Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Austin and Texas DOMINATE Economic Recovery Rankings!

According to a report by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, Austin was the highest-ranked U.S. city for recovery from the recession. Not only that, Austin ranked #26 in the entire world for economic recovery! Not bad. Austin pride in full effect.

The study by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program ranks 150 cities: 50 in the United States, 50 in Europe, and 50 other cities scattered from the rest of the world. The fastest recovering cities are outside of the United States, with only Austin, Texas as the only U.S. city inside of the top 30 in the world. The fastest recovering cities, in order, are Istanbul, Turkey; Shenzen, China; Lima, Peru; Singapore; and Shanghai, China.

The report found that income and job growth in the metro areas are performing better than their nation's average. Large cities are leading the global recovery from the 2007-2009 recession. The report examined incomes and employment back to 1993 and ranks the metros in three segments: pre-recession (1993-2007), recession (2007-2009), and recovery (2009-2010).

When looking at the list, it is easy to see why Texans are so content. Four Texas metropolitan areas - Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio - took command of the top 15 U.S. Cities list. Dallas ranked #4 (#39 in world), San Antonio #11 (#51 in world), and Houston ranked #15 (#61 in world) in the U.S.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Property Tax Time!

In the next several weeks, home owners will be receiving their property tax bills. New homeowners, before you flip out and go all anti-government, remember that unless you chose to waive escrows at closing (which usually will cost you an added fee) your mortgage company has been collecting an extra amount every month along with your regular principal and interest payments.

Taxes are paid at the end of the year so they will escrow your tax (and property insurance) money every month and they will pay it for you. If there is a remaining balance because they estimated too much, it will either roll-over into the next year or they'll refund and start afresh. If you've escrowed property taxes and received a bill, just forward it to your mortgage company and THEY will pay it. Those who have waived escrows or who have no mortgage will have to pay the bill on their own.

Remember to file your Homestead Exemptions at the County Appraisal District! This will deduct several thousand off of your taxed amount saving you a nice chunk of change. DO NOT hire those people that send you a letter offering to do it for you. This may as well be a scam. The homestead exemption is a one page document that takes approximately three minutes to fill out. The service just prays on people's lack of knowledge and they assume it's a hefty paperwork process. It's not. Go here to see the forms:

Williamson County: Homestead Exemption Form (PDF)

I hope this message is getting out to my first-time home buyers before they show up at my door with pitch forks and torches thinking that I failed to inform them of a massive cost around every bank account-draining Christmas. I wouldn't do you like that! I'm your friendliest friend and wisdom provider.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Madden Noha Matthews 9/19/10 - 9/24/10


The concept for this entire blog was outlined with how you would change not only my career, but my life as well. You have succeeded in that. The moment we saw you when you were born we knew we would love you for the rest of our lives, fully expecting you to outlive us. It turned out your life was cut short, but I want you to know that we will never forget you or ever stop loving you. Our hearts will cry for every day you aren't in our arms. We will smile and continue living our lives, but only because we have to. Deep inside we will never be as happy as we could have been because we couldn't watch you say your first word, go off to your first day of school, take you to a baseball game, have your first girlfriend, get into you first-choice college, get married to a special lady, and give us our first grandchildren.

We understand this must be part of God's plan... that something so horrible couldn't happen for no reason. We may not understand it now, but we will eventually. God knows that his course for our lives may encounter obstacles of tremendous hurt and suffering, but out of that comes a greater glory. We will soon be aware of what the purpose for this tragic event was, but that does not mean that you leaving us cannot strike at the core of our existence as human beings. Every time I think of the last touch of your warm, glowing soft skin a lifetime of tears burns my eyes. I'll miss your round cheeks, your cute lips, your tiny eyelashes, your chubby feet, every roll in your arms, and the intense light in our life you created when you opened your eyes wide to say "Hi" for the first time. You are the most beautiful person, place, or thing I have ever laid eyes on. I'd give anything just to hold you again in my arms and to tell you "I love you." 

We miss you Madden. We know you're in a better place, but the world will never know what it has missed without you here. We only knew you five short days, but you have given us a lifetime of inspiration. We think about you every day and will never ever stop thinking about you until the day we can see your shining, pudgy, beautiful face again. We will love you and miss you for an eternity Madden. 

