Monday, December 27, 2010

Tupac vs. the MLS

Another great interior photo from a property listed in the MLS. We have Tupac on one wall and if you look closely at the right wall, I think that's Biggie in the photo over the T.V.

I like to think that this room's inhabitant is in their own small way trying to ease Biggie and Tupac towards some type of afterlife reconciliation.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Knock Knock. Who's There? The Holidays.

The holidays are upon us. I feel more like the holidays are UP ON me, but semantics schmantics. I am not a holiday hater, but I have also never been one of those people that gets really into decorating or sets up a gift wrapping station in the guest bedroom. This year I did put up some little trees. Both artificial and one is black, so take from that what you will.

I know this is not a new or original sentiment, but my main "issue" with the holidays is that the year-round consumer culture that is so prevalent in America, is greatly magnified during the holidays. In year's past, I have participated in Buy Nothing Christmas and made gifts for friends and family. This year has been pretty busy and I can already tell that my approach to my holiday gift giving is going to be less handmade than in year's past. That got me to thinking about ways to shop locally and support the efforts of local artists, craftspeople and really, any business/person doing something unique or socially relevant. I have come up with a few recommendations that I think are worth sharing. If you have any ideas that you would like to share, PLEASE post them in the comments.
Places to Shop
  • Blue Genie Art Bazaar  has been around awhile and now over 300 artists have their wares on display. Lots of variety. I got a small painting of a cupcake here once and it was a big hit with the recepient---who loves cupcakes.
  • Community Renaissance Market   I just read about this place recently in my neighborhood newspaper. The concept is that this place is a "microbusiness incubator for people who want to start a business, but don't have a great deal of money to do so". It is located in what used to be the Albertson's on Westgate.  So, not only are they working to help small business, but they are making use of a space that sat unused for MONTHS! Also, this was started by a lady. Go lady business!
  • Cherrywood Art Fair  will have work by 80 artists and a portion of the proceeds go to beautifaction projects in East Austin.
    Giving the Experiential Gift
  • Check out Not That Martha. Local lovely, Martha Pincoffs is writing about food, catering it up and also teaching cooking classes! Cooking classes would be a fun group gift type deal. I can speak from experience...this girl can cook and she is super cool and fun to be around.
  • The Alamo Drafthouse is running a deal right now where if you buy $100 in gift cards, you get a $20 credit for yourself. Be a hero to that film geek on your list that loves to quote along to Roadhouse and drink $5 milkshakes.
  • Farmhouse Delivery offers local produce, meat, dairy, eggs and local artisinal products to customers in Austin. They will deliver to your house or office. Sustainability on your doorstep AND they are another lady owned and operated business! 
Charitable Gift Giving
  • HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) is an organization that helps uninsured musicians in our area obtain affordable healthcare. Their affililate the SIMS Foundation also does great work for the working musician community. We all love to hear live music, and by donating to HAAM/SIMS you can prove it!
  • Since 1974 SafePlace has been working to eliminate sexual and domestic violence. They provide services for men, women and children. SafePlace often needs volunteers as well---so there are multiple ways to give!
  • Communitites in Schools work to keep kids in school AT school. They work directly within the public school system to teach life skills and to provide alternatives to dropping out. They are also looking for volunteers and mentors in addition to donations.
We can define the holidays and gift giving on our own terms by opting out of the consumer frenzy that is all too common for many during this time of year and in doing so hopefully set good examples for our kids and our friends and our families.

Again, if anyone reading this has suggestions for unique gift giving, please share!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

That would never happen on House Hunters!

I don't have cable. I have access to it sometimes, but even when I do I have to admit I am not compelled to watch reality shows about folks trying to buy, remodel or redesign houses. I love my job and I spend a lot of time doing my job, so when it comes to "down time" I like to try to get a bit of a break from the business.

That said, I am familiar with the format of  TV shows like "House Hunters" and I had an experience this week and thought to myself---"Why don't you ever see this on a reality Real Estate TV show?"--To be fair I have had that thought before.

Often when I am taking buyers to view properties, the properties for sale will have alarm systems. Most of the time you will, prior to your visit, get the needed instructions for how to disarm and arm these alarm systems. Sometimes even when you have done all of that, something will have changed and that alarm will go off--- LOUDLY and repeatedly and you look like kind of an ass and your poor client(s) are under assault by the sound as they try to check the place out.

This happened to me this week and after multiple phone calls and failed attempts at disarming the alarm system, we went through the property and did our best. I already knew that these particular clients were really great, but I now know that they are also very cool under pressure and would probably do very well in a war zone---good people to know.

Does this ever happen on "House Hunters"? Hell no. Here is another list of things that I am guessing never happen on "House Hunters".

