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Rebecca Shahan

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Consider the Schools When Buying a House In Austin and Lake Travis

by Rebecca Shahan

If you're thinking about buying a home for sale in Austin or Lake Travis and have children in school, finding the right school is critical.  If you end up buying a home near a school that isn't right for your child, you could end up regretting buying the home itself.

You may think that a real estate agent can help you find the best schools in the Austin and Lake Travis area.  But actually, they can't.  Fair housing laws prevent agents from giving their opinion on schools.  This is for a good reason, as some agents in recent years have labeled schools as "bad" to swing the sale of a home toward more affluent neighborhoods. So in the end, you need to decide what schools are best for your children and base your choice on that information. And then of course your agent can help you find a home near the school you think is best.

There are at least 3 questions you should ask when finding the right school in the Austin and Lake Travis school districts.

What school will you child attend?

This may sound like an obvious question, but the problem is it's so obvious that you may not ask it. In Austin for example, there are 130 schools in the Austin Independent School District, so that means you have a lot of schools to choose from. So that does make it a bit easier, since one district covers most of the Austin area.

What are the numbers?

Test scores can say a lot about a school, even if they don't tell you everything about a school. The Austin Independent School District website actually has plenty of helpful information on individual schools and their test scores.  You can see an example with Akins High School.  They show recent performance ratings which can be helpful.  An even more impartial perspective can be found on a school rating website such as www.greatschools.org. They use test scores, reviews, and other factors to rate the best schools in a given area.

What about reputation?

What are people saying about a school you're looking at?  Sure, everyone has opinions. If you know people in the area, you can ask them.  You might even meet with the principal of a school to get an even closer look, presuming you can make such an arrangement. See if they can give you a tour of the school with your child present.  Look at class sizes.  Is the library well stocked? What does your child think about the school? These are great indicators to look for.

Finding the right school and the right home for sale in Austin and Lake Travis TX can be a challenge, but one worth the effort.  Once you do find a great school for your child, let us help you find the right home near that school.  Our powerful search tool can help you find homes for sale near the schools of your choice in Austin, Lake Travis, Lakeway, Bee Cave, The Hills, and more. Also make sure to take advantage of our Home Buyer Listing Alert website www.welcometolaketravis.com to get automated alerts of homes as they hit the market.

Millenials - Take Advice From a Millionaire: Buy, Don't Rent

by Rebecca Shahan

Millenial Home BuyersAre you a millennial and currently renting a home? Why not take some solid advice from a self-made millionaire? David Bach is just such a person and has written nine consecutive New York Times best-selling books. For 31 weeks his book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” was on the New York Times bestseller list.  He is also one of the only business authors in history to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and USA Today bestseller lists. He has also been profiled in many major publications, including the New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, People, Reader’s Digest, Time, Financial Times, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes. 

In a recent CNBC article, Bach says that: “The biggest mistake millennials are making is not buying their first home.” Then he said that, “If you want to build real financial security, real wealth for your lifetime, then you need to buy a home.”

Here's his reason why buying a home is so important:

“Homeowners are worth 40 times more than renters. Now, that first home doesn’t need to be a dream home, it can be a very small home. You might literally have to buy a small studio apartment, but that’s how you get started.”

 “Don’t do a 30-year mortgage. You want to take that 30-year mortgage and instead pay it off early, do a 15-year mortgage. What happens if you do a 15-year mortgage? Well, one, you pay the mortgage off 15-years sooner, that means you’ll be able to retire in your fifties. Number two, you’ll save a fortune (on potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments).”

What will it cost to pay your mortgage in fifteen years?

“For fifteen years, you got to brownbag your lunch. Think about that! Brownbag your lunch literally for fifteen years. You can retire ten years sooner than your friends. You’ll have real wealth, because you bought a home – you’re not a renter. And you’ll be financially secure for life.”

When a well-respected millionaire gives you advice, it’s usually a good idea to follow it.  But this is hardly the first time that experts have given advice on the wisdom of buying a home. Many successful individuals have found that over time, buying a home is the most advisable course toward financial security.

