In this issue: taxes, RACCOONS, resolutions for 2018, an update on the market, what I’m reading right now, and current listings.
Taxes!!!! Save Money
For all those who bought in 2017, don’t forget to file your homestead exemptions! (And if for some weird reason you have owned your home for awhile and don’t have a HS exemption, file one!) And also to protest your taxes if you think they’re too high. I’ve put out tons of resources about how to do this, here and here. But if you’re confused and really just want to call me with questions, that’s fine, too.
My Life is Weird and Awesome
I meant to get this newsletter out yesterday, but I was distracted all day by raccoons.
Allow me to explain.
Chris and I went to see our friend Mike and Alison in Virginia last weekend, where Mike is finishing his MBA at Darden.
We had a great time with them, getting to know their newest little addition Henry (who received about 1000 kisses from me, at least), hiking, going to breweries, walking around the beautiful UVA campus, and just generally enjoying life.
Here’s us at Humpback Rock, a beautiful hike that included a small portion of the Appalachian Trail.
Apparently, you can still do stuff with babies. How awesome!
We got home late Sunday night, and Monday morning, as I was having breakfast, I was surprised and amused to see a raccoon happily doing laps in our swimming pool. See the video here.
I was half distracted part of the day by the inflow of comments and likes I knew a good “raccoon in my swimming pool” post would elicit, because I’m a sucker for attention. I was not disappointed.
But the fun did not end there! Oh no, no. That would be way too conventional for any given Monday.
I came home at night to find a DEAD raccoon in my pool. Well, okay, not quite dead. The adventure didn’t end there either. See the video here to hear the end of the mystery on Deerfield Drive.
Suffice it to say my day was mostly dominated by shooting Facebook videos about raccoons, although I did still get a lot done with all that excitement going on. But this newsletter got punted to today.
My 2018 Resolutions
I’ve resolved for 2018 to be AWESOME!
So far so good.
But in all seriousness, I do have some real resolutions for 2018 I’m excited about.
My top one is inspired by Ray Dalio’s Principles, specifically #8, which goes:
8) Create a Culture in Which It Is OK to Make Mistakes but Unacceptable Not to Identify, Analyze, and Learn From Them
So I resolved in 2018 not to make the same mistake twice.
There are so many moving parts in real estate that’s it’s easy to spend the day putting out little bitty fires all over town.
- Another agent walked off with a key? Great. How are all the other agents supposed to show that listing this weekend? Solution: always have a spare key in a spare lockbox at the house.
- Client has a question about how to read their title commitment, and I’m in Cuba with no internet or cell service? Solution: Have a good team (thanks Emma!) and a good write up on title insurance that will answer 90% of questions, even if I’m tied up.
We’ve been working on these kinds of things for years, to try both to get more efficient and to make transactions smoother and more pleasant for our clients.
But I decided that 2018 was the year to audit our systems, and make sure we have systems in place to catch these things, instead of just trusting us to remember them as a team. I was tired of going “Did we remember to….?” Or “Shoot, that again?!?”
I wanted a solution that kept our team organized, and also offered some transparency to our clients about what is going on, and what to expect. So over a few weeks, my team and I put our heads together on what happens from beginning to end in any given transaction.
We asked ourselves: What are the questions we get over and over again? What information can we offer so our clients don’t have to wait for us to get those answers? What kind of tools can we offer to people who love information and just can’t get enough of it? And how can we make it a tool that makes our job easier, not yet another thing we have to add to our to do list? And how can we structure it so it helps us never make the same mistake twice in 2018?
We settled on Trello boards. One free, intuitive, visually appealing board that takes a client from start to finish.
To see what I mean, check out our seller board, and my video explaining it, here.
Or, if you’re more interested in buying, check out my buyer board here.
What’s your resolution for 2018? Reply back and let me know.
What I’m Reading Right Now
Psychology: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential by Carol Dweck
I was introduced to Carol Dweck by my friend, coach and mentor Jason Edwards. He played a TED talk from Dr. Dweck during a sales training course, and eventually I downloaded her book and started reading. She talks about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth-based mindset.
In a fixed mindset, we think that failure defines us. If we fail, we are a failure. We believe that our abilities are fixed, that we’re either born smart, or not. Born athletic, or not. And there’s not much we can do to change what we’re born with. As a result, we shy away from trying anything we aren’t sure we’ll succeed at, because to try and fail is the worst outcome of all.
In a growth-based mindset, we believe that we can improve with effort. We see failure as an opportunity to grow. We get back up and try again. We enjoy the growth, enjoy the effort to improve, and don’t let failure or success define us. As a result, we take all kinds of risks, trying new things we aren’t sure we’ll succeed at, and paradoxically, we succeed more in this mindset because we experiment and practice without fear.