Love, Mommy & Daddy

Monday, September 27, 2010


Priced at $125,000! Hands down the top deal for the price in the Austin metro! Fully upgraded, no room left unturned! The most expensive rooms (bathrooms and kitchen) in the house OUTFITTED with High Quality Upgrades! Large hard tile throughout! 

SEE VIRTUAL TOUR FOR FULL VIEW OF UPGRADES! A guaranteed charmer in Heatherwilde! Functional floorplan with spacious rooms! Finding a home with these features for this price is extremely rare! DECKED OUT w/ MANY upgrades including recent furnace, solar tube white light skylight, large hard tile throughout NO CARPET! Mini tile accents! Most expensive rooms of house have been done for you! Neutral colors! No pre-move cleaning needed, ready for move-in today! Perfect house for first-time buyer or investors. Must see to believe for price and that's not Realtor talk! 

More Highlights: 
- New EnergyStar windows & rear sliding door 2010! 
- New Kitchen counters 2010! 
- New Exterior siding 2010! 
- New exterior paint 2010! 
- Full kitchen appliance package! Stainless Steel Fridge comes with sale! 
- Upgraded bathrooms cabinets & sinks! 
- High quality lighting & bathroom fixtures! 


As usual you can see more on this property and EVERY property for sale at:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

JUST LISTED!! Awesome Rear-Entry Garage Home in Windermere!!

REDUCED! Only $159,900! 4 Bedrooms, 2 full baths, 1 half bath. 2,256 sqft. per tax record! This amazing gem in Windermere subdivision of Pflugerville, comes decked out and move-in ready! Many upgrades and improvements including hardiplank siding, entire house has new carpet installed (9/10), fresh paint, and new trim! Improvements were to make-ready and have NEVER BEEN LIVED ON! Rear-entry, attached garage creates a clean front yard street. Great functional floorplan, making fantastic use of space! Academically Recognized Windermere Elementary across the street! Kids can walk to school! Extremely private & shaded backyard. Large, mature trees! This home is spotless clean and move-in ready! No pre-move cleaning here! Bishopsgate Dr. in Windermere, with their clean, wide street has extremely low turnover! Only ONE home for sale and sold since 2007! Residents here are happy!! 

More highlights: 
- Excellent curb appeal with 3-side masonry!
- Two Sago Palms at front walkway add an extra appeal!
- Community Center with pool, playground, and clubhouse! 
- Very clean street with no unattractive garbage cans left out! 
- Lots of natural light despite large, healthy trees! 
- Spotless clean! Tubs look unused! Kitchen in fantastic shape! 
- Ready to go. No pre-move cleaning. Move-in TODAY!
- Awesome entrance foyer provides plenty of "wow factor" for all those who enter!

MORE INFO: 17116 Bishopsgate Dr. Property Info

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 HAS BEEN LAUNCHED!

Today is the day. September 1st, 2010 marks the official launch day of my website www.I-Am-Real-Estate.comThis incredibly detailed real estate website has now been launched after 4 months of work practically everyday. My wife has been neglected, my social life drained, legs and brain cramping, all for the consumer. That's right. I sacrifice for you. 

This website was designed with the consumer in mind. It's goal was to become the most comprehensive real estate website in the Austin metro area and I think I've done it. The website's purpose is to make you more knowledgeable when looking to buy or sell a home. In a way it's like when the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey started stroking that smooth obelisk (my website) and suddenly they were smarter and could do things they couldn't before! It's kind of like that except in a good way, not that you'll go around killing each other with bones and screaming at each other. Oh, and I'm definitely not referencing you all as apes. You're all way ahead of apes. My site is just a tool, so it's more like the bones that you strike each other with because it gives you an advantage over the next guy. Ok, nevermind. Horrible analogy.

The point I'm attempting to make is that my site is user-friendly. The site features detailed a detailed page on over 150 communities in the Austin (broken down by segment), Pflugerville, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Hutto, Leander, and Georgetown areas. Each page has pictures of that community, pertinent links, and a list of active homes for sale in that community. You can search the MLS and the site actually has up-to-date listings, no more searching on Trulia or Zillow and finding out the home sold 3 months ago!

