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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Haunted House for Sale

The following blog is 100% fictional. Sorry to disappoint those who were actually looking for a real haunted house:

Eerie-sistible Deal! Excellent location, private and quiet!
Backs up to cemetery, incredible views of graveyards from your master deadroom.

4 Deadrooms and 2.5 Batts with room for batminton tournaments
Features ghostly apparitions and footsteps after midnight. Hardwood floors and hand textured walls have appearing and disappearing blood stains after midnight.

Floating furniture and threadmill in exorcist room may convey depending on offer.

Interested parties, please contact Ghouldilocks to arrange viewing, she has access with her special spoo-key.

Life is sweet at Sweet Berry Farms

With Halloween just around the corner. One of our regular family events is a visit to Marble Falls, about 45 minutes west on Rte 71 from Lakeway to Sweet Berry Farms. There were so many things to do for the children besides picking the largest pumpkin with a good stalk for handling. They had a petting zoo, corn maze, hay rides, face painting, stuff a scare crow, wash your squash, etc. They were selling homemade jams, ice cream and many more.

It seems a bit odd to be pumpkin picking on a beautiful sunny day. There was a cool breeze to gently remind everyone that it is fall! Hence, another reason why it is so great to be here in Austin for autumn!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Travis County Tax bills posted for 2007

Anxious to find out how much you are paying this year for your property taxes? If your home is located in Travis County, you can find out by going to the Travis County tax website:

Taxes are due by January 31st and can be paid in several ways:

For my community which is located in the City of Lakeway, the tax rates imposed by the different taxing units are as follows:
Travis County .4216
Lake Travis ISD 1.3585
WCID #17 .0575
Travis County Health Care District .0693
City of Lakeway .2139
Travis County ESD .1

Naturally, depending where you are in Lakeway, the taxing units differ, hence, the rates differ.

If you live outside of Travis County, you will have to check your county's tax assessor's website to see if your bill has been posted.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

McMansion ruling that affects many Austin homeowners

Just in my neighborhood, the average home size is 3,500 sq. ft. Oh boy, if this new bill gets passed by the Congress, this is going to hurt us!

The Congress is entertaining once again a bill that affects large homes. The bill would decrease the tax write-offs, meaning mortgage interest, on homes over 3,000 sq. ft. A home over 3,000 sq. ft. will only be allowed to write-off 85% of the interest; 3,200 sq. ft. only 70%, 3,400 sq. ft. only 55%, 3,600 sq. ft. only 40%, 3,800 sq. ft. only 25%, 4,000 sq. ft. only 10% and over 4,000 no tax write off!

This bill has the consumption and dependence on fuels, etc. in mind hoping that the average American will consider living in efficient homes using less energy etc. Many very large luxury homes are still being built in many areas of Austin. The average Austinite still has the large home criteria in mind (over 3,000 sq. ft.) If this bill gets passed, who will want to buy these luxury homes when the average Austinite has a mortgage and will need the tax write off? Yikes! Email your State representative or Senator and voice your opinion today!

Community Event - Collection of canned goods for Capital Area Food Bank

Once a year, Keller Williams Realty of Austin collects canned good donations for the Capitol Area Food Bank. In the past, Keller Williams has collected 260,000 lbs. of food over the past fifteen years, the largest collection in Austin.

I distributed over 140 bags of Keller Williams food bags with the help of two neighbors in my community at Ridge at Alta Vista. Over 70 food bags overflowing with canned goods were collected and dropped off at my door step by Friday, Oct. 12th just in time for delivery at Riverbend Church on Saturday. The response was overwhelming and I am so proud to be a part of this neighborhood. In such little notice, so many neighbors have come together to help the poor. Thank you neighbors!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Lake Travis ISD Residential Sales Statistics for September 2007

Ok, the numbers are in for September. Sales are 15% down from this time last year. If you think this is bad, I checked out the numbers for Lake Pointe Subdivision. Sales are 50% down from this time last year. And this is comparing residential units sold not sales volume. I am sitting here in an Open House in my Lake Pointe listing and had only one visitor. BTW, I thought I'd mention this but I have a contract pending on my Lake Pointe listing after only 7 days on the market! The reason for the Open House is to get a potential buyer for a back-up offer.

Click on the graphs to enlarge the photo. FYI again, the information has been obtained from the Austin Board of Realtors and has not been verified for accuracy.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Got any real estate horror stories?

With Halloween around the corner, I tried to rummage thru my exhausted brain a real estate horror story to share. Only one comes to mind, not from my experience but my sister's, a real estate agent in Northern CA. A vacant home she had been selling (her own, one that she had flipped) had homeless people dwelling in it for only a few days. She received warning from a neighbor and called the cops but the unwanted guests took off just as the police arrived. My sister was disgusted by the litter and smell she ended cleaning up. She had just shown the home a few days earlier!

The other story I have in mind is the horrific story of a friend or client that does not refer me to a future buyer or seller. We won't get into the details of what happened to their missing margarita machine. Don't let this happen to you! LOL! Got a real estate story to share? Please share them with me and I am going to post the best one on this blog. Stories cannot have anything to do with the neighborhood I live in now, I've already heard of the possessed automatic gate story way too many times this month ;)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Top 15 home improvements for resale

Having a pool in your backyard here in Austin is almost a necessity because of the extreme hot summers. But these days, the popular outdoor kitchen and living area seems to be the top priority to many. A great arbor with a long rock counter with dual sinks, wine refrigerator, and jumbo stainless steel grill seems to be the common sight these days. I think about this time last year, the media room was a must have. But do you really get the $100K you put into the money you put into (the new negative edge pool with water feature and wrought iron fence surrounding it) back when the home is sold? states the top 15 home updates, hence, here are the top 5:

1) Minor bathroom remodel - 102% return
2) Landscaping - 100% return
3) Minor kitchen remodel - 98.5% return
4) Vinyl siding, fresh paint, front entry - 70% return
5) Attic Bedroom conversion - 93.5% return