Math Lesson! (September’s Market Stats Update for August)

The Austin Board of Realtors just released the newest round of stats for the month of August.  Check out the video below where I break down (what I think are) the most important take-aways!  Everyone knows this market is a bit nutty.  But how nutty is it, you ask?  Watch the video and judge for yourself!

If the video doesn’t show up below, check it out HERE on my YouTube channel.

Windows reflect many things…especially my OCD

I’m all about green technology.  These days, there are so many upgrades you can make to your home that not only help the environment- but they can also save you a crapload of money!  You can upgrade/add insulation in your attic as well as the walls; you can go solar; you can get energy-efficient appliances; you can do low impact landscaping with timed drip irrigation; you can even get energy-efficient roof shingles.  But one of the best things you can do to your home is upgrade the windows.  
All homebuyers I work with quickly learn that I’m a little OCD about three things:  HVAC Safe-T switches, water heater drain pans, and- you guessed it- windows.  So, how the heck are you supposed to assess the window situation in your current home…or the home you happen to be viewing at the moment?!  Well, the super short article below was posted recently on the Texas Association of Realtors blog and I just had to share.  Enjoy!


5 ways to tell if the house you’re touring will need new windows

Two-story yellow home with front-facing garage
08/26/2016 | Author: Fran J. Donegan, guest expert
New windows are an expensive investment, easily costing $300 to $1,000 per window, and most homebuyers don’t factor in window costs when searching for a new home. However, if you’re aware of what to look for when touring a home, you can spot windows that may need repair or replacement. Here are things to pay attention to:
1. Windows that are difficult to open and close. You might not be able to test every window in the house, but try some out. If you are unsure, you can ask permission.
2. Damage to window frames. Look for signs of water damage, rotted wood, or recently made repairs, both inside and outside.
3. Missing hardware. Most hardware can be replaced, including cranks for casement windows, but if the hardware is missing, it could be a sign that the window does not work properly.
4. Foggy double-pane windows. Condensation between the panes of glass means the seal has been broken and the energy efficiency of the window has been compromised.
5. Single-pane windows. This is a sign that the windows are fairly old and not very energy efficient. New double-pane windows are much more energy efficient.
Consider future maintenance when surveying the windows. Wood windows need to be scraped and painted every few years. If new windows are an option, there are number of low-maintenance models available, including vinyl, fiberglass, and composite, as well as wood windows where the wood is exposed inside but covered with vinyl or aluminum outside to protect it from the elements.
If you get to the stage of the buying process where you visit the property with a home inspector, point out any concerns you have.
While you may not have planned to spend money for window fixes as a new homeowner, you’ll benefit in the long run by having a more energy-efficient home.
Fran J. Donegan writes on home improvement for Home Depot. Fran is a longtime DIY author and has written several books, including Paint Your Home. To review a number of window installation options, you can visit

The Beast (July’s Market Stats Update for June!)

The Austin Board of Realtors recently release their June stats for the Austin area.  Honestly, last month was more of the same (for the most part).  Average and median prices are increasing; inventory is super-tight; more and more Austinites are moving to the suburbs for more reasonable prices; at the same time, migration to Austin is growing evermore!.


What I personally find interesting is digging into the numbers of specific areas/zip codes.  Check out the video below where I take a tiny dive into the stats of one central Austin zip code.


If the video doesn’t show up above, check it out HERE on my YouTube channel.


"Williamson vs. Travis County"…(June’s) May Market Stats Update!

If you are a home-seller in Austin, TX, you’ve still got the upper hand.  As long as you are priced somewhere in the range of what’s reasonable, you should sell very quickly…and you’ll likely have several interested parties.  Multiple offers have really become the norm.

Background photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
In the video below, though, I talk a bit about an area that is growing significantly in popularity.  With pretty good schools, easy access to I-35, MoPac, HWY 183, etc., and relatively affordable prices, Williamson County (Cedar Park, Round Rock, Leander, Georgetown, etc.) is experiencing somewhat of a boom.      

The Austin Board of Realtors just released their market stats numbers for May 2016.  Check out the video below where I run through some of the numbers!  (If the video doesn’t show up below, check it out HERE on my YouTube channel.)

Barrett Raven
C:  512-970-2648
O:  512-910-7403

Test-driving a Tiny House…

Over the last couple of years, I have had periodic requests from buyers who are interested in exploring tiny house living.  (Check out Austin’s own Kenga Room Systems– sweet prefabbed tiny houses.)  