I have a FREE iPhone and iPad Home Search App that will allow you to search for active listings anywhere in our area and provide pictures, descriptions, and allow you to contact me by email or phone directly with the push of a button for more info.

There is also Buyer/Seller tools that will walk you through the process that can be complicating or overwhelming for some. There is also a Financing Roadmap that will walk you through the steps of that process. Also, a Client Concierge, Austin's rankings in the news, Social Media outlets, Relocation Austin Major Employer Guide, and more!

So, I invite you to check out I put an immense amount of work into it and I would be honored if you would make it your Real Estate tool of choice. Feedback and constructive criticism is welcome!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pre-Launch Numbers!

On the eve of the launch of, my website taking over 4 months to create I decided to analyze the viewing numbers on my website. Even before advertising and marketing the launch, from August 1st-31st has had 418 visits by 197 visitors with a low bounce rate of 16.27%! Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who close the first page they get to on the site immediately after going to it. 16.27% shows that once visitors reach my site they are inclined to continue their search and look at other features.

The visits came from 10 different countries, including United States, Philippines, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, United Kingdom, and Singapore. Perhaps, these are tech people from other countries going to move to Austin, only time will tell. Chris Matthews is going worldwide! 

Thank you to everyone who has viewed my site thus far. I put in the time to give you a great resource that would make the buying and selling processes easier for you. I don't pester you for a login and provide everything for free. Real estate agents get a bad name for being overly aggressive at times, while failing to be communicative once people decide to use someone. I wanted to take a different approach. I emphasize high customer service and communication, while keeping clients informed every step of the way so they don't feel alone during the transaction. My website is a tool in the search and guide for the process. Thank you!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Baby Training Classes are Parent Training Classes

This weekend was packed with classes learning how to take care of a child and wifey when she is giving birth. I had SEVEN total hours of baby training classes over two days. My Saturday afternoon was filled with a FIVE HOUR "Birthing/Lamaze Class" and my Sunday was an "Infant CPR Class." Birthing Class was quite scary, watched an actual birth video (yikes!) and gathered all the need-to-know info for that special day. I may be able to just deliver this baby at home myself. I feel like I just got my Master's Degree in Child Delivery.

The CPR Class was a must-take. I almost died twice as a small child choking. My mother had to perform the Heimlich Maneuver twice to save my life. Luckily, she was successful and I blossomed into the magnificent specimen I am today. A specimen who never knows when to call it quits and keeps packing their mouth with chicken and not chewing until I self-suffocate. Thank the Lord for my wife to take over for mommy and remind me to chew. Everyone has flaws.

My wife and I would frequently share a nervous glance throughout the lecture/class. That day is now less than six weeks away! This will be the quickest six weeks of my entire life. It was definitely time to take these classes to prepare. I have to say, though, taking a five hour class on your Saturday afternoon just when it's starting to get to a temperature here that you can withstand longer than 10 minutes, is not a good idea. My ADD was flaring like my wife's nostrils when she has called me eight times because my food is getting cold. It's just an overload. So I strongly suggest taking the broken into two parts option. I'm just glad these classes were before football season kicks off because then my mind would definitely not have been there.

Wifey is understandably nervous terrified of the actual birth, especially after the class. They spoke about making small cuts, tearing, stretching, drawn-out pains, and all sorts of goodies. She was about to jump on my back like she saw a mouse. I am glad I am not a woman. I'll gladly take the fear of rejection of dating, financial obligation to pay during dates, and chance of prostate cancer over having my genitals torn every time I want to reproduce. The strength of a woman. I may be able to lift heavy things, but that is severely diminished by the ability to shoot a NFL regulation-sized football out of their body. My wife will never know of my intense admiration for her during the process because she doesn't read my blog. She'll let it go to her head anyway.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Just listed at 1607 Copperhead Cove Round Rock, TX 78664 is this fantastic gem in Springbrook! Many improvements and updates including travertine tile fireplace, updated counters, recent roof, updated fixtures, dark wood mirrors and cabinets, travertine tiled master and accented tile shower! The home has excellent curb appeal with 3-sided masonry! Located on a cute, quiet cul-de-sac with academically "recognized" schools within walking distance! Refrigerator and shed convey with sale! Gorgeous mature trees, full sprinkler system, water softener, and the list goes on! A home in this condition, with these upgrades and features, for this price is RARE! This one won't last long. Priced to sell at the unbelievable price of $149,990!

