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Thursday, December 18, 2008

November Austin Area Market Statistics

Alamo Title who is my monthly source of my Austin Real Estate Market Statistics has not posted the November numbers nor have they updated their chart. I am using Austin Board of Realtors information this month so here it goes.

ABoR reports that single family home sales (number of units) is down 40% compared to last November. Ouch! It is also 20% year to date lower than last year.

As far as Lakeway and communities in the Lake South MLS, residential sales are down 4% from last November. That doesn't sound so bad but you must consider that last fall is when the sales in LS have started to slow down. In a lighter note, it appears as there is a good amount of homes currently pending (in December) and with the Feds currently decreasing the interest rate, we hope that this stimulates home buying again. Let's keep our fingers crossed that our wishes become reality! Wouldn't that be nice?

NOTE: The statistics posted herein are obtained from the Austin Board of Realtors and have not been verified.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pearl's Odd Joke on Going "Green"

I want to go green in 2009. I use alot of paper, I print out alot of marketing flyers, print contracts, MLS sheets for my buyers and myself and mail out alot of postcards. Where do I begin? I plan to buy a PC tablet where I can write my notes on it, sign paperwork, etc. I already use a Palm Treo for my scheduling, contacts, etc. so give me some credit, I no longer carry a Day Planner around.

As I think about ideas, I thought about the days when I was growing where paper was less abundant and expensive. What did people do back then? I started to think when I was a little girl in the provinces of the Philippines. I remember people writing on banana leaves, using banana leaves for plates, and of course we ate with our fingers (which by the way if you haven't tried it yet, it is the best! I just won't eat my fried chicken with a fork and a knife like most people do). Hence, I came up with this comic.

If ya'll have any ideas on going green, your suggestions are welcome.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Buyers, please sign my Buyer Rep Agreement

I admit it, sometimes, I use my blog site to get things off my chest!

I met a buyer at my office. The buyer had given me their criteria, and we planned to meet at my office to go over the properties, hop in my car and show property. I whip out the Buyer Representation Agreement and there goes the Buyer, faster than a speeding bullet, out the door, Adios! Huh what happend, you ask?

The Residential Buyer/Tenant Representation Agreement is written by the Texas Association of Realtors, an agreement between the broker (me) and the buyer prospect for the purpose of acquiring property in Austin (my area). The form that I use is 4 pages long and is written by TAR, not by me. It spells out the duties of the broker and the buyer and the commission that the broker will obtain from the transaction. Most importantly, the agreement states that the buyer will work EXCLUSIVELY with that broker. That is what the buyer had a problem with. The buyer wanted to work with numerous brokers and which ever broker showed the buyer the property that the buyer wishes to purchase, that procuring broker will obtain the commission. Hmm, did you get that? I argued back and forth with the buyer, basically, I told the buyer that it is NOT how I ran my business. I am not in the business of driving buyers around in my car, wasting my time and gas, doing the research and hope and pray that I find them the home they buy.

Without going any further with my heating discussion with the buyer, who supposedly understood my position, but didn't want to be binded with one realtor, I just hope that YOU do not feel the same way. I want you to know that I do not work for FREE. I work hard for all my clients and treat them as if each client were my only client. With that said, I hope that YOU value my time and my efforts. My commission is my pay and I earned it. Just as you get paid at the end of your pay period, you would hope that your employer would pay you even if your team mate did most of the work.

Enough said, before you jump into my car, besides having a pre-qualification letter from your lender, a check book and the downpayment, please have your pen ready and sign my Buyer Representation Agreement.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A homeowner's Christmas Miracle

I wanted to share with you a homeowner's Christmas Miracle.

Many homeowners purchased their home and got ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage). These type of loan vary but commonly, the loan has a fixed rate for 2 years then the rate adjusts (fluctuates up and down) depending on the current prime rate. In this homeowner's case, the rate has adjusted a few years ago to a rate as high as 11%, which made the monthly payments unaffordable coupled with the fact the second source of income has stopped.

A homeowner who has been behind in their mortgage payments has called me to discuss their options. As you may already know, I am a short sale specialist and I help people short sale their home in lieu of foreclosure. The homeowner got their short sale package together as I got ready to put their home on the market. In the meantime, the homeowner has looked for other home alternatives and have submitted a lease application. A few days later, the homeowner received word that their lease application was denied. A day later, the homeowner received "the letter" from the bank about foreclosure proceedings. The homeowner and I met the following day after church to get a copy of the letter. That afternoon, the news had sunk in, the homeowner emailed me, needing to find an alternative lease but unfortunately, they did not have the money for a lease application until next pay day. As some of you know the stress of moving is very cumbersome but to have the feeling of losing their own home AND not having a place to stay is overwhelming.

I received a phone call the following evening. The homeowner was elated after getting off the phone with the lender, they received a letter from the bank stating that they were being offered a loan modification. The loan would convert to a fixed rate and the payments would be less than the original fixed rate payments. I was happy to hear these news as the homeowner gets to stay in the home they have lived in for the past 20+ years!

It's about time the banks stepped up to the plate and offered such programs to the homeowners. Everyone with a hardship should be able to get a loan modification especially when the rates are going down. I want you to know that if you are experiencing a hard ship and and may be facing foreclosure, I am here to help you.

When the world around us is upside down, pray for a miracle. Miracles do happen!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

October Austin and Lakeway Real Estate Statistics

As you remember, October was when the bank fall out began, the beginning of Bush's bail-out plan. How did this affect Austin's real estate? Alamo Title reports that solds decreased by 26.24% from October last year. You are probably thinking that 26% isn't so bad, but if you look at the chart, Austin's real estate started to take a dip in the fall. Hence, I am guessing, that's around a 36% decrease in sales from 2 years ago!

As far as Lakeway real estate, sales are down 5% from last October or 33% down from October 2006.

With the Presidential election finally over, I am optimistic that our new President will bring good changes and I hope that you feel the same way.

NOTE: The information here in has been obtained from Alamo Title and Austin Board of Realtors and has not been verified.

