The Good Life in Austin Texas

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First Day of School

Big Yellow School BusSitting on the low stone wall, our eyes meet and he flashes us a nervous grin and anxiously looks around at the other kids and parents sitting and loitering nearby. The year is 1995 and we are waiting at the bus stop for the big yellow school bus that will take our son to his very first day of school at Forest Trail Elementary. There are several other "first timers" and their parents along with a half dozen students ranging in age from 7 to 11. In a moment, we hear the roar of the bus as it heads around the corner and comes to a stop in front of us. The doors noisily slide open and the kids begin to file on one at a time. My wife squeezes my hand as we watch him climb on board as he turns and waves goodbye. Her tears begin as the bus pulls away and I gently tease her and say, "It's okay, you want to follow the bus to school?" We both laugh and then immediately run to our car and pull in behind the bus with several other like-minded parents forming a wagon train, following the bus to school! On our drive I keep telling her he will be fine and not to worry and she laughs while crying and reminds me that our "baby boy" is growing up! I'm still laughing and agree and all is well until we pull up in the school lot, park and watch him bound off the last step, smiling and so excited to be at school. Then it happens to me...big salty tears pour from my eyes as my wife and I hug and watch the scene. Yes, as intense as my business persona can be at times...I do have a soft spot for my family and the well being of others.

This week that scene will be repeated to various degrees in the Eanes School District where we call home and all over the country! Actually we moved to the Eanes School District when our son was only 3 and our daughter was about a month away from arriving in the world! At my previous real estate firm located in Westlake, I volunteered at several of the schools and was impressed with just about EVERYTHING I saw. Every school had great teachers, staff, administrators, a wonderful curriculum, healthy, active parent involvement and dedication to excellence on every level. After talking it over with my wife, we began looking for a home in the area and moved in 1992. This year the Texas Education Agency has rated every school in Eanes, EXEMPLARY and all of the schools consistently perform at the highest levels! Here is an interesting detail: Only 60% of the residents in Eanes have students in school however the rest stay because the quality of the schools contributes to keeping the property values up! As a matter of fact, our daughter is a senior at Westlake this year (something she is exceedingly proud of) and when she leaves for college next year, we also intend to stay in the district. Not JUST because of the schools but they are a major factor.

For more information on all of our excellent schools, please click on the links provided that will take you to the District Site as well as each of the individual schools where you will have access to an incredible amount of data and resources! And if you have a chance, volunteer, they can always use the help!

Eanes School District Web Site

Barton Creek Elementary                   Bridgepoint Elementary                      Cedar Creek Elementary

                                        Eanes Elementary                     Forest Trail Elementary

               Hill Country Middle School                                              West Ridge Middle School

                                                                Westlake High School

 

Alright...now fast forward to last week. Our son asked me to accompany him as he drove back to college to begin his sophomore year. We all had a good summer together but as some of you may know about teenagers, it was T I M E for him to return to school. On the way up he mentioned that he had not really had a chance to mentally prepare for his next year and leaving home again. This came as something of a surprise to me because he has always loved travel, adventure and has an ardent streak of independence. He just said he was still something of a "homeboy" and talked about how much he loved us and being home...Anyway, after a 7 hour drive we arrived at school, unloaded and got him moved in to his fraternity house (That's another story all together!) and then it was time for us to head for the airport. As in the past everything was FINE until I took one last picture of him at the drop off area and he hugged me. When I started to relax my grip, he hugged me just a little harder and then it started...big, warm, salty tears which I tried to blink away but to no avail. I tried to mumble something and he smiled and said, "It's alright Dad, I am just on the edge myself." And so it goes, anyone who has even a modicum of love for their children must experience something like this to some extent and his Mom and I are just grateful that he and his sister have been gifts to us AND that they have the opportunity to receive a good education!

School is back so watch out for those children!!!

 

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52 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • September 03 2009 06:31PM

The Real Tragedy of General Motors Bankruptcy

1963 Corvette ConvertibleGeneral Motors...Bankrupt? Say it ain't so...I have been reading a lot of articles and watching the talking heads go on and on about the fall of General Motors and frankly think most of them have missed a vital and key component as to WHY the company failed. That is until this morning, when I read P.J. O'Rourke's excellent treatise in the May 30th issue of the Wall Street Journal. See the article in its entirety here : The End of the Affair. The commentary reveals that Detroit lost its soul and passion when it allowed the bean counters and corporate bureaucrats to take over the business and let simple economics rule over the passion and romance that Americans have with their automobiles. I do not care what generation you are from, we all have special times, memories and emotions attached to our relationship with cars!It's part of the fabric of our society on every level!

