Easy Ways to Declutter Your Kitchen

January 25th, 2018

Kitchen with Hanging Utensils

By Michelle Busby

Keeping a kitchen tidy and presentable is no simple task. However, when you are staging and showing your house, it is imperative to have a kitchen people can not only see themselves in but also admire. While the task may seem impossible with all of the small items scattered about the countertops, there are ways to minimize clutter and maximize organization. These tips will help you declutter your kitchen.

Messy Pantry
When there are cans and boxes everywhere, it can be overwhelming to want to cook anything. To minimize the stress of the disarray, look into various crates and boxes. By incorporating these boxes, you should reduce the mystery of your pantry and promote efficiency. As a bonus, add labels to these containers and group items by food groups or by meals. Now when you are asking your guest to grab a can of cream of mushroom soup from the pantry, they will be able to find it with ease!

Cabinet Conundrum
Running out of space to store everything? Rather than getting rid of valuable cookware, look into installing a hanging rack for your pots and pans. Not only will this free up plenty of space in your cupboards, but you will also look like a master chef with all of your pots and pans on display. If your cookware is all stainless steel, consider investing in a stainless steel hanging rack to complete the look.

Stealthy Sink
Rather than having the faux drawer underneath your sink, consider adding hinges and a tray within the sink area. With it, you can store your sponges, gloves and anything else you might often use. Not only will this reduce the clutter, but it will also make for a specific location to store these items.

Are you looking for additional ideas to organize your kitchen?
Contact me today, and I can show you how to properly stage and arrange your house, including your kitchen, to impress anyone who enters.

Homestead Exemption Help

January 20th, 2018

Save Money with Homestead Exemption

Managing a household can be a difficult task. There are risks and challenges that can become rather taxing, such as renovations and family affairs. What shouldn’t be taxing, however, is filing your homestead exemption. Here are some tips and steps to file your homestead here in Travis and Williamson County:

  1. Where do you live?
    The residence you primarily live in is your homestead. According to the state of Texas, if you have a homestead in Texas, you can file for a homestead exemption and pay lower taxes for this property. There are caveats, however. You must own the house that you are living in, meaning if you are primarily living in a rental or an apartment that you do not own, it cannot be exempted. You also must have a driver’s license with the corresponding address.

  2. How can you file?
    Depending on where you live in Texas, you can apply online or via mail. If you reside in Travis County, you can go to www.traviscad.org to apply online, or if you are from Williamson County, go to www.wcad.org and apply accordingly. You must own the property on or before January 1st of the tax year in question, and you have from January 1st until April 30th to file this form. You have a year to apply late. However, it is a more involved process and can result in delinquent taxes, so apply on time!

  3. Why does it matter?
    You already have plenty to be concerned about in your home. Why should you be worrying about this? This homestead exemption can save you a sizable amount of money, with which you can reinvest into various home improvement projects.

Do you have family that lives in Texas, but not in Williamson or Travis County? Look up their county’s appraisal district and have them apply accordingly. Do you need assistance filing your homestead exemption? Contact me today, and I can ease some of your stress!

New Year New Trends

December 22nd, 2017

2018 New Year New Trends

By Michelle Busby
The new year is almost here, and with the coming of a new year comes a list of new trends. Many designers have various predictions for 2018 hottest trends, and I have compiled a list for you to enjoy. Here are seven trends that will kiss 2017 goodbye to welcome in 2018 with style:

Lavender is predicted to be the in color of 2018. This is a shift from the “Millennial Pink” trend of 2017 into more of a purple hue. This delicate color will be all over the design magazines in the near future

Circle Patterns, accents with geometry have been a hot commodity, but the forecasted design of popular choice will be circle patterns. Designers from HGTV have speculated that circles will be likened to the triangle pattern craze of the past. The longevity of the circle’s trend has yet to be decided, but buy sparingly for too many circles can overwhelm your palette.

Brass Accents the time of sterling silver is fading, and the rise of Brass is here. The warm tones of a golden brass are welcoming and subtle, as opposed to the expected and somewhat tired sterling silver sheen. Regardless of the trends, install accents like sink handles and towel racks in a color you enjoy. Chasing trends doesn’t always equate to increasing value.

