Category: Home Buying

If you are looking for a contemporary home with a Hill Country view, take a tour of the Canopy at Hudson Bend.  This boutique neighborhood features homes by CastleRock Communities.


Floor plans start at $479,990 and go up to $529,990, which means you can have a nicely upgraded home in the mid 500’s to low 600’s.  Currently, there are 3 floor plans to choose from:  2434 sq. ft., 2800 sq. ft, and 3200 sq. ft.  Once completed, the community will have a total of 38 homes.


All homes are guaranteed an amazing view from multiple balconies and porches.  Each floor plan is 3 stories high with the option of an outdoor porch and kitchen on the top floor.


The exterior of each home can be customized with metal, brick, stone, and stucco so that you will have a one-of-a-kind design.  The HOA also maintains the front yard, so your home will always have curb appeal!


The interiors are also beautifully upgraded with contemporary designs in the bathrooms and kitchen.  The sales agent and builder will work with you to customize any floor plan to meet your needs.  If you would like a tour of this beautiful community, just ask!


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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.

When making a deal to sell your home, be sure you are perfectly clear about what you are taking with you and what you are leaving behind.

“Real” property: The general rule is that if something is attached to the structure or the ground, it stays with the house. If removing the item would ruin or disfigure the walls or you need tools to remove it, it generally stays. Legally, these are called fixtures, which include everything permanently attached to the property such as a fence, built-in appliances, ceiling fans, flowerbeds and shrubs.

“Personal” property: If you can disconnect, unhook or detach it with bare hands, it’s free to leave when you do and shouldn’t be assumed as part of the sale. This could be furniture, potted plants, free-standing appliances, an outdoor grill, etc.

It’s a good idea to not show your home with fixtures you are planning to take. It’s better to replace them. If a buyer falls in love with the chandelier in your dining room but then learns that you are planning to take it with you, the deal may fall through. Walk in each room with your agent and make a list of things that you’ll be taking with you.

However, if you decide to leave curtains, chandeliers or are open to giving up outdoor furniture, it may just help with a sale. Buyers appreciate getting something for free. A savvy agent will hint that fixtures and furnishings are negotiable. Unless they are really important, let them go with the home. Use them to get the price you want and then replace the items in your new home.

By itemizing and discussing items, there will be no miscommunication on closing day

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!

In this blog series, I’ve shared my tips on what to do before signing a contract on a new home and what to do after signing your contract.  Here are my tips for right after you close on your new home.Tips for Home Buyers (part 3)

  1. Test everything.  Once you move into your home, test out all of its features to make sure everything works properly.  Plug something into the electrical outlets, try out all of the appliances, flush all of the toilets, take a shower in all of the showers… you get the idea.  In case there are any issues, it’s easier to get them fixed if you report them to the builder as soon as possible, rather than months later.
  2. Save your manuals. Make sure you keep all manuals that come with your home, including all appliance manuals, home warranties, or homeowners association guidelines. It’s easy to misplace these important documents when you move, so keep them in a set place because you will definitely need them at a later time. Make sure you fully understand the warranties the builder has provided for your new home and who to contact in case a problem arises in the future.
  3. Beware of bugs.  All the time your new home is being built, the homes of hundreds of insects and rodents are being unearthed and destroyed.  You’ll soon find that they’re invading your home for shelter. After finding several scorpions in my first home, I was ready to move. So the second time we built, we sprayed the inside and outside perimeter of the house with insect repellent.  I suggest doing this right before you move in so you don’t spray around your furniture, pets, or children.  Otherwise, I highly suggest investing in a pest control service the first year.
  4. Try a DIY project.  Showroom Garage FloorsWhen we bought our last home, we closed mid-week, but waited a few days to move on the weekend. We used one of those days to tackle a do-it-yourself project while the house was empty.  We painted showroom floors in our garage, which was surprisingly easy to do.  This task was also much easier since the garage had never been used!
  5. Stick to a decorating budget.  Anytime you move into a new home, it is tempting to start decorating every room and filling it with new furniture.  Create a budget for home decorating and determine which areas of the house are priorities.  This can help you avoid going far into debt.  Take your time filling up your new space and enjoy it!

What other tips do you have for anyone buying a new home?  I’d love to hear them!

Last week, I shared Part 1 of my blog series on tips for new home buyers.   I’m continuing this week with tips on what to do after you’ve signed your new home contract.Tips for New Home Buyers

