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!

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

-Ashley

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First Dates + Cocktails= Bad Idea Jeans.

January 25th, 2014 by Ashley Brinkman

Recently on a Saturday night (why, oh why did I agree to waste a Saturday??) I posted on facebook (after my bad date) “For those of you that follow my personal life via my fantastic dating blog– may have a new “worst first date” blog coming soon.
Stay tuned!!”

Once again, no secret that I blog about my dating life. It’s humorous and honestly, pretty topical. So many things you can discuss with clients, friends and even strangers when it comes to dating or being single in this town. So I figured, why the hell not share it?

Forty Two likes later….and here I am.

Can we first start with Tinder? Some say it is a “hook up” app. but here is my spiel: First off, I am a female–I don’t need an app to “hook up.” Secondly, I am in my 30s (wow that is weird to say) therefore anything can really be used, like online dating, where people ask “Isn’t that site just used for hooking up?!”

tinder

People! You are in charge of YOUR actions and your body, so if you choose to hook up with so called boy from Tinder or not–so be it. It can go either way….and it doesn’t necessarily even have to start from a form of online/technological communication.

Never heard of Tinder? Well, it is the most shallow thing I have ever done, but weirdly enough it is direct, positive and instantly gratifies you. (Pretty much everything people in my generation need). Here is how it works: Syncs to your facebook acct. You post five photos of yourself and maybe write a little something about yourself. Most guys don’t (go figure). Unless there is a baby in the photo and they want the females to know, “that’s my niece!” Or if they need to go ahead and disclose they are 6’2 (to brag) or 5’8 (too warn us height obsessed tall girls that they are too short for us). Regardless, you put in your age range (let’s say 29-35) and mileage (30mi radius) and up  pops the gender you are looking for within those specifications. You swipe right if you like and left you don’t. It is that simple. Crazy huh? (However, this does go back to my point that you HAVE to be attracted to the other person to establish any kind of connection).

Now, if you swiped right on a guy and he swipes right on you then it lets you know and you can immediately start messaging (texting) through the application or it says “Keep Playing” because yeah, it is kind of a game. Boom! You are matched. Not only is your self esteem boosted (because you never know who swiped left on you and can only see the hottie that also thinks you are a hottie), but you are now instantly able to communicate. This is where you can pretty much dictate if this person sounds like a total bore, they are not looking for the same things as you or you’d actually want to meet this person.

Which, brings us to….my date Saturday. Me and homeboy had quite a bit in common. We both swiped right. Same age.  Tx born, both in Real Estate. Texted through Tinder, then he got the number, then I hate to admit (but was actually free on a Saturday night). So he called (bonus points for calling!!) to set up the date.

After showings some condos, taking some photos, showing a friend around, I had ended up on Rainey. This was my first mistake. I thought I saw him (homeboy I was going to go on a date with) so I texted him, “Hey are you at Bar 96 by chance?” He texted back, “No, why?” And I said, “Oh, thought I saw you”

bar96

Bad idea. So now when I go to the East side to meet up with home boy for a cocktail two hours later, he thinks I have already been day drinking (which I hadn’t) and no telling how many he had before he got there as he proceeds to pound drinks as I am taking my time (drinks were strong–Bourbon so easier to sip than slam). PS we tried Whisler’s and they have awesome craft cocktails and a very cool vibe- I do recommend that place!  whisler

Conversation was fine, and we had talked about grabbing a bite to eat. Somehow (and maybe I should have re-directed this decision) we came to J Blacks. As if I don’t spend enough time at that place.

Homeboy invited his friend (solo..in fact, we will call his friend Hans Solo in this post) to join us on our date. Alright, that’s cool, I can go along with that I guess??? (wtf was going on?) When we got to that bar, I ordered a water. Homeboy brought me from the bar a vodka Red bull. Awesome…just like water. And he ordered himself a Crown and coke–double. We ordered food. Well I ordered food for us while he chatted with Hans (I put it on my tab–not complaining-just noting) at the bar. His friend stood there and chatted with us by the small cocktail table. Sorry, did I say chat? I meant yell. That place was way too loud for the time we were there. Volume needs to go up at 11pm not 9pm. (Ok I know I sound like a grandma but it is true). Food came. Hans  walked to the bar to watch sports highlights, but the bar was pretty busy at this point. We could see him  from where we were. We started to eat and holy mother of god was the thai pulled pork pizza too spicy for this girl. I told him I couldn’t finish because it was too spicy and that’s when I realized that homeboy was pretty much too drunk and not comprehending me (loud music probably didn’t help). He told me he was going to go talk to Hans because he felt bad he was alone. Cool. So there I sat with my spicy ass pizza and my can of Red Bull thinking to myself, what the hell is going on, why am I still here, and hmm who else is out that I can go hang out with? haha.

