Archive for August, 2013


2112 Indian TrailReduced to $650,000

Open Sunday, August 31 from 2:00-4:00 PM

and Saturday, September 31st from 1:00-3:00 PM

Charming, updated 3 bedroom Tarrytown home located on a fantastic street. Flexible floorplan, 2nd living area/ den, spacious back patio & yard for entertaining. Open kitchen, gas 5 top burner, Marble countertops, breakfast bar, Stainless Steel appliances included. Beautiful hardwood floors throughout. Separate laundry room. Plantation shutters. Spacious bedrooms, walk-in closet in master with built-in dresser.

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1920 W 40th Street- Reduced to $525,000

Open Saturday, August 31st from 1:00-4:00 PM

and Sunday, September 1st from 1:00-4:00 PM

Highly coveted Oakmont Heights home with original charm and expanded for today’s homeowner. Original, refinished hardwood floors. Master suite added with en suite bath and three large walk-in closets. Private back yard with mature landscaping & space for a raised vegetable garden. Formal dining room could serve as a playroom if need be.

Click here to watch the virtual tour


Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

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According to recent findings from the National Federation of Independent Business, small business growth is up and business owners are more optimistic about the economy. Because most small business owners open a business near their home, we would expect major U.S. cities to see their fair share of new businesses. NerdWallet Taxes examined the top 20 biggest U.S. cities to find out how welcoming they are to small businesses. We calculated total scores for each city using data on local taxes, growth rates from the Milken Institute’s 2012 Best Performing City survey, and business owner opinions of the local regulatory environment from the 2013 Thumbtack Small Business Friendliness Survey. Four of the top 10 cities are located in tax friendly Texas, while New York City and San Francisco do not make the cut.

1. Austin, TX Tech giants Dell and IBM make their home here, but Austin proves equally friendly to small businesses. The city scores highly thanks to no state or local personal income taxes and its 2nd place rank in the Milken Institute’s 2012 Best Performing Cities for favorable growth prospects in technology, real wages and jobs. Austin also scored 2nd for its hassle-free business licensing requirements, according to data from Thumbtack’s 2013 Small Business Friendliness Survey.

Local income tax: 0% (sample median: 0%) City property tax: 1.24% (sample median: 1.35%) Growth rate rank: 2 License friendliness rank: 2

2. San Antonio, TX Home to big companies like Clear Channel and Valero, San Antonio earns the second spot in our list because it has the highest ranking for friendly licensing requirements, where on average small business owners say that the city’s regulatory environment is “somewhat friendly.” San Antonio also scores in the top 10 for its growth prospects.

Local income tax: 0% City property tax: 1.36% Growth rate rank: 6 License friendliness rank: 1

3. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX Dallas is home to over a dozen Fortune 500 companies and like other Texas cities, it is very welcoming to small businesses, scoring in the top 5 for ease of licensing requirements and growth prospects. While it did not score highly for property taxes, Dallas is still a very attractive city for small business.

Local income tax: 0% City property tax: 1.38% Growth rate rank: 5 License friendliness rank: 5

4. Baltimore, MD One of only three East coast cities to make our list, Baltimore earned a top 10 spot because it ranked 3rd for its hassle free licensing requirements. One downside is that Baltimore levies personal income taxes between 1.25 and 3.2% and scores poorly because of relatively high property taxes.

Local income tax: 3.2% City property tax: 2.27% Growth rate rank: 7 License friendliness rank: 3

5. Houston, TX Houston ranks fifth thanks to a very friendly overall tax environment. It had the third lowest city property tax rates at 1.15% and ranked third for growth prospects.

Local income tax: 0% City property tax: 1.15% Growth rate rank: 3 License friendliness rank: 11

6. San Jose, CA The only California city to make our list, San Jose earned the no. 1 spot in America in Milken’s growth ratings, largely thanks to an influx of Silicon Valley technology companies and educated labor force. The city also scored in the top 10 for low-hassle licensing requirements.

Local income tax: 0% City property tax: 1.27% Growth rate rank: 1 License friendliness rank: 7

7. Charlotte, NC While North Carolina isn’t known for its friendly income tax code, Charlotte did score highly for low unemployment tax rates and scored in the top 10 for property taxes, long-term growth prospects and non-burdensome licensing requirements.

Local income tax: 0% City property tax: 1.28% Growth rate rank: 8 License friendliness rank: 10

8. Indianapolis, IN While not as tax friendly as Texas cities, Indianapolis scored 6th for easy licensing requirements and 10th for future growth rates. Indianapolis ranked poorly for property taxes and also levies an income tax of 1.62%.