1. Realtor attacked by dogs/cats/rabid children

2. Realtor has gun pointed at her as she is asked to leave.

3. Realtor walks in on a naked guy.

4. Realtor narrowly avoids being stung by hornets INSIDE the house.

5. Realtor stumbles upon grow room.

The only thing on this list that has NOT happened to me is that I have not yet encountered any rabid children, but the day is not over!

Again, I love being a Realtor in Austin and I am rarely bored.  I do wonder if there would be a market for a reality show that portrays what I know to be the true nature of working in this business---if so, sign me up!

PS: It is worth noting that in the 15 minutes we were at the property with the alarm screaming-- the cops did not show up.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fun Fun Fun Fest 2010: The year Brandi is reminded of her age and her mortality

Fun Fun Fun Fest 2010 was the fifth year of a music festival that we are so lucky to have in Austin. It has a markedly more DIY (in the best way possible) and less corporate feel than the better known ACL music festival and the programming is more punk rock centric (hip hop, indie, metal and electronic music are also well represented). This year along with great acts like The Gories, Strike Anywhere, The Hold Steady, OFF!, Peelander Z, "Weird Al" Yankovic, The Bronx, Bad Religion, Deerhunter, The Casualties and The Dwarves---the Descendents were booked as a last minute replacement for Devo (who are also so GREAT) because they had to cancel due to a band member's injury.

The Descendents are a band that I loved as a young Brandi and still love as an older Brandi. My love affair with punk rock started around my 14th birthday and has waxed and waned over the years, but it is a genre of music I hope I will always have in the mix. It is rare that a band's music endures for me over really long periods of time. Not to imply that I am fickle, it's just that as we change and stuff happens/is happening in our lives certain music may speak to us more at one time than another. The Descendents wrote songs about food and girls and coffee mugs and not wanting to grow up and turn into boring jerks. They wrote songs about being yourself and questioning authority.

I may know myself better now than I did when I was 14, but I still sometimes have a hard time being myself and I am self employed primarily because I don't like being told what to do. I also really like food.

So, here's where I get to the part about being reminded of my age and my mortality. Because this was possibly going to be my only chance to see the Descendents play live I decided I needed to be near the front of the stage for the show. This is something younger Brandi would have done and therefore older Brandi--having been very in touch with younger Brandi over the past 48 hours---did and the result was the opposite of cool. The minute the Descendents started playing the crowd crush was dramatic to say the least, and I quickly found my feet literally off the ground (and I am really tall) as my body became not my own as it was absorbed into a mass of movement. The feeling was one of total lack of control and since I was pressed between what felt like 1000 lbs of weight I could not get the space or leverage to throw an elbow as I so jubilantly recall doing in my younger years. I realize now that when I was going to shows as a teenager I was often one of maybe 50-100 people in the crowd and that's totally easy to maneuver ---Sunday night was not easy to maneuver and along with not really being able to focus on the show, I was about to lose it if I did not get out of there. It is also worth mentioning it smelled really bad---really, really bad, which was weird because there was so much dust in my nose and it was not very hot outside.  I was able to grab the boyfriend just long enough to yell in his ear that I was getting out of there and that I wished him luck and good fortune.  Amazingly, once my mind was made up I successfully escaped the crush of the crowd pretty quickly and found a very civilized spot with a great view and proceeded to have my mind blown by one of the most fun shows I have seen in a long time. The boyfriend also escaped unscathed.
The crowd that would later crush me
Descendents at FFF

The whole FFF weekend was really great and even though I was reminded of my age and my mortality---that's ok. Sometimes I need reminding.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Austin Film Festival or A fun thing to do when it will not be 105 degrees outside

The high temperature in Austin today is going to be 105 degrees. This is not news. We have hot summers here and every year it's like I somehow forget how hot it gets. The same way women have evolved to forget the pain of childbirth so they will continue to procreate---I forget how hot it gets in August and do not plan accordingly. I guess my evolutionary path is meant to keep me in Austin. So, when it gets this hot I like to think about the other times of year here when the weather is so nice and then that got me to thinking about October.

The weather is awesome here in October. Breezy and cool and sunny. October is also when the Austin Film Festival happens! In recent years Austin has become a hotbed of film making activity and we count some pretty famous directors and actors among our permanent residents. I hear a lot of folks talk up the SXSW film festival, but I am telling you that the AFF is not to be missed.

I have gone for the past 3 years and plan on attending this year as well.  I have participated (and by participated I mean sometimes I was just present---sometimes I had a question) in Q. and A. sessions with Danny Boyle, Jason Reitman, and Diablo Cody. In my opinion, often the most interesting post film discussions are actually at many of the smaller narrative films and documentary screenings.

I am a huge film dork and I love going to the movies. During the AFF many of the screenings are at the Paramount Theater  and while the leg room may be lacking for this one and her tall self, the theater makes up for this small discomfort with it's gorgeous design and turn of the century pedigree. Screenings are also held at other theaters around town, so there are a lot of options.