See More of This Home and Search for Others at
The Most Comprehensive Real Estate Website in Austin

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Prepare to get the rest of those school supplies bought up and your children's new outfits purchased as August 20-22 is Texas' annual tax holiday! Certain items bought during these three days are exempt from paying any sales tax offering a slight discount to some important purchases for kids going back to school.

The law exempts most clothing and footwear priced under $100 from sales and use taxes, which could save shoppers about $8 on every $100 they spend. Not an amazing savings, but just a little break on things you have to buy anyways. Backpacks under $100 and used by elementary and secondary students are also exempt. The exemption during the sales tax holiday includes backpacks with wheels, provided they can also be worn like a traditional backpack.... a pack on the back.

The exemption does not include items that are reasonably defined as luggage, briefcases, athletic/duffle/gym bags, computer bag, purses or framed backpacks. Ten or fewer backpacks can be purchased tax-free at one time without providing exemption certificate to the seller.

School Supplies
The 81st Texas Legislature passed HB 1801 (2009) expanding the list of items qualifying for exemption from Texas state and local sales and use taxes during the annual sales tax holiday. Effective this year, in addition to clothes, footwear, and backpacks, Texas families also get a sales tax break on most school supplies priced under $100 for use by a student in an elementary or secondary school.

The following is an all-inclusive list of qualifying school supplies (if priced less than $100):
• - Binders          - Book bags          -Calculators          -Cellophane tape
• - Blackboard chalk          - Compasses          - Composition books
• - Crayons          - Erasers          - Folders (expandable, pocket, plastic, and manila)
• - Glue, paste and paste sticks          - Highlighters         - Index cards
• - Index card boxes         - Legal pads          - Lunch boxes          - Markers
• - Notebooks          - Paper (variety of types)          - 
Pencil sharpeners 
 - Pencil boxes (other school supply boxes)          - Pencils & Pens
• - Protractors          - Rulers         - Scissors         - Writing tablets

Other TAX-FREE items:
• Baby clothes
• Backpacks for use by elementary and secondary students
• Belts with attached buckles
• Boots - cowboy, hiking
• Caps/hats - baseball, fishing, golf, knitted
• Coats and wraps
• Diapers - adult and baby
• Dresses
• Gloves (generally)
• Gym suits and uniforms
• Hooded shirts and hooded sweatshirts
• Hosiery
• Jackets
• Jeans
• Jerseys - baseball and football
• Jogging apparel
• Neckwear and ties
• Pajamas
• Pants and trousers
• Raincoats and ponchos
• Robes
• Shirts
• Shoes - sandals, slippers, sneakers, tennis, walking
• Socks (including athletic)
• Shorts
• Suits, slacks, and jackets
• Sweatshirts
• Sweat suits
• Sweaters
• Swimsuits
• Underclothes
• Work clothes and uniforms

Extended List of Clothing & Footwear

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Baby Prep Classes No Waste Of Time!

My wife coaxed me into attending a Breast Feeding Class at St. David's Hospital this past Friday and oh my what an experience. To me it was pretty much the equivalent of when they send juvenile delinquents to the school of hard knocks aka prison, to get a dose of what they can expect if they continue their self destructive route. Except in this case if we continue, we get a beautiful blessing that will poop, pee, cry, flop, whine, hinder me from travel, prevent me from dinner dates with mommy, cause all sorts of financial strain, and then will grow up and stress my life when they start driving, dating, and head off the college causing more worry and financial strain. 

In the midst of all of this there will be a glimmer. A glimmer of why it was all worthwhile. A glimmer that displays love, warmth, inspiration, tenderness, anticipation, hope, devotion, and an undying affection. Many say that love at first sight doesn't exist, but I disagree. The moment I saw that floating bag of bones on the ultrasound screen, I instantly loved him more than any material possession or anyone I have ever met. Sorry antique blowtorch collection and sorry mom. 

