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Lake Travis Texas Real Estate Blog

Rebecca Shahan


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 117

More Home Staging Ideas to Help Your Home Sell

by Rebecca Shahan

More Home Staging Ideas to Help Your Home SellLast week we talked about some simple home staging ideas to get you on the way to selling your home faster in Austin and Lake Travis. But those ideas only scratch the surface of all the ways you can improve the appeal of your home for sale.  What are some further ways you can get the edge on the competition? Here's some advanced tips that can help.

Bring Balance

Last week we talked about the importance of cleaning and de-cluttering. Now that you have a cleaner slate, it's time to selectively bring back some items that will add appeal to your home. You can use tasteful decor such as a vase of cut flowers, a bowl of lemons by the sink, or perhaps some fresh produce on the kitchen counter, preferably from a local Austin area farmers market.

Add Style to the Dining Room

The dining room often gets overlooked when it comes to decorating a home. Empty tables can look unwelcoming, so style it up a bit with a series of small vessels down the center of the table.  Try to stay away from one large item in the center as this can look too stiff and formal.

Look at the Floors

You should at a minimum clean all the carpets. How worn are your wood floors? If they show their age, you should get them refinished. And if you can't afford to refinish them, try adding some carefully placed area rugs.

Symmetrical Furniture

Symmetrical furniture placement usually works best. You can create a more inviting area by pulling furniture away from the walls to create a conversation area.

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 And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

What is PMI?

by Rebecca Shahan

If you plan on buying a home in Austin and want to go with a low down payment loan, are you familiar with a type of insurance called Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).  There are plenty of mortgage options that offer down payments under 20%.  But if you plan on getting one of these types of loans, it’s a good idea to look into and educate yourself about Private Mortgage Insurance. How can Private Mortgage Insurance help you buy a home in the Austin area?

Here’s how Freddie Mac defines PMI:

“An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.

Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment.”

The simple explanation is that the buyer pays the monthly premiums for the PMI insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. As Freddie Mac explains:

“The cost of PMI varies based on your loan-to-value ratio – the amount you owe on your mortgage compared to its value – and credit score, but you can expect to pay between $30 and $70 per month for every $100,000 borrowed.”

The average down payment last year for all home buyers across the nation was 10% and 5% for first time buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). They also reported that the average down payment for repeat buyers was 14%. In other words, PMI didn’t stop these buyers from getting loans.

Here’s an example of the cost of a mortgage on a $200,000 home with a 5% down payment & PMI, compared to a 20% down payment without PMI:

What is Private Mortgage Insurance

The larger the down payment, the lower your monthly housing cost will be, but as Freddie Mac says:

“It’s no doubt an added cost, but it’s enabling you to buy now and begin building equity versus waiting 5 to 10 years to build enough savings for a 20% down payment.”

Are you planning to buy a home in the Austin area and have questions about home loans and PMI? Please contact us today for more information. You can also search for your dream home now using our convenient home search tool.

Have Fun in Austin With These Upcoming Events in April

by Rebecca Shahan

Have Fun in Austin WIth These Upcoming Events in AprilNow that spring is well underway, it’s time to start having some fun in the Austin and Lake Travis area. There’s always fun events to enjoy here.  So get ready to enjoy the months of April with these exciting upcoming events in Austin.

4/13/18 - 4/15/18
Art City Austin Festival 
Palmer Event Center
One of Austin’s favorite festivals, this event features almost 200 national artists, top local restaurants, two music stages and hands-on art activities.

4/18/18 - 4/21/18
Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival 
The Paramount Theatre and other locations
The Paramount Theatre is proud to present the Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival.  Laugh yourself silly with some of the funniest, wittiest and oddest world-class comics from around the globe. The festival will be highlighted by National headliners, up-and-comers and local Austin-based comedians for three days of hilarity.

4/19/18 - 4/22/18
30th Annual Old Settler's Music Festival 
Dale, TX
Celebrate American music and art with Central Texas' signature music event.  You’ll see and hear Grammy-winning Americana, arts and crafts, camping, food and libations. Swing and dance to acoustic jazz, blues and bluegrass performed by old-time local favorites and award-winning artists from around the world.

4/20/18 - 4/22/18
MOTOGPTM Grand Prix of The Americas
Circuit of The AmericasTM
Come to the Circuit of The AmericasTM track for the MotoGPTM. This exciting race takes place with a three-day series at the purpose built Grand Prix venue.

