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

November 21st, 2014 by Ashley Brinkman

Heeeellllooooo!!!!

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

DSC_0426

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.

DSC_0430

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

IMG_3442

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!

IMG_3444

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!

backpackphoto

 

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).

IMG_3322

(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!)

IMG_3315

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.

IMG_3996

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 Hostelworld.com 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)

IMG_3612

IMG_3586

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!

IMG_3604

Willem and I above. Rachel and I below.

IMG_3674

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.

NZON_NZQT_2014_10_27_C1101_0796

 

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)

AJHB_AJHN_2014_10_27_C2021_6024

AJHB_AJHN_2014_10_27_C2021_6029

 

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

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. TRIP SUCCESS.

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”

IMG_3613

Aussie Sayings:
Rubbish-trash
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)

Posted in Austin, Photography, Single Life, Travel having Comments Off

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

October 11th, 2014 by Ashley Brinkman

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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

koalabear

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.

kangaroofire

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

helicopterGBR

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!

femalebackpackers

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.

SONY DSC

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.

travelershangout

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”

aussiehotness

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.

dirtyhostel

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….

nzhikers

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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.

Posted in Travel having Comments Off

An Apology and A Thank You

July 24th, 2014 by Ashley Brinkman

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.

sorry

Then I think:

THANK YOU.

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!

Posted in Austin, real estate, Single Life having Comments Off

Paying off Your Mortgage ASAP: Yes or No?

July 10th, 2014 by Ashley Brinkman

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.

housemoneyWHY YOU SHOULD PAY OFF YOUR MORTGAGE QUICKLY:

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?

investvspaydownWHY YOU SHOULD NOT PAY OFF YOUR MORTGAGE QUICKLY:

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
512.665.8787

 

 

 

Posted in Austin, Austin Home sales, real estate having Comments Off

My Adventures in Tulum, Mexico

June 3rd, 2014 by Ashley Brinkman

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.

DSC_0499

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
IMG_0412
-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:
ash
-You like bars that don’t have stools, but swings!:
DSC_0599
-You are ok with waves/wind:
IMG_0411
 
-You can sleep in a hammock:
DSC_0535
-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!

DSC_1110

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!)

 

DSC_1067

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.

DSC_0007DSC_0002

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

IMG_0726DSC_0550 DSC_0557 DSC_0529

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….

CT9(my sister did this with the sparklers)

(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!

CT13 CT15 CT2 CT4CT5CT16CT19CT31CT24CT30

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

Posted in Photography, Travel having Comments Off

I Own Scissors, but Don’t Cut My Own Hair: An Agent’s Insight to the Austin, Tx Seller’s Market

May 14th, 2014 by Ashley Brinkman

Hello there blog readers of mine! (All two of you).

I know you look forward to my blogs about my bad dates and theories of my generation and what not, but due to the non-existant dating life I am going to write about something that has been time consuming lately (and I am not complainin’): Real Estate! So stay with me on my rant and hopefully learn a little about this crazy market we are in.

Currently we are going into Summer Months in Austin Tx and yes, it is still a hot seller’s market, with low inventory, but here is what is just starting to baffle me as an agent….

Just because I own a pair of scissors doesn’t mean I try to cut my own hair (or other people for that matter). And just because I know how to run doesn’t mean I am capable of teaching someone how to train for a race–so why, oh why on Earth if you don’t have a Real Estate License would you try to sell your home on your own???

haircutter

Oh you want to save money?…I get it. Well know this–most people who do NOT use an agent to sell their home end up getting less for their home and it sits on the market longer. Not only that, but when you represent yourself you are more liable than ever before. Hello lawsuit!lawsuit

I just want to give this example because I think it is a good (smart) one. My broker calls me into his office to chat recently. Mind you, he has 20 something years of real estate under his belt AND he is a real estate attorney. He says, “Hey I am thinking about listing my house soon and I want you to come take a look and tell me what you think.” I responded puzzled, “Why are you asking me? You know your home and neighborhood and how to sell it.” And he responded with a very honest answer, “You know how sellers are-we always think our homes are worth more than what they actually are. I need an honest, professional opinion. Plus I have a few things I want you to tell me if you think I should paint, stage, where to put things etc.”–all that coming from someone IN the business. While some real estate agents do list their own homes (and in Tx you must disclose if you are affiliated with the selling party or the actual home owner) the last brokerage I worked for would not allow owner/agent relationship, you would sell it under someone else in the office–which is smart.

