Archive Monthly Archives: September 2006

Austin Landscaping

Texas native vegetation

With Fall upon us, this is the perfect time to add some plants to your yard!

At many of the houses I view each week, it is amazing to me how so many do not enjoy the benefit that a small amount of simple and easy landscaping would provide. A few well placed and kindly treated shrubs, trees and grasses really adds to the curb appeal of a home and can also add $$$ to your bottom line when you turn around to sell the home. Landscaping is one of the cheapest ways to add value to your home.

Over the years, Steve and I have owned many homes and twice a year (Spring and Autumn) I add some native trees and flowering plants to the property. I usually spend about $100 to $200 and one or two Sunday afternoons with a shovel. My favorites are the salvia and sage varieties because they are more deer resistant (important where we live) and they flower nicely for a long time. Also, once their roots are established, they don’t need as much water. My salvia flourished this Summer even with the drought in Austin!

Here is a link to my favorite Gardening headquarters in Austin, The Natuaral Gardner in Oak Hill. The employees at Natural Gardner are very good at answering questions and helping you select the right plants and trees for your particular home and garden.

Happy Gardening!

Posted by Sylvia
10 years ago

Perceived Value of Real Estate Services

Value rising

I was talking with another Realtor recently who had been the listing agent on a home sold to Buyers I had represented. I was shocked to learn today that his Sellers thought he did a lousy job on that deal. The reason for their unhappiness – the home sold too fast.

When I did the market analysis for my Buyers on this listing, my price came out exactly the same as the list price, so I felt comfortable advising the Buyers to offer full price. “They have it priced right” I told my Buyers.

Offering less than market value ran the risk that another offer would come in that looked better while we negotiated below the asking price. It was right before a summer weekend; the home had only been on the market for two days and was located in an area where sales were very strong. It wasn’t worth trying to mess around with a low offer, so we wrote an offer that we hoped the Seller could say ‘yes’ to without changes. The offer was submitted and accepted.
Read more …

Posted by Steve
10 years ago

Soft market teaches flippers an ever-so-humble lesson

Flipping a home

Here is an interesting article on flipping real estate and how the soft market (in areas other than Austin) is affecting those who practice that particular form of real estate investing. The website referenced in the article doesn’t have stats for Austin, but even in our rising market of the past year, one has to be very careful buying homes with the intention of selling quickly for a profiit.

Noelle Knox, USA TODAY
Thu Sep 21, 6:56 AM ET

Investing in real estate looked so sexy. Like the tech-stock bubble that turned college kids and housewives into day traders, the real estate boom turned insurance brokers, doctors and bicycle mechanics into real estate flippers, who would buy and then quickly sell homes for easy profits.

Now those profits are shrinking fast. Nearly one in five flippers who sold from April to June actually lost money on the deal, the highest level in 2½ years, according to, which today will release a report on flipping activity in 147 metro areas.
Read more …

Posted by Steve
10 years ago

Pictures Austin Realtors Take of Homes

Home with trashed porch

I’m often amazed at some of the photos I see of homes for sale in Austin. Given that the internet is the starting point for over 70% of buyers today, and that the photos buyers see online will strongly influence their desire to learn more about the home, one has to wonder why so many Austin homes are listed with very poor photos.

Granted, some homes are less photogenic than others, but would it be that hard to move the SUV off of the lawn and pull the trashbin out of the way? After moving those items, I’d take the photo from the other side of the home so the garage isn’t front and center, and I’d try to get more blue sky and less oil stained driveway into the scene. If you were a seller, would you feel well served by this agent and would you feel like this photo presents your home in the best light?

{Picture removed of home. It had an SUV parked in front the yard and a garbage can in front of garage door.}

Posted by Steve
10 years ago

Lakeway tightens development rules to preserve character

Lakeway, TX

This is from the Austin Business Journal. Lakeway is west of Austin, on the south side of Lake Travis, along RR 620. See map.

The city of Lakeway has tightened the rules that shape its residences, hoping to protect what city officials call Lakeway’s community feel.

But some real estate experts say the move could cause undue changes in the city’s landscape — though likely not for several years. And, the regulations could raise home prices in the already tony lakefront town.
Read more …

Posted by Steve
10 years ago

Austin Landlord Tales – The Risks of Real Estate Investing

Real Estate Risks

I belong to a couple of email lists for professional property managers. One is local to Austin. The other is National and includes over 140 owners of Property Management companies from across the U.S.

These forums provide a resource where Property Managers can ask questions, share advice, trade business ideas, etc. The egroups raise the level of professionalism and knowledge of all participants. No matter how long any of us have been managing rental homes, we all eventually encounter a situation for the first time, and we may need to seek advice or help from collegues.

Below I’m sharing a recent posting from the email list, then I will comment on it.

I have a tenant who is in the hospital after being beaten by her significant other. Her significant other is in jail, and their dog is still in the property. The keyless deadbolt locks are locked, and I just now was able to get inside the property to assess damage. We fed the dog (possible starving for almost a week) and met with animal control today. However, they cannot get a court order to remove the pet, because we do not have legal possession of the property. Pets are considered property, like furniture and personal belongings.

There is extensive feces damage on the floors, and this is a three month old property. Tenant has not paid rent, and the eviction was filed today. Utilities are still turned on, and supposedly a family member visited a few days ago to feed the dog, but was left in the home to poop, etc.

Have any of you been in a scenario like this? Can we remove dog and put outside instead of keeping inside the property? Can dog be put in the garage? Crated? What can we do to minimize more damage to the property? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Read more …

Posted by Steve
10 years ago