National Night Out 2014

Tuesday, October 7 marks the 31st annual National Night Out. Neighborhoods are encouraged to lock their doors, turn on their porch lights, and gather with their neighbors and public safety personnel to show unity against criminal activity. The purpose of National Night Out is to build strong partnerships between the police and communities and to promote crime awareness programs such Neighborhood Community Watch groups. It’s also a fun way to get to know your neighbors and bond so you can look out for one another. A close-knit neighborhood is a safer neighborhood.

nationalnightout

National Night Out is fun! It’s a great excuse to have a block party. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Offer Refreshments

o   Bring your favorite snack

o   Coffee, tea, or dessert

o   Cookie exchange

o   Fruit and cheese plates

o   Grill hotdogs

o   Ice cream/make your own sundaes

o   Lemonade and cookies

o   Potluck

 

Group Activities

o   Create a Block Email List

o   Plan an icebreaker activity

o   Talk about area crime concerns and keeping an eye on each other’s houses

o   Ride bikes in the street

o   Scavenger Hunt

o   Show a movie using a projector

 

Contribute to Your Community

o   Beautify a common area

o   Collect for local food pantry

o   Plan a fall clean-up or bulb planting

 

If you’re interested in heightening drug and crime prevention by strengthening neighborhood spirit and sending a message to criminals that your neighborhood is organized and fighting back then sign up today! To register your neighborhood block party with the Police Department and have an officer attend your event, visit the NNO website here or contact:

Georgetown: Sgt. Erik Grasse (512) 930-2594 or erik.grasse@georgetown.org

Round Rock: Joseph Claypool (512) 671-2871 or jclaypool@roundrocktexas.gov

Pflugerville: Cpl. Dan Griffith (512) 670-5514 or dgriffith@pflugervilletx.gov

Leander: Community Service Officer (512) 528- 2821 or communityservices@leandertx.gov

Cedar Park: Sgt. Hazen Lango (512) 260-4784

Central Texas Daytrips

I hope you are enjoying your summer! Last month I shared some fun things to do around the Georgetown area, but perhaps you want to try something new. Fortunately, Central Texans are just a short drive away from many amazing places. Here are some ideas for your next Day Trip.

 Enchanted Rock

Fredericksburg and Enchanted Rock

2 hour drive from Georgetown

Fredericksburg is a small city with unique German flavor. You can walk down Main Street and visit boutiques and generations-old peach orchards or drive over to Enchanted Rock, where you can hike, backpack, camp, rock climb, picnic, bird watch, geocache, or stargaze. Climb the massive pink granite dome for amazing Hill Country views.

 

New Braunfels and Gruene

1.5 hour drive from Georgetown

New Braunfels is home to Schlitterbahn, voted the World’s Best Waterpark for 16 years in a row. Come explore this massive water park (over seventy acres!) nestled along the beautiful banks of the Comal River. It features world-famous attractions, epic river adventures, kid’s water playgrounds, and beautiful spots to relax and share a picnic – there is truly something for everyone!

Just down the street, in the historic district, you’ll find Gruene. There is so much to do in this tiny town including shopping and wine tasting. The Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar is amazing. Your trip won’t be complete until you visit Gruene Hall. Built in 1878, it is Texas’ oldest continually operating and most famous dance hall. By design, not much has physically changed since the Hall was first built. The 6,000 square foot dance hall with a high pitched tin roof still has the original layout with side flaps for open air dancing, a bar in the front, a small lighted stage in the back and a huge outdoor garden.

 

 

Driftwood

1.5 hour drive from Georgetown

The Salt Lick in Driftwood has appeared on The Food Network, as well as The Travel Channel. The scenic drive to this legendary BBQ joint will take you through rolling hills and century-old oak trees to an open pit where they have been smoking meat since 1967. It’s BYOB and they have live music on the patio. Driftwood Estate Winery sits on a bluff from which visitors can enjoy a fine wine from a majestic perch overlooking the Driftwood Vineyards below.

I hope this gives you some good ideas and, as always, if there is anything I can do for you or someone you know please don’t hesitate to call or email me anytime.

Edwin Lui, Realtor

GRI, Certified Negotiation Expert

512-554-9594

Keeping Your Cool This Summer

With temperatures already in the 90s it’s sure to be a hot summer! Here are some tips to help you keep cool in the upcoming months:

 

Inside your home: The average home spends hundreds of dollars a year on energy costs. But there are ways you can lower your energy bills. Cutting back unnecessary energy use is an easy way to reduce energy consumption while saving money. Here are some suggestions you can do at home at absolutely no cost to you.