Weird Homes Tour
Around Town
Keeping Austin Weird is what this event is all about. This wacky annual event showcases a selection of the most creative homes around town.  You can also meet the homeowners who keep our wacky culture alive and weird.

Check back each week on our blog for more great reasons to buy a home in 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 And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

Stage Your Home to Sell

by Rebecca Shahan

It’s time to sell your home! It’s an exciting time, and there’s plenty of things to think about. One of them is making your home more appealing to buyers in the Austin and Lake Travis real estate market. What can you do to bring the appeal of your home up to where it will sell faster and make more money? You may want to hire a home staging expert.  That’s a great idea, however can be expensive.  What can you do on your own to save money on staging your home to sell? You can do a number of things on your own without spending a ton of money.  Here’s a few tips that can help.


It’s a no-brainer that a clean home will sell better than a cluttered or dirty one. How far should you go in cleaning and decluttering your home?  You need to look past the daily clutter.  Go through everything and decide what is really essential.  The items that are not critical can go in storage or be donated or sold.  This serves two purposes – selling your home faster and making your inevitable move faster. Your home needs to sparkle and be as clean a slate as possible so buyers can envision it as their home.  And that’s important to remember. This will be their home, not yours.

Curb Appeal

What do people think when they drive by your home? Take a hard look at the outside of your home and see what needs attention. You really can judge a book by its cover when it comes to real estate. Many times, buyers will drive by a home before they even schedule a showing. Make sure they don’t just drive by.  You should make sure the yard is well cared for.  Add a fresh coat of paint to the siding and trim.  Polish or replace dull hardware.  Clean the walkways and driveway. Also think about investing in new roofing if it’s showing its age.

Do a Walk-Through

You may be used to how your home looks, but buyers are not. How does your home really look to people? Walk through your home with a friend or your real estate agent and examine it with a fresh perspective.  Look at both what needs cleaning and what needs changing. What can be changed to make a room look larger? Could you change a solid door with a French door to let in more light? Do the kitchen cabinets need new hardware? Every change you make can have an impact.

Other things you can look at in your home are making sure your foyer is clean and clutter free, making the rooms more generic and versatile, find ways to let in more light, cleaning the fridge and organize the cupboards.

If you need help deciding what you can do to stage your home, we can help. And make sure to check back on our blog every week for more real estate advice. Also feel free to take advantage of our Home Valuation to get an instant market valuation for your Austin area home.

More Reasons Why This Spring Is the Best Time to Sell Your Home

by Rebecca Shahan

Do you plan to sell your home this Spring in Austin or Lake Travis?  Typically, Spring is the best  time of year to sell a home. But this year it’s promising to be an even better time to sell.  There are factors happening in the Austin real estate scene that make this the case.  Here are the top 4 reasons why selling your home this Spring is such a great idea.

  1. Strong Demand

The National Association of Realtors Buyer Traffic Report indicates that buyer traffic is strong in Texas. Home buyers are ready to go and are buying homes right now.This means more competition to buy your home and possible more money in your pocket.

  1. Less Competition

Home inventory has been dropping for around the past 32 months. This is a good thing if you’ve been building equity in your home. But don’t count on this being the case for long. The average number of years that homeowners stayed in their homes has been around 9-10 years since 2011.This was due to the previous negative equity that kept many homeowners from selling.As values rise, more people will sell.So don’t wait too long or you could end up getting less for your home.

  1. The Process Will Be Quicker

The competition for buyers is real, and that means more buyers will be ready in advance to buy your home, including being pre-approved.Buyers are more likely to know what they want and how much they can spend, which really speeds up the process for everyone.

  1. Time to Move Up

Are you planning on moving into a better home?The good news is that higher priced homes are actually selling for less due to a higher inventory in the higher price ranges. So if you’re selling a starter home, your home will sell more quickly and you’ll be more likely to find a premium home.

The best time to sell your home in Austin and Lake Travis is now.  Rebecca Shahan has been helping people buy their homes in Lake Travis and Austin for years. She can help you make the right choice in a home if you do decide it's time to move. Call today at 512-657-4467. Or search for a home online with our convenient home search tool.

The Best Pizza in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

Best Pizza Restaurants in AustinAustin is home to many great things.  And quite arguably, Austin is home to some of the best pizza in all of Texas. That may sound like a boastful statement.  But when you try out some of the top pizza places in Austin, your taste buds will convince you that no other city does pizza better than Austin. If you plan to buy a home in Austin or Lake Travis or already live here, then get ready for some of the best pizza you’ve ever eaten. 

