Archive Monthly Archives: April 2007

Google Calendar Sync with Treo 650 using Goosync

Google Calendar
I’ve recently migrated both mine and Sylvia’s Calendars from Outlook to the free online Google Calendar. Google Calendar is now mine and Sylvia’s primary calendar and appointment tracking system for both personal and business needs. We’ve dumped Outlook Calendar. This would have occurred much sooner had it not been for lack of a good tool to allow two-way syncing between Google Calendar and our Palm Treo 650 phones. I have now found such a tool in the goosync syncing software that allows the 2-way sync of palm devices with Google Calendar. Goosync works with a long list of non-Palm phones as well. I’ve now been using it for a few weeks and it has worked flawlessly without a single hiccup or problem of any kind. I can’t say the same about my old setup with Outlook and the USB sync cable, which usually worked but not always.

Why do I love Google Calendar?
It’s the smartest, most versatile and user friendly calendar I’ve personally ever used, either for individuals or teams. And now that I’ve figured out (or should I say, found the people who figured out) how to sync Google Calendar with mine and Sylvia’s Palm Treo 650 phones, there is nothing that even comes close to being such a valuable calendar tool. Every aspect of the Google Calendar, from entering new events, to changing days and times for events, inviting participants to events, to the reminder and notification options, are simple and easy to use and manage.

How is Syncing Google Calendar to the Treo Useful?
For example, the other day I was showing a house. The people wanted to arrange to come back for another look 2 days later with their parents. While standing there with them, I entered the new appointment time into my Treo and then synced it with the push of two buttons, over the air, with Google Calendar. No wires or computer needed. (but you do have to have data/internet service with your wireless provider).
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Posted by Steve
9 years ago

Buying and Selling Real Estate in the UK vs. Austin TX

I recently had the distinct pleasure of helping a family relocating to Austin from London. The process started as it usually does with our buyers. They found us online and contacted me about buying a home in Austin. There was an initial phone conversation or two, and several emails. We actually made an offer on a home before they came, which didn’t pan out. When they arrived, we spent a couple of days looking at homes, barely missing a very good candidate in South Austin. I did my best, as we looked at homes, to explain everything I think buyers should know when purchasing a home in Austin, and which homes I thought were good candidates and which ones I didn’t, and the reasons why.

On the third day a new listing came on the market which had multiple offers by that afternoon, ours being one of them. We won the offer by writing aggressive terms and a quick cash close. The buyers are back in London, and I’m handling the yard care, checking mail and keeping an eye on the place until they move here in June (something a real estate attorney would no doubt tell me I shouldn’t be doing).

During my interactions with the Londoners, comments were made to me a few times to the effect that UK “estate agents” don’t do nearly the amount of work we do here in the U.S. I was curious about this so I asked for more detail about this via email this morning, so I could write something for my blog. The following is the response.

Dear Steve,

Thanks for the lawn thing, its really appreciated – please let us know when the bill comes in. If you were able to point us in the direction of some appliance dealers with websites that would be fab.

OK. Real estate agents in the UK. Please use this in your blog – the world should know! Now, where do we start,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
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Posted by Steve
9 years ago

Austin Homes – Sold/Expired Comparison 2002 thru 2006

Since our local news media thinks the Austin Real Estate Market is “cooling”, based on only a 1% increase in number of sales the first quarter of 2007 compared to 2006 (smallest increase in several years), I thought I’d offer another viewpoint of what determines the strength of a real estate market. Namely, the ability of our Austin real estate market to absorb homes that are placed on the market for sale. A market that can absorb its inventory is a strong market. A market that can’t is weak.
The chart below tracks the number of Sold vs. the number of Expired or Withdrawn listings from 2002 through 2006. You’ll notice that in 2002, there were almost as many Austin homes that failed to sell as there were homes that did sell. 2002 was the first full year of our last real estate downturn in Austin.

In 2003, the number of Austin homes that failed to sell actually surpassed the number that did sell. This means that over half of the listings entered into the Austin MLS for sale in 2003 failed to sell. That’s a terrible market for Sellers. You can see where the ratio has been headed since then. In 2006, more than 2 out of 3 homes listed for sale did in fact sell.

