Prosper Properties Blog

We are located in the heart of Hays County, right in downtown Buda, Texas. This blog offers tips, facts & solutions for homeowners as well as potential buyers and sellers.

Jan. 16, 2018

10 Things to Toss From Your Attic or Garage ASAP

How long has it been since you really took a look at what is sitting in your attic? A year? Two years? Five years? What about your garage? Do you even know what could possibly be sitting in either of those spaces? If reading this and thinking about what could possibly be aging in your garage or attic makes you curious or even a little nervous then it’s time to hold your nose and jump in. Put some music on and grab some trash bags because it is time for you to cleanse your attic and garage!

Think of all the possibilities you could do with this new found space. You could turn your attic into another bedroom or even an office. You could actually park your car in your garage so that when it’s raining you don’t have to unload your groceries in the pouring rain. Plus the freeing feeling that you will get from this will be worth it in it of itself but you get the added bonus of free space.

Clear the clutter out of your attic and garage so that you can use that space instead of having things you didn’t even realize you had taking it away from you. It may be hard in the beginning but once you start to see those areas of the floor that you haven’t seen it years you will find yourself tossing and donating things left and right just to get a few more inches of your home back! 

Here are 10+ things that you should either toss or donate!

1. Furniture

Let’s start with furniture. It is probably some of the largest items you have to get rid of which means it is taking up a lot of your valuable space. I know there may be some pieces that you want to keep or that are family heirlooms but it has been sitting in your attic or garage for how long now? It is time to either find it a forever spot somewhere in your house or it needs to go to a new home where it will be loved and valued instead of just sitting unappreciated in a cold dark room. If are going to sell an item that is an antique or could possibly be an antique, contact an antique professional before selling the item to make sure you are giving a fair price when selling it.

2. Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorations are wonderful during the holiday season but during the off season all they are doing is collecting dust. How much of your holiday decoration stash did you actually use this last holiday season? Was it even a fraction of the amount you have? If the answer is no or you don’t know because you’re not sure how many holiday decorations you own, then it’s time to get rid of some or even most of your holiday decoration stash. Set aside the decorations you just recently enjoyed but as for the rest of them, if you don’t have a specific place in mind that you will put the decoration this next holiday season then you should either toss it or donate it.

3. Baby Supplies

Are you planning on having another baby? If so then congratulations! If not then you should donate or give away the baby items you have that are just collecting dust. There are plenty of people who need baby supplies and are willing to pay you for your baby supply stash. The longer you keep baby items the more outdated they become, and it can even become a safety hazard for a future baby. There are new baby items coming out all the time and they are becoming cheaper and even safer for new babies. So it’s time to part with your baby supplies that are stealing precious room in your new found space. You will be giving the baby items a new family that will love, appreciate, and use them with their new little bundle of joy! You would be doing yourself and that family a favor.

4. Boxes

Do you have a just-in-case box collection? Well I hate to break it to you, but those boxes very possibly have some friends living in them, if you know what I mean. You know the kind that make you scream when they run across the floor? It is time to let the boxes go. If you ever need boxes for a move, or anything really, there are a lot of ways to get them for free. All you have to do is “Google it” and lists upon lists will come up of different companies who give their boxes away for free to people who ask for them. So, get rid of the boxes that are taking up your precious space and inviting unwanted friends to stay awhile, and take your space back.

5. Outdated Technology

Technology is improving so much and so fast that you are bound to have a bit of old technology lying around somewhere. You probably haven’t touched that old technology in months or even years. It is time to toss it or donate it if it’s still in working condition. You don’t need piles of outdated DVD players, gaming systems, and VHS players especially. Everything is becoming digital and smaller with the new technology that is constantly coming out so give yourself that space back in your garage and attic and get rid of that outdated equipment. 