FSBOI know, I know–you think real estate agents just take some photos, move a few pieces of furniture and stick a sign in the yard and they are done with it. There is so much more to it than that (well for the good agents anyway)! And actually in this market, it is even more pertinent to have an agent with diligence, market knowledge, an agent great at marketing your home in non-traditional ways and has a “pre-marketing plan”, a proactive one that foresee road blocks (like buyer’s financing and appraisal or title issues).

Another example I recently encountered: I am representing a buyer on a duplex. We were in multiple offers. We won. A few weeks later–appraisal comes back higher than contract price! Yessss!! (Always a good feeling to walk in with equity). This listing agent is a discount broker. He didn’t use professional photos and I don’t think he even pre-marketed the duplex. Did we go under contract after only two days? Yes. But do you think if he would have marketed the home more professionally and tested the market price prior to putting it in the MLS he would have had higher offers on the table that would have matched what the appraiser said it was worth? Possibly. (Just a theory, but no way of actually knowing).

comingsoon

It makes me wonder, though: Does an agent do as good of a job when he/she is taking that big of a discount? And furthermore, if he is discounting himself does he:

1. Value himself as a professional or his time?

2. Is he so busy being a discount broker that he has time to market my home, others and take care of everything?

3. Can he even afford an assistant or professional photographer?

4. Does he even have experience?! Maybe he is cheap because he is new and doesn’t know what he’s doing!?

I am not going to lie, when I first got into this industry, you could have paid me $500 to list your home and I would have been ecstatic–and that was in a bad market!! But as time and experience have taught me: time is money. And my work is valuable.

I will say often to all my friends and clients that trusted in me with their real estate transactions in my wee-early real estate days I: 1. Appreciate you having faith in me and am grateful for your business!!! and 2. I Apologize because I know so much more now than I did then!!

Sadly, that SAME broker from the duplex deal had a sign in the yard of a home I recently met with the owner prior and told him EVERYTHING he should do to get his home ready to market (so he did that, then hired someone cheaper…sigh). So, yes people like to save money, but sometimes it is worth it to pay more, get more and have to do less if you ask me (and that goes with a lot of things in this world, huh?–like a pair of sunglasses, a good cutting knife or a car-for example). A home worth over $400,000 (that’s been owned for almost 10yrs) and the owner thinks it is smarter to save a few by hiring a discount broker. Yes, I am bitter! Don’t get me wrong, I have and still do discount my commission when appropriate to the situation, but I don’t advertise myself as the “1% girl” or “flat fee gal” Some brokerages don’t even allow agents to discount themselves unless it is their own transaction.  I know it is a seller’s market, but I keep seeing people get real greedy or maybe it is high optimism? In fact, last week there roughly 500 price reductions in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). That is A LOT of price drops. Maybe the market is cooling off? Highly doubtful. Perhaps the overly aggressive pricing is starting to correct itself.  Sometimes we agents have to stand behind our work and listen to the words of L’Oreal: “You’re Worth It.”

You’re darn right I am!

youreworthitIn this world of Wiki, Google, HGTV I guess we are all experts. And in a town of 7,000 real estate agents or something crazy like that, I guess there are a lot of people to choose from. Be smart out there folks, do your research, and shop: rates, agents, plumbers, insurance–everything–you will be glad you did in the end. And just because it is the lowest price DOES NOT mean you are getting the best value (think we all know this by learning a lesson one way or another).

htvfunnyYou can find more about Ashley by clicking here and you can start your Real Estate home search here! Realty Austin has fantastic agents to help you find a home, guide you in the process and a great support team to help market your properties to get them SOLD! Also voted Best Places to work in Austin three years in a row according to the Austin Business Journal!

