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New Listing - 3712 Verano Drive - Completion Date Summer 2014

Privately situated on 1.04 (+-) acres in tranquil Barton Creek, 3712 Verano Drive is a sophisticated, modern retreat filled with luxurious appointments and custom finishes. Brought to you by the award winning team of Clint Small Homes, Cornerstone Architects, Bravo Interior Designs and Richard Lee & Associates Landscape Design. This one story home features a Master Retreat + Study privately in its own wing of the home. Twelve foot ceilings throughout open to a negative edge lap pool and hot tub through sliding Fleetwood doors. Privacy and attention to detail will exceed your expectations. Visit the listing website at http://www.veranodriveaustin.com/

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You’ll encounter special joys and hurdles when you’re alone in the deal. These 8 strategies will smooth your path to buying.

If you’re single and thinking of buying a home, you’re in great company. Solo buyers made a quarter of all U.S. real-estate purchases last year, according to the National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 2012. Twice as many single women bought homes as did single men. 

Buying a home as a single person is much like buying with a partner. You shop, select and finance a piece of property, as all buyers do.

But there are distinct differences when you’re alone in the deal. All the joys and burdens are yours alone. The research, the shopping, the financing and, eventually, the bills and upkeep – yep, all yours. While that probably sounds obvious, there are implications you may not have considered.

Master of his domain
Carl Toll, a single, 36-year-old network technician, bought his 1,600-square-foot Denver home in 2007, after a bad roommate experience soured him on the rental life.

“This isn’t working out,” he decided after the housemate moved out without telling him. “I want to be the master of my own domain.”

Shopping and purchasing were pretty easy, he says. He thought through each aspect of his purchase carefully. He wanted a low-maintenance home: “I didn’t want to have to replace water heaters and furnaces right off the bat.” So he looked for something built recently.

He’s not a parent, but he shopped only in highly rated school districts to help ensure the resale value of his purchase. He has enjoyed the house, the neighborhood and the sense of independence that owning his own home gives him, he says.

Getting a mortgage alone
Toll’s experience was smooth, but many solo buyers face challenges. The recession has been one of the biggest. In the early recession years, single homebuyers enjoyed a boost from federal first-time-homebuyer tax credits in 2009 and 2010.

Stacy Erickson, a 29-year-old professional organizer, bought her 700-square-foot co-op apartment on Seattle’s Capitol Hill in 2009. “That was a really good year for people like me,” she says. “I was able to borrow some money for a down payment and then pay it all back with the tax credit.”

But by 2011, the recession hit solo buyers hard. “Single-income households are more reluctant to make big-ticket purchases in times of economic uncertainty,” according to the NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Home purchases by singles fell an “unprecedented” 7% between 2010 and 2012.

The biggest hurdle for singles is qualifying for a mortgage. “In most cases that I see, it is more difficult for a single buyer to purchase than a two-person household,” says Craig Tashjian, vice president at Fairway Independent Mortgage in Needham, Mass.

One bonus: Singles aren’t dragged down by a partner’s credit score, loans or credit card debt. Tashjian says couples often get stuck with a higher interest rate because of one member’s low credit score.

Couples, though, usually have an advantage, says Marcus McCue, executive vice president at Guardian Mortgage Co., which operates in Texas and Michigan. Not only do they have two incomes but also, when sharing overhead, “one plus one usually equals more than two, as many expenses are joint and not duplicated.”

Difficulties in qualifying sometimes lead buyers, especially younger ones, to ask parents or other relatives for financial help.

“I have seen people choose to continue renting as a result of not wanting to involve any other parties in a purchase and pay more rent than they would if they purchased,” New York real-estate agent Brad Malow says.

Shopping solo — the triumphs
Single shoppers are alone with all the decisions required to buy a home. That can be harrowing. But there’s also a special sense of accomplishment to buying a home alone.

“I was the one who had to come up with all of the financing without support from a spouse or partner,” Erickson says. “However, I was also the one who got the choices and all of the decisions. I didn’t have to worry about someone else and what they liked or didn’t like.”

Homebuying is a means of self-expression, particularly for singles, says Jennifer De Vivo, an Orlando, Fla., real-estate agent. “It’s a way for singles to express their lifestyles and values. They are able to focus on the exact communities, home styles and features that cater to their individuality with much less compromise.”

