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

November 21st, 2014 by Ashley Brinkman


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expectation #2: Holding a Koala


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

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

Expectation #3: Trying kangaroo (to eat)

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


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

Expectation #4: Helicopter ride over Great Barrier Reef


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


Expectation #5: Not over packing.

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



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

Expectation #6: Taking lots of beautiful photos.

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

DSC_0194(Blue Mountains, outside Sydney)

DSC_0228(Bondi Beach, Sydney)

IMG_0999(Queenstown, NZ)

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

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


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


Expectation #8: Meeting hot Aussie men.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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


Willem and I above. Rachel and I below.


Expectation #10: This trip will be very active.

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



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




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

DSC_9917 DSC_9929

White water rafting in Rotorua above and “Zorbing” belowDSC_0667


If you feel like reading more…

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

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


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

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!


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

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


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

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

REALITY: Kangaroo probably taste nasty.


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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



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

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WHY ONLINE DATING IS TERRIBLE: RANT II; Tips for Men’s Online Dating Profiles

August 27th, 2014 by Ashley Brinkman

Hello again!

NOTE: I started this blog post on Nov. 13 2013 and never finished (to give you an idea of how often I start my rants, take a break and then here I am-finally circling back around).

I took a break from online dating for quite a while and well, I am back at it again. (sigh. Meeting someone organically while you eat home cooked meals and watch Netflix proves difficulty).

“Back online”–Each time with a “fresh” approach or “new set of rules.” A clean start if you will. Starting to think my life is pretty good without a significant other though (see past blogs on travel here,). Is this normal?

Recently a friend of mine became single and a group of us sat around (single and non single folk) chatting about dating, online dating, dating apps, how no one talks to you in bars unless it is 1:30am and they are wasty, pick up lines, what’s happening to our generation in regards to dating–and the like–you get the idea.  And so I have decided to pick up where I left in November on this topic and see where it takes me. Hopefully you will be amused/educated/enlightened…or whatever.

If you read “Rant I” I could have kept writing on this topic, but as I got wordy, decided this would be a good starting point to my next post and off to a positive start vs “hating on dating”  and sounding like a bitter hag. So here we go.

First let’s start with MEN– and  your online dating profile approach. And not because I am hating on men, but because I have actually had some of my guy friends (after reading Rant 1) ask for some pointers. Ah, where to begin. (and perhaps there are tips for ladies in here too).

Let me start with saying mine (online dating profile) is not perfect. But it is me. And you need to be you. I have had many drafts and critiques (from men-and friends) and well, after viewing hundreds of online profiles for men (and talking about it with other women who date online as well) here are some of my personal Do’s and Don’ts to your Online Dating Profile, guys. Let’s put your best foot–er, face forward.

I want to break it down first by starting with photos. Yes, the photos-THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF ANYONE’S DATING PROFILE!!! And I am not being shallow I am being REAL. {Don’t act like you don’t just browse photos before (if ever) reading the profile, dudes. We ladies do it too}.

Just as much as guys complain about going on dates with girls and them not looking like their photo (duh we used an Instagram filter, makeup and that post break up photo from our skinny days). I have been on plenty of dates where guys don’t look as good as their photos too!

Do’s and Don’ts of ONLINE DATING PHOTOS:”

1. DO use a RECENT photo. In fact, you should even date the photo in the little caption part ” Mexico, June 2014,” “Last Summer with my friends”

2. Do ask a FEMALE friend which photos you should use. Or shoot, email me-I will straight up tell you if that is a good one or not-I am honest!

3. Do NOT have a blurry photo. Hello, it is 2014. No reason for grainy or blurry photos for online dating. What did you save that in Paint, now it is low resolution, then crop out your family and now you want that to be your main photo online-No, just no. Don’t have any recent photos? What? Have you never been in a photo or hung out with females? Take some! Or shoot, email me, I take photos.

