Be Cautious in Picking your Austin Realtor

Austin Realtor

New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan recently wrote about this DJ posing as a financial advisor. It was one of those setups like you see on TV. They removed his dreadlocks and body piercings, put him in a suit, taught him some basic scripts like “a 401K is the way to go“, and had him meet with actual financial clients to discuss their financial needs and how he can help.

When he went for the “close”, all but 1 client said they would work with him. He had zero experience, no qualifications (though I’ll bet his conversational skills helped). But since he looked the part and knew some buzz phrases, and the prospective clients didn’t know the right questions to ask, he was able to win their trust just by being nice and personable.

The point of the experiment was to illustrate that the vast majority of financial clients do NOT know how to determine the suitability of the financial planner they are hiring. They just don’t hire well.

The exact same thing is true in Real Estate.

Most prospective real estate customers could sit down with an imposter “Buyer’s Agent” who knows some rehearsed scripts, and be convinced that this person is the right agent to help them. And they would sign a Buyer Representation Agreement within 20-30 minutes. Even if it’s just an unemployed Barista dressed in kakis and a polo shirt, using some scripts I teach him, but with zero experience. Same with listing appointments.

A study on the problems facing the Real Estate industry resulted in what is called the DANGER Report. DANGER stands for Definitive Analysis of Negative Game changers Emerging in Real estate. This article isn’t about that report. But the #1, leadoff, main conclusion of the report was: “Masses of Marginal Agents Destroy Reputation”. 

In other words, incompetence and unethical behavior by masses of Realtors. Which begs the question, who hires these dummies and why?

Read more …

Posted by Steve
last week

Should You Attend an Austin Real Estate Investing Seminar? Probably Not

Real Estate Investing Seminars

With all the news about the alleged fraud committed by Trump University, and how it ripped off unsuspecting victims, I wonder if any modern day journalists know that the Real Estate Investing Seminar industry was around long before Trump. And it remains alive and well today, doing exactly the same thing Trump is accused of. But if all you know is what you read and see on the news, you’d think he was the first and last.

If you listen to local radio while driving around Austin, or watch much TV, you’ve seen and heard the real estate investing seminar ads. At least 2 big Real Estate Investing seminars that I know of have come through Austin this year already, promising that you’ll learn how to become a real estate investor.

I think another one will be here next week. Do a Google search for “real estate investing seminar Austin”, then click on images in the results, and you’ll see something similar to the screen shown here. And you’ll see plenty of paid ads meant to capture your interest and take your money.

Should you attend a real estate investing seminar? Probably not.

I won’t claim that all real estate investment industry education is bogus. In fact, I purchased the Carlton Sheets video tape and workbook series for a few hundred dollars in the early 1990s. I was a sucker too (or was I?). More on that and how it actually helped me in a minute. Read more …

Posted by Steve
a couple of weeks ago

The Crossland Team is Back at Keller Williams Realty Austin SW Market Center

Crossland Team at Keller Williams Realty Austin

And the real estate journey continues …

Sylvia and I started Crossland Real Estate in Jan 1993, and remained independent until we sold our property management portfolio in 2004 and “retired” for a year. We didn’t actually formally retire … more of a sabbatical … as we were still in our 40s with kids 9 and 12. But we did take a year off from active real estate “production”.

We weren’t sure whether we wanted to remain in real estate forever or not. I started a telecom services company and dabbled in Business Brokerage, both of which were interesting pursuits worthy of a full effort, and which I could have succeeded at doing, but after some time off from the daily real estate routine, something happened… The phone rang. It was Real Estate. It wanted us back.

Sometimes distance from something brings perspective and a renewed appreciation of it.

So, in 2005, we decided to return to real estate full time, but also to operate under the Keller Williams Realty brand. We’d operated as a “mom and pop” independent real estate Brokerage for over a decade, and wanted to see what it was like to be part a big office Brokerage.

Not just big, but the biggest single location real estate office in the world (currently 800+ agents operate out of our SW Austin location). The “KW Mother Ship”. Talk about going from one extreme to the other!

It went well. We consistently ranked in the “Top 5” Teams. We joined the leadership team, felt a “part of”, and our business thrived. We grew as professionals. We drank the “KW Kool-Aid” as some would say. And it tasted good.

But after 4 years, we left, to become independent again. Ostensibly, to slow down and work less, to focus more on Listings and to grow the Property Management side of the business, both of which we accomplished. But something was still missing.

Read more …

Posted by Steve
last month

Should you keep your Austin rental home or sell?

Is Rental Property Investing in Austin Still Profitable?

It’s the start of 2016 and already I’ve received a few inquiries from my investor clients wondering whether they should hold on to their rental property, or sell this year. It’s a conversation I have multiple times with multiple clients each year, and it’s a question Sylvia and I sometimes ask ourselves about our own rental property. Especially given the appreciation gains of the past 5 years in Austin. So this article will walk through some of the questions you might ask yourself when contemplating whether to sell your real estate asset, based on how I look at the question with my own rental properties.

