Category Archives: Blog Posts


Guest blog by  Meghan Wells, Co-Founder, Love-A-Bull.

Once in awhile, if you’re lucky, you meet someone who wants to make the world a better place by working everyday to help others.  And then, these people inspire you to do the same.  I learned of Laurie Loew and Give Realty several years ago, when Laurie’s clients, Ethan and Emilie Sonne, chose Love-A-Bull to be the beneficiary of Give Realty’s commission program to help nonprofits.  As Love-A-Bull is so dependent on its donations to continue funding its basic services and programs, I knew the tremendous value that this contribution would make in the lives of the pitties and owners who we serve.

Pittie Pride Parade photoBy working to provide education, advocacy and rescue programs, Love-A-Bull strives to improve the lives and image of “pit bull” type dogs and their guardians.  Since 2008, our 100% volunteer-run organization has provided free training classes to several hundred individuals and families, started one of the nation’s first all-pittie therapy dog programs, rescued and rehomed pitties from the streets, shelters, and abuse/neglect situations, fought for equal treatment and against breed discriminatory legislation for dogs in our own community and nationwide, hosted one of the country’s largest annual “Pittie Pride” festivals featuring celebrities who help spread awareness of our shared desire to make life better for pittie dogs and their families, and worked with countless individuals in need of our assistance.  Love-A-Bull wants everyone to realize that all block-headed dogs who get lumped into the “pit bull” label are worthy of being loved and viewed as the faithful four-legged family members that thousands of responsible guardians hold dear.  My own (now, nearly 12-year old) rescue dog, May, was the first one to prove that message to me – and soon after I adopted her, Love-A-Bull took shape.

Remembering the support that the organization had received from Give Realty in that past, I naturally sought Laurie’s help when my fiancé, David, and I were in the midst of combining our households (selling our individual homes and buying a new house together).  She was the perfect combination of listener, field expert, advocate, and cheerleader for our house selling and buying process.  If you’ve been on that real estate roller coaster (especially the crazy one here in Austin), you know how important a realtor with those qualities can be!  But, what was even more satisfying than signing that last closing document was the knowledge that with our own homestead journey complete, we would be helping Love-A-Bull continue its journey to grow and expand through Give Realty’s donation.

Donation Give RealtyIn the past several years, Give Realty has given close to $8000 to Love-A-Bull, through commissions and contests.  That large chunk of change helps funds critical veterinary treatment for Adopt-A-Bulls with medical needs, supplies and resources for our community outreach efforts (tent events, spay/neuter assistance, housing resources, etc.), training class gear, and a whole slew of other organizational needs.   And we couldn’t do it without the help of community partners like Give Realty and Laurie Loew, who truly care about the causes they support and the ways in which their donation is improving life in the long-term for so many.  It is not exaggerating to say that that many human and canine lives were permanently changed for the better through this generous gift.

Thank you for the donation and the inspiration, Laurie!  Love-A-Bull is grateful for your giving, and we hope to keep this wonderful relationship going (and giving) strong for years to come.

May and Meghan (photo by Jennifer Hayes)Meghan Wells became interested in advocacy when she adopted her rescue dog, May in 2005. She joined a local Pit Bull Meetup group to meet other pit bull owners who took a monthly “fun walk” around downtown. Upon learning more about proposed breed-specific legislation and finding that many policymakers and reporters had very little accurate information about pit bulls, she got more involved in trying to effect change. Meghan joined forces with Lydia Zaidman, another active Meetup member, to transform the group into a vehicle to change minds and fight negative stereotypes. In 2008, they founded Love-A-Bull, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

As a founding board member of the 100% volunteer-run organization, she maintains a leadership role with education and outreach efforts, including conference workshops, community resource fairs, interviews and research projects, and partnerships to spread awareness of Love-A-Bull’s mission and goals. Meghan and May are proud to have participated in Love-A-Bull’s free training program, and May is a Canine Good Citizen. When she’s not working on behalf of Love-A-Bull, she spends most of her time advocating for artists with the City of Austin’s Art in Public Places Program, enjoying the new house with her husband David and May’s “sister,” Zeta, and continuing to find new things to love about Austin.

The Home Loan Process

Guest blog post by Josh Flores, Senior Loan Officer with Supreme Lending.

House Exterior 1Today I’d like to share a brief overview of the home loan process.