4. Do NOT have a cap and sunglasses on your head in ALL your photos. One is acceptable. When you have it in all of them I (us ladies) assume a few things: 1. you are ugly, or 2. even worse-that YOU think you are ugly 3. and/or hiding your bald spot.

5. I want to discuss Selfies in this bullet but it deserves a whole paragraph…

SELFIES FOR ONLINE DATING:Ugh, I hate Selfies. I hate the word “selfie.” I am (sadly) starting to accept them, but only when used for fun. When I take them personally they are used in Snapchats to my closest girlfriends and I am making the ugliest face possible for giggles. {Call me 14 but I don’t care….Side note: I would care if one of those was ever screen-shotted and placed on the internet-however}

I can see if a guy doesn’t have a lot of photos with friends (ahem, loser who has no friends) or doesn’t have Facebook (weirdo. jk) Some men may have to result in a selfie for online dating due to lack of photos they have of themselves, BUT I still think stay away from the online selfie as much as possible!!!. #selfieresistance ?? #selfierestrainingorder ?? #standupagainstselfies ?? As much as I should hate hashtags (pound signs) I don’t. So there.

There is something about a man taking a Selfie while working out at a gym that I just must say: NO.

Other Selfies I say no to:

-”Just laying here on my couch with a serious face” selfie

-”Just flexing in my bathroom mirror with my bro tank” selfie

-”Just did a side profile of my face because I think it looks cool” selfie

-”Just showing you my hot body in a towel post shower, but not my face” selfie

-”Just buckled up my seat belt and I am in my car” selfie

-”Just driving in my car with my hand on steering wheel, but not looking at the camera” selfie

-”Just sitting here in my car while in park with my dog and my sunglasses on” selfie

-”Just standing here in this public bathroom with urinals behind me” selfie

-”Just clearly laying in my bed being lazy and trying to make a seductive serious face” selfie

-”Just sitting here on my computer at 2am holding the phone high for a good angle so I don’t have a double chin and can use this photo for online” selfie

-”Just dressed up in a suit in my hotel room” selfie

Acceptable Selfies: “I just climbed a beautiful mountain and no one is here to take my photo so I have to prove that I am here with this amazing view and that I conquered this mountain” selfie

That’s all I got for acceptable selfies. haha.

Now, let’s get back to photos for online dating….

5. Do SMILE in AT LEAST one or two of your photos. I cannot tell you how many men post photos of them not smiling. Cool…you don’t look fun at all.

6. Do NOT post 25 photos. I get it, you have been to every stinkin’ country and 6 weddings this year. There’s such a thing as overkill.

7. Do NOT have all group photos where no one knows who the hell you are (I hear girls are super guilty of this too, but just sayin’)

8. Do NOT post a photo with your ex or a bunch of skanky looking chicks in the photo with you. Cool story bro.

Ideally a male’s online dating photos should contain about 4-5 VARIOUS photos, that exemplify the following:

1. You have friends

2. You have hobbies

3. You have a full body and aren’t just a floating head

4. You know how to smile

5. You are not hiding anything (i.e bald spots, missing teeth, a leg, a tattoo sleeve…Now, kids is a separate topic, if you don’t want to show online a photo of your kid(s), that is fine, but a mentioning of having a child should be in writing).


This is a tough one, because everyone is different, but let me tell you bros what I have gathered in regards to what to write in your online dating profile…

Ashley’s Do’s and Don’ts of Online Dating Profiles for Men:

1. DO NOT write 2 sentences/the bare minimum of characters. You sound lazy, like you don’t care to meet anyone and well, uninteresting and on top of that–probably cliche. Was that blunt? Sorry….Just kidding, I am not.

2. DO write about what you like to do. It really isn’t hard. What consumes your time? What do you like doing on the weekends? What do you do when with your friends? What do you not get to do enough of, but really enjoy? What would you do if money and time were not an object?

