From 1955 to as recently 1996, the Seaholm power plant provided energy to Austin Residents.  Then for 15 years it lay dormant, it’s massive structure used only for photo shoots and private SXSW parties.

The City of Austin knew the value of the location, so in 2004, a request for proposals came out, and developers began to bid on the 5 acre site.

As a registered historic landmark, the original massive concrete building designed in the art deco style, had strict guidelines as to what could and could not be done.


What emerged was a new mixed used development with a combination of residential, commercial and retail stores in an industrial setting updated for the new millennium.

My first real visit to Seaholm was to tour some of the condos in the new 30 story 130 Million dollar high-rise directly behind the old, preserved building, but I took a few more hours to discover all the new Seaholm development had to offer.


The Seaholm Condos

Stretching 341 feet into the sky, the Seaholm Residential Condos sold out in 2016.  A combination of studio to 3 bedroom units are available as condos.

A daytime concierge oversees the 280 unit building.  Residents enjoy a private sanctuary with 24-hour gated access, and have access to the 10th floor with a pool, private deck, and fitness room.

Once residents come downstairs, and step outside they join the rest of us who came to explore this new area

Exploring the Seaholm Neighborhood

Walking out the front door of the condo tower, you will find a few  restaurants, a Trader Joe’s Grocery Store, and a few other shops. scattered around a central square.

Some commercial companies also call this area home.  Currently Under Armor, Aetna Health and a handful of internet startups have move into the old Seaholm Building, and you will see people wearing badges walking around, mixing with the dog walkers, and yoga-pants wearing residents.

Grab a bite to eat

When in a new part of town that I know nothing about, a safe bet is to head to a restaurant with a lot of people in it.  They are all there for a reason.  Perhaps they have a friend who suggested the place, or someone in a group did some homework on Yelp and researched the reviews, or maybe they just have great food.

At Seaholm the busiest restaurant is the True food Kitchen.

If I came any later, I’d have to wait for a table at lunchtime on a weekday.  There were lots of people eating inside, as well as outside and at the bar.

I didn’t realize this was a chain at first – the decor is nice, and the servers were super helpful and knowledgeable about the menu, especially about the Vegetarian and Vegan options.

If I had to use one word to describe the food, I’d choose Fresh.

We started with the Shiitake Lettuce Cups, moved on to the Spaghetti Squash Casserole, and had more than one Honey Apricot Old Fashioned full of bourbon.

Other options include Boiler Nine Bar & Grill and Trader Joes.

TJ’s has the perfect blend of staples, salads, wine and beer, and snacks.  All your bases are covered.  If you want to make a 3-layer chocolate cake from scratch, they have all the ingredients you need, or you can pick up a perfect frozen tiramisu and a bottle of red wine for a night in.

There were several people getting a pre-packaged salad and a bottle of sparkling water and heading outside to eat during their lunch break.

It’s not hard to quickly become a Trader Joe’s fan.  Quietly, they have opened 3 locations across Austin, and after visiting one it’s not hard to see why.

Finally there is a Ruiz hair salon and an Optique store.  No other retail stores – yet, so shopping options are pretty much non existent.


you get one hour of free parking at the Garage with Validation for your visit – so be sure to bring your ticket up with you and get one of the businesses to stamp it (electronically).  That first hour goes by fast so have a few extra dollars with you, but the automatic machines also take credit cards.

BUILDINGS NEAR the Seaholm District

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Gmail for Real Estate

This is not really a step by step tutorial – it is easy to search Google how to send a message in gmail, or do any number of different specific tasks.  If you got here from my CRM for Real Estate Agents, please leave a comment below.

Instead what I am going to do is share how I use Gmail in my day to day activities as a Realtor.

For me, my inbox is my to do list.  I get a lot of emails every day:

  • Messages from other agents
  • Important messages from clients
  • Notes from friends and family
  • Newsletters I’ve subscribed to
  • Reminders from other meetings and activities
  • spam (of course)
  • Plus lots of other emails that I can’t really categorize

Since I like to keep my inbox around zero – a goal which is increasingly difficult, I have to stay on top of my messages all the time.   I use as many tips and tricks that I can to keep things organized and efficient so I don’t drop any of the dozens of balls I’m juggling at any given time.