The AFF also makes me reconnect with my city. During the 7 days it happens I find myself downtown more than I usually do and walking more from place to place. People are always really friendly and eager to talk about films they have seen or plan on seeing. All in all it's a great experience that I look forward to every year.

You should totally come get on my film dork train, there's plenty of room---and get yourself passes to the film festival.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My First Place TV Show Filming in Austin!

Hey first time home buyers! If you want to have your home buying process chronicled for a T.V. audience and get a free gift -check this out! I am working with some clients presently and we are looking into this, but if you or anyone you know is interested and they need a Realtor---send them my way!

From the Press Release:


Then HGTV is looking for you!

MY FIRST PLACE, HGTV’s hit series, is coming back for a ninth season and we’re looking for first-time homebuyers (and their agents!) in the Austin area RIGHT NOW!
We are looking for fun, high-energy people who are just starting the home-buying process for their first place and would like to share their story with HGTV! Our goal is to capture all the trials and tribulations of looking for, bidding on and buying your first place.
Taping takes place this summer. Ideal candidates will be enthusiastic buyers with a great story to tell and a desire to share their experiences. Singles, couples and families are all invited to apply!
Candidates who complete taping will receive a surprise housewarming gift as part of the show and also a DVD copy of their episode to document their first home buying experience for all time!

Request an application by emailing:

Or call cindy baggish at (303) 712-3093

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

East Austin Neighborhood Profile: French Place

Where can a food trailer selling BBQ and a 1900's Victorian coexist? French Place in Austin TX, that's where!

Geographically French Place is defined as the area between Manor and 38 1/2th, west of Airport Boulevard and east of I-35. French Place is also sometimes referred to as Cherrywood. Whatever you want to call it--in my opinion, this neighborhood is one of Austin's coolest places to live.

The houses here are older (30's and 40's mostly), charming and have good sized lots. Prices range from $250k-$375k.

The proximity to both Concordia University and The University of Texas makes this neighborhood attractive to students and professors and also makes it a good option if you are looking for a property to run as an income generating investment. The proximity to downtown is also very appealing to young professionals and really, anyone who wants to be close to the cultural centers of Austin.

The tree lined streets and eclectic architecture make this a great walking/biking neighborhood. You could never describe French Place as homogenized or ordinary. All along Manor Road you can find many great restaurants and coffee shops. There's Eastside Cafe where they serve vegetables grown in their awesome garden that you can stroll through while you wait for your table, Thunderbird Coffee has a great outdoor patio, good coffee and is a great place to work. I often schedule meetings there. El Chilito's tacos and agua fresca are so good and so affordable. And then, of course the new addition of Franklin's BBQ food trailer---get there early, they sell out fast.

In December, the Cherrywood Art Fair is a great place to get holiday gifts that are made by local crafters and artists. The Vortex Theater has youth programs as well as regular performances. All in all there's just a lot going on in and around the French Place neighborhood.

So, if you are looking to be in a neighborhood that is in a great urban location and has tons of personality, consider French Place!

Contact me if you would like more information about French Place or other Austin neighborhoods.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

South Austin Neighborhood Profile: Southwood

I am working on a series of  Austin neighborhood profiles. Those of you who know me, know that South Austin is where I live and often work---so it seemed like the best place to start!

Do you like to avoid IH 35? Do you like Sno Cones? Do you like to go to a corner store that is not corporate owned? Would you like to have a couple of chickens? Do you value space over status? If so, Southwood could be the neighborhood for you!

Geographically, Southwood is defined by Ben White Boulevard to the North, Manchaca Road to the west, W. Stassney Lane to the west (to the RR tracks) and to the east, South First Street including the greenbelt surrounded by Williamson Creek east of the intersection of South First Street and Emerald Wood Street .

You see a lot of bumper stickers around town promoting the virtues of South Austin and their corresponding zip codes and there is an undeniable sense of neighborhood pride that exists south of the river. South Austin represents a lack of pretense and harmony for many of it’s residents and I am really proud to count myself among them.

In recent years,  home values in the Travis Heights, Bouldin Creek, Zilker and SOCO neighborhoods have increased greatly, pricing out many first time home buyers. In my experience, those buyers are heading south of Ben White and it’s easy to see why.

In Travis Heights a 2 bedroom / 1 bath house under 1000 sqft can cost $350,000 and up. It will probably be really awesome and charming. It will be within walking distance to all kinds of cool stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I love Travis Heights and the surrounding neighborhoods, but for many folks this is not a viable financial option.

