How to be a Great Home Owner

I recently purchased a home and one of the things I REALLY appreciated were the seller’s care they took in the home I purchased, but also their responsiveness to questions I had about the home during and post closing.

As an agent now for…I don’t know like 7 yrs-(I cannot keep track any more), there is a noticeable difference of when an owner has lived in (and cared for) a home and when it is a flip or rental or unmaintained. Nothing brings me greater joy as a buyer’s agent than when the sellers are open about information with the home–past bills, year they put in wood flooring, last time they had HVAC serviced etc. These are important things to keep track of! And nothing brings me greater joy as a Selling agent than the big file/paper trail the seller hands over to me when we sign a listing agreement either.


If you are not OCD that’s ok! And I am not trying to encourage hoarding either (which seems to become a habit of never throwing anything away once we move into a place that has more space).


I thought I would put together a few tips on being a great home owner-and increasing your resale potential in the future, below.

1. Document, document, document.

It isn’t a terrible idea to keep a piece of paper taped inside your HVAC closet of dates you last cleaned it, changed the air filter or had it serviced, make a note each time. Also, to keep track of doing these items, after you purchase a home-maybe add reminders to your calendar (air filter monthly and servicing between seasons).

closing docs

More of an electronic person? Have a folder on your computer (in dropbox or a cloud provider so you don’t lose it if your computer crashes) with all your home owner paperwork: closing documents, survey (that’s a $450 piece of paper), and then as you update your home, take care of things, etc, be sure to keep copies of receipts, invoices, bids etc in this folder for future reference. Painted a room and have leftover paint? Write the room and paint color on can and keep in special place in storage, not just for future owner of your own home-but it may come in handy for you too! Do you have a lawn guy who comes a few times a month or a recommended pool cleaner? It isn’t a bad idea to pass along their info or card to the future owners of your place as well.

2. A special place

Have a designated drawer or file cabinet of some sort for these documents, invoices etc. as well. I was real fortunate when I purchased my home to have a huge stack of manuals of every appliance, light fixture, etc that was updated in my home. As well as a few parts to things that may not have been used, but could be added (extra lock to sliding glass door, under cabinet lighting, etc). The special place shouldn’t be in the attic in a box however, should be an easily accessible place and if you are super into security, perhaps in a locked safe or cabinet of some sort.

file cabinet safe

Are you an owner of an investment property? The management company should keep track of all leases, service orders and maintenance calls, and you will want to make sure you get a copy as well! Save emails between your and your tenants.

3. Take care of it.

If I had to choose between spending $1000 on a trip somewhere or fixing an HVAC leak, it is a no brainer on what I WANT to do, but not necessarily what I NEED to do. If you are generally keeping an eye on things in your home, then hopefully it won’t get to a point of discovering a major issue costing an arm and a leg. Water your foundation with soaker hoses (another item you can add to calendar if it hasn’t been raining), add insulation in the attic when needed, replace or fix items as they break vs putting it off. Yes, much easier said than done.

Plumber working on sink

Have you ever heard the term to “swallow the frog?” Your fixture in the bathroom works fine, but the handle is broken and you have been turning on the shower with a wrench for more than a year. Guess what, as soon as you get someone to fix it (if you can’t yourself) you are going to think: Man, why didn’t I just have this done month’s ago?! It’s the little things that are a pain in the butt, yes, but when everything works as they should in your home-you’re happier.

When  you take care of things now you also save a lot of time when it comes to putting your home on the market because then things are already done (and believe me there comes a hefty list of things to do to make your home sell faster-why add more little tedious projects to the list? “Take care of it” also goes without saying–this means your mortgage, taxes and HOA bills too. Don’t let bills slip away from you!

4. Befriend Thy Neighbor.

friends with neighbors

I know, I know–the crazy cat lady across the street is annoying or the guy that lives below you at your condo is creepy. You don’t have to hang out and cook dinner together, but being aware of what is going on in your neighborhood, with your neighbors, amongst your HOA is never a bad thing. Sure some chat it up way too often and are always spying on what is going on at your place, but when you have great neighbors, there is nothing better! Even if you hate people, make it a goal to introduce yourself to a neighbor or say hi from time to time.

crazy cat lady

Good neighbors: alert you and watch your things when you are on vacation or if there was something suspicious. Good neighbors give great recommendations on who fixed their roof. Good neighbors mow your lawn sometimes since your yard connects. Good neighbors let you borrow a cup of sugar (or these days a wifi password) or lend you a helping hand when doing yard or car work. Are YOU going to be that good neighbor?


That’s a Wrap! What it was like filming for HGTV’s House Hunters

So, last week we finished up “Act 4″ of HGTV’s House Hunter’s with Pie Town productions. It was such a fun (and not going to lie, an exhausting) experience, here’s a few tid-bits from behind the scenes.

A while back I had wrote a blog about how I got picked for the show before we started filming, however I got in trouble because I did sign a confidentiality agreement and they asked me to take it down-whoops! So, here I am again posting about HGTV experience, post filming.

house hunterslogo

(Note I do not have House Hunter’s permission to use their logo, but needed a filler and found this on Google image, I am sorry House Hunters-but this is recognizable!)

What I can say in sum, is that it was a pretty cool experience and since I have received plenty of questions, I will now attempt to address them all.

FAQ #1: How did you get picked to be on the show? 

People, it isn’t that hard to apply for a show! Most of the time you go online and then a casting producer calls you if the criteria fits. At the time I had two sets of clients I thought would be a great fit. They reached out to me weeks later. And contrary to popular believe I do not sit around applying for Reality TV shows, promise (I don’t even have cable! However today does mark the exact anniversary of my appearance on Anderson Cooper-still don’t have a dang tape of that either…probably for the best).


jess and I

Above: (Sad I got no pics of Anderson and I, but here is the producer Jessica and I!)

Anyway, a casting director emailed me. After a few emails back and forth my client discovered the filming time would not work well with his schedule. At that time I had also just won an offer on a home for myself-so I asked if I would be a good fit, despite being an agent AND the buyer and they said it was fine. (Side note, I have only seen a few episodes of this show since I haven’t had cable in a long time).

THEN you have a phone interview. And they want specifics. How boring would a show be if people were only looking at new construction with an open floorplan and granite countertops and hobbies included movies and going out to eat? (Yes we all want that and do that, but it doesn’t make for exciting television). After she (casting producer) liked what I had to say about my house hunt and hobbies THEN I had to submit a video with a friend who would house hunt with me (and could get off work for filming).

nothingtowearThe hardest part was choosing what to wear (and getting people to sign releases).

So, I thought of Sarah. Plus Sarah and I do craft projects, talk about housing quite a bit, she was a client of mine, we dream of flipping and staging one day and every time I would look at a fixer house I would send her the video for ideas (she is a great visionary). When I asked Sarah if she would want to be on TV with me her response was: “Oh my God, that’s my lifelong dream to be on HGTV!” so it was a no-brainer.