6. Clothes

Do you have bags or boxes of clothes in your attic? Do you know every item of clothing that you own? It is time to donate those bags of outdated clothes if they are still in good condition. Give those items a chance to be worn, loved, and used again. Is your off season clothing sitting right there in front of you on the floor of your garage? How long has it been since you actually opened up that box to swap out your seasonal clothes? If the answer is that you can’t remember or that it has been years, then it is time to go through that box, take out what you want to keep, and donate the rest. Rodents love to make homes in bags of clothes so do yourself a favor and donate your unwanted items before you have unwanted house guests. 

7. Paperwork

Keeping important documents is a good habit to have, but keeping them for longer than necessary is not. Once you have made sure your bank statement and receipts match up then toss the receipts. Tax specialists say that you only need to keep you tax documents for 7 years so each year when you put away your new set of tax documents discard the 7-year-old documents so that you only keep as many as you need to. If you have a number of paper documents that you want to keep there are scanners that can scan documents to create a digital copy of them for you. Then you don’t have to keep the hard copy which means more freed up space in your house for you!

8. Outdated Music Devices

Just like there is no good reason to keep a stack of outdated DVD and VHS players and gaming systems there is no need to keep outdated music devices like cassette players. You don’t need to keep any music playing device that you haven’t touched in 6 months or longer. There are plenty of ways to listen to your favorite music without having to store all those big outdated music players in your garage. If you aren’t sure what type of music platforms will play your favorite kind of music Google will have the answer for you.

9. Childhood Memories

This one might be a little tricky if you are a sentimental person, but don’t worry you can do this. Every time you pick up and item from that box ask yourself, “Would I show this to the next person that comes over to my house?” While going through that box you can reminisce on when you or your child made that specific item. But if you ask yourself and the answer is no, then it is time to part with it. It is just a physical item, you have the memory stored in your brain forever. Clear that space in your garage or attic so that you can give it a new purpose instead of having it store all those items that you would never look at again if it weren’t for this exercise. 

10. Photos

This may be the most difficult type of item to get rid of and that is why it is last on the list. You have the momentum from tossing and donating hundreds of items already, so you can do this. You don’t need to get rid of all your photos, but there is probably a large sum of photos that you can discard. If you can’t seem to discard any of them then it would really benefit you to scan them into your computer so that you then have a digital copy of them. Once you have a digital copy you can decide whether or not you need to keep the actual photographs. If you choose to keep the photos that is okay, just make sure to find a better place to store them so they don’t get possible heat and water damage.

 

Posted in Home Improvement
Jan. 3, 2018

Let’s talk about Negley Elementary

Today we are going to focus on one of the many fantastic Elementary Schools within the Hays Consolidated Independent School District: Laura B. Negley Elementary School.

Laura B. Negley Elementary School opened its doors in 2006 in the Plum Creek Master planned community and has been flourishing ever since! The school is named after Laura B. Negley, who was a political activist born in Austin, Texas in 1890 to Albert Burleson. Mr. Burleson was a U.S. Congressman and appointed Postmaster General by President Woodrow Wilson. Laura attended the University of Texas and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1911. She went on to become very active in politics and in women’s suffrage work.

Negley Elementary is a K-5 campus. Other neighborhoods (in addition to Plum Creek) that feed into Negley are Mountain City, Arroyo Ranch and Cypress Forest.

The School’s Mission and Vision is for students, teachers and parents to work together to build a foundation of respectful leaders, lifelong learners and problem solvers. They daily practice the acronym of S.A.I.L. with their students.

Here is what S.A.I.L. represents:
S: Show respect
A: Always be safe.
I: I will make good choices.
L: Live honestly.

According to GreatSchools.org, the school currently has 751 students enrolled. Here are a few other statistics:

  • Student/Teacher ratio is 16:1 (State average is 15:1).
  • 94% of the teachers have 3 or more years of teaching experience.
  • Academically, the school has achieved a 7/10 rating from GreatSchools.org. Reading scores are at a 52% proficiency (State average is 44%), Math scores are at 47% proficiency (State average is 47%) and Science scores are at 56% proficiency (State average is 41%).
  • Only 3% of students are English learners.
  • In rating student progress, they have achieved a 7/10 from GreatSchools.org

Student progress is measured by how much students at this school are improving year to year; in comparison to the academic progress of all schools in the State of Texas. Negley Elementary is doing a wonderful job at providing a well-rounded education, teaching students to apply practical life skills and to show kindness and respect for all.