All of us are a mixture of these two mindsets, perhaps having a growth-based mindset about one thing and a fixed about another, and circumstances can influence us to adopt one or the other.
She goes through many psychological experiments that show how much better we perform when in a growth-based mindset. When we hear about under-performing schools that suddenly turn around with charismatic new leadership, it’s often the story of a group of students shifting from the fixed to growth-based mindset.
She also talks about athletes, some who rise quickly to prominence on natural ability, and then ultimately fail due to their fixed mindset. Others who climb to success through effort and stay there because of their growth-based mindset, not allowing failure to destroy them. Examples of the latter, a growth-based mindset, include Mia Hamm and Michael Jordan.
The sports examples particularly resonate with me because as a child I was convinced that I was not athletic. I was always the last kid picked in gym class, and if I were one of my peers I wouldn’t have picked me, either. I was a bit chubby, painfully shy, and had the unfortunate tendency to fear the ball, closing my eyes and covering my face with my hands, making me an absolutely terrible player at… well, everything. My parents are not into sports, and I believed that being bad at sports just ran in my family.
As it turns out, I am actually fairly athletic, with a bit of practice and the right mindset. As an adult, I’m a decent frisbee player and can put a spiral on a football, and get it pretty close to where I intended to. I don’t suck that much. And I found this out after I let go of the defeating notion that “I wasn’t born good at sports, so I just shouldn’t play, because I’ll embarrass myself.”
Think about how many people live a mostly fixed mindset, and how much untapped potential there is among us. Such as “I’m not smart. I wasn’t born smart.” Or “I’ll never be wealthy because I wasn’t born into wealth, and that’s just how things are for my family. We just aren’t wealthy people.” Or “I’m not a happy person.” Or “I’m not creative. I wasn’t born artistic.”
What if we could all take one area of our life where we’re being held back by a self-fulfilling prophesy, and switch our mindset about it?
The Market-January 2018
My gut is that 2018 is going to be a really good year for Austin real estate. The market feels very active right now, with lots of buyers who took a winter break re-entering the market with a vengeance.
Our listing on Cherisse in Meridian, which I announced last month, received a strong offer while still in “coming soon” status, before professional photos even got published. And we’re now under contract headed toward closing, just a few days from “Nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Seller!” to “Under Contract.”
So my anecdotal opinion is that the market is humming, and 2018 is going to be a monster year. Prices will keep going up, and we’ll see more bidding wars on the horizon.
I can’t say yet whether the data will support me on this, because the numbers always lag behind. But December 2017 ended with tight inventory. It was the third highest priced month of 2017, out-done on median price only by June and May respectively.
It’s common for us to see a price bump in December as buyers hurry to get the transaction done before end of year, sometimes for tax purposes and sometimes merely psychological ones. (*Bonus!* You can declare Homestead Exemption much sooner than if you wait until January to close, which translates to long term property tax savings.) But for whatever reason, December is often a good month to sell.
So next time someone tells you the holidays are a bad time to be on the market, you can edumucate them.
Or you can use my friend Jason’s new favorite word, disabuse.
Or get fancy and use them both together: “You think December is a bad time to sell? Let me edumucate you on that. You ’bout to get disABUSED.”
Try it out and let me know how it goes.
Did you know my newsletters came with vocabulary lessons? (Side note: edumucate is not a real word. Please don’t use it in any school essays or official business correspondence. Do as I say, not as I do.)
Pocket Listing/Coming Soon(ish)-6501 E Hill Drive, Unit 120, Austin, TX, 78731
6501 E Hill Dr., Unit 120
3 bedrooms,2 bath
Built in 1968
Condo with ground floor entry
Asking $255K. Contact me for details and early showings.
This ground floor condo is not yet on MLS, and won’t be for a few months (if it makes it that long), but is for sale. The reason it’s not on MLS is because the seller is doing some work to the home, and is not in a huge hurry, but would gladly sell it today to a serious buyer.
(Side note, hear about this kind of opportunity and more through our Direct Buyer Program, specifically designed to give our direct buyers access to the best deals off MLS.)
The condo community has surface parking, a pool, and a laundry room, and is conveniently located off Mopac and Hart Ln in Northwest Hills, a quick hop to Westlake, Downtown and the Domain. Low maintenance condo living without the garage parking and elevators that annoy some people about condos. Quick and easy to get in and out, and very convenient if you have a dog you need to take out. Just use your back door to the shared grassy area behind the complex.
Interested? Contact me for questions or to arrange an early showing.
Contact me at 973.432.7026 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get in early.
New Construction-2313 Oak Crest A and B
These two brand new units each have private yards.
2313 Oak Crest Unit A
3 bedroom, 2.5 bath
Asking price: $519,900
Additional photos and info here. Click the photo at top left on the map page for additional photos.
Comments? Questions? Praise? Hate mail? We welcome it all.