Rattan Creek

Just yesterday morning, I was showing a client some houses for sale in Rattan Creek, and as we were driving around we saw lots of people out and about.  Mothers were pushing jogging strollers with their babies.  20 somethings with flexible jobs were running or walking their dogs.  Neighbors were outside in their front yards doing a little weeding or watering. (more…)

The next Silicon Valley

I lived in the real Silicon Valley during the dot com boom.  I remember driving past the original Pets.com building, the internet startup with infamous sock dog puppet commercial.

mclaren-f1One time, while driving my old Honda down Middlefield Road in Palo Alto, some 20’s something dot-com-er millionaire pulled up next to me in a shiny new McLaren F1.  We were both first at the red light, and when it turned green, I drove away, and he stalled out.  To me, that was the epitome of the Silicon Valley of the 90’s

It will never exist again the same way.  But, Austin is making a run for it.

Dell, the personal computer maker has their headquarters here for years, and last spring Apple computer announced they are expanding their established Austin campus and bringing a $304 million operation center.  This comes with an additional 3,600 jobs.

Google has an office at Mopac and 183, and Facebook opened their first remote office outside California in Austin, a few years back.  Also, both National Instruments and IBM have had a presence her for years.

Austin keeps making national news, and ending up at the top of all kinds of lists – Top 10 cities People are moving to, Austin surpasses San Francisco as 12th largest US city, Forbes ranks Austin in the top 10 nationally for business, and the lists go on and on.

The way the housing market is going here is similar to what happened in the Silicon valley of the early 90’s, too.  Housing prices are rising, inventory is decreasing, and people are moving here from all over.

Now’s the time to get into the Real Estate market.  All the signs are point to it.  Don’t let me say I told you so in 5 years.

First SupraKey use

Today, I used my SupraKey for the very first time.

Honestly, it was pretty easy, and a little bit exciting!

As you can imagine, I’ve visited a TON of houses.

It all started when I was a little kid, and my mom used to take me with her.  You see, she loved to see open houses.  Especially the kitchens.  My mom is a kitchen expert.  She can walk into any house, and immediately re-design the kitchen in her head to maximize efficiency, all while creating a space that is perfect for entertaining and chatting.  But that’s another blog post to be written in the future. (more…)

Private schools in Austin

Right now I’m developing this list of private schools in Austin – be sure to check back often or subscribe to get automatic updates when I finish my review.

St Stephen’s Grades 6-12  Enrollment = 650

Trinity Grades K-8  Enrollment = 400

St Andrew’s Grades 1-12 Enrollment = 830

St Francis Grades Pre-K – 8 Enrollment = 370

Magellan Grades Pre-Primary – 5

Ace Pre K – 12

Improve Your Home’s Sales Price by Improving Your Curb Appeal

The cliché “don’t judge a book by its cover” might sound nice, but it is hardly realistic. People are more likely to watch a movie or read a book if the cover attracts them. If a plate of food looks delicious, you are more likely to want to eat it. It isn’t a matter of simply judging appearances; it is about making sure that the first impression is a positive one.

The fact is, if someone came to a job interview looking messy and unkempt, it would decrease trust in that person. No matter how skilled he or she was, the first impression could destroy the chance of securing that position. This is precisely why it is so important to make sure that the exterior of your house is in great shape before putting it on the market. Curb appeal can make your home more valuable and ensure that potential homebuyers are interested in seeing more. These tips can help you improve your home’s appeal and increase your sales price.

Water blast your house

A good pressure wash can do wonders for your home’s appearance. Day to day dirt and grime can make your home look older or poorly cared for. When you see your house each day, you might become immune to noticing what your house really looks like. Potential buyers are going to scrutinize every last detail, so getting the house properly clean is the first step.

Pressure washing doesn’t have to be a major expense. There are a variety of companies that will provide the service at affordable rates. Do-it-yourselfers can rent a pressure washer and take care of it on their own. Even if you don’t want to rent a pressure washer, you can buy a nozzle for your hose to help you out.

Freshen up the front doors and trim

Repainting your entire house might not be an option, as it can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Luckily, a little paint can go a long way towards making your house look fresh. If you touch up the paint on your doors and trim, the entire house will benefit from it. It may seem like a small task, but it definitely has a big effect.

Again, this can be done through a company or on your own. If you can find a painting company that offers special rates for touch-ups or if you have a handy friend who would help out for a few bucks, then go for it. Otherwise, it is easy for you to pick up a brush and get the job done. It is an inexpensive project that offers a great return of investment.

Repair any cracks in the driveway and sidewalks

Over the years, your driveway and sidewalk might have suffered through some wear and tear. A quick fix-up will make the area around your house look all the better. Check for any cracks on your driveway and on any of the sidewalks around your house. Repairing these minor damages can make a house look younger.

