Best Cities to Start a Family

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Congratulations Round Rock- you’ve made another list! LendEDU recently released a list of the 300 best cities to start a family and Round Rock came in third! Cities were ranked based on education, cost of first home purchase, crime and safety, and percentage of young families. Here’s the top 10 list:

  1. Frisco, Texas
  2. McKinney, Texas
  3. Round Rock, Texas
  4. Olathe, Kansas
  5. Plano, Texas
  6. Gilbert, Arizona
  7. Cary, North Carolina
  8. Naperville, Illinois
  9. Centennial, Colorado
  10. Carrollton, Texas

When purchasing your family’s first home it’s important to find a location where you’ll be happy settling down. There are so many benefits to raising a young family in one city, including giving your children a consistent education, and developing life-long friendships. Let us know if you’re interested in purchasing a home in the 3rd best city to start a family!

 

Best High Schools in the Austin Area

One question we get asked a lot when someone is considering buying a new home is, “Where are the best high schools?” This is a great question! A quality school district can have a profound effect on property value. Even if you don’t have school-aged children it’s important to know where the best schools are. There is great demand for homes in these favorable districts and that will drive up your property value.

So how do you decide which school districts are best? There are several lists out there that rank schools based on different criteria so it can be a bit confusing. To complicate things even more, in January, the results of the Texas Education Agency’s new A-F accountability rating system were published, sparking criticism from school districts across the state.

Despite the controversy and the different rating systems, the following 10 schools consistently rank highest in Williamson and Travis County based on test scores, student academic growth, and college readiness.

  1. Westwood, Round Rock ISD
  2. Westlake, Eanes ISD
  3. Vandegrift, Leander ISD
  4. Lake Travis, Lake Travis ISD
  5. Cedar Park, Leander ISD
  6. Vista Ridge, Leander ISD
  7. Round Rock, Round Rock ISD
  8. Anderson, Austin ISD
  9. McCallum, Austin ISD
  10. McNeil, Round Rock ISD

If you are interested in purchasing a home in one of these prestigious districts and would like to speak to a Realtor with tons of experience buying and selling property in these areas, give us a call! We would love to help you.

 

How to Survive Cedar Season in Central Texas

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Sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, sinus congestion, fatigue…it’s cedar season in Central Texas! Cedar trees pollinate between Dec. 10 and March 1, with the highest levels in the first three weeks of January

This year is proving to be particularly bad. Last year Central Texas was still recovering from a severe drought. But steady rain and warmer weather encouraged more pollen production this winter. On windy days this pollen can travel for miles where it attaches itself to whatever it can find- including you!

Allergists agree that prevention is the best treatment- that means staying indoors at peak hours which are typically from early morning through mid-morning and keeping windows closed, especially on windy days.  They also suggest a nasal rinse and a shower at the end of the day to clear out any pollen you’ve come in contact with. Wash your bedding at least once per week with hot water, vacuum regularly, and change air filters often. If you have indoor/outdoor pets be sure to bathe them frequently so they’re not bringing cedar pollen into your home. You can boost your immune system by eating local honey and taking a good multi-vitamin. To combat symptoms, use a nasal spray, an oral antihistamine and eye drops.

Is it cedar fever or a cold?

If you are still having symptoms after taking allergy medicine you probably have a cold. Also, despite being called “cedar fever” cedar allergies do not cause a fever. If you have a fever and are experiencing body aches, it might be time to head to the doctor.

Do you have any more tips on how to combat cedar pollen? If so, comment below! We would love to hear from you.

Round Rock ranked 4th safest city in U.S.

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Round Rock continues to dominate the charts! Niche.com has ranked Round Rock as the 4th safest city in the U.S. based on rigorous analysis of data and reviews.

Here are Round Rock’s rates:

  • Assault Rate: 68 per 100,000
  • Robbery Rate: 35 per 100,000
  • Murder Rate: 0 per 100,000
  • Burglary Rate: 233 per 100,000
  • Vehicle Theft Rate: 44 per 100,000
  • Larceny Rate: 1,744 per 100,000

Not only is Round Rock considered the 4th safest city in the U.S., but we are also considered one of the best cities to raise a family (#5 of 223), we have some of the best job opportunities in America (#5 out of 220), and we are one of the best cities to buy a house (#6 out of 223)! No wonder they consider us to be one of the best cities to live in America!