hanssolo

Hans actually came over and talked to me when homeboy was in the restroom. He told me that he told him to call off our date at 9pm and then go out because homeboy likes to get super hammered. I mentioned to Hans that I was pretty much thinking of slipping off to the bathroom and not coming back because homeboy was so drunk he wouldn’t remember. Can’t remember what else Hans and I talked about, I think it was awkward. I basically told him  this is why I hate doing drinks on the first date, and usually any place loud for that matter. So there we were. Homeboy came back from the restroom and was getting a little handsy he kept mentioning something lame about “my beautiful eyes” and leaning in super close. In which I kept pulling back and finally told him that I was going to go and let him hang with Hans. He asked me if I was having a good time and well, honest Ash had spoken-I shook my head no and shrugged my shoulders like “sorry?” I told him I was going to go to the bathroom.

rbv

When I came back out, I ran into a friend and pretty much never went back to the table. Am I an awful person for doing that? I looked over several times and never saw him (pretty sure Hans told him I was bailing and off they went and played) No text from him asking where I had gone or anything all night. I paid my tab and hung out with the new crew I had acquired. I can’t necessarily call that one “my worst date ever” (refer to this blog  post) BUT let’s chalk it up to one of the many reasons why you shouldn’t drink on the first date. No one needs to meet the drunk version of yourself on date one. They just need to meet the representative of yourself you sent out for date #1 (let’s face it, the real you take a bit to come out, maybe date #3?).

The following day, about noon homeboy did finally follow up for a text. He said he needed to run 4mi and puke. And I said “Cool, just got through with a ten miler.” And he followed with “Sorry about last night, I think I was trying to catch up when you were trying to slow down.” I wrote “exactly.” And haven’t heard from him since. Cool story bro, huh?

townrun600

If you learned anything from this post, I hope it is that: Whisler’s is cool and don’t get hammered on your first dates and waste Saturday nights on strangers. Peace!

 

 

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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.

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WHY ONLINE DATING IS TERRIBLE. Rant I

November 15th, 2013 by Ashley Brinkman

I have so many thoughts and interesting conversations on this subject (see past blog) that I have decided to write a little more and break these posts up into a mini-series. So we will call this one…

ONLINE DATING IS TERRIBLE: RANT 1, THE APPROACH.

Note: If you met your SO (significant other) online, that is all good for you. I am happy for you…many of my friends have. Don’t tell me not to be negative about finding someone. I am just being real and I bet you can TOTALLY relate to this post as you have tried to block the bad memories of before you met Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Momma always said, “Dating is a numbers game.” The problem is-I only have so much time (and can only count so high) to play this so called “game.”

I don’t even know where to begin. I was scrolling through Facebook this evening, per usual and noticed a friend’s post say “Match.com suggested two guys I’ve already dated…not a good sign! :)” This has totally happened to me too. The reason being is that really there is no “matching system” with Match.com, ladies, they just know that you put in a mile radius, a height requirement, you want kids someday and you are a social drinker–who gives a shit about any of those core things that really matter and connect two people?! Let’s start browsing.

So I will start here, with Match.com. I will first preface my rantings with this: I have dated online off and on for the past few years and also when I was younger and new to a different city. (So don’t tell me I haven’t done it long enough, believe me, I have). Let’s start with the different “approaches I have taken” with online dating…

alg_online_dating

1. There’s the “Ok, he doesn’t look that great in the pictures, but seems like he’s really nice and has his shit together and had a nice, well composed email and knows the difference between “their” and “they’re” maybe he is better looking in person, so I will go on a date with him and see what happens/keep an open mind” Approach.

