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Have a Happy New Year's Eve in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

The time has come to put on our party hats and celebrate the new Year in Austin! 2019 is almost here, so it's time to plan for a fun evening in Austin. Here's a few events to help you bring 2018 to a close.

Experince Austin: NYE 2019
Monday Dec 31, 2018, 7:00 p.m. – Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 3:00 a.m.
NYE Industry Mixer

Experience Austin will have VIP stretch limos and party busses, a private open bar mixer, and performances from Torin, Victor Cyrus, King Paida, and DJ Hubbard.

 

2nd Annual Fire & Ice New Year’s Eve Party
Monday Dec 31, 2018, 8:30 p.m. – Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 2:00 a.m.
Moonfire Lounge

VIP Seated Tables are available for purchase, which include admission for your group, Champagne, bottles of spirits w/mixers, lite bites, and a Champagne toast at midnight, as well as upgraded party favors.

 

Gatsby’s House – Austin New Years Eve 2019
Monday Dec 31, 2018, 9:00 p.m. – Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 2:00 a.m.
Omni Austin Hotel Downtown

Take a trip back to the roaring twenties, where Flapper and Zoot suits are encouraged at this awesome Gatsby themed NYE party! This event has a little something for everyone with two dance floors, a five hour prepaid bar, and a Casino Night with Craps, Roulette, and Blackjack where you can win up to $250 in VIP gift certificates.

 

The Black Puma’s
Monday Dec 31, 2018, 8:00 p.m. – Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 2:00 a.m.
Antone’s

The beat-heavy psychedelic soul project lead by vocalist Eric Burton and guitarist Adrian Quesada will be hosting a NYE Party from 9pm -2am at Antone’s; doors at 8 pm.

 

The Black Angels – New Year’s Eve at Mohawk
Monday December 31, 2018, Doors at 7:00 p.m.
Mohawk

 

Keep It Quiet Presents: The NYE Party
Monday Dec 31, 2018, 9:00 p.m. –Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 2:00 a.m.
Fair Market

Ticket purchase includes an open bar, PIZZA, and music from Thank You For Sweating. The event will be sponsored by, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Playa Real Tequila, Red Bull, Nine Banded Whiskey, and others.

 

New Year’s Eve: A Labyrinth Themed Masquerade Ball
Monday Dec 31, 2018, 9:00 p.m. –Tue, Jan 1, 2019, 1:55 a.m.
Indian Roller

Special Creeps will be performing a two-hour live set, followed by DJ Shewolf. There will be a free photo booth and champagne toast at midnight. No cover for this event, doors open at 9pm; 21+ only.

 

Have a happy and safe New Years 2019 in Austin!
 

Things to Know Before Accepting - or Rejecting - an Offer in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

If you have your home on the market, you'll soon be getting offers. When that happens, you'll need to decide which offers is best for you.

Your real estate agent will be a huge help with this. Agents know how to determine the pros and cons of an offer, since there's more to it than just dollar signs. They have a sense of your financial and personal goals, so they can help you decide if the offer being made matches those goals.

Before the first offer rolls in, here’s what you need to know about the offer evaluation process, including the main factors that should go into making a decision with your agent.

When vetting offers, evaluate these areas in addition to price:

The earnest money deposit.

An earnest money deposit, or EMD, is the amount of cash a buyer will pay when the agreement is signed to show they're serious about buying your home. This money is usually held by the title company and goes toward the down payment at closing.

A standard EMD is 1% to 3% of the cost of the home. If a buyer tries to back out of an offer for no good reason, the seller typically keeps the EMD. Therefore, the higher the earnest money, the stronger the offer.

The down payment. 

In most cases, a mortgage requires some down payment. The size of a down payment can determine the strength of an offer. As a seller, your main concern is for the transaction to close. And for that to happen, the buyer’s mortgage has be approved.

In most cases, a larger down payment indicates that a buyer has the cash to make sure the sale goes through. This means that if the appraisal comes in higher than your contract’s sale price, the buyer with a higher down payment would more likely be able to cover the difference with the large amount of cash they have available.

The closing date. 

Closing is when the final paperwork is signed and the sale is final. The entire process, from accepting an offer to closing, takes between 30 and 60 days.