I have no idea where I was going with this, but the excitement is building. These classes really bring to light a wealth of information that I didn't really think about. I thought you just kind of put the breast by the baby's mouth and they eat until they're done. I really didn't know what "engorgement" was, that you need to pump breast milk all the time, or that if you get drunk you have to drain a batch so the baby doesn't get drunk through the milk. These are important things that you don't give much thought to, because when you're baby is flopping around and his eyes are bobbing around like he's on a rollercoaster you start to regret skipping the breast feeding class. You probably shouldn't be handling a baby trying to feed it when you're drunk anyways.

I bet when you came to this blog, you didn't expect to hear my adventures with an education on breast feeding. But hey, I don't really care. This is probably the only blog on the internet that mixes real estate with breast feeding, pregnancy, and getting babies drunk through your breast milk. There are lots of young parents out there going through a pregnancy and interested in Austin real estate. I'm sure one day they'll stumble across this blog and think "Oh, perfect. I can read a first-hand account of a guy going through the exact same thing AND learn about the goings in a market! Hey honey, did you know the baby can get lit from drinking your spiked breast milk?!" Still have a couple classes including Lamaze class. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Austin Road System Rant (The Problem)

While writing the last post on Austin's most dangerous intersections, it stirred up some emotions on the road system in Austin. I've lived all over America and even in South Korea for over a year. I've been to almost every one of the 48 contiguous states. I've traveled to several other countries, industrialized and not, old and young, rich and poor, and never have I seen such a disaster of a road system as in Austin, Texas. Don't get me wrong, I love this city. Out of all those places I've been to and lived, not one of those places I would rather live in than Austin. It's perfect....almost.

My love for Austin ceases, however, with everything involving automobiles. Why are parking spots so small in Austin? Normal parking spots here are compact car spots in other cities. This is amplified by Texans driving the biggest trucks I've ever seen. There is nothing wrong with that. Yay trucks! My car has been dinged so many times it looks like I part-time golf ball pick-up at the driving range.

Gripe two. Austin is obsessed with becoming the "greenest city in America." Just Google "Austin Green City" and there are over 9.5 million hits! They have implemented mandatory energy audits on all home sales that were constructed older than ten years. They emphasis green in everything. Why is it that they can't realize that getting cars off the road faster and resetting their infrastructure will pay huge dividends in the long run with their efforts?

It seems like everywhere you drive, the road is one lane short of being tolerable. Austin wants to keep the small town vibe, but with projected growth of 137% by 2040, expansion of the road system is necessary. Why would making roads bigger effect the small town feel anyways? Who's idea was it to have people entering and exiting the highways in the same lane? This is just ridiculous, congestion-causing mayhem! Everywhere outside of Texas has an exit ramp and THEN an entrance ramp. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Austin Road System Rant (The Solution)

I've lived a good portion of my life in the Detroit, Michigan area which has a population of about 200,000 more people than Austin. While the road quality is horrible in Michigan because of the drastic weather changes, they have perfected the road system and traffic congestion problem. They time their traffic signals so that if you go the speed limit, you don't hit many lights. You literally see the lights turn green in a sequential order. In Austin, it seems like they WANT you to sit at every light. The lights turn red as you get to them. Large amounts of traffic have to stop, sit (too long), and re-accelerate repeatedly. Sometimes 50 cars stop to let five go by. Timing the lights would no doubt be costly and require lots of man-hours, but in the long run getting people off the road faster will decrease gas consumption, get the city greener, get people to follow the speed limit, and make things run fluidly. Many birds with one stone.

Lastly, left turn lanes (suicide lanes) do nothing, but create backups and congestion on a side of the street that doesn't need it. In addition, lights are longer because they have to have extra time for those turning left. What Detroit and most of Michigan did was create what is commonly referred to as the "Michigan Left" where you turn right, hit a U-turn about 500 feet down from the intersection and head the other way. It keeps traffic flowing by taking cars off the left side and all the cars heading in a certain direction go on ONE green light, instead of waiting for a separate green arrow. Perfect.

Austin has a serious issue with their backwards road system and they need to take a page out of the book of other cities that have solved it. Trying just a few of these things could be a solution over adding more lanes. From time to time, I occasionally cannot be my lovable self with issues. I'm sorry. It's frustrating, so I created a blog to create a cathartic vent. I'm sure many feel the same. I see you cussing the lights! I just want everyone to be happy drivers!

