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Lake Travis Texas Real Estate Blog

Rebecca Shahan

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The Ideal Golf Lifestyle Awaits in Falconhead

by Rebecca Shahan

If you're looking for luxury living in one of the prime golf communities in Texas, look no further than Falconhead.  Located between Lakeway and Beecave, Falconhead offers one of the finest golf courses in Austin, along with amazing homes set among the gorgeous views of the greenbelts, trails, and the beautiful country scenery. 

Falconhead is comprised of 3 mains sections - the original section located on the course with smaller homes, the Heights of Falconhead master-planned gated neighborhood, and Falconhead West.

The centerpiece of the community is the Falconhead Golf Club, designed by the PGA Tour Design Center. You'll find something for every level of golfing skill, with a daily fee course, junior golf classes, along with amenities that will suit the most discerning golfer.

Being close to Lake Travis, Bee Cave, and Austin makes Falconhead the ideal location for luxury living. Just next door in Beecave, you'l  have quick access to dining at great restaurants such as Café Blue, Verde's Mexican Parrilla, Tony C's Coal Fired Pizza, Los Pinos Mexican, and much more.

In Lakeway you'll also be close to outstanding shopping choices, like Hill Country Galleria and Oaks at Lakeway.  Dining options include spectacular restaurants like Sundancer Grill.

And of course, if you love water sports, nearby Lake Travis has everything you could want in a lake.

And you school aged children are in good hands with the LakeTravis Independent School District, with 5 elementary schools, along with two middle schools and one high school in the Falconhead area.

Homes are available in Falconhead right now, starting at less than $500k. Find the perfect golf course community home in Falconhead today!

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.  

 

5 Tips For First Time Home Buyers

by Rebecca Shahan

5 tips for first time home buyersIf you're ready to buy your first home, no doubt you've realized already there's a lot of things you need to think about. It can seem overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be.  Millions of people have bought homes before, and we know what makes the process go more smoothly. All it takes is planning and patience.

There are some simple steps you can take to make sure your home buying experience goes more smoothly. Here's a few things to think about before you decide to buy.

How Much Home Can You Afford?

Like any purchase, you need to know how much you can afford. It can be disappointing to find out you can't afford the home you fall in love with. The best thing to do is to determine the maximum amount you can afford.  An online mortgage calculator is a great way to start. You can find out your maximum price limit based on a 30 year mortgage.

You can also pin down a more exact amount of what you can afford is to talk to a loan officer at your bank. A loan officer will have a better idea of what the bank will loan you and what your down payment will need to be.

Knowing how much you can afford in advance, along with being pre-approved for a loan, will give you an advantage over buyers who haven't taken this step.  And it will save you time, since you know exactly what you can afford before you start your home search.

What Are The Must Haves In a Home?

Knowing what you want in a home, and what you don't want, is important. Sit down and think about all the things that you must have in a home, and the things that will make life miserable. Write it all down and use it in your home search. Show it to your agent as well so they know what to look for. You can adjust your list as you look at homes and see first hand what's available.

Use an Experienced Local Real Estate Agent

The right agent who knows the area inside and out makes a huge difference. Research the real estate agents in the are you're moving to.  If you have friends or family who've bought a home there recently, ask them for a referral. If not, read reviews online.

A good agent will know the area you're moving to inside and out, and will pay attention to your needs. In many cases, a great agent will have repeat clients over the years. They will also be able to connect you to loan officer and real estate attorneys, along with other needed professionals.

Compare Prices

You should look at homes in the area that are comparable to get an idea of what they're selling for.

You can easily compare homes in the area you plan to move to using tools such as our Home Search feature.

Ask Your Real Estate Agent About Closing Costs

Closing costs can vary, so make sure you determine the expected costs in advance to avoid any nasty financial issues during closing. Closing costs can include the costs of hiring an attorney to look over the  seller agreement, along with a home appraiser to inspect the home before the sale. A good real estate agent will be happy to help you determine closing costs.

Being a first time home buyer may seem daunting, but it's something you can accomplish successfully with the right planning and information.

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.  

Simple Fall Home Decorating Ideas

by Rebecca Shahan

Fall has arrived with all it's wonderful colors. But don't leave the colors outside, bring them inside and enjoy the beauty of the season in your home. Here's a few simple ideas you can do yourself to make the fall season come alive in your home.

Liven Up Store-Bought Fall Decorations

You can liven up a garland you buy at the store with bittersweet, fall foliage, or dried hydrangeas. Wrap them around door posts, then finish the look with pumpkins and cabbages on the steps and a pine-cone wreath on the door. Accent the wreath with leaves and flowers.

Mix Up the Colors

Orange may be the most popular fall color, but's there's so many more you can use. Mixing yellow and orange pumpkins with bright green is a great contrast.

Rustic Fall Mantel

  1. Wrap votive candle holders with twine several times, inserting a fall leaf in the twine.
  2. Place small white pumpkins on top of the votives. Use different amounts of pumpkins to make them different heights.
  3. Use a rope and attach an assortment of fall leaves to it with wire the create a garland, then attach it to the mantel with temporary hooks.