<Fail.  This is a bad idea. If you aren’t attracted to their raw photos, blurry photos, prom pic from high school photo, selfie while in a truck with a seatbelt on photo, wearing a hat and sunglasses holding a fish with three other dudes (you can’t even tell which one he is) photo, selfie at the gym to show his tiny calfs photo, sweet photo of him as a groomsmen with mom at his brother’s wedding photo, side profile “Instagrammed up” photo, or the one of him holding a child with the quote underneath it letting you know the child is not his: “Me and my niece” photo–you probably won’t be attracted to them in person. From the bottom of my shallow heart, you really do have to be attracted to the person, unless you’re blind I guess.>

v-man-kid-happy

2. There’s the “Ok I am not going to wink, like, poke (whatever) or email first, because if a guy is really into me, he will approach me first and ask me out, I read “The Rules” and I am just too assertive and apparently intimidate guys according to my friends (who are really just saying that to try and make me feel better, because they don’t know what else to tell me) but whatever happens, happens” Approach.

<Fail. Let me tell you what happens….(hear that? It’s crickets.) Nothing happens. Guys are just as big of wussies online as they are in public.

It goes like this: “Oh! A cute guy that’s tall, no kids, doesn’t smoke and also runs town lake (what do ya know!) looked at my profile-score! I will look at his so he sees that I am checking him out, hopefully he will shoot me a line, we both go to the same places etc etc” So you look. Two days later:

“Oh he looked at mine again, I will look at him and maybe refresh his memory that I am looking, after all this is like me looking at him from across the bar, now he should approach me by writing first, after all  I am a damn catch!” Maybe I should wink first?..No, no…I cannot wink, because that is too aggressive, and I am afraid of rejection, surely we have a lot in common, he’ll wink or email me, I am the shit….

(crickets)

Nothing. (hashtag typical).>

cricket

3. There’s the “I am just going to sign up, not care too much “this time around,” god I hate online dating, why do I keep doing this to myself, I have friends, I meet people, this is just another way of putting myself out there I guess,  so whatever happens, happens.” Approach.

<Fail. (well sometimes). This is how approach #3 goes down in the first three days–

1. you feel super flattered-”Oh look at all these likes I am getting on my new profile pic!”  “Ooooh another text came in that I have an email on match how exciting, let me go read it…”

2.Text notification: Hunk1956 winked at you. Hunk1956 emailed you. WoW5678 emailed you. MrLonghrnLove emailed you. TxGent512 winked at you. blah blah blah…

and sadly, I realize I shouldn’t complain, there are men interested in me, that’s great… but guess what?:

3. Hunk1956 is older than your Dad.

MrLonghrnLove is 5’3 and 22. (I am 30).

TxGent512 is divorced with 3 kids and living in Temple, Tx

and WoW5678  has no photos whatsoever and that is kind of scary that he has a world of warcraft reference in his username.

Now, let’s dig a little deeper to what their emails say…

(PS All usernames were made up by me to protect the “innocent”).

world-of-warcraft-screenshot

MEN: What NOT to write when “approaching” a woman online:

1. Hey I like ur pics!

2. Hey what’s up?

3. Hey what are you up to tonight?

4. Hey, I am curious about you and want to get to know you, if you want to get to know me text me at 512……

5. Hey, what’s going on, how is match treating you so far?

6. Wow you’re gorgeous!

7. How are you?! Any weekend plans? You are beautiful and charming and I want to get to know you better, check out my profile and if you want to get to know me we should hang out some time.

(PS I really have gotten some of these messages).

I could go on—but you get the point. What do they all have in common? Only the fact that they are freakin’ lame. Is that what you would say if you started a conversation with a woman in public/a bar/a house party/ among a circle of friends/through a friend/the grocery store or wherever else you would meet a lady?!? Well, I guess you most likely wouldn’t talk to a woman in public…who does any more these days? That’s why you are online, but come on Broseph! A one liner that you copy and pasted to ten different women at 12am is not going to make me interested in you. You don’t have to actually read my entire profile, I will even accept skimming, but if you plan on writing me-you better reference something in there that you liked (and if there wasn’t anything in there that you liked, you probably shouldn’t be writing me) and make a joke (but don’t write LOL I hate that crap)…but women LOVE funny. So learn how to be that.

Ok, ok I know I sound like a total B or a Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy, but it is the truth (for me anyway)! I am an average looking female (I am no Mila Kunis-I get it..but I am also no Dooneese either),  I have a lot to offer; I mean I work hard, I workout, I don’t smoke…I am witty (at least I’d like to think so) and I can “dress up and wear heels or be laid back with jeans too” (men seem to reference this a lot in their profiles). Oh and guess what?! I like going out with my friends some nights and having fun AND I don’t mind staying in from time to time either-maybe cooking or watching a movie on the couch. This profile sound familiar? (that’s a whole other rant).