I think everyone remembers  Drives Ed. class, the first time you were allowed to take the family car, the purchase of an automobile and all of the different events that take place regarding a car while growing up. I mention this while also keeping on mind the events that can occur within the confines of a car whether it is moving or parked...Long before I was old enough to drive I enjoyed racing model "slot" cars at our local hobby shop in my West Texas town. When I was 10, my favorite model was a VERY COOL, 1963 Corvette Convertible. I remember holding it, polishing it, racing it around that local table top track and it was as real an experience as I could ever imagine without actually driving. I think that this is inherent in almost all children (certainly with boys) to some degree. When our son was between ages of 2 and 5 we would let him get behind the wheel of one of our cars (No keys, emergency brake on, windows down and one of us nearby keeping an eye out) and he would happily spend a couple of hours turning all the buttons, switches, levers and standing at the wheel "driving". All the while making assorted noises and sound effects to accompany his outing. We actually have a Ford 1996 Mustang Convertible GT (I know, it's not GM but it's an American muscle car) that, I refuse to part with because it is so much FUN to drive, but please do not ask about the gas mileage?!?!?

All that said, I think each of us has a special relationship with our automobiles and as a Realtor, I certainly spend a lot of time in mine. Mr. O'Rourke goes on to explain that this relationship between Americans goes back to the time when horses were our means of transportation. " Politicians, journalists, financial analysts and other purveyors of banality have been looking at cars as if a convertible were a business. Fire the MBAs and hire a poet. The fate of Detroit isn't a matter of financial crisis, foreign competition, corporate greed, union intransigence, energy costs or measuring the shoe size of the footprints in the carbon. It's a tragic romance-unleashed passions, titanic clashes, lost love and wild horses." I could not agree more but as with all things a balance must beachieved. Honestly. look at cars made in China, Russia and many people recall the hapless "YUGO" ! Strictly utilitarian cars are NOT what American consumers are all about!  Yes, I do understand the need for conservation and safety and a dozen other reasons why big muscle cars should be the exception and not the rule but it is clear to me that Governmental busybodies and corporate incompetence  did more to bring General Motors down than anything else. I do not know what is in store with the next General Motors incarnation but I certainly have the fervent wish that creativity, artistry and a little romanticism are allowed to re-enter the equation. For heaven's sake, Germany and Italy, representing the pinnacle of both creativity and artistry have done extremely well with a line of incredibly sexy and hyper engineered designs. America can, by acknowledging a look toward the incredible minds and resources we have can make a comeback as the world leader in automobiles.

In the meantime, I will continue enjoying the guilty pleasure of driving that Mustang as I turn on my blinker, tap the gas pedal and and roar into the left lane before the psychotic  driver  of the tiny BMW attempts to cut me off...It's a good life here in Austin, Texas!

 

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126 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • June 04 2009 07:45AM

Lost Creek Open House-6667 Whitemarsh Valley-Sunday,May 31st 1:30-3:30

I list and sell homes in all parts of the Eanes School District but I particularly enjoy working in Lost Creek! Why? Because Lost Creek is where my family has called home since 1992. Lost Creek, situated  south west of the intersection of  Bee Caves Road and Loop 360, is an excellent neighborhood of  homes ranging from $400,000  to $800,000. The neighborhood lies within the acclaimed Eanes School District and which includes Forest Trail Elementary (the home of Healthy Bear), West Ridge Middle School and Westlake High School. Lost Creek is situated  comfortably near plentiful shopping, Lake Austin water sports, Wild Basin Preserve and three world class country clubs. Many of the homes sit on estate sized lots with many amenities and the area is definitely one of Austin's premier upscale neighborhoods.

6667 Whitemarsh Valley is a lovely one story brick home on a large, beautifully landscaped flat lot !  For an exceptional overview of the home, click on the VIRTUAL TOUR .  

This is an awesome home BUT DON'T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT! Come on out and take a look for yourself and visit with me about any questions you might have regarding this or any other home in the Eanes School District. I will be at the home on Sunday May 31st from 1:30-3:30pm and I look forward to seeing you there!
 
