“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 …
Have you ever woken up on a Friday morning with no intention of moving and by 5PM that day have submitted an offer on a home? That’s what Sylvia and I recently did, and it’s not the first time.
We really thought our current place in Westlake would be our “forever” retirement home. We’ve slowly improved and updated it, but still had a major kitchen and master bath redo and expansion in our future. The location is, in my opinion, the best in Austin for both our current working/family and future empty-nester lifestyles. 8 minutes to Town Lake, Zilker or Downtown, easy access to Mopac or 360, walking distance Trianon Coffee, FroYoyo, a Thundercloud Subs and more. Even a Cap Metro bus stop 6 minutes walk from our front door goes through Zilker Park and into downtown.
Our daughter can walk to Westlake High, and we’re within even closer proximity to the elementary and middle schools, which is what draws so many families and gives the Woodhaven neighborhood such a good mix of great people. It’s really perfect. A geographically “central” location without the quirky annoyances and absurdities of the 78704 areas.
But …Prices in the ‘hood have gone through the roof. It’s not going to be affordable or practical as a retirement home. If we make the contemplated improvements, our “retirement” home – a basic 1970s rancher – would be transformed and more highly valued and thus produce an annual property tax bill bigger than I want to swallow for the next 30 years. Sure, we’d be building equity, but still, property taxes seem to have gone too high already.
I often experience something many Austinites will never know. A quiet uncrowded Austin. No traffic. No noise. No crowds. Just peaceful serenity and bliss.
There is no turning back – no solution – for Austin’s traffic problems, congestion, growth, commercial encroachment into central neighborhoods, and myriad other small and big annoyances caused by Austin’s economic “success”. We all have to develop coping mechanisms to keep our sanity intact. Resistance is futile. You will either assimilate, or move away in disgust. I don’t want to leave Austin, I want to Love Austin. I want to keep that love alive. So I’ve adjusted my personal lifestyle and business practices in ways that equip me to better cope with the new reality of life in Austin. Here’s what I do.
Wake up at 5AM and go Running
You don’t have to run, you can walk, or do something else. Either out your front door through your still-sleeping neighborhood, or drive to your favorite hike and bike trail, park, or the gym. There will be no traffic. The city will be yours. At 5-6AM, there are typically only about 3 cars parked under the Mopac bridge at Town Lake.
Running (or walking) around Town Lake (aka Lady Bird Lake) in the pre-dawn silence, under the dim light of the Zilker Moon Tower, and the distant glow of downtown Austin, is as peaceful and quieting an experience as one can know. When I do this, usually Sunday, Monday and Thursdays, I do it unplugged. No iPod music. Just the dark silence of the morning. I usually encounter no more than a few others on the trail, depending on the weather and how early I go. By 6AM, the trail starts slowly populating, but is still uncrowded, and by 7AM, the normal early birds are there, the sun is up, and it’s no longer deserted. Read more …
Sylvia and I usually attend an annual Austin Real Estate Economic Update to find out what the coming year holds. This year, I exclaimed to her, “Why bother? It’s going to be full tilt boogie, just like 2013“. I mean, Austin is rumbling along with all cylinders firing. There is nothing I need to hear about 2014 that I don’t already know. We’re gonna be working our butts off and house prices are going to keep rising.
For many, this is good news. If you’re going to sell a home in Austin this Spring or Summer, you’ll be happy. If you’re buying a home in Austin, you better have an “A Game”, and you better be ready to bring it. And I mean bring it. You don’t buy a house in Austin anymore, you compete for one. Oddly, you’ll be happy too, when you finally win a multiple bid competition and pay too much for a house.
Many of our Realtor friends had record production years in 2013, as did Sylvia and I. Most are looking forward to another busy year in 2014. But I don’t like it. I don’t want to be this busy. And I think, to some degree, these manic real estate swings and rising values are ruining Austin, and the real estate profession. Everything has become hyper-instant. Everything is Urgent. Sylvia called on a new listing the morning of Jan 2nd which had already gone under contract with 7 offers New Years Day. This wasn’t even in a “hot” area. Why aren’t people sleeping in on New Year’s Day instead of out fighting over a house?
I know. It’s a weird thing to complain about, being busy, doing well, enjoying professional success. Shame on me. Read more …
As 2012 draws to a close, it’s been a wonderful year in Austin for me, Sylvia and our family. Shelly is doing well in her sophomore year at TCU. Caroline is doing well in her (also) sophomore year at Westlake High School. Our business finally picked up in 2012 to our busiest since 2008. And I, Steve lost 30 lbs! More on that below.
Thanks goes out to all of our friends, family, clients, customers, acquaintances and others. Without you, our lives would not be as wonderful as they are. We end 2012 with much gratitude.
Now for my shameless plug and request for support. No, it’s not about business or leads or referrals. Something much more important. It’s about health, fitness and curing cancer. Please read on …
I spent most of 2012 getting into better shape. I was becoming a fatty again, and as I approached age 50 in 2012, I wanted to get serious about my fitness and health. I started cold turkey in March 2012 getting up at 5AM (yes, 5AM!), 5 days a week, and going to the gym for morning workouts. I have continued that schedule ever since. Through exercise and better eating, I’ve lost 30 pounds and feel great as 2012 comes to an end.
But as 2013 begins, I feel like I hit a fitness plateau. The routine is getting old, and I feel myself slipping back to old habits. I want to push myself to another level. I need a new challenge for 2013.
I was not sure what that challenge would be, until New Years Eve, 2012. I’m going to run the LiveStrong half marathon in Austin this February!
Steve and I took a GRI class last week in pursuit of more knowledge about current real estate trends and practices. I always find these educational courses to be informative and helpful.
My biggest “take away” from this class was when one of my fellow classmates, who drove over 900 miles from El Paso for the 4-day class, shared with us the current landscaping requirements in El Paso. ALL new homes there are now being required to use xeriscape landscaping in the front yards because of the water shortage.
I wonder how long before the same requirement comes to Austin?
So Saturday as I was taking my buyer clients around looking at different houses, I was pointing out features that I may have overlooked in the past. One home had full gutters and a rain barrel capture system in place which I highlighted as a plus. Also, in the very small fenced in front yard where there was mostly Bermuda grass, I suggested, “You can take this grass out and put in xeriscape with native Texas landscaping”.
This whole idea of “no grass” front yards has really got me thinking.