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Many years ago in our Floyd Wickman "Sweat Hogs" training class we all got pins that said "You Get What You Give." The main premise taught was to get out there and make a difference in your community or sphere of influence. It was not about being seen but to get involved in activities that meant something to you so you could discover the feeling of satisfaction in making a difference. Many in our NW Coldwell Banker United office took this course so we as a company found with the diverse group of agents we could encompass a variety of (13 comments)
In the January 2010 issue of Realtor Magazine, through an agreement with Remodeling Magazine, it laid out the average cost recouped for 33 home improvement projects in nine regions. In their Cost vs. Value Report they disclosed judicious home remodeling is still worth the investment. In this economy there is a sense of caution being reflected on home owner's return on investment in remodeling projects. What is most surprising to me is despite the common perception that contractors are hungry for work and deals should be plentiful, the average national cost of projects surveyed show the price is (14 comments)
"Let this year be better than all the others. Vow to do some of the things you've always wanted to do, but couldn't find the time. Call up a forgotten friend. Drop an old grudge and replace it with some pleasant memories. Vow not to make a promise you don't think you can keep.
Walk tall and smile more. You'll look ten years younger. Don't be afraid to say "I love you". Say it again.
They are the sweetest words in the world. " Ann Landers HAPPY NEW YEAR! (14 comments)
What becomes effective January 1, 2010 on the closing statements? In order to make HUD-1 closing statements more transparant for the parties involved, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has made various changes. HUD has tried to protect consumers, particularly buyers, during the course of dealing with their lenders and at the closing table. Here are a few of those changes: 1. Mortgage brokers will need to calculate their commissions from their lenders (known as yield-spread premiums) as part of the loan origination fee, brokers will be less likely to place their customers into loans at the (10 comments)
Should You Make A Relative A Loan?? - 12/30/09 12:26 PM
The economy has brought about hardships for many and some are struggling far greater than others. You may find yourself in a position where a family member asks you for a loan to help them out. Nothing huge, but a loan nonetheless. Because they are family you think you can just write a check and rely on the payback promise. Is this a good idea? If you make the decision to lend money you should decide on some guidelines.
1. SIZE UP THE LOAN. Depending on who the "loved one" is, you might consider a small loan with no (18 comments)
Financing troubles your clients might face in 2010 will need to be addressed proactively. You will more than ever need to be involved with counseling your client on the loan process. 1. Make sure your client is using a local reputable loan officer who is aware and compliant with the new guidelines. Tell them to shop rates and fees before writing an offer and pick a loan officer they have confidence in (no different in selecting a Realtor). 2. Prepare the buyers for the litany of paperwork they will be requested to supply. Remind them everyone is working toward (4 comments)
As we wind down the festivities for Christmas do you feel like you are restless and need to get back into a routine? I see some with forced or by design vacation time flying off for a New Years fling to ring in 2010! I see lots of standing around in a fog after drawing up New Year Resolutions, finishing up business plans or tidying up desks. Then I see some who are knee deep in business and still can't take a breath!
Some require more down time than others. Don't be a deer in the headlights, (22 comments)
There are some houses that have been on the market for a long time. Even though there is activity in December and a number of homes have gone under contract, homes that require a special buyer due to a quirky floor plan or a "location" issue may still be sitting.
