Episode 72, Part 2: Learning About The Hudson Bend Neighborhood

Local real estate agent Amy Kramer describes the diversity of the Hudson Bend neighborhood in North Austin. Listen to the full segment below!

Local realtor Amy Kramer is one of the experts on the Hudson Bend neighborhood, located in North Austin by the Mansfield Dam. Amy raves about the neighborhood's diversity in types of homes, affordability, and access to BOTH Lake Austin and Lake Travis, as the neighborhood transcends across Highway 620.

 If you're looking to buy a home in a great school district with amazing scenic views in a hilly neighborhood, look no further than Hudson Bend! 

If you have any questions about Hudson Bend or would like to discuss buying/selling a home, please call Amy Kramer at (402) 639-3360 or email her here

If you have questions on the mortgage side, please contact John Schutze or Andrew Thurston by calling our office at (512) 524-8310. 

Amy Kramer of Coldwell Banker

Amy Kramer of Coldwell Banker

Episode 72, Part 1: Home Partners of America, with Amy Kramer

John Schutze & Andrew Thurston welcomed Realtor Amy Kramer from Coldwell Banker to discuss the unique lease-to-own program called Home Partners of America. Listen to the podcast or read more from the conversation below!

"This company is trying to answer some of the challenges in the industry with millennials getting into houses," Amy says. "A lot of studies show that millennials just don't feel that they're ready for home-ownership, but past generations have been ready at this point in their lives, so really the industry as a whole has been saying: What can we do to get them into homes?"

"So Home Partners of America said, 'What if we buy houses that people would want to lease, and give people the option to lease it for up to three years, and then decide if they want to purchase it or not?'" 

"They only buy homes in hot markets and in good school districts, so they look at it as buying a sure-bet home, and they will only buy it if someone actively wants to lease it. So consumers would look for homes for sale in the $200-500k range, as long as it's in a solid school district." 

"You aren't required to want to buy it, but you can go in and lease that home and the homes up for sale are often more desirable than homes that are up for lease. So you can get a great home in a lease program!" Amy says.

How does it work?

"You go through an application process very similar to what you would go through if you were looking to lease an apartment or home, and once you get approved by HOme Partners, they try to go and buy that home. The consumer has nothing on the line with this - if Home Partners buy the home, they give you a payment for a one, two, or three year lease, and it goes up nominally for each year."

"What I love about this program is that they lock in a home price increase of 3.5 to 5%, and as you know home prices in AUstin have been going up 6-9%. So if you said, 'Hey, my credit isn't great right now so I can't get a mortgage" - if you're establishing your credit but want to get into a home, you'll know exactly what you'll be paying in rent and how much it would take to purchase that house," Amy says. 

"What's incredible to real estate agents is that Home Partners is an all-cash buyer, and that is usually winning in competitive bidding situations in Austin," Amy says. "If there are improvements that need to be made, you can still work through Home Partners to get that."

"At first, real estate agents were reticent because it sounded too good to be true, but it really has shown itself to be a great answer to those who are in that in-between stage, not quite ready to purchase but know that they want to get into a home."

Can you get out of it if you decide you want to leave?

"You're only required to stay one year, just like any other lease," Amy explains. 

"So overall, this would be helpful for those establishing credit, or if they're wanting to save up for a down payment," John says. "Having that sense that you will one day own this home is pretty huge for a lot of people. We have a lot of clients where that's a big motivation for them, and parents just want to give their family some stability and not do a one-year lease again, or live in a community that's mostly leases."

To apply with Home Partners of America, all you need to do is contact a real estate agent like Amy Kramer who will get you the application to start the process. 

To reach Amy, give her a call at (402) 639-3360. If you have questions for John or Andrew, give our office a call at (512) 524-8310. 

Amy Kramer, of Coldwell Banker

Amy Kramer, of Coldwell Banker







Episode 71: The Leasing Market in Austin

Anita Spadaro with Realty Executives joins the show to discuss the Austin leasing market, rental rates, and more. Listen to the podcast or read more below!

What's the leasing market in Austin doing right now?

"It's still going up," Anita says. "A lot of people are moving to Austin and wanting to lease before they buy a home, which I understand. Austin is still booming! But sometimes people are in an apartment and want to move to a house and see what it's like to be in a house before buying it."