Posted in Austin, Austin Home sales, Austin Market news, real estate having Comments Off

What to Expect when Buying New (in an Austin seller’s market)

March 4th, 2014 by Ashley Brinkman

Hello again!

I’ve had a few clients in the past few years buy new. Meaning from a home builder or custom builder or condo developer. And being that I now have gained some experience on “the other side” (meaning, representing new projects/the listing agent) I wanted to take some time to write a blog on what to expect when purchasing a new home (in a seller’s market). I add the parentheses because when the market is “bad” or a buyer’s market, builder’s are offering incentives, upgrades, decorating allowances, raffles for a new car. BUT in Austin Tx currently we are in a seller’s market, with this inventory being low, what can you expect as a buyer now that housing is in demand? Well..read on!

Since every builder contract is different (and none of them are the standard TREC <Texas Real Estate Commission> promulgated form) I am not going to go through the nitty gritty details, but basically give you a sum up of what to expect in that contract and when building (and use some real life examples!)

Below: Jordan at the closing table-yes, he sent me a selfie, because I couldn’t make closing! Bought his new place in Edgewick, stand alone condo with detached garage! soldJordan

This is a photo of Ashley, below-just closed on her home with Milsetone Builders off Riverside that was built from the ground up-with her input! That area has blown up, she is so happy she bought there when she did!

soldAshley

#1–A Builder’s contract will state that they are allowed to make changes to the property as they deem necessary.

This is important to know, because recently I had some clients (ok, pickier than normal clients) who were very angry that the developer said there would be 4 trees (according to the brochure) and there were only 3 actually planted. These things happen. Does a builder try to purposefully deceive a customer? Of course not, but often times what “they thought” would work, doesn’t once they cross that bridge.

cardinalln

#2–a Builder’s contract is going to cover THEIR butt, not yours. Basically it will state things (in legal jargon) like: the builders have up to xx amount of years to complete the project.

I have another client who was supposed to close in October, ok November, ok late December….well you get the idea, it is March 2014 and we are still not closed.  This definitely has put a cramp in her lifestyle (and wallet, as rent continues to increase-especially when you go month to month)

Now, does a developer or home builder purposefully try to deceit people or make unrealistic timelines? Absolutely not. Do they want to sell the homes as quickly as possible? Of course. But it happens quite often that inspections hold up, Texas has freeze days??, labor shortages, City inspection hold ups (again), permits expire (or they don’t really but some dummy in the office doesn’t know what he is doing) and so on and so forth. Delays are constant. I wish they weren’t, but I have NEVER had a builder complete in the amount of time they said they were originally going to finish a home in. I promise. I wish it wasn’t so, but just the way things go.

So the #1 characteristic you have to possess (in my opinion) going into a new build is PATIENCE. Projects always take longer than anticipated, possibly a few changes along the way. I have been telling my clients (in this busy seller’s market) it is easier to sign a six month lease while your home is being built and break it/sub lease it later in this hot renter market, than to continue to pay increased rent prices month to month.

#3 A Builder almost NEVER pays Title Policy.

If you have bought a home before, more often than not a seller will pay for the buyer’s title policy. Now, in this hot seller’s market, there have been times when I have advised buyer’s to pay for the title policy to have the edge over another offer, which has worked to our advantage. I have only seen a builder for a new home/project pay for a title policy (which usually equates to a little less than 1% of the purchase price) maybe twice. Have I tried to negotiate this almost every time? Of course! But the advantage a new home builder has is that his product is rare and if it is in a buyer’s price range and they REALLY like it, they will pay the title policy vs back out completely. In the times the seller has paid for a title policy, I will add– the buyer didn’t ask for any other concessions, appliances, had strong financing and was at the asking price. So there ya have it.

DSC_0048Above: finishes the buyer’s get to choose at a project I am listing (Towns on Cumberland)

#4 A Builder will have little to no incentives for you as a buyer.