Even homes that appear to have all the right things going for it; good floor plan, quiet cul-de-sac, great upgrades, backing to a greenbelt may not have received an offer. Sellers are frustrated and tend to take it personally that their home has not sold (thinking it (12 comments)
I really like many of Colin Powell's quotes. They seem to ring true for so many situations! During the holidays many families who don't see each other often get together and for whatever reason (too much to drink or past hurts not resolved) conflicts arise and hurtful things can be said or done that spoil the enjoyment of the season for all the family members. Maybe the commercialization adds undue pressure that everything must be "perfect" (the tree, the presents, the table setting) taking away from the true meaning of Christmas. No one is perfect. If something is (20 comments)
You Bet Your Bippy!! - 12/28/09 11:28 AM
My husband, Geno, volunteered to drive a golf cart for one of the Christmas Eve services at our Riverbend Church, ferrying church-goers from their cars to the church. Little did he know that it would be a chilling 35 degrees with winds gusting to 35 miles per hour! He donned his Santa Hat. boots, large hooded coat, sunglasses, gloves, scarf around his neck and picked up his cart in the rear of the church. Gene is 6'4" and the seat did not retract... his knees were hitting the steering wheel! He took off and had a blast meeting many really nice (12 comments)
There has been an ongoing battle between Canyon Creek and the City of Austin since the City annexed the master planned community and did not absorb the MUD debt. Earlier in 2009 the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear the City of Austin's appeal from the MUD's legal victory in the Third Court of Appeals last year. In November of 2009 the Third Court of Appeals issued a mandate declaring the dual ad-valorem MUD/City taxation to be illegal and ordering the City and MUD to renegotiate lower tax rates so each homeowner's total tax bill (that is MUD plus City (20 comments)
Playfulness in living is important to keep us centered. Stress can be a deadly nuisance to our health and positive attitude. Rocky, my brother's puppy, has been frolicking in the snow for hours and took a minute to catch his breath. The slightest encouragement will have him up and chasing again. We need to take more minutes like Rocky then get back at it again with renewed enthusiasm. It's amazing what a short power nap can do! (20 comments)
FHA has delayed implementation of the new appraisal rules until February 15, 2010!
In case you missed the implementation of FHA cases as of January 1, 2010 see below a brief summary of rules delayed: * The appraisal validity period is reduced to four months for all property types. Previously, appraisals were valid for six months on existing properties and up to 12 months on new construction. *Appraisal portability. When a customer switches from one lender to the other, the first lender must transfer the appraisal to the second lender at the customer's request to prevent delays in (6 comments)
There are only two more days until Christmas 2009. With so little time left I'd like to ask you to set time aside to make a difference in someone's holiday. Do you know someone who has lost a love one this past year? Give them a call, ask them how they are, wish them a Merry Christmas and let them know you are thinking about them. Do you know someone who as lost their job? Stop by and wish them a Merry Christmas, let them know you are thinking of them and bring them a homemade pie and Christmas cookies. (6 comments)
It doesn't take much common sense to know in order to drive safely we need to keep our hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road! DUH!! Keeping our wits sharp as we maneuver through traffic our focus must be on what is going on around us. There are pedestrians, cyclists, construction, weather conditions that need our undivided attention. The reality is many drivers engage in distracting activities: talking on a cell phone, eating, fussing with radio stations, talking to their kids and now texting. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration report in 2008 (12 comments)
Need To Know - 12/21/09 03:07 PM
Something we as agents need to determine upon taking a listing is the marital history of the sellers. Ask if they were married to each other when the home was purchased. Even if the answer is "no" you should be aware that both spouses may still need to execute closing documents.
In today's world we often find ourselves working with Sellers who are in a pending divorce situation, unless the divorce is final (judge has signed off and a suitable divorce decree is recorded, or a Deed has been ottained from the ex-spouse and filed of record, conveying the (5 comments)
Things in Common - 12/21/09 12:50 PM
Watching your kids play outside, watching your spouse stain your deck,watching the moon with all the stars twinkling, watching the sun rise in the morning, watching your granddaughter share her cupcake with her puppy, watching your granson score a wining touchdown...these are all things in common and Helen Keller says it best:
Sometimes in particular transactions there can be a situation arise that needs an agreement between agents regarding percentage/payment of commission. We are seeing in many transactions the buyer asking the seller to pay for closing costs. Sometimes to come to an agreement once the sales price has been established the amount of the closing costs the seller will pay is increased to allow the seller to pay certain buyer closing costs, but the commission is to be based on the "base" sales price (the sales price prior to the addition of buyer closing costs).
Another appreciated function was held for "us", the tenants, in our office building. We have the best landlords!! A Holiday cocktail hour was given yesterday from 4:30-6:30pm in the lobby of our Arboretum Plaza Office Building. They produced a band, several choices of wine & beer and hot & cold appetizers from North by Northwest Restaurant and Brewery. A good chance to say hello to our office building neighbors! (2 comments)
From the lowest valley to highest mountain there are those special people that go out of their way to bring Christmas cheer to all those around them. What began a few years ago with one or two lowly scrub cedar trees decorated along the highways in Austin has blossomed into a hillside of holiday beauty.