  • Turn up your thermostat

Set your thermostat to 78 degrees when you are home and 85 degrees or off when you are away. Using ceiling or room fans allows you to set the thermostat higher because the air movement will cool the room. Always take into account health considerations and be sure to drink plenty of fluids in warm weather.

 

  • Use your appliances wisely

Avoid running your appliances during peak hours, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

 

  • Replace air conditioner filters

Dirty filters restrict airflow and can cause the system to run longer, increasing energy use. Replace filters monthly for maximum benefit.

 

  • Plug your home’s leaks

Weather-strip, seal, and caulk leaky doors and windows and install foam gaskets behind outlet covers.

 

Outside your home:  Community pools and splash pads can be a fun, kid-friendly, and cost-effective way to get out of the house and cool off.  There are plenty of community pools available where you live.

splash-pad

 

  • Georgetown

Purchase a season pass and have unlimited access to all five Georgetown pools. For more information call the Georgetown Parks and Recreation Department at 512-930-3596, visit parks.georgetown.org, or go to the Rec Center located at 1003 N. Austin Ave, Georgetown, 78626.

 

  • Round Rock

The Quarry Splash Pad opened May 17 and admission is $2/person.  It’s also a great place to hold birthday parties, but reserve the pavilions early!

 

  • Pflugerville/Austin

You may have noticed the construction near the southwest corner of SH 130 and FM 685 in Pflugerville. It’s a new water park and it’s scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend!  For more information contact Hawaiian Falls Pflugerville at (972) 232-2918.

April Newsletter: Farmers Markets

Spring has arrived in Central Texas! There are so many fun things to do this time of year: have your picture taken in the bluebonnets, attend the Red Poppy Festival in Georgetown, or watch a Round Rock Express game at the Dell Diamond. Another great springtime activity is visiting your local farmers market. Nutrition.gov offers several great reasons why you should consider shopping at a farmers market.

 

  • Farmers markets are easy to find.

Simply Google “Central Texas farmers markets” to find one near you or visit Austin Area Farmers  Market. Due to their flexible locations, some community farmers markets provide fresh, healthy foods when other sources aren’t as easily accessed.

  • SNAP and WIC cards are accepted at most farmers markets.

 

  • You can try a new fruit or vegetable!

Have you ever tasted gooseberries or rhubarb? Many farmers markets offer lesser known fruits and vegetables, providing a variety that can be both tasty and nutritious.

  • Farmers often have good recommendations on ways to prepare their products.

 

  • Farmers markets can be important anchors for vibrant communities.

Meet your local farmers, learn about foods grown in your area and catch up with friends and neighbors while stocking up with local goods. Supporting your local farmers market strengthens your community.  

  • It’s a great way to get your kids involved.

Let them pick out something new to try; it’s a great way to get kids to try new foods!

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients.

 

  • Shopping at farmers markets supports your local farmers and keeps the money you spend closer to your neighborhood.

 

  • Freshly picked ripe food is at its peak in flavor and nutrition.

Stop by your local farmers market today, learn about where your food comes from, and enjoy some delicious and nutritious food.

 

 

 

 

Red Poppy Festival

The whole family is sure to have fun on the weekend of April 26 & 27, 2014 at the Red Poppy Festival! Featuring over 100 artisans from across the nation, the Open Car Show, the Kids Zone, Live Entertainment and the Saturday Night Concert and Street Dance! Friday Night Kickoff Concert April 25 at 7pm!  Saturday Night Concert featuring The Belamy Brothers!

 

poppy2014_gt

Passing the torch in Georgetown Texas

Editor’s Comment: This has been re-posted from our company blog at www.MarsHillRealty.com to make sure all of our readers and clients know what is happening in our business.  Since the time of this writing, Autumn now has a work-at-home position and I will be re-building my real estate business in Northern Virginia.  We are very excited!

 

2012 ended with a great 10-year anniversary celebration for my wife and I on our first real vacation to Hawaii.  Personally, we felt refreshed and blessed that we could get away and celebrate what God has been doing in our lives since moving to Texas and starting our family back in 2003 when I was stationed at Ft. Hood as an Army MI Officer.  So much has changed since then.

Getting the Call

As we were making preparations for our vacation, we also received a call from a long-time friend of ours from college, Pastor Tom.  Over 10 years ago, we felt led to help Pastor Tom start a church when he was ready to transition away from leading Agape Christian Fellowship (ACF), a Christian student group at the University of Rochester in New York.  This is the same group that Autumn and I attended in college and how we first met.  ACF and Pastor Tom both have a very special place in our hearts.  Pastor Tom essentially told us that he was ready to plant a church and it would be located in Northern Virginia.  Specifically in Ashburn, VA, a town in Loudoun County.