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So why is it that I can’t find a decent catch? Are MY expectations too high? Probably. Not gonna lie.

Men think its a “Woman’s world” online…and it is… (for really hot women…who aren’t crazy…wait does that exist? That may be an oxymoron of some sort). Anyway…. there are a lot of them in Austin–hot women, that is (ok and crazy too, but that’s a whole other rant). But really good looking men (IMO) see online “dating” as a sea of desperate women who so badly want a relationshit, (that wasn’t a typo) that it is easy to take advantage of by pretending they want the same…or some are pretty blatantly looking to hook up. And some are just so damn awkward/shy they have to hide online to approach women (I have met them all).

Ok, I am getting long on this so I will save it for my next posts. Thanks for reading and I hope you find my honesty refreshing and not too negative. “Tune” in next time, when I will probably rant about texting…

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or selfies…

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As always, thanks for reading….

 

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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.

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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:

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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

-Ashley

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The Thirties Club

September 5th, 2013 by Ashley Brinkman

If you don’t follow me on Facebook–or have any idea who I am, one thing I will tell you, is that I just turned 30!

And while some may think that “sounds old” my “youth is now behind me” I am really embracing it. People keep telling me how much better your 30′s are than your 20′s. And this article even hits home a little bit with Oliva Wilde’s interpretation and advice for turning 30. Especially her first item “Don’t freak out by all the people who accomplish more than you by 30.” Often times I find myself comparing or feel as though I am behind. Life moves at my pace. And that is not a bad pace when I stop and think about it.

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Another thing to know is that I don’t mess around when it comes to Birthdays, (I think it is because school always started on my Birthday or had to do family parties with the little bro-who is 6yrs and 5 days younger) this year I went big–two parties to be exact. Everyone keeps asking how 30 feels and this and that so I decided to write a little post about well, what I learned in my 20s…from social skills to career choices.

(photo below from my actual Birthday night at Icenhauer’s on Rainey Street)

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REALIZATIONS AND THINGS I HAVE LEARNED BEFORE TURNING 30:

1. You can only stay up late, eat crappy, get up early for work  with virtually no hangover for so long…until your mid-20s…then you start to feel it in the morning and really regret the night before’s festivities.

2. Breakouts and pimples really never go away. It’s not just a puberty thing.

3. If you get a parking ticket, just pay it ASAP (and the same goes for tolls-get a Tx Tag as soon as they build the road)!

4. In addition to #3 if it says they will tow, they probably will.

5. Getting out of America is good for you!   {Really never got a chance to travel that much when I was in college or my early 20s, I wish I would have done it sooner. Though it may have taken me a while to do it, I am so glad that I traveled for 3 weeks in Europe last year at 29 (see previous blog posts for cities I visited, I still haven’t finished up with Italy and Spain).}

IMG_1140(This is a pose we do at my Crossfit gym when traveling, I am no Yogi)

6. Stretch. This from the girl who pulled a quad playing kickball a few seasons back. Social sports are all fun and games until someone breaks an arm or leg, or gets a shoulder to the nose at a second base play at the plate (yes, this has happened to me-see below). So be careful out there!

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7. If a guy is into you, it will be apparent. They will ask you out and they like the chase. Or do they? Crap, maybe I still haven’t learned anything about men…

8. I have learned that over-analyzing the crap out of anything is just exhausting. Let go. Let things happen.

9. On the contrary to #8, but mainly relating to the business sense: Be proactive. If you want something in life, you can have it. You can achieve it. But only if you want it bad enough. And it will not take over night.

10. Pick-A-Prof.com was the key to success in college (it’s all about the professor and having 10 exams vs 2–for me anyway)!

11. Start saving your money and putting it into an IRA or 401k as soon as you can. If you don’t when you hit

12. If you want an item, it’s probably cheaper on Amazon…but be careful that you order the correct item-and read fine print!

13.Texting and driving is a bad idea!!

14. It really is all about who you know…(and how hard you work to get there).

15. Fake IDs during Spring Break or on 6th street that lack a hologram are a bad idea. (Fake IDs in NYC while you are an intern=good idea). Ah to be young.

16. Don’t put any clothing that reads “made of polyester” in the dryer (or anything that says hang to dry for that matter).

17. Taking your time to re-read emails and making sure they are going to the right person–>pretty damn important.

18. It’s not about your actual age, how you dress, what you have, what you do…it is about how you feel :)

19. That phase when you can’t stand your parents/fight with them will go away… once you move out of the home and off to college…then you will start to realize, appreciate (and feel bad for being a bratty terror).

