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Top Home Upgrades in Austin, TX

The holidays are getting closer and for many people this year, that means a holiday season at home. As you celebrate in your own respective ways, here a couple of home improvement projects to consider that yield high returns* in Austin.

*All return on investment estimates based on the 2020 Hanley Wood Media Inc remodeling statistics

1. Add Stone Veneer to Exterior ~ 135.3% ROI
Stone veneer on the front of a house tends to attract more buyers than an all-vinyl-siding house exterior.

Recommended Upgrade: Remove existing vinyl siding from the bottom third of the street-facing façade and replace it with manufactured stone veneer.

2. Garage Door Replacement ~ 108.5% ROI
A new garage door can boost your home’s curb appeal while also being a functional upgrade.

Recommended Upgrade: Replace existing garage door and tracks with a steel garage door on heavy-duty steel tracks.

3. Replace Roof ~ 85.8% ROI
A roof can last anywhere from 15 – 50 years depending on the material. The most common type, asphalt shingle, lasts around 20 years. A new roof is a huge plus for buyers and a worthwhile project if it’s needed!

Recommended Upgrade: Remove existing roofing and install new fiberglass asphalt shingles.

4. Minor Kitchen Remodel ~ 78.5% ROI
If you’ve got a great kitchen layout but things are feeling a little lackluster, consider a cosmetic remodel to get the best ROI.

Recommended Upgrade: Replace fronts of cabinets with shaker-style wood panels and new, modern hardware. Replace cooktop/oven and refrigerator with stainless steel energy-efficient models. Replace laminate countertops with granite or quartz; install mid-priced sink and faucet. Add new resilient flooring and finish with fresh paint.

5. Wood Deck ~ 77.4% ROI
Outdoor living spaces are always in high demand and are especially trending this year.

Recommended Upgrade: Add a 16×20-foot wood deck and provide a complete railing system.

6. Window Replacement ~76.5% ROI
Not only will energy-efficient windows lower your utility bills, but they’re a big ‘check in the box’ for new home buyers.

Recommended Upgrade: Replace existing windows with insulated, dual-pane energy-efficient windows and new trim.

7. Master Suite Addition ~ 75.9% ROI
If you have attic access, it’s worth finding out if it has any buildable space for an additional bedroom or living area. With demand for multi-generational homes on the rise, having two master suites is an advantage.

Recommended Upgrade: Add master bedroom suite over crawlspace. Include walk-in closet, freestanding tub, shower, and double-bowl vanity with stone countertops. Carpet the bedroom floor; put tile in bath. Paint and install lighting.

I’d love to be your resource on all things real estate, so reach out any time!

September 29, 2020

Buy | Rent | Resources | Sell

Market Update for Austin, Texas

As we enter month three of the pandemic, more and more data is becoming available as to how COVID-19 is affecting businesses, the stock market, and the real estate market.

The Austin Board of Realtors just released the April 2020 stats, and while overall home sales are down 20% from last April, the median sales price is up 3.2% and homes are selling 9 days faster than last April.

So what does all this mean for Austin’s housing market?

Buyers: Expect multiple offers and quick turnarounds from the time a house hits the market to the time it’s under contract. Inventory in Austin was low before COVID-19, and is even lower now as sellers wait to list their homes. It’s still worth buying now vs. later if you’re able to, as pricing shows no sign of decreasing.

Sellers: It’s a good time to sell if that’s been on your radar. Buyers are searching for great, new homes to hit the market. Matterport walkthroughs and virtual tours can help limit the number of people entering your home, and thus far we have not seen the prices of homes negatively affected.

Renters: Property prices in Austin are not showing signs of going down, even amidst a pandemic. If you’ve been thinking about buying, shoot me an email. In the meantime, most apartments are only offering virtual tours, though you can still view many rental houses in person.

Expect to see more new construction in Austin as inventory remains low. If you have any questions about the market or would like to go over your options for moving, buying, or selling, let’s hop on a Zoom call!

I’d love to be your resource on all things real estate, so reach out any time.

May 19, 2020

Buy | Invest | Resources | Sell

How to Protest Property Taxes in Travis County, Texas

Spring in Travis County marks the start of property tax season. If you own property that has increased in market value by at least $1,000 in the last year, you should receive a Notice of Appraised Value from the Travis County Appraisal District. At the top of the notice are two numbers; assessed value and market value. Your annual property tax amount owed is based on these numbers.

If you did not receive a Notice of Appraised Value via mail, you can look yours up online by using the official TCAD Property Search tool.

What’s the Difference Between Tax-Assessed Value and Market Value?

Tax-assessed value is what the county determines your property to be worth. Market value is how much an average buyer would pay for your home if it were for sale.

TCAD will attempt to match tax-assessed value as close to market value as they can, but will typically base their number off a general area and will not use neighborhood comps like a Realtor would when marketing your home for sale. All this to say; the values could be much too high or much too low given the non-specific data used.

If you believe that the assessed value shown on your notice does not accurately reflect the market value of your home, you have the right to protest it.

Why Protest My Property Valuation?