In the Southwood area you can find a 3 bedroom / 2 bath house, 1200 sqft + with some good yard space for under $225,000! A majority of the houses were built in the 60’s and 70’s. These eras  don’t always conjure up charm and style for many folks (much like the 30’s and 40’s era houses do), but these properties have great potential and many creative folks are making great design choices and are realizing that you don’t have to sacrifice style for space.

This neighborhood is also shaping up to be a good place to invest. We have seen very healthy appreciation in this area in the last 5-7 years and there is no indication that it won’t continue.

People who want to buy in the Travis Heights, Bouldin Creek, Zilker and SOCO neighborhoods, but can’t--don’t want to go north, so south of Ben White is where they are choosing to live. It's easy to get to downtown and avoid IH35, Central Market and a Newflower Market are nearby, there are many parks and public pools around, and lots of taco stands and sno-cone trucks.

Contact me if you would like to know more about Southwood or other South Austin neighborhoods.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Austin is voted super bad ass, again.

Kiplinger's magazine, the source for all things financial, loves to make best and worst lists. I really love these lists because I, much like many of us in this day and age find that I suffer from information overload and lists are a great way to present information in a concise way. The quality of life in Austin is something that is often mentioned in the media and those of us who live here understand why. There's lots to do here indoors and out, the people here are friendly and the local economy has weathered the recession very well.

Well, look out decade to come because Austin is on track to own your ass! Read more about Austin being voted the top city to be in the coming decade here!

Also in recent "Austin is rad" news, yesterday the Austin City Council voted to rename 2nd Street after Willie Nelson. Look, I know that there are bigger and more important issues before our city council, but the fact that we live in a city that will name a street after a pot smoking, tax evading musician is fine by me! Read more about the street name change here. I hope we get a Kris Kristofferson Avenue next!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And the "Thanks for Nothing Award" goes to---LOST!!!

Let me begin by saying the only television shows I have ever watched in their entirety are Freaks and Geeks and The Wire, and now LOST.  I like T.V., but I am also very aware of the dangers it presents (time wasting, brain rotting, Fox News, weight gain, etc.), so I don't have cable and only watch television shows on the internet or on DVD. I try to limit the amount of television I watch so that I can avoid the previously listed dangers, but also so that I never feel like a slave to a show. My free time is really important to me and I don't want the way I spend my free time dictated by the T.V. Guide. Then LOST happened and all my high-minded personal philosophies went out the window. I was hooked on LOST from the beginning, like crack, or cake, or late night trips to the CVS (I really love going to CVS, a lot.)

Oh LOST, you were so intriguing and mysterious in your infancy. In the early days LOST was a perfect mix of science and mysticism with really interesting characters that you cared about. There was a potentially science (?) based cult/subculture (The Dharma Initiative), characters named after philosphers (Hume, Locke, Rousseau), polar bears, a smoke monster and flashbacks! The flashbacks to the characters lives pre-crash were always super interesting making this viewer get really invested in what was to become of these castaways.

Granted, it got really weird into the later seasons. Time travel, dead people coming back to life, shifting allegiances that made no sense, the island disappearing! I, much like other folks, got the sense that the writers did not have a grand mythology that they had planned out and would conclude in a way that--for the viewers would be revelatory, but instead they were making it all up as they went along. Many people quit watching for just this reason, but not me---oh no, this sucker was (as I mentioned earlier) hooked, and I was not ready to quit--I had not yet hit my bottom. If I had known what the LOST finale had in store for me I think I would have been able to quit LOST cold turkey. Cold turkey people.

When I was in the 4th grade I read all of the books in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series and when I got about halfway through the series I had a sneaking suspicion that the stories were allegorical but I wasn't certain. At this moment you may be thinking "It was so obvious that those books were about God and C.S. Lewis was a theologian, duh." Well, 4th grade me did not know about Mr. Lewis and his other writings and their theological significance.  Anyway---when I finished those books and had a very in depth conversation about their deeper meaning with my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Olmstead, my suspicions were confirmed and I felt tricked and manipulated. The conclusion of LOST makes me feel the exact same way!

(Spoiler alert--if you have not seen the final episode of LOST and you still want to be suprised stop reading now)

They are all dead. Dead, dead, dead.  The final scene takes place in a church with all of the Oceanic "survivors" we came to know over the course of the series reunited and hugging and smiling and blah blah blah. Jack is the last to arrive, as it was hardest for him to "let go". This whole "letting go" theme was very prevalent in the episode's lead up to this final scene. The room which Jack uses to enter the church is decorated with stained glass and objects that are meant to represent the symbology of many of the world's religions which I found to be such a pandering move on the writers' part.  I know that there are a lot of viewers and pop culture journalists that really liked this ending, but this viewer had hoped for more. I don't think that the writers were purposefully trying to put forth a religious agenda, but while I was watching it unfold---it felt that way for a moment, and I was thrust back to 4th grade and the indignation I felt at being tricked by Mr. Lewis and realizing that Aslan was not just a talking lion, but a representation of Christ. I hope that the writers just got in over their heads and maybe got lazy or maybe they could not in good conscious assign a scientific explanation to polar bears in the tropics and smoke monsters.  Regardless, tying the conclusion to the afterlife with some nods to religion just feels cheap and easy to me.