"Let's just say you lease for five years and pay $1500 for rent," John says. "Multiply that times 12 payments by five years, that's $90,000 in rent payments they've made. If you instead buy the home for the same monthly payment, you could have been earning equity and saving money that whole time!"

If you're thinking about leasing a home long-term, advice from both our mortgage brokers and realtor Anita Spadara would be to think about purchasing instead!

Anita also took time to discuss the value of Veteran Loans in Georgetown, Texas - did you know that Georgetown is just as close to Fort Hood as Temple? Active military residents and veterans can find plenty of benefit in a VA home loan. 

If you are looking to buy or sell a home, please contact Anita Spadaro at anitasellsaustin@gmail.com or give her a call at 512-771-1443!

If you have further questions about VA home loans or any other type of loan, contact John Schutze here or Andrew Thurston here - or give our office a call at (512) 524-8310. 

Property Inspection Waivers Save Time and Money!

Did you know that Supreme Lending offers Property Inspection Waivers? 

The Property Inspection Waiver (PIW)...also known as an Appraisal Waiver...is a great benefit that can save buyers money. Certain low-risk transactions - mostly refinances - allow the lender to waive the appraisal, though they are only applicable on mortgage loans approved through an automated underwriting system. 


There are a number of transactions eligible:

  • Conventional Loans only, not applicable to FHA, VA or USDA loans.
  • Purchase and Rate/Term Refinance loans:
    • primary residences
    • second homes
    • investment properties
  • Single-Family homes
  • Condominiums

If a lender receives a PIW offer on a loan casefile, are there situations in which the lender would still need to obtain an appraisal?
Yes. There may be certain situations in which a lender needs to obtain an appraisal, even though a PIW was offered on the loan casefile. 

Examples of when an appraisal would need to be obtained include the following:

  • The lender has reason to believe that fieldwork is warranted based on subsequent events such as a hurricane or other natural disaster.
  • The lender is required by law to obtain an appraisal.
  • The mortgage insurance provider requires an appraisal.
  • There is evidence in the purchase contract that the home needs repair. 

Is there a charge associated with the PIW?

Yes. The total charge is $225 when the PIW is exercised. This is half the cost of a typical appraisal. 

If you have any questions or want to see if your loan could qualify for this waiver, please contact John here or by calling his office at (512) 524-8310. 

Episode 75, Part 2: Lakeway Real Estate

Chadwin Barley of Keller Williams continues to guest host the show with John Schutze and Andrew Thurston. This segment, they talk about Lakeway real estate.

"Austin has become so regional in a lot of ways, and Lakeway seems to be its own region now," John says. 

"When I moved out there 15 years ago, we didn't even have a Target. Now, we have a mall, and all kinds of other retail places and places to hang out with friends," Chadwin says.

"What's a price point that people will get into in Lakeway?" ANdrew asks.

"We have lots of opportunity for the million dollar buyer, but fortunately some things have been opening up - especially down 71 near Spicewood, we have lots of new construction that gives an entry point that's a little more accessible. ANd right across the street from the new development in Lakeway, there's a cute little area called The Preserve where you can get in under $300k," Chadwin explains.

"We do have the Regional Lakeway Medical Center out there now, which has brought a lot of value to our area. A lot of those professionals as well as people who are retiring are finding they can live out in West Austin and still access the things they need," she continues.

What kind of inventory is out there for someone looking for a home under $400k?

Things come and go all the time, but when I did a search for under $400k I found just short of 50 properties available, and a good handful of homes were built in 2016, so you're looking at some new construction options in that price point," Chadwin explains.

"A lot of the more affordable homes are new construction homes, I've noticed," Andrew adds. "A lot of times people looking for that price point are finding newer homes."

"In my particular neighborhood, homes don't come on the market too often, but there are sellers," Chadwin says. "If you're looking for something unique but the MLS isn't showing activity in that area - that's not to say that homes haven't sold or aren't selling in the area. You want to work with someone who's willing to knock on a homeowner's door and ask if they're willing to sell."

"There's always sellers, just like there are always buyers - just sometimes, you have to do a little digging to make that connection happen."