Here’s the top 4 pizza restaurants in Austin.

Home Slice Pizza

If you crave authentic NY Style pizza, then this is the place to go.  They serve it up crispy and fast, with friendly staff to boot. They also put on a great show making their pizzas the NY way which you can enjoy if you can get a seat at the counter.


Featuring fresh handmade pizza, great Caesar salads, and outstanding pastrami.  You can enjoy the warm friendly atmosphere inside or on the outside patio. Now celebrating 5 years of making great pizzas, Pieus has quickly become a local Austin favorite, which is evident in the large crowds enjoy their tasty fare.

Pinthouse Pizza

Nothing goes better with great pizza than a refreshing brew. They feature am Irish Stout beer that has a bold flavor that goes with their equally bold pizzas.  Everything is made in house and from scratch from locally sources ingredients when available. Their website describes them as “not gourmet, but we are artisanal. We are not gastropub, but we are craft.”

Via 313 Pizza

313 makes the best Detroit and Bar Style pizzas in Austin.  A slightly different take on the classic pie, the Detroit style is made in a rectangle in metal trays.  The Bar Style have a thin crust that are crispy yet chewy, similar to Detroit style. This style is found from Wisconsin to Massachusetts in any number of beer joints, taverns, and tap rooms. Either way, you’ll get a delicious pie along with outstanding brews on tap.

Check back each week on our blog for more great reasons to buy a home in 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 And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

Remodeling to Get the Most ROI Selling Your Home

by Rebecca Shahan

Get the most ROI on selling your home in AustinAre you planning on selling your home in Austin or Lake Travis? If so, you no doubt want to do what you can to get the most money from the sale.  How old is you home? When was it remodeled or painted last?  If it's been a while, then it may be a good idea to look into updating your home. A dated or worn down appearance can take away from the resale value.  But where's the balance to avoid spending more than you get back in the sale?  Which projects will get back the most money and add to the appeal of your home to buyers? 

Not every improvement will increase the value of your home. Certain projects will only preserve the value, while others will help increase it.  In the end, you need to focus on what will increase the value.

So to get down to it, what are the projects that get the highest ROI?

Outside Projects

Nothing improves a home more than enhancing curb appeal. Most buyers will judge a home by how it looks from the outside.  Just about any project that enhances how your home looks on the outside will enhance the value. The projects that can get back the most money in the sale are replacing the garage door, replacing a steel door entry, adding or improving a wood deck, along with siding and facade projects. If you don't have enough money for those improvements, just adding a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference. Make sure you keep with neutral colors so as not to put off any potential buyers.

Kitchens and Baths

We all know that the kitchen is the heart of the home.  We rely on our stove and fridge, along with other appliances. If your kitchen has older appliances, you may want to update them. Baths are also an important place to keep fresh.  If the baths have dated flooring and counters, you should think about updating them as well.

The Little Things

This may all sound like it costs too much to take on.  But that's OK, as you can focus on the little things. Updating the little things can really help sell your home. You can give your home a fresh coat of paint, trim trees and bushes, plant new bushes and landscaping. De-cluttering and cleaning your home only costs time. If you have an unfinished basement, you can put gray epoxy on the floor and paint the walls white. Never underestimate the power of improving the little things.

Every home and neighborhood is different in Austin. If you need help deciding what improvements would be best to sell your home, we know what sells a home in Austin and Lake Travis and what buyers are looking for. And make sure to check back on our blog every week for more real estate advice. And make sure you take advantage of our Home Valuation to get an instant market valuation for your Austin area home.


5 Spring Gardening Tips

by Rebecca Shahan

Gardening tips for Lake Travis and AustinSpring has arrive in Austin and Lake Travis, so get those tools tools out of the shed and get ready to get your garden back in shape. How can you get the most from your garden this spring? Here's a few simple tips to help you get started on growing a fantastic garden this spring.


During the winter, leaves and other debris can build up. And certainly weeds have built up. If you're pulling weeds rather than using weed killer, make sure you get the roots so they don't grow back as fast.  Also take time to sharpen your garden tools if needed, since you'll be getting a lot of use out of them.


During the winter, your soil may get dry and compact. You can help the soil by adding organic material such as compost or manure. You may also want to test the soil to see what exact nutrients are needed so that you get the right mix.