In conclusion I will contradict my post title and say- thanks LOST for the good stuff and for helping me hit bottom.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The days when I love my job even more....

I am presently working a deal with a buyer client and one of the CONTRACTUAL stipulations of our agreement with the seller is that my client buy the seller a sixer of Arrogant Bastard Ale at or prior to closing. This stipulation was initiated by the seller and that is the total jam. I love my job most days, but when stuff like this happens, I love it even more.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Reason to Love Austin --- Knitta Please!

For Art Week Austin Magda Sayeg knit bombed Trominski's blue signs on South Lamar. Driving into the office this morning, on South Lamar--  I actually felt lucky that traffic slowed enough for me to spend some time enjoying the transformed blue signs. I hope there is a time in the near future when I get to meet Magda. I am an amateur knitter at best, but Magda gives a girl inspiration! I love that she is bringing the art of crafting into the larger arts community. Read more about Magda and her plan for world domination one knit and purl at a time on her awesome blog KnittaPlease.

Turner Residential makes the Ellen Degeneres website!

My brokerage, Turner Residential, regularly advertises in The Onion and recently one of our print advertisements was featured on the Ellen website!

Check it out here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


In the real estate business your clients are everything. No clients, no business, no business, no late night shopping sprees on iTunes. I am really fortunate to have a lot of cool clients who then refer their cool friends, family and co workers to me and the cycle of being around fun and interesting people continues!

My clients needs are sometimes very similar but often they aren't. At any given time I could be working with a buyer that wants a move- in ready place, a seller that is looking to downsize or an investor who wants to buy cheap and sell high. In any of these scenarios or in any real estate transaction--the key to successfully getting a client what they want is clear and honest communication on my side and theirs.

I was thinking about the way I communicate with clients and people in general recently. Specifically, I was thinking about the way we perceive ourselves and then communicate this perception and how sometimes our perceptions may differ from reality. I see this manifested in the client-Realtor relationship most often with first time homebuyers who perceive themselves to be fixer upper types.

The idea of taking something rough and making it into something lovely and all your own is such an inticing idea and I fully understand why it is so appealing to people, especially creative people. DIYing is also very attractive financially to many people. "Sweat equity" is a term that exists for a reason.

Ok, so here's the straight dope. Everything will be harder and more costly than you thought it would be, a total remodel will take up all of your time and if you are living in the property while remodeling, it will suck. If you are cool with all of that, you should totally do it. Also, just like with everything in life there are degrees of difficulty and ease involved in making changes to a property. For example-- pulling up carpet is easy, but installing a sink is harder than you might think!

This brings me back to my original discussion about how we perceive ourselves. It is so important that clients engaged in the home buying process are honest with themselves and their Realtor about who they are as people, what they like to do on a daily basis and what they hope to achieve from home ownership. I meet many clients that initially want a fixer upper, and once they get out and look at properties that need work and they start to be more honest about who they are and how they want to spend their time, they discover that remodelers they are not. It is always interesting how people come to this realization.

So, what I am getting at is that it's always good to be honest with oursleves about who we are, but it is not always easy. I want to be the person that can knock out a wall, plant a garden, fix the dishwasher and give myself a home perm all at the same time, but I am not that person. It has taken me quite awhile to admit that--but now that I have, I am better at the stuff I am good at doing.

If you work with me, I will ask you all kinds of questions about your lifestyle and what you want out of your home. Questions like :

How important is it that you are near places you can walk to and get a coffee or the paper or whatever?

Do you need lots of yard space for gardens, dogs, babies, bunnies, chickens, underground tunnels etc.?

Have you ever painted a room?

Did you take wood shop in High School and if so, did you do well?

Have you ever been inside an attic space? Did it freak you out?

Are you REALLY going to cook every meal at home or do you have Pizza Hut on speed dial in your phone? You can tell me and I will not judge you.

And last but not least---Do you need help with that home perm? I am available. I am a FULL SERVICE REALTOR.

Those questions are kind of a mix of silly and serious, but I think you get the point. It is not just the "am I fixer upper or not" question that we need to ask ourselves when we are shopping for a home, but the "how do I want to spend my time and what is important to me about where I live" type questions that require a lot of self awareness to answer honestly.

I am here to help you get there if you aren't there already.

Oh- and PS: I have been in more attic spaces than I can count and I still get a little freaked out. Every time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Austin Woman Magazine -- Who are these women?