Posted in News
Dec. 15, 2017

How to Apply for a Homestead Exemption in Texas

What better way to start off the new year than by finding ways to possibly save yourself thousands of dollars? You can do this by filing a homestead exemption.

Now you may ask, what is a homestead? A homestead can be a “condominium or a manufactured home located on owned or leased land, as long as the individual living in the home owns it.” It can include up to 20 acres if you also own that land and use it for residential purposes.

By filing a homestead exemption in Texas on your principal residence, you can remove part of your home’s value from taxation, which in turn lowers your taxes. For example, if your home is appraised at $200,000 and you qualify for a $25,000 exemption (this happens to be the amount mandated for school districts), you will pay school taxes on your home as if it was only worth $175,000. Taxing units have the option to provide other exemptions of up to 20% of the total value.

Not all home qualify for homestead exemptions. You must meet the definition of a “residence homestead”: You must be an individual (not a corporation or business entity) and use your home as your primary residence on January 1st of the tax year. The only exception to this is if you are 65+ years old or disabled. Then the January 1st ownership and residency are not required.

The timeline to file for a homestead exemption is between January 1st and April 30th of the tax year. You may also file for late Homestead Exemption for up to one year after the date which the taxes become delinquent.

Homestead Exemption Required Documents

Your Homestead Exemption will not be approved unless all of the required documents show the address of the home you’re filing for. See the list below for ways to file a homestead exemption:

Hays County

Download PDF Application HERE and mail to:

  • Hays Central Appraisal District
    Lex Word Building
    21001 IH 35 North, Kyle, TX 78640

OR

  • Email completed PDF application and copy of drivers license with new address on it to info@hayscad.com

Travis County

Download PDF Application HERE and mail to:

  • Travis Central Appraisal District
    PO Box 149012, Austin, TX 78714-9012

OR

  • File online by requesting an Owner ID and PIN by calling 512-834-9317. Select option 4 for general questions.
Posted in News
Dec. 1, 2017

Why Should You Use Professional Photography When Selling Your Home?

We had a chance to sit down and chat with Bryan Parker of Bryan Parker Photography. Bryan has been in the professional photography business for many years and is a wealth of knowledge in the industry! 

Prosper Properties: Thank you Bryan for taking the time to explain why using a professional photographer, such as yourself, makes such a difference when listing your home. Can you give us your specific reasons why?

Bryan Parker: Your listings will get more showings online than you will ever see in-person. The quality of your photos will do more to attract, and hold, the attention of prospective buyers, and their agents, than most anything else you can offer when listing a home.

PP: Can you provide us with some statistics to back this up?

BP: Buyers spend 60% of their time looking at listing photos, and only 20% each on the listing description and agent description. (The Wall Street Journal.

  • Homes with high-quality photos receive 47% higher asking price per square foot. (cbsnews.com)
  • Homes with professional photos get 61% more views. (REDFIN)
  • Listings with professional photos receive 118% more online views.
  • Homes with professionally photographed pictures can sell for up to $19,000 more. (marketleader.com)

PP: Wow those are some solid facts! So how long have you been in the photography business? What inspired you to become a photographer?

BP: I have been shooting real estate photography for almost 10 years.  I have been in multimedia for 20 years and when we sold our last home the "professional" photos the agent used were not very good. The agent agreed that the photos I took were better and I started shooting their listings. We started offering real estate photography and home staging after that.  

PP: What an interesting way to get started in the business. What are some of the methods you use to make a home look the best it possibly can?

BP: I try to make every home look as bright and big as possible. Turning on all the lights and opening all the blinds helps as well as a lot of shots from the corners of rooms that show the entire room instead of just one wall. I also try to capture anything that makes a home unique. The camera and lens used also make a big difference in capturing the whole room.

PP: These are good methods and really people can do the same thing on their own if for some reason they can't work with a professional. You mentioned that you have been in multimedia. What is some of the other photography you do?