As an additional note on David Bach’s experience, he has been a contributor to NBC’s Today Show, appearing more than 100 times, as well as a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS. Not a bad resume!

If you are currently renting a home in Austin or Lake Travis and are looking to take this advise, give us a call at 512-657-4467 to see how this dream can become a reality.

Plan the Perfect Valentine's Day in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

Austin Valentine's Day IdeasIf you're looking for something special to do for Valentine's Day this year, don't worry. Austin is full of great ways to spend the day with your sweetheart.  Austin is rife with unique culture, art, diversity, and plenty of special events, activities, clubs, concerts and more. And of course you can find plenty of special packages at hotels and restaurants for a special evening. And you don't have to be in a romance to have fun.  There's plenty of ways for people who are “single and want to mingle,” hanging with girls, or having a night out with the guys to have a great time.  Here's a few of the best ways to enjoy Valentine's Day this year in Austin.

Romantic Weekend Hotel Packages

This is for couples who want to have a weekend getaway. Even if you live in Austin, you can take a weekend getaway to various hotels offering special packages. Bedandbreakfast.com lets you choose from tons of sweet little inns to get away from the city. Visit BedandBreakfast.com to make romantic reservations for a sweet package for two.

Zilker Botanical Gardens

This is a great idea no matter if it's for a family, an outing with friends, date groups, or just the two of you.  The 31 acres of greenery set among the Colorado River makes the perfect setting for a picnic of wine and cheese. Or you can dine at the Garden’s cafe. Best of all, these gardens are free to visit, saving more money for chocolates!

Ride a Horse-Drawn Carriage

What can be more romantic than taking a ride through downtown in a horse-drawn carriage? Die Gelbe Rose Carriage and Austin Carriage both offer great deals. This is also a great idea for the family, especially the kids. Bring some flowers and enjoy the ride! 

Austin Steam Train

Climb aboard this special Hill Country Flyer or the Valentine's Day Dinner Train to celebrate Valentine’s Day. They will take you on a romantic ride through the Texas Hill Country, crossing the South San Gabriel River and Short Creek Canyon. During the two hour layover in Burnet you can enjoy lunch and shopping on your own, a leisurely stroll around the historic town square and the Wild West Gunfight (weather permitting). Adult-only cars and family friendly cars are available. Or take a ride on the Valentine’s Day dinner train and enjoy handcrafted premium wines from The Austin Winery at the three course wine pairing dinner.

Want to learn more about what makes Austin and Lake Travis such a great place to live? Check back on our blog every week for more fun things to do in Austin!

 

Wake Up at the Best Coffee Shops In Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

For many residents in Austin, coffee is the way to start the day.  A great coffee shop in Austin is the perfect way to sit and enjoy your favorite hot brew while you converse with friends and neighbors, or just people watch.  Local Austin roasters are obsessive over making the perfect roast.  So if you're looking for a new place to start your day, here are some of the top spots in Austin to find the perfect cup of coffee, teas, and pastries.

Cuvée Coffee

Cuvee Coffee's flagship cafe serves some of the best coffee in Austin, along with beer and pastries.

Patika

Another unique coffee house that also serves wine, beer, cheese and charcuterie plates, housemade baked goods and breakfast/lunch/brunch dishes. They feature sweets such as carrot cake s'mores, root beer float cookies, and peach amaretto pecan doughnuts that are sure to add something new to your morning routine.

Caffé Medici

This Austin staple has 5 branches around town, with makes them more convenient.  They also feature a walk up window and sidewalk cafe. The Clarksville shop offers a warm and homey vibe, while the downtown store boasts a massive espresso bar.

Houndstooth Coffee

If you're a real coffee fanatic, then try Houndstooth. They feature a rotating selection of beans that are carefully prepared. They have two locations in Austin that provide a clean and welcoming atmosphere.

Fleet Coffee Co.