Green Another color that will be showing up in numerous design magazines will be green, specifically olive and chartreuse. These shades are softer and complement the Lavender highlight well. Being more earthy and natural colors, these shades will work nicely to liven up any room.

Woven Textures the baskets and woven textures style will continue being highlighted in 2018. The basket craze has been going strong and are not only aesthetically pleasing but also provides a functional use. If you are considering trends that will last longer, this might be a safer option.

Tile Time Subway tile has been a staple for renovations, but the time has changed for subway tile to evolve. The trend of tile is moving towards larger tile, both an aesthetic choice and ease of upkeep option. Less grout and bigger tiles make for easier cleaning and installation along with maintenance.

Velvet Fever Velvet is making a flash appearance in the trends forecast for 2018. It will be a big trend that will hit hard, and leave quickly. Consider steering away from this trend in acknowledgment that it won’t last long.

As mentioned briefly throughout this blog, trends are not always the way to go when decorating your house. The key is to stay true to your tastes and design everything in moderation. If you are interested in selling or buying a house, contact me today and we can find you the home that fits your tastes perfectly!

Should You Wait Until Spring to Sell?

December 13th, 2017

Should you wait until spring to sell?

By: Michelle Busby

Selling your house is a time consuming and elaborate process. There are so many factors that play into this life-altering experience, one of which is the season in which you list your property. Spring and summer are the supposed golden months for real estate, but could winter better suit you? Here are three things to consider when choosing a season to list in:

  1. Competition

    The spring is a great time to list your home. There are more hours of daylight after work, the flowers are blooming beautifully and numerous homes are hitting the market. That might be the exact reason to consider listing this winter. The more homes on the market, the more choices potential buyers have. What does this mean for you? You now have to find a way for your home to stand out from the other options! If you list during the winter, the competition is more scarce and gives you an opportunity to stand out from others. The winter is also notorious for more serious buyers, almost guaranteeing your home is on the market for fewer days.

  2. Remaining Projects

    Are there projects holding you back from listing your property? Consider the return on investment of those projects, as some renovations are more advantageous than others. Completely updating your kitchen may be a good reason to delay listing until the spring, while restaining the deck is a project that won’t affect the sale as much.

  3. My Schedule Wouldn’t Allow It

    From shopping to decorating, the holidays are a busy time of year! With a full calendar, it can be hard to find the time to stage and clean your home for a winter sale. With this in mind, make a list of all you need to do and tackle one task at a time. However, if it does feel overwhelming, it may be in your best interest to wait to list your property until the spring. List your property according to when it is ready to be sold, rather than what season would be the most advantageous.

Still uncertain when is the best time to list your property? I can help! Contact me today to have an agent that sticks by you every step of the way!

Should you sell your home on your own?

November 28th, 2017

As the real estate market continues to grow, the price you can ask for your house rises. This influx of money may sound promising, and you may make more money by not opting for an agent, but is that in your best interest? Here are five things to consider before you sell your home alone:

Pondering Home Seller - sell your home alone



  1. How much is my home worth?

    A common issue with putting your home on the market without an agent’s guidance is overpricing your house. If a property is improperly priced, to begin with, the entire selling journey becomes much more difficult. As an overpriced home typically remains stagnant, many buyers begin questioning why your home is still on the market. This causes doubt and anxiety for you, as the seller. But, all of this can be avoided with an agent. Consider hiring an appraiser or reaching out to a REALTOR® to perform a market analysis. By reaching out to the professionals, your home and its likelihood of being sold are in good hands!


  1. Am I agent savvy?

    When you hire a real estate agent to help you sell your home, you are privy to their expertise, resources, and network of contacts in the area. The benefits they bring to the table cost you a percentage of the commission as in a typical sale you pay the buyer and seller’s agent six percent of the purchase price (split equally between the two). However, if you choose to list your home as “For Sale by Owner,” you must rely on Buyer’s agents to show your property. To ensure they show your property, give them an incentive. A three percent commission on the sale, while expected, is usually incentive enough. Also, look into local laws and code of ethics to ensure you are doing what you should and to avoid overpaying.