IMG_8876THEN…Sarah and I created a video for the director to watch. I took it off YouTube so you can no longer watch that monstrosity (#sorrynotsorry). It was a Saturday night at midnight and we answered the questions they sent us in a witty/hilarious fashion (side note: we may have had a few glasses of wine prior). The best part of making a video was the fact we had to do a home tour…on a selfie stick. I came around the corner and hit a wall and the phone went flying, I picked it up and kept rolling because I was not about to start over.

Fast forward a week or so and I was in Mallorca, Spain with my friend on vacation. We had literally just got an invitation for free shots at the bar-and as I was about to take it–I got a call with an Los Angeles area code and had a feeling it was Pie Town Productions. Due to bad service and a 7hr time difference, we kept missing one another, but I had a feeling she was calling to give good news. I emailed her in the morning to discover we were in fact chosen for House Hunters. Yipppeeee!!


FAQ #2: Is the show scripted?

So, fast forward, now about a month from when we got chosen the director (from LA), camera guy and sound guy (who are local and independently contracted, but have worked with the director and show plenty) show up at Sarah’s for day 1 of filming. As we get ready they do exterior shots and set up. Our opening scene is us at Sarah’s on her couch. This is “The Interview” where they discuss our “relationship” and my expectations of home buying etc. Do they tell us line for line what to say? No, the show is not scripted. Did we need help maybe phrasing what we were exactly trying to say and maybe had to repeat certain things-Yes. Sometimes what we wanted to say and what we were actually saying made no sense, I think the camera and lights start to get to you. Because the show looks like it is a “two camera show” we do a lot of takes. So you say everything you would say about a room 5 times because maybe we talked over one another, or maybe the camera was looking at the sink and not a facial expression reacting to what was said, so we do it again. However, please tell Sarah that you heard “she can’t cook but she can make a mean mimosa.” (This was from our crafting session footage and a line Sarah had to say more than 3x as we toasted Andre and OJ)

IMG_0326See this desk above-stay tuned for the After pics on the show!

FAQ #3: I heard some of the houses you tour aren’t even on the market, is this true?

All the houses that are on my show were actually on the market at the time of filming! It was not easy in this fast paced market because I had to have the releases signed about a week before we filmed. Fortunately one popped up on the market a few days prior and owner signed off for filming. The properties were legitimately in the area I was looking and met (for the most part) requirements of what I was looking for. The hardest part, no lie, was getting sellers to sign a release that there home could be on show. It’s a hot market in Austin and for us to take up a whole day filming in a house on a Saturday was rough. I may have even had an altercation with a crabby agent, who showed up before we were done filming. But we took ten and let her show her clients. Fortunately the owners were super nice and grateful regardless.

FAQ #4: Did you just say a whole day to film one house?

Yep, the days are long. And you really can’t go run errands on your lunch break and be taking calls because you literally don’t stop filming. The five-seven minutes spent on the show touring a home is actually 8am-3pm-ish in real time footage, sometimes later. Camera guy arrives early for street shots, exterior shots, then sets up. Then Sarah and I would show up, get mic’d, go over the order of everything and begin shooting room by room. If a car drove by playing a blatant song-CUT! Start over (don’t have rights to play that song). If Sarah or I looked at the camera-CUT! Start over. If I made a weird/awkward/funny face after I said a statement I was unsure about (this happened a lot) CUT! Start over. So you can see how the day just flies by. Lunch with everyone was great and you start to bond with “the crew” which is nice too because as much as it is work, there is a lot of joking around too. The conversation topics are endless as well as our questions for the crew: “How awesome is it to work on food network shows and eat that food?” Or “What’s the grossest thing you saw when you filmed Hoarders?”

IMG_1042Day 2 wrap up above.


Above: Camera guy Chris during mine and Sarah’s least favorite scene: All of us packed in a car with no air conditioning (too loud on microphones) talking about homes, driving around while he is all up in my grill-BUT I have to pretend like I am talking to Sarah next to me AND not look at camera or make fun/laugh at Chris (again that whole two camera show shots).

After the filming of home tours, Sarah and I had said specific things we enjoyed doing together on camera in our interview–therefore, they wanted footage of us doing those actual “activities.” Makes for much better TV to show it rather than just talk about it, amiright?. So, we really regret saying we jogged/ran half marathons once a year together and wished we would have said we just stay in and watch TV or something. haha.

There we were at 4pm on the Lady Bird Lake board walk jogging…sweating…on camera…with angles from our feet, looking up, I can only hope that footage gets edited down.



The other “thing” to note is that for all the other things we were filming I had to have location releases, artist releases (for logos or artwork shown), and camera releases for those who would be on camera with me. I would then say “be here at this time, but we could be late, be flexible.” It was a bit stressful coordinating because I didn’t want to hit any snags, but so glad so many of my friends pulled through! I am forever grateful.

Let’s see, We filmed at CG Arena since I said I enjoyed working out (again, can’t have music, so we had to whip up a workout with no music on-so weird). We did a kickball game with a bunch of Austin SSCers (thanks again to all of you who patiently waited for us and played along! And Austin SSC for letting us wear the logo and use the fields! We also filmed Charlissa and I having a sno-cone and chillin’ (she is my lil with Big Brothers Big Sister) a special thanks to her mom for letting her be apart of it, she was excited. And then, because I like photography, we shot me taking photos of hearts at Tyson’s Tacos off Airport, (who was super nice to sign the release on short notice and if you heard, Vance Joy played there after ACL for free tacos!) as well as my signature “clients in front of the door with the SOLD sign” photo. (Thanks Ana and Andres!) So, the days were long, but worth it (or so I hope when I see it air).

girls touched upAn old school kickball team pic of the ladies-thanks for filming with us!

herrerafamilyWhen the show airs, you may spot this sweet family as well!

We spent a total of 4 days shooting. Then they gave me time to move in, and they came back for one day of filming Sarah and I hanging up things in my house, my “exit interview” regarding the home buying process and a quick shot of me and friends enjoying my new backyard/house! (Special shout out to those of you who could make it over at 5pm on a Monday with less than 24hr notice, you da best!)

FAQ #5 When does it air?!?

It won’t air for another 4-6months. I know they already started editing footage because when they came back they made sure to hit on certain key points that you mention in the beginning to tie it all together. They told me they can’t give me an exact date. However, one co-worker who has been on the show says she did get enough advanced notice to plan a watch party (#goalz) and you also get a copy of the show AFTER it airs. You can also keep checking the website for the episode # to see the air date as well. (Episode #11202 folks)

I am thinking of a watch party/client appreciation party when it airs and open to venue locations, send suggestions to me! (


FAQ #6: Do you get paid?

If I were just the Realtor on the show, no, I would have not gotten paid. The buyer gets paid. I will say it isn’t much. The seller’s who let their house on the show also do not get paid. The friend of the buyer/partner etc does not either. I told Sarah I would split it with her, but she was kind and said I could keep it since I have literally been hemorrhaging money since I closed on my home. haha. {Those home improvement projects add up!} But Sarah and I are going to do a nice dinner to celebrate soon (on me).