Step 1 – Loan application
Loan officer meets with clients face to face, or through email or fax. Customize loan products to meet individual needs. Maintain communication throughout the loan process to closing.

Step 2 – Loan Set Up
A. Order residential appraisal and credit report.
B. Send required disclosures to client.
C. Send verification to applicable entities.

Step 3 – Loan Processing
The processor is your contact during all processing and compiling of information for loan submission. Email all information for loan processing to your processor.

Step 4 – Underwriting
Evaluation of credit and property in determining adherence to agency guidelines. This results in a status of approved, suspended, approved conditionally or rejected.

Step 5 – Closing
A. Lender sends prepared docs to the title company.
B. Title company prepares the settlement statement, then provides final closing figures.
C. Loan Officer will then call borrower with final figures.

JoshFloresPhotoJosh Flores is a senior loan officer with Supreme Lending. He attributes his success as a loan officer not to marketing genius but rather to his practice of working with one client at a time. His philosophy is to do the best, most professional job for each of his clients, which has led to his history of repeated client referrals.

Josh believes that education and experience are the two most important assets he can share with each of his clients, whether that client is an experienced investor or a first-time home buyer.

Josh received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from St. Edward’s University, where he graduated magna cum laude. Josh and his wife have two children, a daughter and a son.

Giving Tuesday

Well, the holiday season is officially upon us, with it’s usual bevy of shopping, parties, family, friends, and stress, It’s so easy to get caught up in it all and forget that the real purpose of this time of year is to appreciate the joy and blessings in our life and to share some of that joy with others.

Photo Courtesy of Giving Tuesday

Photo Courtesy of Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday, a national day of giving established last year. The idea is that after spending Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday shopping, we as a nation make a focused effort to give back. It’s an official day of giving to kick off what will hopefully be a whole holiday season of giving.

Today is what Give Realty is all about. A desire to give back to our community is what drove Laurie to found the brokerage back in 2008, and this desire remains the driving force of Give Realty today. Laurie gives not just for herself, but in the hopes that her business model will help to encourage others to give back as well.

With thousands of nonprofits in our local community, and hundreds of thousands nationwide, the opportunities for you to give back today are endless. Find a nonprofit that supports a cause you are passionate about and help them out. Don’t have the funds to make a donation? Giving of your time counts, too.

This is your chance. Be inspired. Let today be the beginning of a season of giving that will become a tradition, and might just change your life.

The Impact of Referrals

It all started with a lead from my previous broker (before Give Realty). Jeannie and David purchased a home in Dripping Springs and in the process I was introduced to their parents.  Referral CollageMarian and Richard decided to sell their family home in July of 2009 and donated $5,000 to 3 nonprofits. When their grandson relocated from Houston to Austin earlier this year, Dave and Kelsey called me to help them find their Austin home and $1,949.25 was donated to Camp for All.

Dave and Kathy attend church with Marian and Richard and called me to help them sell their homes and purchase a new one. That resulted in Dave and Kathy giving over $6,500 in donations. Dave’s parents, Joan and Jim, sold their family home in Rollingwood and donated $5,500 to causes they care about.

It all started with one client. Because of David and Jeannie, their family has given almost $7,000 to the nonprofit community and another family has given over $12,000. Pretty amazing stuff.

Home Warranties Q&A

Guest blog by Home Warranty of America.

Today we’re going to answer a few basic questions about home warranties.

1) What is a home warranty?
A home warranty covers costly home repairs and replacements of major appliances and systems due to normal wear and tear.

If a covered system or appliance breaks down or malfunctions, an authorized technician will be dispatched to the home, with a small trade call fee (typically between $50-$100) to diagnose and approve the service request. This saves the homeowner the time and trouble of researching and contacting various service vendors on their own in a time of stress and urgency.

A home warranty also protects the homeowner with set coverage costs so there is not a large, unexpected expense when an inconvenient repair is needed.

When a home warranty is understood and utilized for its intended purposes, it can be the easiest way to save on home repairs and reduce the extra stress that comes with buying or selling a home.

2) How is a home warranty different from homeowner’s insurance?
Home insurance and home warranties are both designed to help you in the event that you experience loss or damage to your home and/or your belongings.

A typical home insurance policy covers many things including the structure of your home, personal belongings, and other structures on your property if damage or loss is caused by a covered peril.