Austin's Most Dangerous Intersections in 2009

Community Impact has just released a list of the 20 most dangerous intersections in Austin in 2009. The findings are surprisingly pretty well distributed throughout the city and only three of the 20 intersections are in the immediate downtown area. The number of collisions recorded at each intersection between January 1st and December 31st, 2009. 

The most dangerous intersection in Austin is at Lakeline Mall Drive and Research Blvd. in the Lakeline Mall area of Northwest Austin. This intersection clocked 46 collisions and 44 injuries. In my opinion this could be a result of the off ramp of 183 to the Research Blvd. service road. The ramp is short, cars are coming fast, and the way the ramp is angled makes it difficult to see too far ahead. The Lakeline Mall Drive intersection and traffic signal are very close to the off-ramp causing their to be constant backups. Cars coming fast off the ramp have little time to stop. That's my analysis and it most likely is true. 

Although Lakeline Mall Drive and Research Blvd. ranked the highest in terms of collisions, two other intersections outranked it in terms of injuries. North Lamar Blvd. and Anderson Lane had 45 injuries in 34 collisions. Parmer Lane and Mopac was the brutal champion with 50 injuries in 33 collisions. Check out the list below and beware.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Single Family Housing Starts Unchanged While Crib Building Starts Skyrocket

The numbers are out for the month of June for single-family new home construction starts! I know you have all been eagerly awaiting these numbers. Well gather yourself for just a minute, because NOTHING CHANGED! Single-family housing starts in June were practically unchanged from the previous month at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000 units, according to the most recent reports by the U.S. Commerce Department.

There was a decline however, but it occurred for multi-family construction starts. Multi-family structures, such as duplexes, tri-plexes, and four-plexes, fell 21.5% from May numbers, albeit that market is more volatile and irregular. The drastic drop in multi-family numbers effected the overall housing production number, which fell 5% to a 549,000-unit rate.

On the more personal front, my wife forced me into manual labor constructing a crib and bayonet. That is one more crib than I've ever built, so I suppose that means that new crib starts rose 100%! Of course, as a man I will never understand why it is so important for me to stop my important business where time is of the essence to put together a bed for a baby who is about 3 months away from sleeping in it. It brings her immense comfort to see the baby room and have it all set. Crib, changing table, pictures, paper lamps (he's half-Asian!), nursing chair, and diaper basket. The last one brings tears to my eyes. 

My life is about to take on a new set of experiences. They will in turn make me a more rounded man. I will possess a new set of skills, like a Navy SEAL. They time themselves cleaning and putting their gun together. I'll time myself cleaning a breast pump and arming it for flawless use. You can't have it catch during battle. That's the difference between life and death.

I know it's a "bassinet" and not a "bayonet" by the way. I know that was bothering most of you; it was a test. I know my child will sleep in a comfortable, rocking bed and not a sharp, stabbing blade made for war. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

7 Things All Borrowers Should Know About FHA Loans

1. FHA loans are not only for lower-income borrowers. FHA loans are available to everyone. There is no maximum income restriction associated with FHA loans, but borrowers do need to substantiate income and assets by submitting proper documentation. This requirement ensures that borrowers are well-vetted and truly able to afford their future homes.

2. FHA loans are not only for first-time buyers. Many people believe FHA loans are available only to first-time home buyers, but this is not the case. Whether borrowers are making their first home purchase or their fifth, they can look to FHA loans as a home financing option.

3. FHA loans are not just small loans; in fact, loan amounts can be as high as almost $800,000. The government recently raised the maximum loan amount from its original cap of $362,790 to $793,750 as a way to help stabilize the housing market. The amount a buyer can borrow varies from county to county though. In Travis and Williamson County, the FHA Loan Limit is $288,750 for single family households, $369,650 for duplex, $446,800 for tri-plex, and $555,300 for four-plex.

4. FHA loans are not affiliated with the section 8 housing program. While both programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), FHA loans have nothing to do with low-income subsidized housing. FHA loans are simply mortgages insured by FHA. This insurance provided by the federal government allows lenders to lend more freely by assuring them that they will be repaid in the event of default.

5. FHA loans are often more affordable than conventional loans. While FHA loans typically offer the same interest rates as other loans, borrowers benefit from a much lower down payment of as low as 3.5%.