  1. Can I handle sales and marketing tasks?

    There is a lot that goes into selling a house. First, you have to make sure it is market ready and staged to sell. While you can hire a professional to stage your property, it likely costs more than hiring an agent to find someone to handle the staging. On top of that, selling your home also entails the following: making the place appealing, planting a “for sale” sign in your yard, capturing high-quality photos, listing your home on multiple real estate websites or classifieds, etc. Hiring a real estate agent prevents you from having to deal with all of these things! An agent also provides you with another benefit – MLS, the main platform where agents find and show homes to buyers. You want your home listed on this website to ensure it is sold quickly and for top-dollar value. If you do decide you want to forego an agent, there are brokers that charge a flat rate fee to upload your listing. This is advisable, regardless the cost.


  1. Will it hurt to sell my home alone?

    More than likely you have fond memories of your home and probably enjoy all its little quirks. But, not everyone will see what you see. As you are now the seller’s agent, you are likely to hear everything potential buyers have to say about your home – the good and the bad. The buyers are going to point out as much as they can to bring down the price, and it won’t feel great to hear all of the faults of your property. If you have no emotional attachment to the land you are selling, the criticism might not be as much of an issue. Take this into account if you are considering selling your property yourself.


  1. Can I screen?

    A house is an expensive venture and needs to be properly financed. Without an agent, you need to screen every potential buyer and evaluate their financial situation to ensure they can handle a purchase of this magnitude. It is a good idea to ask for a current mortgage approval letter to ensure they have talked to a lender and are approved to purchase your home. Make sure they are pre-approved for the asking price; otherwise you might be stuck with already cutting a deal.

Does any of this sound daunting or overwhelming? Instead of trying to avoid the cost of hiring agents, look into hiring the right agent for you. Call me today for more information!

Make a Change to Your Home

November 3rd, 2017

With the holidays upon us, the desire for change is quickly approaching. Before you know it, New Year’s day will arrive and with it numerous resolutions of change and understanding. What if there was something you could change now within a free weekend? These tips to help you redecorate your bedroom will give you a sense of change and accomplishment that you can smile upon as the New Year rolls around.

Bedroom Change

Buy New Bedding

A simple step to introduce change to your bedroom is by buying a new bedspread and sheets. Considering you are supposed to be in bed for eight hours a day, it would not hurt to get a nice new comforter that fits your design preference and physical needs.

Hang on Handle

Do you have older drawers in your bedroom? A relatively quick and easy way to update them is by adding new handles or knobs. Adding new decorative hardware can add a fresh look, while also tying a room together – if you do wait to pick them out after other suggestions.

Dressy Dresser

The dresser does not have to solely be a functional piece of furniture. Consider adding accent pieces or hanging things nearby. If you have a lot of items on top, consider a fun piece of decor that functions as storage. Changing up the arrangement of items might even be enough to give you a healthy dose of change.

Carefree Corner

Reading in bed is a great way to wind down after a tiresome day at the office. However, it typically causes you to fall asleep. If this is the goal of reading in bed, continue doing what you do; but if it isn’t, consider investing in a comfy chair and lamp to create your very own reading nook. If you don’t think you have the time to read in a specific corner, consider setting the chair near a window and enjoying your morning coffee there. This change of routine might be exactly what you’re searching for.

Move It Around

While it may seem obvious, the act of the layout of your room may be enough of a change. If you discover you don’t like it, simply move it back to the original location. It’s the least risky option with the highest chance of reward.

Thinking you might be interested in a bigger change, like moving? Give me a call, and we can set up a meeting.