Trim the Old Plants

You may have some plants that survived during the winter, so they will need to be pruned so that they'll have new growth during the Spring. April or May is the ideal time to prune to avoid any unexpected freezing. The best time to prune summer plants is in early spring. 

Spread Mulch

Spreading 1 - 3 inches of mulch helps control the temperature and keep in the moisture in your garden, along with preventing weeds. Make sure you keep the mulch a few inches from the roots to prevent rotting.

New Plants

Why not explore planting new flowers and shrubs this year? Here's some great spring plants you might try:

  • Pansies
  • Snapdragons
  • Vegetables like lettuce, peas and arugula
  • Redbuds
  • Transplanting tomato plants from indoor pots to outside
  • Lilacs
  • Tulips

If you chose to plant more perennials than annuals, it might help over the years as annuals need to be replaced every year. Perennials can last up to 3 years, making them a better investment.

Join us on our blog every week for more real estate advice.  You can also search for your dream home in Lake Travis and Austin using our convenient and powerful home search tool.

Keeping Your Home Cool With Less A/C

by Rebecca Shahan

Stay cool in Asutin with less ACSpring is here in Austin and Lake Travis and Summer is soon to come, along with warmer weather.  In fact, this week the forecast is for temps in the 80's.  No doubt you're getting the A/C ready.  And if you don't have an air conditioner or cooling system, then you want every possible advantage to keep your home cool this year.  And even if you do have an A/C, running it non-stop can get expensive.  How can you keep your power usage down and still stay cool this summer? Here's a few tips that can help you saty cooler.

Run Fans

Sure this may sound obvious, but it certainly still bears mentioning.  The more air you circulate around the home, the cooler you'll feel even if the temperature remains the same. Plus it will help remove stagnant stale air that can add to your discomfort in the heat.

Run Appliances When It's Cooler

Try to schedule doing dishes or laundry during cooler times of the day.  These appliances build up heat and can cause the A/C to run longer, or make it harder to cool your home without A/C. Certainly avoid using these appliances during the mid-day heat if at all possible.

Cover Windows

Large windows let in sun, especially facing the south. Keeping them covered will help reflect the sunlight and keep your rooms cooler. Blackout curtains that have white on the side facing the window and darker colors facing the inside can help the most.

Plant Trees and Bushes

Landscaping is not only a beautiful ways to shield your home from the sun, but it's efficient and effective.

Attic Fan

An attic fan can suck the heat out of your living area, which can lower the temperature of your home.

Keep Thermostats Away From Heat

A thermostat located near a heat source can cause the A/C to run longer. Try to place appliances away from the thermostat.

Avoid Rocks & Cement

Landscaping with a lot of rocks and cement can soak up the heat and radiate it, especially on the south and west sides of your home.

Window Film

Properly installing window film can improve the efficiency of any window and help reduce heat.

With these few tips, you can stay cooler and save money during the warmer times of the year.  Check back on our blog every week for more real estate advice and helpful articles.

Spring is a Great Time to Buy a Home in Lake Travis

by Rebecca Shahan

Reasons to buy a homenow in Austin and Lake travisAre you thinking about whether Spring is the right time to buy a new home in Lake Travis, Austin, or the surrounding areas? If so, here's some great reasons why now is a good time to buy a home instead of waiting.

Prices Will Continue to Rise

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports, home prices have continued to increase by 6.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.3% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices in Austin has come to pass. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting to buy a home in Texas just doesn't make sense.

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage hovered close to 4.0% in 2017. And according to experts, that rate will continue to rise. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors all agree that rates will increase by nearly a full percentage point by this time next year.

Higher mortgage rates means higher mortgage payments. You likely want to avoid that from happening.

Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

Many renters are afraid to take on a mortgage. The thing to remember is that you are paying a mortgage when you rent, it's just someone else's.  

Having a mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. when you rent, it's your landlord is the person with that equity.

It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

There are two things that determine the cost of a home: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. Both of those factors are rising. Would you still wait if they weren't?

Examine the real reasons you want to wait. Are you doing fine where you are living now?  Or do you need to have a better place for your children? Maybe safety is a concern.  Maybe now is the right time to buy.

Rebecca Shahan has been helping people buy their homes in Lake Travis and Austin for years. She can help you make the right choice in a home if you do decide it's time to move. Call today at 512-657-4467. Or search for a home online with our convenient home search tool.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 117

Contact Information

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