Archive for ‘Real Estate’

April 16, 2009

More Thursday Happs

If you can’t make it out to Westlake for Tidbits, don’t fret: three other Thursday happs should keep you entertained, fed, and liquored up for free.

903Theresea Open House & Art Show

5-9pm: drinks, DJ, art show & giveaway! See two green, mod homes and enjoy free drinks, food–including new Cupcaker L’s Cupcake Cafe–music, and art show.

Ligne Roset Opening Reception

6-8:30pm: The first-ever Ligne Roset concept store in Austin is opening this Thursday in the 2nd Street District.  Ligne Roset is a furnishings company based in France making its debut in Austin. Free St. Germain’s specialty cocktails infused with elderflower liqueur. RSVP here.

Ligne Roset flyer

1/2 Price Day at Little Woodrow’s on the Drag

3pm-2am: Half-price EVERYTHING at Little Woodrow’s. 100+ beers, bottles, draft, can, mimosas …  3-7p is Happy hour and you can combine the two to get even cheaper beer. What?!

The regular Thursday night special is Giant Mug Night with $4 domestic & premium drafts. $3 mimosas. Half price applies to this too–Little Woodrow’s is practically GIVING BEER AWAY. Geez. Do it.
February 4, 2009

New Mighty Fine Burgers + other local restaurants!

I remember when the “old” Mighty Fine was new, in the Arbor Walk, when the Arbor Walk was still new too … oh, Austin, you’re growing up so fast.

Anyway, before I romantically delve into the past, Mighty Fine Burgers is the burger version of Austin-standby Rudy’s BBQ. The menu keeps it simple with burger or dog choices in red, white, or yellow. Fries are hand-cut (remember the buzz over the original’s $40,000 fry-cutter? The thin, crunchy strips don’t disappoint) and milkshakes are hand-scooped Blue Bell, natch. Tables are long picnic style for sharing and making new friends.

In short, Mighty Fine is just that. I’m not sure that their meat is free-range–it’s “all natural,” but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t raised sans hormones in tiny cages, so I haven’t been back since the first time I tried ’em over a year ago.  I remember the flavor being excellent. But now that the new store is open in Sunset Valley Village Shopping Center … who’s to say I can’t go just for the fries??

In other local chain news, austin360 ran an article yesterday on local chains who are expanding even during the recession. Read it here or just look at this list:

  • Mighty Fine Burgers – Sunset Valley opened yesterday, and a 3rd in Round Rock is under construction
  • Vivo – in the Lakeline Mall area. The east-side fave is known for delicious ‘ritas and healthy-ish Tex-Mex. Love it.
  • P. Terry’s – N. Lamar Boulevard between 33rd and 34th streets–stone’s throw from my house! So excited. Designed by Michael Hsu–is there anything new the dude isn’t designing?!
  • Mandola’s – the Houston chain that opened at the Triangle, will open at The Shops at the Galleria in Bee Cave this summer
  • Maudie’s – opening #6 location later this year.
June 6, 2008

Real Estate: The Importance of an Agent

As I mentioned before, my brother and I are looking for a house. What I didn’t mention is that we’ve been through three. That is, we’ve put in offers on three, only to have something not work out.

The Blue House had been on the market for months with no activity when we put in our offer. Another offer came in the same day, and the agent (not a good one) asked us to put in our final offer. This is not how negotiating works, people. I give an offer, you respond, I respond, and so on. To ask for a final offer right off the bat was weird–though we did it. The other offer won, and we were without a house. Six weeks later, it’s closed, and we find out that they offered only $5,000 more than we did, and then got a $5,000 repairs allowance … making their offer essentially the same. If the other agent hadn’t insisted upon our final offers, she probably could have gotten us to go higher, securing her client a better deal.

Deal number two was on a house we really couldn’t afford, the Basement House, and it had some scary possible asbestos and plumbing issues, so we ended up backing out on it. Deal number three was a lowball offer on a house that had been on the market for awhile. The owner came down $5k in his counteroffer, and didn’t even bother to respond to our counteroffer. He switched agents, reduced the price, and sold the house in a week.

So, as you can see, agents play a major role in scoring your dream house–finding it isn’t the only hard part! Most agents in Austin are more laid-back than in other markets. But a good agent will always be in communication with you … “here are some possible houses,” “this is what x house you saw last week sold for,” “I haven’t heard back from the other agent yet,” etc. If you find a talkative agent, you’re golden!

More and more buyers are opting to search listings on their own, which focuses the agent’s role on negotiation, where communication is again the key skill. An agent should offer solid advice and opinions, but also be willing to do whatever you want in terms of making an offer or counteroffer. When choosing an agent, listen to friends’ recommendations, but also pay attention to your rapport with him or her–a connection will communication that much easier!

June 3, 2008

Real Estate: House Hunting

Much has been written about how Austin is surviving the nation’s real estate slump, and many of Austin’s houses are still selling like hotcakes. Sure, it’s not a year ago when a house was on the market for a day before it sold, but houses are still selling in two weeks in certain neighborhoods at good prices. It is, of course, now a buyer’s market rather than a seller’s market.

A year ago I bought my condo, a lovely 1 bed, 1 bath number with a study, open floor plan, and most importantly for me, yard and pool. My living room opens out onto the backyard, and since there are only thirteen units, it often has the feel of being just my own. I bought at the peak of the Austin’s dazzling market, when buyers got into bidding wars above the asking price of houses. While I still love my place and believe I paid what it’s worth, there are still three units for sale. Out of thirteen, that’s a lot. Of course, there are other factors (horrible, lazy developer, silly shortcuts like painting the concrete floors and not sealing them or leaving the original 1969 windows in place). But the market is also a factor–why pay a premium for a close-in condo when you might get a steal on a little-bit-farther-out house?

My brother and I are looking to buy a house. I don’t really need one, as I just told you I have a great place to live, but there are certain things that a condo community just can’t give–privacy, a garage, a yard I can leave my dog out in, etc. Plus, this is the only time in our lives that my brother and I can live together (without our parents!), pre marriage and kids and so on, so I want to take advantage of that opportunity. And, as I mentioned, it’s a buyer’s market. We’re hoping to get that steal on that little-bit-farther-out house. Or really, a steal on a close-in house.

I go into this long setup because I want to get more into real estate in this blog. I’ve been interested in the market for over a year, and researching this time around for at least six months. I know certain neighborhoods–Tarrytown, Clarksville, Deep Eddy, Brykerwoods, Oakmont, Downtown–as well as anyone, and others–Barton Hills, Zilker–I’m learning a lot more about. So that’s the background, and stay tuned for progress in the house hunt.

What we’re looking for, in case anyone is curious:

-2+ bedrooms, 2+ bathrooms (we’re open to having rental rooms, or a garage apt for rental income)

-Garage (or detached building or basement or … brother is in a band and they sure as hell aren’t practicing in the house)

-One of the neighborhoods I mentioned–we’d like to be in walking and/or biking distance of at least a few hang out places (restaurants, coffeeshops, bars) and close to downtown (that band thing again)

UPDATE: Hey! Just found a good article about why young people (me! my brother! you!) should buy real estate in Austin. And, come to think of it, many of my friends are buying houses. Singles, mostly, who just don’t want to pay rent. Most of them subscribe to the buy-more-house-farther-out theory, which is totally reasonable, so many of them are settling in South Austin, off Mopac, near William Canon or Slaughter where the houses are big, new, and relatively cheap.


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