Who is moving to Austin?

One of the reasons I decided to become a real estate agent is because very few agents are using the internet as well as they could to help you out.

A lot of agents have websites, or can search MLS listings, and send emails and texts and stuff.  But most of the Austin Realtors, don’t have a Twitter account (I do, and tweet often), or even blog regularly.

But, there are some very cool tools on the internet that every realtor should be using, and one of them is this nifty map created by Trulia.

What it does, is show what cities are most popular to move into, based on where you live.  Since I live in Austin, I wanted to see the top 10 cities that other people are in who want to move here.  I was quite surprised by the results – so were the Editors at the Austinist.

By the way, if you are moving to Austin, I’ve got tons of info on everything from the best places to live based on your lifestyle to the best contractors to when to view the bluebonnets.

According to the map, these are the top 10 cities people are searching about Austin:

  1. Houston
  2. San Antonio
  3. Dallas
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Chicago
  6. New York
  7. Washington D.C.
  8. Denver
  9. Fort Worth
  10. Kileen

You can also do the reverse search, which would show who is leaving a particular city for.  But since I’m going to sell houses in Austin, I’m interested in who is  moving here.




Two tests in one week

Last week was my busiest week of school since 1999.  I wrote a little it about some of the work I had to do in yesterday’s post, and mentioned that on Friday I had to take two tests.  This is another part in my continuing series on returning to Real Estate School.

As an older student returning to college, a few things about college have changed in some not so significant ways.  The first time I went to college I graduated in 1999 in the silicon valley, and although this was in the heart of the dot-com boom, most colleges didn’t have a lot of computer based classes.

I carried a backpack full of textbooks, college-ruled noteooks, and a bunch of pens and pencils with me to actual classrooms full of other students.

We would sit through lectures in the morning, and in the afternoon, informally gather on the green lawns in the quad for study groups.  Most nights were spent reading the books, and taking notes to study for tests.  If I had a question, I could ask my professor in class, or visit them in their office..

This is how I learned to learn.  It was part listening, part discussing with peers, and a bit of self-study to cement everything together.  I got really good at learning this way, and loved to debate and discuss a topic didactically with my classmates.

Today studying is totally different.

Now, all my classes are on-line.  Instead of getting up and going to class, I sit down on my couch with my laptop and log on to the virtual blackboard at the real estate school online. to check my grades, comment on a discussion, or just read the syllabus to see what assignments and tests are due this week.

The only time I’ve been on campus were to get my student ID card, buy my books, and take the tests.

Everything else is done individually, in front of a screen.

Like I’ve said, everything is different, even the exams for my classes.  I remember the days when I would join all my classmates on a test day and we would nervously enter the classroom to take our seats.  Sometimes the professor would spread us out, as he handed out the tests.  We all would sit there together, answering questions, only getting up to hand in our completed work.

Last friday, it was totally different.  I entered the testing center, and had to fill out a 2-part form with the name of my class, the test number, and my student ID number.  I approached a desk where there were testing clerks who took my form, checked my ID, and gave me a key to check my cell-phone, and all other personal items in a locker.

I was given a scan-tron form, and a test booklet, and instructed to enter a fish-bowl like room full of other students.

The room was full of testing stations, and there was a large glass wall that gave a great view of all of us to the testing clerks.  I sat down at a small cubicle next to dozens of other students, all taking tests at the same time, from a myriad of other classes.  At every station, and on every wall and door were signs stating that having a cell phone in the testing center was considered cheating.

Of course nobody was talking.

I read through the test, and began answering questions.  Since I read the assigned chapters and answered the test questions at the back in my  Law of Agency, and Real Estate Principles classes I quickly answered the questions.

When I was done, I stood, up and left the glass enclosed classroom to return my test to the testing clerks.  They immediately scanned it, and I got my grade – a 98%!

But my day wasn’t over, I had to take a second test for my other class, and repeat the process.  This one was a bit harder, and I didn’t get my results instantly.  So now I wait, and check the on-line blackboard periodically to see my results.

A busy week full of assignments

I’m just a little bit past the midway part of my first semester of Real Estate School.  This last week was a big week for assignments in my two classes.  For those of you that aren’t regular readers of my blog, here’s a quick recap:

I’m returning to school to take classes to get my real estate license.

Currently I’m enrolled at ACC (Austin City College) Real Estate School taking two classes:  Law of Agency, and Real Estate Principles.  Last week I had an assignment due, and yesterday was a two test friday.