3. DO SPECIFIC. Now, to sound less cliche (and like other men) take #2 above and get more specific, quirky or funny if you will…So you like going to concerts–where? who did you see last? So, You enjoy getting your hands dirty-in what way-house projects? motorcycles? etc. Cool you like to travel (again who doesn’t?) What’s next on your list? Where do you want to go back to? GET SPECIFIC. Specificity paints a picture, helps people relate. I just made that up, I have no idea what it really does, but it sounds more exciting and less boring and cliche. {Side note if you do not enjoy traveling I would just go ahead and leave that off your online dating profile. haha jk….kinda}

4. DO NOT write “I like to go out, but sometimes I like to stay in and cook or watch a movie” No Shit, Sherlock-everyone does. And everyone puts this in their profile. {However, if you do like to go out EVERY NIGHT-that could be disclosed in this opening paragraph, because that would be different than most.}

5. DO FUNNY. Women love funny. We do. Show that you have a sense of humor, make fun of yourself some or something random and “cute” about you, if you will.

6. DO Disclose. If something is important to you, disclose it! If faith is important to you-say you are looking for someone like minded in that aspect. I think it is ok to state deal breakers in an online dating profile. BUT (and this one is easy to get hung up on…there is a way of going about it). I am such an honest person that in the past guys have told me to take out the lines where I said what I was NOT looking for. Basically there is a nice way of wording you don’t want a deadbeat. Example: Take “I don’t want no scrubs” and translate to: “I really admire drive and ambition” :)

7. DON’T write a novel. I don’t necessarily need to know everything about your life since you were 10. Just like the 25 photos tips–sometimes there is overkill. You have to save something for the dating/getting to know one another phase or as my old broker used to say “Don’t spill the candy jar in the lobby.” Plus no one is going to read it all anyhow.

8. My biggest tip. DO PROOFREAD! You don’t want to sound unedjumicated!! Get a friend to read it over. Read it out loud. A lot of times we know what we meant to say and we read it as we meant it-to ourselves, but read out loud and maybe even bust out a thesaurus on a few words. Double check spelling. Also, don’t write your profile like you are texting and driving. {“wht r u up 2?” bc now u sound stoopid.}

And stop putting Lol! I hate lol. (fine you can put lol, but it is a personal hatred of mine and don’t overuse it). Basically don’t call me for grammar lessons, because I write like I talk, which isn’t the best.

9. Ok this one isn’t a do or a don’t but rather a suggestion. I found profiles with short, concise sentences not only easier to read, but more amusing–especially when in a bulleted/list format. It is easier to skim through, get to the point, be direct, state some important things about yourself and be entertaining…but not everyone can pull this off.

One of my male friends once told me (when we first ran into one another online and I said-”yo critique my profile”): Just think of online dating like a job interview. Your photos are like the resume-You glance through those and they have to be eye catching enough to get a call for the interview. The interview is like the first date.

And then I asked, well what should I write or fix in my profile? And he said: Profile? Guys don’t ever read those.

I would like to think some of us do.

Anyway, I am sure you are bored to tears by now. I hope you found this blog informative or better yet entertaining. I am not sure why I mix my personal and professional viewpoints on the same blog site, but whatever.

**Another disclaimer I would like to mention is that I am not a professional match maker, journalist, dating adviser, know-it-all nor perfect. I am just a single gal with an opinion. As always, thanks for reading and I am sorry this blog didn’t have any pictures for you.**



Posted in Austin, Austin Dating Scene and Theories, Dating, Single Life 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.


Then I think:


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

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

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

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

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.


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

-Ashley Brinkman
Realtor, ABR, GRI
Realty Austin




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.


You will love Tulum if….

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


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

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

CT46(windy, but still fun!)



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

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

DSC_1099DSC_1100 DSC_1102 DSC_1108 DSC_1109

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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???


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).


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? 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!


#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.


#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!


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

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?!”


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”


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 ( 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.


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.


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?


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!

Who is Ashley and what does she do when she is not blogging about her bad dates? Read more here.



Posted in Austin, Austin Dating Scene and Theories, Dating, Single Life 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.


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?


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?


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?


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?


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).


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.


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.


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

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.