Gmail on the BrainI think of Gmail like my brain, I’m only really using 20% of it at any given time, and I know there is so much more I can do.  Gmail is just like that.  Most people only use a fraction of all the different features either because they are afraid they are going to lose something, or mess something up, or just don’t realize that it is possible to do these things.

But with Gmail, it’s really hard to loose a message.  If you move it to a strange folder, you can always move it back.  Even if you delete it, it doesn’t really go away.  You can still recover it, if not too much time has passed.

My in-box is my to do list.

Like I mentioned before, my inbox is my to-do list.

A long time ago, I read something about working efficiently that stuck with me.  This was written long before the days of the internet and email, because there was no mention of technology.  The article was called “how to deal with your mailbox” and it referred to actual snail mail that people would get everyday.

In order to prevent paper from piling up all over your desk at work the article stated, whenever you get a piece of paper, be it a letter, postcard, copy, or report, choose one of three things to do to it immediately.  This is one of those habits that highly successful people employ to keep their life simple.

Read it | File it | Toss it

Amazingly, this doesn’t just apply to paper.  It works incredibly well for emails.

If you are like me, most of your email messages are longer than a text, but shorter than a phone conversation.  They are in that sweet spot of communication.  A quick read, a couple of minutes to craft and fire off a response, and then done.

So for every email I get I use one of the three things above, and Gmail, used as part of my real estate CRM works flawlessly.

I base these three actions solely on the snippet preview or sender.

Read it – I do exactly that.  I read the message and act on it immediately.

File it – I scan the subject and decide that this is not an immediate effort, and file it into an appropriate folder (see below)

Toss it – junk mail, newsgroups I don’t have time for, and other solicitations all get deleted immediately.

Gmail for CRM

This is where Gmail really comes in handy.  Once I read a message I immediately send a response.  Usually I take a couple of minutes and hand write something.  But every so often I get something that I have a prepared automated response for (like people who want to submit a listing to my blog).  To learn more about canned responses just Google it 🙂

When I get a message with an invitation to something – like a listing appointment, showing or meeting, I can immediately add it to my calendar, by clicking on the day or time.   Want to learn more ?  Search for it on Youtube.

Gmail Attachment Reminder MacOften times I need to add a contract or other attachment.  I simply click on the little paper clip and upload the file.  If I mentioned an attachment in the text of the email, and forget to upload it, Gmail gently reminds me before the note can be sent.

Adding images is just as easy.  I simply drag the photos I want to include in the message to the draft of the note, and they are uploaded instantly.  Not all web browsers support this, but I’m using Chrome on my Mac Laptop, so it works really well.

Once I’ve written my response I want to get that I organize every message into one of 7 folders

  1. Buyers
  2. Sellers
  3. Renters
  4. Investors
  5. Office
  6. Personal
  7. Misc

These are all pretty self explanatory.  If you have a question about each specific folder, ask me in the comments below.

Backup Gmail?

Even though everything is stored in the cloud there is still a way to backup everything to your hard drive if you want.  Look it up it’s easy!

Google Mail Search Bar

Remember how I mentioned that I file everything away so my inbox is as low as it can be?  Well, sometimes that’s a problem.  Amazing search bar –

I can search for anything with the search bar.  Just type in the sender’s name, something in the text, or whatever you remember, and presto, the infinite power of Gmail’s servers spring into action and deliver outstanding search results.  It just works!

A couple of other cool features:

Google groups email threads, or conversations together automatically.

You can add smart labels to messages and Gmail learns your habits and behaviors to automate repetitive filing tasks.

Plus it links every message to a contact. you can read more of that in my Google Contacts for Realtors upcoming article.


As always, Please share any of your cool g-mail tricks or tips in the comments below.

CRM for Real Estate

We are all on the go.