I say rule #4 with the intent of someone understanding the current market state, especially in Central Austin. As housing becomes scarce, pricing has increased and incentives to get people to buy have decreased. Why? Because a builder doesn’t have to offer allowances and upgrades when his product is in demand. I am not saying it doesn’t happen at all, it does, but usually at the start of a project. Asking price is usually final unless a builder is at the tail end of his inventory and ready to close up the project.

Some examples: I had a buyer purchase from Pulte up in North Austin. If he signed by the end of the week he would receive $2000 extra in his upgrades. Done.

Another builder (and most builders, honestly) will have a preferred lender. Do you have to use this lender? No. But most likely the builder will have established a working relationship and the lender is already familiar with the project, the people and have solidified a routine to get the loan done. For using their preferred lender the builder will most likely pay title policy or offer some kind of closing costs paid for at the close of the loan, etc.

drwallSansoneProgress (this home finished months after it’s projected date–it happens).

finishedSansoneBut buyers are super happy with the finished project (couldn’t even fit the whole house in my wide angle lens): Teravista, Round Rock by Partners in Building

However, neighborhoods perhaps farther out in a VERY newly developing area that may take years to grow etc. could possibly be offering more incentives and bonuses for your extra long commute and factor incentives for you. The fact you will be living in a construction zone for the next few years–you deserve a few upgrades. There are pros, however to buying further out– If you can hang tight in this busy market, you will be happy with the equity you start to acquire in your new home. You need to make sure you want to be there for a while, though, because often times if someone tries to sell a year later the home is worth just as much as a new home down the street. Be sure you pay attention to “what is to come” and what “can’t” be put next to you, too!

I hope this blurb about what to expect doesn’t sound like a “crappy deal” or like I am being pessimistic. I consider myself a realist, ha. I also hate when I don’t fully explain to buyers what they may run into when buying a new project. This isn’t to discourage one of NOT buying new, but just educate one on how it can be different from purchasing from a seller. Buying new can be great! Modern finishes, the ONLY one that has lived in a place, your own finishes (tile, backsplash, flooring, constructed floorplan) all picked by you. A new community with like-minded people in an up and coming (or already established, hip) area. Do what is best for you, but know what you are getting into!

resizedSome buyers prefer to buy old charm and fix up (Heidi and Brian above)…

JT4And some prefer starting their family in a new home (Jennifer and Travis above).

But whatever you decide, be happy with your new home!

Start your home search here and register! Read more about Ashley here and how she can help you with your real estate needs!

Happy house hunting, let me know if I can be of help and as always, thanks for reading!

-Ashley

Posted in Austin, Austin Home sales, Austin Market news, New Development, real estate having Comments Off

The Easy Life of Being a Real Estate Agent (or so you think?)

January 20th, 2014 by Ashley Brinkman

An Inside look at what being a real estate agent is all about (for me, anyway).

No, it’s not rocket science. I don’t work 80hrs a week like a lawyer, and I don’t save lives. But I wear a bunch of hats and it can be stressful, unstable, time consuming and plain exhausting. So, hear me out.

Randomly this week, the exact same day, actually, I got two messages from  facebook pals that wanted to have coffee with me and pick my brain about being in real estate. Over the past few months I have met several people who were referred or wanted to chat about getting into the business. If you follow my facebook, or my instagram, or you just know me–you will know that:

1. I am pretty honest and

2. I keep pretty busy! So I thought I would take the opportunity to write some pros and cons and an HONEST reflection of what being an agent is like, and possibly de-bunk a few myths.

1. Myth #1: Real Estate agents just roll in the dough. Some do, sure. They also most likely have been doing it for more than 5yrs or may sell luxury with bigger pay checks at closing. What you forget is HOW LONG and how much time, money and energy it takes to get to the point of “rolling in the dough” Just like with any start up business, real estate is like that. You start operating as a business.

rollinginmoney

The average real estate agent makes $5k their first year of real estate. Yep. Can you live off that? I can’t. I always tell people who want to get into real estate either–be prepared to have a second job (I waited tables nights and weekends when I first got into real estate and tried to be at the office in the day, on top of showing houses and leases on weekends etc). OR you better have at least a year of savings to live off and live frugal as you build your business.

