Best Realtors in Austin

Best Realtors in Austin

There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to buying or selling a home. Anyone can put up a “for sale” sign, add a home warranty to increase a home’s value or hold an open house for home tours, but these practices, though smart, don’t always equate to sold homes and new homeowners. The following 10 brokers and real estate agents have honed their craft and are found to be the best realtors in Austin, selected and ranked according to character, knowledge of the city, availability, and professionalism.

Roman Lopez, owner of The Roman Lopez Real Estate Team, has only been in the real estate business for several years, but is quickly becoming an expert in the field, as evidenced by his number of sales in the last 12 months. During his first year as a realtor, he was named Rookie of the Year for Austin, TX by real estate powerhouse Keller Williams. Lopez has since been named as a Top 25 Latino Real Estate Agent of Austin and a Top 250 Latino Real Estate Agent in the US. He has over 2,100 likes on Facebook and nearly 4,000 Twitter followers, tweeting 3-5 times a day.

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Jeannette Spinelli has extensive experience in the field of real estate, and that acquired knowledge makes her a fierce competitor in the housing market industry. As owner and president of Spinelli Residential Group, Jeannette leads a team of realtors who specialize in luxury residential real estate in Austin. Jeannette and her team have been awarded and currently hold a number of significant awards: in 2013 they were named in Austin’s Elite 25 and awarded to the top 1% of luxury real estate agents in Austin. They are currently named the Keller Williams Top Producer, have been named a Platinum Top 50 Realtor since 2013, and an Austin Business Journal Top Producer since 2007.

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Eric Bramlett, owner of Bramlett Residential Realty, has seen huge success in his 12 years in the real estate industry, success that doesn’t show signs of slowing. As a full-time Austin realtor since 2003 and broker since 2005, he consistently produces in the top 1% in Austin and was ranked in the top 20 (of 11,000 agents) in 2013 and 2014.

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Kristee Leonard is the broker and owner of The Leaders Realty, LLC and is quickly making up for her relatively short amount of time in the industry. In 2014 she was named one of the National Association of Realtors Magazine “30 Under 30” Honorees, Austin Business Journal’s Top 25 Individual Agent in 2014 and Platinum Top 50 Realtors of Austin in 2014 and a finalist in 2013. Her practice is considered luxury real estate and the homes she works with reflect that.

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Ashley Stucki-Edgar is the founder and owner of Ashley Austin Homes, whose team includes an award-winning HGTV stager, professional photography and marketing experts. In 2014 she was named the #2 Top Realtor at the Austin Business Journal Residential Real Estate Awards, Texas Monthly Five Star Professional Agent in 2013, and #28 agent in the State of Texas in 2013.

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Jim Morelli, owner of the Jim Morelli Team at REMAX Capital City for over 11 years, Jim’s success and the reviews of his clients really speak for themselves. He is a member of the RE/MAX Hall of Fame and has been since 2008, was awarded the REMAX Platinum Award 5 years in a row and again in 2014, and is in the Elite 250 REMAX of Texas. Last month, real estate service Trulia named him a Top Agent on their site. Jim’s background in sales has contributed to his success in the real estate industry.

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Nancy Velazquez has an extensive knowledge in the real estate field that is based on a good number of years of experience. She and her team, Velazquez Realty Firm, cover nearly 30 areas in Texas and are dedicated to finding the right home for each family they work with. Her Facebook page has over 2,500 likes and is continually updated with not only information on homes in the Austin area, but with tips, tricks, and facts that homeowners and prospective homeowners might find useful.

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Dyron Taylor is the owner and lead agent of The Dyron Taylor Group of Keller Williams and makes dealing in luxury yet affordable homes his speciality. During his relatively short time in the industry, Dyron has earned several prestigious awards, including an award for the top closed units by an individual from Keller Williams in 2013. His Twitter feed and Facebook page are a mix of posts that have to do with finding a home in Austin as well as interesting tips and gorgeous photos for inspiration in making your home your safe haven.

