Posts Tagged ‘sell your house in austin’

House-sitting, caretaking or ‘workamping’ can be a huge budget boost. Just think: No monthly housing costs.


If you had no rent or mortgage payment, what would that mean to your bottom line? Free accommodations are available if you’re willing to watch someone else’s property.

House-sitting tends to be a quick-hit job, but two other gigs — caretaking and “workamping” — can last for months or years at a time. Best-case scenario: You fall into a sweet spot such as spending 51 weeks a year at a multimillionaire’s Colorado ski retreat or secluded Hawaiian getaway.

Where do you look for a job like that? (Post continues after video.)

An obvious way is through word of mouth. I’ve gotten house-sitting jobs in Los Angeles, Seattle and Anchorage just by letting friends know I’m available. For me, it’s a cheap way to travel. Sometimes I get paid, and sometimes I do it in exchange for a free flop.

The most comprehensive sources I’ve seen, though, are The Caretaker Gazette, Workers on Wheels and Workamper News.

House-sitting websites exist, too. Keep in mind that these companies, like any other Internet site, may vanish without warning — taking with them your subscription. By contrast, the three sources listed above have been publishing for 18 to 30 years and all three supplement their regular publications with daily or weekly job updates.

What you need to know

“Workamping” assumes you’ll be working — part or full time, paid or volunteer — while living in an RV. Usually, that means free hookup and rent in a campground, but sometimes RVers are hired to care for private property.

“Caretaking” can mean full-time responsibility for a landscape and/or animals. It can also be as simple as living in a foreclosure or unsold property to keep away squatters and vandals.

“We are getting a lot more real-estate investors who are stuck with (homes) they can’t sell,” says Caretaker Gazette Publisher Gary Dunn. 

You’ll need references, of course. Would you hand someone the keys to your place just because he sounded nice on the phone? Some options: a current or former employer, a clergy member or even your family physician are good bets.

Or how about a previous house-sitting client? Put out the word among friends and acquaintances, get written references and parlay those experiences into other gigs.

Get it in writing
Ask for a written contract so there are no misunderstandings about what is and isn’t expected. For example, will you be paying a share of the utilities? Are you supposed to mow the lawn?

Keep your side of the bargain. If it says “no parties,” don’t invite your friends over to check out the hot tub.

A few more tips:

Get renters insurance. The homeowners insurance doesn’t cover nonresidents.

Prepare to couch-surf. If you plan to do this full time, you need places to land in case of gaps between jobs.

Organize your finances. Is there a branch of your bank in that town? Can you pay your bills online? Oh, and bring more cash than you think you need — you can always put it back.

Have an exit strategy.
Suppose the homeowner forgot to mention his six cats — and you’re allergic? Make sure you have bus fare or gas money back home.

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

Original Article by: Donna_Freedman

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The housing market seems to be turning a corner, with prices ticking up thanks to reduced inventory and a decline in foreclosure sales. But problems looming in the broader economy could roil this housing rally.


Will the housing recovery last? That’s the question some economists are asking, given the plodding growth in the economy, as well as the looming “fiscal cliff,” which threatens to raise taxes and cut jobs.

Tight inventory in many markets and a decline in foreclosure sales have lifted prices, and record-low mortgage rates eased some buyers off the fence, but weak job growth, lousy credit and the large number of buyers with little or no equity could conspire to flatten out the rebound, making this one of the longest, most excruciating recoveries in housing history.

That’s possible even if Congress manages to stave off the “fiscal cliff” in January that would take away the Bush-era tax cuts and raise taxes for most Americans.

“It’s clearly not sustainable,” says Sam Khater, deputy chief economist for real-estate analytics firm CoreLogic. “Real incomes are not growing. We are at the same level we were in the mid-1990s. [The recovery] is not sustainable until incomes recover.”

Some markets have yet to hit bottom, says Robert Shiller, the Yale economist who first warned of the looming crisis in real estate, and who — with Carl Case — created the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Home prices have yet to turn positive in markets such as Milwaukee, Atlanta, Philadelphia and even New York City.

Shiller, for one, is still reluctant to call the recent improvement in the market a solid recovery.

“The question is how strong is it, and will … this rally fizzle or not? And I don’t know the answer to that,” Shiller said in a recent interview with NPR. “But I point out that this is the fourth time we’ve had a rally since the crisis ended.”

A good start
Still, there’s no question that the overwhelmingly negative news about the housing market has turned positive.

Existing-home sales jumped 11% in September from the same time a year earlier, while the median home price of $183,900 was 11.3% higher than a year ago — the seventh straight month of year-over-year increases, according to the National Association of Realtors.

With sales increasing, the supply of for-sale housing has dwindled to a healthy 5.9-month supply, down from the 8.2-month supply last summer. Of those homes on the market, far fewer are foreclosures, which typically sell for 20% to 30% less than traditional listings.

“When properties come on the market they move fast,” says Gary Bauer, a broker and blogger in Denver. “It’s not uncommon in the price ranges up to $750,000 for a new listing to get multiple offers.”

While new-home sales dipped slightly in August, the median price of a new home surged 11.2% to $256,900, the biggest one-month increase ever recorded. Prices have climbed 17% over the past year and are at the highest level since spring 2007, according to the Commerce Department, fueling some talk of a growing bubble.