Let’s break out the numbers a little, a brief example if you will: Your friend wants to buy a house (Yesss!) And they trust you to handle their transaction. After three months of looking you sell them a $300,00 house.

Great. $9,000 in your pocket right?

Wrong.

Let’s say your broker takes half because they give you an office and signs and a lockbox and marketing. There is also probably a transactional fee, franchise fee AND errors and omissions insurance. But for number’s sake we will keep it at half going to those items.

So now you have $4,500, right?

Wrong.

That isn’t taxed and you are self employed now, so take 20% of that and pay the IRS or put in an account to pay taxes quarterly. So now you have $3,600 right?

Wrong.

You have to always invest in yourself, they say on average about 10% should be for marketing, so $360 (which only pays for one mail out of post cards that tell everyone in that area you just sold a home) So there ya have it, three months of weekends and evenings showing houses, setting appts, using your gas, putting miles on your car for $3,200 in your pocket.

BUT don’t forget health care. There are no benefits when you are with a broker. There is no 401k matching like in the corporate world oh no, no, no. You basically have to become (or invest in) a CPA and financial planner because you are now running your life and finances like a small business, and perhaps some of you already do-which is great.

 

2. Myth #2: Real Estate Agents just stick a sign in the yard and take photos and boom it is sold, easy money.

Listings are not an easy item to obtain. They not only take knowing the right people, continuous marketing to specific areas, researching sold prices and activity, viewing houses in the area, setting up property tours etc. but someone is paying you to sell their home–Most likely their number one financial asset.  Let that sink in. That’s a scary thing when looking at the big picture. What if you price it too high and it sits forever? What if you price it too low and they needed more for it? What if you didn’t do your due diligence and cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s on the contract? Or forget to disclose something you were supposed to and now the new buyer is having issues…who will they come back to sue?

4502finley

When I first got into real estate I thought: “I know so many people, surely they will work with me.” Not the case. There are somewhere around 9,000 agents in Austin!! I have heard statistics that we have more licensed agents per capita than any other city (cat has been out of the bag on how hot Austin is for a while now). Growing a thick skin became part of the job. Finding out some of your best friends got married and bought houses through people they saw weekly at church or lived across the street from a Realtor was a tough, but realistic part of the business. I always thought well maybe I shouldn’t tell them I am still working my second job. I would think: “No one wants to work with an agent who has to have another job. Don’t they know I am busting my butt trying to make it in this business?!” Time. It all takes time, persistence, and experience. It is hard to get that first deal, but when you do (and mine was a $90,000 condo on the east side) it is such a good feeling, but the momentum must continue and the steps that lead to success are more than I care to go into right now, so I will spare the details.

Like most economic models, I would say 90% of the agents make 10% of the money and the top 10% of agents make 90% of the money.

For me, it isn’t about the money as much as it is about helping others. And it isn’t always the easiest, but if I can help them in some way–a referral, selling them their first home, walking them through the process, telling them where they should go eat–and if they are happy. I am happy.

happyclients stuarts

3. Myth #3: Real Estate agents make their own leisurely schedules and don’t even work 40hrs a week!

I will agree that some of the more successful agents possibly don’t work 40hrs a week, but that’s because at some point in time they put in 60+ a week and now pay salaries of 3 people working under them.  But being a real estate agent is much like any entrepreneur. And Austin is a city that is full of them. Any one you know that has a successful business didn’t get there by slacking off and watching Ellen every day and sleeping in. Definitely not. And once you get going in business you don’t really want to stop. (OK a few agents I know are totally content with a few deals a month, and don’t want to grow and expand their business–but it is rare).

I know I feed to this myth because I post facebook photos of me traveling to countries, US cities, going to concerts, making gift baskets for clients, grocery shopping in the middle of the day. Are all these fabulous items perks of making my own schedule: ABSOLUTELY.