Did you know that in early 2004 the local Austin Media reported that 2003 was a “record year” in home sales for Austin? How ’bout that? If you were one of the 50%+ Seller’s who’s home sat on the market without so much as a lowball offer, it didn’t seem like a record year. If you were forced to rent your home in 2003 because it wouldn’t sell, it didn’t seem like a record year in sales.

Number of Sales is not a metric that alone determines whether a real estate market is strong or not, yet our newspaper writers seem to place a high value on that metric. I define a “strong” market as a “Seller’s” market, not simply a market such as 2003 when every renter in Austin got a loan and bought a new home. A good market has rising values and good absorption. We are in such a market in Austin at this time.

Posted by Steve
9 years ago

U.S. Home Sales Drop In March

There is a lot of press out there about the national housing market. This article below is from Forbes. Austin has slowed down with respect to number of sales, but prices keep rising in the desirable areas. I cringe when I see local newspaper article headlines “Austin Home Sales Cooling” because that’s a misleading thing to say about the Austin real estate market. I’m going to write an article about what the “number of homes sold” means and what it doesn’t mean in the next couple of days.

U.S. Home Sales Drop In March – Matthew Kirdahy, 04.24.07

America’s housing market may have hit bottom, but it’s in no rush to climb out of the hole in which it has found itself.

On Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors reported existing home sales for March fell sharply by 8.4%, to 6.12 million units. That was significantly below the Wall Street consensus estimate of a decline to 6.45 million units, down from February’s 6.69 million. The drop was the largest since January 1989.
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Posted by Steve
9 years ago

Up to 4,000 homes may hit Bastrop

Colony Bastrop Map AustinThe article below was in last week’s Austin Business Journal. Looks like Bastrop (30 minutes SE of Austin) is going to be booming along with the other small towns surrounding Austin. I really like Bastrop, but it’s not a place that would make since for us to live at this stage in our lives. The drive out and back is too far for me, although out-of-state buyers often tell me 30 to 45 minutes is not a big deal to them.

My Builder Nalle Custom Homes is building homes in The Colony in Bastrop, and I’ve driven out several times to take a look at the quality of the homes they build and the floorplans. We’re having Nalle build a new home for us in Oak Hill. One afternoon coming back into Austin around 5:30 PM, the traffic heading west out to Bastrop was backed up pretty bad. I thought, “glad I’m not headed the other way”. When Hwy 71 is completed, and the new 130 Toll Road, that should help with the traffic and make Bastrop a much more accessible place to live and commute to Austin. Not shown on the map here is the Texas 130 Toll Road which will cut through between Bastrop and the airport. That doesn’t helping getting to and from downtown though.

Here is the story for ABJ.

Austin Business Journal – April 20, 2007

A New Mexico-based real estate firm has amassed nearly 7,000 acres in Bastrop, paving the way for what could become one of the largest master-planned communities in Central Texas.

In late December, Coast Range Investments LLC closed on a 6,700-acre tract of land currently owned by the Steiner family, with plans to turn what’s now ranching land into a largely residential development.
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Posted by Steve
9 years ago

Austin Real Estate – Sales Market Update March 2007

Real Estate prices continue the upward climb in Austin, though the number of homes sold is slowing somewhat. The number of homes sold is up 1% from March a year ago. The average sales price is up 4% and the Median sales price is up 6%. See the chart below and additional charts and info further down, including a link to Q1 appreciation breakdown by Austin MLS area.

Austin Sales Stats March 2007
Previous Month and Year Comparison
All MLS Areas - Houses Only

Feb 2007
Mar 2007
Mar 2006
Yr % Change
# Sold
Avg List Price
Median List Price
Avg Sold Price
Med Sold Price
Avg Size SQFT
Median SQFT
Avg $ per SQFT
Avg Days on Mkt
Median Days on Mkt

Below is Year-to-Date stats for Single Family Home sales.
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Posted by Steve
9 years ago
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