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Tom Rott of Select Austin Real Estate is prepared to help you no matter what stage of the home owning process you may be in, whether you are looking to buy, sell, rent, or lease. Tom teams up with his two great danes to offer you the best real estate experience you can find; and when it comes to Tom’s success as a broker and agent, his results and client review speak for themselves.

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Alex Booth, a Germany native, is GRI, e-PRO and TRC certified, and she certainly knows her craft. She loves the Austin area and is prepared to work with people looking to buy or sell in all Austin communities. She is the spouse of an ex-military member and as such has experience representing many military clients. Her Facebook page and Twitter feed are full are reasons why you’ll want to move to Austin—immediately.

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Finding the Right Realtor Makes Closing the Deal Easier

Finding the Right Realtor Makes Closing the Deal Easier

The services of a real-estate professional can be crucial to the success of your efforts when it comes to closing the deal. Listing agents can make it far easier to find a buyer who is able to meet your asking price when selling a home, and professionals who have better insight into the locations and markets you are interested in buying a home can be a tremendous asset. Finding the right realtor is often the first step towards ensuring a more successful real estate deal and is never a concern that should be left to chance.

Working with a Listing Agent Makes Finding Buyers Easy

Few property owners have the time, effort or experience needed to promote a home that has recently been put on the market. Listing agents are able to provide a range of services and resources that can help you to locate buyers who will be more likely to meet your price, often in far less time than would be possible for property owners who choose to work alone. Letting someone else do the heavy lifting provides an easier and more effective way to sell your existing home or to find a buyer for your investment property that will allow you to net a bigger profit.

Benefits to Using Your Own Buyer’s Agent

Many first time home buyers make the mistake of working through the seller’s real estate agent. Having a buyer’s agent who will represent your best interests has many advantages and can often provide you with a smoother way to broker a deal on the home of your dreams. Working with a professional who can provide you with the benefit of their experience and superior insight can make a world of difference and is an opportunity that no buyer or real estate investor can afford to overlook.

Selecting a Realtor with a Proven Track Record

Finding real estate firms and agents that are able to boast of a superior record in assisting their clients is always a smart move. Ensuring that you have selected a professional with the skills, knowledge and expertise that will better fit your needs should be of paramount importance. Even seemingly promising professionals that have the right attitude and approach may be unable to deliver on their promises if they lack for solid experience. When it comes to selling your property for the best price or finding a better deal on your new home, it pays to make sure you are doing business with only the best.

Professionals with Expertise in Your Chosen Market or Location

Location remains the most important concern when it comes to any real estate deal. Professionals who have a better understanding of the locations you are interested in and the current market conditions and trends are never an asset that should be out of reach. Even the most accomplished agent will be out of their element when dealing with areas that they may have little working experience with or markets where they may lack insight. Choosing an agent whose area of expertise best fits your needs will allow you to sell a property more easily or to find the right price on your dream home.

Superior Services Offer Superior Results

Professional assistance that will make brokering a better deal possible can allow you to save considerable amounts of time and money. Seeking out a realtor that knows the market and has the training and experience needed to better represent your interests should always be the first step of every real estate deal. Listing agents who specialize in promoting properties can drastically reduce the length of time your home spends on the market and increase the odds of finding a buyer that will be able to meet your price. Arranging for a buyer’s agent to assist you in placing a bid can offer you an easier way to find and invest in the home you have always wanted.

Washer and Dryer Maintenance: Protecting Your Home From Water and Fire Damage

Washer and Dryer Maintenance: Protecting Your Home From Water and Fire Damage

A burst washing machine hose can spill hundreds of gallons of water in your home in just an hour. Dryers with excessive lint build-up can burst into flame and cause a fire in the home. Property damage from ill-maintained washers and dryers can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. These kinds of emergencies can be easily avoided by taking care of the washer and dryer throughout their lives. These maintenance tips will illustrate how to take care of your home through proper washing machine and dryer maintenance.