Monday, October 20, 2008

September Austin Real Estate Statistics

Looking for September's numbers? Residential sales (per units sold) in Austin are down but not bad compared to the past months. Lakeway sales are also down but only slightly. I am guessing that the down payment assistance going away had alot of buyers finding and buying a home up to the last day before this program went away.

The FHA down payment assistance program ended September 30th. Not only that, FHA's down payment requirement may increase .5% or a total of 3.5% will be required as down payment when using this program.

The data used in this chart has been obtained from the Austin Board of Realtors and has not been confirmed nor verified. Keller Williams Realty is not responsible for the inacurracy of this report.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ridge at Alta Vista, Lakeway Real Estate Statistics

A Ridge at Alta Vista resident posted a few questions at a forum asking about the current real estate market in the community. The resident asked the status of the completion, number of homes currently in the market, if there was an increase/decrease in property value. I thought I'd post the answer on my blog so that the information may be somewhat readable in table format rather than having to post it in text.

The Ridge at Alta Vista Community is split into 2 sections, the Reserves and the Estates. The Reserves I believe is to have 183 homesites, while the Estates, 111 homesites or a total of 294. This is based on the latest site plan found posted on Toll Brother's website.

I received an update from the sales office 3 weeks ago and they stated that less than 20 homesites are available at the moment and 3 were suppossedly currently in negotiations (at the time a representative from the office answered my question). I don't remember the exact split but there were definitely more Estate lots than Reserve lots. The last time I counted, there were at least 241 homes owned currently occupied but that doesn't seem right which means there are 33 homes either currently being built, about to close or an inventory home. I need to re-look at that estimate.

I went as far back as the beginning of the year and posted the number of homes sold and split them into the two sections. However, I did not further split up the homes via location (view oppossed to non view; or backs to greenbelt, etc. ) topography etc. This is just an overview of the community. If you are thinking of buying or selling a home in the neighborhood, give me a call and a more accurate comparative market analysis can be given as I consider all of the features and improvements on each home.

Furthermore, I compared this year's solds to the same time frame last year. You may select on the image to enlarge it.

I post Austin's and Lakeway's real estate statistics monthly on my blog in case you want to bookmark this site or better yet, subscribe to my blogs to receive automatic feeds. If you have any questions, please call me at (512)786-SELL [7355] or send me an email at

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Real Estate Jokes

Believe it or not, I get alot of hits for my real estate jokes. I am guessing since there is so much bad press on TV and newspaper about the economy because of the mortgage mess that people turn to other means to lighten ourselves up. Hey, I am not complaining, keep reading my blogs if you feel that it makes you happy!

This is actually a cartoon I dread might happen to me eventually. With my daughter in Middle School and she actually doesn't mind taking my pens and other marketing materials to school (my coozie and lightweight bags with bling that I sewed on), yap someday I might just get a call from a boy!

I am actually trying to drum up my next halloween real estate joke in my head! Keep an eye out for it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Government's Bailout Plan

My television has been working overtime and I am finally finding time to sit down and watch the news to figure out what's the buzz in Washington. Sometime today, our elected officials in Washington DC will vote for this plan that will rescue our economy.

No one is really clear as to the specifics of the plan but I found this article that briefly explains the Overview of the Bailout in layman's term. I am not really sure how close this article written by Realty Times is to the actual proposed plan but I thought it was worth reading and sharing.

To the right of this blog is a Poll which ends on October 5th. Please vote and let me know what you would vote if you were our elected official. I really would love to hear any comments you may have (to post a comment, select the pencil at the bottom of this posting). Don't worry, your vote is anonymous to me and all readers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

August Austin Market Measure

Looking for last month's sales statistics? Are you sure you really want to know? Just this past Monday, the stock market experienced a big dip and announced more bad news about banks experiencing hard times. Urgh! I can't wait for all this nightmare to be over with! Okay, enough stalling, here's August residential statistics provided by Alamo Title of Austin, TX.
Units for Sale: (compared to August 2007)

New listings were down 18.87%.
Pendings were down 21.28%.
Solds decreased by 23.21%.

As for Average Prices:

The "New Listings" average list price is up 3.90% to 312,594. In August 2007 the average list price was $300,849.
Sold average sales prices increased 7.95% to $276,954. For August 2007 it was $256,553.

In Lake Travis ISD (MLS area LS), residential sales are down 32%!!! That is just unbelievable! I know for a fact that I have not been getting any traffic in any of my listings. This is a bad, bad sign. If anyone out there has any good news to share, please do share!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

For Sale: 142 Sebastians Run in Ridge at Alta Vista, Lakeway

Play the video (by selecting Google) I have created and posted in several sites. 142 Sebastians Run is located in Ridge at Alta Vista in Lakeway, a gated Luxury community by Toll Brothers.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Ridge at Alta Vista Market Measure

Want to find out how sales are doing in Ridge at Alta Vista in Lakeway? Here you go! To get the monthly sales statistics on this neighborhood, email me so that I can include you in my monthly real estate news.

Pearl's Real Estate Joke August 2008

My children have gone back to school. I have 3, one will be going to High School, one continues to go to Middle School and one goes to a new Elementary school (as a result of new school boundaries). So yeah, I will be busier than ever.

BTW, in school lingo, getting a "referral" from a teacher means, getting written up for doing something wrong, like throwing paper in class, passing notes, not doing your homework, talking and not paying attention... the list goes on. Depending on the referral, the student may or may not end up at the principal's office. I learned this term from my High Schooler. Not surprisingly, my Middle Schooler (my daughter) has never received one.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Statesman says Eanes is going for less

Eanes Independent School District is (I think) one of the best rated school districts in Austin. They also have an awesome football stadium and use astro turf. Without losing my train of thought, I know for a fact that the Westlake area has the reputation of being one of the region's most expensive housing. A $1 million dollar home in Lakeway is worth more in Westlake. Some people want to be in Westlake because of their schools no matter how much it takes. Last year, Newsweek listed Eanes' Westwood High School as #97 of the 1,300 top schools in the country! Lake Travis High School was #503. So now, do you get it?

I checked the statistics for this MLS (at Alamo Title's website) and saw that in July, 2008, the average home sold was $651,566 in the 8W MLS. In July 2007, the average was $609,944, that's a 6.8% increase! But only 25 homes sold this July, (40 last July), a 37.5% drop in sales! Yikes! I thought Lake South (where Lakeway is was doing bad at a 27% drop.