A home warranty, on the other hand, offers repairs and replacements for your home appliances and systems that fail due to normal wear and tear. A home warranty is a contract, not a policy.

3)Why should someone purchase a home warranty? Is it worth it?
A home warranty can protect your home and budget from unexpected repair costs. Take a look at this comparison chart of common home repairs with and without a home warranty:


 4) What types of things are covered under the average home warranty?
A typical home warranty covers a home’s vital systems such as heating system/furnace, air conditioning system/cooler, water heater and kitchen appliances. There are many additional items that are frequently covered, such as door bells, ceiling fans, fire alarms, etc. Most home warranty plans offer a base coverage plan and a more inclusive and comprehensive premium plan at a higher cost, as well as optional coverage items that can be added to either plan a la carte.

5) Who normally purchases the home warranty, the home buyer or seller?
This is a case by case basis. A home seller may choose to add a home warranty as a gift to the home buyer. HWA offers free Seller’s Coverage in most states for sellers to cover their home in the listing period to make their home more attractive to prospective home buyers in a competitive market. At HWA, the Seller’s Coverage converts to a full 13-months of coverage for the home buyer at the homes closing.

A buyer may choose to add a home warranty for peace of mind. A buyer may prefer to select the home warranty company themselves rather than have the Seller make the decision. Or, if no home warranty is offered, a home owner may elect to add the home warranty themselves.

6) How long does the warranty last? Can I renew it?
Typical home warranties cover a home for a year. HWA offers 13-months of full home warranty coverage on all of our real estate plans. All home warranties are eligible and encouraged to be renewed.

PrintAt Home Warranty of America, Inc. we have built our business on simplifying the lives of our customers and helping them immediately, in a time of great need and uncertainty. We strive to always offer our customers fast, easy solutions with excellent service technicians. You are looking for value for your money, and we believe we provide high value and protection against the high costs of home and appliance repair.

Laurie Wins the 2013 Austin Board of REALTORS® Industry Award in Community Service

Laurie is honored to be the recipient of the 2013 Austin Board of REALTORS® Industry Award in Community Service. Read the full press release below.

AUSTIN, Texas – November 12, 2013 – The Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 ABoR Industry Awards. These awards honor leaders in the real estate community for their outstanding contributions to the industry and their local communities. Join us in congratulating these hard working real estate professionals.

REALTOR® of the Year
Judith Bundschuh of Catalyst Realty
Judith Bundschuh believes that being a REALTOR® means being an integral part of the community and providing ethical, professional assistance to clients looking to buy or sell their homes. Over the past decade, Judith has done that and more to represent the Austin Board of REALTORS® and the REALTOR® brand. She has served to make the Central Texas community a better place and has done so in many ways.

Judith served six years as an ABoR Director and was the 2011 President of the Board. She has also acted as both an ACTRIS and ABoR Foundation Director, and held multiple more positions within both ABoR and the Texas Association of REALTORS® (TAR). She considers it an honor to have been allowed to serve in the many roles that she has and notes that her experiences have made a difference in both her personal and professional life.

Rookie of the Year
Jackie Horton of Curve Realty, LLC
In 2013, Jackie Horton’s first year as a REALTOR®, Jackie closed 40 transactions for $8.5 million in volume. Jackie built a solid foundation for her career after graduating from Texas A&M University by joining a national new homebuilder in Austin. After ten years as a sales counselor and sales manager, Jackie decided to turn her knowledge and experience toward Residential Real Estate. Believing that her clients deserved a well-educated partner, Jackie immediately obtained the GRI: Graduate, REALTOR® Institute, ABR: Accredited Buyer’s Representation Designations and the SFR: Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource Certification. She dedicates herself to her community by participating with Habitat for Humanity, Susan G. Komen and Texas Humane Heroes.

Community Service Award
Laurie Loew of Give Realty, Inc.
After experiencing some life changing events, Laurie Loew made the decision to create a business model focused on benefiting others. She soon found that she had created a “social” business, and was at the forefront of the latest business trends called social entrepreneurship and For-Benefit business.

She is regularly consulted by business owners and organizations on how businesses can become more “socially responsible.” Helping others realize the benefits of giving—both personally and professionally—is Laurie’s passion. She works tirelessly to promote the benefit of giving.