It’s very strange going back to school after a long absence.  I’m one of those going back to school after turning 40.  I’ve had a couple of careers, working for a research think tank that was the sender of the first message on the internet, and then starting and running my own business for the last 6 years.

But since I don’t see myself as a 60 year old wedding photographer, I decided it was time to change course again, and here I am taking two tests on a Friday.

Before I wax poetic on taking two tests, I had to turn in an assignment for my Law of Agency class.

At first, my Law of Agency class was pretty tough.  I don’t think like a lawyer very often.  I lean more toward the creative, with a big scientific component.  There are a lot of legal terms that govern agents, and lawyer speak that regulates the real estate industry.  As you can imagine this is important stuff, so I had to spend some extra time reading and learning all the new language.

I’m learning all the ins and outs of what can and can’t be done legally when buying a house, so you don’t have to.

While you aren’t required to hire an agent to buy or sell a house, there are a lot of laws that regulate the industry so people don’t get taken with such a big purchase.  When you hire a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a house, we are all bound by fiduciary duty.  I am required to use my knowledge of the laws and regulations to represent you, so you can make the best possible decisions.

You trust us to represent you in the best possible way, and my assignment last week was a sample agreement that you sign, acknowledging this.  It’s called a Buyer Representation, and can basically states that I will represent you, and work hard, honestly, and legally.  In turn, you agree to use me, and only me as your agent.

Anyway, I worked hard, and got an A on the assignment.

Boy, it feels great to go back to school after 20 years and still get good grades.

As I mentioned I also took two tests, and you can read about that experience here.


Trader Joes in Austin

Trader JoesIt’s been nearly 7 years since I visited my last Trader Joe’s supermarket.  My wife and I used to live only 2 short blocks away when we had a small apartment in CA.  Since moving to Austin, we have learned about HEB, Randalls, Sprouts, and of course Whole Foods.  Several times a week, I’d grab by cloth grocery bag, fill it with some Two-Buck-Chuck, a couple of bags of produce, and some great pre-made frozen dinners.

The Austin Statesman just published an article stating that the Grocery store is planning on coming to Austin, in 2013.

The new Trader Joe’s in Austin will a little bit of a drive for me, as it will be in the new Seaholm Development, that fantastic old Power Plant located on Caesar Chavez near LadyBird Johnson lake.   But it will be totally worth it.

In addition to the natural grocery store, there are nearly 300 new apartments scheduled, as well as 170,000 square feet of business and retail stores, and even some prime event space also scheduled for the development.  Along with great access to Mopac, and Downtown, this could be the most perfect spot for the much anticipated and talked about store.

What’s so special about Trader Joe’s?  They aren’t like a regular supermarket.   First, they don’t stock a lot of brand-name products.  In fact most of the shelves are lined with their own Trader Joe’s variety of cereals, dried fruits & nuts, coffee & drinks, and other stuff you need everyday.  The people who work there all wear Hawaiian shirts, and seem to actually enjoy their jobs.  There isn’t an overhead PA calling out for a manager on Register 3, either.  Just a big brass bell that gets rung when an extra register needs to be opened.

The food is really fresh, and good too.  There’s produce, dairy, and meats, and of course tons of vegetarian and vegan food too.  Almost everything is health, natural and organic, and their selection of affordable beer and wines is hard to beat.  They don’t have everything an HEB would have, but just enough to have a nice, healthy meal at home.  I would easily do all my shopping there.

Want to learn more about what Trader Joe’s sells?  Sign up for their weekly email – the Fearless Flyer, and learn all about the groceries and other organic or  natural products they sell.

And of course, please leave your comment with questions below.

Conserving Texas

I’ll be completely honest with you. I’m a huge fan of development. Creating something new from something old, and sharing it with a group of people who normally wouldn’t have access. As someone involved in the Real Estate business, this is exactly what I do. Connect you with a buyer or seller to get you exactly what you want.

But getting you the lifestyle you want isn’t always easy.  Especially when you ask for something with a view, or with land.  That’s why I’m a huge fan of the Hill Country Conservancy.   Instead of me telling you what they do, just  take a few minutes and watch the video above to get an idea of what they are all about.

Help us help the Hill Country Conservancy. They are a group that can help ranchers preserve the open spaces that make this are so special, by creating a conservation easement that protects the land.  It’s a fine line, maintaining growth, while preserving history.  But it’s not impossible.  It can, and is being done.

Live Oak, Cedar, Running Streams and of course Wildflowers, are all a part of life in Central Texas.  Let’s just do a little bit to ensure the Texas life we remember will be the same one our kids do.