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Lake Travis Texas Real Estate Blog

Rebecca Shahan

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Get Ready For Your Next Move

by Rebecca Shahan

Congratulations on buying your new home! It;s time to get moving. Now what?

It's OK to feel overwhelmed. Most people do. So where do you begin?

This is a big change in your life. It's a chance to start new and live in a home that reflects who you are now. Now you can clear your life of the things that no longer matter. Plus, clearing out things you don't need makes packing much easier.

So how do you go about cleansing your life of the unnecessary things?

Go Big

One way to sort things out is to use bright sticky notes and color code the the largest items in your home. Go room by room and place the sticky notes according to a color scheme like this one:

  • Hot Pink: Donate or sell immediately
  • Neon Green: Keeping it
  • Bright Yellow: Maybe keep it. Consider offering it to family members, donating, or selling.

The Pink Items Have to Go

Take photos of these items and sell them on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.  the move them to the garage or a room to get them out of the way.

You can also arrange with a charity to have them picked up. And if you can't move them or you can't find a charity to pick them up, put them up for free on Craigslist or Facebook. They will go fast this way.

Where to Put the Green Items

Make sure the items you want to keep fit in the new home. You can create a floorplan on grid paper, or use an app or program. Then measure the items and place them on the plan for their intended rooms to find the best arrangement. Then if it doesn't fit on the plan, you can do away with it.  Plus, you'll be able to know exactly where the furniture needs to be moved to in the new home, saving time and effort.

Yellow Items

Once you've dealt with the pink and green items, you can decide on the yellow items.  Use your floorplan and see where or if they fit in the new home. Don't crowd them in. Open spaces actually create a feeling of luxury.

Smaller Items

The smaller things come next. Go room by room, one room at a time. It's best to start with the things you love and want to keep. The you have the items left over that you can sell or donate.

Make sure to do all of this as far in advance of your move as possible. There's no time to waste. This is a great time to simplify and make way for the next chapter in your life.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

DIY Projects Your Dogs Will Love

by Rebecca Shahan

Are you looking for creative ways to make your furry friends more comfortable, as well as make your home more appealing? This can be a bit of a challenge, but with these clever DIY projects, you can do it. Plus you don;t have to spend a ton of money to make them. Check out these fun DIY projects.

The Kitchen

1. If you enjoy having your dogs eat in the kitchen with the family, then this custom eating station is an ideal kitchen feature. You can find instructions to make your own.

Built-In-Dog-Bowls

2. Dog crates can take up space, especially with large dogs.  Here's a great way to make cabinet space for you, and a space for your dog crates. Click here to see how to make your own.

Custom-Cabinets

The Mudroom

3. Here's a great way to make a safe and relaxing place for Fido. This "dog cave" is the perfect hideout for your dogs to plan their next adventure.  You can make one like this by Titus Built.

Custom-Built-In-Dog-Bed

4. Tired of dog bowls being kicked around or moved, or just getting in the way? You can make a csutom eating station to keep their bowls together and off the floor, as well as store food. You can build one like this one found on HGTV.com.

Pet-Feeding-Station

5. If you love to re-purpose old furniture, this project is perfect. You can convert an old dresser into this creative eating station, designed for those who have both cats and dogs. The dogs can get to their food, but they can't reach the cat food at the top. The DIY project to make one is here.

DIY-Pet-Feeding-Station

The Laundry Room

6. Taking your dog to get cleaned can be such a chore. Why not build your own dog washing station? When you're done, you can just throw the towels in the wash. Here's a DIY by A Concord Carpenter on how you can build your own dog washing station.

Dog-Wash-Station

7. Ditch that ugly dog food bag and make a nice drawer container. Follow these steps to make your own pull out drawer storage bin.

Dog-Food-Cabinet-Storage

 

Join us every week for more real estate tips and great reasons to buy your next home in Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

Real Estate Myths Revealed

by Rebecca Shahan

Real Estate Myths RevealedReal estate is one of those professions where many people think they know all that's involved. Millions of people have bought or sold a home in their lifetime, and this may make them feel as if they're an expert. But no matter how much you know, times change, and so do the rules and the way things work in the industry. This can lead to inaccurate information being spread about how the real estate industry works.

What are some of the most common real estate myths?

Real Estate Agents are Paid a Salary

Many people don't know that all the money a real estate agent makes is based on the sale of a home.  There's no underlying salary being paid to them, except in rare cases.  People assume that since agents have the money to look nice and host events that they have a steady income.

The case is that agents pay for all of these things out of their own pocket. They will make about the same amount on the sale of a house no matter how much they spend on marketing and so forth. They may spend their time going through hundreds of messages and emails, doing research and giving advice, making many trips to the property for showings, and so on.