Despite the exhilaration, buying solo can be nerve-wracking without a confidant and sounding board. To compensate, singles often work more closely with their agents. In the best cases, they form a tight bond.

“I find that I become more involved, like a friend,” says Jerry Grodesky, managing broker at Farm and Lake Houses Real Estate Inc. in Loda, Ill.

Watching the satisfaction that single buyers get from tackling one of life’s major milestones on their own is rewarding for an agent, Malow says. “I have to say that the closings with these buyers just thrill me.”

 

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

Original article by: Marilyn Lewis of MSN Real Estate

Click here to view original article

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

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Solo women are the second-largest group of home purchasers. Their wants and needs are helping to shape the real-estate market.

Kishia S. Ward wasn’t looking for the home of her dreams when she bought her two-bedroom, 2½-bath townhouse. The 25-year-old student and former business analyst wanted a place “not so much to live in forever but as an investment property, something temporary that, later on when I get married and have a family, I can rent out.”

Single female homebuyers such as Ward are a powerhouse group in the real-estate market. In 2011, when Ward bought her home, three of her female friends, also singles in their 20s, also purchased homes. Single women — a group that includes the divorced, never married and widowed — make roughly one in five home purchases annually, according to the National Association of Realtors, second only to married couples, who are about two-thirds of the market.

It wasn’t always this way. In the 1970s, “it was very difficult for a single woman to get a credit card, much less a mortgage,” says Walter Molony, spokesman for the NAR.

In 1981, when the NAR started watching, single women and single men each made about 10% of home purchases. Purchases by single men have stayed steady. Single women, however, pulled ahead in the late ’80s, when women grew as a presence in the workforce and social change put pressure on lenders.

Single women’s market share reached 20% in 1985 and hovered there until recession and tight credit pulled it down to 16% in 2012. Unmarried couples make 8% of purchases.

Finally, recognition
Although single women are getting more recognition in the real-estate market, some experts say that many bankers, mortgage brokers, builders and real-estate agents fail to understand their distinct needs and shopping habits.

Jeanie Douthitt, a real-estate agent in Plano, Texas, specializes in helping single women buy and sell homes. Her experiences and her friends’ stories showed her that solo women often weren’t served well in the market. “We all, at the end of the day, had the same experience, and it was not good,” says Douthitt, owner of Smart Women Buy Homes. Her team includes a title agent and mortgage broker, and they all focus on educating clients.

Douthitt tells how one friend, a mother and capable 20-year IBM executive, struggled when she tried buying a home in 2004 after inheriting money. The woman visited a property for sale and encountered the homeowner, who asked, “Honey, do you think you can afford this?”

“He assumed that because I was a single woman I couldn’t afford it,” the friend told Douthitt. “If it was the last house on earth I wouldn’t have bought it.”

Douthitt says many women, accomplished in other realms, feel slightly intimidated by real estate and mortgages. She felt much the same in 1988, when, as a single mother, she bought her first home. She didn’t know how to find out what she could afford to spend. “Do I find the house first?” she wondered. “Or do I have to get a mortgage first?” Now she helps clients get qualified for a mortgage first, so they know what price home they’re qualified to buy.

What women want
While researching her book, “Own It! The Ups and Downs of Homebuying for Women Who Go It Alone,” Jennifer Musselman met many single female homebuyers and owners who confessed that they felt overwhelmed by shopping alone for a home and mortgage. “Women, generally speaking, always thought that home purchasing would be something we would do with someone else, as part of a relationship,” Musselman says.

This emphasis on relationships shapes many women’s approach to homebuying, Douthitt says. Often, for example, they need to develop a relationship with an agent before they feel comfortable asking questions.

“Women want a relationship,” Douthitt says. “They want that trust and respect on both sides. Men are more transactional. They just want to go get it.”

Her female buyers often need more time than men do to make a decision. They do lots of research. Agents who don’t understand this get frustrated and mistake women’s penchant for collaboration for indecisiveness, she says.

Before Ward engaged a real-estate agent, she did lots of research online to learn which neighborhoods fit her requirements, but her agent wouldn’t listen. She didn’t seem to take her seriously. “I don’t know if it was because I was a woman or because I was young,” she says. She moved on to another agent who was more attentive.

Single buyers — women in particular — like to recruit friends and family to help them decide. “Single women don’t have a spouse to bounce the decision around with,” Douthitt points out. One buyer wanted Douthitt to meet her mom, her dad, her pastor and her brother from California before she could commit to a purchase.