FAQ #7: Do they pay for the home renovations?

Maybe if this were House Hunters renovation-yes, but I have no idea. This was regular House Hunters. The things I chose to do with my house after moving in were all my choice on my dime. In fact, I had already decided to do many of those things before even agreeing to be on the show. I will admittedly add that the projects probably would not have gotten done that quickly had it not been for the camera crews coming back to film me “settled in.” I know Sarah can attest to a couch purchase, laundry room renovation completion and an outdoor project due to the taping of the show as well. But hey, sometimes we need deadlines in life!

jordan ln finishing 3I spray painted the mailbox (to match my front door) the night before the crew’s arrival!

jordan ln finishing photo4

This house number project was much more complicated than it looks.

jordan ln finishing projectNote this photo was taken at 11pm (because that’s when I finished hanging the patio lights.

jordanlnfrontHad exterior painted a few days prior to arrival as well. The gray is darker than I had wanted, but definitely growing on me and happy overall.

IMG_1122(This is in the midst of the popcorn removal for my home)

FAQ #9: Did you really only look at 3 houses?!

On the show-yes. In real life? Not so much, I probably made offers on about 7 homes for almost a year before I found this one. I know what you are thinking, You are a realtor and you lost out on 7 homes first? And I would argue that I knew what I was willing to pay for the RIGHT house. So when I would get a counter offer at times, (because all the houses I made offers on were multiple offer situations) I wasn’t willing to come up any more because “I just wasn’t feeling it”. So glad I stuck with my gut on that one. I often tell my clients- You will know when you find the right house, it is a feeling you get when you are inside. And then you go for it!


“It will be mine, oh yes it will be mine.”-Wayne

FAQ #8: Would you do it again?

I would totally be on the show again (as a Realtor) not the buyer (plus I don’t think you can be a buyer twice). But I think it really depends what it will look like post editing when it airs. There were a lot of things I look back on and think “As a Realtor I would have never done __xyz__” but for TV sometimes you have to skip the garage, and you don’t pull down the attic ladder or check the HVAC age and hot water heater. I also think my sense of humor can be taken out of context (especially if you don’t know me)…so when I joke about a safe in my closet and “That’s where I will store my gun,” you may not know that’s me being facetious (plus the laughter after I made that comment will probably be edited out to make for good TV and poking fun of Texans) haha.

IMG_0984I also have seen enough episodes to know that sometimes the buyers in the show are focused on “Where the husband’s large TV will go?” or “How the home must have a jet tub in the master” And yes, when I work with buyers there are sometimes these specific requests, but for the most part, people want a home that’s a good investment they can see themselves in and if they found the PERFECT house BUT the nook for the TV wasn’t big enough for their current TV, it usually doesn’t stop them from purchasing a home. So I know, based on some of the little things I stressed in these home tours and put in my wish list, it will be edited to make it seem as if they are a bigger ordeal to me than they actually are. However, I will say these items make me appreciate my house so much more! So I think we all need a far-fetched wish list item achieved to make us reassured about our purchase.


My hang ups on the show will be: must have a mature tree in the front yard (ok this may be an actual deal breaker for me), built in shelving, gas cooking, a laundry room inside, no converted garages, a large master bath  and my hatred for popcorn ceilings.

And no blog would be complete without a picture of my dog #GoodGollyMsMollyMaltipoo:


**You bet your butt you will see her on the show too! They definitely wanted to film me baby-talking Molly and saying “we are going to get you a house!” it was awkward to say the least..because while I do baby talk her (I usually do it in private!) Where are my dog lovers at who can relate?!?!**

Now, who wants to be on House Hunters, I know a great Realtor that’s willing to help get you on the show!? ;)

Thanks for reading as always, sorry for the long detailed posts (as usual, but I am not one to skip out on details!).

Austin by the Numbers

I went to a really interesting and fun meeting today with the Platinum Top 50 Finalists and Winners. It is nice to be in a room filled with successful people I look up to and can learn a lot from.

We floated around the tables and had 15minutes to discuss various Real Estate topics.

One round we were given 10 questions, “How well do you know Austin” …I was shocked, our table did not fair well, actually not many of us in the room did -how embarrassing, we are Realtors! (but I blame it on the numbers being very close to choose from, ha)

Below are some of the things I learned and wanted to share (and a few pop quiz questions for you as well)

Austin by the Numbers: General information on our parks, demographics and more…

  • In the Austin metro, 40% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 29% nationally, putting Austin in the top 10 among the largest Metros!! (Woohoo, go college!)


  • Austin area households enjoy diverse options in education, including 29 public school districts, 17 charter schools and over 100 private schools


  • The Council for Community and Economic Research indicates that living cost in Austin are 6-7% BELOW the national average (in 2013…ha wonder if that has changed these past two years!)


  • The National Association of Realtors reports that the median home price in Austin was $222,900 in 2013 while the national median was $197,400


Here is one for YOU! (don’t cheat!)

  1. According to the census metro Austin’s population grew to nearly ____ in 2013 and is expected to reach ____ by the year 2020.

A. 1.7 million/ 2.0 million

B. 1.8 million/2.2 million

C. 1.9 million/2.3 million

D. 2.0 million/2.6 million

  • In 2013 the median household income in Austin was $61,750 compared to $52,250 nationally
  • The Parks and Recreation Dept. operates 12 off leash areas for you to enjoy with your dog and 2 skate parks


Another one for you:


  1. City of Austin operates 50 public school facilities, which includes _____ neighborhood pools, 3 wading pools, ____ municipal pools, 11 splash plads, 1 rental facility and Barton Springs Pool

A. 20/ 14

B. 23/11


D. 28/6

(answers to quiz Qs at very bottom, don’t cheat)

  • Over 19% of all residents in Austin live in poverty–according to City of Austin’s annual (2014) Economic Development Report (this makes me sad, and is a hot item we talk about here in Austin)
  • 19% of Austinites are foreign born
  • The city of Austin owns 6 golf courses and one short practice course all focused on a great golf experience at an affordable price.

As always thanks for reading! wink, wink!


Answers to the above quiz: 1.) C 2.) D *Did you get them correct?*

Filing your Homestead Exemption for 2015 FAQs

Well, we are in the 2015 year and a few things definitely pop into my mind at the beginning of each new year (and more so before April 15)…TAXES.

If you were one of my clients that means you already received an email reminder and “how to” on filing. You also most likely purchased in Travis or Williamson Counties, as that is the area I work the most–but note that each county varies some. For example, Williamson County now has electronic filing, whereas Travis does not-so be sure to check with your specific county on filing a homestead exemption.

If you purchased a home last year, in which you live in and declare as your primary residence, THEN you need to file a HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION! (unless you are over 65, you file a different exemption for that!)

What does the exemption mean in terms of saving?

