas Association of REALTORS®.

Read the REALTOR® Code of Ethics

Texas REALTORS® do more than help you buy and sell real estate

They protect the rights of property owners. They fight proposals that would increase the burdens on buying, selling, and owning real estate. And they bring property-owners’ concerns to the Legislature, regulatory agencies, and local authorities.

Learn more about how Texas REALTORS®  can help you