 

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

Original Article by: Marilyn Lewis of MSN Real Estate

Click here to view original article

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A study of 300,000 real estate listings finds some phrases can work wonders when it comes to attracting potential buyers.

Want to sell your home? A survey suggests that certain phrases and buzzwords in real-estate ads help move some properties faster — and that those terms can vary depending on where you live and the neighborhood price range.
A study by Point2Homes.com of 300,000 real estate listings made last year found certain words or phrases highlighting a property’s attributes and upgrades “seem to carry a special weight with people looking for a home.”

 

Certain terms were universally popular. As you might expect, “beautiful” was the most frequently used word in overall real estate listings, followed by “hardwood floors” and “stainless-steel appliances.”

 

But the study found a localized popularity of some terms or phrases, depending on the region.

 

People looking for homes on the West Coast reportedly had a preference for “beautiful” homes with “mountain views” or “ocean views” — as well as “gated communities.”

 

But East Coast home seekers were attracted by places listed as ready to “move right in,” “renovated” and with “gleaming hardwood floors.”

 

In the Midwest, terms like “spacious living room,” “attached garage” and “plenty of storage” were big sellers for listings — while Southern real estate listings that featured a “tennis court,” “high ceilings” and “community pool” also did well.

 

Point2Homes also looked at descriptions of homes in New York City that sold faster than the 180-day average for that market. And given the Big Apple’s cramped living spaces, it’s not too surprising that some top words and phrases for NYC real-estate listings included  “closet space,” “city views,” “soaking tub,” “sunny,” “open kitchen,” “oversized windows” and “elegant.”

 

As any professional writer will tell you, a good description can be worth its weight in gold. Elaine Clayman, managing director with the venerable luxury real-estate firm Brown Harris Stevens, says creative use of language can certainly attract consumers and help sell homes faster. “Soaking tub is more inviting than bath tub, for example,” she notes. “Private storage is also more compelling than public storage.”

 

And there are certain terms that can help boost potential sales for homes listed at $500,000 and above. “Private” is a very popular adjective in those listings, along with “well-maintained” and a “covered front porch.”

 

There are some interesting variations as well when you get into the so-called luxury ($1 million to $5 million) and mega-luxury ($5 million and over) ranges. Luxury homes reportedly do well when they’re advertised as having “ocean views,” a “guest house” and a “media room.”  But people considering mega-luxury properties were attracted to homes featuring “a pool house,” “a wine room” and “a home theater.”

 

 

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

Original Article by: Bruce Kennedy

Click here to view original article

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Solo women are the second-largest group of home purchasers. Their wants and needs are helping to shape the real-estate market.

Kishia S. Ward wasn’t looking for the home of her dreams when she bought her two-bedroom, 2½-bath townhouse. The 25-year-old student and former business analyst wanted a place “not so much to live in forever but as an investment property, something temporary that, later on when I get married and have a family, I can rent out.”

Single female homebuyers such as Ward are a powerhouse group in the real-estate market. In 2011, when Ward bought her home, three of her female friends, also singles in their 20s, also purchased homes. Single women — a group that includes the divorced, never married and widowed — make roughly one in five home purchases annually, according to the National Association of Realtors, second only to married couples, who are about two-thirds of the market.

It wasn’t always this way. In the 1970s, “it was very difficult for a single woman to get a credit card, much less a mortgage,” says Walter Molony, spokesman for the NAR.

In 1981, when the NAR started watching, single women and single men each made about 10% of home purchases. Purchases by single men have stayed steady. Single women, however, pulled ahead in the late ’80s, when women grew as a presence in the workforce and social change put pressure on lenders.

Single women’s market share reached 20% in 1985 and hovered there until recession and tight credit pulled it down to 16% in 2012. Unmarried couples make 8% of purchases.

Finally, recognition
Although single women are getting more recognition in the real-estate market, some experts say that many bankers, mortgage brokers, builders and real-estate agents fail to understand their distinct needs and shopping habits.

Jeanie Douthitt, a real-estate agent in Plano, Texas, specializes in helping single women buy and sell homes. Her experiences and her friends’ stories showed her that solo women often weren’t served well in the market. “We all, at the end of the day, had the same experience, and it was not good,” says Douthitt, owner of Smart Women Buy Homes. Her team includes a title agent and mortgage broker, and they all focus on educating clients.