WHAT YOU DO NOT SEE: I sometimes stay up until 2am on the MLS or brainstorming about business or getting caught up on an expense log or mileage (if you are a client reading this you probably know, because have received an email at 1am of a property you might like or a reminder of some sort). I have never been much of a morning person and find I “get in the zone” with little distraction and lack of cable, to where I can get things done late night (sadly).

latenightoncomputer

You also do not see me taking phone calls while on vacation, managing things when “shit hits the fan” constantly checking email. I have been on trips with friends where I get that “roll of the eyes” because I am on the phone, writing an offer, answering a question and not helping load the van for camping or enjoying the baby seal watching on the beach. It’s a balancing act- despite balance always being an idea, but not really ever achievable.  I also always have to make sure I have wifi wherever I book (and usually I take a little time to sit down and get work done and check in with clients etc while I am away). Can I hire an assistant? Sure. But the other issue with being your own boss is 1. No one does it like you do ;) and 2. You have to pay an asst.–so you better be at the level that you can afford to pay someone to help (one day….one day). This again takes TIME like with most successes in life.

workonbeach

I try to remain  positive in life in general (sure I rant, ha see last blog post) but I also think of myself as a realist.  I try to depict positivity for my work life/ethic, and to be honest–it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. But who wants to work with an awful/negative person??

There are hiccups.

There are disappointments.

There are angry client emails frustrated with builders or lenders and taking it out on you.

There are legal items you have to be aware of or they can bite you in the butt and come close to being sued.

There are things you just flat out don’t know and beyond your scope of experience that take time or research, and finding someone who can help you help your clients can be a challenge. EVERYONE is busy.

So while my travel photos and happy client photos may seem all peaches–sometimes there was a dark, rocky road before we got to that point. If you are a people pleaser, it may not be the best career for you, because as I mentioned before–the skin has to grow pretty thick. We can waste a lot of time and energy pleasing others and bending over backward for them, when really they are never going to be happy anyway.

As a side note: My life looks pretty awesome because, well, it is– but it is just me. I have no kids to mother, no day care/school/clothing expenses…my mouth is the only one to feed. I have no husband to take care of or plan my schedule with. It is just me! I look up to successful agents that somehow manage 3 kids, still managing to cook for them, run the house, still make time to train for half marathons, run a business, take vacations and get it all done, it’s impressive and I hope to one day be at that level.

bizmommy

I certainly didn’t cover all the bases and don’t want to bore (or scare) you with the nitty gritty details, but hopefully I provided enough insight and de-bunked a few myths of #realtorlife. Thanks for reading.

Posted in Austin, Austin Home sales, Austin Market news, real estate having Comments Off

DISCLOSURE: Listing a Home after you have seen an Inspection Report

November 15th, 2013 by Ashley Brinkman

Here is the best way to go about listing a home, when you have been shown (the first) buyer’s full inspection report.

I had an event happen recently that has inspired this little blog on DISCLOSURE.

I am already an honest person, at times I say to a fault, but when it comes to housing, I don’t think you can ever say too much. Representing a seller, you want to address ANY issues that could eventually come back and haunt you or worse…sue you.

I put a nice little 3/2 one story home in Milwood (7016 Riverton) on the market a few weeks back. Milwood, with it’s great schools and location near the tech corridor, couldn’t be a better location for some and the price is definitely affordable. We didn’t even have it on the market before I had calls on it (beauty of pre-marketing to other agents and “Coming Soon” signs). We had showings before it hit the market. And offers in three days. Austin is in a great spot right now, especially for sellers. We are priced: Affordably, and that is hard to come by as prices are on the rise.