It’s true that homebuilders are feeling more confident. New single-family home starts ticked up 5.5% in August from the previous month.

Add to that rising consumer confidence and record-low mortgage interest rates in recent weeks, and it’s easy to see why so many are starting to think the housing market has really turned the corner.

Too much excitement?
Of course, some things are missing for a robust and sustained rebound, including meaningful job growth, pay increases and enough affordable inventory in some markets.

Tight inventory helped pushed the NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index (based on signed contracts) down 2.6% to 99.2, despite being 10.7% higher than the same time last year.

Prices have yet to rise enough to make selling viable for those who bought in the past seven years, Khater says.

About 10.8 million, or 22.3%, of homes financed with mortgages were in negative equity at the end of the second quarter, according to CoreLogic. And 45% of all homes have mortgages with an 80% loan-to-value ratio, giving homeowners little to put down on another house.

Moreover, many foreclosures that would have wound up with a for-sale sign in front are being sold in packages to investors as rentals. While that’s good for propping up prices near term, this affordable inventory won’t make it to individual buyers.

And despite the record-low mortgage rates of late, qualifying for a loan can still be tough.

Paul Diggle of Capital Economics pointed out the growing gap between the NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index and its monthly sales figures in a recent housing report. As many as 15% of contracts don’t make it through to closing, he says, in part because of today’s tight lending environment.

But the real driver of the recovery, Khater says, needs to be jobs. Without meaningful growth in jobs — job creation that outpaces population growth — and stronger pay raises, the recovery could fizzle out.

“The economy is fundamentally very weak,” he says, “and that could keep the malaise out there for an extended period of time.”

Especially, he says, if Congress fails to push off the spending cuts and tax increases due to take effect at the beginning of next year. That could send the country back into a recession.

The road ahead
Of course, analysts say, there’s a chance that legislators could extend those cuts to keep the economic recovery on a firm footing or replace them with something else to help low- and moderate-income Americans.

But the economic uncertainty will keep many buyers on the sidelines, says Alex Villacorta, director of research and analytics at Clear Capital. Debt-ceiling brinksmanship pushed down consumer sentiment 14.3% last year, the largest amount since the end of the recession, and uncertainty over taxes could “throw a wrench into the recovery.”

The Federal Reserve did its part recently by announcing a third round of monthly mortgage-backed securities purchases, a stimulus designed to increase employment and keep mortgage rates low so more people will want to buy homes.

If consumer confidence can survive the weak economic news, Clear Capital predicts a strong market through the start of the spring buying season.

With prices rising in most markets, growing numbers of people who already own a home may be nudged into moving up to a larger one. First-time buyers will still need to be making enough money at their jobs to qualify for loans.

But with the large number of low-down-payment FHA loans available, and lower mortgage rates bringing down the cost of homes, would-be buyers won’t have to spend as much to get one.

Indeed, Diggle sees the high home-contract cancellation rate as a positive rather than negative for the housing market in the months ahead. The cancellations, he says, “reflect would-be buyers’ willingness to buy increasing at a faster pace than the bank’s willingness or ability to lend.”

In other words, you have an eager pool of buyers who might have less than perfect credit — good news if credit loosens a bit.

As far as supply goes, inventory should grow as more homeowners gain equity in the next year or two. CoreLogic says that just a 5% jump in annual home prices would be enough to get a significant number of those underwater homeowners into an equity position.

Still, that might not happen, he says, at least not in the next year. Local Market Monitor predicts values in the U.S. will remain relatively flat in the next year, with a larger increase — up to 7% — in the next 36 months.

“It seems as if we have a long recovery in order, given the slow economic growth and pace of hiring,” says Ingo Winzer, president of Local Market Monitor.

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

Original Article by: Melinda Fulmer of MSN Real Estate

Click Here to View the Original Article

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…To start planning your Christmas Wishlist.

I find most of the gifts I ask  for from this beauty of a publication:




These adorable Kendra Scott earrings – and a steal at only $90.00

This cashmere robe. Talk about luxurious. Too bad it doesn’t get below 90 degrees in Austin.

But above all else….

A walk-on role in the Broadway production of Annie. I would die and go to heaven. I am going to try to convince James to buy this one – but don’t hold your breath.


So ladies (or gentlemen), if you want to make your own Neiman Marcus wishlist to give to loved ones, view the online catalog here.  You’re welcome.

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Back to school means early mornings and quick breakfasts. Use some of these tips to boost your kid’s brain power and to make the most of his or her school day!


Check out the video here.


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As I sit here watching the “State of the Union” address- I am thinking how fortunate I am to have grown up in Austin, Texas.
When it comes to marketing a home for sale- I have to pull from a large toolbox.  Some houses have different needs than others.  The beauty is- there are many tools to choose from.  I just finished a website for 5901 Highland Hills Terrace- an incredible updated, traditional home that is located in Central Austin.  It has an open floorplan and architectural details like exposed brick.  This home shows like it should grace the pages of Elle Decor.  I am honored to represent this home, and family- I couldn’t ask for better and more accommodating sellers.


Pass it on…maybe you know someone wanting their elementary aged children attending award winning Highland Park Elementary~ where my dad went to elementary and my niece is in first grade.

Kudos to all the Academy Award Nominees!!


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