Affiliate of the Year
John Schutze of Supreme Lending
John Schutze joined the financial services profession shortly after college, becoming a financial adviser specializing in personal financial planning. He soon began to focus on helping his clients manage their mortgages, and then fully transitioned to the mortgage profession in 2002.

He believes it is important to invest in his profession and has been actively involved with the Austin Board of REALTORS®, Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR), and other industry organizations since 2005. He currently serves as Treasurer for the Austin Board of REALTORS® Foundation. His favorite quote: “To the world, you may be just one person. But to one person, you may be the world.”

You are invited to attend the 2014 Installation and Awards Gala, where ABoR will honor this year’s Industry Award winners, as well as install the incoming President of the Board Bill Evans, the 2014 ABoR Officers and Directors, and the 2014 ABoR Foundation Directors. The gala will take place Saturday, December 7 from 6:00 – 11:30 p.m. at the ZACH Theatre, located at 1510 Toomey Road, Austin, TX 78704. Tickets are $100 each and are limited in quantity. Purchase your ticket at For more information, contact Shirley Williams in ABoR’s Education Department at 512-454-7363, ext. 1603.


The Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) is a non-profit, voluntary organization representing nearly 9,000 licensed REALTORS® in Central Texas. As the primary source for accurate and comprehensive property listing information for REALTORS® in Greater Austin, ABoR works to advance the REALTOR® mission and protect homeowner rights. For more information, please contact the ABoR Marketing Department or 512-454-7636. Visit, a public resource on Austin real estate, for the latest news on the local housing market.

From Contract to Closing

House Exterior 1Now that you have signed the contract to buy your home, what happens between now and the time you legally own the home? A title company may handle the following items. Attorneys, lenders, escrow companies and other persons who are independent of title companies may perform some or all of these functions.

Earnest Money – An agreement to convey starts the process once it is received at the Title Company. Once you submit the loan application, it is usually subject to a credit check, an appraisal, and sometimes, a survey of the property.

Tax Check – What taxes are owed on the property? The Title Company contacts the various assessor-collectors.

Title Search – Copies of documents are gathered from various public records: deeds, deeds of trust, various assessments and matters of probate, heirship, divorce, and bankruptcy are addressed.

Examination – Verification of the legal owner and debts owed.

Document Preparation – Appropriate forms are prepared for conveyance and settlement.

Settlement – An Escrow Officer oversees the closing of the transaction: seller signs the deed, you sign a new mortgage, the old loan is paid off and the new loan is established. Seller, agents, attorneys, surveyors, Title Company, and other service providers for the parties are paid. Title insurance policies will then be issued to you and your lender.

Title Insurance – There are two types of title insurance:

  • Coverage that protects the lender for the amount of the mortgage
  • Coverage that protects the equity in the property.

Both you and your lender will want the security offered by title insurance. Why?

Title agents search public records to determine who has owned any piece of property, but these records may not reflect irregularities that are almost impossible to find. Here are some examples: an unauthorized seller forges the deed to the property; an unknown, but rightful heir to the property shows up after the sale to claim ownership; conflicts arise over a will from a deceased owner; or a land survey showing the boundaries of your property is incorrect.

For a one-time charge at closing, title insurance will safeguard you against problems including those events an exhaustive search will not reveal.

Maintaining a High Value for Remodels

Finished bathroom 1Guest blog by Reflections Remodeling.

When remodeling, homeowners have a specific vision for how they’d like to see their living space realized. Whether it’s a practical upgrade to newer, more efficient appliances or fixtures, a single-room makeover, or a whole-house renovation, keeping an eye toward resale value is always a good idea. Commonly, clients will pay for exorbitant construction or unnecessary upgrades in the hope that they can recoup that cost when they sell their home. The sad truth is that a buyer often doesn’t see certain remodels as being worth the original amount, and the seller has to accept an offer that only pays a fraction of that remodeling cost. Here are some tips to help maintain a high value for the remodel, especially when the time comes to place a home on the market.

1) Be cautious of the word “addition.” Though additions do increase the square-footage of the home, they tend to be money sinks that, depending on the project, can range from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands, and which, at resale, deliver only cents on those dollars. Even a small bathroom addition, with standard materials, will require a foundation, framing, new walls, insulation, wiring and plumbing. Larger additions, for instance a custom garage, sunroom or bedroom suite, might perfectly accommodate your specific needs, but might be viewed as impractical or unnecessary to a potential buyer.

