Real Estate Information Archive


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5 Dos and Don't When Viewing Properties

by Rebecca Shahan

Touring a home can be a fun and exciting time. This is a new beginning for you and your family. There's a lot of things you need to take in and learn about the home's you're viewing.

There's more to viewing a home than just walking through it.  There's some things to remember when it comes to making mistakes that could upset the seller, and possibly cost you the purchase or hurt negotiations.

What are some ways you can stay on the seller's good side, while keeping focused on getting the most from your tour?

1. The fewer the better.

This isn't a party. Don't being a bunch of friends or relatives just to get their opinion. If they're purchasing a home with you, that's one thing. But sellers usually aren't too fond of large groups touring at once.

The more people you have with you on a tour, the bigger the chance of someone doing something that will upset the seller. Plus they can distract you from taking in important details about the property.

You should also try not to bring small children, as this too could be distracting, and possible cause problems with the seller.

If you absolutely need to bring other people with you on a showing, ask your agent beforehand.

2. You're being watched.

Sellers are usually curious about who's viewing their home, and for good reason. They still usually have possessions in the home they want to protect.  They also want to know what you're feeling are about the home. And that's easy enough to view with security cameras.

The rule of thumb is to just act as if the seller is a silent partner on the tour.  That should help you avoid doing or saying things that will negatively affect the sale if you decide to buy. Also keep in mind that the seller may not even be using a camera to watch you. They may be next door watching, or having a neighbor watching you.

3. Don't take photos

You may think that since everyone has a camera on their phone, that it's no big deal to snap photos on a home tour. But that's not so. You are on private property, and unless you've been given express permission by the seller, you should never take photos during a tour. It's an invasion of privacy and could also be against the law.

Just because the listing agent has taken photos and posted them online also does not make it OK for you to. The agent and seller have an agreement to take those photos, and they are approved by the seller before posting them online.

So if the seller allows you to take photos, don't post them on social media. You could hurt your negotiations and invade the seller's privacy. Wait until the house is yours and post all the photos your heart desires.

4. Do use your imagination.

Since most people don;t have the same tastes, you need to imagine how the home would look with your decorating tastes. Try to think of inexpensive ways to decorate it, such as painting and where you would locate your furniture.

Augmented reality (AR) apps on your phone are an ideal way of doing this, as they let you picture how the home would look if you buy it.

5. Don’t use the bathroom.

Would you want a bunch of strangers using your bathroom? It's fine to test fixtures and cabinets, but don't use the bathroom unless the seller says it's OK in advance.

Touring homes can be a fun and beneficial experience, as long as you mind your manners and show respect for the seller.

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.  

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.


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

The Steps to a Succesful Home Inspection

by Rebecca Shahan

Steps to having a succesful home inspectionOf all the parts of the home selling and buying process, the home inspection is certainly one of the most important steps.  A home inspection is really important, as it will determine the condition of the home and could save you quite a great deal of money as a home buyer. And if you are selling a home in Austin, then it can give you time to make the needed repairs to get the most money you can from the sale. A home inspection will also give valuable insight into potential problems in the future.

What are some important things to consider when getting a home inspection?

  1. Research the Inspector

A costly mistake that people make is hiring the first inspector they find or is recommended. As with any service, it’s important to research who you hire, as it can make all the difference in the end. You need an inspector who will make sure you understand the issues and will be thorough.

Here are some important questions to ask a potential inspector:

  • How long have you been inspecting homes professionally?
  • How many home inspections have you performed in your career?
  • What are your qualifications, certifications and training?
  • What did you do for work before you were a home inspector? (Preferably, you want someone who was a contractor or builder.)

Also, is the inspector keeping current in their education? They need to be up to date so that you get the best and most current information possible.

  1. Be There During the Inspection

Being present during the inspection may seem excessive or not needed, but that’s not the case.  A good inspector will welcome your presence. And simply reading the report doesn’t always reveal all that needs repairing.  Seeing the issues in person and having the home inspector explain them will be far more helpful.  Even though an inspection may take a few hours, it will be well worth your time, as it could save you a great deal of money.

  1. Get a Presale Inspection

If you’re selling your home, you may think you can leave the inspection to the home buyer. Here’s the issue with that plan. If the buyer’s inspection reveals repairs that are needed to make the sale, you won’t have as much time to make the needed repairs. But if your home is inspected before you put it on the market, you’ll have more time to make needed repairs and will have more control over the costs.

A good home inspection is crucial to buying a home, so make sure you find the best inspector you can.

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.  

Has the 2018 Tax Reform Damaged the Real Estate Market?

by Rebecca Shahan

Recently some speculated that the 2018 tax changes would damage the housing market. Some headlines were reporting that there was a potential for double-digit price depreciation. These headlines even suggested that buyer demand could decrease rapidly. Some felt that the American dream of owning a home would slip away.

Now that we’ve come past the first quarter of 2018, we can look at the number and analyze the actual impact of the tax reform on the real estate market.

1. Has tax reform killed off home buyer demand?

If we look at the Showing Time Index which “tracks the average number of buyer showings on active residential properties on a monthly basis” and is a “highly reliable leading indicator of current and future demand trends,” we can see that buyer demand has actually risen each month over the last three months and is even higher than it was for the same months last year. We can clearly see from this that buyer demand is not going down, but up.

2. Have the tax changes affected America’s belief in real estate as a long-term investment?

Gallup released its annual survey two weeks ago that asked Americans which asset they thought was the best long-term investment. This is what the survey showed:

“More Americans name real estate over several other vehicles for growing wealth as the best long-term investment for the fifth year in a row. Just over a third cite real estate for this, while roughly a quarter name stocks or mutual funds.”

This survey also revealed that there has been no change in the past year of the percentage of Americans who believe real estate is a good investment.

3. Has the homeownership rate been negatively impacted by the tax changes?

In her latest “Z Report,” Ivy Zelman helps us to understand that the 2018 tax reform didn’t damage the homeownership rate. In fact it helped it.  She explains it this way:

“We have been of the opinion that homeownership is most highly correlated with income and the net effect of tax reform would be a positive, rather than negative catalyst for the homeownership rate. While still in the early innings of tax changes, this has proven to be the case.”

5. Will the reforms in the tax code cause home prices to tumble over the next twelve months?

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights Report, home prices will appreciate in each of the 50 states over the next twelve months. Appreciation is projected to be anywhere from 1.9% to 10.3% with the national average being 4.7%.

As we’ve proceeded through the year, we can see that the dire predictions of the 2018 tax reform have not affected the real estate market adversely.

Check back on our blog each week for more real estate and local Lake Travis and Austin articles. If you're planning to buy a home in the Austin and Lake Travis area, please contact us today. You can also search for your dream home now using our convenient home search tool.


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.  

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.

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.


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!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13