Aug. 19, 2018

Thinking of Moving? Here are 5 Signs It’s Time

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, ten years is the average amount of time a homeowner stays in a house. Does that seem long? Or way too short? The truth is, the time frame is drastically different for every individual. And, so is the reason. How do you know when you are ready to sell your home? Here are five signs it’s time to make a move:



You want to get in on the seller’s market
Ready to make a profit on your property? NOW is the time as the Austin market is prime for sellers. To see what you can get, take a look at online listings in your neighborhood and see what other homes are selling for. Or, contact our team today for your complimentary market analysis. If the number looks appealing, selling may not be a bad option.


You’re feeling financially stressed
As home prices increase in the Austin-area, so too do property taxes. Are you struggling to make your monthly mortgage payments? If so, it may be the time to downsize to a smaller home. Easing your financial burden will relieve the stress in your life. To live comfortably, make sure your monthly housing costs don’t exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income.


Your family has outgrown your home
A starter home is perfect when you just get married. However, it may not be practical when you have children. As your family grows, so should your home. Then, once your children fly the coop, consider downsizing. Too big of a home is hard to clean and more expensive in property taxes. The bottom line? Make sure your home works for your family.


You’re sick of high maintenance
On average, a homeowner spends $2,000 a year for maintenance services. And, as a general rule, the longer you have the home, the more likely parts will need maintenance or replacing. Are these costs getting too expensive? To avoid the high maintenance costs, consider buying a low-maintenance condo or a new-build home.


You’ve had the home more than five years
There is such a thing as selling your house too soon. How long should you stay? At least five years. At this point, most homeowners have built up equity beyond that of the down payment and selling is feasible. Urgent circumstances come up, but, if you can help it, you should plan to stay for more than five years. Oh, and remember, selling isn’t free. You have to pay for the costs associated with hiring a real estate agent, closing and buying a new home.


Of course, there is no guarantee that selling will work out better for you. Think about it and do what you think will work best in the long run.


Have questions about selling? We are here to help you get more for your move. Contact us today to learn more.

Posted in Sellers
July 16, 2018

North Central Texas Wineries and Vineyards

Summer in Texas, while hot, is the ideal time for a little exploration. Discover the North Central Texas countryside one glass of wine at a time by heading out to these wineries and vineyards: 

The Austin Winery
9007 Tuscany Way #100A

Pilot Knob Vineyard
3125 CR 212

Alamosa Wine Cellars
677 CR 430

Cherokee Creek Vineyards
1353 CR 432

Fiesta Winery
18727 W FM 580

Perissos Vineyards & Winery
7214 Park Road 4 W

Torr Na Lochs
7055 W Hwy 290

Driftwood Vineyards
4001 Elder Hill Rd (CR 170)

Duchman Family Winery
13308 FM 150 West

Fall Creek Vineyards at Driftwood
18059 FM 1826

Salt Lick Cellars
18300-C FM 1826

Wimberley Valley Winery
2825 Lone Man Mountain Road

Dripping Springs
Bell Springs Winery
3700 Bell Springs Road

Hawks Shadow Winery & Vineyard
7500 McGregor Lane

Solaro Estate Winery
13111 Silver Creek Road

The Vineyard at Florence
8711 FM 487

1851 Vineyards
4222 Highway 16 S

4.0 Cellars
10354 Hwy 290 East

Alexander Vineyards
6360 Goehmann Lane

Barons Creek Vineyards
5865 Hwy 290 East

Bell Mountain Vineyards
463 Bell Mountain Road

Chisholm Trail Winery
2367 Usener Road

Fat Ass Ranch & Winery
51 Elgin Behrends Road

Fredericksburg Winery
247 West Main Street

Grape Creek Vineyards
10587 East Highway 290

Hilmy Cellars
12346 US 290 E. 

Inwood Estates Vineyard
10303 Hwy 290 E.

Longhorn Cellars
315 RR 1376

Lost Draw Cellars
113 E Park Street

Mendelbaum Cellars
10207 Hwy 290 E.

Messina Hof Hill County Winery
9996 Hwy 290 E.

Pontotoc Vineyard
320 W Main Street

Rancho Ponte Vineyard
315 RR 1376

Santa Maria Cellars
12044 Hwy 16 S. 

