Category: Austin

“You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.”

First impressions mean everything!

That statement that rings true in real estate! Buyers are quick to jump to conclusions about a home as soon as they glance at it. That’s why more sellers are turning toward professional home stagers to prepare for a sale.
A lot of what staging accomplishes occurs on a subconscious level—creating a positive link between your house and the prospective buyer. It’s easy enough to repaint after moving in, but first impressions are difficult to undo.

With the vast majority of buyers searching first on the Internet for homes, photos and virtual tours are extremely important in the selection process. Home staging will give sellers key advantages.

A professional stager will:

Help eliminate clutter: That means taking down personal items that add to the unnecessary clutter such as diplomas, pictures, trophies, and other knick-knacks. Removing a bulky piece of furniture may be necessary to widen a walk area or make a room feel spacious.

Unstaged overly crowded room gives the impression that the house is too small!


Consider buyer demographics and buying psychology:   Home stagers use design elements in planning out the rooms, space and lighting. They understand traffic patterns to highlight positive attributes of a home while downplaying its negative features. They know not to overwhelm potential buyers with wild colors and furniture, even if you think it makes your home “special.”


Professional staged kitchen – no clutter, only essential pieces.


Staged bedroom with no clutter on dresser.  Extra chair removed from room.


Professionally staged backyard – opens up the space to focus more on the view.

Remember, making your home look like a model rather than lived-in can make all the difference in selling a home. That’s why I offer seller’s a free home staging consultation to sellers who list their home with me.  I have an experienced stager / designer on my team that shapes up your home before it’s photographed. We will both roll up our sleeves that day and move furniture, carry boxes, clean up, and whatever else needs to be done. The value of having a professional with an eye for design is golden!  Every little detail makes a huge difference!


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If you are looking for a luxury home with a Hill Country view, be sure to visit the model home of Vintage Estate Homes. This custom builder is currently designing homes on one-acre lots in West Cypress Hills in Spicewood, and Vistancia in Dripping Springs.  The model is located between those communities in Spicewood at 5200 Evidence Cove. There are only a handful of lots available in each community, so don’t miss this opportunity to work with one of the finest custom builders in town!


Vintage Estates Homes offers buyers a variety of floor plans ranging from 2694 sq.ft to 4241 sq.ft.  Each floor plan is completely customizable to meet your needs and vision.  Current base prices range from about $450,000 to $585,000.  That means you can have a beautifully upgraded home as low as the mid-500’s!
One of the great features of this builder is the customer service!  The company has a very small, close-knit team in Austin who develop a personal relationship with each individual client.   One sales counselor will support buyers through the entire building process, holding their hand (so to speak) so that the process isn’t overwhelming, but enjoyable. The goal of Vintage Estates Homes is to involve clients as much as possible in the design process so that the home is what the clients envision.  They also hold high standards for themselves to build it right the first time!IMG_7894

Designing a custom home can be an exciting project, and Vintage Estates Homes desires to make it as stress-free and fulfilling as possible.  If you would like to view the model home or explore West Cypress Hills & Vistancia, just ask me for a tour!

If you are searching for an amazing deal on a home in Sweetwater, then don’t miss the Perry Homes model located in the Stonecreek neighborhood.  Perry Homes is a Houston-based company who has been in business for 49 years and who won Builder of the Year award recently in 2015.  In Sweetwater, Perry Homes offers smaller sized houses ranging from 1653 sq. ft. to 3190 sq. ft. Current prices start at $336,900 and go to up $436,900.

Although the floor plans are smaller than other homes in Sweetwater, they are smartly designed to make the best use of space.  Single story homes come standard with high ceilings and oversized windows to allow more natural light into the rooms.  It is surprising how spacious the rooms feel!

Perry Homes living room

The baseline floor plans also include many high-end features that other builders typically consider “upgrades.”  For example, French doors are standard on an office, mud set tile is standard in the shower, and beautiful wood tile floors are one of many standard flooring options.


The entire model home only has about $25,000 in upgrades!  This means that as a buyer, you can expect to spend less than 10% at the design center to have a beautifully upgraded home!


If you haven’t stopped by Perry Homes in Sweetwater, ask me for a tour! Click here to search for available homes within Sweetwater.

If you are selling your home in the Lake Travis area, it is important to follow these 5 steps in order to sell your home quickly!  Unlike areas near downtown Austin, you will have to compete with a much larger inventory of resale and new construction homes.  How attractive your home is to buyers is up to you. Here are five ways to help your agent attract buyers to your home.

