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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Foreign Sellers Need to Know

This is important information for non United Citizens who are selling their property here in United States, or for the reason of this blog, in Texas.  Debra Holloway of Gracy Title was our guest speaker at Keller Williams Realty today.

Debra says that if the property is 300,000 or over, Gracy Title needs to withhold 10% of the sales price and send this amount to the IRS on behalf of the Seller.   The Seller needs to settle with the IRS if they owe more money or get part of this money back.  In addition, there are IRS forms that need to be completed at closing.  If the property is under 300,000, the 10% is withheld and given to the Buyer.  The Buyer is responsible for sending the money to the IRS and complete some IRS forms.  This part becomes sticky as what Buyer in their right mind would want to take responsibility of this kind of money?  An attorney needs to be involved.

If you are Foreign Seller, make sure you let your agent know and do your research before selling your property.  If you are a Buyer, make sure your agent inquires to make sure that the Seller is a US Citizen so the Buyer is not put in this similar situation.

Otherwise, Happy Selling and Happy Buying in Austin, Texas.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Keller Williams Red Day 2015 - Meet Lonnie

Every year, Keller Williams Realty celebrates RED DAY,  a day all agents in the entire country stop working and give back to the community.  This year, my office, Lake Travis, had a food drive benefitting Lake Travis Crisis Ministries; a book drive benefitting West Cypress Hill Elementary; and  Pet Items for Wags Hope and Healing Pet Rescue.  After the drive, my 2 older teens and I ventured out to Austin to find 2 recipients of $100 cash envelopes.  My eldest, Ryan, writes the following:

Today, my mom and I set out to make some acts of kindness for random people.  Meet Lonnie (top) and Will (bottom).  Both were individuals we came across in the streets of Austin.  When we approached them they told us of their troublesome living situations.  Lonnie had just finished panhandling and Will was walking home from work , his bike broke down and could not afford to repair it.  We gave them each $100 to help them make ends meet.  The way these men responded was more than what we expected.  Will kept asking “Are you serious?” and left, palms to the sky.  Lonnie dropped his belongings, stepped away and got to his knees for a silent moment and then returned with hugs for each of us.  When asked what he would do with the money, he said a portion would go to buying his friends shoes.  I couldn’t believe that despite being homeless, he still put his friends in front of himself.  Our experience with these men was so refreshing, and serves as an example of why we should make acts of kindness as much as we can in our community.  You never know how much you can turn someone’s day around until you try.

Here's the video of Lonnie's story:


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Search for Waterfront Homes in Austin

Many are asking me, how do I search for waterfront single family homes in Austin, TX?  Easy, use my site.  Here's the link to search for waterfront homes.  Currently, the most expensive waterfront property for sale is just under 6 Million. 
The above link is live and collects information from my MLS.  It only includes Active properties  currently in the market.  Happy viewing!
If you are serious about purchasing one of these properties, please contact me so that I can represent you with your purchase.  Complete the form at the bottom of the property's detail page to reach me.


I just listed this beautiful one story home with 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2 car garage, 1,600 sq ft (per HCAD) in Kyle, TX.  This home's location in Post Oak is one of a kind as it backs to green space and is walking distance to the amenity center which includes the pool, sport court and playground. The seller has done such a great job getting this property on the market.  I priced it accordingly at $159,000.
Within a few hours, we were at multiple offer.  I commend the sellers for their cooperation in working with me to get this done. Part of my job is also to assist in staging.   Here is the link to the property.   Congratulations to my sellers.
If you are thinking of selling your property anywhere in Austin, please call me.  I would like the opportunity to earn your business.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Say No to Insurance Fraud

About 2 weeks ago, West Austin sustained damages from a ten minute hail storm.  Most of the roofs in the area are totaled.  The streets have been littered by door knockers, storm chasers or roofers giving free service to assess if you need a new roof.