I know I am, especially as a busy real estate agent.   Often I don’t have time to sit down at a real computer (laptop or desktop).  When a client calls and wants to see a house, I don’t just jump, but leap!  In the Austin market, homes sell very quickly, and to be able to get the ones my clients want I have to act immediately.  I need all my information immediately, and everywhere I go.  And I don’t want to have to worry about it being outdated or backed up.

Real Estate ContactsWhen I started as a Realtor, I really didn’t know how important it was keeping track of everything.  Who is interested in which neighborhood?  Who is flying in from California next weekend?  Who needs to get a contract signed.   No longer is it just my phone that is ringing.  I get emails all day long, am constantly texting, and as you know I’m all over Facebook and Twitter.

How does one handle it all?

I rely on technology.  Around the office, I’m known at one of the most techie guys around.  Of course we have a full time computer specialist on staff, as well as a person handling all of the social media for our company.  But we are all independent business people here.  Even though we all work for a broker (or are a broker), we have to get and grow our own business.

It seems like everybody does something a little differently.  And it seems like there isn’t a single solution either.

What is a CRM

Day planner for Real EstateSimply put CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.  It’s a way to organize and communicate with all your leads, buyers, sellers, investors, and even renters.  It is a way to track their name, email, phone number, house address, and more – whatever you enter.  I usually start with basic business card information, and add stuff as I go.

In the last century everybody would run around with these little file-o-faxes, or day planners.  But now everything is digital.

Basically it’s my little black book, but all digital.  I store everything about my clients there, birthdays, favorite wines, kids names, you get the idea.

Why do I need a CRM?

I need a CRM because I sometimes have a hard time keeping track of everything.  I may be driving on my way to a listing appointment and thinking about that when my phone rings and it’s a different client about a different property.

If you are like me, when your phone rings the first thing you do is check your caller ID to see who is calling.  If it is just a number sometimes I have a hard time associating the name with the number.  One feature of the CRM is it associates the client’s name with their number so when they call I get that information right away.

Plus I need more.  I need access to my calendar.  I need directions.  I need everything.  Immediately.  And I’m on a budget.

Some CRM for Real Estate

I didn’t have time to  write real estate crm reviews for all these products, but I have tried a lot of them out

  • Daylight
  • Salesforce
  • Base
  • REA Real Estate Assistant
  • Clientlook
  • Apto
  • Insightly

A lot of these companies/programs have been around for a long time, and I’m sure they all have their benefits and drawbacks.  All I know is when I started selling houses, I needed something FAST.  I didn’t have a lot of money to invest, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time learning a system that I wasn’t sure was going to work for me in the long run.

One thing I kept running into with these out of the box CRM solutions was that they either had a bunch of features I didn’t need, or they didn’t have the features I really wanted.  I hated being forced to do things their way, instead of my way.

What is the best real estate CRM?

For me, the best CRM is platform independent I can use it on a Mac, PC, Tablet, or Phone.  It does automatic backups,  because I never remember to do that.  It has a calendar, contacts, notes, document storage, and a to do list.  It is easy to set-up, and has lots of documentation in case I run into a problem.  Plus it’s low cost, or even free.

In summary:

  • Platform independent
  • Automatic Backups
  • Lots of features
  • Easy to use
  • Low cost

Google for Real Estate

Enter Google, and their suite of business apps.

google_appsWhat?  I didn’t know google had programs I could use in my business.  Well, they do,  And they are easy to use, free, and work on both Macs and PCs (Plus tablets, and phones).

They have lots of support on-line that teaches me how to use the different programs when I get stuck and need help.

Since the apps live in the cloud, I never need to worry about backing everything up.

The best part is it is free, and since it is Google I don’t have to worry about them going out of business.

There are lots of different features, too. The parts of Google that I use for managing my real estate business:

  • Mail
  • Contacts
  • Calendar
  • Drive

Over the next week I’ll be writing extensively how I use each of these features.  Mostly I just have the regular set-ups for each of them,  but the way I use them is a bit specific to real estate, and hopefully you will find that helpful.