Background photo courtesy of WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
The reality is that tiny house living is getting more popular by the hour- especially in dense metro areas like Austin.  Real wages are simply not growing at the same rate of home prices.  Therefore, those of us that desire to live in the city are having to be creative in order to make it work.  For example, I’ve heard of many families going in on a home together and then splitting the house payment 50/50 and just living together.  Others are renovating garage apartments or ADUs in order to offset higher house payments.  I also know quite a few families who head out of town almost every weekend so that they can rent their house out as a vacation rental to out-of-towners.  

Another option that is gaining in popularity is the tiny house.  The miniature dwelling are cheaper to build and more efficient to heat, cool, and power.  If you can find a lot big enough to hold your tiny house, it’s very likely that you will be saving money hand over fist.  The only real challenge is…you have to live in a house that’s really tiny!  

I came across this video (below) on the New York Times website where Penelope Green “test-drives” a 300 square-foot apartment in Manhattan’s new Carmel Place building.  


Barrett Raven
C:  512-970-2648
O:  512-910-7403

My Four Favorite Hidden Gem (food) Orders in Austin, TX

My level of expertise with food is similar to my level of expertise with coffee.  i.e. I am an enthusiast; I am not a connoisseur.  Austin has so many amazing options – a plethora of little pockets to explore that each have their own gems to discover- it’s almost paralyzing just to think about where to eat on date night!  One could literally spend a lifetime exploring all of the great restaurants and eating establishments in our city and you would barely scratch the surface.  (If you ever need a good recommendation in any part of town, holler at me!)

In the interest of staying true to form (haha), I must preface this post with a few disclaimers/caveats:
  • This is a post about a few of my favorite orders in town.
  • This is not a post about my favorite restaurants- although there is some overlap.
  • There is no way I have even sampled 10% of what Austin has to offer.  I want to hear about your favorite orders too!
  • I am not a vegetarian, vegan, etc.  I don’t have any food restrictions (except that I’m allergic to quinoa…WHAT?!).  So, apologies in advance if I’m alienating my non-bread/carb/meat/whatever-eating friends.  

In no particular order, here are four of my favorite things to order in Austin:

#1 Home Slice Pizza– 1415 S Congress Ave (The Italian Sub w/Cherry Peppers)

Fun fact:  Right after I graduated from UT, I worked at Home Slice Pizza…for two weeks!  The amazingness was too much for me to handle.  So, I went back to working at coffee shops for a while.  During my training at Home Slice, though, I had the opportunity to try almost everything on the menu.  (It’s all good.)  My manager at the time, an awesome guy from Philadelphia named “Nano”, recommended that I try the Italian sub with cherry peppers.  He said, “Dude, I’m from Philly- the land of the sub sandwich.  I’m telling you now:  this is the best sub I’ve ever had.  The first time I bit into it, I literally cried.  It was that good.”  He wasn’t kidding.  Here’s what you do:

Ira can’t not order pizza at Home Slice!

Get the full-sized sandwich (not the half-size).  Only eat half of it at the restaurant (which will blow your mind) and ask for the second half to-go.  Go home and put the remaining half in your fridge and leave it there overnight.  The following day, for lunch, take the sandwich out, eat the rest, and write me a “thank you” card afterward.  It turns out, after the juices/flavors have had time to mix and blend with one another overnight, it’s almost like you’re eating a completely different sandwich.  I’ll stop there…I’m getting hungry.

#2 Chez Nous– 510 Neches St (The Prix Fixe Menu)

“In the late 70s, three friends came from Paris, France to Austin, Texas with their hearts full of hopes and their minds set on opening a true, simple, independent French restaurant in the “Violet Crown City”.”  This quote comes from Chez Nous’s website.  All I can say is:  Mission ACCOMPLISHED!  This is truly one of my top 3 favorite restaurants in town.  Go and get a glass of wine and enjoy the prix fixe menu options.  You will not regret it!  

Date Night at Chez Nous!
Last month, I had a freaking amazing glass of Les Galets de Sauveterre (red wine) and the prix fixe, which included Soupe du jour, Bifteck haché au poivre (Ground ribeye and sirloin steak-pepper sauce-spiral potatoes), and Profiterolles for desert (TWO FILLED PASTRY PUFFS•AMY’S VANILLA ICE CREAM•WARM CHOCOLATE SAUCE), which was a couple dollars extra.  Our server, who has been waiting tables there for 13 years (!), said after I ordered, “Get ready for the most amazing hamburger steak you’ve ever dreamt of having.”  


Of course, you don’t have to go with the prix fixe menu.  However, I would argue that there is a reason they have paired these dishes together.  Trust them.  They know their stuff.