Brighten the exterior with plants and flowers

Having pretty landscaping can make your house look like a home, which is really important to potential buyers. It doesn’t have to be a magazine-worthy garden, but a well-manicured lawn makes a house look much more attractive. An overgrown lawn covered in weeds can give the loveliest house an abandoned feel.

However, it is important not to overdo it. Having a stunningly designed array of flowerbeds and shrubbery might be gorgeous, but it may be too much for potential buyers. If your lawn looks as though it will take a lot of work to maintain, it might actually scare buyers away.

Update the exterior hardware

The small details of your house are an easy way to update the look without spending too much money. Before you put your house on the market, consider replacing your old hardware with some new pieces. Whether it be new doorknockers, house numbers or address plaques, some shiny and fresh hardware can really improve the look of your house.

 

Every tiny detail of your house will factor into its potential sales price. Moreover, interested buyers will scrutinize every element before deciding whether or not to buy the property. Doing major renovations before selling your house might not be possible. Happily, there are many smaller updates that you can do without breaking the bank. A little extra effort on your part can really help your house sell fast and for the best price.

 

Joe SchembriThis post was sent in by Joe Schembri of Tampa, FL. Joe works with a Florida home builder that sells new homes in Tampa, Naples luxury homes and more.

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JB Goodwin

It’s no secret that JB Goodwin has been voted one of the best places to work in Austin.

They have also been around for more than 40 years.  They have a knowledge of the Austin Real Estate market like none other.

Many of the Elite 25 realtors actually started at JB Goodwin, and then moved to different brokerages over time.

What is it like to work with the best brokerage in Austin?

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Every real estate salesperson in the State of Texas is required to work under a broker.  It’s mandatory that Real Estate Agents are sponsored.

As you  and I both know there are hundreds of real estate agencies in Austin.  There are large, national ones, and small boutique ones.  Agencies that specialize in modern homes, or luxury properties, and everything in between.

Very few brokerages discriminate about who they get as agents.

They want as many real estate agents as they can possibly get because we all split our commissions with them.  Some places take less of our commission, but charge high fees, and other places let agents keep more but don’t provide as many services.  New agents might not be aware of this and sign up at a big name place because it is what everybody else does, or maybe they want a smaller place that has more of an Austin vibe.

Austin Real Estate

I had heard of the differences in brokerages, and honestly was scared of some of the things I heard.  At one end, were the large national groups. They have great name recognition, and are well known, but I found out that they charge high “desk fees”.  These are the monthly fees that agents need to pay to be a member of the brokerage.  As a new agent it can be very easy to take listings and work for any client just to make enough money to cover these fees.

At the other end are the small “boutique” agencies.  As I did my research I learned they don’t always have the resources needed to provide everything you may need when you buy or sell your home.  Things like access to different lenders, or advertising budgets, or training for new technologies.

JB Goodwin

As I was taking classes I spent a lot of time interviewing different agencies throughout Austin. They all offered me a job.  Every one.  But one place was different.  It was super friendly.  The agents, all individual contractors, would work together to help each other out.  There were no desk fees.  The training was top-notch.  Buddy, the president of  the Austin area JB Goodwin who interviewed me didn’t immediately offer me the job, either.

It was like he was checking me out, making sure I was as good a fit for them as they were for me.

But in the end, he did offer me a place, and I’ve never thought about going anywhere else.

I know a lot about the Austin market.  I know neighborhoods in and out.  I know schools, and shopping places, and parks for your kids or dogs.  I know where to go for a late night snack, which country clubs have the best spas, and even the shortcuts to get across town quickly during rush hour.

But when I don’t, I have a family backing me up.  Access to over 200 agents who have a combined real estate experience of a billion years (I made that up).  Access to flexible and creative lenders.  Title departments who won’t hold up the closing date.  Lists of repair people, and more.

It’s a fun group, and I actually enjoy going to work every day.

I just got my Real Estate License

June 3rd, the Day before Independence day is now one of the most important days in my life.  It ranks up there with the birth of my son, my wedding anniversary, and the birthdays of all my family and friends.

You see, when I woke up that Tuesday morning, I followed my usual routine – let the dogs out, start the coffee, and start up the computer to check my emails overnight.

My inbox doesn’t stop at night, it just slows down a little.  Most nights I get a couple of dozen messages – a few personal notes from my friends across the country, and around the world, some advertisements from my favorite companies, a little bit of spam, and some messages from my clients who stay up way too late at night.

But that morning was different.  There was a message from TREC  – the Texas Real Estate Commission.  As soon as I saw that one, I immediately clicked into it, and began to read:

Attached is important information from the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC)

or Texas Appraiser Licensing & Certification Board (TALCB).

Please read this information carefully.  Failure to maintain or renew

your license could result in additional fees, penalties, or expiration of your

license.

And then, attached as a PDF was the information I had been waiting so long to hear.

I was now officially licensed as a Real Estate Agent in the State of Texas.

The journey had been a long one – you can read about here – so I won’t recount it all.  In fact, this post will be my last one in the Real Estate School series for a while.  I know I’ll have to take some continuing education, but for now I get to jump in, and start to help people like you!