If you have questions about Lakeway real estate or are looking for help selling or buying a home, contact Chadwin Bailey at chadwin@heartandsoldaustin.com or give her a call at (512) 589-3251. 

If you have any lending questions for John or Andrew, give our office a call at (512) 524-8310!

Chadwin Barley with Andrew Thurston.

Chadwin Barley with Andrew Thurston.



Episode 75, Part 1: Is The Austin Real Estate Market Shifting?

John Schutze and Andrew Thurston welcome guest Keller Williams agent Chadwin Barley to the show to discuss the possible Austin real estate market shifts. Listen to the podcast or read more below!

Keller Williams agent Chadwin Barley with Loan Officer Andrew Thurston.

Keller Williams agent Chadwin Barley with Loan Officer Andrew Thurston.

What's the word on the street as far as the market shifting?

Gary Keller recently spoke about this topic, and his intention is to encourage his agents under his umbrella to treat their job as a profession and not as a hobby, so he's there to encourage us to be doing what it takes to stay on top of things. So nationwide, we are looking at a little bit of a slowdown, but fortunately in Austin, those numbers are different.

"There are still over 100 people moving here every day, and we might see a little bit of a slowdown compared to recent years, but the the home market is definitely not going to take a dump," Chadwin says.

"So would a seller be more worried about this?" Andrew asks.

"Sellers are worried, of course, because they want to know that their home will sell and they won't have to worry about two mortgages at one time," Chadwin says.

"I work all areas of Austin, but West Austin and Lake Travis are my main stomping ground and things are always a little bit slower compared to the rest of Austin," Chadwin continues.

"West Austin is typically a higher price point than the rest of Austin," Andrew adds. 

"The truth is, the luxury market tends to slow down before anything else does, however it has been protected in Austin. Our employment in Austin and in Texas is higher than the national average - a common indicator of things slowing down is unemployment rate and Austin is way below the national average at an unemployment rate of 3.6%. So, you have to bear in mind that all statistics show that we're going to continue to expect growth here in Austin," Chadwin explains.

"There are so many renters out there that want to buy, so there's no shortage of demand here," John adds. "This is nothing like a bubble." 

"The demand is real," Andrew says. "We're at 50-year lows for home-ownership rates - so there are less people owning homes now than there have been historically. I think there has been a lingering effect from the recession and there's still a little bit of fear in some people about home buying, especially from younger folks, but all signs point to a stronger market next year than this year. Now is a good time to buy!"

"Newer people to Austin from out of state want to familiarize themselves with the area before they buy, so the lease market is incredibly strong," Chadwin says.

If you have questions for Chadwin or are looking to buy/sell a house soon, contact her at chadwin@heartandsoldaustin.com or give her a call at (512) 589-3251.

If you have questions on the lending side of things, feel free to give John or Andrew a call at our office at (512) 524-8310. 

Episode 74, Part 1: Trending Neighborhoods in Austin

John Schutze and Andrew Thurston were thrilled to welcome born-and-raised Austin realtor George Vance McGee to the show to talk about the core of Austin and which areas of the city might be the next "it" place to move. 


"A lot of the newer residents moving here don't really know the neighborhoods or where they should live," George says. "I try and do my best to politely and helpfully educate them as far as knowing local information and where might be the best fit for them."

"If budget isn't an issue, and you just want to buy a house in austin, what price range would you need to be in?" John asks. 

"That's a great question because our neighborhoods, Old Enfield, Tarrytown, Westfield - those older central parts of Austin are definitely the most expensive. Just for an empty lot out there, you're probably paying $600-700k just for the dirt! But that central core of Austin is a very sturdy piece of the puzzle."

"Central Austin is king - it's almost like beachfront property somewhere else. As you go out further from the core, home prices get lower. Different neighborhoods are a better fit depending on the individual person, I mean, a lot of this is how comfortable you'd be with a longer commute." 

"Where is the next big spot, where can I find the next South Congress or the next downtown?" John asks. 

"From what I'm seeing showing and hunting properties, I see a demand for Central East Austin from renters - millennials and the tech industry are very healthy here and they are into that area. You can walk to rainey, you can walk downtown, you're near the park, there's retail and things to do on the East Side now."