Of course, this is all part of being a real estate agent.  The more time and effort an agent puts into helping clients, the more chance they have of selling a home.  But they only make that money IF the home sells.

A Home Can Pass or Fail Inspection

A home inspection is meant to ascertain the condition of a home. It's not some test that you pass or fail. The inspection reveals if there are problems that need to be addressed when the home is purchased, along with a summary of the age of key systems.

Zillow and Trulia Know Everything

Zillow and Trulia certainly have their place in looking for a new home. These websites are useful for getting a good idea of the lay of the home and neighborhood.  But they don't know everything.  That's why talking to a local agent is important.

For example, a Zillow Zestimate does not give the exat value of your home, just an estimate. In fact, even the CEO of Zillow, Spencer Rascoff, sold his home for 40 percent less than the Zestimate showed in 2016.

It's Better to Price High

Overpricing does not help you get the price you want. Sellers want to protect their asking price, so they try to price it higher thinking that it will protect them from selling too low.

What really happens is that the home doesn't sell at all, or takes much longer to sell. You end up chasing away prospective buyers, as they may not even want to look at the house at all. Remember that many people look for homes using a maximum price range on the internet, so your home may not show up in their search at all if you price it too high.

Of course there's many other myths about real estate that can be clarified. Join us every week to learn more about how the real estate industry works. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

The Pros and Cons of Using a Storage Unit When Moving

by Rebecca Shahan

Let's face it, moving is never easy. Not only do you have to move, but make the home ready for showing. But you can make the process go more smoothly with careful planning.  Part of that planning is to decide if using storage can help. This is something many people do to help with this process. But is using a storage unit always the solution?

There's no better time to clean out your clutter when you move. You can dispense of your items in a variety of ways - selling, donating, disposing, or recycling. But doing this takes time.

Do you have enough time to go through everything?  Sometimes you just need to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Here's a few things to consider when moving to help you decide if storage is the right choice for you.

Advantages of Using Storage

  1. Pack up all the things you don't need now.
  2. Staging your home will be more easy.
  3. Will give your home more room.
  4. Keep personal items out of sight.
  5. Out of sight, out of mind.
  6. You can take care of sorting items later after you move.
  7. You can decide what furniture works best in your new home after you move.

Disadvantages of Using Storage

  1. Another expense. If you miss a payment, you can lose all of your items.
  2. More work handling everything twice.
  3. Not all units guarantee your items will be safe, so you may need additional insurance.
  4. Storing items can lead to delayed decisions about what stays and what goes.
  5. You may end up storing things you don't need, and paying monthly fees for those items.
  6. It's hard to reach items in the back of a full unit.

Portable Storage Units

Potable storage is a great alternative that offers convenient benefits. PODS is the first and best known portable storage company., but other companies have caught on.

The main advantage of portable storage units is the ability to keep them at your house and pack them as you go.  Then the unit is delivered to your new house. Some units are also designed to be long-term storage at a warehouse or at your home.

Another great advantage of portable storage is that you can pack and unpack everything in one go, eliminating the need to haul your things to a storage facility, then back again to the new home.

Yes, moving is a tough process. But with careful planning and good use of storage, you can make the process go more smoothly.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

Will Your Next Home Be Printed?

by Rebecca Shahan

It's getting to the point these days where you can print just about anything on a 3D printer.  So it was really only a matter of time before the day came when you can print a home. That day is now. In France, the first livable 4 bed 1,022 sq ft home was built for about $230,000. This was 20% cheaper than building a similar home with conventional materials and methods.

In the Netherlands, the Eindhoven University of Technology has had plans for the last 5 years to build a whole 3D printed home community that would be rented. The homes will consist of single story bungalows and multi-level homes. The first homes will be printed in 2019.

Since other countries have already used and proven this construction technique, it is definitely on it's way to the US. 3D homes could really have a big impact for the better on the real estate industry.

What's even more appealing about this new technology is the amazing speed at which homes can be built. They say Rome wasn't built in a day. But that's because they didn't have 3D printed homes. A construction company in the US called Sunconomy partnered with a Russian 3D printer company in 2016 to build homes in just a day.  And right here in Austin, a startup called ICON builds 800 sq ft homes in only 24 hours for only $4000! Compare this to the average of 6 months to build a traditional home.

3D printed homes have the obvious benefit of being more affordable to construct. And as the technology becomes more popular, the cost of using 3D construction printers will continue to fall. When you compare 3D printing with the costs of material and labor for building a traditional home, the affordability becomes even more apparent.