For most new agents the next step is to pick out a Brokerage.  You see, in Texas, you can’t just be a lone Agent.  You need to be sponsored by an established brokerage, and for the last several months I’ve been interviewing different companies.  Some were small boutique agencies, others were groups that specialized in modern homes.  I even looked into some of the really big, national Real Estate Agencies.

In the end I found the perfect fit – JB Goodwin.   But that’s another story for another day – stay tuned, and come back tomorrow to read all about it!

 

My Old Bio – Before I was a Real Estate Agent

I want to let you in on a little (OK – It’s a big) Secret.  I’m not a real estate agent – Yet.

But later this fall, I will be, and when I get my license, this website will change in amazing ways.  Right now I’m just blogging about Austin neighborhoods, some cool houses I’ve photographed, and a few other Austin Real Estate related topics.   They are great reads by themselves, and of course I encourage you to subscribe to my RSS feed to get updates, as well as circle me on Google +

But to really get all the insider info, and be one of the first to be notified when I get my license and add actual listings to this website, you should join this list.

Why would I leave a great career as a successful photographer in Austin, and become a Real Estate Agent?  That’s a great question, and to answer it completely I need to explain why my photo business did so well.

Let’s take a trip back in time…

Seven years ago, my wife and I were DINKS (Dual-Income-No_Kids) in the Silicon Valley.  We had great jobs, wore nice clothes, and ate fancy dinners out whenever we wanted with our friends.  We traveled to France, or Cuba, or New York City.  Life was good.  But no matter how hard we worked, we knew we could never afford a house in the Bay Area, let alone Menlo Park, where we were renting the cutest 550 sq/ft apartment.

So we both quit our jobs, packed up the car and headed to Austin, Texas.  We bought a beautiful 1970’s ranch fixer in North Austin for less than we were paying in California Rent per month, and I started a new career as a photographer.  I saw an opportunity, that nobody else was exploiting and decided to pounce on it.

Actually I saw two unique opportunities.

Only a few short years ago, wedding photography in Austin was – boring and traditional.  Very posed, very formal.

I came from San Francisco where wedding photojournalism was all the rage.  Documenting the entire wedding day, lots of candid pictures, with an artistic eye.  I’m not saying that I brought wedding photojournalisim to Austin, but I will say that a lot of people hired me for my style.

The second thing that wasn’t happening then that is now, is blogging.  I started a wedding photography blog and sent an email to every wedding vendor between Dallas and San Antonio.  I would shoot a wedding, and then blog about all the unique details and tell the couple’s story.  Now everyone does that.

After shooting over 400 weddings I’ve decided that I need to shift course again, and do something where I’m home more weekend nights.  I’ve gone back to school to take the necessary classes to get a real estate license.

Why Real Estate?  Because I see a huge opportunity in using technology to help people buy and sell houses.

Most real estate agents have a web presence – sort of.  They might have a headshot of themselves on a website, maybe a some have a Facebook or Twitter page, and a few even have their own websites.

Most people who are searching for homes go to Realtor.com, or Zillow, or Trullia and enter their personal information, how much they want to spend, how many bedrooms, and so forth, and do a search which yields hundreds of properties.  You then click through each one, looking at tiny thumbnails, trying to see if this is a house you want to see, or skip.

Once you find a house you want to see, you have to find an agent to show you the place.  Finding an agent in Austin isn’t hard.  Sometimes it seems like everyone here has their license.  Some are associated with boutique Austin agencies, some are part of upscale brokerages, and some are even part of the Elite 25 in Austin.  But try to get to know them on-line and you won’t find much.

That’s why I’ve started this website.  It’s a way for YOU to get to know ME.

I’ll write about cool Austin happenings, show photos of some incredible houses, and I plan on showcasing my listings on EricEstate.com with really BIG photos, and lots of descriptive text so you can really get to know the property.  If you are buying a house it will feel like you are there, and if you are selling, you will reach an incredible audience of local, motivated buyers and interested agents.

About me:

Eric on the Champes Elyses in Paris in 2003I’m Eric, and I’m the person behind this website. To date my biggest accomplishment is Patent #7,402,246 but in June, when my first son is due, that will probably change.

I started this blog in January 2012, because I firmly believe it’s the best way for you to get to know me, but here’s the cliff-notes version:  For the last 6 years, I’ve photographed over 400 weddings all over the world as a full time photographer.  I never paid for advertising, instead relying on using creative marketing & leveraging technology to grow my business.  Prior to that I worked as a Biochemist in the Silicon Valley during the first dot-com boom.   I live with my wife of 11 years and two dogs Riley and Vera in a late ’70’s 4-bedroom in North Austin.  I haven’t eaten meat since 1983 & love early 70’s sports cars.

Currently enrolled in Real Estate Classes, I plan on getting my license in the near future, and then focus on Modern Architecture in Austin.