For more information, or if you are interested in buying or selling a home, give me a call!

 

2015 Year-End Statistics

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Austin-area home sales and prices set an all-time record in 2015, as well as records for the month of December 2015, according to a Multiple Listing Service report released by the Austin Board of REALTORS®.

Demand for Austin-area real estate was stronger than ever in 2015, mostly due to our thriving economy and population growth. The median price for single-family homes in the Austin area increased nearly $30,000 in the last year alone.

In December, the median price for condominiums was $250,000, eight percent more than the same month of the prior year and they spent an average of 46 days on the market, 10 days fewer than in December 2014.

If you know someone who wants to buy or sell in today’s market, call me!

December 2015 Statistics

  • 2,390 – Single-family homes sold, five percent more than December 2014.
  • $270,000 – Median price for single-family homes, 10 percent more than December 2014.
  • $348,904 – Average price for single-family homes, 13 percent more than December 2014.
  • 57 – Average number of days single-family homes spent on the market, one day more than December 2014.
  • 1,646 – New single-family home listings on the market, six percent more than December 2014.
  • 5,214 – Active single-family home listings on the market, three percent more than December 2014.
  • 1,601 – Pending sales for single-family homes, one percent less than December 2014.
  • 2.2 – Months of inventory* of single-family homes, unchanged compared to December 2014.
  • $833,880,560 – Total dollar volume of single-family properties sold, 19 percent more than December 2014.

2015 Year-End Totals

  • 29,068 – Single-family homes sold, five percent more than 2014.
  • $263,900 – Median price for single-family homes, nine percent more than 2014.
  • $333,558 – Average price for single-family homes, eight percent more than 2014.
  • 49 – Average number of days that single-family homes spent on the market, two days more than 2014.
  • 36,810 – New single-family home listings on the market, four percent more than 2014.
  • 6,044 – Active single-family home listings on the market, five percent more than 2014.
  • 29,839 – Pending sales for single-family homes, five percent more than 2014.
  • $9,695,852,178 – Total dollar volume of single-family properties sold, 13 percent more than 2014.

Source: http://www.abor.com/statsdec15/

Benefits of Using a Real Estate Agent

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AVOID CLOSING PROBLEMS. Pitfalls can occur towards the end of a transaction. An agent can see that the completion of the transaction is smooth right through to signing the papers as well as advise as to any contractual changes which might be necessary prior to the closing. Your real estate agent will assist to ensure that all of the professionals involved in the transaction are staying on task and on timeline.

CODE EXPERTISE. Maybe you want to buy a home near a business district and turn the front into a store or perhaps you want to add an addition or build a backyard fence. Experienced real estate agents are familiar enough with local zoning ordinances to make sure you’re buying a property where the city allows it. If a house isn’t connected to the public sewer system, the real estate agent will make sure that is disclosed by the Seller to the Buyer within the inspection period.

PRICING EXPERTISE. Agents can provide all the data on local home sales and deliver in-depth knowledge regarding your purchase that comes from years of watching transactions close in the neighborhood.

UNEMOTIONAL NEGOTIATION. An agent can write requests objectively and submit them to the seller which saves you from getting overly emotional about the transaction. An agent can take the heat in difficult negotiations in a businesslike manner, negotiating all facets of the transaction in your best interest.

LOOKING FOR SOMETHING SPECIFIC? Aside from the technical aspects of a sale and the mistakes people can make in the paperwork, real estate agents know neighborhoods and houses inside and out. A real estate agent might just know exactly where to find the home you are looking for.

TACKLING THE PAPERWORK. A real estate transaction involves an extensive amount of paperwork. An Agent can properly prepare the necessary real estate purchase contract, disclosures and associated forms that are required to be fully executed by the buyer and seller. The odds of missing something, not initialing a page or failing to check a box, can substantially decrease when you’re working with a professional who knows the paperwork.

