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Home Repairs You Should Never Do Yourself

by Rebecca Shahan

Owning a home can be a pain at times. Home repairs can be expensive and at times, highly inconvenient. It might seem like a good idea to do a DIY on that annoying repair, but some fixes are better left to the pros. Here's a few examples for you to consider.

Electrical Repairs

Electrical repairs are at the top of the list. You might think calling in your relative or friend who's a "great handyman" to do the repair for you, but often that can cause more problems or dangers than it will solve. Electricians can be expensive, but that is because they've spent many years studying and training to get the job done safely for you and them.

Basement Makeover

A basement renovation might seem like a dream come true to a DIYer, but the basement is a very important part of a homes structure and mistakes, some possibly fatal, could occur. Even if it isn't fatal, it could wind up costing you far more than you bargained for.

Fun with Plumbing

Plumbing issues. Not a whole lot of fun to deal with one every day, leaving you tempted to take care of it yourself. You might think too, that plumbing, along with simple electrical repairs will be a walk in the park, but a fix done wrong can cause serious damage. To your home and wallet. So try calling a plumber. Why else are there at least a dozen in every town?

Gas Appliances

When it comes to gas appliances it could literally be an explosive situation if an appliance is not fixed and reconnected correctly during a repair. Similar to electrical repairs, if not done right, you could cause a leak, which could create major health problems and even a fire or explosion in your home or worse. So when it come to your gas appliances, don't DIY. Call a professional.

When it comes to health, safety and caring for your home, erring on the side of caution is always the best option.

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.  

Prepare Your Garden For Winter

by Rebecca Shahan

When it comes to keeping your house looking good, your garden is an important factor, and fall can be a particularly messy season. There are many things to consider when preparing your garden for fall. Here are a few tips to get things started.
 
 Removing Dead Plants
 
 Start with removing plants that are infested with bugs and disease. You don't want these problems festering over the winter. It is not recommended to dump these plants into the compost pile. If you're able, burn them, or bag them for trash.
 
 Trim Your Perennials
 
 When trimming your perennials, try not to cut them down further than 4-6 inches. As well, don't cut them before the first frost, and the plant is dead for the season, so that the energy stored up in the stalks can flow back down to the main root system, where is stays until the spring.
 
 Leave the Pretty Plants
 
 If you don't want your garden to look barren during the winter, leave plants that look pretty and will stay stable through the winter as they are. They could also prove to be important to next years critters such as butterfly eggs and early bird nests. 

Remove Messy Leaves

 
 Not only will your yard and garden look better without a layer of leaves, but it will also help keep your plants healthier and safe from rotting and harboring bugs and disease. Make sure to remove all the weeds too, before the ground gets to hard to work with.

Putting Down Compost Cover
 
 Keeping your ground healthy with a layer of compost is one way to ensure your plants are a happy and that your garden stays looking great. Putting down a layer of compost up to 6 inches will help the ground replenish necessary nutrients. a good choice for compost is composted manure or something with a balance of green and brown matter.
 

With these tips in mind enjoy your time in the garden!

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.  

How to Avoid Damage During Moving Day

by Rebecca Shahan

Most people imagine moving day with plenty of furniture disasters. They probably imagine damage to a piece of furniture that is special.

As unpleasant as that sounds, the damage could be much worse! When moving, you can inflict damage to your furniture – not to mention the walls and doorways of your new home – if you or the movers aren’t careful. But don’t worry – we have some helpful suggestions! Read on for the best ways to avoid damage to both your furniture and your new home during your move.

Protecting Your Furniture

Wrap your furniture in moving blankets, which will prevent nicks and scratches to your furniture (and walls) during your move. Better yet, you can easily stack furniture (like chairs) that are wrapped in blankets on top of one another without worrying about the furniture getting scratched.

You can use sofa covers to protect your furniture, which are fitted exactly to the size of the piece of furniture. Sofa covers, however, do tend to be more expensive than moving blankets.

Dissemble whatever pieces of furniture that you can, and make sure to keep track of the pieces that are needed to put it back together. Smaller items will be easier to move and least likely to scratch walls or door frames.

Flooring

Carpet film protector – think of it like clear plastic sheeting – is one of your best bet if you want to protect your flooring during a move. Carpet film protector, however, is not cheap, so be sure to check out a few more budget-friendly tips below.

Keep it cheap, and place carpet runners, throw sheets, large pieces of flattened cardboard paper or flattened cardboard boxes along your floor. It’ll make protecting your flooring so much easier!