  1. Verify market prices with your agent. Price your home for today’s market reality.
  2. Stage your home to best advantage. Declutter, depersonalize, clean it, paint it, and enhance curb appeal with fresh landscaping.
  3. Fix everything that’s a problem. No leaks, stains, or smells. Buyers want move-in ready condition. Don’t give buyers room to argue price due to condition.
  4. Do something extra for your home. Some updating, fresh paint, new appliances, or new countertops can work wonders.
  5. Be a serious seller. Just as a serious buyer is ready to buy, show you’re ready to sell by offering your home at an attractive price, being flexible about moving dates and other terms, and making your home available for viewing with their agents.

Most home buyers are aware that they need to make a down payment on a home.  However, first time home buyers might be confused about paying earnest money towards a home. Earnest money is paid to the title company when a purchase contract is signed by all parties. This demonstrates that the buyers are serious about the transaction and are backing it up with cash.

Without this, buyers could simply make offers on many homes, essentially taking them off the market until they choose a favorite. Sellers rarely accept offers without earnest money.

There is no set amount for an earnest money deposit, so it’s negotiable. However, in the Austin area, typically it is 1% of the sales price of the home.  Assuming the buyer actually purchases the home, the earnest money goes toward the buyer’s down payment and closing costs. However, a buyer can lose earnest money through default, which happens when he or she does not perform according to the terms stipulated in a purchase and sale agreement.

Work carefully with your agent to ensure a clear understanding of all terms and obligations so that you do not lose your earnest money!

Terra Colinas is a beautiful new home community in Bee Cave, TX.  It is conveniently located off Hwy 71, just a few miles away from the Hill Country Galleria.  Upon completion, this neighborhood will have about 150 homes along with a community center and pool.

Terra Colinas currently has three home builders with prices to meet everyone’s needs.  Grand Haven Homes and David Weekley Homes are building houses on 50′ lots with prices starting in the low 300’s.

Terra Colinas -

Even the smallest floor plans are smartly designed to give every room an open spacious feel. Both builders offer some of the lowest prices for new homes in this area!

Terra Colinas -

If you are looking for more space, M/I Homes is building on 70′ lots.  Prices start in the upper 400’s to mid 500’s.  When you tour the model home, you will see that it is loaded with high-quality finishing touches, many of which are standard.  This means that buyers do not need to spend an extraordinary amount of money in the design center.  The basic floor plans come well-equipped!

Terra Colinas, M/I Homes -

Another unique feature of the Terra Colinas community is its abundance of full grown trees, which are rare in new construction areas.  Also, this community has natural gas instead of community propane tanks.  This will mean a great deal of savings each month on gas bills, especially when gasoline prices are high!  If you haven’t had a chance to tour Terra Colinas, you should definitely stop by each model home and see what the builders have to offer.

Ask me for a personal tour below.


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If you are considering buying a home, you might wonder whether or not you should buy an existing home or consider new home construction.  Both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

New or Used
Advantages of Existing Homes 

  • Seeing the finished product.  With an existing home, you know exactly what you are getting.  You can actually experience the home and see the size of the rooms and quality of construction, unlike buying a new home where you might just be looking at a drawing of a floor plan.
  • Well-developed neighborhoods.  When purchasing an older home, you can easily research the history of the area to see how well the homes have maintained their value. You can also explore the surrounding businesses, schools, parks, and other amenities to see if they are what you like.
  • Mature trees and landscaping.  There is nothing like beautiful oak trees in your yard!
  • Uniqueness and character.  Older homes can have more unique characteristics that give them charm.  You can also choose homes in central areas, closer to downtown.

Disadvantages of Existing Homes

  • Possibility of repairs. Depending on how well the home was maintained, you might need to do a considerable amount of repairs or updates.  Be sure to budget for updates that you want, such as new carpeting or new appliances.  Will you be able to afford these after closing?
  • Less energy efficient.  Older homes are usually less energy efficient, which could could mean larger utility bills each month.
  • Outdated floor plans.  An older home might lack some features that modern homes include, such as a multi-car garage or walk in closets.  Although you might be able to do some remodeling, altering the floor plan can be extremely expensive.  Make sure you can live with the space you purchase.

Tip:  Before buying any existing home, always get an inspection to make sure that there are no hidden problems, such as a leaky roof, termites, or structural damage.