The moral of this blog? NOW is the time to get in at Eanes School District! Buyers, you have got to take advantage of the market and buy in Eanes now!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

July Statistics for Austin Real Estate

Alamo Title reports the following for July 2008:

Units for Sale: (compared to July 2007)

New listings were down 7.22%.
Pendings were down 21.19%.
Solds decreased by 24.61%.

As for Average Prices:

The "New Listings" average list price is up 8.90% to 319,346. In July 2007 the average list price was $293,258.
Sold average sales prices increased 0.08% to $253,500. For June 2007 it was $253,310.

Fortunately, generally homes are still appreciating, thank goodness. Does the dwindling number of solds worry you?

NOTE: The information herein has been obtained from Alamo Title's website and has not been verified.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Help me Stop Foreclosures in Austin!

I am sure you are not surprised to hear that foreclosures are on the rise in Austin, TX. In Texas alone based on the picture above as of May (per, 1 out of 323 homes is in foreclosure in the high foreclosure area (denoted by deep red) and in lower foreclosure area, 1 out of 26,853 homes (denoted by pink). In the US, 30 million people are in default of their mortgage and still increasing. Yikes!

The top ten states with high forecloses are:
1) Florida
2) California
3) Arizona
4) Illinois
5) New Jersey
6) Nevada
7) Texas
8) Georgia
9) New York
10) Colorado.

I don't exactly know when these statistics were reported but this information was obtained from a short sale class I took yesterday called Short Sales Solutions.

We need to stop Foreclosures in Austin NOW! Why? First of all, if a homeowner goes into foreclosure, not only is it devastating emotionally but foreclosure will impact their credit scores up to 7 years. That's 7 years that they can't buy a home in Austin. If every 5th person goes into foreclosure, how many buyers will we lose in this market for 7 years? That's 20% of the buyers pool right there and not only that the other 20% probably doesn't have enough money or is already facing credit challenged. The other 20% is most likely not going to buy because they are already settled into their home, 20% are afraid to buy because of the economy and there goes only 20% who are willing to buy. These numbers are just for illustration purposes but you get the gist.

How can we save foreclosures? If you know of anyone who is upside down and who had already defaulted in their mortgage, have them give me a call. Remember, these people have options before they face foreclosure. I need to speak to them to see if they qualify for SHORT SALE. Most real estate agents won't do short sales because of the tedious paperwork and patience involved. I have the passion to help people and am organized. My sister, a real estate agent in Northern California who is a very experienced short sale agent is my mentor.

Most importantly, the clock is ticking. Once they have received a notice from their lender, they only have a few days to get going before their property is auctioned on the county steps. Act now and call me today for your FREE phone consultation. You have nothing to lose but just 30 minutes of your time. The best advice you can give someone you know who is facing foreclosure is to have them give me a call ASAP.

NOTE: I am a candidate for the Certified Default Resolution Specialist designation. I need to complete short sales transactions as a listing agent in order to earn my designtation. Austin Realtors, if you have a client that may be a short sale candidate, I will pay you a referral fee.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Round Rock is #7!

Yahoo! Finance reported on July 14, 2008 that Round Rock, TX is the 7th Best Place to live in America because housing is affordable and there are loads of outdoor amenities. Hence, Round Rock real estate is still doing well. Dell is also a contributor to Round Rock’s economy since its headquarters are located there. Also in Round Rock are 3 medical centers and a campus for Texas State University. There’s plenty of shopping (RR Outlet stores and IKEA, yeah!) and they have a minor league baseball team, the Round Rock Express. If you know of anyone who is interested in moving to Round Rock, please let me know so I can help them. I’ve spent 6 months in Round Rock selling condos and it is a great city to live in! Here's the complete article by Yahoo! Finance.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Austin Homes and Entertainment July 2008 Newsletter

My July Newsletter of Austin Homes and Entertainment will be out for delivery next week. To be included in my monthly mailing, please email me and let me know. In the same token, if you would like me to write on a specific article, your suggestions are greatly appreciated! Click on the image to enlarge. Happy reading!

Austin Real Estate Stats for June includes Lakeway

Austin Real Estate Sales at a Glance includes June 2008:
Residential sales are DOWN 18% compared to last June The average price home sold in June was $266,175 up 4.71% from last June. In Lakeway, Spicewood and Bee Caves (all sales under Lake Travis ISD), sales are down 25% compared to last June.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Are you thinking of leasing a property in Lakeway?

With the many residential sales inventory we have in Lakeway, more sellers are putting their homes in the lease market as well. As a result, the lease competition becomes another exhausting arena for negotiations. If you are thinking of leasing in Lakeway, not all realtors are willing to take lease clients as the commission involved is so little. The price of gas puts a stress on us hence, our keep becomes even smaller.

I currently have 2 lease listings in the market and both are in Ridge at Alta Vista, in Lakeway ranging from $3,000-$3,500 a month at a lease term of 12 months. Both homes are available for lease at a shorter term but the lease price is higher. If you are considering leasing a home, here is a link where you can view current Lease properties in Lakeway and Bee Caves.

I am seeing many prospect from outside Austin who are thinking of leasing since their home elsewhere is currently for sale. After the lease is over and their home is sold, these tenant prospects are planning to purchase or build a home in Lakeway. If you plan to lease a property in Lakeway or surrounding areas in Austin, be sure to give me a call and I can help you!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Austin still popular for the high-techies...

Austin besides it's reputation for music and arts now has claimed a position in the high techie charts for being the 3rd highest high-tech wage payer. That's awesome news! Not sure if you knew (probably not) but I was a 20 year high techie before I became a real estate agent (though I am a 2nd generation realtor).

BTW, this news was also in Austin Statesman's paper. Austin Business Journal reported on June 24th that the average high-techie earned $100,500 in 2006. I wonder how much more they made in 2007. Businesses such as AMD, Silicone Labs, IBM, Dell and more, contribute to this. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) recently opened their newly built facility in South Austin earlier this year. Having lived in Lakeway and passing the complex on Southwest Parkway, I watched the building grow! Perhaps, the business is a contributor to South Austin's strong real estate market! Anyway, techies, read on the article from Austin Business Journal.