BP: Coming from a multimedia background, I am able to offer many different services to agents. In addition to photography I also shoot video, create interactive floor plans, property websites, property videos and aerial photography.  I have shot everything from an 800 sq. foot home up to a 24,000 sq foot home and also an 8,000 sq. ft lot up to a 125 acre property.

PP: Great! That's a wide variety of services! Could you tell us what the average prices are?

BP: Most houses fall under the $125 price range. That includes unlimited photos and virtual tour.

PP: Well that's affordable compared to what people would make back on the sale of their homes! It truly is an investment. Do you have a website?

BP: Yes, it is www.studio12austin.com and you can contact me there, or give me a call at 512-947-2792.

PP: Wonderful! Well thank you for sitting down with us today Bryan. It was a pleasure speaking with you!

BP: Likewise! Thank you!

Below are some samples of Bryan's work

Posted in Home Selling Tips
Nov. 15, 2017

Buda's Newest Art Gallery - Assemblage Contemporary Craftsman Gallery

Did you know that Buda has an art gallery? We do! You absolutely MUST go see Assemblage in downtown Buda at the beautifully renovated Buda Mill & Grain development. See our interview here with the owners Jacquie Hollis Martinez and Theresa Jones.

Posted in News
Nov. 1, 2017

Senior Resource Directory

We wanted to present to you today the latest Senior Resource Directory provided by the Silver Sneakers for Seniors at the Buda YMCA and Meals on Wheels of Buda and Kyle. Feel free to download and distribute to anyone you feel would benefit from the directory. Although there is a temptation to print the directory, you should encourage people to use the electronic PDF download version since there are website links present that are active and available to be clicked on. This truly is a great resource for Seniors and we hope you enjoy!

CLICK HERE to download or click the picture below.

Posted in News
Oct. 18, 2017

Cards 4 Kids Poker Tournament 2017

We had a great time at Cards 4 Kids Poker Tournament this year, benefiting the Hays Community YMCA. After many rounds of Texas Hold 'Em, we ended up with these winners: Mayor Todd Ruge, Will Borland (1st place!) and E. Scott Ross.

Thanks to our sponsors, HomePro Inspection, Independence Title Company, Modern Mortgage, Texas Custom Solutions, Milestone Community Builders and Endeavor Custom Homes!

Posted in News
Oct. 15, 2017

Hays CISD Rezoning 101

As you may have heard in recent news, attendance zones for HAYS CISD will be going through some changes as the district gets ready to open its 14th elementary school for the 2018-2019 school year. This always seems to stir up emotions and anxiety in home owners (and future buyers as well), because of the unknowns and being at the mercy of a Board of Trustees in this decision making process.

The Board of Trustees has appointed a committee to study the best options for attendance zone changes. This goal of this post is to provide you with a summary of how the rezoning process works, and what considerations are taken when making these decisions that heavily impact families.

If you want more detailed information, such as the current attendance zone maps and the proposed attendance maps for 2018-2019, please refer to the HAYS CISD website at https://www.hayscisd.net/rezone.

REZONING 101

Attendance zones are established by the Board of Trustees with input from parents, the community, and an attendance zone committee. Here are some of the reasons attendance zones are established:

  • To maintain the neighborhood school concept and to prevent, reduce, and eliminate overcrowding.
  • To allow for future growth (because this is imminent) and to keep distances traveled by students as short as possible.
  • To minimize the need for student transportation and to allow campuses to safely house students and provide adequate services to all.

The goal is to keep school attendance areas as stable as possible. Unfortunately, adjustments or changes are difficult to avoid in our rapidly growing district.

Here are some principles considered when making changes to the attendance zones:

  • Work toward common feeder patterns throughout the District.
  • Attempt to assign entire neighborhoods to the same school(s).
  • Consider students’ proximity to campuses and promote safe and reasonable walking zones to encourage healthier students.
  • Utilize projected student enrollment and capacity as a measure of determining the best use of each facility.