Place felt pads on the bottom of chairs, sofas, and table legs. This way, you’ll still be able to move your furniture around without any of the heavy lifting.

Pro-tip: If it’s raining on moving day, make sure to not pack up your welcome mat! That way, your movers can wipe off their shoes before entering your home (and not dirty up the carpet in the process).

Walls

Certain corners in your home will most likely receive higher traffic than others – install corner guards to prevent furniture from getting caught on the corners.

Cover the walls with drop cloths to prevent scratches, holes, or dings from other pieces of furniture. You can even stick flattened cardboard to the wall and attach the cardboard with painter’s tape (which won’t peel the paint off the walls).

Door Frames

Best rule to follow: Measure twice, move once! Measure the piece of furniture beforehand to make sure that the doorway is wide enough to fit the piece of furniture that's being moved. Believe us, you’ll prevent a lot of nicks, scrape,  and scratches in the process.

Banisters and Railings

Banisters and railings are commonly in high-traffic areas and are very likely to get bumped or dinged. To help avoid damage, wrap the entire banister in bubble wrap, or even attach flattened cardboard to the top of the banister.

So, there you have it! With a a little bit of extra effort, your move should go more smoothly – and with minimal damage to your furniture and your new 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.  

DIY Appliance Maintenance Tips

by Rebecca Shahan

Nobody wants to deal with appliances breaking. We rely on them more than we realize. And when they shut down, it can cost a good chunk of money.

With a little TLC, you can avoid appliance disasters and save yourself from the disasters that happen when appliance give up the ghost.

Here's a few DIY tips you can do yourself, without hiring a pro.

1. Oven Door Seal

Most people don't think to check the oven door seal, but if it's cracked or broken, it can lead to longer cook times, or worse. Check the seal around the door for any melted, torn, or broken areas. With the door closed and the oven on, check for leaks. If you discover any issues, replace the seal.

2. Check Range Hood Filters

Check the filter on the range hood and clean if needed. Replace charcoal filters. Metal filters can be washed by hand or dishwasher.

3. Clean Stove Top Drip Bowls

Pre-soak the drip bowls under your burner elements for 5 minutes, then wash them. Make sure to clean up spills right away so they don't burn into the bowls.

4. Clean Refrigerator Coils

Check for pet hair, dust, or dirt in the refrigerator coils, located behind the kick plate or behind the fridge.  These can be cleaned with a vacuum.

5. Change Refrigerator Water Filter 

Change the water filter on your fridge every 3 - 6 months, depending on how much you use it.

6. Repair Rusty Dish Rack Tines 

Check your dishwasher rack for rusty tines. If you find rust, it can be easily repaired with a sealant and replacement tips to cover the tines. This will keep your dishes and silverware form being ruined.

7. Maintain Your Garbage Disposal

Check your garbage disposal for any stuck items. Make sure the power is off and do not use your hands! Pour a combination of ice cubes and salt, or vinegar down the drain, then run cold water for 10 seconds and turn on the disposal with the water still running. Never run the disposal without water. You can remove odors with citrus peels, or with odor removal packets sold in most stores.

8. Clean Dryer Exhaust

Remove the exhaust hose from the back of the dryer and remove any lint.  You can pull it out by hand or gently use a hanger. Vacuum before you re-attach the hose.

9. Check Washing Machine Hoses

You can prevent your washing machine from flooding by checking hoses for leaks. Check for cracks, leaks, or weak spots. As a rule of thumb, replace hoses every 5 years.

10. Clean AC Filters

Cleaning your AC filter every 2 - 4 weeks will increase your AC's life, as well as maintain efficiency. Vacuum reusable filters, and replace disposable ones.

If you follow these tips, you'll hopefully be able to avoid costly appliance repairs or replacements.

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.  

Protect Yourself From This Email Scam

by Rebecca Shahan

Here's how the scam unfolds. You're getting ready to close the deal on your new home.  But right before you close the deal, you get scammed into sending your money elsewhere outside the U.S. You lose your money and the new house. And there's nothing anyone can do about it.

It's a dastardly scheme, and it's becoming more common. It's another version of the "business email compromise" scam. But instead of targeting businesses, they target home buyers closing on a home purchase.

This scam is especially destructive. It not only robs the victim of money, but it destroys dreams and lives as well. Some who have been victims of this scam have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, their dream home, and even their life savings.