Well, if your home is valued at $200k and you are in Travis County, then you if approved you will pay taxes on the home valued at $160k ($40k aka 20% off the value).

Does it cost money to file this exemption?


Do I have to apply year after year?

No. Unless you buy another home that then becomes your primary residence, you will file the following year.

If I am married do we both need to sign and apply?

No, only one person’s signature from the deed needs to be on the application.

How long before I can view my exemption on the website?

The website is updated only twice a month. Also, current year exemptions will not be reflected until after the value notices have been released (sometime mid April).

I own more than one home, can I get a homestead on both?

A person may not receive a homestead exemption for more than residence homestead in the same year.  You can receive a homestead exemption only for your main or principal residence.

What if I owned the property before I was married? 

You can still only have one exemption which must be claimed on your principal residence.

I own my own homestead, but also own a home with my child that they live in. Would they qualify for a homestead?

They must have ownership interest in the property to qualify and would only receive a portion of the exemption based on the percent of ownership.

My exemption fell off from last year, why?

Exemptions reflect the January 1 owner.  If you purchased a home after January 1st the exemption in place was for the previous owner.  You must file an exemption application.

I forgot to apply for my exemption, can I receive it retroactively?

You may file a late homestead exemption application if you file it no later than one year after the date the taxes become delinquent.

Is it true that once I become 65 years of age, I will not have to pay any more taxes?

No, that is not necessarily true. If you are 65 or older your residence homestead qualifies for more exemptions which will result in greater tax savings. The amount of the exemptions that are granted by each taxing unit is subtracted from the market value of your residence and the taxes are calculated on that “lower value”. In addition, when you turn 65, you may receive a tax ceiling for your total school taxes; that is, the school taxes on you residence cannot increase as long as you own and live in that home. The ceiling is set at the amount you pay in the year that you qualify for the aged 65 or older exemption. The school taxes on your home subsequently may fall below the ceiling.

If you significantly improve your home (other than ordinary repairs and maintenance), tax ceilings can go up. For example, if you add a room or garage to your home, your tax ceiling can rise.  It will also change if you move to a new home.

When do you apply if you are turning 65?

You may apply at anytime during the year of that birth date.  You would receive the exemption for the full year.

Do I need to file an application when I turn 65 or is it automatically added?

The appraisal district can only automatically process the over 65 exemption if it has the appropriate documentation on hand.  TCAD requires proof of age to grant an over 65 exemption. Acceptable proof of age includes either a copy of the front side of your driver’s license or a copy of your birth certificate or any official document reflecting your date of birth.  It is always best to file an exemption application with the appropriate documents to ensure that the Over 65 exemption is processed.

If I am disabled and over 65 can I claim both exemptions in the same tax year?

You may not claim both an Over 65 and a disabled person’s exemption in the same tax year.


If you are in Travis County and would like to see the form to file click here.

If you are in Williamson County and would like the form (as well as Qs to filing in Williamson) click here.

Buying a Home?: Getting Started and Credit Tips for 2015

It is that time of year again….where we set resolutions and goals of what we want to achieve in 2015.


Now, maybe not all of you write down your goals like I do, but I can’t help it. I look at them on my dry erase board above my desk every day. It keeps me motivated.

goalsettingNow, because I am in Real estate I start this year off by checking in with people who may have mentioned wanting to purchase last year, but perhaps did not get around to actually purchasing. And I decided to write this blog to hopefully inform, if not inspire you (if you are a buyer). I am not going into the nitty gritty detail and the process of buying like I have in past blogs, here (in case you want to read further). But would like to get into the first few crucial steps of home-buying (and honestly what every *good* Realtor will ask you when you tell them, “I am thinking of buying a house, can you show me this one?”)

So, you want to buy a house in 2015?


First, things first-have you been pre-qualified?

Q: What is this pre-approval process you speak of and why is it so important, Ashley?

A: Well, let me start with this. You must talk to a lender first! How do you know what you can afford (and what price range to start browsing homes online) if no one has broken down the numbers for you with taxes and insurance and what you need to put down and explained expectations? Things have changed since the financial chrsis. And you should know what you are getting into-and most importantly what buying a home REALLY COSTS.

Q: What’s the difference between being pre-approved and pre-qualified?

A: When you are “pre-qualified” that is the most basic form. It means you may have talked to a lender about-your score, what you make and what you pay every month-and boom you are pre-qualified for a home! BUT a pre-approval goes a little bit further. This means a lender has looked over documentation and your income and assets in more details and this also makes you a stronger candidate when submitting offers (and less risk later down the road for something to happen during the financing process)!

Talking to a lender is crucial for a few reasons:

1. A lender will help tell you what your monthly payments will equate to. You can even work backward. You can start by saying, “I am not comfortable spending over $1800 per month on a mortgage-including taxes and insurance-what will that get me?” and he can tell you where your price range needs to be set and what you can expect, then you can see where exactly you can buy in your range, and if the time is now, or perhaps waiting and saving more.

2. A lender can, most of the time- fix or give great pointers on improving your credit! I had a buyer who wanted to purchase and the lender looked over everything and told her if she paid off this one small balance her credit would increase enough so 1. she would be qualified to buy and 2. get her a tad-bit lower of an interest rate. Done. Mission accomplished in a short amount of time as well!

3. A lender can also tell you what route you may want to go financially. Perhaps a different program may work best for you if you only planned on keeping a house for 3-5 years or if mom and dad were going to help with payment a conventional type of loan that ALL down payment money can be gifted. There are various products for various buyers.

4. A lender will also let you know if it is important for you to file this year’s taxes to be qualified for more or if you past two year’s tax returns will work. Your DTI (debt to income ratio) is an important part of how much you will be able to afford-so be honest, when filling out an application for a mortgage, take a look at current credit balances for an accurate answer and no surprises.


What will a lender want from you?:

  • Past two year’s tax returns handy or income verification
  • Fill out an online application-social security number for a credit run
  • Accurate information of bank accounts, assets and in the future-explanation of any large cash sums, bonuses etc.
  • If you have had any recent job changes-a letter from new work place may be in order
  • If parents or trust may help fund the payment-disclose so you can hear options!
  • Honesty is the best policy! Disclose. Disclose. Disclose! (In the past I have had clients hold back information which ended up costing them a home in the end, because it was a condition that couldn’t be cleared)

So what are you waiting for? Talk to a lender and set some financial goals–even if you don’t think you will purchase this year, it is a good idea to get your mind right so you know what you want to achieve to become a home owner!

