Top Austin Easter Brunch Locations

April 7th, 2017

Spring has sprung in the Austin area – at least Texas’ version of spring! With spring comes bluebonnets, warmer weather, and Easter! Easter, which falls on April 16th this year, is a holiday filled with Easter egg hunts, egg coloring, honey ham, and last but certainly not least, Easter Brunch! Where can you find a spot to enjoy a scrumptious Easter Brunch in Austin? Here are some of our favorites Austin Easter Brunch locations:

 

Austin Easter Brunch

Austin Easter Brunch

Mattie’s at Green Pastures

  • 811 W Live Oak Street, Austin
  • Brunch: Sunday, April 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. featuring live music performances throughout the day. Pricing is as follows: $72 for adults, $25 for children 12 and under.
  • Egg Hunt: 12:30 p.m.

Driskill Grill

  • 604 Brazos Street, Austin
  • Sunday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Reservations are required)
  • The Driskill Grill goes all out with a three-course brunch featuring confit rabbit benedict or chorizo and cheddar pancakes with wild boar tenderloin, and a mimosa bar. Pricing is as follows: $110 a person, and $12 a person for the mimosa bar.

Eden East at Springdale Farm

  • 755 Springdale Road, Austin
  • Sunday, April 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Brunch features dishes like smoked redfish, whole roasted pig, crab cakes and more, at $90 per person. Reservations are required.

Carmelo’s Ristorante Italiano

  • 504 E 5th Street, Austin
  • Sunday, April 16 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • If you’re looking for an Italian-style Easter Brunch, this is the spot for you! The buffet features ham, pollo ossobucco, lobster bisque and more! Pricing is $44.95 per person and reservations are required.

in.gredients

  • 2610 Manor Rd., Austin
  • Sunday, April 16 from 11 to 2 p.m.
  • Enjoy all that Easter has to offer from 11 to 2 p.m. at in.gredients. The afternoon will include egg hunts, flower pot painting, music and brunch. Visit their website for more information. 

Second Bar + Kitchen

  • 3121 Palm Way, Austin – Domain Northside
  • Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Located at the Domain Northside, the Second Bar + Kitchen offers an all-you-can-eat Easter brunch for a great price of $38 for adults and $19 for children (4 and under can eat for free).

Click here for even more brunch options around the Austin area!

 

Have a favorite brunch location that didn’t make the list? Let me know!  I would love to add it to my list in the future.

Do you have any questions about the Austin area? I love this city and would be honored to answer any questions you may have.

 

Resources:

http://austin.eater.com/maps/easter-brunch-austin-restaurants

 

Top Home Renovation Projects to Increase Your Home’s Value

March 30th, 2017

While some home improvements can be pretty costly, there are several that offer a significant return on investment. If you are considering completing a renovation project on your home, here are five of top renovation projects that will increase your home’s value:

top renovation projects

Replace Your Front Door

First impressions do matter. Consider replacing your front door with a brand-new one that increases your home’s curb appeal.

National Median Cost: $2,000

Return on Investment: 75%

Upgrade Your Kitchen                                                                         

Renovating the kitchen, one of the most popular renovation projects, can get out of hand. However, it doesn’t have to. You don’t have to go all out on a kitchen remodel to increase your home’s value. A minor kitchen remodel – re-facing instead of replacing cabinets, and adding new flooring, countertops, and appliances – can drastically increase the value of your home, while keeping the renovation cost to the minimum (for a kitchen).

National Median Cost: $30,000

Return on Investment: 67%

Deck and/or Patio Addition

According to a 2014 Home Trends Survey, having an outdoor patio and/or deck is becoming increasingly more popular. Why is this? Because adding a deck and/or patio adds living space at an extremely low cost! Plus, who doesn’t like a little fresh air?

National Median Cost: $8 to $35 per square foot

Turning an Attic into a Bedroom

Do you want to add a new bedroom to your home, but worried a bedroom addition would cost too much? Turning your attic into a bedroom is the solution! Converting your attic space keeps your remodeling costs under control because you don’t have to add on to your home’s footprint – all you have to do is remodel the current space into a livable space. However, be sure to follow the code restrictions for converting an attic into a bedroom.