Russell Lewis | AvenueOne Properties, Inc. | 512-657-8769
6667 Whitemarsh Valley Walk, Austin, TX
Rare opportunity in the Lost Creek Neighborhood! Beautiful one story home on a landscaped flat lot! Excellent condition with many upgrades!
4BR/2.5BA Single Family House
 
offered at $479,500
Year Built 1984
Sq Footage 2,445
Bedrooms 4
Bathrooms 2 full, 1 partial
Floors 1
Parking Unspecified
Lot Size 0.22 acres
HOA/Maint $0 per month

DESCRIPTION

New on Market! Rare opportunity and the Lost Creek Neighborhood at its BEST! Beautiful one story home on a wonderfully landscaped flat lot! Excellent condition with many upgrades throughout and ready to move in! Hardwoods, granite, newer paint and roof, lighting, and many quality features! Bright open floor plan that provides for easy living in a well designed lay out. Convenient to shopping and located in the award winning Eanes School District.
 

see additional photos below
PROPERTY FEATURES

Central A/C Central heat Fireplace
Walk-in closet Hardwood floor Tile floor
Family room Living room Dining room
Breakfast nook Dishwasher Stove/Oven
Laundry area - inside Balcony, Deck, or Patio Yard

COMMUNITY FEATURES

Playground    

 


OTHER SPECIAL FEATURES

Fantastic neighborhood in the Eanes School District!

 

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS


Exterior Front

Living Room

Family Room

Kitchen-Breakfast

Master bedroom

Backyard
Contact info:
Russell Lewis
AvenueOne Properties, Inc.
512-657-8769
For sale by agent/broker

powered by postlets Equal Opportunity Housing
Posted: May 26, 2009, 1:16pm PDT

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34 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • May 30 2009 07:58PM

Too Busy to Blog, But I Am Not Complaining...

I have been busier than a one-legged man in a butt kickin' contest. (Author unknown)

The view from my deckI finished my morning run yesterday and while resting my "dogs" out on our deck, I had a few moments to relax and contemplate blogging and the real estate market here in Austin, Texas. Last July, when I first started "blogging", the real estate business in Austin, Texas was pulling back and beginning to feel the first effects of the many problems that have plagued real estate, banking and the other financial areas in all parts of the country. Through the fall and the first months of 2009, the market remained flat and actually dropped a bit as more problems surfaced.

When business is slower, it's an excellent time to reexamine our production, our business model, work on our SOI and engage in marketing in anticipation of future business. During the  months since last summer, I slowly began to delve into the world of on line social networking by joining LinkedIn, Squidoo, Twitter, Face Book and most importantly, Active Rain! In that time I s-l-o-w-l-y learned to find my voice and write posts that would hopefully contribute to the Active Rain community as well as help promote my presence and relevance online in my areas of expertise here in Austin! Over time I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of friends and professional relationships I have established through my blog!

I have also been able to gain more business as a direct result of my blogging and hopefully it will continue to grow as I stay involved. And that's the challenge! I was taught by Rich and Brad that to be successful at blogging, a person needs to post regularly and maintain quality. I suppose I could post every listing in my company (as I often see from some of the real estate "teams") or just throw something -anything out to fill the void but I think in the long run folks actually do not care for this type of blog and quickly move along. If anything I do need to write about real estate more often and on a REGULAR BASIS!!

Now here is my so called "problem", Austin is experiencing dramatic activity these days (at least for my office and me personally). Austin has recently rated #1 for employment opportunities, Forbes magazine ranked Austin #8 for communities to do business, Jumbo Loan restrictions are beginning to relax a bit, and Texas for the 4th year in a row is the number 1 state for population growth. All of these things bode well for our community and our business. As a consequence, I have had no time at all to post lately and barely enough to keep up with many of the blogs I read on a regular basis. I am flattered when I check my blog and see that people leave comments wondering if I am alive or will ever post again! Anyway, I am back to posting again but as long as the market stays busy, I will have to make an extra effort to write something at least twice a week.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know is interested in buying or selling a home in Central, West or Southwest Austin, Texas, contact me at your convenience. Real Estate is alive and well in our fair city!

 

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Architecture at the Umlauf Series - Thursday May,7th 7:00PM

 

The final event of the first first half of the Architecture at the Umlauf Series season (before taking a break from the summer  heat) and will take place Thursday, May 7th.

