Brushes With Fame, HGTV Style

Showcasing Austin one flip at a time

If you watch much HGTV at all (true confession: I do, LOADS) you may have noticed that Austin is not an infrequent locale used for shooting.  I’m guessing it’s partly because we have decent weather most of the year, (making it easier to shoot), our real estate prices are still largely reasonable (at least compared to other currently hot real estate markets, so we have a lot more folks flipping houses here), and because Austin is just an incredibly telegenic city with lots of exciting stuff happening — we are kinda the belle of the ball at the moment!

With all that, you can imagine how excited we were at JB Goodwin when when of our own agents, the amazing Erin Jones, was tapped to do a pilot for HGTV along with her husband Paul. It’s called “Texas Turnaround” and the episode centered on a local condo they flipped over the winter.  As with all their flips, they did an absolutely outstanding job on this renovation; we got to tour it in person before the episode aired on June 10th and it was every bit as gorgeous in person as it was on TV!

We don’t know yet if Texas Turnaround will be picked up by HGTV as a series or not, but we are keeping our fingers crossed.  Meanwhile, hats off to Erin and Paul and their amazing flips!

Worst Thing in the World: The Dread Popcorn Ceiling

Only slightly more beloved than Hitler

In the real estate business you come across all manner of things that can be a turn-off to buyers — things like pet stains, garden gnomes, and shag carpet — but I’ve found nothing is so universally despised and scorned as the ubiquitous popcorn ceiling.  How this EVER became a such a hot home-building trend I’ll never understand!  When I walk into a home and look up to see that mottled, cottage-cheesy looking surface staring down at me… well, a tiny part of my soul up and dies on the spot.  I can see the enthusiasm of my buyers, previously so buoyed up by the home’s great curb appeal, turn to dismay and disillusionment as they reflect upon the looming expanse of ceiling covered in a texture not dissimilar to curdled milk.

Popcorn ceiling: Oh, the humanity!

Ugh.  Hit the dislike button!

In its earlier iterations, just to add injury to insult, asbestos fibers were commonly used as part of the textured ceiling mix — because nothing says “Welcome home!” like toxic, whitish-gray curdles attached to the ceiling you sleep and eat under.  Even after the Clean Air Act of 1978 banned asbestos use for textured ceilings in residential dwellings, legacy stores containing it were still in use in a lot construction well into the 1980s.

So, what do you do when you encounter the ghastly stuff?  To start with, if your home was built anywhere before or around that mid-80s time frame, it’s a good idea to have it tested for asbestos before thinking about getting rid of it (you can buy testing kits online for less than $50).

If it does test positive, do have it professionally remediated.  It costs a bit, but better to be safe than sorry and leave it to the professionals.  And honestly, even if there is no sign of asbestos after testing, I think I’d personally still recommend paying to have it removed rather than trying to take care of it myself — popcorn ceiling scraping is NOBODY’S idea of a good time!  (But if I haven’t dissuaded you, I’ll let the fine folks at This Old House walk you through the removal process.)

Now, about that garden gnome removal… 😉

 

 

 

Mea Culpa

Oops!

Like Fiona Apple sang in the 90s: I’ve been a bad, bad girl.

Well, okay, not THAT bad!  Not felonious or anything — not in a drown a basket of puppies kind of way — just in the “Oh wow, it’s mid-February and I haven’t posted on my blog since Thanksgiving!” kind of way.

Oops.

The end of the year kind of got away from me starting with a long weekend trip to Mexico for our friends’ wedding, followed shortly thereafter by a month long trip to France…which then led into me spending the rest of the month of January and into February playing catch up!  My News Year’s resolution to post on my blog weekly flew to the curb faster than the one to slow down on my dairy and bread intake.  (It’s FRANCE, y’all — how am I supposed to NOT eat fabulous baguette and excellent brie?  Seriously!)

So lemme post some pictures to assuage my guilt and follow it with a promise to do better from here on out.  That okay?

To start off, these are the Mayan ruins we visited at Tulum, Mexico.

Breathtaking, no?  And here is the beach:

We made friends with some of the locals…

And enjoyed this wonderful cenote just down the road at Xel-Ha, which we had completely to ourselves:

You can see why I was too preoccupied to spend much time in front of my computer, right?  And France proved to be no less distracting, though in a completely different way.  For instance, this is the absolutely charming city of Annecy:

Beautiful, isn’t it?  And then the lovely, untouched snow in the mountains at Chamrousse:

We encountered more snow and skiers at Correncon en Vercors:

We spent New Year’s Eve in Paris where I took this very sparkly shot of the Eiffel Tower with a full moon directly above it!