Life Expectancy Around the House

October 31st, 2017

Now that you’re a homeowner, there is something you should know – if something breaks, YOU are now responsible for fixing it. On top of that, everything in the house has a different life expectancy! From the appliances to the windows to the mattress and everything in-between, here is the shelf life of every item in your home:

life expectancy


Windows (with a plastic frame) – 20 to 30 years
Windows (wood) – lifetime
Doors (vinyl and screen) – 20 to 40 years
Paint (interior) – 7 to 10 years
Paint (exterior) – 5 to 7 years
Light bulbs (depends on type) – 42 to 83 days
Wood floors – 20 to 30 years
Carpet – 10 to 15 years
Air Conditioning – 15 to 20 years
Radiators – 5 to 30 years
Smoke detector – 10 years
Driveway (asphalt) – 20 to 30 years
Deck – 20 years
Patio – 20 to 50 years

Countertop (wood) – 100 years
Microwave – 5 to 10 years
Oven (gas) – 15 to 23 years
Tumble dryer – 11 to 18 years
Dishwasher – 9 to 16 years
Fridge – 10 to 18 years
Washing machine – 8 to 16 years
Garbage disposal – 10 to 15 years
Freezer – 12 to 20 years

Living Room:
Television – 11 years
Sofa – 10 to 15 years

Mattress – 8 to 15 years
Hairdryer – 8 to 14 years

Showerhead – lifetime
Bathtub – 25 to 50 years
Toilet – 50 years
Flooring – 20 to 25 years
Grout – 5 years
Cabinets – 20 to 50 years
Sink – 15 to 20 years

Keep in mind; these are averages – how long each item will ACTUALLY last depends on the condition you bought them in and how you treat them.

Before buying a new home, consider asking the current owners when the major items were replaced. You and your bank account will thank you!

Do you have any questions about items in your home? Give me a call; I would be happy to provide guidance.

Don’t Miss Out – Austin Festive Fun Halloween Week + November 2017 Edition

October 27th, 2017

Don’t you just hate when there is an event that would’ve been exactly what you want to attend but you didn’t know it was happening? In a city as big as Austin, it can happen more than some of us would like to admit. To help you avoid disappointment, I’ve compiled a list of fun and Austin Festive Fun Fall events:

Austin Festive Fun Halloween Pumpkins

Austin Film Festival October 26th-November 2nd

Are you an avid film fanatic? If so, don’t miss out on this year’s Austin Film Festival! The purpose of this festival is to help people find their voice while still having fun.

Dia De Los Muertos Festival October 28th

The Mexic-Arte Museum’s Viva La Vida Fest is Austin’s largest Dia De Los Muertos celebration. Fun and educational, this is an event perfect for the whole family.

Ironman 70.3 Austin October 29th

Have you been wanting to cheer for someone in a triathlon but haven’t known when any were occurring? Now is your chance to root for strong men and women running, swimming and biking all around Austin.

Halloween October 31st

This is a holiday I doubt you have forgotten, but it feels wrong not to include in an Austin Festive fun edition of the blog.

Christmas at the Caswell House November 2nd- 8th + December 10th

Lunches, brunches and cookies with Santa are some of the many events occurring this year at the Caswell House.

26th Annual Austin Powwow November 4th

Come learn about the heritage of the American Indian at the 26th annual Austin Powwow. There will be live music and various demonstrations making for a fun and educational time.

Texas Book Festival November 4th and 5th

Meet the authors behind some of your favorite books and discover new authors in the process. The festival features numerous speeches and Q&A’s that are sure to provoke new thoughts.

Austin Celtic Festival November 4th and 5th

This year’s Celtic Festival offers Celtic everything – dancing, animals, traditions and more! It’s sure to be a blast and an experience you will never forget.

8th Annual Texas Monthly BBQ Fest – Weekend of ‘Cue November 5th

Do you want to try multiple BBQ places in one day? This meat palooza will also have live music entertainment setting it to be a hoot and half.

East Austin Studio Tour November 11th-12th + 18th-19th

Want to see inside the minds of today’s artists? Catch a glimpse of the creative process at this studio opening – FREE to the public.

Blue Genie Art Bazaar November 24th- December 24th

Does your family live outside of Austin? For some traditional “Keep Austin Weird” presents, head out to the Blue Genie Art Bazaar. It’s quirky and fun, and has a theater that plays Christmas movies on a loop if you need a break from all of the shopping. Definitely worth a visit!