Local income tax: 1.62% City property tax: 3.35% Growth rate rank: 10 License friendliness rank: 6

9. Jacksonville, FL Jacksonville scores in our top ten largely thanks to its presence in Florida, a state with zero personal income taxes and relatively low payroll taxes. Jacksonville earned 4th place for its easy licensing requirements but scores lower for growth prospects (15th) and property taxes (12th).

Local income tax: 0% City property tax: 1.80% Growth rate rank: 15 License friendliness rank: 4

10. Phoenix, AZ Phoenix earned 10th place mainly because of Arizona’s tax friendly environment: the state scores 3rd for lowest income tax rates and 2nd for lowest payroll taxes. Phoenix scores 8th overall for property taxes and 9th for ease of licensing requirements.

Local income tax: 0% City property tax: 1.30% Growth rate rank: 16 License friendliness rank: 9

Where are San Francisco and New York City? New York and San Francisco perform poorly in the overall rankings (12th and 14th respectively) for small businesses. For a business earning $100,000 a year in profits, New York City is the worst city from a tax standpoint. New York also scores poorly (12th) from a licensing standpoint. On the bright side, its attractive job growth rates and large workforce appeal to small businesses for ease of hiring, as it earned 11th place in the Milken study among all U.S. cities.

San Francisco did not make the list because of its difficult licensing requirements and California’s high income and payroll taxes. Nonetheless, San Francisco appeals to many small businesses because of its diverse and educated workforce, favorable growth prospects and established network of high-tech companies.

Methodology: To calculate each city’s total score, we assigned weightings to the following variables: state income taxes (5%), city income taxes (10%), payroll taxes (25%), city property taxes (10%), city growth rate rankings (20%) from Milken Institute’s 2012 Best Performing City survey, and ease of licensing requirements (30%) from the 2013 Thumbtack Small Business Friendliness Survey. Licensing requirements were coded from 1-5, where lower scores indicate friendlier requirements. To determine effective state and local taxes, we assumed the business owner files taxes jointly as married, earns $100,000 in annual profits, owns a $500,000 commercial property, maintains a $50,000 payroll with 1 employee and qualifies as a new employer for state unemployment insurance tax purposes. Memphis was excluded because of data availability. Dallas and Fort-Worth have been combined in accordance with the Thumbtack survey.

Read the full Report from NerdWallet here

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

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10 Mortgage Tips for 2013

If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the best time to refinance or get a mortgage to buy a home, think of 2013 as your last chance to act.

With good credit, persistence and some shopping skills, you can still snag phenomenal deals this year — even if you are underwater on your loan.

Here are 10 mortgage tips to help you with your mortgage decisions in 2013.

Tip 1: Stop procrastinating and refinance
If you haven’t refinanced recently, you’re probably paying a higher interest rate on your mortgage than you should. Take advantage of today’s record-low mortgage rates while they last. Rates are expected to remain low during the first few months of the year, but they should gradually increase. When they do, many borrowers will regret having missed the opportunity to grab the lowest mortgage rate in history.

Tip 2: Buyers, get moving
With rates near the bottom and home prices on the rise, it’s still a perfect time to buy a house. If you can afford a home and qualify for a mortgage, this may be your last chance to take advantage of the market and own a home for less. To speed up the homebuying process, get a mortgage preapproval before you start shopping.

Tip 3: Compare FHA vs. conventional loans
Many homebuyers opt for a Federal Housing Administration mortgage because it allows them to buy a home with as little as 3.5 percent down. But the already costly FHA fees that are added to your loan will increase again in 2013. As the costs of FHA mortgages rise, some buyers may consider saving a little extra for a conventional loan. Buyers need at least 5 percent down to get a conventional mortgage, depending on their credit. If you can afford the slightly higher down payment, get quotes for FHA and conventional loans, and compare the costs.

Tip 4: Ensure that your credit is golden
Credit standards remain tight. As new mortgage rules are unveiled in 2013, the standards are not expected to loosen. If you plan to get a mortgage anytime soon, you must treat your credit as one of your most valuable assets. Most lenders want to see a spotless credit history of at least a year on your credit report. You’ll need a credit score of at least 720 to get the best rate. Borrowers with a credit score of 680 or more can still get a good deal, but the lower your score, the harder it will be to get approved.

Review your credit report before you apply for a mortgage. Sometimes, paying part of your credit card balances can boost your credit score quickly. Generally, if you are using more than 30 percent of the available credit on your cards, you may be hurting your score. Also, check for credit errors and have them corrected before you apply for a loan.