Austin home sales getting stronger?

Austin Business Journal reported on June 20th 2006 that Austin's home market is gaining strength. Rather than restating the article, I would rather append the article in here:

"It's showing signs of a possible rebound, but the Austin home market remains sluggish.

Single-family home sales in the metro area totaled 2,154 in May, down 20 percent compared with May 2007, according to data from the Austin Board of Realtors. However, the May figure is the highest number of total sales the area has experienced in eight months.

Austin is not seeing the drastic price drops that many other markets around the country have experienced. The average price for a single-family home stood at $263,151 in May, up 5 percent from a year ago." Read more

I took a peek at June's statistics, though premature, the Austin residential sales in June are struggling. Let's wait until July when the realtors are done entering their sales in the system. I just truly hope that the sales are no worse than -20% compared to last June. Urggh. Already I have seen sloooow amount of showings in my listings though the price reductions, and extra marketing. I just sure hope that ABJ is right in projecting stronger coming months.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pearl's Real Estate Humor July 2008

With the gas prices going up to almosts $4.00 a gallon. Here's one I came up with. I wonder if my kids will go back to my blogs when they're older and say "Wow, $4.00, those were the good days!"

Pearl's top ten gas saving tips

Need some gas saving tips? The last time I tapped off my tank was a long time ago. You can relate? Here are my top ten picks to save on gas:

1) Before getting in your car, ask yourself if this trip is necessary.
2) Consider car-pooling, share a gas bill and ride together.
3) Consider asking your neighbor if they need something from the grocery store before you leave.
4) Keep your car in shape. Make sure your car is properly tuned, filters are changed and tires are properly inflated.
5) Avoid peak rush hours. You don’t want to get caught in traffic.
6) Plan your errands.
7) Don’t leave your car running.
8) Remove excess weight in your car, drive light. I think I might just lose some weight too!
9) Consider working from home if your job permits it.
10) HIRE A REALTOR! Stop driving around neighborhoods looking for your next home. Hire me!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ready for May's Austin Real Estate Stats?

Another disappointing month is behind us. Austin Residential sales is down 25% compared to last May. Per Alamo Title, "Sold average sales prices increased 4.89% to $257,618. For May 2007 it was $245,616." This means that homes are still appreciating. Whew!
As far as Lake South stats, which includes all areas under Lake Travis ISD, residential sales are down 18% compared to last May. That's pretty high considering, May is one of our peak real estate sales months. I have attached the graphs for your reference.
NOTE: The information herein has been obtained from Alamo Title Company and Austin Board of Realtors and have not been verified. The first graph has been provided dby Alamo Title Company.

Friday, May 23, 2008

2008 Parade of Homes in Rough Hollow, Lakeway, TX

Are you ready to see this year's Parade of Homes? This year, the Home Builder's Association of Greater Austin has chosen Rough Hollow to hold the Parade of Homes. Rough Hollow is located in Lakeway next to The World of Tennis section. These homes have views of Lake Travis but none of them are waterfront. 6 homes or builders have participated and all I can say is WOW! The homes are enourmous in size as well as the price tag. All homes have a luxury finish out, 5 of the 6 are completely furnished except home #5 which has been custom built for a specific homeowner (and it's not ME nor a client of mine). The 6 homes are as follows:

1) 226 Canyon Turn Trail by Copperleaf Property Group. 8,108 sq ft., 3 level home with 2 elevators, 4 car garage, pool, seven outdoor living areas amounting to 3,100 sq. ft. There are 2 full guest quarters (3rd floor and garage level). My favorite is the his/her bathroom suites where each master can have his/her dressing area, separate areas with sinks and toilets. The female area has a jacuzzi tub. The master bath has embedded green onyx stone. As I toured this area, there must have been 25 people just in the master bath alone and could easily fit another 10 people.

2) 231 Canyon Turn Trail by VII Homes. 6,782 sq. ft., 5 BR/6.5 baths, infinity pool with hot tub, swim up bar; 3 car garage with courtyard.

3) 229 Canyon Turn Trail by Sterling Custom Homes. Over 6,000 sq. ft. plus 4,500 of outdoor living space. I love all the seamless windows in the main living areas where you can see out to the lake. I love the living area spaces though I was not thrilled with the interior decorating. But that is of course a personal opinion or I have no taste.

4) 227 Canyon Turn Trail by New Austin Homes. 6,778 sq. ft. with 6 outdoor living areas totalling 3,300 sq. ft. with infinity pool. The outdoor living area in here is absolutely spectacular. The large area to the side with the outdoor fire place and tv had my heart. There is a koi pond next to the pool area and the views are amazing.

5) 221 Cayon Turn Trail by McCullough Gray. The design is what makes this builder different. There's alot of the barrel ceiling and the octagonal rooms that are towers. The sq. footage is a whopping 10,612 which is large enough for a royalty's vacation home. The home is unfinished but gave the spectators enough wow because of the detail put into it.

6) 219 Canyon Turn Trail by Jenkins Custom Homes. The sq. footage was not stated however, it feels the smallest of the 6 homes. There is a large sale water aquarium in the living room which turned me off automatically. Once again, a personal opinion. The kitchen was smaller but loved the hidden room behind the spice rack for caterers, etc. The home has 6 BR, 5BA and 2 half baths, 3 living areas, and a 4 car garage. At this point, since it is the last home, the spectators were tired from the sun and from walking so we hurried through the last home and couldn't wait to get on the next shuttle to sit.

All homes were definitely different from each other, including design and finish out. If asked which home do I see myself in? Probably none of the above. My personal preference would be a 2,000 sq. ft. condo with a hill country view.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

For sale: 133 Sebastians Run, Ridge at Alta Vista, Lakeway

This is another stunning home in Ridge at Alta Vista that I am marketing. I have attached the flyer for you. Please call me at (512)786-SELL to request a showing. This property is absolutely gorgeous. Check out the link to my video listing and the virtual tour and additional photos. Let me know what you think!

