Archives for May 2008

Georgetown, Texas goes Greek

Finally. A restaurant I can brag about. That only takes me 10 minutes to drive to. That I can bring my kids to. That doesn’t break the bank. What more can a father want?

On Friday, Autumn, myself and our good friends, David and Melissa, went on a double date to check this place out. PLAKA GREEK CAFE is the newest restaurant in Georgetown, Texas so we just had to find out how good the food really was. The first thing you’ll notice as you pull in to the restaurant is that there is plenty of parking. If every table in that restaurant was full, I bet that parking lot would still have space. That’s not something you see everyday!

David, Melissa and Autumn ordered the Gyro Wrap Combo, which is sliced lamb and beef in a pita with some veggies and tzatiki sauce. It came with a choice of soup or feta salad and we all chose the salad. I wanted to try something different since I could mooch off of Autumn’s gyro, so I got the Mousaka. The menu describes the mousaka plate as Layers of eggplant, potato, and ground beef, topped with a béchamel sauce. Served with Avgolemono soup, spanakopita, and tiropita and topped with tzatiki sauce.” Uh, ok. Sounds Greek to me. (pun intended). I substituted the soup for a feta salad and they were cool with that.

Everything tasted very fresh…they were a little skimpy on the tzatiki sauce, but when I asked for a little extra they gave me about half a bowl full. Nice. The only downside is that they had to microwave my mousaka prior to serving it to me since all the food is prepared beforehand and is laid out cafeteria-style. Think Luby’s. What I like about Luby’s though is that they use heat lamps and broilers and all that fancy stuff to keep the food warm and the crispy stuff, “crispy.” I think if my mousaka was already kept hot and they served it like that it would have been a better presentation then “nuking” it in the microwave right in front of me for about a minute.

Besides that, it was all very yummy. We topped the meal off with some good ‘ole fashioned Baklava. We also brought our youngest, Sabrina, with us and she enjoyed the atmosphere too. Afterwards, we all went to City Lights Theatres to see the movie, Iron Man, and liked it very much…it put Sabrina to sleep though, but her ticket was free.

Plaka Greek Cafe is located in Georgetown, Texas at the intersection of I35 and Williams Drive. You can’t miss it. Stay in the far right lane because it comes up quick! Oh yeah, our bill for Autumn and I came to just about $20. Check it out and share your experience with everyone in the comments section below. It’s always beneficial to me when I get recommendations on what to order.

National Recognition for Green Builders in Georgetown Village

Hooray for the little guys! Well, I guess they’re not that little if they’re on the American stock exchange. However, Green Builders is not somebody you hear about all that frequently, yet they just got recognized by the National Association of Home Builders for being the “2008 Single Family Affordable Home of the Year” at the National Green Building Awards. Nice to know that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to have something environmentally friendly eh?

Congratulations to their President and CEO, Clark Wilson, and the whole Green Builders crew. To learn more about Green Builders or to visit their homes in Georgetown or the Greater Austin area, give me a call. We’ll car pool and make it an earth friendly day as we shop for earth friendly homes. They’re literally building 2 homes down from where I live in Georgetown Village!

Full article is below:

Green Builders, Inc. Honored at NAHB National Green Building Awards


Green Builders wins award for Single Family Affordable Home of the Year

Austin, TX—May 12, 2008–Who says it’s not easy being green? Just ask the folks at Green Builders, Inc. (AMEX:GBH), a leading large-scale community developer of sustainable homes in the Austin, Texas area, who have been selected as the 2008 Single Family Affordable Home of the Year at the National Green Building Awards held by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Now in its 10th year, the National Green Building Awards recognizes individuals, companies and organizations for excellence in residential green design, construction practices and for green building programs and advocacy efforts. Competition for this award was particularly intense, but Green Builders stood out amongst the nominees for their continued innovation and advancement in the field of environmentally sustainable home building, a hot topic throughout the housing market.

“We were thrilled to be nominated. We are even more thrilled that we won. I think that this award speaks to how important environmentally sustainable home building has become nationwide. We look at this as not just a win for our company, but a win for the green movement and those in our industry who truly care about the efficient use of natural resources when building homes, “stated Clark Wilson, President and CEO of Green Builders, Inc.

Green Builders, Inc. incorporates energy efficiency, water and resource conservation, the use of sustainable and/or recycled materials, and indoor air quality control – all of which are considered when evaluating a green home. In addition, Green Builders’ homes are built to the stringent Green Building Standards set by NAHB.

Green Builders’ energy efficient and green, sustainable homes are priced from the $180,000s to $600,000s and available throughout the Austin area.
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About Green Builders, Inc.
Green Builders, Inc. (AMEX: GBH) combines the equal necessities of progress and preservation by building homes that tread lightly on the earth. Our success is measured by continued sales in a growing number of sustainable communities, which we believe to be vital to a sustainable planet. With respect for the world’s resources and for the needs of our clients, we create healthy, beautiful, long-lasting homes that people, and the earth, can afford. To learn more visit, www.greenbuildersinc.com.