Over the next few weeks, Autumn and I had to do some self-reflection and praying to make sure this is still something we felt led to participate in.  And if so, timing was also another consideration.

Making a Decision

To help us with our decision, we looked back over the years to see how God has been preparing us for this eventual move.  Over recent years, we have been developing goals in various areas of our lives to help us confirm the timing of this move and almost every one of those prayers have been answered!

We had financial goals that will be met next month.  We also had personal goals and relational goals that we witnessed God’s faithfulness in recent years.  Some of our goals are still unmet, such as securing a job in Virginia or developing a business idea before we move down.  However, we know God will continue to provide for us as we trust Him and make decisions by faith.

Finally, we also had goals for our brokerage, Mars Hill Realty Group, and my personal business of buying/selling real estate.   My goal was to transition away from my buying/selling business and eventually sell it.  Over two years ago I asked my brother, Edwin, and his wife, Candice, to join me in Texas, move from California and partner with me in my business as an initial step.  After a successful two year transition, Edwin has fully taken over my buying/selling business and I have been focusing on building up the property management division for Mars Hill Realty Group.  All this was done in preparation for an ineveitable move back east for church planting.

As Autumn and I look back at these goals, we know they could never have been accomplished on our own.  For God to have his hand so clearly in these plans, we knew that moving to Virginia to be a part of this church plant had to be God’s direction for us.

Preparing for Change

So, as of January 1, 2013, your favorite HOMEboy has passed the torch to another HOMEboy named Ed Lui.  To make it easier for our clients, we also exchanged phone numbers so that 512-554-9594 will now be answered by Edwin.  My new number is Edwin’s old number, 512-761-6476.  I will continue to serve as the broker for Mars Hill Realty Group and our property management team will continue to seek Investors to work with and manage investment property.

In case you’re wondering whether this change will affect the service you will receive, you can take comfort in knowing that, unofficially, Edwin had already been leading the buying and selling side for the past 12 months.  And for the past 2 months, Valerie, our VP of Operations, has been doing an excellent job running the Property Management division so that I could focus soley on new client development and sales.  During my extended vacation in December, I was able to “field test” for the first time how Mars Hill would operate without my physical presence and everybody passed with flying colors.

I’m so thankful for all of my clients and friends who have supported my family by trusting in me to help them buy, sell, invest and manage real estate over the years.  Your continued trust and referrals will continued to be handled with the same care and professionalism that you have experienced with me personally.  The Mars Hill Property Management team and my brother Edwin, have been personally trained by me to continue to serve your real estate needs in the areas of buying selling, investing and property management and are eager to help.

As my family and I prepare our move to Virginia this coming summer, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  We are certainly excited for this adventure, but also sad to leave such great friends, clients and a close, loving community that we’ve raised our family in.  Mars Hill Realty is expanding to Virginia and we’ll keep you updated on our progress through this blog as well as our Facebook page:  www.MarsHillRealtyGroup.com.  Please send us any questions you have, and comment on our Facebook page.  We would love to hear your thoughts!

Your Favorite HOMEboy,

Edward

 

Want to learn more about Property management in Round Rock, Georgetown, or Greater Austin?  Visit our 2-page educational website here:  www.WEmanageYOUhavepeace.com

Always have a plan “B”

Buying a home is tricky business.  You want to buy a home you love, but you don’t want the other party to know it, otherwise you give up negotiation leverage.  On the other hand, sometimes if a seller knows you really love it and appreciate the property, they may feel a “connection” with you and want to sell it to you even if it’s not the highest offer.  Recently, I chose the second option and here’s my story:

My family and I decided to move back to Northern Virginia and we finally saw a home we liked.  We liked it enough to put an offer on it without even seeing it.  It had the land we were looking for, it was “off the grid” for water, and was fairly close to the school that our kids will be attending in Centreville, VA.  Check out the home by clicking here.

After my wife and I talked about it, we decided it was probably a 7 out of 10 on the scale of how much we liked it.  In order to get to a 10, it would have needed a pre-existing fruit orchard, be about 5 minutes closer to the school, and have a more updated and “normal” floorplan.  The home was over 100 years old and it wasn’t the “perfect” home, but we loved the property, the pond, the creek…..ok, I better stop now before I get sad again.

