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Better to Rent or Own? It’s a question a get a lot. Again the answer isn’t a ‘one-size-fit-all’ type thing because it depends where you live and how expensive it is to purchase vs. rent. However, Trulia has a great...

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Selling in 2011? 5 things you MUST know. If you are considering selling your house in 2011 here are my top 5 things you need to know as a seller. This is one of my few longer posts, just so you’re prepared! Of course my standard disclaimer...

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Pflugerville home – 2000sqft+ for under $150K View Full Album Yes, the Austin market is still strong. For those who are relocating to Austin, TX, Pflugerville is just minutes away from Austin, and about 20 minutes to all the downtown fun! This...

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Clean energy jobs in Texas

Posted on : 25-08-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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In state level news, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that they are foreseeing an increase of 22,000 jobs over the next decade in the clean energy sector.

Now, while Lubbock is no Austin, Texas as a state imageapparently leads the nation in solar and wind energy. It must be the vast amount of space our state has to set up wind and solar plants. 

There are obviously many challenges around the clean energy industry, but as our population as a state continues to grow, cities like Austin which are going to absorb some of the overflow from folks coming to our state, problem with already plague us, namely transportation

The article ends with this quote from John Osborne, President and CEO of Lubbock Economic Development Alliance:

In the future, West Texas may become known for its renewable energy as well as its cotton.

“Whether it’s in my lifetime or after my lifetime, we’ll see West Texas where we have farmers who will not necessarily be growing crops,” Martin said. “They’ll be growing energy.”

Cotton and energy. Texas, we have an interesting future together.

Buyers are happier, sellers are grouchier

Posted on : 29-07-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Buyers, Education, Sellers

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J.D. Power and Associates have been tracking buyer and seller satisfaction rates for the past 3 years, and since last year, buyer satisfaction has gone up while seller satisfaction has gone down since 2009. Makes sense to me. Most people having to sell in this market aren’t the the happiest frame of mind (loss of job, forced downsizing, etc).

Whereas buyers are able to take advantage of the large amount of available inventory and often desperate sellers, so why wouldn’t they be happier and more satisfied with the process.

imageOf course, seeing Keller Williams as one of the highest ranked companies across the board fills my little heart with glee. Here are a few things I think help make me a better agent for you, dear client.

  • Education: I know the emphasis on education (our office has at least 6-10 classes a WEEK) on various types of topics allows me ample opportunity to catch up on an issue I’m not familiar with.
  • Networking within the industry: chatting with other top producing agents across the city on a regular basis through the networking groups I belong to all help to keep me on top of my game
  • Local issues: meeting with local state representatives and city council folks helps me keep abreast of issues that may be trickling down the pipeline in the near future. This is a direct benefit to you if I know a water treatment plant may be coming in down the road, or that their are plans to turn that quiet country road into a 8-lane mega highway.

In my opinion, long gone are the days of the ‘lone ranger’ type of mentality that I see many agents subscribing to. Especially in a city like Austin, being connected and working together with my peers is a bigger and bigger part of getting transactions to closing. Yes, we are all competing for business in this city, but there is not only a lot of business, I need the expertise of my fellow agents to help me through some of the situations I run across.

I think that as clients get more savvy (as they should), and do their research online to find the right agent (as maybe you are doing now), doing their research by googling me, and seeing what they find, finding a good fit in an agent is going to rank pretty high. Looking for an agent that is knowledgeable, and informed about their industry is going to become more and more important. 

I for one, am glad that the bar is being raised for my industry, and I’m proud to be one of folks working hard to raise it.

Stressed out home sellers

Posted on : 25-05-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Education, Sellers

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It’s always interesting from an agent perspective to see an article like this one featured recently on MSN’s Real Estate website. Briefly, the article talks about the top 5 stressors that sellers face.

Now, to someone in my industry, dealing with these stressors on a daily basis and guiding my clients through many of these, it’s nice to see the mainstream media giving us a hand and explaining what a lot of people are feeling and some very useful tips to help.

Selling a home can be stressful. Surprised? Don’t be. Although Austin has been very well insulated from what is going on around the country, we all know people who have been going through a hard time in Florida, California, Nevada or Detroit.

It is the job of a good agent to guide (read: someone who cares about the CLIENTS, not just the PAYCHECK) their clients through what can sometimes (often) be a sticky situation. Although, when dealing with peoples’ most important asset, that’s easier said than done. Throw in divorce, job loss, or a multitude of issues, and you can see why an already stressful situation can ‘border on becoming a traumatic event’.

My top 3 tips to sellers:

  1. Pick an agent that is going to tell you the TRUTH. Not sugar coat things, and not list your house at the price you want to get a sign in your yard. Often when an agent is telling you something that makes you uncomfortable, it’s often because it’s the truth.
  2. Choose an agent that is serious about his/her business. I study the stats on a daily basis, so I know inventory levels, average price/sqft and other market data. The benefit to a seller is that I’ll know what it’s going to take to get your home sold quickly and for the most money possible.
  3. Remember if you are on the market for sale and your home hasn’t sold and has exceeded the days-on-market for your area, then you are helping other homes sell. Agents are using your home as a comparison to get other, better priced & better valued homes sold. Yes, you read that right.
  4. (A bonus tip!) And lastly, if you are not serious about selling your home at a price that is going to get it to SELL, take your home off the market and stop clogging up the works. You’re making it harder for the homes that are active and buyers who are serious.