6. FHA-approved condo developments are more desirable to buyers. With 87% of home buyers indicating that they plan to use FHA loans, condo associations that are not FHA approved are missing out on a significant pool of prospective buyers. Under rules in place since February 2010, an entire condominium development must now apply to HUD and be granted FHA approval before a buyer can purchase a unit in an association with an FHA loan or before an existing unit owner can refinance into an FHA loan.

7. FHA loans are assumable. In addition to lower down-payment and credit-qualifying requirements as compared to conventional loans, FHA loans are assumable. This means that when a seller with an FHA loan sells his or her property, the loan and its financing terms (interest rate) can be transferred to the new buyer. This unique feature will certainly make a property more valuable in times of rising interest rates.

Excerpt taken from: RISMedia

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chris, This Inspection Report is Driving Me Crazy!

If you have ever bought a home or put in an offer, an inspection is what SHOULD follow an accepted offer. Inspection reports tend to cause a fair amount of worry in buyer's when they are handed the 15+ page packet. Inspectors by law must report on certain things by up-to-date property codes. Therefore, if a house is built in 1996 the property codes of then are not the same as today. However, that doesn't necessarily mean the house is unsafe. Codes have just changed over time.

Another big worry to buyer's when they receive the inspection report is the amount of words and terms flying at them that can be a bit foreign to them. Most super agents, like yours truly, will help you with the translation of these reports, but here are a few commonly seen terms on inspection reports to get you started. Always ask for clarification!
Common terms used in an inspection report
-Recommend: The inspectors’ opinion of how to guide the client to resolve noteworthy issues found during the inspection. Common recommendations would be to replace, repair, monitor or evaluate.
-Visual inspection: The general scope of the inspection is limited to a visual inspection which means that the inspector is not required to disassemble equipment.
-HVAC: Heating ventilation air condition system.
-Condensate line: The copper pipe that runs from the outside air conditioning condenser to the inside furnace (where the A/C coil is located).
-Ductwork: A system of distribution channels used to transmit heated or cooled air from a central system (HVAC) throughout a home.
-Damper: An air valve that regulates the flow of air inside the flue of a furnace or fireplace.
-Pilot light: A small, continuous flame (in a hot water heater, boiler or furnace) that ignites gas or oil burners when needed.
-Blow insulation: Fiber insulation in loose form used to insulate attics and existing walls where framing members are not exposed.
-Board and batten: A method of siding in which the joints between vertically placed boards or plywood are covered by narrow strips of wood.
-Cantilever: A projecting beam or other structure supported only at one end. Any part of a structure that projects beyond its main support and is balanced on it.
-Ceiling joist: One of a series of parallel framing members used to support ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls. Also called roof joists.
-Cellulose insulation: Ground-up newspaper that is treated with a fire retardant.
-Celotex: A brand of black fibrous board that is used as exterior sheathing.
-Flashing: Material used around any angle in a roof or wall to prevent leaks.
-Earthquake strap: A metal strap used to secure gas hot water heaters to the framing or foundation of a house. It is intended to reduce the chances of having the water heater fall over in an earthquake and causing a gas leak.
-Sump: Pit or large plastic bucket/barrel inside the home designed to collect ground water from a perimeter drain system.
-Sump pump: A submersible pump in a sump pit that pumps any excess ground water to the outside of the home.
-Trap: A plumbing fitting that holds water to prevent air, gas and vermin from backing up into a fixture.
-Knob and tube wiring: A common form of electrical wiring used before World War II. When in good condition, it may still be functional for low amperage use.
-BX cable: Armored electrical cable wrapped in galvanized steel outer covering. A factory assembly of insulated conductors inside a flexible metallic covering.
-Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI): A device intended for the protection of personnel that functions to de-energize a circuit
-Grounded: Connected to earth or to some conducting body that serves in place of the earth.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Newsflash: Wife Returns To Her Man Of Steel

Picked my wife up from the airport last night at around midnight. My she's grown. Stuffing my unborn son full of Korean barbeque and kimchi for a month straight. The amount of growth in just one month time is incredible. Hips widening, increasingly top heavy, 100% gorgeous. 