Three days before closing, the buyer receives a closing disclosure from the lender, which he compares with the loan estimate he received when he applied for the loan. If there are material differences between the buyer’s loan estimate and closing disclosure, the closing can’t happen until those amounts are reviewed and approved. But this is rare.

Some transactions can take more time, depending on the buyer’s financing. For example, the average closing time for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan is 43 days, according to Ellie Mae.

Whether you want a slow or quick settlement will depend on your circumstances. If you’ve already purchased your next home, for instance, you probably want to close as soon as possible. On the other hand, you may want a longer closing period if you need the proceeds from the sale to purchase 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.

Tricks for Hosting a Great Open House in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan
 
An open house is also a chance for the seller to throw the doors open and dazzle buyers, to make them fall in love with their lovely home.

What are some ways you can make your open house a hit with buyers?

Time It Right

Typically, agents will hold open houses for about 2-3 hours, between 11 am - 5pm on the weekend. This is a time when buyers are more flexible, since many don't work on the weekend. Just make sure to avoid holding an open house on a holiday, during a big community event, or on Super Bowl Sunday or another big game day.

Let Your Agent Take the Lead

Your real estate agent plays two roles during an open house. For you, they direct the open house and give you instructions on how to prepare for the big day. For buyers, they're the host, making guests feel welcome and showing off the features of your home.

Your job is to make your house look like a million bucks — or more like $300,000, depending on your price range.

The job of your agent is to take care of the rest. That will include:

  • Staging your home, or recommending a reputable stager that you can hire
  • Hosting the open house
  • Communicating with home buyers and buyers’ agents
  • Receiving feedback during the open house and communicating that feedback to you

Your agent will also recommend that you leave while they show off your house to strangers. Why should you follow that advice? Because it makes good business sense for you.

  1. A home owner’s presence can make it awkward for the buyer. Buyers want to make assessments on their own, without worrying about how the seller might react or try to influence them.
  2. Buyers may have trouble picturing themselves living in the house when the owner is right there, say, serving lemonade in the kitchen.
  3. Sometimes sellers say too much. You might point out something that you think is a nice feature or amenity of your home, when it’s something that might turn off a buyer. You might blurt out something that could tip your negotiating hand, like how motivated you are to sell, or that you always wanted to update the retro kitchen, but just never got around to it.

The last things you want buyers to think after the open house is, “This place needs work,” or “This seller is desperate — I have the upper hand.” So, let your agent take the lead. This won’t be their first rodeo. They know the nuanced ways to show your home in its best light so that buyers will be dazzled. They also know how to strategically answer questions from buyers to help set you up for success later, during negotiation.

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.

Staging Tips That Will Have Buyers Falling in Love With your Austin Home

by Rebecca Shahan

Staging a home for sale is certainly an important step in making sure you get more money from the sale. But you need to make sure you do the right things to make the most difference.

It's going to take more than just running a vacuum to get buyers to love your property. You need to de-clutter, repair, update, and more. Here's a few things to focus on to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

Living Room

  • Aim for symmetry when placing smaller accents, such as a pillows and table lamps.
  • Add more light. Fashionable lamps will add both light and a decorative touch.
  • Keep the fireplace clean. Remove soot stains and replace the screen.
  • If you decide to use staging furniture or slip covers, go for lighter colors to give an airy, inviting feel.
  • Reduce the amount of furniture to open up space.
  • Add bright coordinated accessories such as throw blankets and access pillows for more color.
  • Play a slideshow of beautiful images on your TV.

Kitchen

  • Make sure the counters are clear except for a couple of decorative items, such as flowers or bowl of fresh fruit.
  • Just display one set of dishes, along with other kitchenware. Reduce all kitchenware and cupboards down to a minimum.
  • A fresh coat of paint and new hardware will freshen and modernize your cabinets.
  • Take a close look at your appliances. Will a good cleaning make them look new again? Or do they need replacing? You can also use stainless films to give them a stainless steel look.
  • remove all refrigerator magnets and clean the door handles.
  • Scrub dirt, grime, and stains from walls, cabinets, and back-splashes.
  • Clean cabinet interiors, especially under the sink.
  • Give the pantry a good cleaning and organizing. Leave some empty space to make it look bigger. You can also store items in decorative baskets and add some fancy jams or other upscale condiments.
  • Empty all trash cans and move them out of sight.