May these events fill your fall calendar with good, old-fashioned Austin Festive FUN!

Do you have any questions about Austin’s real estate market?  Contact us and we can find you what you need.
To read more blog posts, click here.

Mortgage Process Do’s and Don’ts

September 29th, 2017

Juggling all aspects of the home-buying process can be overwhelming. While stressful, there are some things you can do, and some things you shouldn’t do, to alleviate some of the pressure of the process. These mortgage process do’s and don’ts should help ensure a stress-free approval of your home loan:

mortgage process do's and don'ts

Mortgage Process Do’s and Don’ts


  • Inform your lender if any of the information you’ve provided has changed. Changes in information include address, job, salary – or any other pertinent information for the loan process.
  • Maintain records of all bank transactions, especially if you transfer large amount from one account to another during the loan process.
  • Obtain homeowners insurance with coverage equal to the mortgage amount or replacement value of your home.
  • Order a termite inspection of the property you intend to purchase.
  • Keep track of your credit score as any little change can impact your loan.
  • Communicate with your lender if you have any questions or concerns about your loan. 


  • Make any significant purchases during the loan process as this can negatively impact your debt-to-income ratio.
  • Open or close any credit cards during the loan process as this too can negatively impact your debt-to-income ratio.
  • Pay off collections or charge-offs as this can cause your credit score to drop.
  • Quit or change jobs, if possible. Lenders are more favorable toward individuals who show a two-year work history and a new job can affect that.
  • Cosign for another borrower. Signing a loan for another borrower will show additional debt on your record and could affect both your credit and your debt-to-income ratio.
  • Change your current assets. Changes include rotating investments, open/closing accounts, making unexplained deposits and more.

Not only will these do’s and don’ts help you secure a mortgage, but they will also make your home-buying experience more enjoyable.

Do you have any questions about buying a home in the Austin area? I can help! Give me a call today!

Austin Fall Events & Festivals Guide

September 28th, 2017

Let’s be honest, fall is one of the best times of the year in Texas’ Capital City. As the weather begins to cool down, residents look for festive ways to enjoy the fall season out-and-about in the Austin area! Whether you’re new to the Live Music Capital of the World or you’re just looking for some new events to enjoy with your friends and family, below are some of the top Austin fall events and festivals:

Austin fall events




Texas Craft Brewers Festival

Fiesta Gardens




Scholz Garten



10/6 – 10/8 and 10/13 – 10/15

Austin City Limits Music Festival

Zilker Park




German Free School


10/20 – 10/22

FORMULA 1 United States Grand Prix

Circuit of the Americas




Ironman 70.3 Austin

Various Locations



Dia de los Muertos Festival

Fiesta Gardens



11/3 – 11/12


New Braunfels, Texas


11/4 – 11/5

Texas Book Festival

Texas State Capitol Building


11/4 – 11/5

Austin Celtic Festival

Fiesta Gardens



Texas Monthly BBQ Festival

City Terrace at The Long Center


11/6 – 11/8

Fun Fun Fun Fest

Auditorium Shores


11/10 – 11/12

Sound on Sound Festival

Sherwood Forest



Chuy’s Christmas Parade

Congress Avenue



Turkey Trot

The Long Center



11/22 – 12/31

ZACH Theatre Presents: “A Christmas Carol”

ZACH Theatre


12/8 – 12/23

Ballet Austin’s “The Nutcracker”

Long Center for the Performing Arts



Austin Symphony Orchestra presents Handel’s “Messiah”

Hyde Park Baptist Church



51st Annual Trail of Lights

Zilker Park



Austin New Year

Auditorium Shores



1/1 – 1/8

Free Week

Various Locations around Austin



Martin Luther King March and Festival

Huston-Tillotson University


Click here for a printable PDF of the top Austin fall events and festivals.

Have questions about the Austin area? I would be honored to share my expertise of the Austin area with you – give me a call today!