I confess, I buy my own listings…can this be ethical?

I am a real estate agent. Let’s face it, when it comes to nest egg options, I doubt my broker has a 401k prepared for me. Therefore, I’m also a real estate investor. I buy homes and hold them for the long term. But what happens when these two roles collide? What should I do if, during the course of listing a home, I tell myself, “Gee, this is the exact type of home I’m looking for!” (Note: I really don’t use the word “Gee” in real life.)

Real World Situation

I just got off the phone with a nice young lady in my neighborhood, Georgetown Village, and was following up after a listing presentation I gave a few weeks ago. I was just about to finish the phone conversation when she made a comment that went something like this:

Some of my neighbors mentioned that you might not have my best interest in mind. They said that homes are selling in the $100/SF range and you list yours lower to maintain your statistics and sell your homes quicker (Note: My career average is 35 days). They also felt that there might have been a conflict of interest since you bought our neighbor’s home at a low price when you listed it, thus lowering values in our neighborhood.

I told her that it was a great question…and an honest one at that. I really respect the fact that she had the guts to confront me with this situation and give me an opportunity to respond. Whether I get this listing or not…thanks for doing the right thing! I encouraged her to call the individuals I bought the home from and get their first-hand testimonial when working with me. They would be the ones who could tell her whether I was being straight-forward and whether I tried to “pressure” them in any way. (Now I need to find their phone number!) In the meanwhile, I decided to dive deeper into the statistics of how much homes sold for in Georgetown Village….and how much I paid for my own listing.

Real World Numbers

The home I bought was built by Lennar and was 1603 SF. It was built in 2002 and although it didn’t have any significant upgrades, it was in very good condition. I paid $153,000 which comes out to $95.45/SF.

Since January of 2006, there were 10 resales that sold in the MLS that were built by Lennar and in the 1600 SF range (1603 SF – 1674 SF) and not ONE sold for $100/SF or higher. Do you want to know what the average $/SF was? $92.56/SF.

But wait, it gets better! In that same time period, there were two homes that sold in the MLS that were BRAND SPANKIN’ NEW! These homes were decked out with stainless steel appliances and upgraded hardware throughout the home…or rather, they didn’t have any ugly gold fixtures! Guess what the average $/SF was for these homes? $94.54/SF.


Yes, you read that correctly: I paid more $/SF for my home than the average comparable home that has sold in Georgetown Village for the past two years! In fact, I paid more $/SF for my home than two homes that were 5 years newer, had stainless steel appliances and were never lived in! Man, I need to quit letting my clients rip me off!

The Bottom Line: My integrity is worth far more than any investment home. Although I am self-employed, I do have a boss…he’s God. Ripping off a client is the last thing I want to do, because I am accountable for what I do and my actions reflect on the truthfulness of who I believe in. Here are a few important points to think about:

1. Did I really buy this home at a “great” price? It’s funny, but true: the home I bought was NEVER posted in the MLS and this is the FIRST time I have published it’s purchase price. So, how do people know how much (or how little) I paid for it? Neighborhood gossip is the last place to get accurate real estate information. Kudos to the lady who came straight to the source rather then rely on second-hand assumptions!

2. It seems like everybody is a real estate expert…except the real estate agents themselves! Read my most recent Georgetown Village case study to get the real scoop on what is selling for $100/SF or higher. $/SF is a good measurement for value, but if used out of context, and without supporting data, can be a dangerous and misleading catch-phrase. Get the facts! Only comparable homes that have recently sold determine the value of your house. If a real estate agent is determining the value of your home with something that hasn’t sold…run away….run away fast…..and hey, if you can multi-task , run away fast and call my number!

3. The seller is in control. It’s not just a good business practice, it’s also the law. Don’t you just hate pushy real estate agents that strong-arm you into making decisions you’re not comfortable making? Well, I do too. That’s why I always encourage my buyer AND sellers to make their own decisions when coming to a price. It’s my job to equip them with the data and inform them of pros and cons…it’s not my job to tell them what price to offer or list their home at. If you’re ever faced with a real estate agent that winks too much and has a gold tooth….or is using a high-pressured sales tactic on you, drop him like a ton of bricks.

In 2007, my homes stayed on the market for an average of 45 days (it was a tough year) versus the Georgetown average of 148 days. Don’t be fooled by real estate agents that “buy the listing” by offering to list your home for an inflated price. If a home takes 148 days to get an offer, trust me, it’s inflated…and around the 60 day mark, they’ll be coming to you for a price reduction that will mysteriously fall into my original recommended price range. So you decide: Sell it for market price now…or make some extra mortgage payments, deal with 20 extra showing appointments, and sell it for market price later.

So what do you think? Should I continue investing in my own neighborhood? Should homes be listed higher than market value so there is “room to negotiate?” Has a real estate agent ever bought your home? What was your experience? Please comment on my blog! Your comments are very much appreciated and keeps the conversation interesting!

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