Bedrooms

  • Make bedrooms gender neutral. Buyers have different family needs, so will help them see the rooms more as they need them.
  • Store clothes that are not in season to create more closet space.
  • Replace those mismatched hangers with a nice set of wood hangers.
  • Store jewelry and other expensive personal items.
  • Consider giving extra bedrooms a new identity as a home office, sewing room, or another interesting function.
  • Remove televisions or video game consoles from bedrooms to depersonalize and create a serene setting.

Staging your home effectively and focusing on the items that matter can make a huge difference.

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.

Ways to Save for a Down Payment on Your First Home in Lake Travis

by Rebecca Shahan

Buying your first home bring up all sorts of good feelings. But before you get there, you have to get through the daunting task of making sure you have enough for a down payment. You may have to come up with as much as 10% - 20% of the purchase price, which can be a large sum.

So now its time to get creative! Here's 3 creative ways you can put together the money you need faster than you may think.

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing has become a popular way for people to raise money for projects. Popular crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter have been used to fund all sorts of projects. So why not crowdsource your first home?

If you're getting married, for example, you can skip the traditional registry and use sites such as Feather the Nest and Hatch My House to raise your down payment. According to Hatch My House, they've helped home buyers raise more than $2 million for down payments.

Ask the Seller to Help (Really!)

Seller concessions are where the seller will work with you to reduce closing costs. If the seller wants to close the deal quickly, they may work with you in this way. The fewer the closing costs, the more money you can put toward your down payment.

You real estate agent may be able to help you negotiate a deal, such as 2% of the overall sales price in concessions to help with the closing costs.

There are, however, limits on concessions depending on the type of mortgage. For FHA mortgages, the cap is 6% of the sale price. For Fannie Mae-guaranteed loans, the caps vary between 3% and 9%, depending on the ratio between how much you put down and the amount you finance. Individual banks have varying caps on concessions.

Government Options

You can also look into programs through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, that help with down payments and closing costs. If you meet particular income requirements, you may qualify.

Your profession may also determine what programs are available through HUD. The Good Neighbor Next Door Sales Program can help those who are law enforcement officers, firefighters, teachers, or EMTs.

If you're a veteran, the VA will guarantee part of a home loan through commercial lenders. In many cases, you don't need a down payment or private mortgage insurance, and it will help you secure a  competitive interest rate.

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.

Potecting Your Pets From Holiday Hazards

by Rebecca Shahan

As you put up all those festive decorations for the holidays, the thing to keep in mind is that those shiny, pretty things are very inviting to your furry friends as well. Your tree is an open invitation for all sorts of feline and canine antics.

So how can you protect both your ornaments and your pets at the same time? Here's a few tips that may help.

  • Steer clear of edible ornaments, like festive dog treats, or decorating with small toys. These can include things like catnip-filled mice or bright crinkly balls. Few pets can resist the urge to check them out, and then damage the tree and perhaps get hurt as well. Also make sure catnip-infused treats are not left unattended.
  • You can deter your cats from being curious about the tree by sprinkling the tree skirt and lower branches with ordinary household ground white pepper or spraying them with a nontoxic taste deterrent.
  • Poinsettias are not safe for pets, as they have a white, milky sap in their leaves is toxic. Instead you might want to consider using silk plants, or sprinkling pepper on the leaves as a deterrent.
  • Of course, candles are a part of the season. Since cats can get on virtually any surface and possibly know them over, consider using flameless candles. That way you get the ambiance without the potential for disaster.
  • Many pets love chewing on cables, or at least checking out new cables they haven''t investigated yet. Do you best to hide cables, or use cable covers infused with citronella to deter chewing.
  • Keep track of pest during entertaining. Assign a responsible family member to be the designated pet watcher. Regular supervision is necessary to ensure pets do not get outside or steal food when no one is looking.
  • The remains of a holiday meal, such as bones, corncobs, and plastic utensils, can harm your pets if they ingest them. Many holiday foods, such as onions, garlic, grapes and raisins, and that box of chocolates your friend brought as a hostess gift, are also toxic to pets.
  • Keep alcohol out of reach. Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death. Deliberately getting a pet drunk is considered animal cruelty and is punishable by law.
  • Despite the term “party animal,” most dogs and cats do not enjoy raucous gatherings. From their standpoint, it’s a stressful invasion of their territory. An anxious pet may even try to escape through an open, unattended door. If you entertain frequently during the festive season, consider giving your pets their own party by sequestering them in a quiet room and providing lots of distraction toys and treats. You will have a better time knowing they are safe, too!