Living in central Texas this poor ugly trashy tree called a cedar tree (mountain juniper) now draws the attention each Holiday season by so many who want to share the trees they are decorating. You'll find this display along Highway 360 between (8 comments)
As of January 1, 2010 transactions involving new home purchases, where settlement is anticipated to occur more than 60 calendar days from the time a GFE is provided, the loan originator may provide the GFE to the borrower with a clear and conspicuous disclosure stating that any time up until 60 calendar days prior to closing, the loan originator may issue a revised GFE. Now the kicker is if no such disclosure is provided, the loan originator MAY NOT issue a revised GFE in the absence of changed circumstances. Being aware of nuances of the disclosures will (4 comments)
The purpose of the new GFE and HUD forms required and to be used by January 1, 2010 is to promote consumer loan shopping. One of the premises of the mortgage mess is that the consumer was not clearly informed of their choices therefore standardized forms need to be drawn up so they can compare apples to apples. I just wish they would have thought to add a place for their signature on the paperwork...duh... Remember the GFE must be issued within 3 days of application. We need to be familiar with the new rules not to act (5 comments)
Boy, if you want to learn and see the most innovative ways to keep Austin green then check out Palmer Auditorium, January 15-16, 2010. Experts from around the world will convene at the Austin Climate Protection Conference. Admission is free. Participants will be able to engage in discussions with national and regional experts, test drive and ride in some of the most innovative and cutting edge vehicles and get the scoop on the latest green technology from a variety of exhibitors. The Austin Climate Protection Program is going to launch the new Carbon Footprint calculator during this conference. Can (0 comments)
Wonder How It Started? - 12/15/09 11:36 AM
Did you ever wonder how all the Christmas traditions came about? We take for granted so many, like the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Poinsettia plants and many more that I'm sure you can add to my list. Did you know: Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26,1870
The first eggnog made in the United States was consumed in Captain John Smith's 1670 Jamestown settlement
Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R. Poinsett, an American minister to Mexico, who brought the red and (18 comments)
They're Famous, They're Fun and They're Here in Austin - 12/15/09 10:53 AM
Pack up the family and check out some of our uniquely Austin Christmas events! Start by seeing: 1. The Zilker Tree stands 155 feet tall and is composed of 39 streamers each holding 81 multicolored, 25 watt bulbs, totaling 3,309 lights. At the top of the tree, a double star measures 10 feet from point to point. The double star displays 150 frosted bulbs. This unique spiral pattern of lights was created by the City of Austin electricians. At its circumference the tree measures 380 feet. The diameter is 120 feet. The base of the tree is made up of 19 (0 comments)
The Constant Pursuit of Excellence For Over 170 Years - 12/14/09 04:38 PM
On one of our recent trips our guide took us to the oldest and most famous Patisserie in Lisbon, Portugal. Pasteis de Belem opened in 1837 and serves the most delicious pastries. It was amazing to see the locals and tourists clamoring for these yummy morsels of egg tarts, often waiting hours for them to be made. They are sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar but are not sweet like our pastries. To think they provide a quality product day after day over 170 years. If you are going to achieve excellence in big things you develope the habit in little (12 comments)
Puffy and Pouty - 12/14/09 01:04 PM
Do you find you are so busy at this time of year you can't think straight? Do you have business appointments, family obligations, dinners, lunches and parties to make time for? Today in church our pastor had a recliner out on stage with a table, lamp, cup of hot cider, a candy cane and a Snuggy (you know the craze over the blanket with the arms!). He donned the Snuggy (it was a UT one to boot) and settled leisurely in the recliner while expressing to us the need to slow down and make sure we were getting the most out (8 comments)
Name That Photo ~ Guess Where? - 12/11/09 02:37 PM
New Year's Eve will be here before we know it. There are many places to celebrate and one that is lots of fun is this spot! It's not Times Square...It's not Arthur Murray's Dance Studio...It's not Saturday Night Fever's stage setting. Hint: it is off shore...it is a horizontal shape country in Western Europe and best known for it's retirement communities.Can you tell me the city and country? (19 comments)