  1. Be Patient. People love instant gratification, whether it’s getting a custom-made latte in a drive through or watching commercial free shows on Netflix.  Buying a new home is the complete opposite experience.  You’ve just put money down on something that you can’t fully enjoy for at least six months.  So mentally prepare yourself for the wait and look at it in a positive light.  Use this time to save up extra money on a down payment or new furniture.  Also, add a few weeks to whatever timeframe the builder estimated to complete your home.  Inevitably something can go wrong, such as bad weather, shortage of supplies, or shortage of labor. So just prepare yourself for a slightly longer wait, and if your home is built sooner, then great!
  2. Communicate Regularly.  From the beginning, find out who is involved in the construction of your home and get their contact information.  This can include the sales person in the community, the builder, and sales person at the design center.  A good-quality builder will usually call or email you once a week to update you on the progress of your home.  My husband and I would jot down questions or concerns we had so that we could ask them all at once in our weekly phone call.  This kept everyone on the same page and made us feel like we were in good hands.
  3. Visit Regularly.  As our last home was being built, my husband and I would visit once a week on the weekends to see the progress.  Once the framing went up, it was exciting to see new features added every week.  Along the way, we also caught a few mistakes, which we were able to share with the builder.  For instance, our living room was supposed to have a coffered ceiling covered with wood.  On the building plans, however, the air-conditioning ducts and speakers were placed in the middle of the wood ceiling.  This would have been an eyesore in something that was supposed to be a focal-point of the room.  Fortunately, we noticed this before the sheetrock was installed, making it easy to move the ducts to another location.
  4. Take Photos.  Each week, take a few photos of the progress of your house. This will help you to see how much has been accomplished when you compare current photos with photos a month ago.  You can also put all of your photos into an album or slideshow at the end as a keepsake.
  5. Save Leftover Materials. Ask the builder to save any leftover materials from your house, such as bricks, tiles, or other materials.  This will come in handy later on if you want to take a sample to match paint colors, curtains, or other decor.  We also used extra bricks to line the edge of a garden in our backyard.  Usually, the builder is happy to place excess materials in the attic or garage.

Stay tuned next week for part 3 of this series:  tips for after you’ve closed on your new home.  

There’s nothing quite like choosing and designing the elements of your future home and slowly seeing it transform from a paper blueprint into a reality. There’s also something special about having a space that is entirely yours, never owned by another person.  I’ve bought two new homes in my lifetime, and along the way I learned a few lessons that I’ll share in this blog series.  Here are my 6 tips to follow before you sign a new home contract:Tips for New Home Buyers - #askshan

  1. Do Your Research.  As you explore new home communities, you might settle on one or two that seem to be your favorites.  Before signing any contract, research the builders to determine whether or not they have a good reputation.  Also, ask questions about what else might be developed in the area.  Before I bought my first home, I thought I had found the perfect new community and the perfect lot!  There was a beautiful greenbelt behind it and acres of empty land beyond that.  I happened to ask the builder if there would be houses built over there in the future, and he said, “No, that’s a commercial space.” I soon found out that my “dream home site” would eventually back up to a Target parking lot. Good to know! Fortunately, I chose to build elsewhere.
  2. Hire a Realtor.  If you’re considering buying any home, you should hire a Realtor.  Buyers do not pay for Realtor fees, so there is no reason to not use one.  A good Realtor will give you objective details about different homes in a variety of communities and from a variety of builders.  A Realtor’s main job is to help you sort through your options and make the best decisions possible. Since they do not work solely for one builder, they can provide you with a more neutral opinion of the homes in an area.
  3. Don’t be Fooled by the Model Home.  Model homes usually do not reflect what comes in a standard home at base price.  In one model home I visited, there were over $150,000 in upgrades! So the true price tag for that house did not match the price on the floor plan at all. Ask the builder how much the upgrades for the model home cost and what features come in a standard home.
  4. Ask about Incentives not Price Cuts.  Most builders only make about 5 to 7% profit on a new home, unlike individual home owners who might have a large amount of equity in a home. Therefore, do not expect to negotiate the price of the home.  Instead, ask about what incentives they are willing to offer.  Most builders offer a certain amount of money to use at the design center for flooring, countertops, and other finishing touches.  Some builders also partner with a lender or title company who might be willing to pay part of your closing costs if you use them.
  5. Budget for the Design Center.  If you have not recently bought faucets or knobs for your cabinets, you will be shocked at what these things will cost.  Make sure that you save room in your budget for design options.  If you know that the maximum amount you can spend on a house is $200,000, then choose a floorplan that is closer to 180,000.  If you plan to spend $500,000, then aim for a house that is closer to $450,000.  This is just my personal opinion – hold back about 10% of your total budget for upgrades.

Stay tuned for my next post on what to do once you’ve signed your new home contract.

What a Buyer Should Expect During the Closing.

The last step in the home buying process is commonly referred to as the closing. The close of escrow is when all steps—from acceptance, title search, inspection, mortgage approval, and so on— come together in a final transaction. Documents are ready to sign, the buyer is ready to hand over the purchase price and the seller is ready to transfer title. And most importantly, the keys!


It usually takes about an hour and may be attended by some or all of the parties involved: buyer, seller, real estate sales professional, attorney and title company representative. The buyer reviews and signs the loan and real estate documents and pays for the property, closing and other costs.

Assuming that the funds are in order, the deed is correct and the title is clear, the final step is the disbursement of funds to the seller. The title company should have the funds in its possession, but the buyer needs to bring a cashier’s or certified check for the down payment and the closing costs if it was not included in the mortgage loan. If the buyer’s annual real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance will be paid through the lender, an escrow account will also be established.

Once all the papers are signed and funds are disbursed, the buyer receives the keys and is now a homeowner.

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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