Upgrade Old Parts

The hoses of older washing machines are often made of rubber that can burst much easier than newer hoses. Replacing these old hoses with steel-jacketed ones will prevent their splitting open and spewing water into the home. Older dryers also come standard with vinyl ducts that are flimsy and flammable. It’s no wonder they are so prone to fire. Regularly cleaning the lint trap is not enough to prevent dryer fires as lint can also become trapped in the ducts; replace those vinyl ducts with non-flammable metal ones.

Clean Filter Screens

Filters are built into washing machines to catch debris and sediment as it washes off of your clothes. If this screen becomes too backed up with sediment, water cannot flow properly into it. Clean the filter screen with a bristle brush to keep water flowing quickly.

Add a Drip Pan

By placing a drip pan underneath the washing machine, any potential leaks are caught in the pan and fed into a floor drain. This not only prevents your home from water damage, but it also provides a convenient way to check for leaks. After washing a load, check the pan for any excess water that is flowing from the machine. In this way, you can catch leaks while they are still small and call for some home appliance repair.

Turn Off Water If Not In Use

If you are planning on going on a long vacation or do not plan to do laundry for an extended period, turn off the water flow to the washer. This relieves the constant water pressure felt by the washer that can create leaks or cause them to become worse. Going out of town means you won’t be able to detect the leak until it’s too late and water has already flowed out and damaged the home.

Use Gently

Overloading a washer or dryer makes it run inefficiently as it works extra hard to accommodate the load. Break up larger loads into several smaller loads to prolong the life of your washer and dryer. You should also leave the lid of the washer open if it is not in use to let the drum dry out. Odors can sometimes arise from a continually wet and mildewy drum. If the washer is a front-loader and the door cannot be left open, towel dry the drum and rubber gasket after each load is removed.

Treating your washer and dryer gently can go a long way to elongating their lifetimes. Regularly check for leaks and for hose brittleness. Old hoses need to be replaced and not ignored to prevent a burst or split hose. It is much better to spend the money now to take care of the washer and dryer than to spend thousands of dollars later to repair damage to your home. Water and fire damage are expensive problems to have; steps should be taken when possible to limit the possibility of their occurrence. Keep your family and your home safe and sound by keeping regular washer and dryer maintenance a priority.

Tips for Fireplace Use and Maintenance for Safety

Tips for Fireplace Use and Maintenance for Safety

Fireplaces are a beautiful addition to any home. Whether it’s a modern fireplace with state-of-the-art technology or a traditional brick fireplace, the upkeep and maintenance should be the same. It’s important to keep up with cleaning and maintenance for aesthetic as well as safety reasons. It’s also vital to have a home warranty that can cover appliances damaged in a fire.

Routine, Scheduled Maintenance

Once a week, or after every fire, clean the fireplace of any residue from previous fires. Ash and soot builds in the bottom of the fireplace, along the inner walls and on the grates. It becomes messy and dangerous if left to build up over time.

Wait 12 hours before attempting to vacuum or dust the fireplace. There can’t be any chance of the embers being hot, or it could start an unintentional fire. Homeowners with a fireplace might want to consider a firebox for old ashes. After waiting until the fire cools completely, the fireplace should be swept and vacuumed.

At least once a week, the fireplace should be given a deep cleaning. The inner walls should be scrubbed with a stiff brush. If the fireplace is made of brick, be careful since the masonry could crumble and allow fire access to the home’s walls. Any grates, fireplace implements and grills should be cleaned too.

Yearly Maintenance

Once a year, the homeowner should hire an inspector to make sure the chimney is in good physical condition and to clean out the chimney. Over time, creosote from burning wood builds in the chimney walls. This substance is extremely flammable and could ignite the inner walls of the chimney.

The chimney has a cap on either end to keep small animals like birds and squirrels from entering, and to keep debris like leaves and dirt from falling into the chimney. The caps need to be inspected, cleaned and repaired if there’s a problem.

Troubleshooting

Any smoke that leaks into the home indicates a problem. A chimney packed with creosote or soot build up can cause smoke to enter the home. There might be debris blocking the chimney or the damper might not be open. There could be any number of reasons why smoke isn’t traveling out of the chimney, but it’s important that the fire is extinguished immediately so an investigation of the cause can begin.