I asked if she missed me and she said she missed watching the Bachelorette. "Did you record it?" Great! Yes, I did record it and then I took an empty garbage can into the middle of the backyard and through my DVR in and poured lighter fluid and charcoal all over it and cooked it. Speaking of the Bachelor and Bachelorette, those shows puts unrealistic expectations on men. Hey, let's take a private jet over to Paris on a whim and have wine and a picnic at the top of the Eiffel Tower! Then we'll walk around in tuxedos and dresses every night drinking wine and feed each other grapes by draping them above our heads and dropping them in our mouth like we were Julius Caesar. That's not real life. Those are people with no jobs, children, or obligations given scenario dates that costs thousands of dollars by the producers of a television show. Those shows are no different than romance novels really. The producers only amp up the romanticism to make the people FEEL like they are in love, when it's all just superficial and manufactured. At the end of the day, you cannot artificially CREATE the emotional act of love. That's why the majority of winners never stay together.

Anyways, that all was just a joke. She said she missed me. Hesitantly as it may have been. She said that the baby is tossing and turning and does thing to "protest" her behavior. For example, if she doesn't wake up and move around he'll cross his arms and push his elbows into her stomach. Gosh, how freaky is that? When she told me that, I pictured the diner scene in the movie Spaceballs when the guy orders the soup and the alien breaks out of his stomach and starts doing a kick-line dance back to the kitchen. I think about weird things in addition to real estate. 

Home safe and sound! Website just days from completion! Posts should come more often as I push through this busy time of balancing active clients, building a website, taking care of my wife, and basically trying to be everything to everyone. Some would say I'm like Spiderman, Superman, Ironman, and Batman wrapped into one glorious Super Agent. Minus the vanity of it all, of course. 

Tax Credit Closing Deadline Extended

The $8,000 First-time Home Buyer and $6,500 Repeat Home Buyer Tax Credits closing deadline has been extended to September 30, 2010. The deadline had previously been set at June 30th, 2010. This will give buyers a few more months to get those deals closed.

The extension applies only to transactions that had executed contracts in place as of April 30th, 2010, and have not yet closed. There will not be a gap between the original deadline of June 30th and the date President Obama signs the bill into law.

Additionally, Congress has extended the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through September 30th, 2010. The bill is retroactive and will cover the lapse period from June 1, 2010, to the date the law is enacted.

For additional information on both the tax credit deadline and the National Flood Insurance Program, visit here:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another Weekend Sans The Wife: Website Update

Well, since my wife kidnapped my unborn child and fled to her homeland, life has been lonely. She is about 6 months pregnant at the end of this month. I can picture her now, waddling the monsoon-season streets of South Korea. She's probably not doing well without yours truly, crying, can't sleep, and talking to everyone about how much she misses me. Clutching the sky with fistfuls of air with tears running down the side of her face as she screams, "When, when will I be finished with my vacation!?" No, she looks great. In fact, she is probably one of the most beautiful pregnant women I've ever seen. She is perfectly shaped. As she ages, she grows more and more ravishing. Me on the other hand, I look like something you would have discovered living in a mountain cave that villagers had pointed to and warned of being haunted. Next time maybe you'll listen....with the one ear that remains!! Sorry, that was unprofessional. I'm not one of those agents who chews the ear off of your head. I swore to myself during my licensing classes I would never become one of those people.

My website is coming along nicely and we are in the home stretch of development. The site was expected to be introduced in the beginning of June, but the massive amount of content and design work has pushed it back to the first week of July. It will be worth it to make it perfect. Soon, will be synonymous with real estate search and information for consumers. Imagine a world where you wanted to buy or sell a house in the Austin, Texas metropolitan area and all you have to do is go to one website to get the home sold or find the home of your dreams. Can you really put a deadline on that?!

My wife returns home on July 5th and the days have been counting down. I should really relish in my time alone, because once she gets back that means we are only a few months away from a life changing experience. Baby is born and all of sudden I have to try to look cool wearing a burping towel and a baby hammock on my chest. My only hope is that I can train my baby to be as cool as this one. Effortless. I promise I won't be the Realtor who arrives to a property showing with a baby under his arm. Rest assured. After the baby is born "Real Estate With A Pulse Blog" may have to be changed to "Real Estate With A Diaper Bag Blog." Doesn't sound quite as cool.