There were two other offers besides ours and I knew I didn’t want to offer full price.  My offer was probably the lowest, but I explained to the listing agent our reasons for moving back to Northern Virginia and our dream for owning a farm and raising our kids in that type of lifestyle.  At the end of the day, it didn’t work out, and they probably ended up going for the highest offer in financial terms. But boy did they miss out on a chance to get free fruit from Lui Fruit Farms!

Autumn and I decided that rather then blame our real estate agent (me) for not getting the property we really wanted, that maybe God has a plan “B” for us.  So now we’re looking at buying a townhome that is closer to the school in Centreville and then turning it into a rental property after a year, and taking our time to identify some raw land to build our farm on.  So, if you know of an investor looking to buy a property under $300,000 within 10 miles of Centerville, Virginia, I know how every neighborhood stacks up!

So if you’re going to be making an offer with me in Virginia, or with Edwin in Texas, we’ll fight our hardest to help you with plan A…..but make sure you come ready with a plan B.

~ Your Favorite HOMEboy, Edward

 

How to disappear from the face of the earth

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and I thought I would start off 2013 with an update on my recent family adventure.  For an update on Mars Hill Realty Group, and our future second office location, visit us here:  Georgetown Texas Real Estate.

This past January marked the 10th anniversary for Autumn and I, so we decided to take a detour to Hawaii while visiting her family in California.  It was time well spent, and for the first time in over 10 years we took a vacation.  I mean, a REAL vacation!  If you want to take a REAL vacation, it should feel as though you’ve just disappeared from the face of the earth.  It’s eerily peaceful.  There are three things you need to do.

1.  Drop the children off with family or friends.  Yes, they will be burdened.  But, if they agree to it, even if they’re just trying to be nice, accept it and don’t ask questions.  After all, how often do you leave your children for 1-2 weeks?  Just splurge.

2.  Do not, I repeat, DO NOT take your laptop with you.  This was pretty difficult at first, but I used this idea to justify the purchase of a Nexus 7 Tablet to take along with me on the trip.  If you get rid of your main productivity tool, chances are you won’t be doing any work on vacation.  With my Nexus 7, all I did was check email from time to time and visit Yelp to find out where all the best restaurants were.

3.  Lastly, do something with your phone.  I thought I would be bold and leave it at home…but I just left a vacation message on my voicemail to call the office.  Anybody that didn’t follow directions and still left voicemails were just forwarded to the office.

We had an amazing time, visiting both Oahu and Kauai.  We stayed in Bed and Breakfasts and splurged on great food wherever we went.  I don’t have the time or space to go into vacation details, but the pictures will speak for themselves.

My recommendation: Go to Kauai if you really want a unique experience.  Oahu felt like California.  Try different foods and stay at the local B&Bs for the best value.  For example, we were at a million dollar plus home on the ocean and paid as much per night as we would if we stayed in a stale hotel room with boring surroundings.  Lastly, you can afford to go.  With free hotel points, airline points and time off, the only thing you should be spending (if you plan it well) is on food and adventure.

Need a vacation from property management?  Our property management division will provide you with a stress-free experience. Check out our newest educational website if you need a Property Manager in Austin or the surrounding towns.

Your Favorite HOMEboy, Edward

 

 

Austin a Top City to Retire

We all know that Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, attracting thousands of young visitors every year.  It’s also home to one of the largest universities in the country and boasts a very low unemployment rate.  But did you also know it’s a great place to retire?

CNN just put out an article ranking Austin the #5 city to retire due to its low state income tax (0%), amazing outdoor trails and parks, and top tier health care.

Full article here: http://money.cnn.com/gallery/retirement/2012/10/16/best-places-retire.moneymag/5.html

Food Trucks in Round Rock

Watch out, Austin.  Round Rock just approved its very own food trailer park.  12 vendors are all set up for the grand opening this coming weekend, October 6-7.  And since we’re in the small, but rapidly growing city of Round Rock, you know it’s done with careful planning and preparation with families and kids in mind.

Food trucks plus free movies every other Monday! Eat your heart out, Austin.

For the full article, click here.

I-35 Decongestion – Round Rock

Round Rock is a great city located right in between two other great cities – Austin and Georgetown.  That also means lots of commuters.  If you’ve noticed Round Rock traffic getting worse and worse, you’re not the only one.  Fortunately, Round Rock Transportation has plans to make major improvements over the next 18-24 months that will help traffic flow in Round Rock, whether you’re traveling to Austin or Georgetown.

It costs about $1M per ramp removal/addition. I sure hope it works.

Check out the full article here.

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