And finally, here is me with my husband posing along the Seine River in Paris with Notre Dame behind us:

Okay, enough travel porn for now, I guess.  But you can see why my focus was not really on my blog, can’t you — and forgive my neglect?  For I’m back at it now and ready to start knocking your socks off with some new and exciting material!  Or something like that.  So let me get caught up and just say happy President’s Day today to y’all…and a very belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…and a happy MLK Day…and a Happy Ground Hog’s Day…and a Happy Chinese New Year…and an only slightly belated Happy Valentines Day

Oy, I was gone a long time… 😉

 

Race for the Cure

Think pink!

Our team, the Goodwin Gladiators made a great showing at the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k run today.  There were about 5,000 runners and walkers, and we won an award for having the second largest team (I think we ended up with something like 82 team members).  The weather was mostly cooperative, with really high humidity but good cloud cover and a gentle breeze to cool things off.  Energy was high and everyone seemed to be in a celebratory mood!  We had an absolute blast, and were able to do some good for a seriously good cause: raising awareness about breast cancer and getting the dollars to fight it.  Plus there was a live band, music, dancing, and more than one pink doggie!

Some of our team members
The starting line, and a little of the leftover morning fog
I ran (almost all of it) with my soul sister and our team captain, Indu
Dancing in the streets
Who doesn’t love a pink pug?
This seems like a weird spot for group photos, but at least SOMEBODY was into it!

It really was a joyous and fun event, and I look forward to doing this again next year!

Goodwin Gladiators

To Inspect or Not to Inspect

Why is this even a question?

I’ve always thought buyer’s inspections were kind of a no-brainer when it comes to purchasing a home.  If I’m dropping a quarter of a million dollars (or much, much more) on something, you better believe I’m gonna want to have someone who knows what to look for give it a good going-over before I commit to paying for it for the next 30 years!  I mean, it’s not like you can just browse through Amazon Reviews to get the lowdown on your potential new house — only a trained professional can provide a comprehensive picture of the home’s overall condition.

So I was quite surprised to find, when reading the comments section of a recent online real estate magazine article on this very topic, that so many Realtors seem to disagree, or are at least on the fence about whether or not to encourage buyers to get an inspection.  As I’m reading the negative comments I’m shaking my head and thinking, are you nuts!?

First of all, yes I know: if you want to keep your faith in humankind NEVER READ THE COMMENTS!  Having already broken that golden rule, however, my curiosity was piqued.  I decided I should conduct my own small, informal survey of other real estate agents to get their thoughts on the subject.

Now let me backtrack a moment, for anyone unfamiliar with the home buying/home inspection process:

When we write an offer to purchase a home, it’s common practice to include an option period (generally 5 – 10 days) for which a buyer will pay a nominal fee (like $100, say) and which gives them the unrestricted right to terminate the contract for any reason without losing their earnest money deposit (which will probably be several thousand dollars, depending on the price of the home).  And this option period is used, in most cases, to hire an inspector to come out and go over the house very carefully, making sure buyers know exactly what they’re getting before buying.

The inspector will check out the the electrical and plumbing systems, the HVAC and any appliances that will convey with the home, like the stove and the dishwasher.  They will look at the water heater, check out the condition of the roof, measure attic insulation levels, look for any evidence of foundation troubles or wood-destroying insect activity.  They will make sure windows and doors latch properly and check all the home’s safety features like smoke detectors and stair rails. Outside, the inspector will check out how sprinkler systems and garage doors are functioning, as well as make note of any tree limbs brushing the roof (which can lead to damage/displacement of shingles) or vegetation growing too close to the foundation (which can trap moisture and lead to erosion).

While sellers are legally required to disclose to buyers any of the home’s known defects or anything which might negatively impact its value, oftentimes they are unaware of their home’s flaws.  For instance, I can’t say I have EVER crawled out on my roof to make sure all the shingles are intact; I just assume they are.  Or if a seller listed their home for sale during our scorching central Texas summer, would they know their heating system was malfunctioning, or would that fact only be discovered by the new buyers the following January?

You can see why having this information is key, especially if this is the buyer’s first home where they might not necessarily know what kinds of things to look for themselves, or in an older home which is prone to age-related defects like we all are.

So why would a real estate agent, especially one representing the buyers, not encourage them to get an inspection?

What I gathered from my little survey was that it really comes down to the quality of the inspector themselves, and to what they uncover.  While some agents complained that inspectors overlooked obvious defects in the home which then caused big problems when they were later discovered, a far more common complaint was the reverse: the inspector uncovered too many little, inconsequential flaws (their words, not mine) which then jeopardized the sale by scaring off the buyers, or inciting them to present a massive list of demands for seller repairs or giving them apparent grounds to renegotiate the sales price.