Falling credit cardsCREDIT TIPS. Here are some credit tips I have learned as an agent, that you may already know, but thought I would reiterate. If home buying is in the cards in the near future for you, I would take a look at these tips below, then follow up with talking to a lender to advise what’s the best route to give you the best score. **Remember the better your score the better your interest rate when you buy!**

  • DO NOT PAY LATE! I don’t mean a few days late (though still not a good idea), but when your payment is so late that it is recorded on your credit report, this can delay home buying for up to a year unless you can somehow fight it to be dismissed. Set alarms in your phone a few days before bills are due. Set up online bill payment. Late payments are the biggest hits on your credit report.
  • DO have several lines of credit. Showing you can manage money with a car payment and a credit card (major line like Visa, etc) is good.
  • DO NOT OPEN A NEW LINE OF CREDIT before you plan on buying a home (unless a lender advised it). Even in doing so, sometimes an account will need to be open 6mo. before you can buy if you do not have enough credit.
  • DO CARRY A BALANCE. It can be good to put on a tank of gas, then pay it off, but if you keep your balance less than $100 per month, the revolving credit can actually increase your credit score. Make sure it makes sense for you and you are getting some type of rewards if you don’t like carrying a balance.
  • DO NOT HAVE A BALANCE OF MORE THAN 30% OF YOUR CREDIT LIMIT. When you start to max out your cards, it will start to impact your credit score negatively. So be sure you are paying attention to the limits on your cards before you book those airline tickets, it may better serve you on a card that has no balance that has been open longer.
  • APPLY FOR ACCOUNTS ONLY WHEN NECESSARY. In college they used to get us to fill out applications for a free t-shirt, sounds good right? No. Running credit checks for you to buy a couch, a fridge, a car, and a credit card within a month or so can shows frivolous spending habits, so you don’t want to many inquiries on your credit. Open accounts that are only necessary. On the contrary, before you buy a home you can talk to several different lenders before purchasing and have them run checks and within a 30 day period it should not count against you (same goes for shopping different car dealers).
  • VIEW YOUR CREDIT REPORT. You can do this for free once a year or pay different websites to monitor your scores for a low monthly fee. You have the right to know! You’d actually be surprised what can pop up on your credit report…. Close out that Citi-bank card you were approved for in your early 20’s, it could be a good idea.
  • DO NOT GET OLD (GOOD) DEBT OFF YOUR CREDIT REPORT. This means, if you paid off a car, do not try to get that removed from your report ASAP, this is good debt. However, items that fall into collection will likely stay on your report for 7yrs, which is bad.
  • DO NOT TAKE OUT CASH ADVANCES. Basically, you do not want to put a huge sum on your card-maxing it out or take out cash advances–these items indicate risk, when you do that, your score can plummet.

Use lines of credit not as a way to finance your life, but as a way to build credit so you can have the life that you want in the future.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, want to talk to one of my many great lenders to get started or pick my brain about the market-let me know, happy to chat!



Australia and New Zealand Post Trip Follow up and Travel Tips!


If you follow me on fabulous facespace, or “Insta” I am sure you saw my “photojournaling” of my journey overseas. It was awesome. Closest one to guessing how many photos I took total wins a prize.

I wanted to follow up (because of course everyone’s infamous question when I returned was: “How was your trip?! Tell me all about it!” And I get tired of repeating myself, so you are just going to have to read below (or skim what you want, I know I write a lot).

First off, my last blog had my expectations v reality of my trip. Here is the follow up to my expectations and how everything exceeded (for the most part) my expectations.

Expectation #1: Planning everything perfectly plane wise and being comfortable on the plane.

Well, I certainly never was surprise upgraded like I had hoped. I missed my first flight to New Z (almost missed the second one) but over all I will say everything worked out the way it should have. The day I missed my flight I still had a free stay, so I went back, got my stuff together and went to pet kangaroos, dingos and wallabys at the Healesville Sanctuary. I traded one day of sunshine for one day of NZ chill/partly cloudy weather. To me, that is a win.

Funny side story: On my way there I sat in between a married couple. The woman next to me took a sleeping pill within the first hour of being on the plane-and literally passed out mid sentence talking to me. All I could think was, “Can you give me one of those please?!” I didn’t sleep much on the plane but am pleased that I took the 11:30pm from LAX, landing in Sydney (lost a full day) at 8:30am.

TIP: DO NOT TAKE A NAP. Power through!! I was not jet lag but crashed hard once it was bed time.

IMG_3995Above: This is me on the way back (Didn’t sleep a wink on the first 12hr flight, slept with mouth wide open the from the LAX-DFW leg. Awesome.)

Expectation #2: Holding a Koala


From what I understand, they don’t like it. They are protected in most states in Australia, so it never happened in Sydney or Melbourne, But dammit if they aren’t the cutest things eating their leaves and sleeping all day in trees.

IMG_3306(the closest I got to holding a koala, above)

Expectation #3: Trying kangaroo (to eat)

This too didn’t happen. Shoot, I thought it would be on the Mc Donald’s (macca’s) menu and pretty prevalent, but it was not. Feeding one and petting one will suffice, here is a lazy one pictured below at the Sydney Zoo but I did get to pet and feed one in Melbourne-photos below.


IMG_3646FYI: I highly recommend the sanctuaries over the zoos. They are more interactive. They also only feed the females, the males get too big and fight. Above is 12yo Harriet, who also learned that parents keep snacks in stroller and has been a theif in the past!

Expectation #4: Helicopter ride over Great Barrier Reef


This expectation was exceeded! Funny, I did get motion sickness on the boat on the way out (luckily no vomit, fresh air did me good) but the helicopter ride was my highlight of Australia actually. That day was perfect. I snorkeled and saw some amazing fish and turtles. Then got to ride in a “choppa” Best news is that the couple that also rode in the helicopter were getting paid to take some video footage so our trip was extra long and we stopped off on a deserted island for more photos etc. Woohoo!


Expectation #5: Not over packing.

Fail…just fail. So. many. clothes. The funny part is that I ended up wearing the same thing over and over. I also didn’t pack warm enough. Spring over there is NOTHING like Spring here, much colder!



TIP: I probably could have been fine with a rolling suit case. I do highly recommend this Osprey 45L bag though. It has a little backpack that zips off which made it great for when I went out in the day. Also the above HEB bag was just plane snacks and reads-not having a carry-on was genius on my part because I came back with more stuff and needed one then.

Expectation #6: Taking lots of beautiful photos.

This happened, but my camera compared to a professional’s awesome lenses and equipment doesn’t compare really. I fortunately remembered to charge my battery quite frequently as well.

DSC_0194(Blue Mountains, outside Sydney)

DSC_0228(Bondi Beach, Sydney)

IMG_0999(Queenstown, NZ)

Expectation #7: I am going to meet lots of interesting people.

I certainly did! In fact when I tell stories of my trips, they mainly have to do with the people I meet along the way. The woman next to me on the plane and her sleeping pill, the man on the white water rafting adventure who was a thrill seeking 70yr old, the boys from Melbourne I went bungy jumping with that wore dresses, the swingers that shared a bottle of wine with me in New Zealand (just kidding…I think).


(I wish I had more photos of all the people I met-this was from my first stop-above the French guys from our hostel and below my French roomies!)


Expectation #8: Meeting hot Aussie men.