20. Therapy is a good idea. No matter how strange it may seem at first or expensive. It’s worth it.

21.. Don’t break up with a guy/someone via text message…on accident…long story.

22. If Usher walks by you backstage during SXSW and you hold up your hand to high-five him and he doesn’t high five you, call him out on it. Then you will get a high five from Usher.

23. Living in regret is wasteful. (still learning this).

24. If Anderson Cooper wants you to be on his show, don’t do it. Actually, do it, it’s a free trip to NYC and no one will remember a year later!

And with turning 30, my list making self decided last year it would be a good idea to make up a 30 before 30 list. It was basically comprised of things from big to small, I felt should have a deadline, and could be achievable. Per usual I may have out done myself, as I did not get ALL 30 items complete #30before30

Here are some of the things I DID get crossed off my list. #30before30

  • Finally camped (real deal, in Colorado in June, it was 30 degrees at night!)
  • 2013-06-02 15.58.00Saw a Broadway show (Lion King was awesome)
  • Went to Europe!
  • getting on planeBob Armstrong dip at Matt’s El Rancho..mmmm
  • Went to an Improv Show in Austin (totally want to go back, try Cold Towne theatre)
  • Cliff Diving (I did this in Cinque Terre, what better place? PS- I look orange only due to camera settings, I promise I didn’t spray tan!)
  • IMG_0681Rode a motorcycle (only took 29 yrs!)
  • Tried painting with a Twist (this was so much fun)
  • Pork chop at Perry’s Steakhouse
  • Diversified my portfolio some
  • Help someone achieve their goal
  • Ran the Cap 10k AND  the Austin Half (finished in best time-including photo taking along the way)
  • IMG_3793Got paid for some of my photography (cutest family, ever)
  • 1Went to a US city I had never been to (Love you San Diego)

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Things I have yet to do, perhaps I will make a #31before31 list? And add to it more items…

  • Horse back riding (I am from Tx and have NEVER been on a horse!)
  • Paleo diet for ONE WHOLE WEEK (this is near impossible as my love for cheese/dairy is strong)
  • Read a classic novel (thinking Catcher in the Rye?)
  • Visit 2 Austin museums I have yet to go to
  • Get my CRS designation in Real Estate (trying to find a good time to take those courses-it’s a high quality problem)
  • Sky Diving!! (Thinking Oct. who is with me?)
  • Cooking class-boy do I need this.
  • Do more yoga/me time (this is not easy for me)
  • Volunteer more!
  • 3 kipping pull ups in a row (I am only cheating myself, can’t seem to link these babies)

Overall, life is good. I really cannot complain and have been trying to practice gratitude on a more daily basis. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we don’t have, what we need, what we want, what would make our life better and it doesn’t even hit us that life could be a lot worse, and life is good.

 

 

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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As always, thanks for reading! (And yes I took all those photos myself, around Austin etc.!)

ashley3-Ashley

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Ashley Takes on Europe 2012: ROME

April 19th, 2013 by Ashley Brinkman

STOP #5: Rome, Italy

Germany had been wonderful, Megan was now my travel partner in crime and though she had already been to Rome once before, her love of art and history had me excited for Rome. The phrase “You can’t do Rome in a day” was definitely true.

Can I just add we thought it would be a good idea to fly Ryan Air? Oh how I love taking a bus to an airport in the middle of nowhere, barely making the weight limit with our bags and then piling on Ryan Air plastic seats where your knees hit the seat in front of you. Worth it. We snuck wine on and watched Always Sunny in Philadelphia and flew over the Swiss alps as the sun set. It was crazy pretty. Landing in Italy, getting in the bus to the airport and then finding our way to our room was another big ordeal…or shall I say, fiasco? We managed but it was humid, hot, no signage, and a good walk to the train, where we exited Termini….the main train station by which we were staying.

We had just booked a room a few days prior and of course we booked one that said it had wifi…did it? No. And did we even stay in the intended room we were supposed to stay in? No. We had to check into an Italian restaurant where a nice man promised us we were being upgraded, a short, young Italian man walked us a couple blocks to our room and alas–no wifi (or upgraded room). I think, if I recall correctly it was the room that had a timer on the light switch and window units with a mattress that felt like something people in jail might sleep on. Ah, the life.