This tiny coffee shop is where you go to try a new specialty drink, such as "The After School Ritual" made with Oreo-infused milk and cookie, or try the "E.T." made with tonic water, espresso, lime, and simple syrup.

Looking for more great things to see and do in Austin? Check out our blog every week for more great reasons to buy a home in Austin and Lake Travis!

Protect Yourself When Renting a Home

by Rebecca Shahan

If you're considering renting a home, you need to consider a few things to make sure you're protected.  It's easy to get attached to a home for rent or just jump into the first home that may fit your needs. But in doing so you run the risk of losing money when it comes time to move out.  Here are some ways to protect yourself.

Review the lease.

Review all of the conditions of the lease before you sign. There may be conditions that you won't accepts.  Ask questions and make sure you understand the lease.

Get everything in writing.

You can avoid disputes if you make sure all agreements are in writing, such as repairs or changes to the home. Follow verbal agreements with a letter confirming the conversation.

Protect your privacy rights.

Know your rights regarding how much notice a landlord has to give before entering your home.

Demand repairs.

Landlords are required to offer their tenants livable premises, including adequate weatherproofing, heat, water, and electricity, along with clean, sanitary, and structurally safe premises. 

Talk to your landlord.

Make sure to discuss any issues openly with your landlord and try to resolve issues verbally without legal action.

Purchase renter's insurance.

Your possessions are not protected by your landlord's insurance. Renter's insurance typically costs less than $20 per month and covers loss due to theft, fire, or natural disasters.

You can't foresee every possible issue when you rent a home, but these tips will help prevent any issues that may arise. Check back on our blog for more real estate tips. 

Prepare Your Home to Sell This Spring

by Rebecca Shahan

Are you thinking about selling your home in Austin or Lake Travis this Spring? If so, Springtime is one of the best times of the year to sell your home.  But don't wait until then to prepare your home to sell.  The more preparation, the more chance you'll have of selling your home faster and getting more money from the sale.  Remember that first impressions are lasting impressions.  When a potential buyer comes to your home, you need to make sure you've done all you can to peak their interest. So here are a few ways you can get your home ready to sell this Spring!

Here are 6 great tips to get your home prepared:

1. Get a Home Inspection.  Having a home inspection before you sell will prepare you for any potential troubles that could make your potential buyers turn around and go to the next house. You'll still need to disclose what the home inspection finds, but you'll have time to make repairs. 

2. Gather all your Warranties. Have all the warranties for any appliances in your home that have them. This gives the buyer confidence in the home.

3. Make all Minor Repairs. Walk through your home with a critical eye and check each room for any minor fixes. This includes patching of holes or cracks, painting, floor replacement, windows, closets, outlets and more. Make the repairs you can and get ready to negotiate for those you can't make.

4. Clear out Clutter. No one wants to see a mess when looking for a new home.  Store as much as you can in an alternate location or get rid of as much as you can altogether.  This makes your move even easier and makes your home even more appealing.

5. Sparkle and Shine. Clean your home as if an army sergeant was coming through with a white glove!

6. Stage your Home to Sell! Consider hiring a professional home statger Home Stagers are experts at presenting your home's best assets and hiding those that are not. They also create the best light and flow to showcase your home. 

For more Home Selling Tips, visit our website or give us a call for a personal evaluation. And make sure to check back on our blog for more tips!

Find the Best Golf Courses in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

There are so many things that make Austin stand out as the ideal city to buy a new home. But what really stands out are the amazing golf courses.  And no matter your budget, you can find the right course.  There's municipal courses, daily fee/semi-private courses, a handful of golf resorts, and a collection of exclusive privates for those with connections. So if you love to play golf, then Austin is your city. Here's a few of the top golf courses in Austin to visit.

Wolfdancer Golf Club at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines

Located just 20 miles from Austin, Wolfdancer is the highest rated golf course in and around Austin according to GolfAdvisor.com.  This course shows off the Texas topography with it's wide variety of landscapes. Plus you won't have to worry about hitting any houses on this expansive course.  You'll also enjoy fine amenities such as fine dining, spa, waterpark, horseback riding, pool, tennis, shops, fitness center and recreational programs.