Ridge at Alta Vista May sales

Here are the sales statistics in the Ridge at Alta Vista Community as of 5/10/2008. The sales have been split Reserves vs. Estates collection. These numbers have been obtained from the Austin Board of Realtors and have not been verified.

Ridge at Alta Vista in Lakeway, TX

Ridge at Alta Vista is a gated community in Lakeway. The homes are built by luxury home builder Toll Brothers. I try keep a close eye on the sales in this neighborhood. Located on a ridge and surrounded by the bird preserve operated by the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, most of these home have great views of the hill country.
The homes in this community are split into 2 sections or what Toll calls collections, the Reserves and the Estates. The basic differences are: the Estates section start at a higher price point (500's), the floor plans start at a larger square footage, 3 to 4 car garages and the lots are larger; the Reserves start at a lower price point (300's), smaller foot print on homes (some have 2 car garages), and the lots are smaller. There are more Reserves lots and some upgrades in the Reserves are standards in the Estates.
The amenities in the Ridge at Alta Vista or I always refer to RAV is what drives many homeowners to the community. The amenities include a clubhouse with kitchen, small conference room, exercise room, his/her saunas, playground, tennis/basketball courts and jr. size olympic pool with water feature. Plus, it is a gated community. The HOA's are relatively low at $85 a month.
I cannot think of another community in Lakeway that provides all these amenities. The Hills and Flintrock Falls requires that you join nearby golf courses and clubs that have these amenities.
For specific questions regarding Ridge at Alta Vista, please contact me directly at (512)786-SELL /7355. I'd be happy to give you a tour of the community, give you representation if you are thinking of building at the Ridge at Alta Vista.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Real Estate Joke on Lot Premiums

Once in a while, I come up with querky jokes and here is a sampling of that:

Advice for Seniors who are Downsizing

Moving at any time is stressful, but making a later life move can be overwhelming. Many older adults have lived in their homes for 20, 30 or even 40 years. Over these many years, possessions seem to find a way into every nook and cranny to a point that it is hard to determine where to begin. Every item brings the thought of its potential use or elicits a cherished memory. How does one begin the downsizing process?

First, you must determine what large pieces of furniture will fit into your new and often times, smaller home. Look for items that can serve a multi purpose function such as, a small chest can act as an end table or a hope chest can act as a coffee table. Next, take a realistic look at what you will need in your new home. If you are moving into a retirement center, you may not have the need for dishes or kitchen items and linens and towels may be provided. Even if you will still be responsible for meals and care for your own laundry, this is the time to reduce the burden of caring for so many items. Begin the downsizing process in rooms least used; spare bedrooms, closets, garage or attic. Beginning in these rooms will help you create an immediate feeling of success and give you the encouragement to tackle the bigger rooms later. It will also allow you to keep your normal function of life in the main parts of the house. Your bedroom, bath and kitchen should be reserved for last.

Many times we find ourselves without help. Our family is located across the country or the adult child works full time and has the responsibility of caring for their own children. Often, families find this process taxing and relationships are strained. There is hope. Individuals like Linda Carter, with Life’s Next Step, specialize in helping with these transitional moves. Linda will help you sort through the contents of your home and act as a voice of reason in helping you determine what items will be the most useful to take in your new residence. Linda will help with disbursing of items through estate sale coordinators, charities or ship to family members. She will pack and unpack, and obtain competitive pricing from moving companies. Additionally, Linda will settle your contents in your new home and make your home ready for your enjoyment. She offers additional services for closure of the residence and can make your home ready for resale. If you have a senior family member who is considering making this move, give them the gift of help and reduced stress. Have them call Linda at (512)263-9417.

Friday, May 9, 2008

April 2008 Austin Market Stats

Spring is finally here and so are the April numbers. Considering FORBES.COM ranks Austin as #3 in America's Recession-Proof City, even if our sales are still down, we are still in good shape.

In Central Austin, the residential sales are down 15% compared to last April (2007). In Lake Travis ISD, residential sales are down 13% compared to last April. Last year, June had the most sales at over 3,000 listings in both Austin and Lake Travis ISD (over 110). Let's be hopeful that more sales will happen this June.

NOTE: The information herein have been obtained from the Austin Board of Realtors as of 5/9/2008 and have not been verified.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Your Austin home's Appraisal for 2008

Today's Austin American-Statesman (dated 4/24/2008) stated that Appraisals for 2008 will rise. Worse yet, 5 school districts will see double-digit increases. Ouch! Amongst the 5 Travis County School District who will find increases in their property valuations are:

Eanes Independent Schools - rise up to 15.52%
Round Rock - rise up to 12.47%
Austin - rise up to 12.22%
Lago Vista - rise up to 12.14% and
Lake Travis 10.90%

The paper mentions that depending on the valuations of each school district which determines how much the taxes should increase doesn't mean that there will be an increase in property tax. Other taxing authorities include cities and counties and these tax rates will not be set until fall.

I want to point out that if you currently have a Homestead exemption on your home, state law caps the rate at which most home can increase in taxable value, which is no more than 10% annually. If you haven't turned in your Homestead exemption form yet, April 30th is the deadline.

The new tax appraisals will surely be controversial because your home's market value surely did not increase 10.90% in the past year, if you live within the Lake Travis School District. If anything, probably lower. Unfortunately, the appraisal district determines the property values based on the previous year. If the real estate market has started to cool in 2008, the paper mentions that the appraised values will stabilize or cool down in 2009.

Here is the complete story from the Austin Statesman.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Saturday, April 5, 2008

March Central Texas Real Estate Statistics

I am probably writing this post prematurely since it is only the 5th day of April. But I surely hope that these statistics for March are wrong because it isn't looking too good.

In Central Texas, residential sales are down 25% in March compared to last March, or 24% compared to March 2006.

In Lakeway/Hudson Bend/Spicewood/etc., the entire area which covers all of Lake Travis ISD, residential sales are down 31% compared to last March. If you are looking for statistics for a specific neighborhood, give me a call and I can get that report to you.
Last week at our Keller Williams meeting, the preferred mortgage lender, announced that 100% financing is leaving and that banks will require buyers to put some amount down. I am wondering if this has an impact on the current sales or if the lay off announcements in companies such as Dell have impacted the sales. Spring is now here, which is the season for sellers to put their home in the market. We have seen an increase of inventory everywhere which usually means an increase in transaction activity. Stay tuned for April's statistics. Let's hope for better results.
NOTE: The information herein has been obtained from ABoR and have not been verified.