So, the little Italian man was really sweet and like we were going to refuse a free Italian meal after we just rolled into town, and some vino. We threw down our stuff, complained of our accommodations then went down for din-din. I can’t remember what we were served up, but I remember all I wanted in Italy was lasagna.

In the midst of our Italian meal, sitting at the sidewalk patio table chatting, we explained we bought the room specifically for  wifi capabilities only to find there was no wifi. “Oh yes, yes you can use it here! I will get you the code.” (read in an Italian accent and broken English). And so as I set my phone out to wait for him to come back, to get the wifi code, it was snatched up. Yep, I set it on the table (like an idiot) and someone ran by, snagged it and took off running. I had grabbed my purse it was sitting on, and saved that, but stood up in shock. The guy who had shown us to our room was actually dining next to us, he untucked his bib from his collar and took off running after him, yet no such luck.

Little did I know not having my phone for the rest of the trip, though was tough here and there–was actually a blessing in disguise.

And now, some photos from Rome

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The Coloseum–probably my favorite thing, line was long, took a tour to skip some of it, and its size is impressive and how it was built even more so.

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Here I am in the massive arena.
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Streets of Rome are narrow and winding, loved it. Tons of motorcycles and unorganized traffic worse than MoPac.

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Did you know Rome has more fountains than any other city in the world? Did you know Kansas City is second to Rome in # of fountains? (Fun Fact I learned when living in KC)

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Here we are getting robbed as tourist, pretty sure we paid a pretty penny for these cheesy pics! (worth it!)DSC_0662

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The ParthenonDSC_0693

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Our Coleseum Tour guideDSC_0560

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Had a mini obsession with taking photos of cool doors while I was in Europe.DSC_0746

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Italian we ate while there, some damn good lasagna but most likely a tourist trap, ha.DSC_0749

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So right after the ol phone got stollen (it was night) we decided to walk around, so I saw this at night-so pretty, so big, and at least I had my camera.IMG_0472

 

We weren’t in Rome for very long, a good full two days, and I didn’t get to see the best part of the Vatican (it was Sunday–we poorly planned) BUT the best part of the trip was to come-a train ride to Cinque Terre, coastal Italy here we come. I was so ready to relax (and exercise, despite walking a ton in flat flip flops this girl needed a hike or swim, or something).

 

And off we went!

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CrossFit “The Cult” (that others seem to hate on)

February 14th, 2013 by Ashley Brinkman

This past weekend I competed in my first CrossFit competition, which is why I felt compelled to write this blog on CrossFit and my spin on it….(ok and to vent a little).

CrossFit is one of the fastest growing  fitness movements in the Nation. More people are now becoming aware of what CrossFit is all about…or are they?

Is it a phase like Atkins or Tae-Bo (yes I used to do those tapes)?, perhaps, but I don’t see it going anywhere for a while with the principles that it enforces in the fitness world.

I am not going to go into why the culmination of strength and weight training, endurance, gymnastics, flexibility,  alongside the Paleo diet should be apart of any athlete’s regimen, BUT I am going to say this–I am so tired of people giving CrossFit goers grief. I know it can be “cult” like, but I don’t see anything wrong with a group of people working out together, achieving personal goals, getting in better shape, perhaps even losing weight or gaining muscle, feeling better about themselves, and possibly altering their lifestyles for the better.

Like with any fitness craze that gains a vast following there will always be a trainer that disagrees, “Oh your back hurts, huh? Probably from doing cross fit.” If you think about it, if someone does any sport long enough, don’t eventually you increase your chances of getting hurt? Doesn’t form tire out for anyone who does a repeated motion exhausting their body? I can’t name a whole lot of athletes I know who haven’t had to ice down a body part, take a break, take some Advil or ease the pain. It’s when we start doing things in an obsessiveness or don’t stop when something hurts, take a break when exhausted, roll out when sore–that eventually catches up with “us.” And does that mean it’s because “we” do CrossFit, no but depends on the person-how far they decide to push themselves.

I had a friend recently who said she wanted to try something new, like a boot camp or workout classes. I said, you should come with me to a free CrossFit workout at my gym. And she replied, frightened a bit, “Oh, I don’t know if I want to do a workout that’s so hard core where the coach yells at you the whole time.”

(I interjected– as that is NOT the case at all CrossFit gyms–eventually I will get her to join me soon on a free Saturday workout!)

Whoa-talk about a bad impression. Is that what people think CrossFit is like? A bunch of meat heads yelling at people during a really intense workout?