After our inspection report came back, as predicted there were maintenance items needed, updated items needed, a few safety issues–and this is all standard, especially for a 30yr old home. Inspection reports can be scary for buyers. It’s rare that a home is “totally clean.” There is always something–and that’s ok…we were to work through it.

home inspection

Often times what is deemed important to one, is not always important to another. In this instance the buyers had asked some items serviced, cleaned, repaired etc. And after days of conversations and email lists and bids, ultimately we just couldn’t agree. And that is OK too. I have represented plenty of buyers to know that–after you spend money buying a house, you don’t really want to spend any more fixing it to your standards or doing things you felt should have been done or maintained. Now, while I usually recommend a seller get a report before putting their home on the market, there’s also nothing wrong with having the buyer pay for one and addressing the issues after either. The pro to purchasing one before listing: You have time to address and fix, and not have to waste time if you have to go back on the market after you lose a buyer. The cons: Paying for it yourself. And what you may deem as a “NEED TO” type items, the buyers may have other plans in mind.

So here we are. Off the market. Buyer and seller couldn’t come to terms. We now have the buyer’s inspection report, a list of bids, desired items to be fixed, notices of what’s been broken. What is next?

Disclose. Disclose. DISCLOSE.

I am grateful to have reasonable sellers who now are taking the time to address these items before we put it back on the market. What do we tell buyers who are looking now? Exactly what we found in the report. I think it is in good practice to do the following, when putting a home back on the market after being exposed to the buyer’s inspection report:

_DSC0001_2_3_4_5_6Adjust copy

(Home above the one I am writing from experience in this post, 7016 Riverton, Austin Tx)

1. Market home with an updated seller’s disclosure (this is required in Tx, so as a buyer, you should see this with almost every home you purchase, exceptions being foreclosures and a few other specific cases).

2. Re-filling out the seller’s disclosure with noted sections referring to first buyer’s inspection report, what has been fixed, and all you now know, or referencing an attached list of items/explanation.

3. Invoiced and warranty work.

Last year I had a seller that was a bit of a pack rat. Now, in most cases this is usually a bad thing when it comes to listing houses BUT this seller put every single piece of documented paperwork in an accordion file for the house. It was great and I HIGHLY recommend it for all you home owners out there. When it comes time to sell, you don’t have to scratch your head and think-did we have the AC serviced in 2008 or 2009? Rather you have all the paperwork to prove it. I also think there is nothing better than for a buyer to get a stack of paperwork on how to operate the sprinklers or alarm systems. (As an agent I have had to go online and find a model number and manual and send to my clients before, and it is much easier to just give it to the new buyer, I also think it shows-as a seller-that you appreciate the buyer and you took care of the home and its contents).

IMG_1639(House above I sold last year and seller had everything in a binder for me-win!)

I also can’t express enough how assured it makes buyer’s feel to get a transferable warranty. And when it comes to “foundation” that word alone scares buyers, but not when you have structural drawings, invoices and warranties to back up what you did for your home. So in this instance-KEEP YOUR PAPERWORK!

4. Photos and/or a list of the items you had repaired.

This is just a little bonus I think is good to point out to potential buyers to help them understand what was addressed. My clients took photos of the work that was being done (as photos are in inspections) work completed is helpful too!

5. First Buyer’s Inspection report. Now this is debatable among agents. A buyer paid a few hundred dollars for this inspection report, why would they want to share it with anyone else? Well, when they gave it to the seller, the seller now has the obligation to disclose.

4130032-real-estate-home-owner-seller-disclosure-statement-with-home-inspection-folder-report-cover-pen-keys

Questions about the Inspection Report being Public:

Did I post the inspection in the MLS when we put the house back on the market? Absolutely.

Did the buyer’s agent ask me to take down the inspection? Yes.

Did I HAVE to take down the inspection? I did not. I have the obligation to fully disclose the defects found in the home. Even if the report read “for Buyer B’s use only” that full report was handed over to my seller, thus legally we must disclose.

Did I take down the inspection anyway? Yes, as a courtesy. I still disclosed to any interested parties. I know that in the past as a buyer’s agent, I don’t necessarily have to give the full report, but perhaps a list of items I want addressed or maybe just the certain pages pertaining to our concerns in the report. Not always the best way (because the report has explanations and photos) but certainly helps.

For-Sale-Sign.3664350_large

When I first started to write this post we had just taken the listing off market….