Torre di Pietra Vineyards
10915 E. US Hwy 290

Wedding Oak Winery
100 Legacy Drive

Georgetown Winery & Vineyard
715 South Main Street

Grape Creek Vineyard
101 W 7th Street

Hye Meadow Winery
10257 Hwy 290 West

William Chris Vineyards
10352 Hwy 290

Johnson City
Lewis Wines
3209 US 290 W.

Ron Yates Winery
6676 Hwy 290 W

Texas Hills Vineyard
878 RR 2766

Pillar Bluff Vineyards
300 CR 111

Liberty Hill
Thirsty Mule Winery & Vineyard
101 CR 257

Marble Falls
Flat Creek Estate
24912 Singleton Bend E Rd. 

El Gaucho Winery
21301 Kathy Lane

Spicewood Vineyards
1419 Burnet CR 409 

Stone House Vineyard
24350 Haynie Flat Road

Becker Vineyards
464 Becker Farms Rd.

Kuhlman Cellars
18421 Hwy 290 E. 

Pedernales Cellars
2916 Upper Albert Road

Woodrose Winery
662 Woodrose Lane

Do you have questions about the Central Texas area? Reach out anytime, we are never too busy to lend a helping hand. 


Posted in Austin
July 12, 2018

Top 6 Mortgage Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, the mortgage process may seem intimidating. However, it doesn’t have to with a little bit of knowledge and understanding. With that in mind, here is a look at six mortgage tips to educate you on the process before you even get started: 



Study the mortgage types
Do you know what your choices are when it comes to different mortgage loans? Likely, if you have never been through the process before, you have little knowledge on the subject. However, it is something you can learn with just a little bit of research. Start by taking a look at the pros and cons of conventional vs. government-based loans and adjustable-rate vs. fixed-rate loans. The information should help you narrow down your best option. If you still have questions, reach out to a lender in the area. They should be able to walk you through all of your options.


Consider how long you’ll live in the house
How long you plan on living in the house can be a big deciding factor on the type of loan you should get. For example, an adjustable-rate mortgage, with a lower interest rate up front, could be a great option if you plan to stay in the house for a few years while a fixed-rate is usually a better option long term. 


Shop for the best rate
The interest rate on your loan is determined by your credit history and credit score, among other factors. Typically, when your credit is good, you will get a lower rate and, when bad, a higher rate. But, every lender is different. What do we mean by that? Each lender has a different comfort level. With that in mind, shop around and look for the best rate. One lender may offer you a lower interest rate than another.


Consider paying points
Points. What are points? A “point” is simply one percent of the loan amount. To lower your interest rate, consider paying some points upfront. Keep in mind; this is a great idea over the long term, but likely not a great idea if you aren’t planning on staying in the home for more than five years. 


Ask for advice
Talk to family members and friends who have been through the process. They likely have great advice and information that may be useful to your decision. 


Factor in PMI
PMI, which stands for private mortgage insurance, is an increase in your monthly payments if your down payment is less than 20 percent. If you don’t have 20 percent for a down payment, be sure to factor this cost, generally found on mortgage estimates from lenders, into your monthly budget as it can get pretty expensive. To avoid this cost, wait until you have enough money saved up to make a 20 percent down payment. 


Need help locating a lender in the greater Austin area? Give us a call. We would be happy to connect you with a trusted professional in the area.

Posted in Buyers
July 11, 2018

Home Improvement and Maintenance Specialists

Whether you're looking to remodel your home, build a pool, refinance, give your landscape a makeover or need something repaired around your home, here are several local specialists we recommend.  Please feel free to contact us with your favorites too!

Home Mortgage Specialist

Tommy Hollahan

Home Source Mortgage


Home Source Mortgage

Painter and Drywall

Jesus Munoz

Munoz Painting



General Contractor/Major Remodel or Addition

Ethan Hyams

Hyams Homebuilding



HVAC Specialists:

Cool Horizons

David:; 512.934.0294 

JoJo:; 512.961.9779

Cool Horizons


Temperature Pro West Austin; 512.953.5822

Temperature Pro West Austin


Roofing Repair and Siding

Sanders Roofing

Eric Meador


Sanders Roofs


Commercial and Residential Window Cleaning

Fannin Professional Services

Joseph Fannin


Fannin Professional Services


Interior Design and Furniture

Robin Bond Interiors and Draped

Robin Bond


Renee Koth

Robin Bond Interiors

Draped Austin


Dryer Vent Cleaning

Brett Ketchum

Fireman Dryerman


Fireman Dryerman


Tree Trimming and Arborist

Keith Brown

Austin Tree Experts


Austin Tree Experts


Pool Building and Remodeling

Mark Whitehead

Master Pools of Austin


Master Pools of Austin


Garage Door Installation and Repair

Carlos Acosta

Austin Affordable Garage Doors


Home Media, Lighting, Security

Robert Ridenour

J.J. Orion


J.J. Orion

Posted in Home Improvement
July 7, 2018

Deer and Your Garden

If you're like me, you enjoy the beauty of the Texas Whitetail Deer.  But not when they are making a meal of your flowers! This article from Better Homes and Gardens is full of great ideas and tips to keep the deer from destroying your beautiful flowers, landscaping and lawn! Deer Resistant Plants of the South 

Posted in Home Improvement
June 22, 2018

3 Steps To Master Social Media for Seasoned Real Estate Agents

The skills needed to be a successful real estate agent in Texas has changed drastically over the decades. What used to be a cold-calling, word-of-mouth dependent profession now relies on likes, follows and retweets. Becoming a master of real estate social media takes skill, but for those who can build a following, it’s worth the time and energy. As a real estate agent, you should focus your attention on the three most popular (and powerful) social media outlets: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Using Facebook As A Realtor

Facebook is the outlet that lets you connect with real estate clients from every generation, on the buying and selling side of the transaction. You don’t have to be a technical guru or Photoshop expert. Start by building your business Facebook page, add attractive property photos, and share the content you or your broker use on your real estate blog. Building your Facebook page is free, but it is important to know how to create a Facebook ad.

Before you launch a Facebook ad, it’s important to set goals. Facebook provides choices like making people aware of your brand, increasing engagement, and converting lookers into buyers.

You’ll also want to know your audience. Be specific with your ad targeting to reach the most relevant audience. For example, you can choose an audience that is “likely to move,” which is created by Facebook’s algorithms.

Consistency and engagement are key factors to success as a real estate agent on Facebook. Answer questions, post daily and start conversations by asking questions.

Instagram Leaves A Good Impression

Nearly as popular as Facebook for real estate agents is the use of Instagram. Real estate Instagram use is a great way to market your business and the social media site’s dependency on good visuals means spotlighting properties is a great fit. Consistency and really good, relevant content win the Instagram battle.

Because Instagram is focused on visuals, the platform has a number of tools to edit photos, allowing you to create high-quality content.  

Instagram photos and videos should be more than awesome properties (that, oh by the way, happen to be for sale). Use this platform to give a behind-the-scenes look of your agency, awesome parts of your city or a hobby that you love. With a good mix of professional and personal photos, you’ll build an engaged following.

Get To The Point With Twitter

Twitter is the social media tool that is fast paced and conversation driven. You’ll need to find the conversations that are relevant to your business to succeed with real estate on Twitter. The site uses a 280 character limit, so you have to get to the point.

Twitter posts do well with images or video. Because the site is based on live feeds, your tweets need to be eye-catching and well-crafted. Generate engagement by using relevant or trending hashtags. Find a way to incorporate them into your posts.

If you’re ready to partner with one of the best Austin, TX real estate firms where you’ll find continued success and ongoing growth, check out what Resident Realty offers new agents

Posted in Agents
June 19, 2018

Summer Home Maintenance Tips to Save Money and Energy

As many know, a summer energy bill in Texas can be quite spendy. However, it doesn’t have to cost nearly as much as records show. How can you reduce your energy bills this summer? These summer home maintenance tips should do the trick:



Dust the appliances

Clean the vents, grates and coils in your appliances (dishwasher, exhaust vent, washing machine, refrigerator, etc.). Increasing their efficiency and performance can reduce the amount of energy they use by nearly 30% (Consumer Energy Center).


Dry your clothes outside

Give your dryer a break and dry your laundry outside on a clothesline this summer. If this doesn’t appeal to you, at least delay using your washer and dryer until the evening to avoid generating extra heat in your home.