Advantages of New Construction Homes

  • Designing your own space.  Do you want a media room or an large covered patio? Not only can you pick your floor plan, you can also choose your flooring, wall color, tiles, brick, stone, cabinets, etc.  The home you design will have everything you like – no remodeling necessary.
  • Energy savings.  New homes come with more energy-efficient materials that reduce your utility bills each month.  Look for builders that are Energy Star certified.
  • Less maintenance.  With a brand new home and appliances, you shouldn’t have to do any major repairs for a long time.  New homes also come with a warranty, which can give you peace of mind.  Check with each builder to make sure you understand what is covered and for how long.
  • It’s new!  There’s just something satisfying about owning a brand new space that has never been used by anyone else!

Disadvantages of New Construction Homes

  • Unsure of the future community.  If a new community has just started being built, you might risk not knowing what the area will look like when finished. Always make sure you ask what else will be built in the surrounding area, and also research the builder to make sure that they have plenty of good reviews from customers.  Possibly tour another community designed by the same builder to see if you are happy with the overall look and quality.
  • The “cookie cutter” look.  In some new home communities, the houses look very similar.  If this bothers you, look for master-planned communities in which there are multiple builders and a variety of home styles.
  • Undeveloped trees and landscaping.  Those skinny trees will be amazing… in about 10 years.  It’s rare to find new homes with well-developed landscaping, and if there are mature trees on a lot, they will cost you extra.
  • Less room to negotiate price.  Builders have a small profit margin on homes, so you will rarely negotiate the sales price of a floor plan, unlike existing homes in which the owner might have considerable equity and be willing to bargain.  Most builders will offer some incentives towards design options or closing costs rather than lowering the price of the home.
  • Location.  Typically new home communities are on the outskirts of town, which can mean a longer commute depending on where you work.

Tip:  You have a better chance of getting a discount on a new home when a neighborhood is close to being complete.  Builders are often eager to close out the remaining inventory homes.  If a neighborhood is near completion, you also have a much better idea of the overall look and feel of the area.

Whether or not a home will appreciate over time really depends on its location. Both existing homes and new homes can be good investments if they are in the right area.  It’s up to you to decide which type of home appeals to you more.

Are you considering buying this summer?  Ask me for help below!  I’d love to discuss your goals.


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I recently had the pleasure of touring Vistancia, a new community located off Hamilton Pool Rd. featuring homes by Ashton Woods and Vintage Estates Home.  Every home is built on a one acre lot, giving homeowners a beautiful living space and a lot of privacy.  From the outside, the Ashton Woods model home is attractive, but you haven’t seen anything until you step inside.  It has a surprisingly modern twist with stunning details.

Vistancia model home, Austin, TX - #askshan #Vistancia

One of the things that makes this home stand out is its modern design elements, such as this floating staircase.Modern floating staircase. #askshan #vistancia

Every room has high-end luxury details, but the base prices for floor plans only start in the upper-400’s.

Modern kitchen - #askshan #vistancia

The master suite features an award-winning and highly-photographed luxury spa retreat.

The house is designed for entertaining guests both inside and out.  The backyard patio and swimming pool are a hill country oasis!

entertainment spaces - #askshan #vistancia

Buyers also have the option to add a casita to their home, which is a rare feature in new homes.  This small living space adds tremendous resale value!  It features a living area with kitchenette, bedroom and bathroom.  This is ideal for anyone who has an elderly relative, an adult son or daughter living at home, or out-of-town relatives who need a space when visiting.  It can also be used as a home office or studio where clients can visit without entering your private home.Casita - #askshan

If you are looking to upgrade your current home, I highly recommend you tour Vistancia! Please call me at 512-897-4349 or email me below for a personal guided tour.


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Do you want to add some Spring curb appeal to your home?  Here are a few ways to give your home a Spring makeover, without breaking the bank.Affordable Ways to Give your Home a Spring Makeover #askshan

  • Paint the front door.  Any bright color will do – red, turquoise, green, yellow, your choice! 
  • De-winterize the yard.  Remove dead branches, weeds, fallen leaves and other signs of winter.
  • Add some flowers.  Choose any brightly colored annual flowers for instant curb appeal.  Fresh mulch also makes a home look like it is well maintained.
  • Clean up the concrete.  Has winter weather made your entryway look dingy?  Pressure wash or scrub away dirt for a clean look.
  • Get a new doormat.  If your doormat is looking worn out, time for a fresh update!  A new doormat is an affordable way to make your front porch welcoming. 

For more ideas, follow my Pinterest Board.  What is on your home improvement list this Spring?