National Median Cost: $65,000

Return on Investment: 94%

New Garage Door

Replacing your home’s garage door adds value to your home while also increasing your home’s curb appeal. Completing this renovation is genius if you are thinking about selling your home soon.

National Median Cost (2-Car Garage): $2,300

Return on Investment: 87%

Now, keep in mind these numbers are the AVERAGE cost and ROI, they are not the exact value you will spend on the project. Some projects may cost more and others may cost less. It all depends on the materials and the contractor you choose for the job.

Are you looking for a contractor to help with your renovation project? I have an extensive database of contractors and home maintenance experts I trust in the greater Austin area. Give me a call; I would be happy to send you my recommendations.

Resources:

https://www.houselogic.com/save-money-add-value/add-value-to-your-home/home-remodeling-projects-with-long-term-ROI/

Unattractive Design Trends to Homebuyers

March 29th, 2017

As surprising as it might sound, the design style of your home can be a major turn-off to homebuyers. While you want your home to look its best, “its best” can mean different things to different people. While your home may be appealing to you, it could make a homebuyer think twice before purchasing your home. What design styles turn-off homebuyers? Here are several unattractive design trends to homebuyers:

unattractive design trends

Bold Walls

Boldly painted walls, while cheap to fix, can be a major turn-off to homebuyers. As a rule of thumb, consider sticking to neutral colors like beige, gray, or greige when preparing your home for the market. Simply incorporate accessories to the room to add pops of color.

Also, keep this in mind with wallpaper. While it may be appealing to you, it has the possibility to be too busy to potential homebuyers. Consider replacing wallpaper with neutral paint when placing your home on the market.

Converted Rooms

While your garage may have been the perfect location for your band to practice, it is in your best interest to convert it back to a garage when selling your home. Buyers like rooms in a home to be used for their intended purpose. So, if you’ve converted a bedroom to a workout room, consider staging it as a bedroom to appeal to homebuyers when your home is on the market.

Shiny Hardware

Be sure the metal hardware in your home is in line with the current design trends. While brass fixtures may have been in 20 years ago, they may not be now. Keep your home in line with the current trends to avoid turning off potential homebuyers.

Carpet

Buyers like to avoid carpet throughout a home to avoid having to steam clean the home, to remove potential germs and odors, before moving in. To appeal to homebuyers, consider hardwood floors throughout your home. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they are also easy to clean!

High Maintenance Landscape

While outdoor living space is all the rage, try not to overdo it. High maintenance landscaping can turn-off buyers, as all they see is a lot of work for them. Dress up your backyard but in a low maintenance way.

Pets

Remove all traces of your pet from your home when selling – especially odors and stains…. these can be a major turn-off to homebuyers!

Do you need assistance getting your home ready to sell? I would love to help in any way I can. Give me a call anytime.

 

Resources

10 Interior Design Trends That Turn Off Home Buyers

 

10 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Mortgage

February 27th, 2017

Deciding to purchase a home is one of the most important financial decisions in an individual’s lifetime. While searching for the perfect home is the fun part, there are several steps to complete before evening beginning that search. What should you do before searching for homes online or taking any home tours? First and foremost, you should create a budget to determine what mortgage rate your budget can afford each month. Start by interviewing several mortgage lenders in your area. Determine their reputability through past reviews, and explain your financial situation – you’ll know when you’ve found the right one! The right lender will respect your financial situation and work hard to ensure you get the best rate. Once you have chosen a lender, he or she will run your credit and present you with options for what you qualify to borrow, your interest rate, and more! However, consider asking yourself these 10 questions before choosing a mortgage:

  1. What is the interest rate?
    • Your interest rate is determined by loan and your credit score. If you do not like the interest rate, consider cleaning up your credit score. A lower credit score may mean a lower interest rate.
  2. What is the monthly mortgage payment?
    • Ensure the monthly mortgage payment associated with your new home fits into your monthly budget. If it doesn’t, consider taking a smaller loan and purchasing a smaller home. You don’t want to risk your long-term or short-term financial goals.
  3. Is the mortgage fixed rate or an ARM?
    • A fixed rate mortgage remains the same for the duration of your loan, while an ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage) is an interest rate that changes at intervals after an initial period. An ARM is a good option if you are not thinking about staying in the home long-term, as this loan tends to have a lower interest rate at the beginning. However, be sure to ask what your interest rate will increase to after the initial period.
  4. What fees do I have to pay?
    • At closing, there is a one-time fee called “points.” Typically, for every point you pay your lender will decrease your interest rate by one percent. You can ask to pay zero at closing in exchange for a higher interest rate – be sure to ask your lender about this option.
  5. Does the loan have any prepayment penalties?
    • In some cases, you may have to pay a fee for making some extra mortgage payments to try to pay off your mortgage principal sooner. Be sure to ask your lender if your loan will have this fee.
  6. When can I lock in the interest rate and points? And, how much does this cost?
    • You may have the option to ask your lender to lock in an interest rate for a fee. This locked in interest rate will last for a certain amount of time. However, keep in mind, this could ensure that you benefit from a lower mortgage interest rate.
  7. What are the qualifying guidelines for this loan?
    • Ensure your lender explains all the guidelines for the loan before committing. These guidelines include, but are not limited to, the following: income, reserve requirements, sufficient funds for a down payment, closing costs, proof of income, and six-month of mortgage payments saved.
  8. What is the minimum down payment required for this loan?
    • The minimum down payment differs from loan to loan. However, most require a 20 percent down payment. If you do put down less than 10 percent, you will likely be required to pay a PMI (private mortgage insurance). However, if you qualify for an FHA loan, you can put down as little as 3.5 percent. Discuss these options with your lender before committing to a mortgage.
  9. Do I have to pay for mortgage insurance, and how much will this cost?
    • If you put down less than 20 percent, you will be required to pay mortgage insurance until your loan-to-value ratio is below 80 percent. A PMI (private mortgage insurance) can be spendy, around $100/month for every $100,000 borrowed.
  10. Do you have other mortgage products with lower rates? Can I qualify for these?
    • Ask you lender if they have any mortgage products with lower interest rates and if you can qualify for them. Chances are, your lender has already presented you with all the options. But, it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Do you have any questions about the mortgage process? I know several lenders in the greater Austin area and would be happy to provide you with their information!

Resources:

https://www.trulia.com/blog/dont-leave-lenders-office-without-asking-10-questions/

Prepare Your Home for a Spring Sale

February 14th, 2017

Are you considering selling your home this spring? If so, did you know that preparing your home for the spring market can make a huge difference? It’s true; a little preparation goes a long way with homebuyers! Preparing your home may increase its value and reduce its time on the market. How should you get your home ready for a spring sale? Here are a couple of tips to prepare your home for a spring sale:

Prepare your home for a Spring Sale Checklist - Michelle Busby

Exterior

  • Keep your landscaping well-manicured and grass cut
  • Remove all yard clutter and unnecessary items
  • Apply fresh stain or paint to wooden fences and decks
  • Paint the front door and add pops of color using seasonal plants in pots
  • Sweep, power wash, and add a new mat to the front porch
  • Weed and add fresh mulch to garden beds
  • Add freshly-planted flowers to gardens
  • Power wash and/or paint the exterior
  • Wash all windows, interior and exterior
  • Clean gutters and downspouts; ensure all downspouts are securely attached
  • Ensure the key and lockset on all doors operate smoothly and properly

Interior

  • Remove excessive wall art, furniture, and personal items
  • Clean, touch-up, and/or paint walls and ceilings
  • Shampoo carpets and deep-clean hard surface flooring
  • Clean and organize cabinets and closets
  • Consider a temporary storage unit for unneeded items
  • Repair all plumbing leaks, including faucets and drain traps
  • Clean all light fixtures and ceiling fans
  • Consider purchasing fresh covers, pillow covers, and decorative pillows for beds
  • Buy fresh decorative towels for the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Buy fresh rugs for entryways, bathrooms, and kitchen
  • Place fragrant soaps in bathrooms

Click here for a printable checklist.