Tip 5: Want to pay off your mortgage earlier?
If you are one of those homeowners who dream about being mortgage-free, the low-rate environment may be a good opportunity to refinance your 30-year mortgage into a 15- or 20-year loan. But make sure you can really afford the slightly higher payments on the shorter loan and that you have some money saved for emergencies.

Tip 6: Underwater refinancers: Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer
If you owe more than your home is worth and have tried and failed to refinance, why not give it another shot in 2013? The Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP 2.0, was revamped to allow homeowners to refinance regardless of how deeply underwater they are.

Even after revisions to the program, many borrowers still found obstacles when refinancing. But the situation is improving. Lenders are much more open to HARP 2.0 refinances these days than they were a few months ago. If one lender says you don’t qualify for a HARP refi, don’t take “no” for an answer, and try to find a lender willing to do it.

Tip 7: Give your lender a chance
If you have trouble paying your mortgage, don’t ignore your mortgage servicer. There are new programs available for borrowers who struggle to keep up with their mortgage payments, including forbearance for those with FHA mortgages. Lenders have been more willing to work out delinquent loans through loan modifications and even short sales for homeowners who can’t afford to stay in their homes. It can be a frustrating process to deal with your lender, but communication is still your best tool.

Tip 8: Shop for a low rate and good service
Even with rates hovering near record lows, you should still shop for the best mortgage deal. Get quotes from at least three lenders and compare not just the interest rate but closing costs and the quality of their service. Favor lenders that have a reputation of closing on time. Start with referrals from friends and relatives when shopping for a lender and read online reviews from other borrowers about the particular lender or mortgage broker you are considering.

Tip 9: Approved for a mortgage? Leave your credit alone
Most lenders order a second credit report for the borrower a few days before closing. Don’t open new accounts or charge up your credit cards at the furniture store while you wait for closing day. New credit lines and maxed-out cards may hurt your score. If you were on the edge when you qualified, your mortgage loan could be rejected at the last minute.

Tip 10: It’s not over until the loan closes
You’ve submitted your mortgage application and locked a rate. The race has just begun. Submit any documents requested by your loan officer or mortgage broker within 24 hours, if possible. Any delays in responding to the lender or in letting the appraiser into your house are wastes of valuable time. Lenders will remain overwhelmed with the large volume of refinance applications at least through the first few months of 2013. It doesn’t take much more than lost paperwork or last-minute requests from your lender to delay your closing. If that happens, you risk losing the locked rate. Follow up with your lender or mortgage broker at least once a week to ensure the process goes smoothly.

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Orginal article by: Polyana da Costa

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Click Next to Your School District for 2012 – 2013       ISD Ratings &  Back to School Information Note: Due to NEW STAAR testing replacing the TAKS, there is new criteria for school ratings.       * Some districts require you to enter your actual school website link to view specific school supply lists.

Austin: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Bastrop:ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Del Valle: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Dripping Springs: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Eanes: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Elgin: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Florence: ISD Rating | Calendar | *Supplies

Georgetown: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Granger: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Hays: CISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Hutto:ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Jarrell: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Johnson City: ISD Rating | Calendar | *Supplies

Lago Vista:ISD Rating | Calendar | *Supplies

Lake Travis: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Leander: ISD Rating | Calendar | *Supplies

Liberty  Hill: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Lockhart:ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Luling: ISD Rating | Calendar | *Supplies

Manor: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Marble Falls: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Pflugerville: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Round Rock:ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

San Marcos: CISD Rating | Calendar  | Supplies

Taylor: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Thrall: ISD Rating | Calendar | Supplies

Wimberley:ISD Rating | Calendar | *Supplies

How  2012 – 2013 ISD Ratings were determined: 2013 Accountability Rating System
Learn  about the NEW State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) TestInterested in Private School? See the Top 25 Private Schools in Central Texas
Check which school district you’re in: TEA school district boundaries by city / county / district name


Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

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Use the scanner on your phone to download my mobile friendly user App.  Add the agent code once downloaded. Agent Code: KW2NPLHXO

Features of my new app:

  • The ability to search for homes based on criteria or by custom drawing on an interactive map;
  • GPS localized data displays homes in a given area that match the consumer’s price range;
  • The ability to easily swipe through galleries of photos to decide whether a home fits one’s needs and then add it to saved searches for convenient reference on the app or via the agent’s website, where the saved searches are synced;
  • The ability to save notes on properties for future reference; and
  • Faster communication via call, text or email.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

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