FINDING AVAILABLE HOMES. Homes for sale can be viewed on the Web. Often times, great properties are not widely publicized because Sellers have health or financial problems, divorce factors or choose not to advertise their sale during the holidays. Working with a Realtor® gives you access to homes you might otherwise miss seeing.

REQUESTING REPAIRS. Request for repairs can make or break a deal. The touchiest part of a real estate purchase often involves requesting repairs. An agent may be able to identify trouble that you may not see and recommend a good independent home inspector who can provide a detailed report on problems with the house. The agent will have a good sense of what’s reasonable to request and what’s excessive.

ETHICAL CONSIDERATION. Real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) agree to abide by a code of ethics that requires Realtors® deal with all parties of a transaction honestly.

 

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Holly Schuler
VP, Business Development
Holly.Schuler@Title365.com
512.913.9098  :  Mobile

Things to do in Georgetown, Texas

Georgetown, Texas has long been known as one of the best places in the country to retire but its reputation as a sleepy town is diminishing with the addition of several cool new restaurants and shops. Downtown Georgetown’s urban environment and walkability has attracted younger business owners to the area, creating fun things to do for every generation. Here are my suggestions for where to go while visiting the most beautiful town square in Texas:

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Shops

Whether you’re looking for home décor, clothing, jewelry, or a one-of-a-kind gift, you’re sure to find something in Georgetown. There are numerous antique stores, all within walking distance from each other. Check out Sunshine West Vintiques for great deals on antiques as well as re-purposed vintage items. Another unique store on the square is Tribal Impressions. They carry cowboy and Indian museum quality replica wear as well as turquoise and silver jewelry, headdresses, books, music, and art. Therapie Boutique now has a permanent location inside of The Co-op 78626, a salon & boutique that stands out in Georgetown due its cool Austin vibe. Stop by for a makeover from head to toe!

For the kids: If you’re shopping for children or if you’re looking for a place to entertain them, you should check out All Things Kids. Not only do they sell exceptional toys but their store features a large Play Zone where children can play with all the toys and parents can work using the store’s WiFi.

Restaurants

Georgetown has no shortage of fantastic locally owned restaurants. Here are some new local favorites: Burger University, located in the century-old Lockett Building prides itself on its fresh, never frozen hamburger patties and its fries that are cut fresh every day. If you like live music, check out Roots Bistro. They have live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night as well as a great craft beer selection and delicious food. Eats on 8th uses only the freshest ingredients from local growers to provide their customers with a unique farm-to-table experience. Whether it’s date night or you are having lunch with friends, definitely try out Eats on 8th. If you prefer giant pizza slices and a wide assortment of beer in a casual and fun environment, you’ll love 600 Degrees Pizzeria. 600 Degrees has become extremely popular since opening a year and half ago due to its delicious pizza and lively atmosphere.

For the kids: Hat Creek Burger Company is a favorite among local Georgetown families. Fellowship, family, and fresh cheeseburgers are the three pillars of this fun restaurant. Come enjoy great food in a casual atmosphere while your kids place in the large outdoor play area.

Outdoor Activities

The San Gabriel River runs through the city, providing a beautiful view for the 30 miles of hike and bike trails. There’s also an 18-hole disc golf course beginning in Rivery Park. If you’re feeling adventurous, check out Inner Space Cavern, one of the most well preserved caves in Texas.

For the kids: Last year Georgetown’s Creative Playscape was completely redone in an effort to bring the equipment up to Title II of the American with Disabilities Act, as well as current Texas Health and Safety Code standards. What once was a maze of wooden towers and tunnels is now a beautiful open park with plenty of exciting things for children to engage with.

With its unique combination of urban style and southern charm, Georgetown, Texas is a great place to visit and an even better place to call home. Feel free to contact me if you would like more information on buying property here in Georgetown!

Thinking of Investing in Real Estate?

Thought about investing lately? No, not your 401(k) or mutual fund.