Floral Pumpkins

Using an awl or pointed tool, poke holes in a carving pumpkin. Insert mum stems until the entire pumpkin is covered.

White Pumpkin Wreath

  1. Buy a grapevine wreath from a craft store.
  2. Using an odd number of white pumpkins, attach them to the wreath using florist picks. Make sure they're spaced evenly.
  3. Fill in the spaces between the pumpkins with seasonal greenery such as smilax or bittersweet. Use more florist picks to attach them.
  4. Finish it off with a fall leaf assortment, attaching them with picks and wire.

Mumkins

Create a "mumkin" by carving out a pumpkin and insert mums.  Then fill smaller gourds with containers of pansies and place by the mumkin.

A Pumpkin Pile

You can make your own arrangement of tiny pumpkins by placing them on a side table. Just use your imagination to make an easy and casual display.

Pumpkin Candle Holders

Cut a 1-inch circle into mini pumpkins and scoop out the center to hold votive candles.

Give Your Pumpkins Spots

Gold metallic paint can really make your pumpkins stand out.

  1. Stick round labels on a pumpkin and trace the shape with a pencil.
  2. Remove the labels and paint inside the circles with gold paint.

With just these few ideas, you can make your home pop with fall brilliance this year.

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.  

Check Out This Creative Way to Save For a Down Payment

by Rebecca Shahan

Many first time buyers struggle with saving enough for a down payment. But one creative way to save that money is gaining traction - crowd sourcing. It's a great way to let friends and relatives help you buy your first home.

Here's how it works. When a young couple gets married, they ask their wedding guests to contribute to their “Down Payment Fund" instead of buying them traditional gifts.  Many new couples already live together and have what they need to furnish a home. So now they just need the home.

Think about it.  Most weddings average about 120 guests in attendance who buy a gift. If the average gift is $186, the newlywed couple would now have over $22,000 to use for a down payment! Of course this is just an example.  The figures could vary greatly.  But it would still go long way to help with a down payment. Plus the givers know that the money is going toward a worthy cause.

And as you've probably already guessed, there are services set up right now to facilitate this new trend, such as HomeFundMe. These services will allow anyone in the fundraiser's circle to contribute. The ones contributing can even decide if the gift will be ‘conditional’ or ‘non-conditional’ on the beneficiary buying a home.

A recent Wall Street Journal article reports, “about 400 borrowers have used HomeFundMe to help buy homes since the program launched in October and on average, they raise about $2,500.” According to the article, these funds are used by the borrower along with their own savings to help them reach the down payment.

In addition, more programs are available to first-time buyers that lets people put down as little as 3%, such as with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loan programs. Also, FHA programs require as little as 3.5%, and VA Loans are often approved with 0% down!

The days of paying 20% down for a new home are a thing of the past. So it's time to get creative if you need help saving for your down payment.

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.  

The Fun Continues In Austin This September

by Rebecca Shahan

Summer may be coming to a close in Austin, but that doesn't mean the fun has to end. There's plenty of good times in store in Austin during September (and the tail end of August).  Let's see what fun we have in store for the coming month.

8/25/18
Quesoff
The Mohawk

Celebrate all things melted cheese as the annual Quesoff returns to the Mohawk. You can indulge in melted cheese from 30 vendors that include restaurants, top chefs, home-cooks, and neighbors competing in 4 categories - Meaty, Spicy, Veggie and Wild Card. $5 admission includes a bag of chips to taste the best melted cheese in Austin.

8/26/18
Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival 
Fiesta Gardens

Eat the heat to beat the heat! The Austin Chronicle hosts one of the largest hot sauce festivals in the world. Feel the heat!

9/7/18 - 9/9/18
Waterloo Music Festival
Carson Creek Ranch

Celebrate the roots of Austin's music culture with this independent music festival. You'll enjoy three days of nationally known jam bands along with the finest music acts in Austin.

9/20/18 - 9/27/18
Fantastic Fest 
Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas 

Horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and action fans unite for the largest genre film festival in the nation. Or just come if you love a great movie!

9/22/18 - 9/23/18
Fall Pecan Street Festival 
Sixth Street Austin 

Come to Sixth Street in Austin to enjoy arts and crafts from over 300 artisan vendors from all over the world. Admission is free!

9/29/18
Texas Craft Brewers Festival 
Fiesta Gardens

Craft beer lovers come together for this annual event featuring the best Texas craft beer. This is the largest beer festival for and by Texas Brewers. 

9/29/18
Austin Oktoberfest
Scholz Garten

Celebrate the 6th annual Austin Oktoberfest at Scholz Garten with the oldest continuously operating tavern in the state, the Austin Saengerrunde.  Come enjoy beer, sausage, live music and bowling as you celebrate German heritage in Texas.

There's plenty of great things to do in Austin and Lake Travis. Check back on our blog for more reasons to buy your next home in Lake Travis and 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.​

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.  

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 154