Perhaps some CrossFit gyms have some pompous coaches yelling (err motivating and pushing??) their clientele, but this hasn’t been my experience with CrossFit, which I am happy to say.

Are all CrossFit boxes (aka gyms) the same?

No. I cannot guarantee down to Earth, positive coaches…or even coaches that can do all the movements, lift more than you, do more burpees in 2min than you or eat Paleo on a consistent basis. The coaches have to be certified, and it is a written test, not a physical test.

Who would you trust more with your nutritional and diet program? A fat dietician or one that looks lean and healthy?

Healthy should have been the more common/on-par answer.

So who do I trust with my CrossFit workouts?  My coaches (Kyle and Blake) at CrossFit City Limits, Austin Tx. They are patient. They can do the workouts. They can beat most-if not all of us-in the workouts. They display and teach proper form. They also know the importance of mobility exercises as well. (You never knew how much a lacrosse ball would come in handy until you learn to work out some knots!) Also, they aren’t arrogant but encouraging. They aren’t mean, but motivating…and shouldn’t that be what it’s all about?

So fortunate to discover this place near my house a little after they opened up. (You’re welcome for the plug guys).

Sooooo…before you start “hating” on people who like intense workouts, setting weight lifting goals for themselves, maybe wear crazy colored socks to their knees or those expensive rubber looking shoes that are like “toesies” shut it. Yes, we CrossFitters have been known to toss around the word “WOD” or talk about it more than anticipated, but it’s better than some of the other cults out there! We aren’t worshipping demonic/non-existent items or killing people, so quit complaining and give it a try, what do you have to lose (besides a little pride after you get whooped up on, ha!)

-Thanks for reading my rant!, Ashley

PS Photos below from our first members only competition, also can find them by liking the CrossFit City Limits Facebook Page!

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Ashley Takes on Europe: MUNICH

February 14th, 2013 by Ashley Brinkman


STOP #4: Munich

I took a bus, yes a bus (by now I felt like I was in the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles) from Prague bright and early to Munich. I was told to take the early one because the later one is filled with partiers headed to Oktoberfest. The drive and country side were pretty, sadly I sat next to a man who didn’t speak a lick of English and slept the whole way, I was bored. I did eat at a Mc Donalds in Prague. That was interesting.

So my adventures in Couch Surfing had thus far been successful. Crazy for some to accept, but Jane in Berlin was awesome. Those of you unfamiliar with couchsurfing.org (or CS), hosts and surfers get reviewed like E-Bay sellers and buyers. So when I saw Michael had hosted and surfed over 200 times and he was all about Oktoberfest, I thought it would be great. I did read negative reviews he had, but figured I wouldn’t have a personality clash with him like some of the reviews had indicated. I get along with most. When I got there he picked me up from the bus station, super nice of him. He had another surfer with him (who he met through CS). We dropped off stuff, I warned him that I was still recovering and exhausted but we walked to Oktoberfest together and…how do I put this…Michael is a bit forceful. I was greatful his English was perfect, but after two hours with him forcing me to drink up, eat up, ride this ride, do this, do that…I was ready to take a nap. That’s exactly what I did. I texted Megan when back at the apt. and let her know that I didn’t think she was going to like him too much. Michael was a bit of an A-hole, not going to lie. His politics and anal retentive habits, as well as talking about how rich he was, how awesome he was, and racist comments rubbed me the wrong way. I went along with it, but knew feisty Megan may just come out. ;)

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(Michael my host on left, and the other youngster couch surfer)

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(My first beer at Oktoberfest…ugh probably not the best choice being sick and all, but only young once, right?)

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(Oktoberfest in the day time a few hours after arriving in Munich, rides looked awesome, did a few myself).

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(You can’t go to Germany and NOT have a pretzel).

Some photos below from the fetival in the day time, so pretty out-70s and sunny :)

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(How adorable are these guys above?)

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(I am sorry, I couldn’t resist. It was 3pm, someone was napping on the grassy null!)IMG_0426

Day 1–Complete. Still not feeling the best and drunk off two beers I slept from about 6pm to 7am, it was ridiculous but needed. And now, I was feeling good about day 2 and Meg’s arrival (oh and she had American drugs in tow from CVS, yes!)

Megan I met back in the day waiting tables when I had first moved back to Austin after a stint in Kansas City. The funny thing is, we don’t hang out that often, we can pick up where we left off when we catch up and we get along perfectly BUT we were about to spend two weeks together–this could be interesting.