The monthly series was founded and is produced by two of my associates at AvenueOne properties; Scott Harvey and Carla Umlauf (granddaughter of the esteemed sculptor) and is sponsored by our firm, AvenueOne Properties. The lectures take place at the beautiful Umlauf Sculpture Garden and the series is now in the middle of its hugely successful third season.  Camille Urban Jobe, AIA is the featured speaker. There is a minimal charge of $5.00 for the event but is free to museum memberss.

Architecture at the Umlauf

Thanks again for your continued interest and support!

 

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26 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • May 07 2009 07:31AM

The Trials & Trepidations of picking a…Business Card?

I recently had an agent visit my office to drop off a contract offer. The receptionist called me and I went to the reception area but could not find the agent among the half dozen people in the sitting area. Returning to my desk, the receptionist called me again and said "Russell, are you going to meet with this agent?" I explained to her that I had already been up front but did not see anyone resembling the lady who was supposedly in the lobby. Our receptionist lowered her voice and said, "Well...she does not look a thing like the picture on her card!" Okay, I said, just discreetly point her out when I come back up to the reception area! Arriving again, I met a person who had no resemblance to the photo on her card, website or blog!

Business cards can be a big deal to people in any profession, especially when starting any new venture and I was reminded of this when I recently read a post by Active Rain newcomer and fellow Austinite Daren Krause about the subject of business cards. So many people (including myself many years ago) go to such extremes trying to decide what type, shape, size and style will best represent them to the world! In Daren's post he included the following YouTube clip and I have to say it is hands down the most over the top sales pitch for a business card that I have ever seen. Go ahead, it's only a couple of minutes long and you really need to see this commercial for the "ultimate" business card.

See what I mean? This guy is the most incredible huckster I’ve seen in a long time and that card?!?! OMG! (as my 16 year old daughter would say) a fold out, flip up, die cut piece of “art” at four dollars apiece and took TWENTY FIVE YEARS to develop? So cool that we would want to keep it and maybe even frame it for posterity? I still do not know what he does except that he somehow builds crowds?!?! Well…so did the Frankenstein Monster, of course those crowds were angry torch wielding villagers! There must be a market for this sort of over the top business card but I am not always the sharpest knife in the drawer and I must be missing something! I thought his statement that “Life is not about being liked” was interesting; he appears to be on the road to phenomenal success in that department!

So that brings us back to the business card that works best for an individual. For me, I do not use a picture and yes, I actually look like my photo! My card is of good stock, I guess and is designed to fit our company logo and style but it really is just for contact info. Name, numbers, email and web address all in a pleasant style and quality that reflects a positive image for me and my company. Again, I think it is an individual choice and will only say that if you do use a picture, make it one the rest of us will recognize and if you pick one of the $4 super fantastic works of art, don’t bother leaving one with me, I usually use extra business cards to mark interesting recipes in my favorite cookbooks!

In the meantime, if you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate anywhere in Central, West or Southwest Austin or the Westlake/Eanes School District area, I would be happy to be of assistance. Let me put my nineteen years success helping upscale buyers and sellers in Austin's finest neighborhoods to work for you. Contact me for a private consultation at your convenience!

Mobile 512-657-8769

 

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WORRIED ABOUT THE SWINE FLU EPIDEMIC? Wash Your Hands...it's NO JOKE!

Russell spreads the word about hand washing!I watched with interest as President Obama during his first hundred days address, state that one of the main things that could help thwart the spread of the current Flu virus was to wash your hands! He said it more than once for a reason. Many people do not take it seriously but it is a FACT! The CDC in Atlanta has determined that the Number 1 way that disease is spread throughout the world is from people NOT washing their hands often and correctly!

Now, I happen to be something of an expert on this particular issue...No Really! Previously I have written about my experience when I described my work Giving Back to Your Community as a School Volunteer. I discussed my role as a health care volunteer dressing up as "Healthy Bear" and teaching classes of kindergarteners and first graders why and how to correctly wash their hands. The fact of the matter is that people everywhere  take hand washing for granted.

If you really want to avoid catching any sorts of contagious diseases,  here are some easy to remember steps:

1. Turn on the water, warm, not hot and rinse your hands.

2. Soap your hands thoroughly and work up a lather.

3. Vigorous scrub your palms, the tops of your hands, the fingers and finish around your wrists!

4. Do this for about 30 seconds. A good rule of thumb is to sing the chorus of Here we go round the mulberry bush. Just change the words to "This is the way we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands" Or if you can think of something that works for you, sing it! Just make sure you are soaping you hands vigorously for at least 30-45 seconds!