Would you like assistance preparing your home for the market? Give me a call; I would love to help in any way I can!

Or, if you just have questions, I’m here for you as well!

Filing Your 2016 Homestead Exemption

January 26th, 2017

It’s that time of year again…tax season. I know this is usually one of the most dreadful times of year – but, I’m here to help. By filing your homestead exemption, eligible Texas homeowners can save a percentage or dollar amount on their property taxes. How does it work? Here’s a roadmap to help you through the process:

homestead exemption

Who is Eligible for a Homestead Exemption?

Your home must meet the following requirements to qualify for a homestead exemption:

  • You must own you home on January 1.
  • The home must be your principal residence on January 1.

Also, it is vital that you update your address on your driver’s license and with the tax assessor/collector in your area. The address on your driver’s license or identification card MUST match the homestead exemption address.

The form and additional information must be filed by April 30th (of this year) to qualify.

Do ALL Homes Qualify?

No. Only a home used as your principal residence qualifies for the exemption. Your home must meet this definition of a residence homestead: The home’s owner must be an individual (i.e. not a corporation or other business entity) and use the home as his or her primary residential on January 1 of the tax year. If you are age 65 or older, the January 1 ownership and residency are not required.

How Does the Exemption Work?

A homestead exemption removes part of your home’s value from taxation, therefore lowering your property taxes. For example, if your home is appraised at $100,000, and you qualify for a $25,000 exemption, you will pay school taxes on the home as if it was worth only $75,000.

What Homestead Exemptions are Available?

The following homestead exemptions are available to you:

  • School taxes – All residence homestead owners may receive a $25,000 homestead exemption from their home’s value for school taxes
  • County taxes – If your county collects a special tax for roads or flood control, you may receive a residence exemption of $3,000 for county taxes.

Of course, check with your county for specifics.

How to Apply?

  • Complete Application
    • File an application with your county of residence. Married individuals should only list one person as the primary homeowner. If you are 65 years of age or older, or have a disability, make sure to follow your specific instructions.
  • Include Residency Proof Documents
    • Make sure you proof of residency documents match the information on your homestead exemption application (mainly the address).
  • Submit Application
    • You can mail, fax or hand deliver the application to your county’s appraisal office. Be sure to submit the form by April 30th to qualify for the exemption.

Homestead Exemption Forms (By County)

Travis County

Williamson County

Hays County 

Burnet County

Lampasas County 

When your homestead exemption is accepted, you do not have to apply again for the following tax year. Your homestead exemption will last as long as you live in that residence.

Do you have any questions about the homestead exemption process? I would be happy to provide guidance. Contact me anytime.

How to Sell Your Home in 2017

January 13th, 2017

A new year always brings about a little uncertainty, especially with the housing market. Interest rates are nudging upward, and potential policy changes may affect the real estate market this year. So, whether you’re a veteran or a rookie in the home selling process, here are a couple of tips on how to sell your home in 2017:

sell your home

Patience is Key – Don’t panic if your home doesn’t get any hits during its first week on the market. While several markets around the country see lots of action, the national average for a home on the market is around 50 days.

Competitive Price – The hot real estate market coupled with the low inventory across the country may prompt you to price your home at a price higher than it’s worth…do not fall for this! Listen to your agent and set you home listing price at a competitive rate in your market.

Consider the Latest Technology – Technology is constantly improving the way processes are completed. Make sure you are up-to-date with the latest technology. Currently, 3-D virtual reality tours make a home stand out. Also, look into drone technology – it’s gaining popularity! For more information on drone technology in real estate, click here.

In addition to these technologies, make sure you choose a real estate agent who utilizes several communication mediums to market your property to the full extent. In specific, ensure they use social media channels to market your property.

Highlight Listing Photos – Hire a professional photographer to capture the listing photos of your home. The first place a buyer will see your home is on the Internet! Hiring a professional photographer will help ensure that the photos of your listing stand out among the rest.