While enjoying an awesome birthday on Monday, I came across Austin Woman Magazine in the waiting room of the place where I was having a massage (an awesome gift from an awesome guy, the massage--not the magazine).

I have seen this magazine in the past, but had not formed any strong opinions about its content. The primary mission of the magazine, as far as I could tell from reading it and then from a visit to the website, is to profile, promote and support strong and interesting women making contributions to Austin in the worlds of business, community, the arts, etc... This all sounds really good to me. The website refers to women like Liz Carpenter and Molly Ivins as inspirational.

So, imagine my disappointment when every other advertisement in this magazine is for a plastic surgery center. Seriously, like every other ad. I would assume from the number of these ads that the readers of Austin Woman magazine all have augmented breasts and are hard at work dealing with their varicose veins. If the readers are indeed spending time and money on surgeries and "beauty" treatments --where do they find the time to affect change in their businesses and their communities? While resting up after the last tummy tuck?

It is no news flash that women in our culture are confused about how to feel about the way we look and how we age. There are very few places where we can find positive reinforcement about dealing with these issues in an organic and enlightened way. Many women feel that they must look a certain way in order to be successful and to stay competitive in their chosen professions. I know that this is a very commonly held belief among women working in real estate. I feel very lucky to be able to run my business successfully and find fulfillment in my work in t-shirts and jeans and without a nose job.

Now, I would imagine that running a magazine is hard and to run a magazine you must have ad revenue. Can you turn away advertising dollars because you don't agree with the product for sale or the message it sends? Would that constitute censorship? These are all questions that I don't have answers for, but I do know this--plastic surgery and appearance are not a part of the conversation when it comes to men and the way they do business or participate in their communities. If there are any men out there that disagree with this, I would love to hear from you.

To be clear, nowhere in the Austin Woman magazine mission statement does it state that the publishers are feminists or supporting a specifically feminist agenda. In a conversation with a colleague about this subject HE made the observation that plastic surgery and feminist ideals could coexist. I wonder what Liz Carpenter would have to say about that and I wonder if I have blown my chances of being featured in Austin Woman magazine? :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Marijuana Law for Musicians

Charlie Roadman is a friend and client. I helped him and his family buy their current house and sell their old one. I like the idea of being able to use this blog to promote my real estate business as well as the endeavors of my clients, especially when they are doing cool stuff. On April 19th, 2010 Charlie will give his 5th annual "Marijuana Law for Musicians" presentation at the Mohawk. You can read more about him here, and below is an interview with Charlie that appeared in the ONION.

If the mere mention of April 20 (a.k.a. 4/20) makes you giggle, chances are you could do well to heed the advice of Charlie Roadman. A local musician (he fronts the Wilco-esque band F for Fake) and promoter, Roadman is also an attorney whose pet cause is defending people accused of marijuana violations — particularly musicians, such as Los Lonely Boys' JoJo Garza. In what's become an annual tradition on this stoniest of days, Roadman conducts a seminar called "Marijuana Law For Musicians," a humorous PowerPoint presentation in which he details many of the dos and don'ts of getting busted in Travis County. The A.V. Club recently spoke with Roadman about the common law violations musicians face, how not to get arrested (and what to do if you are), and what it's like being one of the town's most visible defenders of marijuana.

The A.V. Club: How does your being a musician aid you in defending them?

Charlie Roadman: I understand that $100 is a lot of money, which a lot of attorneys don't. And I've hung out with musicians all my life, so pretty quickly we can have a dialogue that doesn't have the dominant position of lawyer and client. [When I started], I thought there would be a lot more musicians getting arrested, and there really aren't. I think they're too busy making flyers and rehearsing to get in trouble.

AVC: Besides marijuana violations, what are musicians commonly in trouble for?

CR: DWIs, mostly. One of the things I talk about in my seminar is that — even though it seems funny to drive while you're stoned — if the officer thinks you're high, you will get a DWI, and that's not easy to get out of.

AVC: How would they decide that you're high?

CR: The eyes and the smell mostly. They're always looking for it. Then there's the field sobriety test.

AVC: What would spur them to give a field sobriety test?

CR: For them to let you go, they have to be willing to rish their job. They'll never, ever get in trouble for arresting people. So when they ask you to do the field sobriety test, nine times out of 10 they've already decided that they're arresting you, and they're just trying to gather evidence. Those tests are not designed for you to pass.

AVC: Let's talk about one of the most famous local cases: Matthew McConaughey, which you use in your seminar. What could he have done differently?

CR: The thing he did wrong was resist arrest and refuse to put on his clothes. He's an example of absolutely what not to do. He's standing there totally nude, screaming at these cops, "Get the fuck out of my house!" Don't resist. Don't be terrified to go to Travis County jail on a marijuana charge. You're gonna get out in eight to 24 hours, barring a few variables. You don't have to join a gang to stay alive, or whack anybody to prove you're a man. You can usually get a class C ticket if you haven't pissed off the cops, if you have a job or go to school, and haven't said too much that's incriminating.