Sorry about being hard in this post, but this article hit home with a few clients I am working with now.

Austin Agents? Referring business’ to clients? Be aware of the risks.

Posted on : 24-05-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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This story came out today in the Austin Business Journal. Wow… as an agent that has a strong network of companies I rely on and trust to refer to my clients, this is bad news. I have had a client have a bad experience with someone I’ve referred (a handyman in this case). It’s bad news all around; the vendor doesn’t understand I’ve put my name on the line to refer them, the client may think I have shoddy alliances with vendors after I’ve talked them up and the work done is sub-par. Bad, bad news for all parties.

What’s an agent to do? I talked to a few fellow agents who say they no longer refer business to anyone because they can’t guarantee how their clients are handled and don’t want the repercussions of being ‘that agent’ who referred a bad vendor. In my mind that’s a bad place to be. I want to be a resource to my clients and want them to ask me when they need a plumber, handyman, or roofer. I want to know that when I send a vendor a client, they are handled with white gloves and they really, and I mean REALLY value the risk I am taking to send a client their way.

In this day of social media and instant messaging… where a plumber who did a bad job can be talked about on Twitter, a photo posted of a botched up job, and thousands of people notified before the guy even packs his wrench up, business’ really need to be aware.

My bottom line: take care of your clients, and more importantly (well maybe not), take care of the people who are sending you business. That’s my .02 on the issue.

Schlitterbahn Coming to Cedar Park

Posted on : 29-01-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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So the biggest water park in Texas which is located in New Braunfels is building another water park in Cedar Park. Hmmmm. Interesting. So the biggest water park, is possibly building another one 51 miles away? How does this make sense? Am I missing a piece of the puzzle?

For those folks who live in Cedar Park, what’s your take? Is this going be a good thing in terms of tax revenue and tourism from surrounding areas? Or is the traffic going make things crazy out there?

Let me know your thoughts!

Austin: Best City To Live In

Posted on : 26-01-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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It’s no secret that Austin is an awesome city to live in. I don’t make a secret of how much I love living here. But it’s doubly awesome to get recognition from an outside source.  The Milken Institute has ranked Austin as one of the Best Performing Cities! Wow!!! I am again thankful to be living here.

Click the image to go directly to the website.

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They track all kinds of fun data, and for you dataheads, you can drill down into more detail about pay ranges, job growth,

Round Rock ISD – School Boundary Changes

Posted on : 26-01-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Education

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Oh Round Rock, please stop with the boundary changes! It’s making me crazy! But if folks have to know what the official word is, you can check this link: Round Rock ISD Boundary

Warning: The site is NOT user friendly. Would have been tons better if the map were interactive or done on GoogleMaps or Bing Maps.

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I entered in a few client address and couldn’t really get an exact answer about what school district the home was located in. Sort of defeats the purpose of having the site no?

Meeting With Former Mayor Kirk Watson

Posted on : 26-01-2010 | By : Sumina | In : Education

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I had the opportunity today to have lunch with the former Mayor of Austin, Kirk Watson. He invited leaders in the community to come chat with him about some upcoming issues in regards to the air quality and upcoming issues we can start thinking about. I was honored to be selected as one of 25 people who were in attendance.

Kirk Watso

The main topic was the upcoming EPA air quality standards. He’s asking us to be ready when these issues come up, and to able to inform the public about what they can do to help, and as community leaders, to be ready to help Austin move forward with becoming more energy efficient.

The overall feel was that Austin has been very well positioned in the past, and will be again with the involvement of our community and business community as well.  But, we don’t want to forget that, so this lunch was a reminder I suppose, that we (the community) are important to how government functions.

What value does going to a luncheon with Kirk Watson provide to my clients?

  • I am well aware of the issues that are going to be trickling down to the consumer. The upcoming air quality standards issue will not be a new thing, and if I have clients who are interested in investing in something that will require retrofits etc, I (hopefully) will be able to advise them accordingly
  • I have a connection to someone in the Capitol. Now Mr. Watson may not remember me, but it is the job our elected officials to keep up with their constituents and represent our will.

It’s been quite an interesting day, and the Lt. Governors reception hall was a beautiful location for a lunch.

November 2009 Housing Numbers

Posted on : 02-11-2009 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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The most often asked question I get is ‘How is the Austin Market doing?’. The overall answer is ‘pretty good’. Here is proof to back that up.

Overall the number of houses sold from Nov 2008 to Nov 2009 has increased, average days on market are down slightly, the median house prices have gone down, but the AVERAGE sales price has gone up.

So, according to the rest of the nation, we are doing GREAT! For what Austin is used to doing, it is a bummer. But get used to it folks. We are going to be in this new ‘normal’ for a while. And that’s not a bad thing.

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