There's no better time for this new technology than now. To build homes more quickly and affordably could be just the solution the real estate industry is seeking. This is especially true in areas that are facing housing shortages.  ICON is already looking to partner with Fannie Mae and FEMA to print homes for low income families and to ease the housing crisis.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

Schools In Lake Travis Get Top Grades

by Rebecca Shahan

Summer is well on it's way and it's already time to start thinking about going back to school. If you're looking for the best schools to send your children, then look no further than Lake Travis. The Lake Travis Independent School District received amazing grades from niche.com, one of the top school rating sites on the web. Niche.com gave the district an overall score of A+, with each individual school in the district receiving at least an A.

According to the site, "Lake Travis Independent School District is a top rated, public school district located in Austin, TX. It has 9,238 students in grades PK, K-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 17 to 1. According to state test scores, 93% of students are at least proficient in math and 92% in reading."

You would be hard pressed to find a school district with higher scores anywhere in America. In fact, the district ranked #72 of best schools in America and #9 in Texas! The district also ranked #12 in Safest School Districts in Texas, #13 District with the Best Teachers, and #14 Best Places to Teach in Texas. It doesn't get any better than that!

Niche.com rates school based on a number of factors, such as test scores, parent reviews, and more, creating a balanced review. One reviewer said about Lake Travis High School "I consider myself very lucky to attend Lake Travis High School. The campus is spacious, with new facilities and plenty of resources. When it comes to athletics, we can’t be beat." Another reviewer noted "All of the teachers in the district are devoted to their teachings, and spend the majority of their time trying their hardest to give their students the education they deserve."

Don't take our word for it. Check out the full reviews and list of schools in Lake Travis on Niche.com.

If your'e looking to buy a new home in Lake Travis, you can search homes for sale in the Lake Travis Independent School District to find the ideal home in one of the top school districts in America.

Check back on our blog for more great reasons to buy your next home in Lake Travis and Austin. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.​

 

Buying Is 23% Cheaper Than Renting in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

According to the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia, owning a home continues to be cheaper than renting in the largest metro areas in the US, based on a 30 year mortgage. Austin stood out as one of the top cities in this report, with owning a home being 23.5% cheaper than buying.

Only two cities in the study turned out to be cheaper to rent than buy - San Jose and San Francisco CA. Median home prices in those cities rose to over $1 million this year. This is the first time in the six years that Trulia has being doing this study that this happened. Home values rose by 29% last year, while rent remained the same.  But not in Austin!

For the 98 metro areas where owning a home is cheaper than renting, 97 of them are in the double digits in advantage when buying. Austin was one of those metro areas that stood out at 23.5%.

Trulia arrived at these figures by taking into account all renting costs, including deposits, and compared them with the monthly costs of owning a home. Those costs included insurance, mortgage payments, taxes, and maintenance, along with one-time costs such as down payments, closing costs, and sale proceeds. The study also assumes that most homeowners stay in their home for seven years, put 20% down, and have a 30 year fixed mortgage.

In 2016, when buying was 41.3% less expensive than renting, the average mortgage rate was the driving force behind the difference. Rates this year are the highest they have been in six years which has narrowed the gap, all while home price appreciation has also been driven up by a lack of homes for sale.

Cheryl Young, Trulia’s Chief Economist, had this to say,

“One point deserves emphasizing: The ultra-costly San Francisco Bay Area is not a harbinger for the nation as a whole. While renting may outweigh buying in San Jose and San Francisco, it is unlikely that renting will tip the scales nationally anytime soon.”

There's many benefits of owning a home beyond just the money. If you're renting a home and would like to explore the possibility of owning a home, we would be happy to help you analyze the costs and benefits.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

The Best Places to Eat in Lakeway

by Rebecca Shahan

There's no better time than spending the summer at Lake Travis. And if you plan to do so, then make sure you stop by Lakeway for some of the best food to be found near the lake. Here's a few of the top restaurants in Lakeway that are sure to satisfy any taste.

Santa Catarina

Rated the top restaurant in Lakeway by TripAdvisor.com, Santa Catarina features authentic Mexican cuisine. This isn't the usual TexMex fare.  They prepare their dishes with fresh ingredients and imagination, like their black beans and rice with pickled onions. Or enjoy their renowned Conchinita Pibil (tender chunks of pork steamed in a banana leaf), the Huitlacoche, or the savory roasted-corn soup.

Sundancer Grill

Winners of the People's Choice award in 2014 and 2015 by the Taste of Lake Travis, the Sundance Grill is a casual bistro experience located right on the water. Enjoy the view of the marina while you indulge in featured burgers like the Hickory Burger,  chef crafted salads, sandwiches, steak and seafood prepared with fresh ingredients. 