The first questions to ask yourself are:
1) Do you need the money? and
2) What will you do with the money?

I normally don’t make it past those two questions, because the answers for me are are “no” and “I don’t know”.

For most, the equity would simply go into almost zero-interest savings or CD accounts, or into the stock market. Having just watched The Big Short, watched my Mutual Fund IRAs tread water last year, and then take a dive the first week of 2016, I’m pretty OK with leaving my real estate alone.

But if you have a defined purpose for the money, such as purchasing your retirement home, or funding a child’s college costs, those reasons can make sense. Using it to fund lifestyle adventures, like buying a boat or an RV, would be a bad idea though, in my opinion. Unless it’s part of an overall “next chapter” of retirement, and it’s time to spend that money. Read more …

Posted by Steve
a few months ago

Austin Affordability: The High Cost of Living Apart

Big Family Austin

In an increasingly “unaffordable” Austin, it occurs to me that many of us could live way cheaper if we could just get along and live in extended family groups or roommate groups. I’ll use my own family as an example to explore this CRAZY idea for curing Austin’s affordability problem.

Sylvia and I live in a home in SW Austin with a $3,000/mo mortgage. Our utilities average $250/mo for everything, plus yard care of $80 per month, and of course repairs and maintenance as needed. We intentionally downsized to this home from Westlake, because we want to live more “affordably” and we no longer needed to live in Westlake Eanes ISD after our girls graduated high school.

My mom, in her 70’s, lives three blocks away in a home I purchased as investment (but for her to live in). I charge her $1,200/mo rent (market rent would be $2,000, my payment/cost is $1,800/mo), and her utility bills average about $180/mo, plus lawn care. I cover the repairs and maintenance.

Sylvia’s brother lives in an efficiency apartment in Hyde Park, which is $1,000/mo, plus about $100/mo utilities.

My oldest daughter graduated college this year, has a salary job, and is living at home still for now, but plans to get her own place after the new year (and after saving some money first – smart move). A modest place would cost her $1,000/mo to live alone, or $800 if she pairs up with a roommate or two. But let’s call it $1,000/mo for a 1/1 to keep the math simple, plus $100 utilities.

My youngest daughter is a freshman in college, and I’m paying for a dorm room, so she doesn’t necessarily count in the equation, except for the fact that I’m paying for two places for her currently – her college dorm and her room at home for visits and during summer. So I’ll ignore the dorm costs and count her as living at home still.

So, in summary, we have mine and Sylvia’s 3 bedroom house, my mom’s 3 bedroom house, my brother-in-law’s no-bedroom efficiency apartment, my older daughter’s future 1 bedroom apartment.

That’s a total of 8 sleeping spaces, 6 bathrooms, 4 kitchens, 4 utility bills for 6 people and 5 cars. Total monthly outlay for mortgages + rents is $6,800, utilities $630, yard care $150, plus repairs and maintenance for two separate houses. Grand total $7,580/mo for 6 people with 5 cars. More about vehicle expenses later.

What if I just bought a 5 bedroom 3 bath house and we all lived together?

Read more …

Posted by Steve
7 months ago

New Realtor.com Agent Beta Profiles now Live in Austin

Map Showing Realtors who closed the sales

I attended the Presentation in Austin this week announcing the Beta rollout of Realtor.com’s new Agent Profiles. Austin is the only city in the US with this live, though it will soon also be turned on in the state of Rhode Island.

Though not fully baked, I’ve set up my profile. The “Sold Listing are not yet populating, but should be on the map by mid October. There will also be a Team Profile. Here is what it will look like when viewing a map of Sold Listings in Austin.

Map Showing Realtors who closed the sales

Map Shows Which Agents were involved in closed sales. Coming to Austin in Oct

Pretty cool, right? Are Realtors happy about this? Many are not. The Realtor online forums are ablaze with ignorant complainers, moaning and griping about this, and how it’s “unfair” to populate Realtor profiles or Sold Maps with actual closed sales because it makes the Newbies and part timers look bad.

Those of you agents complaining are missing some important data points. Namely, consumers want this. That is a settled question, supported by research and surveys of consumers. Realtor Reviews are here, whether we like it or not.

It was gross neglegence when the real estate industry fought online listings back in the late 1990s/early 2000s. It was the height of stupidity to do so. The void was instead filled by portals. Thus we have the useless but popular Zillow.

Zillow is not consumer-friendly. It exists for one purpose only, to sell advertising space to Realtors so they can appear next to listings they know nothing about. That does not create an informed consumer, nor connect a consumer to a “good” agent in their area, nor is it supposed to. Zillow is NOT consumer friendly. But consumers like the entertainment value Zillow. It’s fun to surf and look at houses.

Realtor.com can be way better for the serious consumer though, as its data comes directly from MLS feeds, and now instead of finding an “Advertiser” agent, you’ll be able to quickly rule in those agents who are actually active and relevant in the area in which you live or wish to live. Read more …

Posted by Steve
8 months ago
1 2 3 109