Well, I will say this: Being in the middle of downtown in Sydney and Melbourne during the week and seeing all the men walking around wearing suits–it was nice (said like Borat). I did meet up with a friend’s boy(friend) and he was great! I also had a date in Melbourne with a nice Aussie bloke (no photo, I forgot dangit)

IMG_0869(Heidi, thanks for introducing me to Doubs-he was a good guide and we had lots of cider and Asain food! And thanks to many friends who reached out and connected me on facebook to people you know overseas!)

I also met up with Huw, who was a foreign exchange student in my HS, he lives in Auckland.


Expectation #9: Hostel Life won’t be that bad.

It honestly wasn’t. How I met so many cool people. Rating the hostels I stayed in would go like this: 1. Queenstown. 2. Sydney 3. Rotorua I prefer the mom and pop hostels over the bigger hostels. I am convinced I stayed in a Hippy Commune in Port Douglas (great barrier reef) and the rest were crappy but short stays so I didn’t care. Lucked out in Melbourne and stayed with a family friend so that tops off the list as the best stay for sure. Ah a nice home and good company.

I have no photos of the crappy places I stayed, haha.

TIP: I prefer “mom and pop” smaller hostels to the larger ones, hostels and used for all ratings on cleanlines and read many reviews to see if it was more of a younger, party vibe, or a great place. Getting a bathroom attached to your room was much better than the dorm like community baths, but again you are only in your room to get ready and sleep-so I am not terribly picky. In NZ I booked each place about one day in advanced since I had a car-it was very easy and there was availability. Australia was planned out about a month in advanced, thankfully.

My favorite hostels in order: Adventure Queenstown, Sydney Harbour YHA, and Rotorua Central Backpackers.

The best part of my trip is meeting up with a family member’s friend and having my own room and local host! Sam spent a few Thanksgivings with us in Memphis a while back and she was a fantastic host. My favorite meal of my trip was with her in Melbourne (and she bought me Tim Tams-an Aussie fav)



In 2012 I took a trip to Europe and made some contacts from Oz, I met up with them as well. Ah Facebook, you keep the world together!


Willem and I above. Rachel and I below.


Expectation #10: This trip will be very active.

Yes. Yes it was. I think I kept trying to achieve the endorphin high that was experienced in Queenstown they day I bungy’d and skydived (see pics and video below) within a few hours of one another. It can’t be done. Hiking was great. White water rafting was great, and honestly just walking around cities and taking photos, trying new things is great! But it cannot match the adrenaline rush you get from doing something adventurous.



To watch the video of me skydiving, click here!NZON_NZQT_2014_10_27_C1101_0803To watch my GoPro video of my first bungy jump click here! (fast forward to the good part)




The professional bungy jump video is here (I did it twice it was so much fun!) Below is the white water rafting and zorbing I did in the N. Island of NZ.

DSC_9917 DSC_9929

White water rafting in Rotorua above and “Zorbing” belowDSC_0667


If you feel like reading more…

Overall the first leg of my trip was booked-flights and accommodations ahead of time. I am glad I did it this way. New Zealand was tougher for me to decide what to do, so I decided to “wing it” but it was easy once I was there to decide on a whim. I also found more wifi readily available in NZ than Oz. I really loved NZ the South Island the best. Everything worked out as it should have-and I made the best of any situations that went array (missing my flight for example). Not to say I have any regrets, because I covered a lot of ground, met some awesome people, did some amazing things, but if I could go back or pass along any advice I would say: skip N. Island of NZ (maybe spend 3 days before you fly out) but see the South Island, do the amazing hikes, adventure items etc. but be weary because NZ is such a safe country that every activity is dependent on the weather! Skydiving was canceled three times for me due to wind. But I lucked out (book earlier in day because if you do get canceled they will just push back your time vs making you go the next day). Australia and NZ overall have some of the friendliest people I have ever met!! If I could change anything about my Australia leg of the trip0 I would have changed my stay in Port Douglas, ha (the hippy commune) and an extra week to add in Byron Bay (and paid a visit to a former Austinite friend). Ah so many places to see, so little time.

Here are some words I learned along the way (I made notes in my phone). Everything sounds so much more sophisticated I swear! They call things as they should (for example they aren’t bathrooms or restrooms, they are “toilets”). Aussies  abbreviate EVERYTHING. For example Mc Donald’s they call “Maccas”


Aussie Sayings:
Power point- outlets on the wall
Dooner-Duvet blanket
Wanker “wanka!”-self explanatory I think.
Heaps- a lot
Hire- to rent (hire a car)
keen- cool, the slang term
arvo- short for afternoon (plans in the arvo?)
natter-(ie I love to sit on the porch and drink wine with friends and have a good natter)
grouse-choice/sweet-slang term
sorted-they all say this (ie after you set your bags down, “Did you get all sorted?”)
munted-destroyed (this can apply to wrecking a car or being totally belligerent)
scull-chugging ones drink?
peckish-hungry (I love this and want to say that here)
curvy grips-bobby pins!
Kiwi Sayings:
sweet as- (like saying something is all good. They ALL use it and I love it).
They say the f word. A lot. (I fit right in).
tosser-see wanker.
cut your lunch-(ie when a guy has been talking to a girl all night, then his friend swoops in-he just cut your lunch!)
lollies-candy (this was adorable on Halloween the kids saying lolly all the time)

Expectations vs. Reality: My Upcoming Australia/New Zealand Backpacking Trip

Well, I have another trip around the corner, I am excited to report. I think it is interesting– the “build up” before any trip. I have researched, read blogs, asked other fellow travelers who have been there, backpacked or lived there for their advice. I then come up with a list of amazing things I want to do and expectations I THINK I will have. I was even reminded in a recent lunch with my mentor when discussing my trip, he reminded me “Didn’t you say you weren’t ever going to leave for that long again because it was too stressful?” Yep. I do recall saying that now. And not stressful as in traveling but having the work covered while gone (I had three closings on my last trip while out of the country-Eeeek!)

He did have a point. I think after a while you forget the struggles you had and look forward to the “good” again. It is like after you have a child. People say “I will never do that again.” And a week later you are so overjoyed you want to have three more. So maybe the situation isn’t exactly the same-but you get my drift. (because I know all about giving child birth, right?)

Let’s get to my Australia/New Zealand to do list. The expectation…and the reality that will most likely ensue. I try to envision some of the things I will be doing-but I also try not to get my hopes up (hence the “reality” perspective).

Here we go…

1. EXPECTATION: I will be comfortable on the plane and I have scheduled everything fine so that I won’t be tired at all! The time will just fly by and I will watch my shows and read and sleep on the plane, maybe even have a whole row to myself like when I went to Europe! Maybe I will even be upgraded to first class for no reason!


REALITY: I am most likely going to be exhausted and uncomfortable. Then my iPad battery will run low in the middle of a Homeland episode, leaving me in full suspense–when I have 12hrs left in the air. Then I will be wide awake and my hamstring/lower back will be killing me since it has given me problems lately and I will be completely miserable, have dry lips and come down with a cold on the way to Sydney. I will also be more jet lag than I have ever been before in my life.