Fireplace Tips for Safety

  • Only burn hardwoods if possible. They have less sap, will burn longer and don’t leave as much creosote.
  • Don’t start a fire in the home using liquids like gas or kerosene.
  • Stick to woods in the fire. Other materials could cause a fire to burn too hot or release chemicals into the air.

Added Protection

Glass doors are great protection from embers escaping into the room. They will increase the fireplace’s heat efficiency if the fireplace is used as a heating source too. Glass doors are heat proof when they are specially made for fireplaces. They are easy to clean and should be washed down after every fire especially if soot builds up frequently.

If there are small children in the home, adding an extra layer of protection to the fireplace is vital for their safety. There are gates and guards that will protect the children from harm. Large gates will keep the child at a safe distance, and guards will cover the raised brick to keep the sharp edges from hurting a child if he or she falls.

Fireplace maintenance is vital to fire safety in the home. The biggest problem with fireplaces is the buildup of harmful and flammable substances that are not cleaned out of the chimney. Blockages should be dealt with quickly too. The maintenance of the fireplace should be a weekly occurrence.

Transform your Electricity and Gas Bills in Six Easy Steps

Transform your Electricity and Gas Bills in Six Easy Steps

Steps to saving money on your electric and gas bills have never been easier. Making simple adjustments in your daily routine and making minor repairs around the house could save you hundreds of dollars a year. It may take some time to remember to make these changes before they become a habit, however the outcome will be worth it.

Cooking Habits

Only heat as much water as you require. The more water you try to heat the longer it will take and the more electricity you will waste. If you do this several times a day, it adds up. Consider this practice when preparing tea and cooking pasta or vegetables. Only use the amount required and using an electric kettle to heat water to cook with often takes less time than the oven. Essentially, you should reduce the amount of water you use in everything and make changes to reduce cook times.

Fridge and Freezer

Keep your fridge and freezer as far away as possible from direct sunlight and heating devices. This will reduce the number of times the fridge or freezer must start to maintain the desired temperature. And, keep the temperatures of both at the recommended rates rather than too cold or too warm. Do not forget to defrost the appliance on a regular basis. And, know what you are going to retrieve before you open the doors and organize your items and have a storage plan to get in and out as quickly as possible.

Use Technology

Sometimes the easiest way to modify behavior is to be aware of your actions. Typically, you have to wait until the electric or gas bill arrives to determine your exact consumption charges at any given time. Today, technology takes the guess work out of the equation. Purchase an inexpensive device that measures your existing consumption rate. You should also use automatic thermostats to reduce the heat or air distributed during the times you are asleep or at work.

The Water Heater

Water heaters are one of the prime places energy is lost or wasted. An overused water heater might need to be replaced, and that is where a home warranty would come in. But if your water heater is still in good shape, your energy conservation efforts start by keeping your water heater at a lower temperature. This will reduce the number of times the water heater turns on. You should also have the water heater inspected annually by a professional. Spending a few dollars each year could save you thousands of dollars in the end. If you have a small electric one, turn it off and unplug it during the times it is not in use. Turn it on 20 minutes before you wish to shower or bathe and it will be ready.

Air Ducts

According to most professionals, the air ducts are where the greatest loss in energy efficiency takes place. During the construction of homes, this area is often one that is overlooked during quality control. Simple home repairs can easily rectify this problem. Turn on the air or heat and follow the ducts throughout your home. Wherever you feel a leak, duct tape it. Also, you should ensure that all vents are free from furniture, drapes and other objects that may prevent the proper heating and cooling of your home.

Window and Door Frames

Another place where energy is lost is at the frames of windows and doors. These are often installed poorly or the protection wears away after time. A simple home repair is to use weatherproof sealant on all frames. You should also check as to whether or not insulation was used during the installation process. If you have significant drafts, you should consider installing insulation.

If you make these quick changes, you will save money. Once you have extra money, you can spend it on something you can use such as an energy-saving water heater or something you do not need like a trip to some place new.