Friday's Fotos ~ My Maytag Broke!!! - 12/11/09 02:11 PM
While traveling in Portugal this past summer we visited many out of the way towns to get the flavor of the country. We stopped at one little town for an espresso and poked around the side streets. Everyone hangs their laundry out their windows. With so many people living in small flats this is the normal way of life. They are energy conscious and don't have the conveniences of the washers and driers that we do. (22 comments)
Our Work ~ Thanks For The Family, Fun and Food - 12/10/09 11:53 AM
What does your office do together to celebrate the holidays? We have a Holiday catered luncheon! Our office has fun and is always ready to plan a party. We love for Alfred to come spoil us with his festive flair and yummy food! Alfred@alfredcatering.com is an amazing chef and party planner. Our office manager calls in for long tables, has them set with linen cloths (even brightly colored ribbon down the center of each table) in our entry in our office. Alfred sets up an elegant buffet table and serves us one of his many special dishes in our large conference (21 comments)
Make Things Happen - 12/09/09 03:35 PM
I have a friend, Roxanne Watson, a Marketing Rep with Alamo Title who gives it her all in whatever she does. Her motto is "Make Things Happen!" Her mind never stops swirling yet she gives her undivided attention to each of her clients and projects she undertakes.
The same is true of her personal life. There are places she wants to go and things she wants to do. Instead of sitting around dreaming about them, she makes them happen!She and her husband flew to N.Y. City for a long weekend. She finds excitement in the people and the frantic pace (20 comments)
10 Positive Predictions for 2010 - 12/09/09 01:33 PM
Thanks, Sally, for offering a challenge to make a top 10 list of Positive Predictions for 2010. I know it's going to be a very good year!
1. Through Social Media Networking there will be multiple lives changed by new relationships formed, marriages entered into and romance established from long distance.
2. The day of multiple offers will return as inventory shrinks and buyers thirst for purchasing homes due to low interest rates and tax incentives.
3. Agents will bring buyers and sellers to the table of education on the market (14 comments)
Good News Bad News - 12/08/09 11:51 AM
My brother sent me this picture and story and I have to admit this would stop you in your tracks!
Well, there is good news and bad news about my Christmas decorations this year.Good news is that I truly outdid myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever. Great stories. But two things made me take it down. First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove (17 comments)
On my 2010 list of tasks to accomplish I wanted a new photograph for a fresh look on my business card, facebook, blog, our website, etc. No stuffy over posed photo but something engaging but professional. A friend and agent in my office used a professional Head Shot Photographer (no glamour shots) Korey Howell and voila a great shot! I googled Korey and immediately liked her work, smile, energy and the ease of navigating her website! I booked an appointment online. I got to her studio a few minutes early and she was with another client. She jumped up, (14 comments)
The unemployment figures surfacing in the 4th quarter are not as bad as predicted, interest rates continue at record lows and the numbers of homes closing the fourth quarter are up significantly. Doom and gloom were rampant the first two quarters while some buyers bought and sellers sold; not in record numbers but the beat went on for some. Admittedly there were many sellers who could not sell and foreclosures were at record highs. This third quarter held fast to a negative theme however the fourth quarter sees light at the end of the tunnel. Kevin Brown with the (12 comments)
Phones Off ~ It Doesn't Hurt - 12/07/09 12:29 PM
Every year the gals in our office have a girl's only Holiday Party to kick off the season (and a reason to get together to laugh and have some fun). The pre-requisite is to bring a dish or appetizer to share, a bottle of wine (if they wish) and a $20 gift for the white elephant exchange. Now mind you this can be a funny item, a gift certificate, a holiday item: anything that might add some merriment as your number is called. Yes, we have the right to choose someone else's gift but that item can only be "chosen" 3 times and (13 comments)
One of my favorite clients, Jamie Smith, has a Mary Kay Holiday Open House every year for her friends, acquaintances, neighbors and past clients. What a great way to shop in a relaxed, no pressure environment! Cranberry Martinis, wine, ice tea, chocolates, fresh fruits & cheeses, crab cake martinis, holiday cheese balls and a wide assortment of goodies were artistically assembled!