AVC: But in McConaughey's case, it was his celebrity that got him off?

CR: Absolutely, yes. The punch line to my "Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Marijuana Conviction" is "Be a movies star and number one UT football supporter."

AVC: What about people whose celebrity is linked to marijuana? How is it that Willie Nelson isn't always in jail?

CR: [laughs] I have no idea. If it were you or me, we definitely would have been arrested. Cops don't want to arrest Willie Nelson, but really, the whole criminal justice system is based around people not wanting to lose their jobs.

AVC: So do you philosophically disagree with marijuana prosecution?

CR: There's no way I could prosecute somebody for any drugs, but absolutely not for marijuana. The first marijuana case that came across my desk, I'd dismiss it and I'd be fired. The system is really effective at stopping people from being cool. And not just marijuana, but the way we handle all drug users. If this culture ever has an enlightenment, 200 years from now, they'll look back at this and go, "Those guys were barbarians."

AVC: Do you think marijuana will ever be legalized?

CR: It pains me to say it, but I don't have faith that it will. There's just no rationality to it at all. Luckily in Travis County — which is a little bit of California surrounded by Alabama — you have the possibility that someone on the jury will be like you or me. So if prosecutors aren't reasonable in the plea bargain for a marijuana case, defense attorneys can say, "We're going to jury trial and we may win." You don't really have that option in Hays or Williamson County.

AVC: By putting yourself out there with these seminars and proclaiming yourself as a "defender of marijuana," do you find you're under closer scrutiny?

CR: People do the same thing with DWI charges, and that's a lot riskier in terms of public reaction. I think that people in Travis County smile when it's marijuana. The judges don't even want to deal with it. But they can't not deal with it, or the next time an election comes along a candidate will say, "My opponent is soft on drugs." It's a hypocrisy that everyone wishes they didn't have to deal with you, but it's not possible because of the bureaucracy. I wish it were.

But then you might be out of a job.

CR: That's okay. I could do something else.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Growing up in my family, the only real shared tradition was something that happened on Sundays called "Bloody Mary Morning", inspired by the song of the same name. It was pretty cool and allowed for a lot of observation of adult behavior that I found to be entertaining and sometimes funny and gross all at the same time. Some examples would be my uncle Jerry removing his false teeth on command, my grandfather telling stories that involved gun purchases made in parking lots in Mexico, and political discussions that were neither stimulating or progressive. I had not thought about these Sundays in a long time, but now that I have a Sunday tradition of my own I was reminded of the good old days (wink wink).

For the better part of a year, every Sunday morning/early afternoon I have been going to eat Dim Sum at this really authentic place here in Austin. I know that Austin TX and Chinese Dim Sum may seem like an incongruous marriage, but I assure you it is super tasty, really authentic and my new favorite tradition. I go with my boyfriend and sometimes other friends. My boyfriend and I are both super busy types so it's really cool that we have this immovable thing that we do on a weekly basis. We both feel very protective of it and if work/social obligations threaten it's occurence we both get very anxious. I know this may sound dramatic, but we both take food pretty seriously, for reals.

The other thing about having something that you do at certain times regularly is that it starts to give those interactions more meaning. The people that run the restaurant where we go for Dim Sum know us now and we have conversations with them and look forward to seeing them. They make suggestions for us, allow my boyfriend some space at their counter for him to leave postcards promoting a show he put on during SXSW and in this way become a part of our lives. I mean, I am not saying that if I were in jail or something I would call Yen from T and S Seafood to bail me out, but it's a big world with room for all kinds of relationships.

So, thank you Dim Sum and my boyfriend and my friends for helping me start my own tradition that I look forward to every week and that does not involve anyone removing false least not yet.


The following comes my way via Penelope Trunk's awesome blog (find it in the links section). I am generally wary of systems that advise a one way approach to matters as subtle as negotiating, but I like the BATNA idea in particular and it allows for flexibility. I think that women in business are faced with very specific challenges when it comes to negotiation practices. We are taught from a young age to please/placate and there is also the matter of our biology. We are wired to caretake and this can sometimes make negotiating challenging. In my line of work I am negotiating on behalf of my clients everyday and each situation is so unique, but I do think that being armed with some clearly defined strategies is a leg up---no matter what your gender! I hope you find this information as compelling and useful as I do.

Penelope writes:
So I was excited when I had the opportunity to interview the author of Getting toYes, William Ury. He's director of the Global Negotiation Project at Harvard, and his new book is The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes. Here are his five best tips for doing well in negotiations.

1. Take a break.
Ury calls this "going to the balcony" in order to get a big picture handle on what's going on so that you are not getting too worked up over irrelevant details. He says, "When we negotiate when we're angry we give the best speech we'll ever regret."