According to the FBI, email compromise schemes are on the increase.  A company known as Proofpoint has been tracking email cybercrimes as well.  They report that this type of crime has reached a level 14 times higher than last year. So for now, this scam is not going away.

How does it work?

A version of this scam has been going on for some time. Malware is used to infiltrate the email account of a real estate professional. Once the scammer gains control of the email account, they can watch for upcoming transactions. And the owner of the email account has no idea they are being watched.

Then when the time arrives for the sale to close, the scammer will send an email from that hacked account to the buyer, claiming that plans have changed and that they need to wire money to a specified account. The email looks convincingly real, as it comes from the right address and is formatted in the same style.

Then the buyer wires the money. Now it's gone. That's that. The money is now out of the reach of U.S. law enforcement and banks.

Scammers are getting more clever, even following up with a phone call to the buyer.  They claim that they represent the title company or seller's law office to further convince them the wire transfer is legitimate.

Scammers are going to great lengths to sure up their craft, and it pays off, as the payout is immediate and far higher than other types of scams.

Long Gone

Why can't a victim of this scheme do anything about it? Because money is wired to another bank, you are the one who authorized it. It doesn't matter if you were fooled into sending it. The bank is not responsible.  This is different than when someone takes money from your account directly without your knowledge. And since the funds are sent overseas, there's basically nothing U.S. law agencies can do about it.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

First of all, don't panic. All you need to do is apply some basic common sense and caution.

Be vigilant: Make sure that you verify any suspicious emails regarding your transaction. Always feel free to call your real estate agent to verify emails.

Voice verify: The home buying process may already seem like a long process, but you must follow up emails with a phone call to the sender, especially if the email asks you to sign a document, log into a new website, send money, or give them any financial information. The basic rule is if you're in doubt, call the email sender.

Talk to your bank: Check with your bank to see if they will place restrictions on wire transfers from your account in the form of a voice verification or other checkpoint.

Don't immediately respond to email: If you get an email that requests some kind of action, regard it with suspicion and follow up with a phone call to the individual sending the email.

You can protect yourself from theft by applying some caution and common sense. It may take more time and effort, but it is certainly worth it.

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.  

Making Your Home Smart is Easy

by Rebecca Shahan

If you plan on selling your older home, no doubt you want to find easy ways to bring it up to date. One easy way to do that is with smart home devices.  Most of them are easy to install and relatively inexpensive. Today's smart home technology adds convenient features and security to any home, without the need for extensive modifications.

As shown in the infographic, there are plenty of ways to make your home smarter. Some ways are easier and more affordable than others, but all of them make life safer and more convenient. And this is what buyers are looking for more than ever in a home. Smart technology adds value to your home, just like cosmetic upgrades. And the good news is that these upgrades are easy and inexpensive.

Even if you don't plan to sell your home soon, adding smart technology is still a great idea. Here's a few smart ways to update your home.

Smart Thermostats

Those old dial thermostats can really detract from the feeling that a home is up to date. If you still have those old thermostats, updating them to smart thermostats is a great investment. Smart thermostats show the buyer that you're interested in the functionality of your air conditioning. 

Smart thermostats also include energy saving features that can save on energy bills, which is a great selling point. Being able to control them with a smart phone is also becoming a desired feature. And for those concerned about the environment, smart thermostats help HVAC efficiency.

Smart Lighting

Smart lighting is probably the easiest smart devices to install. If you can screw in a light bulb, you've got this. And they make a huge difference to the feel of your rooms. Smart bulbs have almost limitless combinations of colors and brightness, allowing you to change the environment in an instant. 

This is also handy for showings. Each room can have a tailored lighting scheme that matches the use of the room, making it even more enticing to buyers. And you can use mart lighting in porch lights that are set to turn on at specific times.

Security Systems

Smart home security has made securing your home more affordable and convenient. Installing smart home security devices is much easier than old security systems, especially with WI-FI cameras and battery powered devices.

If you don't feel like installing your own sensors or cameras, some cable companies such as Comcast offer smart security packages along with professional installation. These systems offer the option of multiple cameras and 24/7 recording, all controlled from your smart device or on their website. Adding cameras, either with a service or simply tied to your smart device, can add convenience as well as security, as you can monitor areas of your home, including the front door.

You don't have to break the bank to make your home a smart home. If you do plan to sell your home, it can be worth the investment.  If you don't plan to sell your home, it can make your life more convenient and safe.  Either way, smarter is better.

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.  

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.  

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13

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