Tip-Top Shape – Before your home hits the market, consider reducing the clutter and unnecessary items. Realistically, your home should be nearly bare bones – just furniture and light decorative touches. Also, consider deep-cleaning the house – both inside, and out.

Agent Expertise – Your real estate agent is the expert when it comes to preparing your home for the market, determining market price, etc. Listening to your agent may help ensure that your home sells quickly and closer to asking value. They’re there to help you – try to remember that!

Weigh Costs of Improvements – Weigh the cost of renovations carefully with the value once the project is complete. While improvements and repairs may make your home sell faster and for a better value, you don’t want to finish a home renovation and then realize you lost money! So, map out the project first and determine if it’s realistic before you decide to tackle it!

While uncertainty is unavoidable, one thing is for sure: real estate is one of the best ways to build foundational, long-term wealth. If you have any questions about how to sell your home in the greater Austin area market, contact me anytime. I am always here for you. Contact me at  512-699-3425 or Michelle@CTXPG.com.

Resources:

http://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/sellersadvice1/item/49679-20170105-how-to-sell-your-home-in-2017

https://www.trulia.com/blog/infographic-2017-home-selling-tips/

http://www.zillow.com/agent-resources/trends-and-data/tips-and-advice/drones-real-estate-photography/

2017 Real Estate Market Predictions

December 19th, 2016

Predicting what will come in the next year, is just that – a prediction. The future is never set in stone. And, this is no more true than with with the nation’s real estate market. While we can predict and foresee what we think will happen, the real estate market can change on the drop of a dime. And, a new President makes it even harder to determine what will occur in the real estate market in the coming year. None the less, here are eight 2017 real estate market predictions:

2017 real estate market predictions

2017 Real Estate Market Predictions

Big Buyers – Millennials and Baby Boomers

  • Millennials – With the oldest Millennials in their mid-30s, we will start to see a trend of Millennials getting married, having children, and purchasing their first home.
  • Baby Boomers – As Baby Boomers reach their late 60s, many will look to move for their retirement years. Unlike past years when Boomers would move to warmer climate locations like Arizona and Florida, experts predict that more Boomers will choose to move closer to their family.

Slight Increase in Home Values – In 2016, national home values rose by about 4.8 percent. Experts predict that home values will continue to grow in 2017, but slightly less than in 2016. The increase in home values in 2017 is predicted to be around 3.6 percent.

Move to Suburbs for Affordability – After the market crash of 2008, many were able to move back to the city and take advantage of lower housing prices than before. However, with the market finally stabilizing, experts predict we will see a trend of individuals moving out of the city to the suburbs for more affordable housing options.

New Home Build Price Increase– With a shortage of labor in the construction industry, experts predict the value of new home builds will increase in 2017. This lack of labor is forcing builders to pay higher wages to employees to be competitive.

Millennials Settle Down in Midwest – Experts predict that more Millennials will decide to stay and settle down in the Midwest. Predicted favorite spots include Madison, Wisconsin; Columbus, Ohio; Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. While experts do predict more Millennials to settle down in the Midwest, they do not foresee an increase in Millennials moving to those cities.

West Coast Prices Continue Upward Trend – The West Coast states are already some of the most expensive states in the country, and it looks like they’ll continue their upward trend in 2017. Why are the West Coast states the place to be? Where there is job growth, there is an increase in population! Since the 2008 recession, the Western States have seen the most significant job growth, and most have been outperforming the Eastern States.

Improved Rental Affordability – According to Zillow, rental rates are predicted to increase by only 1.5 percent in 2017. This decrease in the increase of rental prices is the result of an increased supply of apartment buildings and rental units around the country.

Increase in Mortgage Rates – Since the 2008 recession, the country has seen some of the lowest mortgage rates in history…and even more than that, the low levels stuck around for several years. However, this looks to change in 2017. As the market normalizes, mortgage rates will start to increase. So, if you’re considering purchasing a home in the next year, act now when mortgage rates are lower!

Remember, these are just predictions for the upcoming year. It is uncertain what the real estate market will do in 2017 – we will just have to wait and see!