Omni Barton Creek Resort

Omni is recognized as one of the best golf resorts in the Southwest by GOLF Magazine. This private club and residential course offers outside play to those staying at the hotel. Located near Zilker Park and downtown Austin, this stunning resort offers four unique courses to enjoy. And is you want lessons, there's a Golf Channel Academy available to help you tune up your game.

River Place Country Club

Rive Place is a challenging course that is neck and neck with Wolfdancer for the top spot on the list of best courses in Austin. You can learn from PGA professionals and have access to 6600 yards of hills, creeks, and canyons for a truly memorable golfing experience.

Austin Municipal Courses

Austin also features six municipal courses, reffered to as Golf ATX, which include Jimmy ClayRoy Kizer, Hancock Course, Morris WilliamsLions Municipal Golf Course, and Grey Rock. These courses offer a more affordable experience, while still offering beautiful courses and a great golfing experience. Each course is unique and offer something for every skill level.

There's a golf course in Austin for every taste and budget.  This just scratches the surface of all the great places to golf in Austin.  And if you're looking to buy a home in Austin, you might consider buying a home in one of the outstanding golf course communities here. Check out our Golf Course Communities page to learn more!

 

Celebrate the New Year in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

Where has the year gone?  It's hard to believe, but another year has come and gone, and now it's time to celebrate a new year in Austin.  If you haven't already made plans, the there's a number of great ways coming up in Austin to help you celebrate. Here's a few events coming up that you're sure to enjoy.

Austin's New Year

This free event has it all - food trucks, fun for the kids, art installations, and best of all, a grand fireworks display over Town Lake/Lady Bird Lake. Enjoy live music from Tomar and the FCS, Brownout, Magna Carda and Ian Moore Band.

Gatsby's House - Austin New Years Eve 2018

The Omni Austin Hotel is hosting one of the most upscale New Year's Eve parties in Austin. Take a trip back to the roaring 20's as you dance the night away toDJ Tony Styles alongside a supporting cast of all-star deejays. Enjoy premium drinks from a fully stocked prepaid bar and multiple courses of hors d'œuvres. Throw on your best 20's attire and get ready to have the time of the year.

New Year's Eve 2018 VIP Party at The Rooftop on 6th

The Rooftop on Sixth​ is hosting the ultimate NYE celebration. Come party at the hottest bar on E 6th St. It's the biggest balloon drop in Austin, with complimentary champagne at midnight. Make sure to reserve early to save money.

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve in Austin and a happy 2018!

Seasons Greetings!

by Rebecca Shahan

Wishing everyone I've had the pleasure of working with a very happy and wonderful holiday season and a happy and prosperous new year in 2018.  It's been a pleasure helping my clients find and sell their homes in Lake Travis and Austin.

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Round Out the Holidays WIth These Fun Events in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

​The holiday season in Austin is well underway, but there's still time to round out the season and make it one to remember.  Austin is full of great holiday events that will help you and your family get the most out of this holiday season.  Here's a few of the top events for you to enjoy.

Trail of Lights

Bring the whole family to this spectacular mile walk of dazzling lights at Zilker Park. You can also bring a can of food to help the Trail collect 25,000 meals for the Central Texas Food Bank. ​

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

Come experience this unique shopping experience and pick up some great last-minute gifts. There's live music, wide aisles for dancing, along with great gifts from more than 100 artists and craftsmen. Don't miss this cherished Austin tradition.

Ice Skating on Whole Foods Roof

Ever ice skated on a roof?  Now's your chance! Whole Foods Market on South Lamar is hosting it's 13th annual Ice Skating on the Rooftop Plaza through Jan 15.  This Austin tradition draws over 16,000 skaters per year. Bring your family and join this fun holiday tradition!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 104