Little Greek Fresh Grill

If you enjoy a great gyro or Greek salad, then you've found the right place. Little Greek also features some of the best desserts you'll find near the lake. Little Greek is an ideal choice for takeout as well so you can enjoy your tasty treats down at the lake.

Mod Pizza

You can build your own artisan pizza at this top pizza restaurant in Lakeway. There's endless toppings to chose from, so indulge your imagination. And of course they have equally delicious salads.  You chose your topping from an assembly line counter, making sure your pizza is created perfectly to your taste. Plus your pizza comes out super fast so you don't have to wait to indulge your tastebuds.

Make sure to stop by Lakeway the next time you come to the lake.  And check back on our blog for more great things to do in Lake Travis and Austin. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.​

How to Save on Granite Countertops

by Rebecca Shahan

Granite countertops. They’re tough, stylish, low maintenance, and always a good choice. You really just can’t beat a granite countertop in your kitchen or bath. Some may feel that granite countertops are for upscale homes and out of their reach financially. The good news is that you don’t need to buy the most expensive granite to get outstanding results. Here’s what you should know about granite counters and how you can cut back the cost of installing one.

Costs

You can pay anywhere from $2000 - $4500 for a granite countertop. Granite is usually priced by the square foot. This price usually includes delivery, installation, and simple edge finishes.  You will of course pay more if you need extra features such as decorative edge treatments and cutouts for sinks or stove tops, along with plumbing hookups and disposal of your old countertop.

The grade of the countertop will affect the price as well and is based on stone availability, color, shipping and distinctiveness.  Grade doesn’t always reveal the granite’s overall quality.

Saving Money

1. Shop around

Shopping around is a huge way to save money and potentially save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Compare big box stores, design studios, granite fabricators, and companies that specialize in prefabricated granite counters. Always hire an established company that’s insured. Compare online reviews and talk to family or friends who have had granite installed. When you chose two or three companies, make sure to visit each one so you can talk about the project and see examples of their work.

2. Buy the sink and faucet separately

Buying the sink, faucet and any plumbing separately lets you get the lowest prices on each item.

3. Use a remnant

You may be able to find discounts on smaller pieces of stone left over from other projects.

4. Go prefab

Prefabricated counters are already cut and polished, and are great for simple counters that don’t need many cuts.

5. Have the installer do final measurements

Make sure the installer takes the final measurements and make a template which the final estimate will be based on. This will avoid making expensive mistakes.

Adding a granite countertop is a great way to make your home look better and raise the resale value of your home.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

5 Reasons Not to FSBO

by Rebecca Shahan

In the modern real estate market, as home prices rise and inventory is lower, some home sellers might consider trying to sell their home on their own, which is referred to as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). If you plan to sell your home, should you sell it on your own?

Here are the top five reasons why selling as a FSBO is not a good idea:

1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers

Do you have a marketing strategy and network that will expose your home to the widest market? Putting up an ad on Craigslist or Facebook doesn’t count. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote your home and expose it to a nationwide network. Do you?

2. Results Come from the Internet

Where did buyers find the home they actually purchased?

49% on the internet

31% from a Real Estate Agent

7% from a yard sign

1% from newspapers

Putting a sign on the front lawn and putting up an ad in the paper are the least effective means of selling a home these days. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale by Owner:

The buyer who wants the best deal possible

The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer

The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)

The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house

The appraiser if there is a question of value

4. FSBOing Has Become More And More Difficult

There is a ton of paperwork when it comes to selling a home, due to industry disclosures and regulations having become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people who sell as FSBO has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

It may seem as if you’re saving money by selling your home on your own because you’re not paying the seller’s commission. But the fact is that the seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that people who sell as FSBOs don’t actually save anything, and in some cases, may be costing themselves more. One of the main reasons for the price difference at the time of sale is:

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

Using an agent will expose your home to more buyers, and as such the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war. The study showed that the difference in price between comparable homes of size and location is currently at an average of 6% this year.

Why would you choose to list on your own and manage the entire transaction when you can hire an agent and not have to pay anything more? 

If you decide to use an agent to sell your home, we would be happy to work with you to get the highest price possible for your home for sale in Lake Travis, Lakeway, and Austin.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 147

Contact Information

Photo of Rebecca Shahan Real Estate
Rebecca Shahan
Keller Williams Realty, Austin
1921 Lohmans Crossing, #100
Austin TX 78734
512-657-4467
Fax: (512) 263-0109