Do you have any questions about the real estate market in Austin? Give me a call. I would love to answer any questions you may have.

 

Resources:

http://www.cbsnews.com/media/9-real-estate-trends-to-expect-in-2017/9/

An Austin Holiday

December 14th, 2016

With Austin illuminated for the holiday season, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year! Do you have any festive holiday plans this year? If you don’t or you’re looking for some new events and activities to fill in the gaps, here are some of my favorite Austin holiday events in and around the area:

Austin Holiday

 

Austin Holiday Events:

Zilker Park Trail of Lights

  • December 10 – December 23
  • Zilker Park – Downtown Austin

Zilker Park’s Trail of Lights is Austin’s largest holiday light display! Go online and purchase your tickets (and parking pass) early to skip the line! It could save you 20 minutes! Hot cocoa and snacks are available for purchase in the park!

Rock’N Lights Holiday Light Tour 

  • November 28 – December 26
  • Round Rock, TX

Rock’N Lights is a drive-through light show that features thousands of sparkling lights. The light show starts at Old Setters Park (4111 E. Old Settlers Blvd.) and ends at Christmas Towne (Hwy. 79). Times vary by the day – visit the website for more information!

Holiday Lights & Ice

  • December 16 – January 1
  • Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa

Omni Barton Creek’s annual Holiday Lights & Ice event benefits the Central and South Texas Make-A-Wish Foundation. The event features ice skating, s’mores, games, twinkling lights (over 200,000 lights), and more!

Santa’s Ranch

  • November 4 – January 3
  • New Braunfels, TX

Come out to Santa’s Ranch and enjoy one of the best holiday light displays in the state! You’ll drive through over a mile of winding country roads while taking in the beautiful lights and animated Christmas displays. Hot cocoa, kettle corn, and snacks are available for purchase. Tickets are 28 + tax per vehicle.

The Nutcracker at the Ballet Austin

  • December 3 – 23
  • The Long Center – Downtown Austin

Austin’s rendition of The Nutcracker is the longest-running production of The Nutcracker in Texas! Celebrating 54 years, this is a must-see event for the entire family!

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar

  • December 14 – 24
  • Palmer Events Center

Hot music, fine art, and cold beer make the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar the place to be during the holiday season. The Bazaar is two events in one: an art fair and music festival! Shop local arts and crafts while listening to some music!

 

I hope everyone has the merriest of celebrations this holiday season!

Do you have any questions about the Austin area? I love my community and would love to answer any questions you may have!

 

Resources:

Top 28 Holiday Events in Austin & Central Texas

Stage Your Home for a Holiday Sale

November 23rd, 2016

Are you considering listing your home this holiday season? The holidays provide the perfect opportunity to place your home on the market. If you’re looking to sell your home, you can have the best of both worlds – list your home while it’s dolled up for the holiday season. As a rule of thumb, be prudent when decorating for the holidays while your home is for sale. Take a look at these ways to stage your home for a holiday sale without making it look like Santa’s workshop:

holiday sale

Outside Holiday Décor – While it may be tradition, forego the inflatable snowman or Santa Claus when your home is on the market. Stick to the traditional string lights that draw attention to your home’s architectural details. What makes your home unique? If the prominent feature of your home is the trees outside, consider wrapping them with string lights to make them a focal point. As an extra touch, add a Christmas-themed wreath to the front door. Nothing says, “welcome to our home” more than a seasonal and tasteful wreath on the front door.

Inside Holiday Décor –Your Christmas tree, decorated like it is every year, provides a beautiful, homey touch to any house during the holiday season. What is your home’s selling feature? If it’s the front entrance with the prominent staircase, consider adding some lit garland and bows. Or, if it’s the fireplace, add some decorations to make it stand out from the rest of the living room. Traditional ideas: nativity scene, wreath above the mantel, mason jars filled with poinsettias and ornaments, or a lit strand of garland.

Remember, it’s easy to go overboard when it comes to Christmas decorations. But, a little can go a long way! Tastefully stage your home to highlight the holiday season.

Do you have any questions about holiday home staging? Give me a call. I would love to help in any way I can.