Instead, get estimates for remodeling the space you have. While a single- or multi-room renovation will still cost up front, these fixes retain their value to buyers better than most additions. Good remodelers will be able to personalize your rooms while maintaining resalable value in them.

2) Efficiency is profit. There are several relatively small projects that not only remain attractive to buyers down the road, but that also start saving you money immediately after they’re completed. Does your home seem drafty? Install high performance double- or triple-paned windows in place of old single-paned. Include wireless lighting and thermostats along with the windows and watch your energy expenditure stabilize. Trying to stay drought conscious? Replace standard toilets with low-flow toilets and add a high-efficiency water heater. Enjoy the sun? Solar technology continues to improve and drop in price. Most general contractors can complete any of these improvements in about a week. And, to sweeten the deal, a vast majority of them net tax rebates at the end of the year.

3) Start small. Unless you’re looking for an entirely different floor plan, upgrading just a few things about a single room can drastically increase its appeal. If a bathroom feels too small, think about switching out the vanity for a pedestal sink, or adding a tubular skylight into the ceiling for more natural light and the feeling of more space. Does the kitchen feel outdated? Instead of knocking out walls, start by upgrading your appliances and retrofitting the cabinet and drawer hardware. After that, maybe you just need a new counter top and tiled backsplash to complete the look you were after, without breaking your bank.

Your home is an investment that should be a return in the future. By starting with these tips before you remodel, there’s no reason it shouldn’t. Remember, these are general tips; research your specific area to better understand the trends and needs for your home.

RR-logo-webReflections Remodeling is a woman-owned construction company serving Austin and the surrounding areas. Since 2010, we have been providing beautiful, professional remodels, renovations and repairs. Whether implementing a whole-house makeover, or installing a light fixture, Reflections takes pride in competent, budget-minded craftsmanship.

Owners Joy and Charlie Groves are the ladies behind Reflections’ quality standard. Joy can be found at job sites, where she gets her hands dirty as the General Contractor and Manager of On-Site operations. Charlie keeps jobs running smoothly behind-the-scenes, as Office Manager. Together, these women are changing the face of home remodeling, looking to reflect your vision, one project at a time.

Selecting the Right Neighborhood For You

Family in front of house2There are many factors to consider when selecting a neighborhood that is right for you. Below are just a few of the many factors — you may think of others that are important to you.

Neighborhoods have characteristic personalities designed to best suit single people, growing families, two-career couples, or retirees.

Scout the Neighborhood
It is important that you scout the neighborhood in person. You live in more than your house.

  • Talk to people who live there.
  • Drive through the entire area at different times of the day, during the week and on weekends.
  • Look carefully at how well other homes in the area are being maintained; are they painted, are the yards well cared for; are parked cars in good condition, etc.

Neighborhood Factors to Consider

  • Look for things like access to major thoroughfares, highways, and shopping.
  • Listen for noise created by commerce, roads, railways, public areas, schools, etc.
  • Smell the air for adjacent commerce or agriculture.
  • Check with local police, fire and school officials to find information about the area.
  • Research things like soil and water.
  • Look at traffic patterns around the area during different times of the day
  • Drive from the area to work.
  • Drive the area and look for parks, churches, recreation centers, shopping, theaters, restaurants, public transportation, schools, etc.
  • Find out if the neighborhood belongs to a Homeowner’s Association.

September’s Missed Opportunity for Giving

MissedOpportunitySeptember2013Every month on our Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter accounts, we share the missed opportunity for giving – the amount that could have been donated to the community if every Realtor® in the Austin area donated 25% of their commission the way that Give Realty’s agents do.

Given the total sales volume of $718,190,762.00 in the Austin MLS in September, the missed opportunity for giving last month was $10,772,861.43.

This money could have paid for 100% of the 2012 expenses of some of our favorite community nonprofts, including Austin Humane Society, CASA of Travis County, Meals on Wheels and More, SafePlace or Saint Louise House.

Talk about a missed opportunity…

Look for the “missed opportunity” every month on our Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter accounts.

How it Works

When you buy or sell a home, 25% of Give Realty’s commission is donated to the 501(c)3 nonprofit of the client’s choice. That’s right – YOU choose the recipient. Learn More

Change your address. Change the World.®