Archive Yearly Archives: 2013

How and Where to Pay Your Rent

Updated Jan 2015

This post is to make you aware of the different choices available for paying rent as a Crossland Real Estate Tenant.

This free online service is now required, per all lease agreements with Crossland Real Estate. It’s simple and user-friendly. You can pay by eCheck (online Check) for free (we absorb the fees) or, in an emergency, use a Credit Card. There is a third party fee for using a credit card, depending on which type of card you use.

From your PayLease profile you can set up auto-pay or a monthly reminder email with a payment link. Paylease also has toll free support in case you ever have a problem. You can get to the payment site from this link or from the Tenant menu above. 

Regular mail – If you mail your rent, there will be a $5 processing/handling fee, per your lease agreement. We will accept and post the payment, but you will be assessed the fee. You can mail your monthly check or money order payable to “Crossland Real Estate” to our mailing address at 5307 W Highway 290, Bldg B, Ste 2, Austin TX 78735. If you set up through your bank’s billpay or other service, make sure to allow enough mailing time (5 days) for arrival on or before the 1st. We highly encourage you to instead use the free service we provide through Paylease.

Personal Delivery – We do not have a 24/7 dropbox set up. Plase pay electronically, online, as described above. If for some reason you need to personally drop off a payment, call 512-327-3900 for instructions.

Thanks for being a Tenant customer of Crossland Real Estate. Feel free to Contact Us with any questions.

Posted by Steve
a couple of years ago

Austin Realtors: Time to Pull the Plug on Zillow and Trulia

No Austin MLS Syndication

As of this writing, there are 837 homes for sale in the Austin MLS for which the “Syndication” choice is set to “no” in the MLS settings. That’s 14% of current Austin single-family homes for sale, a sizable number, spanning all price ranges. I applaud those Broker/Agents for not drinking the syndication Kool-Aid.

This means, specifically, those 837 Austin MLS listings are not being fed by the listing agent through the MLS to a syndication aggregator called ListHub, which in turn is the main provider of listing feeds for most syndicators, including Zillow and Trulia, and 60+ others. I single out Zillow and Trulia only because those sites are the biggest and most well-known syndication websites. They are also the two most notoriously aggressive in their efforts and tactics to sell expensive advertising to the same Austin Realtors who freely gave away their work product (listings) to these media websites.

But what the 14% means in practical terms is that if you are a serious buyer dumb enough to only be looking for a home on a syndication website, you are only finding 86% of available Austin MLS listings. Wouldn’t you rather know about all available listings that match your search criteria?

Conversely, wouldn’t you rather NOT be shown incorrect listing data, specifically, homes you find on Zillow and Trulia and other sites that are not even for sale, or that already sold months or years ago but still appear on these websites? Or a home listed for $500K with an “estimated” value of $423K, but which had multiple offers over list price before the listing even made it onto the syndication website?

These websites might be interesting time wasters for tire kickers, curiosity seekers and nosey neighbors, but they are not trustworthy sources of current, accurate real estate listing information. Maybe they are an easy “first look” for casual listing surfers in the very early stages of “thinking about” buying a home, just to get a general idea of prices in a new city or area of town. But real estate listing syndication websites are not valuable tools for a serious buyer. Nor do they offer a relevant advertising venue for serious sellers or their listing agents. That’s because these sites are not designed to help you as a buyer, or to help sellers sell homes. They are designed to sell advertising to Realtors.

And the 14% Austin listing gap is growing as more Brokers and Agents come out of the fog and realize that these syndicators are not our friends. These websites do not, in any way, cause any home to sell faster or for a higher price. So the question is, why do so many Realtors mistakenly believe that these third-party media advertising websites are a good thing? And why do so many Realtors wrongly presume that sellers want listings shown on these websites?

History of Listing Syndication in Austin Read more …

Posted by Steve
a couple of years ago

Would Edward Snowden Work For Zillow?

Edward Snowden

As you have no doubt heard, computer analysis Edward Snowden was so appalled by what he deemed to be egregious privacy violations and spying on U.S. Citizens by his employers the CIA and NSA, that he leaked classified information to the press to prove it, then fled to Russia where he remains.

Would he have been happier working at Zillow? No. He would have been just as appalled.

Zillow does not respect your privacy. The lead system at Zillow, through which consumers inquire about listings, surreptitiously records and collects your private communication with Realtors who respond to your inquiry. This isn’t obvious to a typical consumer because of the way Zillow masks where your emails are really going. I’ll try to keep this technical explanation as simple as possible.

