Category Archives for Austin Real Estate

Dear Austin, I am Emotionally Cheating on You

Welcome to Wimberley

“I love you Austin, but we’re growing apart emotionally. I can feel it. You can feel it. I’ve been spending time in another city, and I think I’m falling in Love”.

That’s how I would start my “Dear John” letter to Austin. I’m not ready to write that letter yet, but as empty-nesters and longtime Austinites, Sylvia and I have in fact been spending a lot of time at our place in Wimberley.

As I was surfing through my XM Radio channels the other day, I happened across a “relationship” show on which a caller and the host were discussing whether the caller’s friendship and time spent with a man not her husband constituted “Emotional Cheating“. The conclusion was that it did, and she needed to stop it.

If I were to call into that same show and describe mine and Sylvia’s time spent with Wimberley since early August, our weekends at our cabin, swimming and canoeing on Cypress Creek, walks to Blue Hole preserve and to the Wimberley Square coffee shop, and ask if that time spent constitutes “Emotionally Cheating” on Austin, then we’d be guilty as charged!

How did this happen? Let’s imagine a conversation between me and a confused Austin, wondering if I still love it: Read more …

Posted by Steve
6 days ago

Is Live Answer Worth the Investment for Businesses?

Do missed calls cost money?

As the owner of a business where 100% live answer is not possible or cost effective, I do receive my fair share of angry voicemails from people wanting to talk to a human right now. It’s kind of interesting actually. I received this one just recently.

Many would just delete it, as I usually do with rude voicemail tirades. We receive all manner of unbelievably incoherent, garbled and plain crazy voice messages from people.

But as a blunt-spoken no-BS type of person myself, I appreciated this voicemail. I played it proudly for my wife. And I played it for my assistant, “listen, … this is great!” And now I’m blogging about it.

The caller scolds me with the blunt, to the point assertion, “if no one is available you get no sales“.

Listen to it again yourself. It’s perfect! It’s the kind of communication I respect. Clear, concise, to the point. No fluff. I like people who communicate like this.

So, is he right? Am I losing sales?

Of course I am. I just don’t know how many, or if setting up a 24/7 live answer would capture enough lost sales to offset the cost of outsourcing to a live answer call center. To dig into the question a bit more, I’ll go into my call logs for my phone system and dig up some stats, then discuss the pros and cons of live answering services. Read more …

Posted by Steve
a couple of weeks ago

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
a few months ago

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 few months 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
a few months ago

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
8 months ago
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