Investing in real estate.

There’s a tremendous opportunity right now to become a real estate investor here in the Austin area for multiple reasons. And it’s much easier than you might think. In fact, it’s a very simple process. Rental properties are evaluated just like any other single family home and all you need is at least a 15% down payment.

Why should you invest in real estate?

Home values in the Austin area continue to rise. According to the most recent information from the Austin Board of Realtors, the median price for single family homes is 10% higher compared to the same period last year.  Can you name any other type of investment that provided such a return? Plus, your equity is secured by a first lien. Unlike other types of investments, your rental property value will never drop to zero!

Another motivating factor is the current state of interest rates. Interest rates for rental properties have been so low for so long that rental payments cover the mortgage, property taxes, insurance and maintenance costs in most cases.  Rental rates in Austin are also on the rise meaning the rents take care of your loan, maintenance costs, and you’re actually making money, or cash flowing, each month.

Here in Austin, there has been considerable interest in investment properties and rightly so. The combination of low rates and higher rents make investment real estate a very attractive option. In addition, if the property you buy currently has tenants, the lender can use the rental income to help qualify for the new loan.  And speaking of financing, these low rates are fixed, not adjustable, so your cash flow and equity will continue to grow well into the future.

This article is sponsored by Tera Gilbert of New Penn Financial.  If you’ve been thinking about investing in real estate here in the Austin area or want more information, contact Edwin Lui or Tera Gilbert for a free consultation. There may never be a better time to buy a rental property in Austin than right now.

Healthy Kids

It’s Back to School in Austin!  For many of our children, staying healthy throughout the school year is a challenge.  Cold and flu season is right around the corner, and with it the increase in sicknesses they encounter in the school environment.

The good news is that parents can positively impact a child’s immune system, decrease the likelihood of them becoming sick, and avoid the cycle of catching everything that is going around.  A lot can be accomplished by putting the right things into their growing bodies on a daily basis. Here are just a few tips to make it through the school year unscathed:

Reduce sugar.  According to Dr. William Sears, “eating or drinking 100 grams of sugar, the equivalent of 2 cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent.” The effect starts almost immediately and can last for up to five hours.  Eating a sugar-filled breakfast and sending kids off to school with a suppressed immune system makes their bodies more vulnerable when they are at school.

Get enough sleep.  It’s hard to get back onto a regular bedtime schedule after a long summer, but research shows this is important.  Lack of sleep has been linked to a variety of cognitive and physical health issues including a reduced ability to fight off infections.  David Katz, MD says, “Sleep is crucial to immune system function.  People underestimate the importance of getting enough sleep.”

Eat more produce.  A healthy diet rich in immune-boosting foods can help your body build infection-fighting white blood cells and repair injury to cells, protecting itself against infection and illness.  There is much research anback to school imaged evidence that the best source of antioxidants is fresh fruits and vegetables.

There are many great habits you can teach your children to do while at school, such as proper hand-washing and drinking water rather than juice or soda.  But do not underestimate the positive impact of good nutrition on building healthy bodies.  If you find it challenging to eat the recommended 9 to 13 servings of fruits and veggies, take a look at the product JuicePlus, which provides your body with nutrients from 30 different fruits, vegetables, and grains.

To learn more about JuicePlus and to see if your child qualifies to receive the product for free through the Children’s Health Study, visit our partner Ginger Hobbs and mention this article.

New Standard Pacific Homes in Lakeline

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Standard Pacific Homes will be selling in a charming and newly developed northwest Austin townhome community.  Standard Pacific is one of the premiere builders in Austin.  Here’s a great opportunity to own a townhome in one of the fastest growing areas of the beautiful Texas Hill Country!

Just off highway 183 and 45, Lakeline Center is a prime location:

  • Walking distance to Capital Metro Rail Lakeline Station
  • Major retail and resaurants
  • Popular Round Rock ISD schools
  • Close to Concordia University and Austin Community College’s Cypress Creek Campus
  • Numerous parks and trails

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about Lakeline Center in northwest Austin!

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