2. EXPECTATION: Holding a cute and cuddly Koala bear will be so awesome. Check that off the bucket list!


REALITY: Koala bear ends up biting me, being super heavy, smelling like crap, has brillow pad type fur and I am blinking  in the photo and look awful in the ONE photo I have to show evidence that I actually held a koala bear. ha.

3. EXPECTATION: I am going to try kangaroo! I hear it isn’t too bad.

REALITY: Kangaroo probably taste nasty.


4. EXPECTATION: This helicopter I booked over the Great Barrier Reef is going to be awesome and beautiful.


REALITY: Rains and excursion is cancelled….with no refund. OR I get horrible motion sickness and vomit all over the helicopter.

5. EXPECTATION: I didn’t even overpack this year, good for me!


REALITY: I have nothing to wear because I packed all wrong and not right for this cold weather and my bag is still annoyingly heavy to carry around.

6. EXPECTATION: I am going to take so many beautiful photos of scenery.


REALITY: My camera battery never charged properly with my converter. Then standing atop a beautiful glacier at sunset and the most picture perfect moment–I can’t snap it.

7. EXPECTATION: I am going to meet lots of interesting people.


REALITY: I am going to be the oldest person in the damn hostel.

8. EXPECTATION: This isn’t my expectation (but what all my friends say): “You are going to meet some hot Aussie guy and never return! he he”


REALITY: I will only meet other travelers, probably end up rooming with a smelly 21yo who doesn’t speak English and we have nothing in common. ha.

9. EXPECTATION: Even though I am “older” the hostel life won’t be that bad. It is affordable, has lots of community type activities and a great way to meet other travelers.


REALITY: Kill me now, why didn’t I stay in a nice hotel by myself.

10. EXPECTATION: This is going to be such an active trip for me! Lots of hikes, snorkeling, maybe even bungee jumping, skydiving, a run on the beach….


REALITY: My. feet. hurt. I will just sleep in today and maybe get a massage later.



Well this is the “before.” I look forward to sharing my “after” and hopefully my perceived realities won’t be as bad as they could be, but I will have tons of stories and moments to share (and treasure). Can’t wait to start checking things off my list! Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

An Apology and A Thank You

This may be a silly comparison but something dawned on me today that I felt like writing about…

So, my friend and I are researching places to stay on Air BnB for our next trip to Vancouver.

vancouverVancouver above.

{Ahem-Don’t even get me started on some of the horrible real estate photos people actually post and expect people to stay in their spare rooms on Air BnB}

Anyway, we came across this sparking, clean, perfect location, dates available, have our own bathroom type of place with a similar-ish female (safety perk) and then…she had NO reviews. No one had stayed with her.

I emailed the friendly 30-something, nice looking girl and asked if she was new to Air BnB, because I noticed she had no reviews, however she had been verified.

airbnblogo(New AirBnB somewhat controversial logo)

She wrote back-“Yes I am new.”

My more weary friend was NOT excited that this was the girl’s only response to my message. She didn’t try to convince us to stay with her or beg of us to believe she is nice and trust worthy,  or she would be a fantastic host–she merely answered the question I asked. My friend was not thrilled. {Me–I am different, I am a little more trusting and naive, and more like-so what if she kills us, our trip will be fun…and who doesn’t trust a Canadian?!} I asked my friend if she wanted me to add her on Facebook and stalk her (totes normal, right?), but she made a good point–that people can put out on Facebook and reflect however they want to be anyway and she didn’t feel comfortable staying with someone with no reviews.

Now….this is very unrelated, yet related…As I was jogging today and thinking about our options in Vancouver it dawned on me–how are you supposed to trust someone if they never get a first chance?

It reminded me of my real estate days when I first began. {Not that I have twenty years of experience under my belt now or anything}. My same friend actually bought her first home from me. A one year-ish Real Estate agent who had only done leases, NEVER done a short sale, never sold a single family home (only condos at that time) and when I look back now and think of the mistakes I made, the questions I ask and the lack of professionals I had under my belt to refer her to I think:

I am sorry. I am sorry I couldn’t be the agent I am now to you back then.


Then I think:


thankyousTHANK YOU SO MUCH FOR GIVING ME THAT FIRST CHANCE!! Did her closing run as smoothly as it could of? Hello no. It was the last day of the month and the title person had the name of the bank wrong on EVERY. SINGLE. DOCUMENT. But I am so grateful for those past clients who took a chance on me. It was so hard starting off in the real estate world then seeing your friends buy homes left and right-and they didn’t pick you as their Realtor. There are a lot of Realtors in Austin Tx (last I heard 8,000)!! So of course someone is ALWAYS going to know a Realtor or two. I just want to thank the clients who almost knew more than me, but could see I was working so hard and I was busting my tail trying to show them properties, find them properties and answer all their questions. I want to thank the clients that knew I worked a second job in the evenings and would try to schedule showings during the day to fit my schedule. I just want to be thankful in general. Had it not been for all my previous mistakes, hiccups and let-downs I wouldn’t be where I am today. {oh and thank heavens for good mentors and brokers I could always go to. Shout out to Kent Redding-I call him my second dad, always so helpful, positive and a cheerleader}. It is so very important in any business (but especially one where you are your own boss) to have a mentor.

Now, I don’t do leasing as much any more these days, because I simply just cannot find the time, but you bet I try to refer them out to any hungry, hard working, (almost professional-because that comes with time) agent who is in the same boat I was in years ago (and that was during the worst time of the market). Anyway, that sums up my rant. Not saying you should trust open heart surgery with a year one medical student, but I think you understand where I am coming from.

Did I mention I have no reviews on Air BnB? I hope someone takes a chance on me letting me sleep in their spare room. ;)

That is all for now and thank you for reading. Now go give someone a chance!

Paying off Your Mortgage ASAP: Yes or No?

When I first got into real estate, I would sit across the table as my buyer signed all 3 million closing papers for their first home. There came that point where we would make a joke about the “no pay no stay” document and usually a comment of how great of an interest rate they got. (I got into real estate when the market was crappy and interest rates were in the 2% realm for some!!)

Another discussion that always popped up in regards to mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and interest was the “if you make two extra payments a year it knocks down about 7yrs of interest.”

So SHOULD YOU or SHOULD YOU NOT pay off that mortgage early? And should you take that money and invest it?

Here are some pros and cons to both, and perhaps you can figure what works best for you.


1. Peace of Mind. Waking up everyday and knowing you own your home out right is a pretty good feeling, may take a while to get there, but it sure will be nice once the bank doesn’t own it.

2. Guaranteed investment return. Paying off that debt early is as if you are earning the interest you would have otherwise paid on it.

3. If you didn’t put 20% down, then you should definitely pay down your loan to the 80% loan to value ratio to avoid that monthly mortgage insurance premium–that will definitely save you money in the long run!