The final decision regarding changes to the attendance zone maps rests with the Board of Trustees. To facilitate parent and community input, the Board appoints a committee to study the best options for these changes. The committee begins with at least two draft options and then solicits feedback and ideas.

The new attendance zone map could be selected as early as December 2017. Families who live in an elementary attendance zone with changes will now have a new home school campus. 

Here are a few upcoming ways you can get involved. These are public forums you can attend to educate yourself more about these changes.  

Public  Forum #1
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
6:00 p.m. /Tobias Elementary

Public Forum #2
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
6:00 p.m. /Hemphill Elementary

We hope the information provided gives you a little more insight on how this process works, and that the Board of Trustees and the committee it appoints has the best interest in mind for those that will be facing zoning changes. As HAYS CISD continues to grow, there are going to be growing pains and changes that are just necessary to prevent overpopulation. 

If you are in one of the areas that is facing a rezone, and you are considering moving, we would be more than happy to speak with you regarding your questions and concerns. We are here to help!

 

Posted in News
Oct. 9, 2017

Meet Bruce King, Hays County Santa & REALTOR®

For the month of October, we sat down with our very own Hays County Santa and another one of our top producing Realtors, Bruce King! We're excited to have you get to know Bruce better and learn what he has to offer people who buy or sell their home with him.

Prosper Properties: Thanks for joining us Bruce. We know you're gearing up for the holiday season and things are starting to get busy. So first question, how long have you been in the business?

Bruce King: I started studying in 2007, so it looks like 10 years now! Wow, haven't really thought about it in a while. Time flies when you're having fun and love what you do!

PP: That's true! When work doesn't feel like a job you can really enjoy it. Here's a question that many people ask agents when they're interviewing them: 'What's your average List Price to Sales Price ratio?'

BK: I don't have an average. I focus on what you're comfort level is. I hear Realtors say they only work with [a certain type of] sellers and buyers. That's not me! I work with buyers and sellers of all types of properties and prices, (land, homes, mobile homes, lots, etc.), and there is nothing average in that. They are all very important to me!

PP: And really Bruce, that's what makes you a delight to work with. You make your clients feel important and like you have no other clients than them. Folks do what to know though, what is your best marketing plan or strategy for their needs?

BK: The most effective marketing is the obvious, MLS and other syndicated sites that profile properties and I belong to most of them. Social media is a big player these days and I have a ton of followers! If you've seen my ads and signs, then you've probably known me for years. I'm a local and love all my Peeps in this area! Now, my best strategy is I'm SANTA! And Santa loves and cares about you! 

PP: Also true, playing Santa Claus is a very unique aspect of your business. And it really works for you! Which by proxy works for your clients. Not very many Realtors can say they have the reach that you do based on being a Santa. What other things separate you from your competition?

BK: I'm a really fun person to work with! I answer my phone on nights and weekends! You won't hear the message from me that says I will return calls the next day if you call after 5pm. I'm bilingual. I speak fluent Spanish and I'm very connected with the Hispanic community. I started my career in the toughest of times during the crash of 2008 and I didn't give up! 

PP: Interesting! I didn't know you had started in such tough times. It's true, many people gave up or didn't even get started because of that crash. It's impressive that you stuck with it. Now you say you're very connected with your community. Is that how you would help folks find professionals they might need during the home buying or selling process?

BK: Yes, being connected with the community through years of city chambers and networking organizations has given me a wealth of affordable contacts that can help us tackle any issue we may encounter.

PP: Great! But do you offer any guarantees to your clients?

BK: That I will work my magic to help you feel comfortable! And to make this a smooth and educating journey! You will learn a lot! I learn new things with every transaction. The rest is up to the market, and I will walk right with you through the journey.

PP: That's a solid promise Bruce. Is there anything else we need to know about you?

BK: That I am the "Happiest Realtor" that you and I know personally! I practice positivity always, and believe that all our paths are on the right track no matter what! Our choices are the winding road to the destination and we'll kick it into 4 wheel drive when we hit the mud.