April 10-13 is Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival

If you knew me, you'd ask why I'd be posting this event on my blog. I am not a winer (though I have been called a whiner) but I love to EAT. Who doesn't? After all 100 restaurants are participating in this event. To the wine drinkers, 60 wineries are participating! I think you better bring a designated driver. THAT is alot of wine to taste test.

The 23rd annual Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival is actually held in several locations around Austin. Some are held in vineyards (Becker, Fall Creek, Flat Creek, Spicewood, Barton Creek, San Gabriel Park) but most events are held downtown.

For a schedule of events, purchase tickets and to locate events, you better go to the website. VIP passes costs as much as $500 which entitles you to some major events.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Stay positive when selling your home in today’s real estate market

It is hard to remain optimistic when you need to sell your home in today’s market. Most sellers I have spoken to during my listing appointments plan to sell their home because of a NEED to sell it rather than to make a profit on it (or ‘flip it’). In this market, there are only two factors that come to play, PRICE and CONDITION. Your home should be priced at or lower today’s market value AND should show well. A home that is priced well but turns off the buyer at first glimpse will not work; neither a home that shows like a model but is overpriced.

Even when both factors are considered, it doesn't hurt when your realtor does some innovating marketing. When the inventory is extremely high, you have got to show the home at its BEST. Good isn’t good enough right. Hire a professional photographer to take photos of the home and have colored flyers in the information box outside the home. A vacant home that has been cleaned and has passed a white glove inspection needs to be staged by a professional; A seller with a small home which is attractive to first time home buyers may have to give 3% seller concessions. Since many buyers are computer savvy, increased internet presence is mandatory rather than necessary. The more sites the home is exposed, the better. Go back to the basics. Impress a potential buyer through photos to get them to come to the house.

The interest rates are still low though underwriting has tightened ship. There are buyers out there! Yes! People are buying! Is it a surprise to you if I mentioned that residential sales in Central Texas on February 2008 is only 10% lower than last February? That isn’t so bad compared to the rest of the country.

If you are thinking about selling a home, your mindset has to change or the negativity will bring you down. Call a real estate agent that can give you the specifics; ask for statistics in your area; get the facts; ask for a comparable market analysis on your home! This way, you have an expectation, there will be no surprises. Hire a realtor that is willing to communicate to you on a regular basis about the market and the mortgage rates. Since when did “over” communication hurt anyone?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

February 2008, Central Texas Real Estate Market Measure

In Central Texas, Single Family Home Sales are down 10% compared to same time last year according to Austin Board of Realtors. The average sales price is $248,705 according to Alamo Title. The information herein has not been verified.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fellow agents, want some MLXchange tips?

MLXchange is a computerized MLS system Austin realtors use for property searches, comparative market analysis, etc. Unfortunately, the software has alot of bugs and the realtors are furious because our business is hurting. As a result, the company who owns/wrote/created MLXchange called a meeting to hear the concerns on March 3rd.

I attended the MLXchange Town Hall meeting. Almost 3 hours later, I left the meeting with a headache and a handful of MLXchange tips from Willie. MLXchange customer service representatives think that most of our issues are user issues not software issues. Hmmm. So here are some tips that they shared with us in the hopes of making our woes disappear.

#1 Expanding the Window

How many times have you clicked on the Back button during an MLXchange session and lost your search? To help eliminate this impulse, click F11 and this will maximize your screen. The Back button or entire Windows tool bar disappears. Click F11 once again to make the tool bar re-appear.

In case this does not work (depending on the Windows version you are using), you can right click on your mouse and in the small window, select Auto-Hide.

In case this STILL does not work, grab a post it and attach it over the Back button!

#2 Open a 'N'ew session

Let's say you are in a middle of a search and because it has taken so long to return a list of properties, you have fallen asleep in front your keyboard. Well, nap no more since Cntrl N is here! That is correct, you may open a new MLXchange session by holding down the Ctrl key, hit 'N' and you will get a new MLXchange window. So now you can have 2 sessions going. You will not be asked to re-log in. And yes, you can have 3, 4, or 5 more MLXchange sessions going. Sorry but this means no more nap time for you!

#3 Clean out your computer regularly

Wait, before you yank out the Windex and squeegee, I meant clean out your cache or delete some internet files/cookies. To do this, in your Windows Menu bar, select Tools, Internet Options, under General tab, select Delete. Depending on your Windows operating system, the selection choice may vary. But you will need to delete your Cookies and Internet Files.

Under Settings, ensure that your computer searches for the most up to date web page each time, select the radio button that states "Every visit to the page".

#4 Make sure you have all the ActiveX Controls used by MLXchange installed

All I can say is ActiveX Controls are a pain but Microsoft had to add them in there for the security of our PC. After you have logged in to MLXchange, in your URL address, enter /ax as follows: This loads a MLS System Component Manager window. Click on Install to check if you have all 8 ActiveX components installed on your PC (see a red check mark on the right). If you do not have all checked, you will have to select the yellow bar (line where it asks to Install the Active X). You will be prompted by a series of permissions windows. Just keep selecting Allow until all 8 are checked. Once done, remove the /ax from the URL address line and you may resume your MLXchange session.

#5 Where to find more MLXchange tips

In your MLXchange Home page, under MLS Resources, Instructions, are at least 9 links of instructions on using MLXchange.

#6 Quickly Edit your listings

Instead of going to Tools, Listing Manager and entering the MLS id of your listing (which I know you haven't gotten it memorized because you have enough trouble remembering the new list price on your listings you just reduced 6 times), in the Home page, select Active Listings (or depending on what Status the listing is under), hover over the information bubble and select the Edit icon (pencil and pad).

Let me know if any of these tips help you out so you can sell more! Since you're time has become so efficient with these tips, you've decided to retire early and give me all your referrals!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Do not put too many zeroes in your list price states Researchers

In today's Statesman, dated February 24th, 2008 of the Homes section, my husband pointed out an interesting article about pricing your home.

