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May Is a Month of Festivals in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

May Is a Month of Festivals in AustinMay is just around the corner, and so are the festivals! You can't beat a great festival in Austin in May, and these upcoming festivals in Austin promise fun for the whole family and for many interests. Here's a few of the festivals coming up in May to plan for.

Cine Las Americas International Film Festival
Various Locations
5/2/18 - 5/6/18

The festival will showcase contemporary films and videos from Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula. These films and videos are made by or about Latinos in the U.S. or the rest of the world, along with films and videos by or about indigenous groups of the Americas.

www.cinelasamericas.org

JMBLYA
Circuit of The Americas
5/5/18

This three-day, three-city traveling festival comes to Austin this May. The festival will showcase some of the most sought-after talent in hip-hop music today, with headliner J. Cole and performances from Migos, Cardi B, Kevin Gates and many more.

www.jmblya.com

Pecan Street Spring Arts Festival 
East Sixth Street
5/5/18 - 5/6/18

A free, family event, the Pecan Street Festival is the oldest and largest art festival in Central Texas. Musicians, food vendors, artists and crafts people turn Sixth Street - historically called Pecan Street - into a lively street fair where there is something for people of all ages. 

www.pecanstreetfestival.org

Finding Euphoria Fest
Carson Creek Ranch
5/11/18 - 5/13/18

Come to Carson Creek Ranch for live music, camping, yoga and a variety of mindful workshops at this immersive three day festival. There's music styles for everyone - hip-hop, electronic, ambient, tribal and experimental. 

www.euphoriafest.com

There's always fun things to do in Lake Travis and Austin so 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 WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.​

How to Move With Pets

by Rebecca Shahan

Moving in Austin With PetsIt’s time to move! But what about your pets? How can you be sure the move is a good one for them as well? Moving with pets is never easy, but it will be a worthwhile challenge. Your pets are used to the same environment and neighborhood, which gives them a sense of security. During a move, that environment changes and disrupts that security, especially since they don’t know why everything has suddenly changed. Needless to say, this can be a tough time for your beloved pets. But you can show them it will be OK and make the change more tolerable.  Here’s a few tips that can help.

Moving With Dogs & Cats

Prepare for the First Few Days

You can make sure your dogs and cats are more comfortable during the first few days by preparing an ‘overnight kit’ that has enough food, litter, toys and other needed items to help your bets feel at home.

Keep Them Out of the Action

Ideally, you should try to find friends or family that can watch your pets during a move, or a kennel.  After the hubbub of the move is over, then you can move them into the fully furnished home.  If you can’t do that, try to find them a quiet room in the new house to adjust to.  Make sure you also check on them regularly and try to stick with feeding and walking routines.

Keep Them Inside

Do not let your dogs or cats outside until you get to the new home. It’s easy for them to get lost in a new environment. Make sure they stay inside for a few days to let them have time to adjust.

Move the House Before You Move Your Pets

Move your pets into the new home after everything else is moved if at all possible.  Try to get as much set up as you can before moving your pets in. If you have an extra room or garage you can set up and keep clear, this will help them adjust.  Give them plenty of attention and toys to make them feel at home.

Update Their Info

After you move, visit a local pet store or vet to update their tag and chip info.

Moving With Fish

Moving fish can be tricky as they can be easily traumatized and can die easily from a move. Move them in plastic bags filled with their old tank water if you’re moving short distances.  But if you’re moving a long distance, it may be better to find your fish a new home rather than risk them dying.

Moving With Birds

You never know when a bird will just up and fly away, which happens quite a lot during moves.  The stress of your move can make them easy escape artists. So make sure you keep your bird caged during the move and even a few days after.

Moving is never easy, but if you prepare, you can make it easier for your furry family.

Are you planning to buy a home in the Austin area and have questions about moving ideas? Please contact us today for more information. 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 WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.  

What is PMI?

by Rebecca Shahan

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

Here’s how Freddie Mac defines PMI:

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

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

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

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

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

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


What is Private Mortgage Insurance

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

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

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

Have Fun in Austin With These Upcoming Events in April

by Rebecca Shahan

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

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

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

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

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

4/21/18
Weird Homes Tour
Around Town
Keeping Austin Weird is what this event is all about. This wacky annual event showcases a selection of the most creative homes around town.  You can also meet the homeowners who keep our wacky culture alive and weird.
www.weirdhomestour.com

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 WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. 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.

De-Clutter

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

Curb Appeal

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

Do a Walk-Through

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

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

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

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

by Rebecca Shahan

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

  1. Strong Demand

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

  1. Less Competition

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

  1. The Process Will Be Quicker

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

  1. Time to Move Up

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

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

The Best Pizza in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

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

Here’s the top 4 pizza restaurants in Austin.

Home Slice Pizza

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

Pieous

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

Pinthouse Pizza

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

Via 313 Pizza

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

Check back each week on our blog for more great reasons to buy a home in Austin. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at 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