How Zillow Plays Games with Email Addresses and Names
When a consumer on Zillow fills out the “I’m interested …” form, the email that arrives is as follows:

From: Zillow <> (this is what Realtors see in the “from” section of the email client)

In the body of the email it says:

New Contact

John Doe ( is contacting you about a property on Zillow:
I am interested in 123 Main St, Austin, TX 78745. Contacted via

The second line above is the default text in the inquiry box. Most consumers don’t type into this box or ask questions, they simply fill in their contact info and click send with the default blurb. A real serious inquiry. (sarcasm intended)

Next, when the Realtor clicks “Reply”, she sees the following in the “to:” section of the email client:

“” <>

What Zillow does here is cleverly place the consumer’s email address in the “name” section of the send field. Many email clients (the software you use to send and receive email, like Outlook or Yahoo or Gmail) only show the name in this format, not the strange long email address you see after the “name”. Zillow knows this.

The average Realtor is a 57 year old woman. Not tech savvy. When she looks at where the email is going, and sees the email address (placed into the “name” field), she thinks the email address is the destination address of the email. But really, if you look at the long weird email address after the name/email, that is where the email will be delivered, to the Zillow email server. Read more …

Posted by Steve
3 years ago

Tenants: Who is Your Austin Property Owner?

average-rental-home-ownerI recently had a tenant utter the phrase “greedy landlords”. Ironically, it was out of frustration for what was in fact a tiny rent increase of less than 3%, raising the rent to a rate still about $75 less than market value. It was one of those “no good deed goes unpunished” moments that property managers frequently experience. More about my philosophy of rent increases can be read in a previous blog post on that subject.

But for this article, I want to talk about just who in fact your landlord is if you’re an Austin Tenant living in a single family home. I don’t mean the identity of your property owner, but more generally, what caused the owner to own a home that needed to be rented.

Owners fall into the following general categories.

Pure Investor – These are pure investors who purchased the property from the outset as an income producing asset. Many have maxed out retirement plans, or simply lost faith in the stock market and need a way to invest. Investing in real estate is very risky, fraught with uncertainty and surprise expenses. But for those with the right attitude toward proper care of the property, holding longterm, and treating tenants fairly, it can be one of the best ways to build wealth. They also need to have the financial and emotional strength to weather the ups and downs of owning rental property. All of our “investor” owners fall into this category, else we don’t take them as clients. But most of our clients are in fact not “pure investors”. Most fall into one of the categories below.

Read more …

Posted by Steve
3 years ago

The State of Professionalism Among Austin Realtors is Poor

Photo of conehead

One of the things I struggle with as a real estate blogger is finding the balance between positive, upbeat stories and dreary negative truths about the real estate industry and the people in it.

My sweet wife/Broker Sylvia has reprimanded me in the past for being too negative. So did my former “big name” Broker, multiple times, for crossing the line of polite decorum and calling out what I see as gross incompetence, not only with other Realtors, but the lenders, inspectors and various others who are part of every real estate transaction. I’ve mellowed somewhat, but things have become worse, not better.

This is going to be another of those “negative” writings because, frankly, I’ve had it. I’m sick and tired. I’m wondering if I even want to remain a part of an industry so plagued with completely useless idiots masquerading as real estate “professionals”.

I think it’s important, as a consumer, for you to know how truly terrible so many Realtors are, and how truly stupid you are for hiring them. You research your purchase of a car for months online before making a decision. You scour the internet travel sites looking for even the smallest of savings on your airline flight. You wander in and out of Best Buy, Fries Electronics, Office Depot, etc, plus review websites, investing hours of research, before purchasing that next laptop or refrigerator. I could go on.

But, when hiring your Realtor, according to NAR consumer surveys, 70% of you hire the first one to return your call. Stop that. It’s dumb. You, the consumer, are part of the problem, if not the problem.

Let’s look at some real life examples of the consequences of having lousy agents out in the field, who would vanish were it not for the “first return call” hiring practices of the real estate consumer. Read more …

Posted by Steve
3 years ago

In Which Area of Austin will Jim and Pam End Up?

Photo of Jim and Pam from The Office

Everybody loves Austin. Or so it seems. If the recent Forbes article “Austin Envy” wasn’t enough (though it mistakenly claims we still have Austin Hippies – we don’t. And, please, NOBODY refers to Austin as “Silicon Hills”), the final proof was in the finale of The Office, in which Jim and Pam decide to leave Scranton PA, bound for, of course, Austin, TX.

This makes sense. I mean, what other U.S. city could they have decided upon? Pittsburg? Phoenix? Orlando? No, the writers of The Office got it right. Jim and Pam are likable characters. We want the best for them. They’ve paid their dues in the decaying armpit that is Scranton PA, and they are deserving of a bright and optimistic new life. Austin is the only U.S. city for which this “new beginnings” story line would work. Fans can cheer the decision to move to Austin like they can no other city. It requires no explanation. It’s, like, “of course”. Self-explanatory. And we can feel good about that for them.

And what should Jim and Pam expect when they get here? Where will they live?

Read more …

Posted by Steve
3 years ago
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