PP: The power of positivity is important for sure. Listen Bruce, we really appreciate your time. How can people get ahold of you when they're ready to buy or sell?

BK: They can give me a call or text at 512-667-4082 or shoot me an email bruceking.sells@gmail.com. 

PP: Excellent, thank you Bruce.

BK: You're most welcome!

Posted in News
Sept. 22, 2017

Meet Amanda Rickman, REALTOR®

This month we wanted to highlight one of our top producing agents here at Prosper Properties! Amanda Rickman is a born and raised Central Texan with rich family ties and history within our community. She was born in Austin and raised in Kyle and still resides within the Kyle community. We sat down with Amanda to find out a little more about how she has made her business successful and why she is such a fantastic asset to the Prosper Properties team.

Prosper Properties:     So Amanda, how long have you been in the business? 

Amanda Rickman:     In January, I have been in the business 4 years.  It's gone by so fast!

PP:     I'm sure! So a question that many people ask an agent when they are interviewing an agent is what is your average List Price to Sales Price ratio?

AR:     I won't lie, I really am not sure and that's because this isn't how I work my business.  My goal is to help people find homes or to help people sell their homes. I'm not really a numbers person and more so after the overall goal of helping someone get to where they need to be. If I'm working on the buyer side, I'm doing my best to get my client in a home for the best price depending on the market. Likewise, if I'm helping someone sell their home, I'm trying to get them the most they can for their home depending on the market.  

PP:     Sounds like a good way to work with people. Since your goal is helping someone get to where they need to be, what would you say is your best marketing plan or strategy for a clients’ needs? 

AR:     Besides advertising on MLS, Realtor.com, and all of those other platforms... you have probably seen how social media is a huge part of today's society. I take advantage of that and it helps that I'm from this area and am connected in this area to get your property more exposure. I would also have to say branding in general is my one of my biggest marketing strategies. If you interview an agent and they don't know their brand/purpose... that's a problem. Branding isn't all about the logo either, it's about the experience. You may not remember the colors of my logo, but even if it's a terrible market, my goal is for you to at least feel at ease, not stressed, and to have an overall great experience. That's my brand and what I want you to remember. Hold the vision, trust the process. 

PP: "Hold the vision, trust the process". What a good moto to follow in real estate! And you're right to say that agents that don't know their brand or purpose have a problem. What are some other things that separate you from your competition?

AR:     I would have to say the fact that I am a 4th generation area citizen and I have deep family roots here. I know the area well and have seen all its changes. True locals still do exist and I think that sets me apart from a lot of my competition.

PP:     Being local definitely helps! Sine you are local, how will you help your client’s find other professionals they might need during the process? 

AR:     Being from the area and part of the local networking groups and chambers, I have a list of almost every professional you could think of in my back pocket that I trust and would highly recommend.

PP:     What a great resource to have! Most people have to hunt through Yelp or Angie's List to find professionals to help them out. So another question many people ask a prospective agent is do you offer any kind of guarantee's? 

AR:     I don't and honestly, I don't know how people do make guarantee's. Nobody has a crystal ball to know what is going to happen and I think if you are told a guarantee when selling your home, the agent may be under-pricing your home. The only thing I can say about this is that I think honesty and communication weighs heavier than guarantee's... at least in my book!

PP:     That's great! Ok Amanda, what else do people need to know about you?

AR:     Overall, what you need to know about me is that I love what I do and will always try my very best. Honesty, communication, and your overall experience are key for me at the end of the day. One of my greatest strengths is being able to mold my way of working to fit different personality types and I have found that has vastly helped with people's experiences. I never tell people not to interview other agents, in fact, I encourage that. If you happen to roll back around to me as your agent of choice, I will give you my 110%.

PP:     Excellent! Thank you for your time Amanda! We enjoyed getting to know you a little bit more. Tell us how people can contact you?

AR:    Really anyway. They can call/text me at 512-557-2358 or email me at amandarickman08@gmail.com.

PP:     Perfect! Thank you again Amanda.

AR:     You're welcome!

 

Posted in News