5. Rinse hands under a stream of water pointing hands down for the water to carry away the dirt and germs down the drain.

7. Completely dry your hands with a clean dry paper towel!

OH, he also mentioned, cover your mouth when you cough! Respect yourself and others around you!

That's it, easy as pie. Just do as Healthy Bear says and as I have told the school kids since 1993; Do yourself, your friends and family a favor!  Wash your hands correctly and often! Thanks for stopping by, you may now return to your regularly scheduled program!

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63 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • April 29 2009 08:21PM

Rob Roy on the Lake Open House-1001 Elder Circle-Sunday, April 26 2-4PM

Rob Roy on the Lake, situated between Bee Caves Road and Lake Austin, is one of six subdivisions: with the Rob Roy name.  The neighborhood lies within the acclaimed Eanes School District and which includes Barton Creek Elementary, West Ridge Middle School and Westlake High School. Rob Roy on the Lake is comfortably near plentiful shopping, Lake Austin water sports, Wild Basin Preserve and two world class country clubs. Many of the homes sit on estate sized lots with many amenities and the area is definitely one of Austin's premier upscale neighborhoods.

1001 Elder Circle is a lovely "Texas Traditional" of lime stone construction surrounded by approximately two acres of hill country land that include panoramic views of Lake Austin from nearly every room. A spacious master suite is located on the main floor along with a gourmet kitchen that includes granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. This is an awesome home BUT DON'T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT! Come on out and take a look for yourself and visit with me about any questions you might have about this or any other home in the Eanes School District. I will be at the home on Sunday April 26th from 2-4pm and I look forward to seeing you there!

1001 Elder Circle

If you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate in the Rob Roy Neighborhoods or anywhere in Central, West or Southwest Austin or the Westlake/Eanes School District area, I would be happy to be of assistance. Let me put my nineteen years success helping upscale buyers and sellers in Austin's finest neighborhoods to work for you. Contact me for a private consultation at your convenience! Mobile 512-657-8769

 

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26 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • April 25 2009 12:24PM

4511 Edgemont Drive - Open House - April 19th 2-4PM

Sunday, April 19th2009. I will be holding open another exceptional home in the Balcones area; one of Austin's finest neighborhoods. This is a wonderful and inviting one story brick home that has been renovated and updated. The floor plan offers great separation of bedrooms with the Master and beautifully appointed Master Bath located on the opposite side of the home. The remodeled kitchen features stainless appliances and a huge granite island that opens to the family room. A wall of windows overlooks the spacious backyard and gardens. The home backs to camp Mabry offering quiet and privacy.

Take advantage of this incredible value and a $70,000 MAJOR PRICE REDUCTION!

I will be on-site between 2pm and 4pm Sunday afternoon so please drop by for a tour of this exceptional  property. If you have questions or are unable to attend or to schedule a private showing, I can be reached at my mobile number listed below. Thanks, I look forward to seeing you there!

4511 Edgemont Drive

If you or anyone you know is anticipating purchasing or selling real estate in the Balcones Neighborhood or anywhere in Central, West or Southwest Austin or the Westlake/Eanes School District area, I would be happy to be of assistance. Let me put my nineteen years success helping upscale buyers and sellers in Austin's finest neighborhoods to work for you. Contact me for a private consultation at your convenience! Mobile 512-657-8769

 

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29 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • April 18 2009 08:03PM

Architecture at the Umlauf - Lecture Series - April 2nd

The third season of the Architecture at the Umlauf Series is underway and will the next event take place Thursday, April 2nd.The monthly series was founded and is produced by two of my associates at AvenueOne properties; Scott Harvey and Carla Umlauf (granddaughter of the esteemed sculptor) and is sponsored by our firm, AvenueOne Properties. The lectures take place at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and takes place on the first Thursday of each month during the series.   This month, Burton Baldridge is the featured speaker.  Catering will be provided by The Kimber Modern & Di Lux. There is a minimal donation of $5.00 for the event but is free to museum members.

Architecture at the Umlauf April 2nd, 2009

 Thanks again for your continued support I look forward to seeing you there!

 

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40 commentsRussell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI • March 31 2009 01:28PM