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.

Avoiding Home Contractor Scams

by Rebecca Shahan

It happens all too often. A homeowner pays a contractor who seems legit to do a job, then they get short-changed on the work.

Most contractors can be trusted. But as with any profession, there are definitely some who spoil the whole batch. How can you tell if your contractor is scamming you? What can you do to protect yourself?

Don't Pay For the Whole Job Up Front

Let's say your contractor asks for money up front for materials. While it's fair to pay some money to get the job going, you should beware if they ask for more than 30% up front. Some dishonest contractors may just run off on you once they get the money, or just do a sloppy job, knowing you can't fire them since they have your money.

How to protect yourself: Never prepay more than $1,000 or 10% of the job total, whichever is less. That should be enough to establish that you’re a serious customer so the contractor can work you into his schedule.  That's the only valid point of paying up front. If your contractor needs to rent equipment, they should be able to do so on credit with their suppliers, provided the contractor really is the professional they profess to be.

"Trust Me"

If your contractor agrees to do what you need exact to your specs, along with other items, make sure it's in writing. Don't just go by a verbal agreement. If you don't get it all in writing, then a dishonest contractor may just start leaving things out. And there's really nothing you can do about it legally.

How to protect yourself: There isn't much you can do legally if you signed a contract that doesn't include all the details. Make sure you get all the details in writing. And if you need to add anything, make sure you initial each addition and have the contractor initial it as well.

"I Don’t Need to Pull a Permit"

Any significant amount of construction will require a permit. This will allow building officials to visit the site on occasion to make sure the work meets code.

An unlicensed contractor may try to get around this on smaller jobs by saying that the authorities won't notice. Yet on larger jobs, it's more likely that it will be noticed. So the contractor may ask you to get a a homeowner’s permit, an option available to do-it-yourselfers.

The problem with getting your own permit is that you will not only be lying to the authorities about who's doing the work, but it also makes you responsible if something goes awry. That means that you have to answer to the inspector instead of the contractor.

How to protect yourself: Always demand that the contractor get a building permit. Yes, it informs the local tax assessor about your upgrade, but it weeds out unlicensed contractors and gives you the added protection of an independent assessment of the work.

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.  

Is a Standby Generator Right For Your Home?

by Rebecca Shahan
 
Of course, such a device isn't cheap. Units range from around $2,500 and go as high as $15,000.

Here’s a few guidelines to help you decide if a standby generator is right for your home.

When Permanent Standby Makes Sense

A standby generator is like an insurance policy. You never know when or if it will be needed. So it depends on how much you can put up with and your budget.

Also, if you rely on medical equipment or work from home, having a backup will be even more important.

Assess Your Power Needs

Generators are rates according to how much wattage they produce. The larger the unit, the higher the price.

Wattage requirements also vary with each house. You can consult with your generator supplier or an electrician who can assess how much wattage your home needs. You can also do a ballpark assessment with and online calculator.

Next you need to decide what the generator will power. You can decide a minimum amount of needed items, such as AC, refrigerator, and a few lights and outlets. Or you can go with a maximum output generator that will power everything. For example, a 3,000-square-foot house might need as much as 25kW to 30kW.

You can also go with a newer options called a “load-management system." this is a system that can power everything, just not at the same time.

Consult the Right Professionals

Usually the generator supplier will set up your unit. this is the best option, since they already are familiar with the equipment. If you've purchased the unit online, then you can fire a plumber to connect the unit to the fuel source and an electrician to hook it into your house’s power supply.

Calculate Your Costs

On average an emergency panel unit of 7kW runs $2,500 to $4,500 installed, while a mid-size 17kW unit cost $4,000 to $10,000. A large-capacity 22kW to 45kW model costs from $9,000 to $15,000.

Fuel types also affect costs. You may need to add a gas line, or install a propane tank. Diesel units come with their own tanks, but diesel fuel is more costly and needs to be treated regularly so the engine doesn't clog.

Once you’re set up, you won’t have to worry about being stuck in the dark. What’s more, a standby generator can add to your home’s value, which should make you feel doubly warm all over.

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 1-8 of 8

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