When people don’t appeal, TCAD interprets the lack of response as confirmation that their assessed value is correct. This affects all homeowners in a given neighborhood for future years to come. By appealing too-high assessed values, you can help keep property taxes reasonable in congruence with the market value of homes in your neighborhood.

How Do I Protest My Property Taxes?

There are two ways to protest your property tax values.

1. By Mail

Download this form, fill it out, and mail it to the address below. Make sure you list facts and data as to why you believe the assessed value is incorrect.

Travis Central Appraisal District
PO Box 149012
Austin TX 78714

2. Online

Visit the Travis County E-file page to file your protest online. To file online you will need your Owner ID and PIN number found on your notice. If you have misplaced your notice or don’t know your owner ID and PIN, contact TCAD by phone (512-834-9317) or email ( to request that info.

After you file, you should hear back from TCAD about an informal hearing date. The purpose of the hearing is to share your evidence as to why you think your home over-valued on your notice.

Keep in mind that it can take several weeks to several months to hear back about a hearing date after filing your protest. Also, please note that TCAD is in charge of assigning appraised values of homes; they have nothing to do with setting the tax rate itself.

Where Do I Get Evidence for the Market Value of My Home?

  1. Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). Contact your Realtor to see if they’ll send you an updated CMA with an estimated market value of your home, or conduct your own research.
  2. List and take pictures of any deficiencies in your house. Foundation issues, plumbing failures, etc. can all affect the tax assessed value.
  3. If your home was recently purchased and you paid less than the tax assessed value, bring a copy of your settlement statement to the hearing.

The deadline to protest property valuations in Travis County for 2020 is May 15th.

I’d love to be your resource for all things real estate, so please reach out any time!

May 5, 2020

Buy | Rent | Resources | Sell

5 Tips to Make Your Next Move Easier

Buying a new home or moving into a new place is exciting, but moving generally is not. Here are a few tips to make your next move a bit simpler and more affordable.

1. Get Free Moving Boxes

Buying enough boxes to pack up an entire house can add up quickly. Next time you’re planning a move, call around to local grocery stores first and ask to pick up their shipment boxes. In Austin, Trader Joes and HEB are both generally willing to set any sturdy boxes aside for you for free.

Facebook Marketplace is another good resource, as many people who have just moved want to get rid of their own moving boxes and offer them (usually free) to the first person who picks them up.

2. Play ‘Keep or Toss’ Before Packing

The simplest way to slim down a move is to purge any unwanted or unused belongings as you pack up your current place, rather than waiting to do it at your new home.

Start packing earlier than you need to and donate any items that you don’t think you’ll use in your new space. You’ll save money on boxes and movers, plus have less unpacking to do!

3. Get Truck Rental Discounts

If you’re planning to rent a U-Haul or moving truck for your move, wait until after you’ve filled out a change of address with USPS online. They’ll typically give you a variety of moving-related coupons to download and often times a truck rental discount is included.

4. Hire Haulers vs Full-Service Movers to Save Money

There are dozens of ways to conduct a move. From DIY to full-service movers who bring boxes, pack, haul, and unpack, you’ve got options.

If you have the time to box everything yourself and prefer to unpack your own belongings, save several hundred dollars by hiring day-of movers to get everything from point A to point B. Services like Bellhops or Two Men and a Truck will provide vehicles and labor to do all the heavy lifting for you.

5. Schedule Repairs in an Empty Home

Some repairs are easier to have done with nothing in the house. Before you bring all your belongings into a new place, consider the practicality of having essential repairs done first.

Things like sealing the grout on floor tiles and in bathrooms, getting window treatments installed, or having the home professionally cleaned are worth considering before filling your new place with boxes.


I’d love to be your resource on all things real estate, so please contact me any time!

October 28, 2019

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Flood Changes in Austin, TX

Ever heard of Atlas 14? Probably not, but you might this fall.

Due to the increased frequency of heavy rains, storms, and flooding in the Austin area, a study called Atlas 14 was conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Atlas-14 shows a roughly 33% increase in the amount of rain that could fall in Austin within a 24-hour period. As a result, properties in close proximity to the city’s creeks are exposed to greater flood risks.

What does this mean for Austin residents?

In October, the City Council will vote on whether to implement Atlas 14’s recommendation to redraw the flood maps for Austin.

If approved, homeowners who currently own property located in a 500-year floodplain may be re-zoned to a 100-year floodplain, those in a 100-year may be re-zoned to a 25-year, and those not in a floodplain could enter one.

Flood plains are determined by the likelihood that a storm with high rainfall intensity could happen in any given year. A 25-year storm has a 4% chance of occurring each year; a 100-year storm has a 1% chance of occurring, and a 500-year storm has a 0.2% chance.

If your home is rezoned to fall in a 100-year or 25-year floodplain, your insurance provider will likely be contacting you to require that you add flood insurance to your home insurance policy. If your home is not currently in a floodplain but is rezoned to fall in one, you may want to consider purchasing flood insurance voluntarily, just to be on the safe side.