Turn on the ceiling fans

Switch your ceiling fans on and ensure they are rotating in a counterclockwise direction. The circulating airflow can save you up to $165 in energy costs over the fan’s lifetime (


Service the air conditioner

In Texas, the air conditioner is likely the most important system in the home – especially in the summer months. To ensure it is functioning properly, hire a professional to come out and service it and replace any dirty air filters. Replacing these air filters can reduce your energy consumption by up to 15%.


Seal air leaks

Seal air leaks around your windows, doors, floors, ducts, fireplaces, etc. with expandable foam. Reducing these air leaks can save you 10% on your energy bill – somewhere around $200 a year. To ensure you do this correctly, hire a professional energy assessor to come out and run an energy audit on your home. A professional can locate and assess air leaks.


Install low-flow nozzles

Change out the nozzles on your shower head and lawn hose to a low-flow option. Making this change can save water - around 5 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower (according to Energy Star) – and decrease your energy bill.


Adjust your water temperature

Set your water heater temperature to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only will this save you money, but it will also extend the life of your heater. 


Not only will these summer home maintenance tips save you money, but they will also extend the life of the systems in your home.


Searching for a maintenance professional in the Austin area? Give us a call. We would be happy to connect you with a reputable professional in the area.


Posted in homeowners
June 11, 2018

8 Real Estate Documents You Should Keep - and Why!

Throughout the entirety of the home-buying process, you will encounter too many documents to count. And, while it may be tempting to keep all of them, it isn’t necessary. How do you know which documents to keep and which you can throw away? Here are eight real estate documents you should absolutely hold on to and why:  




Buyer’s agent agreement

When you start your home search, you choose a real estate agent and sign a buyer’s agent agreement – a contract between you and the brokerage. This contract outlines the details of your relationship – who pays the commission, the duration of the contract, terms for terminating, etc. Always hold on to this contract just in case you have an issue with your agent before the transaction closes.


Purchase agreement

When it comes time to buy a home, you'll sign a purchase agreement – a contract signed by both you and seller confirming the agreed upon purchase price, closing date, etc. Hold on to this document as it contains the legal ramifications in the case you or seller fails to fulfill the duties outlined in the agreement. 


Addenda, amendments or riders

The documents above either alter or amend the terms of your purchase agreement. As they change the terms of the original document, they are worth holding onto – especially in the case the seller didn’t complete repairs that were outlined in an addendum.


Seller disclosures

Sellers are required to disclose certain problems with the home that could affect its value – lead-based paint, pest infestations, renovations completed without a permit, etc. Keep these documents on hand in the event major problems come up with your new home after you move in – they could be the basis for a future lawsuit.


Home inspection report

During the buying process, you will complete a home inspection. At the conclusion of this home inspection, the inspector will hand you a detailed report outlining the condition of the home and any potential problems. File this documents away just in case you need to make repairs to the property in the future.


Closing disclosure

The closing disclosure is a document given to a borrower (at least three business days before settlement) from their mortgage lender outlining the details of their loan: loan term, loan type, interest rate, closing costs, etc. Keep this document on hand for future reference when filing your taxes.


Title insurance policy

Title insurance protects you against any competing claims to the home: liens against the property or fraudulent signatures. You should keep this document just in case another party (a previous owner) tries to claim the property.


Property deed

When the house officially becomes yours, you will receive the deed – a document that confirms ownership of the home to you. Typically mailed to you after the title transfer documents are recorded at your county’s public records office, this document is the only way to show someone you are the legal owner of the home.


Do you have any questions about any of these documents? Are you interested in buying a home in the Austin area? Give our team a call. We are always available to help you.


Posted in Buyers
May 30, 2018

5 Tips For Downsizing This Summer

Deciding to sell your home can be a stressful choice, but the process of how to downsize can be easier than you think if you get organized. The overwhelming feeling of what will make the move to the new home or condo in Austin, TX and what will be eliminated can be calmed with a few steps. Start by taking inventory of everything you’ve accumulated over the years and end with a smaller, more organized space where you can begin a new chapter in your life.


Take Inventory of your Life

Take a close look at your life and the things you have in it. What household items do you actually use on a regular basis, and which are collecting dust? If you have a gym membership or a workout space in your office building and the treadmill in the garage is more of an expensive clothes hanger, it’s time to move it out. From clothes to small kitchen appliances, there are items you use daily, and they will clearly make it into the “keep” pile, but everything else needs to be divvied into a donation, sell, or waste pile.