Finally getting around to finish writing the post and we have already fixed and addressed all safety items in the buyer’s report and put it back on the market, had showings all weekends, phone calls, and a VERY successful open house, then we went under contract again after being in a multiple offer situation (again). Here we go. I look forward to a smooth, honest, transaction. Having my sellers in their new to be built home in Mayfield Ranch and the new buyers with their little one, settled in by Christmas as well.

IMG_2170

Sold

As always, thanks for reading. Hope you found this post informative and not too boring ;)

-Ashley

Posted in Austin, Austin Home sales, real estate, Uncategorized having Comments Off

Austin Texas: A Seller’s Market in 2013: What does it mean for buyers?

June 6th, 2013 by Ashley Brinkman

Last year as predominantly a buyer’s agent I had time for my clients to gather 3-6 homes they wanted to view for our appointment a few days in advanced. We’d go out, take a look, decide what offer to make on which property. I was able to negotiate for them, get seller’s to pay closing costs (depending on the deal of course) and I was able to make everyone happy–my main common goal in my career (and life–in general).

marah and Nick

JT4

 

This year is a different story! I knew it was coming too. As the last quarter or so started to dwindle down in inventory in 2012 I noticed that 2013 would be very different. Each week I would read statistics from Title Co. regarding the decline in listings, the increase of people moving here. Yep. The cat was out of the bag that Austin is a cool town to live in. And as this IT, green, outdoorsy, fun, young, semi-alcoholic filled, laid back, intelligent city started to attract more people, the prices started to rise and people who are currently living here want to stay here.

DSC_0541

Now it is 2013 and we are in a shortage. In case you hadn’t heard, Austin is in a Seller’s market. I do not look like a buyer’s agent Rockstar any more. I am in a secret Facebook group with agents who share Pre-MLS listings, I have even sent out letters to home owners where my buyers are looking to see if they want to sell. I haven’t started door-knocking yet, but I am strongly considering it. The one thing I am trying to maintain is a positive attitude. Has it been easy, no? But really, is it ever in this business? No. But I think with persistence, knowledge, staying in the loop with other agents and thinking of my client’s needs, I can still manage to make my clients happy, but honestly it may have taken them losing out on a few properties to get to a point of aggressiveness. Hard to compete with cash in this market too. It is still a great time to buy if you ask me, however. Maybe you aren’t getting the “deal” you necessarily dreamed of, however securing a low interest rate and purchasing when Austin is projected to be the next best city for the decade isn’t such a bad deal.

IMG_1604

Will we have a bubble? People keep asking me if we are going to burst, like California did. I am no Economist, but based on what I read and hear, here are my over all thoughts:

  • We have steady job growth here (this isn’t a dot.com era where a bunch of companies keep popping up out of nowhere, many various markets are expanding and growing).
  • We have a diverse job market, maybe not as diverse as Houston (which is also doing really well, interesting article on why Houston should be the capital-read here)
  • Projected to be the next best city of the decade (wow!)
  • Consumer confidence is at a 5yr high currently

I feel like I have now been in various cycles of the real estate market. From the absolute bottom, when there was virtually no activity, to when it picked back up and was booming and now the extreme-a competitive rental and buyer’s market. This ever-changing market definitely keeps me on my toes. Being that I work with a lot of buyers, a lot of my blogging and advice is geared toward just that. If you have any questions regarding buying or selling in Austin, Tx please don’t hesitate to ask.

welcome home

As always, thanks for reading! (And yes I took all those photos myself, around Austin etc.!) Start your real estate search here today and let me know if I can be of any help!

ashley3-Ashley

Posted in Austin, Austin Home sales, Austin Market news, real estate having Comments Off

About Ashley Brinkman

Ashley Brinkman is a real estate agent willing to help you with all your real estate needs. She can help you find that perfect Austin home. From investment properties in campus, Hyde Park charmers, modern downtown condos, or a house in Northwest Hills with views, Austin has a lot to offer every type of person. Ashley knows purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments a person can make, so she will help you make the most educated and best decision for you. Not ready to buy yet? Austin is made up of 49% renters, hopefully she can help you find the perfect place... for now.