How to check if your home could be affected by rezoning:

  1. Visit this website and click the “I want to” button, followed by “explore Atlas 14 changes”
  2. Learn more by reading this article by Austin’s Community Impact magazine
  3. Read more here on


I’d love to be your resource for all things real estate, so please contact me any time!

April 29, 2019

Buy | Resources | Sell

Interest Rates are Rising – What it Means for You

If you’re someone who reads the paper or watches the news, you’ve probably heard about Fed hikes and interest rates. If those terms don’t ring a bell, no worries! Here’s what you need to know:

1. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates at the end of September for the third time this year.

2. As a result of the rate hike, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate jumped to 4.88%, the highest it’s been since 2011.

3. Interest rates are still historically low, but those looking to buy should think about locking in a rate soon. Financial institutions are predicting rates of 5% or higher by the end of 2019.

4. Rising interest rates means sellers may need to adjust their expectations on sale prices as buyer’s budgets decrease to compensate.

If you have questions on buying or selling a home, how interest rates affect you, or want to learn more about housing in Austin, please reach out!

October 18, 2018

Resources | Sell

Home Renovations that Pay Off

Whether selling a home, planning renovations or looking to buy, it’s smart to know which upgrades are worthwhile.

If selling, smart upgrades can be the difference between boosting the sales price a few extra thousand dollars or wasting precious pennies that could go into a new home. When house hunting, being able to spot a hidden gem that just needs some TLC can save you money while also giving you an opportunity to earn equity after closing.

If you’re in the market, here are some ways to get a higher return on your property investment.

1. Front Door Replacement

Replacing a builder grade door with a steel door not only boosts the curb appeal of your home, but also offers financial rewards. A steel door can reduce draftiness and cold spots, saving you money on electricity every month. Depending on the door you choose, it’s possible to also increase your home’s security with multi-point locking and other protection features.

2. Minor Kitchen and Bathroom Remodels

For kitchens and bathrooms that lean towards the “dated” side, a minor makeover is worthwhile. New counters and flooring, stainless steel energy efficient appliances, and a mid-priced sink and faucet can go a long way.

3. Deck Addition

One of the top perks of home ownership is having private outdoor space. Adding a deck is a smart addition to gain extra living square footage. When it comes time to sell, it also helps prospective buyers visualize living in their new space.

4. Landscaping

First impressions are important, and the outside of your home is the first thing a buyer sees. Tasteful landscaping, power washing siding, and fresh paint can all help a house look more inviting.

Whether you’re selling a home or renovating for personal use, consider which improvements are necessary, and which will give you the highest return. Consult a real estate professional to find out what most buyers are looking for, and to see how your home measures up to the rest of the neighborhood.

I’d love to be your resource for all things real estate and would be happy to provide a free price estimate for your current home.

May 25, 2018

Buy | Resources | Sell

Spring Home Maintenance Tips

In Austin, rain showers bring spring flowers much sooner than April and May, and Spring is almost upon us! Homeowners should ideally follow a quarterly house care checklist to keep your property in great condition year-round. If this slipped your mind, here’s a few spring home maintenance tips to take care of before the summer.

1. Replace Roof Shingles

Yes, you read that right. Grab a ladder, or have a handyman come out to check the roof shingles in case any were lost, cracked, loose or damaged during winter storms or snow. In hotter climates, the summer sun can also damage roof shingles. Depending on the age of your home, it may be smart to start a ‘new roof’ budget for when it needs replacing.

2. Drain the Gutters

Look for any loose or leaky gutters by running a hose on the roof to check for proper drainage. Pull out any leaves and debris resting in the gutters and use caulk or epoxy to seal any leaks. If gutters are pulling away from the house, reattach them.

3. Keep a Level Foundation

Inspect concrete, masonry, and foundation walls for cracking or deterioration. If you’re able to insert a nickel into any cracks, call a professional immediately. Consider power washing and sealing slabs as necessary.

4. Pressure Wash Siding

Clean the siding of your home with a pressure washer to prevent mold form growing. Sand and apply primer to any exposed wood before re-painting. For brick exteriors, keep an eye out for moss growth by using a scrub brush or pressure wash to clean. Stone siding should also be washed annually and sealed every 5 years.

5. Walk the Yard

Rain can cause flooding in yards, which can lead to insect infestation and foundation damage. Fill any low areas with compacted soil to keep things level. Additionally, trim any overgrowth away from the home’s foundation.

6. Test Faucets and Sprinklers

Test all outdoor faucets and sprinklers for leaks, low water flow (indicates freezing) and broken spouts.

7. Inspect Window and Door Sills

Keep your home energy efficient, and your electric bills low! Inspect all exterior doors and windows. Fill any cracks, caulk the edges, and if need be purchase replacements.

8. Service the AC and Heating Unit

The last thing anyone needs in a Texas summer is a broken A/C unit. Have a licensed contractor clean and service the outside of the unit as well as the coils and interior filters. Clean units operate more efficiently and this annual service will keep your home cool and in top shape for the summer heat.

March 5, 2018