#3 Cenote– 1010 E Cesar Chavez St  (Turkey Avocado Sandwich w/Bacon)

Cenote is about 0.5 blocks from the GoodLife Realty office.  Therefore, I am there, on average, about 0.5 times per day.  I even frequent this place on weekends when I don’t go into the office.  (Try their breakfast!)  The first day I walked into Cenote, they were playing Ryan Adams and the Cardinals (Cold Roses) on the speaker system.  So, I knew I’d like this place.  I told the barista I was really hungry for lunch and asked what she eats when she’s on shift.  I also said I couldn’t decide between the BLT and the turkey/avocado sandwich.  She said, “Get both!  Get the turkey/avocado with bacon.  That’s what I get.”  

Kristen going yard on some Cenote breakfast last fall.
I almost wish my tastebuds had never tasted this majestic sandwich…because now every sandwich tastes…lame.  (except for the Italian sub at Home Slice, of course!)  I’ve heard a rumor that they put a different (thinner) type of bacon on the sandwich if you order online.  So, in order to prevent that potential tragedy, I have only ever ordered in-person.  Therefore, I can neither confirm nor bust this myth.

#4 Julio’s Cafe 4230 Duval St (1/2 Chicken Special w/Extra Tortillas and a Mexican Martini)

Cash only!  Julio’s in Hyde Park is another one of my favorite restaurants in town.  This place is just good good good Mexican food.  I have no idea what they do to their roasted chicken to make it taste so amazing.  (I used to have a theory that they sprinkle crack on it.)  But I don’t care.  It’s incredible.  Our process is this:  take a tortilla and stuff some chicken, Spanish rice, pinto beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and salsa into it, take a bite, and let the comfort overtake you.

Julio’s!  Kristen just loves helping me research for these blog posts.  🙂
My wife, Kristen, and I always order a Mexican martini shaker and two glasses.  One martini split in two is plenty…for most people.  When you consider the price of this tex-Mex goodness, you will be sure to return again and again.  You can also walk over to Quack’s or Dulce Vida for desert!

Again, let me know what your favorite ATX hidden gem/secret orders/off-the-menu specials are!

Barrett Raven
C:  512-970-2648
O:  512-910-7403

Fiduciary…  What’d you call me?!

In my very first real estate licensing class, my instructor introduced the topic of “fiduciary responsibility” right away.  Having majored in economics in college, I was familiar with the idea that corporate board members and officers have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders but wasn’t sure how this would apply to real estate.  One paragraph in one of the first pages of my pre-licensing textbook reads:    

“An agency relationship exists when one person (the agent) acts for, or on behalf of another person (the principal). The principal is also known as the client. This relationship is a fiduciary relationship, which means that it is a relationship based on trust. While treating all others honestly, the agent places the interests of the principal, or client, first. The agent must always remain loyal to the principal.” -Champions School of Real Estate (The Law of Agency– page 8, paragraph 1)

Shoutout to Chere- my first ever fiduciary responsibility!  🙂

In a way, I think this concept should be the foundation of every single job ever.  I mean, wouldn’t it be awesome if all of our interactions and decisions were based on trust?  However, in most jobs, you are not contractually bound to represent the interests of one person or party.  That just wouldn’t make sense for most jobs and I’m sure it’s obvious why.

One of the trickiest (and hardest) parts of this job is acting on behalf of my client in a way that is in their interest when I know that the other party will likely not be benefitting from it.  Luckily, though, I typically work with clients who are kind people and who, like me, seek to find a win-win scenario in any given situation.  In other words, I love my clients even more because, for the most part, they operate with a fiduciary mindset for others.

Below is an article I read recently on the TAR website that relates to this topic!

What “fiduciary” means and how it applies to your real estate transaction

05/13/2016 | Author: Marty Kramer

I read the most incredible thing this morning: Some financial advisers can put their own interests above yours.

That’s right … as long as that financial professional recommends an investment that is “suitable,” he or she can suggest a fund with higher costs to you (and higher commissions for the adviser) than a cheaper fund that may be a better option for you.

Though that is shocking to me, I am encouraged by the following:

Many financial advisers adhere to a higher standard that puts the interests of the client above those of the adviser.
New rules are in the works to require this higher standard for advisers and brokers who work with retirement accounts.
More good news for anyone buying, selling, or leasing real estate: When you receive agency services from a licensed real estate agent or broker in Texas, that professional is required by law to put your interests above his or her own. It’s called a “fiduciary” relationship.

Even better news when you hire a real estate agent or broker who is also a Texas REALTOR®: All REALTORS® pledge to abide by a Code of Ethics that holds REALTORS® to an even higher standard than what’s required by law.

To make sure you’re getting the highest level of professionalism, make sure your agent or broker is also a Texas REALTOR®.