2. Know your BATNA.
This is negotiator-speak for "best alternative to a negotiated agreement." That is, if you have to walk away, what's the best you can get? This tells you how much power you have in negotiations. The person who needs the agreement the least has the best BATNA and the most power.

3. Put yourself in the other person's shoes.
Ury describes negotiation as an exercise in influence. "You need to change someone's mind, so you need to know where they are right now." This means listening more than talking. And the first question to ask is Why. You will hear their needs, but you need to know the underlying cause for the need. For example, if your boss wants you to work a 16-hour day. To negotiate with your boss, you need to understand why – what needs to get done in those hours. Maybe you can get it done a different way.

4. Learn to say no.
"In order to get to the right deal, you need to be able to say no to the wrong deal. Saying no is fundamental to the process of negotiation."
Tip from the department of great-if-you're-him: Warren Buffet once said that he doesn't understand "getting to yes" because he just says no until he sees a perfect yes. Buffet says you only have to give four or five great yes responses in his work in order to be a billionaire.

5. Be clear on your values.
For those of us who might not see a perfect yes, deciding on no is more complicated, and we have to be really clear in our own minds about what we value and what we need. Sometimes a no is surrounded by a deeper yes. For example. You say yes to the values, no to the tactics and yes to going forward. Ury calls this a positive no. But he warns that if you're in doubt, then the answer if probably no.

What I take away from Ury is that good negotiation is a combination of good self-knowledge and good people skills. And, not surprisingly, this is the combination that gets you a lot of things in life.

There are opportunities in each of our lives to practice negotiations constantly – even, as Web Worker Daily points out, in email. You can do it with a spouse, with a boss, with your neighbor who doesn't clean the yard. The better you get at the small stuff, the easier the big moments of negotiation will feel.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Investment Property Update: Austin Texas

Here is some really good information about buying and running investment properties in Austin.

Outlook for Rest of the Year

Along with the stellar Spring weather comes the historical high point of the real estate sales season. Several factors suggest that 2010 will continue to see surging demand for small multifamily real estate in the Central Texas area:

Reasons for Optimism:

• Central Texas unemployment is the lowest in the US at 7.2% and continues to drop. (link to As we've said many times, job growth is the single most important factor in real estate values. And our jobs are good ones. Most recent announcements of thousands of new jobs include Facebook, Yingli Solar Energy, and Hangar Orthopedics.
• Interest rates remain at all time lows.
• Our prices remain relatively affordable compared to other cities with a similar quality of life in other areas. U-Haul rates from California to Texas are still twice as expensive as rates in the opposite direction.
• We continue to be heralded in national publications as the best city in the U.S. for whomever and whatever (you name it). After watching the swarms of people attending this year's South by Southwest festival, I wasn't surprised to hear that $100M is injected into our economy every year from this event alone.

Potential Pitfalls:

• The $8,000 homebuyer tax credit expires April 30th. Some fear that the market will slow without this incentive, but I don't see the expiration as deeply reducing demand.
• The Federal Reserve will soon stop buying mortgage backed securities. This will almost certainly increase mortgage interest rates, though probably not too steeply.
• The Double Dip Recession seems increasingly unlikely, but remains a potential threat.
• Pressure to reduce the deficit will eventually require Washington to make some tough choices about taxes such as long term capital gains and possibly the mortgage interest deduction (which would both have an impact on real estate prices). Given how politically unpopular such moves are, however, we probably will not see any action here until 2011 or beyond, when the recession is an increasingly distant memory.

Remember, the days of rapid appreciation are gone, and will not return any time soon. Investors should always assume that real estate prices will rise in tandem with job growth and inflation. The more vibrant the area's economy, the more people moving to the area for jobs, and the more people buying real estate.

The Golden Rules of Property Investment Revisited

• Income must exceed debt service and operating expenses.
• Equity appreciation is nice, but should never be the primary factor in acquiring real estate.
• Focus first on cash flow, then on neighborhood, then on property.
• Working class neighborhoods are fine if they're in the path of progress and not at the end of their life cycle with deteriorating demographics.
• Like most experienced Central Texas investors, I like to stay as close to Central Austin as reasonably possible
• Keep a vigilant eye on operations.
• Are you protesting your appraised value with the county each year?
• Are you holding your property manager and leasing agents accountable for their performance?
• Make readies and maintenance shouldn't be eating up more than 20% of your monthly rental income.
• Don't raise rents! Wait until the tenant moves out, and then readjust to slightly under market value for the next tenant. Vacancy is the worst enemy of cash flow. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish.

Help Save the Cathedral of Junk

The Austin landmark, the Cathedral of Junk is in danger of being outlawed! Read more about it here---