Sort Your Items

As you go through your each room in your home, make sure each thing clearly fits into one of four categories:

·        Keep

·        Donate

·        Sell

·        Trash

Moving into a smaller space means you’ll take less with you, so if something doesn’t immediately make the keep pile, it needs to go. Create a sell pile for a garage sale before your move or take the items by a second hand shop to be purchased. There should also be a pile for donations – GoodWill, community shelter, or place of worship—and for the old, broken, or beyond their years items, it’s time for the trash.

Storage Space First

The attic, storage closets, or basement should be the first places to clear out. These spaces often hold items that we haven’t used – maybe even seen – in years. A good rule is to get rid of anything you haven’t used or worn in the past year. The boxes you’ve been hauling during any move over the years need to be cleared out. Don’t pack something away knowing you’ll never use it in your new home.

Stay Dedicated

Downsizing a home is no small task, so don’t wait until the last minute before your move to lighten your load. Begin weeks in advance, so you can take one room at a time and won’t become overwhelmed with the process. When you’re trying to rush through your items, you may be tempted to discard things you’ll actually need once you make the move. Finish your storage spaces then move to individual rooms in your home. If your move is close enough, you could use this time to begin packing boxes with the things you want to keep.

Take Measurements

If you’re living in a large family home in Austin, TX, measure your new space and then your furniture. Ensure that none of your pieces are too large for the desired room. It may be necessary to eliminate a piece or downsize to smaller pieces so your new home isn’t packed with oversized furniture.

Remember to give yourself plenty of time, be honest when it comes to how often you use or wear something, and if you’re unsure, put it in the donate box. Use this move as a way to cleanse the old from your cabinets and closets and enjoy the downsizing process.

Posted in Agents
May 17, 2018

6 Down Payment Myths Debunked

Asking for advice from those who have bought a home in the past is common among potential homebuyers. However, it can often lead to many misconceptions. As a homebuyer, it is important to determine for yourself what is fact and what is fiction. Since the down payment is often one of the most misunderstood aspects of the home buying process, here’s a look at six down payment myths debunked:



Myth #1: You must put 20 percent down
This is likely the most common misconception about buying a home. While it is recommended to put 20 percent down, it isn't necessary. In fact, if you are a qualified buyer, you can get approved for a conventional loan with less than 20 percent down. However, you are stuck paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), a fee paid directly to your lender that says you won’t default on the loan.

There are additional options depending on your situation. For example, a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan can get you into a home for a down payment as low as 3.5 percent. Or, if you served in the military, you are likely eligible for a Veterans Affairs (VA) loan which may approve you for zero percent down.


Myth #2: Paying mortgage insurance is smarter than paying a larger down payment
Private mortgage insurance may seem like a good alternative to depleting your bank account. But, the truth is, that value can add up significantly over the long run. With a conventional loan, if you put down less than 20 percent, you will pay PMI until the principal balance reaches 78% or less of the original purchase price. Meanwhile, with an FHA loan, you will have to pay mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. When you do the math, paying more up front usually winds up being the better option.


Myth #3: Cash is king
While a cash option may seem appealing, the only benefit it provides a seller is the guarantee to close on time with no loan approval problems. Even with this benefit, a bigger offer will likely stand a better chance than an all-cash offer – especially if you have a pre-approval letter from your lender in hand.


Myth #4: Down payment assistance is easy to obtain

Down payment assistance is an option, but it is in no way easy. First off, as these assistance programs are locally run, they are usually hard to locate. On top of that, there is the fact that you have to be under a certain income level to qualify – usually somewhere around the median income in the county. If you find the right program, they may make an exception – for single parents. But, in all reality, the income qualification is a big factor.

However, if you think you may qualify, call your local housing authority office. It’s always worth a try.


Myth #5: You shouldn’t put more than 20 percent down

If you have more than 20 percent available, use it. The more money you put down, the more your interest rate will drop. But, make sure the amount you put down is feasible.


Myth #6: You can take out a loan for a down payment

In truth, you can receive help with your down payment. However, there is one caveat: it has to be a gift. Meaning, you need to have a letter from the gifters swearing they don’t plan on ever asking for the money back.


Do you have additional questions about down payments or applying for a loan? Give us a call. If we can’t answer your questions, we will pass them along to a trusted lender in the Austin area.


Posted in Buyers