One thing that you need to beware. When a roofer or contractor says "I'll make sure your deductible is covered", run away. The vendor usually inflates the price to cover the out of pocket deductible. Example the cost to replace the roof is 10k. You have a 3k deductible. Hence,  the roofer tells your insurance company the cost is 13k. But the real cost to you is 10k. That's fraudulent.  If you are caught involved in this, there are consequences.  So do yourself a favor, don't work with these vendors. Beware.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Funny Real Estate Sign

I absolutely love this sign posted on Facebook by El Arroyo Mexican Restaurant on 5th street. It made me chuckle. Its partly correct as housing prices are increasing but to refer it to local resident, Willie is hilarious. Thanks El Arroyo for the funny sign.
Photo Credit: El Arroyo

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Should you choose a family relative or friend as your Realtor?

Recently, I heard a story where an agent found out that a brother put his house in the market and the Seller did not hire nor tell the agent relative.  After a small family event, the Seller did not mention anything to the relative nor did the agent.  I am going to tell you that the agent is hurt about this decision and the relationship between the two has been compromised.  My question to the Seller is WHY?  What is going thru the mind of the Seller that he cannot be upfront to his own family member about this.  Why did the Seller remain to make it a secret?  Did he think that the family member was not going to find out?  Did the Seller feel that the family member was not good enough to hire them as their Realtor?

In the same token, I want to ask you if you had a friend who was a Realtor, would you do the same?  Would you tell your friend that you were going to use a non-friend or another friend to sell or buy a house?  Would you keep it a secret to your Realtor friend?  Would you bother telling your friend about it?  After all, we are on the MLS often enough to notice if your home was for sale.

Let me tell you from a perspective of a Realtor. 

I can understand that friends don't want to do business with friends.  It makes sense BUT it would only be fair that you approach your Realtor friend that you intend to sell your house and not use a friend PERIOD.  A good Realtor friend should understand without questioning the friend's decision.  I have a friend who has told me this and I supported this decision.  That person in my opinion, is someone who was honest and valued our friendship.

A Realtor friend who runs a successful real estate business should at ALL times have the opportunity to earn your business PERIOD.  You have heard your Realtor friend talk about their sales; you've read their successes in social media like Facebook; you should trust your friend to be able to do business with them.  After all, how many times did you ask your friend for real estate advice?  How many times did you consider selling your house and confiding this idea to your friend? How many times did you ask your friend for a name of a contractor, a plumber, an electrician? How many times did you ask your friend to pull comparables for you to protest your taxes?  How many times did you think of moving and you asked your Realtor friend to show you a house he/she saw online? If you trust your friend enough for advice and your friend has been there for you for all your real estate needs, your Realtor friend DESERVES to be the FIRST person you interview when it comes to selling your home.

A professional Realtor should treat the transaction as a business like no other.  The friend will be treated as a client and in most cases, better than a client.  This is the time for the Realtor to step-up and shine given the circumstance since you know that you need your friend to rave about you in front of your common circle of friends after the transaction is over.

Do not at any case ask your Realtor friend to discount the commission because you are friends.  This is a business transaction, there should be no special favors.  The Realtor has to spend the same amount of marketing, time and effort as a regular transaction.  If the Realtor volunteers that they want to give you a discount, so be it, but one should not ask.  Our commission is our bread and butter.  This is how we earn to pay our bills, to pay for our gas, our dues, mortgage just like how you or your spouse has to go to work to earn a paycheck.  A friend would know this because your Realtor friend may have confided to you about their financials, etc.

The business transaction works both ways.  If the Seller is self employed or works for a service industry, (whether it be a dry cleaning business, car sales, mortgage, professional cleaning, landscaping, restaurant owner, etc.) you would expect your Realtor friend to support you by sending business and referrals your way.  Reciprocate by giving your Realtor friend your business.

In this business, I have seen this relationship to be one way, the lack of reciprocity, the lack of loyalty.  Do not at any cost let this happen between you and your Realtor friend.  I think its time you heard what its like to be on the other side of the table.  Perhaps the relationship isn't a good friendship after all.

Think about it.  All we are asking is your honesty and the opportunity to earn your business.  Don't be selfish.  Friendship is a two way street.  You'll feel better about yourself in the long run.