Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 109

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.

11 Steps to Owning Your First Home

by Rebecca Shahan

Are you getting ready to buy your first home in Austin or Lake Travis?  If so, it’s certainly an exciting time for you. It’s easy to get lost in all the emotions and happenings. The trick is to not let yourself get swept away in the process.  But don’t worry, if you keep on track, you can successfully buy your first home in Austin and come out on top.  What are the steps involved, and how can you successfully complete them all so that you find the house of your dreams in Austin and the surrounding communities?

Here are the 11 steps that you need to follow.

  1. Do Your Homework
    Buying a home is without a doubt the biggest financial decision you’ll likely make in your life. You’ll need to consider factors such as price, housing type, neighborhood, school districts, and more. You can complete this worksheet to help you figure all these items out. Make sure to fill it out with everyone who’s involved in the process so that everyone has the same goals in mind.
  2. Start Shopping for Homes in Austin
    Now that you know what you're looking for, start looking for listings online.  Here's a great tool for finding the ideal home in Austin and surrounding communities.
  3. Find a Great Agent
    Rebecca Shahan is ready to help you find the perfect first home and help you through the process of finding the perfect home in Austin and Lake Travis.
  4. Choose a Lender
    Now it’s time to find the right mortgage lender. Your lender will be working closely with you throughout the process, so it’s important to find one that understands your goals and needs.
  5. Pick a Loan
    Your lender will work with you to determine the right mortgage to fit your financial needs.  You'll need to provide proof of income, employment, and other details.
  6. Look at Homes
    Here comes the fun part of the process! Rebecca Shahan can help you find homes in in Austin and the surrounding areas in Texas that fit your budget and the needs you determined in step 1.
  7. Make an Offer
    Now that you’ve located the home you want in Austin, then you make the offer.  Rebecca can help you decide how much you want to pay, along with contingencies that both parties can agree on.
  8. Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate
    This is where you work out the deal for your new home.  But watch out that you don’t get carried away by emotions because you want the house. Some sellers may just accept your offer, but some may make a counter-offer.  Your agent will work with you to decide what to do.
  9. Inspect the Home
    When an offer is accepted, then you'll sign a contract that will no doubt include a home inspection contingency.  At this point you'll hire a licensed home inspector to look for needed repairs. If major repairs are needed, then the seller will be asked to make those repairs.
  10. Appraisal
    Your lender needs to determine if the home is worth enough to cover the mortgage.
  11. Close the Deal
    You’re almost there! You just need to sign the final paperwork to finish the deal.  Now it’s time to get moved into your first home!

Rebecca Shahan has been helping people buy their first home in in Austin for years. She can help you through all of these steps to guide you to owning your first home in in Austin. Call her today at 512-657-4467.

Austin Is an Antique Collector's Paradise

by Rebecca Shahan

One of the many great things about Austin Texas is its rich history.  And the many great antiques stores located in Austin let you purchase a piece of that past. Austin is an antique collector’s dream come true.  All the antique stores and dealers are located walking distance or a short drive from each other, so you can literally spend all day perusing the treasures they contain.  You’ll not only find tons of antiques from the Austin and Texas area, but from around the world.  And it’s the perfect way to find unique items to decorate your new home in Austin or Lake Travis. Here’s a short list of some of the best antique stores in Austin to get you started on your journey through time.

The Austin Antique Mall

The ideal first stop on your antique shopping list in Austin, the Austin Antique Mall houses over 100 vendors.  For over 30 years, antique collectors have been exploring the largest selection of antiques and furniture in Austin.  You’ll also find items such as military memorabilia, crystal, toys, sports items, china, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Uncommon Objects

This quirky shop focuses on unique collectables, taxidermy, gadgets and more. With 24 vendors, it makes for a more intimate shopping experience, described as "your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids." You’ll also find folk arts and parlor crafts from around the world.

Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques

If you prefer antiques with an international flavor, then Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques is an excellent place to find the perfect French and Italian antiques from the 18th – 20th centuries.  They specialize in fine furniture, lighting, and items perfect for  decorating your home in Austin.

Antique Marketplace

Antique Marketplace offers a unique mix of American and European Antiques, featuring art, furniture clocks, potter, and much more.

Other antique dealers in Austin include Antiques & Things, Antique Swan, Room Service Vintage, Out of the Past Collectibles, just to name a few.

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.

5 Reasons to Work WIth an Experienced Agent

by Rebecca Shahan

Real Estate Agent​Are you planning on buying or selling a home in the Austin or Lake Travis Texas area? If so, get ready for an adventure. And as with any great adventure, you need someone to guide you on the journey. Buying or selling a home can be fraught with pitfalls. But some home buyers and sellers are tempted by instant gratification, so they may try to go it on their own.  This is called FSBO, or "for sale by owner." And some do have success, but not usually as much as they would if they used an agent. 

The reasons you should hire a real estate professional in Austin has not really changed, despite great changes in the industry. With the advent of internet marketing and home searches, many may feel more empowered to find a home on their own or sell one. But the fact is that projections of higher mortgage interest rates and home prices has made it even more crucial to have help when buying or selling a home. Here are 5 of the top reasons you need help when buying or selling a home in Austin and Lake Travis.

1. Do you want to deal with all the paperwork?

Texas has regulations regarding the contracts you need to buy or sell a home in Austin, and these regulations are constantly changing. A professional real estate agent is an expert in the Austin and Texas markets.  They know about all the paperwork that needs to be completed. Save yourself that headache and let a pro take care of it.

2. What do you do when you find your dream home?

Did you know that there are over 180 possible steps that need to take place during a successful real estate transaction. Do you know what they are? A real estate professional know all of these steps. Let them take care of the process.

3. Are you a good negotiator?

Many people don't know that it's necessary to negotiate with a number of people during the process of buying or selling a home in Austin. Are you familiar with this process or practiced in negotiation tactics? You need to negotiate with buyers, home inspection companies, all the way to the appraisers.  There are at least 11 different people who you will need to work with during the process. Again, this can be overwhelming if you're not familiar with the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

Do you know what your home that you're buying or selling in Austin is really worth? Pricing a home or determining it's value is important to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You may be emotionally connected to your home more than you realize. An agent is not. They can give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to a study by Collateral Analytics, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by real estate agents:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

To get the most from your transaction, you need someone who's familiar with the Austin market and can set the best price.  And if you're buying, you need someone who can tell if a home is set at the right price and can negotiate the best price.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the Austin, Texas market?

With all the information on the news and internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates, can you sort out what’s going on in the Austin area? An agent can competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process. How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring a local agent in Austin who knows the market will make your buying or selling experience a successful journey. 

If you're buying or selling a home in Austin, Lake Travis, Lakeway, Beecave or the surrounding areas, you can count on Rebecca Shahan to guide you. 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.

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 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 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. lets you choose from tons of sweet little inns to get away from the city. Visit 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.


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. 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 109