And this is where Realtors can help by setting proper expectations up front with buyers with regard to what they can and should be looking for in a home inspection.  Yes, inspectors will (and should) disclose even minor defects, like interior doors that stick or bathroom faucets in need of re-caulking, but agents need to work with buyers in understanding that just because a small flaw exists doesn’t mean it needs to be addressed prior to the sale.

I encourage my buyers to focus on big ticket items or safety risks and not to get bogged down with minor defects.  I remind them that the purpose of the inspection is to make sure the home they are considering is solid and safe to live in.  I try to convey that the things to ask a seller to repair need to be reasonable.  Or if a seller has indicated they don’t wish to make any repairs, that they be reasonable in making a financial allowance to the buyers so that they may have it repaired after the sale.  I try to appeal to everybody’s sense of decency and fairness, and remind them (if need be) that we are all working toward the same goal, which is the sale of a particular home!  The inspector just provides the information needed so we can all work together to accomplish this.

Don’t shoot the messenger, you know? 🙂

 

Bragging Rights

“It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” — Muhammad Ali

I know I’ve mentioned more than once how much I love the company I work for — JB Goodwin Realtors — and just how AWESOME we are.

And I also do recall learning, from about kindergarten on, that it’s not good manners to brag.  Which is technically true, but in the immortal words of Muhammad Ali:  “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up!”

While the Austin real estate market has slowed down a little recently, industry-wide we are still up 4% year-to-date in units sold from this time last year.  Which is not bad at all… until you learn that JB Goodwin agents are actually up 9%!

Whaaaat?!

Yep, it’s true.  We have increased more than twice what our counterparts have done so far in 2017.  Which makes us WINNERS.  Winner winner chicken dinner even! (Because I’m actually 8 years old.) 🙂  JB Goodwin agents are out there KILLING IT on a daily basis!

Another notable bragging point for JB Goodwin Realtors: the Austin Business Journal has released their 2017 list of nominees for Austin’s Best Places to Work — which we WON last year, because of our AWESOMENESS!! — and we are AGAIN in the running for the top spot!  (The winners will be announced June 23rd, so expect me to circle back around on this.)

Also, check out our Google Reviews.  Not for nothing, but we’ve got a 4.9 star rating — out of 5!  So much awesome.

Alright, lest Mrs. Godfrey be tempted to return from the grave and smack my knuckles with her lightning-fast ruler for my boastful nature (as she was wont to do during my second grade year) I’ll button that up now and close with my second favorite Muhammad Ali quote:

“If you even DREAM of beating me, you’d better wake up and apologize!”

That has NOTHING to do with this post, I am just really tickled by that quote.

Cheers, y’all! 🙂

Why I Love Working With First-Time Home Buyers

Almost as exciting for me as it is for them

I love working with first time home buyers!

I love guiding them carefully through what can be a daunting and confusing process… and then slowly begin burying them under a silent avalanche of paperwork to read, contracts to sign, listings to pour over.

I like watching them struggle to memorize a whole array of terms they’ve never had use for before: appraised value, restrictive covenants, earnest money, warranty deed.

I love getting to know their likes and dislikes as we tour properties, gently reminding that that hideous sofa isn’t actually staying with the house, or that garden gnomes are not immovable fixtures.

I love trapping them in my car to tour just one more property before we call it a day.  Because this one might be THE ONE.

I love seeing their eyes light up when they finally find the right house, like a little kid on Christmas morning spotting a new bike under the tree.  Then, of course, watching that light flicker and dim while we await the seller’s response to our offer.

I love learning new vocabulary words from them in reference to dawdling and obstinate sellers.

I love their sigh of relief when the offer is accepted, and again when the house finally appraises at the right value.  (When I can then much more easily blame any further delays on the mortgage company.)

And I love closing day, when their excitement can’t even be crushed by the titanic mound of papers facing them, each one requiring their signature, culminating in a handover of keys into their eager hands, at least one of which now features acute, tendonitis-like pain.

And finally, because once it’s all done they let you pose them with silly props…

closed-jt
Oh the thrill of new home ownership and balloons

Even upside down props! (Which you are laughing too hard to even notice the fact that it’s upside down…)

closed-al
The key to happiness, or to my room at the loony bin

All kidding aside, it truly does tickle me to work with first time buyers.  Even in our age of HGTV-educated consumers, a lot of folks are still almost completely unfamiliar with the whole process; getting to walk with them through what will likely be one of the biggest –if not THE biggest — purchases of their life is almost as exciting for me as it is for them.

Bless their hearts. 🙂