Everyone grazed their way through all the rooms and checked out her Mary Kay products elegantly displayed just begging to be picked up and tested.Diana Acker, a friend and neighbor helped Jamie keep the (2 comments)
We are always told the rating of a Real Estate Agent is equal or a step below a used car salesman! How can this be? It pains me as I work hard to maintain a professional image and perceive myself as a professional. I guess perception is always in the eye of the beholder. Why does the consumer view our profession in such low esteem and why do we feel our image has been hijacked??
1. Consumers view our job as easy; we drive around and show property in nice cars all day and just look (187 comments)
Holiday Poinsettias ~ Toys and More ~ Perfect Gifts - 12/03/09 02:36 PM
It's that time of the year where many participate in their favorite charity events. Christine Bennett who owns Elite Realtor Solutions is an integral part of our system in place for administering our listings. Several years ago Christine got us involved in purchasing Poinsettias for our clients from the Austin Children's Shelter Guild. She picks them up and delivers them to us. It doesn't get any better than that!
Our office every year contributes a wide assortment of (4 comments)
4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, year built: 2007, sq.ft.: 2941 $400,000 A STATELY 2-STORY NEWER CONSTRUCTED HOME LOCATED IN A QUIET SECTION OF NORTHWEST BALCONES The quiet elegance of the 2 story foyer will draw you to admire the numerous windows filtering in soft natural rays of light. Whether choosing to sit by the fireplace in the 2 story family room watching TV or spending time with the chef as dinner is prepared in this well-designed kitchen, the lifestyle triangle of this open floor plan allows (2 comments)
Central Texas Economy in Perspective - 12/02/09 02:46 PM
Beverley Kerr, the Austin Chamber Vice President of Research paints a rosier picture than first projected for the Central Texas Economy. According to her article both Austin Board of Realtors and the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M are in agreement that Austin's existing home sales data through October 2009 reflect marked evidence of improvement. See her complete article at: http://app.e2ma.net/campaign/26685.e51cb1bd691334ab2e50f807b0c4d99e Suzanne Jacobs with Gracy Title in Austin keeps us updated with the latest breaking articles on our Texas and local economy and sent us the following information to share with our clients and sphere of influence: "After reviewing the latest (2 comments)
My brother sent me this picture off his back deck in Pittsburgh. I love the quiet peace he and his family get to enjoy even on a gray day!
They love sunsets and time to reflect in solitude on their busy days so they purchased this home two years ago. This view is like a chameleon it transforms itself to reflect the different seasons. (14 comments)
The City of Austin has been undertaking a project in Canyon Creek the last couple of months. They have been sealing and micro-surfacing the streets and then striping the streets. What a great job they have been doing and are almost done. The estimated completion was November 2009 but due to the weather and holidays will need to stretch this most likely into January. We have a main Boulevard (Boulder Blvd) and then many streets and cul-de-sacs which are getting beautified!
Instant Gratification Can Get The Best Of Us - 12/01/09 04:18 PM
I was going through boxes of old records that I can finally discard and came across some files filled with the old shiny fax paper only to find there is nothing on them. Totally disintegrated! It made me think of how we used to transmit data and documents back and forth and how long it took. We'd meet with a buyer, write up an offer, take it to the listing agent (sometimes meeting halfway in a parking lot) and the listing agent would go meet with the seller and present the offer. If we went back and forth a few times (80 comments)
Hold On... - 12/01/09 12:35 PM
The end of the year is upon us and those buyers who have not made a decision are out trying to take advantage of the low interest rates and home prices. The lenders are driving us all crazy with information and data gathering overload. The best advice I can give my buyers:
"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!" Franklin D. Roosevelt
Author Bio: I was once a school teacher and still like the learning process. Only now I enjoy learning what dreams my clients have and what I can do to help them. I am a firm believer in asking the right questions. It is the only way to get answers that have helped me build an impressive business over the past 21 years and leave a trail of happy clients
Welcome to my ActiveRain real estate blog and profile. I'm a Realtor with Coldwell Banker United and specialize in NW Austin. Once a school teacher I still like the learning process. Only now I enjoy learning what dreams my clients have and what I can do to help them.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.