Douthitt tells how one friend, a mother and capable 20-year IBM executive, struggled when she tried buying a home in 2004 after inheriting money. The woman visited a property for sale and encountered the homeowner, who asked, “Honey, do you think you can afford this?”

“He assumed that because I was a single woman I couldn’t afford it,” the friend told Douthitt. “If it was the last house on earth I wouldn’t have bought it.”

Douthitt says many women, accomplished in other realms, feel slightly intimidated by real estate and mortgages. She felt much the same in 1988, when, as a single mother, she bought her first home. She didn’t know how to find out what she could afford to spend. “Do I find the house first?” she wondered. “Or do I have to get a mortgage first?” Now she helps clients get qualified for a mortgage first, so they know what price home they’re qualified to buy.

What women want
While researching her book, “Own It! The Ups and Downs of Homebuying for Women Who Go It Alone,” Jennifer Musselman met many single female homebuyers and owners who confessed that they felt overwhelmed by shopping alone for a home and mortgage. “Women, generally speaking, always thought that home purchasing would be something we would do with someone else, as part of a relationship,” Musselman says.

This emphasis on relationships shapes many women’s approach to homebuying, Douthitt says. Often, for example, they need to develop a relationship with an agent before they feel comfortable asking questions.

“Women want a relationship,” Douthitt says. “They want that trust and respect on both sides. Men are more transactional. They just want to go get it.”

Her female buyers often need more time than men do to make a decision. They do lots of research. Agents who don’t understand this get frustrated and mistake women’s penchant for collaboration for indecisiveness, she says.

Before Ward engaged a real-estate agent, she did lots of research online to learn which neighborhoods fit her requirements, but her agent wouldn’t listen. She didn’t seem to take her seriously. “I don’t know if it was because I was a woman or because I was young,” she says. She moved on to another agent who was more attentive.

Single buyers — women in particular — like to recruit friends and family to help them decide. “Single women don’t have a spouse to bounce the decision around with,” Douthitt points out. One buyer wanted Douthitt to meet her mom, her dad, her pastor and her brother from California before she could commit to a purchase.

 

 

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

Original Article by: Marilyn Lewis of MSN Real Estate

Click here to view original article

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Use this checklist from Trulia to make sure that all these needed tasks for your move are completed before the big day:

  • Hire a moving company

    Using recommendations from people you know and organizations like the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) and the Better Business Bureau, hire a moving company. Be sure to get competitive bids first. Look to hire a company six to eight weeks before your move.

  • Take inventory

    Make a list of the belongings you plan to move and their worth, to better track them.

  • Get additional insurance, if needed

    Look into how much insurance coverage your mover and your homeowner’s insurance company provide for your belongings during your move, and if need be, purchase additional insurance from your mover or from a third-party insurer.

  • Cut back

    The less stuff you own, the less you’ll have to move. Whittle away at your possessions through garage sales, online selling or by donating items to charity.

  • Get supplies

    Moving requires plenty of boxes, packing tape and protective packaging like bubble wrap or crumpled newspaper. Try to get used boxes and newspapers from friends and family and from local stores, and if you have to, buy fresh supplies. Don’t forget markers and labels to clearly identify what’s in which box.

  • Be organized

    Working several weeks before your move, map out which items will be moved to which room in your new place. Pack items according to in which room they’ll be placed. Pack heavier items first, placing lighter items on top. Pack breakables in their own boxes, clearly noting “fragile” on the box.

    Separate valuable items and important documents (e.g., jewelry, birth certificates, bank statements, etc.) and place in a fire-safe box. If you can, personally move them yourself.

    Pack items you’ll need right away in your new home (e.g., toiletry, medicines and clothing) in a separate box and make sure you can find it easily once you’ve relocated.

  • Stop services

    Set a date to have utilities and other services (cable, magazine subscriptions) terminated at your old place.

  • Start services

    Make preparations so that needed services (phone, cable, utilities, mail service) are up and running when you move into your new home. Register with or locate new doctors, schools, babysitters, etc., in your new location.

  • Notify

    Let the United States Postal Service, friends and family, schools, employer, your bank, your lender, your credit card company and other businesses who serve you know of your change of address.

  • Unpack

    If you have the time, give yourself at least a day or two to unpack and settle in to your new location before diving back into your job and daily routine.

 

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

Original Article by: Trulia

Click here to view original article

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