There was a study by a research team at Cornell University and they found that people will pay more for a house if the listing price didn't end in a bunch of zeroes (ie. 449,893 oppossed to 449,000). So I continued to read on. The researchers state that it is a psychological thing. Because people are used to precise numbers for items that don't cost and tend to round numbers, consumers including home buyers tend to think that a price is smaller when there are digits at the end instead of zero. Come to think of this, when I go to Randalls or H-E-B, when I buy an item, I tend to buy the one that is priced at 11.99 instead of 12.00 even if the 11.99 is a generic brand when for a penny more I could get a name brand; or buying shampoo at 4.39 oppossed to 4.00. I guess my brain gets easily tricked by the digits in the end. The researcher says that it seems rediculous but when a price is seen by a consumer, our response is not always based on deliberate reasoning.

The study was conducted by 134 graduate students by examining 27,000 real estate transactions in Florida and Long Island where most list prices had 3 ending zeroes. The bottom line is the research states that the homes with a more precise list price sells more than that of a home with a list price ending with 3 zeroes. Amazing! I can't wait to try this out on my Austin home listings.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Guess who just got ePRO certified?

Check out the following PRESS RELEASE:

For Immediate Release

Local Agent Earns REALTOR e-PRO® Certification

Feb. 21, 2008 -- Pearl Jones of Keller Williams Realty has successfully completed the REALTOR e-PRO course to become one of a select few real estate professionals to earn the prestigious certification offered through the National Association of REALTORS.®

The REALTOR e-PRO certification course is an educational program unlike any other professional certification or designation course available, comprehensive and interactive. It is specifically designed to provide real estate professionals with the technology tools needed to assist consumers in the purchase or sale of a home.

With more than 70% of consumers beginning their real estate research on the Internet, e-PRO certified agents have the experience and expertise to meet the demands of today’s buyer and seller.

“The real estate industry has undergone a fundamental change over the past several years,” said Pearl Jones of Keller Williams Realty. “A majority of consumers are taking the time to conduct their own research prior to contacting an agent. In turn, real estate professionals must be knowledgeable of how technology can assist them in serving the needs of the buying and selling public.”

The exclusive REALTOR e-PRO certification course is presented entirely online and certifies real estate agents and brokers as Internet professionals. Because of its innovative design, students are able to complete the course at their own pace, when and where they want, via any Internet connection. The course is designed to help REALTORS stay at the leading edge of technology and identify, evaluate and implement new Internet business models.

Once completed, the e-PRO certified real estate professional joins the ranks of a special community of highly skilled and continuously trained professionals who provide high quality and innovative online-based real estate services. Consumers can identify the e-PRO through the exclusive e-PRO Internet Professional logo.

Both the content and the delivery platform were created by San Diego-based technology company InternetCrusade®. The course instructs participants in the professional use of e-mail, the development of an interactive Web site, and the use of online research tools. Graduates use the skills they've acquired to provide clients information on properties for sale, local communities, and the local real estate market.

For more information, e-mail Pearl Jones at or call (512)786-SELL.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

City of Lakeway Growth Presentation Notes

About 70 people showed up at the Ridge at Alta Vista Amenity Center, the evening of Feb. 12th 2008 to hear City of Lakeway Deputy Manager, Chessie Blanchard's presentation. The following are my notes and I am not responsible for the misinterpretations of her presentation and changes made by the City of developer after the presentation. Plus the fact that I have to decipher my chicken scratch is another thing:

Clara Van (West side of FM620) Total 160 acres, 51 acres of commercial tract, 130 single family homes, 88 condos, 33 acres of greenbelt;

Vistas at Lakeway (East side of FM620, South of Lakeway Blvd.) 175 units by Toll Brothers, 50 acres with bird preserve on one side;

Hampton Inn and Suites (near Vistas of Lakeway) 70 room hotel, expected completion date of 2008;

Downtown Lakeway (area known as goat farm, West side of FM620 on Glen Heather Rd) will begin in 2009, a city initiated project, 80 acres of mixed use, will look like a traditional downtown with gathering places, water feature, restaurants, small theater, recreation center, etc.

Lake Travis Transitional Medical Center (by post office) A center for patients who are in between ICU and rehabilitation, there will be a Long Term Acute Care Hospital. To be completed Spring/Summer 2009, with medical office spaces;

Tuscan Village (Lohman's Crossing/Lohman's Spur) 42 acres, 100 multi family units, 100 townhouses, 120 cottages, for 55 and older only. I am not clear if all of these units are for the seniors.

Lakeway Regional Medical Center (North of the High School) 54 acres of privately owned specialty hospital with over 100 beds. Will contain an 24 hr. emergency room and helipad, hotel, day care, medical offices, parking garages etc.

Discovery Point (on the East side) Phase 1 will include office spaces, retail and a restaurant.

Rough Hollow (by Lake Travis) 30 condos, 100 single family homes, Highland Blvd. extension in Lakeway Highlands. This is a 2 mile stretch for this connection.

Lakeway Highlands (by Bee Creek Rd.) 1,540 total acres containing 1,400 single family homes, 300+ acres of park and greenspace, 330 condo units, 35 acres commercial, 10 acres hotel and 8 acres yacht club.

Serene Hills, 456 acres, 308 sq. ft. lots, 300-400 apartments, 100 acres commercial, extension of Serene Hills Drive, include a new Middle School.

It is all very exciting to see our city grow!

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007

Talking about confused and confusing, I have heard different versions of interpretation of this Act. This Relief Act as signed into law on December 20, 2007 by President Bush. The Act was passed to help out homeowners who have additional income to claim on their taxes as a result of an acquired forgiveness of debt during a home sale of a foreclosure, or a sale lower than the outstanding debt or a refinance where the new amount is less than the current amount. The President once again hopes that his act will help out the housing market, etc. etc.

I won't even try to interpret the law as I am confused myself. But what I think it means is that if you've had to refinance your home in 2007 and the new mortgage amount is less than the current amount, the difference is the income for the borrower to claim or the forgiven debt. But under this act, the forgiven debt is no longer considered to be income. Same goes for a foreclosure or a short sale. But the home should be your primary residence and there is a requirement as to how long you've own the home for. There is also a maximum limit on the debt which is $2,000,000!