I was so happy to see her. While traveling alone hadn’t been bad at all, a friend or companion (English speaking at that) was going to be nice to have. Branching out alone can be difficult. Off the train Megan appeared! We dropped off her stuff, went into Munich, grabbed some breakfast and did a free walking tour around Munich starting at the Glockenspiel.

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(Our walking tour guide, he was British I believe, but good history lessons)DSC_0484

There really isn’t much to Munich. A lot of everything was rebuilt since destroyed in the war, and it was much tinier than I had anticipated. We had a beer during the tour, grabbed some food after (I was already tired of pretzels or any white bread for that matter, ha).

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(Statue of the King, his son, we learned did a tribute to him, despite the fact he hated this statue and the fact he was sitting down, however his son is the reason we celebrate Oktoberfest, when he married they had a festival in some open fields, now Oktoberfest..or something like that, I can’t seem to retain everything I hear).

Time to shop for our Oktoberfest outfits. Yes, they are ridiculously expensive but even major department stores sell them…in fact they were very easy to come by that week. We found a thrift shop (I had researched Trip Advisor previously) and we found some authentic hand-me down dirndles. Being the girls that we are, this did take hours, but so worth it. We later got ready back at Michaels, got ready and went to Oktoberfest. It was nightmare-ish. I know now that IF I were to go back to Oktoberfest I much prefer it in the day when you can actually find a seat, the sun is shining and a jacket isn’t necessary. That night we got in a little late, the taxi had dropped us off a little farther North and I had been texting Michael we were on our way, which he said he had to go into work and there was the other Couch surfer there at the time, but he left by the time we got in there. The couch surfer (I cannot remember his name for the life of me!) said Michael was angry with us for not being back in time for “curfew” (aka another one of his anal retentive rules).

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The next morning we were woken up by Michael telling everyone to get up, the maid was coming and we all had to leave because his place was “filthy.” We obliged and said, “Sure, want us to come back in a few hours, we’ll go grab breakfast.” But Michael wanted us to come home about after 6pm because he had to work that day. So basically no shower, leave and be gone all day and then come home. Megan and I shut the door to our room and looked at one another frustrated and tired of Michael’s bossy attitude, despite the hospitality he had given us already (and there is much more to Michael’s antics and lies that I left out for purposes of keeping this shorter, but we had enough at this point). Megan said, “Want to get our stuff and just go find wifi and a room somewhere?” And I said “Yep” We said bye to the guys (at this time there were 3 total, another couch surfer was added the day prior and poor guys slept on kitchen floor, we slept in the room with bunk beds and a cot and Michael had his own–which the door was always closed. PS Did I mention there was a security camera in the hallway of his apt. Yep! Super Creepy, which is why it was time to find our own place to stay. Which is what we did.

We thanked them for their hospitality and headed out! Ah, freedom!

 

Finidng wifi in Munich was not easy. We had to pay for it I believe, at some coffee shop and then we found a fair deal off the Square and close to the train station for one night. We walked over, but couldn’t check in just yet, but luckily dropped our bags and headed out to get items we needed and a late lunch. This ate quite a bit of time, but finally we checked in, got a nice shower, threw on our drindles and headed to Oktoberfest! Sadly it was raining/sprinkling this night. Started to get super crowded in  one of the beer tents (which really could equate to a dance hall in Texas to be honest, the word “tent” doesn’t necessarily depict it very well.

With the rain and everyone seeking shelter in the beer tents it got ridiculously crowded and the door guys wouldn’t let us out. Megan faked a panic attack and FINALLY someone let us out. For the past few days Megan had mentioned there being a wine tent. Aren’t we classy ladies? Low and behold, we found it–the wine tent. Not only that but some nice boys in kilts (Megan has a little background with Scotland and Scottish boys so we hit it off with them and some dude from California who ended up being very pompous anyway, ha).

These guys were awesome. I had some strudel, we chatted with them about everything and made fun of one another’s accents and our night wasn’t a total bust with the cold rain and crowded tents after all!

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Next stop after Munich, Rome! Flying Ryan Air was a trip, my bag barely made the weight limit by .1kg!! And we had to take a bus pretty far, but I wrote post cards and napped until we got there. Flight wasn’t long and we flew over the Alps, arrived in Rome about 9pm. Probably one of the most unorganized airports I have ever been in… Read on for my adventures in Rome in my next post!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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