Most likely you already have an account with Google, so the set-up is almost nil, and unless you have tons and tons of emails, the cost is free.  I know you get 15 Giga-bytes of storage for free, and the next level is 100 GB, for only $4.95/month.  That’s cheap!

Each of the different apps is linked to each other, too, so I can schedule a meeting right from my mail program, and then link it to the people who I’ll be meeting with on contacts.  I can also share and collaborate with documents using Google Drive,

It’s really easy!  I suggest you try it out!

Week in Review

Today, I start a new weekly feature.  Even though I’ve been blogging since before I got my real estate license, I’ve never stuck to much of a schedule.  I always just write when I feel compelled.  Usually it works out to 4-5 times per week.  

So, with a little planning, I’m beginning something new on my blog.  A little summary of this week in Austin Real Estate.  I hope you enjoy this little summary, and my take on the market here in Central Texas.

Each week will have four sections – and of course one killer photo!  Take a look and let me know what you think.  Do you want more austin real estate statistics?  More tips from around the web?  Just let me know.  I’m here to help.

Blog posts

Summary of Austin’s Real Estate market

  • Nice kitchenNumber of homes sold – 753
  • New homes on the market – 649
  • Most expensive property sold in MLS – $2,890,000 near the Austin Country Club
  • My favorite property sold this week in Austin:  The one with this kitchen for 1,950,000 in Old Enfield.
All data is from the Austin MLS.

My Weekend Plans

Houses in Highland ParkI’ll be going to the Book of Mormon with my wife at the Bass Concert Hall

Holding an open house – This beautiful 3 bedroom 2 bathroom is in the heart of Highland Park – $484,500.  Contact me if you want to take a look, and I’ll let you know the times.

Spending a little time touching up and painting one of our spare bathrooms.

And of course showing properties all over town.

You can always see what I’m up to on Facebook and Twitter.

Stuff I saw on the Web

Some things I’ve found this week that may be interesting to you, too.


Seaholm Condos

It is now possible to buy a unit at the Seaholm Condos.  While the condo was being built it was only open for pre-sale for a short while, and then it sold out.  Now that it is finished, you can live in the Seaholm District, and take advantage of all it has to offer.


On the surface, every downtown hi-rise may seem the same.  Tall, shiny glass towers with 24-hour concierge services, in house fitness rooms, and swimming pools high above ground level.

However, upon further investigation, differences appear, and each building takes on a style and feeling of it’s own.

The Seaholm Tower is a brand new building, finished in 2016.  It was part of the Seaholm Development, where the old power plant was refurbished into offices.  In addition to the tower, several other buildings, were constructed around a central square for people to gather, and eat.

Let me say one thing right away, none of the condos are actually in the old Seaholm Power plant.  As cool as that would have been, that building has been converted into offices.  

I’ll be honest (I usually am), and i prefer the northern side of this building to the southern side.  I think they have better views on that side.  Also, there are quite a few condos that have a view of the train tracks.  For a railroad lover like me that is awesome, but from experience, I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm.  Inside, there is nearly zero train noise, but open your patio door when a 3 engine freight train is pulling a mile of gravel cars and you can hear it on the 16th floor.

Like most towers, the Seaholm residences have some incredible views.  

Little known facts:

  • Every unit has a balcony, and most northern facing ones can view the Capital.
  • You can walk to the hike and bike trail – less than one block away.
  • This is the only condo downtown within walking distance to a grocery store – Trader Joes.
  • Grab a dog treat for your pooch from the secret stash on your way out the building.


Where are the Seaholm Condos?


  • Address: 222 West St
  • Approximate Price Range:  $350,000 – Over $1 Million
  • Year Completed: 2016
  • Stories: 30
  • Number of Units: 280
  • Floor Plans:  One, Two, and Three Bedrooms
  • Pets Allowed?  Yes – There is a dedicated Pet area on the 10th floor, as well as access to the hike and bike trail at ladybird lake.
  • Concierge:  Yes
  • Gym:  Yes
  • Pool:  Yes
  • Parking:  Yes
  • Developer: Southwest Strategies Group, Inc., Centro Partners LLC, La Corsha Hospitality Group