If you have any questions or concerns, read this fact sheet and consult a tax advisor. And then if you have this all figured out, send me an email. Good luck if this affects you.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

City of Lakeway Growth Presentation

City of Lakeway is growing in leaps and bounds. Once a quiet quaint city for golfers will soon be a home for medical professionals as well. I have invited Deputy City Manager Chessie Blanchard of the City of Lakeway to come and speak about the new developments and our growth on Tuesday, February 12th at the Amenity Center of Ridge at Alta Vista.

Chessie has prepared a powerpoint presentation of the new commercial buildings, communities and the Lakeway Regional Medical Center with a helipad that is going up next to the Lake Travis High School. The city has planned another elementary school near Bee Creek Rd. which they have annexed and called Lakeway Highlands, a new Middle School but no information on a new High School. They have a developer that has bought property to build a downtown Lakeway. She will talk about Highland Blvd. that will extend all the way towards Bee Creek Rd., etc.

If you are a City of Lakeway resident and you would like more information or would like to attend, send me an email. This meeting is automatically open to Ridge at Alta Vista homeowners, The Enclave homeowners, Alta Vista at Lakeway homeowners, friends and clients.

Stay tuned for the results of the presentation.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The mindset of a successful real estate agent

Ever get up one morning, you get dressed, you put on your favorite slacks and shirt, you look in the mirror and it doesn't look right and it feels horrible. You just wore it the week before and always loved the way it looked and felt but today no matter how you convinced yourself, it just wasn't doing it for you. Then you try on numerous other outfits, without success. You didn't gain or lose any weight, the clothes didn't shrink, it's your mindset that's off!

I get those days usually on Mondays after a busy and frustrating weekend. On Monday's I usually go to my office for Rising Stars, I call it Realtor's Anonymous (a version of AA). It is a support group where we talk about the week before, get new ideas and get energized for the new week coming ahead. Without the support group I would still be in front of my mirror debating which outfit works right for me.

As a real estate agent, it is important that I have the right mindset every day. After all, how am I going to sell a client's home or even show homes when internally I am feeling blah? How does your real estate agent cope with today's market? Gary Keller always says "there is nothing you can do about the market, it is your mindset that needs to change". So yes, you've guessed what I am doing today. After going to Rising Stars at Keller Williams Realty, I am going to clean-up the pile of clothes on my bedroom floor that I have tried this morning.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

For Sale 303 Hensley Dr., Austin $449,000

Does your real estate agent create a video of your home? Welcome to today's technology. Creating a pod video or movie is the newest marketing tool. I have posted this video at googles video, and soon to Check out my
video of my luxury home listing in Lakeway at Ridge at Alta Vista. The innovative real estate agent strikes again!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

New Luxury Condominiums in Round Rock

More and more new condominiums are being built in downtown Austin. Is it because the land is becoming more expensive? I just think that we are becoming busier with our work and family demands that we have less time to upkeep our home and surrounding areas.

New Luxury Condominiums have come to Round Rock. The Retreat at Town Centre which is conveniently located in the heart of Round Rock, only about 2 miles from Dell is what Round Rock needs. The Retreat is surrounded by businesses such as Dell Computers (their headquarters), Samsung, Hewlett-Packard, Applied Materials, and is next to a Shopping Center, and easily accessible to I-35 and Hwy 45. Just north is the Round Rock Premium Outlets, and Ikea; south is The Domain Shopping Center and The Gateway Shopping Center.

Everyone who works hard all day deserves to come home to a gated community who offers amenities such as a resort style pool and hot tub, exercise room, gorgeous clubhouse to hand and meet neighbors. Inside your condominium are standard luxuries usually found in luxury custom homes such as granite countertops in the kitchen, stainless steel appliances, stainless steel sink, bronze hardware, elegant lighting, crown molding, glass shower doors, recessed lighting, birch cabinetry and more. The Retreat offers 4 floor plans: one bedroom with one car garage for $129,500; two bedrooms with one car garage for $149,500; two bedrooms with gameroom and two car garage for $169,500; and a three bedroom with two car garage for $184,500. Visit for more information.

Give me a call to arrange an appointment to view the model condominiums. Come home to the new luxury condominiums of The Retreat.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

December 2007 Lake Travis ISD Sales up 5%

I just ran the residential sales statistics under Lake Travis ISD for December 2007 and found that sales were 5% higher than December 2006! That is not just good news but GREAT news! Looking at the stats for the entire Austin MLS area, sales are down 24% from last December. But if you look at the sales for the entire 2007 in Austin and compare to the 2006 sales, sales are down only 8%.

This week, our mortgage speaker, Land Mortgage, announced that the 30 year fixed rates are 5.875% (with 20% down payment) and the 15 year fixed rate is at 4.875% I remember these rates 2 years ago, that is just awesome. I surely hope that this is a good sign for our economy and for real estate related businesses. Stay tuned and I will keep you updated.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Austin Ranks #39 as Fun Cities in 50 markets

Austin Business Journal reports that Austin ranks as # 39 under Fun Cities. Unsurprisingly, New York City tops the list of America's top fun places. That's because of the variety of recreation and entertainment available in the Big Apple. I know for a fact that my husband and I would escape our home (back then) in Long Island and spend our afternoons in the city, to dine and watch a musical on Broadway. Bizjournals has collected statistics and based on a bunch of factors, came up with this list.

With Austin's shopping, arts and musical background, golf, sailing/water recreation, I am surprised we didn't rank higher. But check out the first link above to see how we scored in several of their categories.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Austin #7 Best Housing Market

Here's the good news I've promised, you've been waiting for so long!

Business Week has reported that Austin/Round Rock, TX has ranked #7 as the Best housing market of third quarter across the US. The best in terms of price appreciation compared to this time last year (a 9.67% appreciation in one year or 28.82% in 5 years). So for you buyers out there, don’t wait any longer. Don’t you want to be a new homeowner by the time Austin ranks #1? Call me and let’s get started on your home search. 2008 is finally here!