4. And for those of you who usually say you are going to do something….but then well, aren’t so great with the follow through. You may say “I am going to just make minimum payments, let this extra money snowball and invest it” but the ACTUAL chances of you actually doing that are slim to none. So perhaps you are only doing yourself a favor by paying down your mortgage because you wouldn’t have done something smart with the money anyway?


1. If you bought your home at a time with a really great interest rate (or re-financed) the downside to paying off that mortgage is the opportunity cost. You could possibly be giving up investment returns that are better than your mortgage interest rates (you just have to do a little research).

2. And of course there is INFLATION! Consider it. Inflation erodes the value of the dollar. So basically your future mortgage payments will cost less than they do now and the money you are sending in won’t be worth much in terms of “real” buying power.

3. The other thing to factor in are the unfortunate “what if’s.” I would hate for any of this to happen. But if something bad does happen (job loss, crazy medical expenses), what can the bank take?–your home that they still own, right? That’s ok–because you still have a stockpile of money in accounts earning interest. If you had paid off that home that’s all you have, and in turn you will most likely need to sell it to get the money from it or pull an equity loan and borrow against it. HOWEVER if your money was earning 8% in an index fund or retirement account you may have the extra funds necessary to still live and maintain the lifestyle needed. Just a thought.

And a few cool links I thought may be helpful mortgage payoff calculator HERE.

And I also found this article/info graphic of best places to invest. Ummm, so glad I am in Tx (though this vouches for Houston mainly, it was still interesting).

Hope you found this little read interesting, I know it isn’t as exciting as my tips on online dating profiles, but I am busy these days and real estate consumes my mind! Thanks for reading.

-Ashley Brinkman
Realtor, ABR, GRI
Realty Austin




My Adventures in Tulum, Mexico

If you follow me on Facebook, I recently posted a few (about 1,000) photos of my trip to beautiful Tulum. Nothing new for this girl–I really enjoy taking photos and capturing moments–but mainly taking photos of pretty and colorful items.

Since a lot of you had asked me how my trip was and “Would I like it there?” I thought I would share my opinions on Tulum so you can decide for yourself if you want to visit!

DSC_0510Personally, I am not a “beach/relaxer/vacationer” I am a busy body explorer type. HOWEVER, escaping for my step sister’s wedding was a great excuse to finish up on my latest read, (which you all need to read: Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan) work on my tan and “go off the grid” for a bit.


You will love Tulum if….

-You like to travel where there isn’t a McDonald’s in sight! (or other American-ized/Commercialized places)
-You can handle being barely clothed or barefoot most the time
-You enjoy yoga (tons of places practice yoga daily, not to mention lots of vegan and healthy cuisine along the way)
-You can handle drinking bottled water or coconut water right out of the coconut:
-You like bars that don’t have stools, but swings!:
-You are ok with waves/wind:
-You can sleep in a hammock:
-You are ok with not having wifi in your room (or a television for that matter)…
-You are ok with opening your door to your room and seeing this: IMG_0618
-You are ok with NO air conditioning in the day time (this place only had it from 7p-7a)!! I somehow survived.
-You love Fish tacos!


To my friends with children…hmmm…I don’t know what to tell you (simply because I don’t have kids nor understand if they are high maintenance or easy when it comes to the beach).

I don’t know if this is the best place to bring the little ones. Unless your kids just LOVE the beach and you are ok with being on the beach daily (though you may fry the first day and be miserable the rest of the time!). I think this is a great “get away from los ninos” type place or baby moon… in my opinion (yet I don’t have children, I just have plenty of friends that do–and I see what you have to bring when you travel with kids). Kids need air conditioning and dark rooms when they nap (I think?) and Tulum is also 1.5-2hrs South of Cancun, so after landing and traveling you still have quite the drive. There are definitely water parks nearby, Ruins, zip lines, snorkeling in Cenotes (fresh water caves), but they are still bus rides to get to most of the “cool attractions.” Tulum seems more of a romantic trip, a place to unwind, a place to de-stress, get a massage on the beach, practice yoga, snorkel, walk around the beach town or downtown etc. Also a thing to note–I was there almost a week and every day there was someone kite-boarding. There is a lot of wind. I heard that it isn’t ALWAYS like that, but I do think it is pretty windy most the time. Don’t they know I am trying to take wedding pics without the wind blowing hair in my face?! Ugh.

CT46(windy, but still fun!)



Anyway, my recs to you on Tulum would be to experience the following…

Definitely try Fish tacos at Mateo’s (or the shrimp is really good too!)

DSC_1099DSC_1100 DSC_1102 DSC_1108 DSC_1109

If you like Thai Food DEFINITELY try Mezzanine, plus there’s a gorgeous beach view and you can walk right on down or sit and eat at a little cabana overlooking the beach.

DSC_0459(view to right-restaurant/bar. View to left: the beach!!)

Snorkeling in a a Cenote was honestly kind of scary (because I am a sissy when my masks starts to clog up or water goes in my snorkel, I start to freak out) but it was refreshing and cool to explore with our flash lights.


I wish I had a go-pro because under water shots of the sea turtles I snorkeled with were “totes adorbs” and an awesome experience.

I also wish I would have seen the Ruins and done a zip lining tour, but honestly didn’t feel like planning and making the drive (apparently the good oens are a little farther out and into the jungle. Or you can do near by Ruins and easy zip lining dropping into a Cenote as well).

We stayed at Cabanas Tulum, which is one of the nicer places on the beach strip (so I was told). Ziggy’s (the restaurant there) has a great lunch menu! The staff is SUPER friendly, always saying hello and very accommodating. The wifi worked in the lobby and beach restaurants, so I would go down there when I had to get some work items done, but it wasn’t that bad (and honestly quite refreshing to just keep the phone in the room all day and be with family). There are no room phones for you to call and order items, but you can go down there and ask for items, such as ice (they brought us a bag of ice and a cooler for our beverages to enjoy in our room and by the beach). Paying $7 for a pina colada or margarita gets pretty old quick!

IMG_0630(Here is our helper following us back to the room after our trip to the store! And there actually was a decent super market with everything you need!)



Bars downtown Tulum are cheap and fun. An evening spent down there and souvenier shopping could be a nice change from the beach scene (here are a few pics of my siblings and I being goofy-and enjoying 2 for 1 drinks)! DSC_0502

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Also the cabs are regulated by the government so there are flat fees. You don’t even have to tip (was told this by some friends that live there). So it shouldn’t be $6 one way, then $10 back or you are being ripped off! Fortunately most the people who order the cab for you at the resort will tell you exactly what it will cost when you tell them where you are going.


Here are a few of my favs from the wedding, I had fun playing around with my camera and trying some effects etc….

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(PS rehearsal dinner and wedding all took place at Cabanas Tulum-where everyone stayed, at Ziggy’s, they did a great job and decorated beautifully). Complete with bright colors, maracas and a Mariachi Band (I am not kidding when I say–I also saw a Chihuahua running around as well)…perfect Mexico wedding for these two!

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Who is Ashley exactly and what does she do? Learn more here! And start your Austin home search here!