"An area that has a lot of room for appreciation is Southwood, which is just south of 290," George continues. "There's a new project kind of like the domain, called Saint Elmo, and you can get a house there for $250k, so that's an area where I think there's some room for appreciation."

Another great area to look in is the North/Central market, like Anderson & Steck, you can get a full 2 or 3 bedroom house for $350k or less. 

If you're interested in discussing this further or have real estate questions, please contact George Vance McGee at 512-657-9281 or georgevance@gmail.com.


Solving The Austin Affordability Crisis

It’s no secret that Austin is in the midst of an affordability crisis for low-income to moderate-income families. While most people are aware of the challenges we face as a city, Austin leaders have had trouble finding solutions that will appease this problem any time soon.

Traditionally, a balanced housing market has 6 months of inventory; currently, the City of Austin has 2.3 months of inventory available, which has led to an average median home price of $341,000. Yeah - not exactly affordable for the Average Joe!

However, a recent affordability seminar led by the Austin Alliance for Economic Inclusion offered up some insight into what local organizations and the City of Austin are doing to alleviate affordability problems in the near future, as well as resources that can help families looking to buy now.

HousingWorks Austin

HousingWorks is a local nonprofit that aims to increase the supply of affordable housing in Austin by providing education, advocacy, and housing policy recommendations. The nonprofit has come up with a 5-step plan to keep Austin affordable:

1. Preserve the current housing

The City of Austin is home to 18,500 subsidized housing units. But there are more than 65,000 unsubsidized housing units that are currently providing below market rent. We need to preserve affordable housing — both subsidized and unsubsidized — so that we have sufficient affordable housing stock today and into the future.

2. Invest & Expand

In 2013, voters overwhelmingly approved $65 million in affordable housing bonds. These local dollars are critical to increasing affordable housing stock. With the $55 million 2006 housing bonds, we were able to create or preserve more than 3,400 affordable homes. We need to continue and expand the wise investments that our community makes into affordability.

3. Leverage Investments

Every dollar from the 2006 affordable housing bonds was leveraged with an additional four dollars in outside funds. The local economic impact of the 2006 housing bonds will be $865+ million over the next 10 years. It’s a great return on investment. We need to stretch our scarce housing dollars by continuing our impressive record on leveraging.

4. Foster Partnerships

When we build schools, designate transit-oriented districts, offer economic incentives to private companies, we need to ensure that affordable housing is part of the equation.

5. Include Everyone

The Land Development Code rewrite — CodeNEXT — is our opportunity to shape what gets built, where it gets built, and how it gets built. HousingWorks recognizes that well-located density, streamlined development reviews, and a simple and predictable development process will increase affordability in a broad sense. But in order to achieve true affordability, it is imperative that onsite, inclusionary affordable housing policies are implemented across the city and in a range of housing types.

What exactly is CodeNEXT?

CodeNEXT is a City of Austin initiative to revise the Land Development Code, which determines how land can be used throughout the city – including what can be built, where it can be built, and how much can (and cannot) be built.

Our existing Land Development Code was written nearly 30 years ago when Austin's population was half the size it is now, and it has become overly complex after being amended hundreds of times over the years to accommodate unforeseen issues. The Code needs to be changed to help us create the kinds of places we want, as identified in Imagine Austin, and to address critical issues such as diminishing natural resources, household affordability, and access to healthy lifestyles – to name a few.

The Code will play an important role in guiding the future growth of the city. The opportunity to update our Land Development Code means more than making it simpler to use and understand; it means creating a framework to help improve our quality of life.

What are resources to use in the meantime?

Down Payment Assistance Programs

These programs can help the home-buying process a lot easier by reducing or eliminating down payments when closing on a home. There are several available to choose from, each with different interest rate options and assistance levels. Check out the links below to see which program might be the best fit for you, or give John Schutze a call at (512) 524-8310 to learn more.


-Travis County Hill Country Home


-My First Texas Home TMP 79

-Seth 5-Star Advantage

-Texas Homes for Heroes

-Neighborhood Housing & Community Development 

Other Resources & Education Classes for Homebuyers:

Frameworks Community Development 

Frameworks Community Development acquires bank owned foreclosed homes, rehabilitating the homes, and making them available to families for affordable homeownership or rental housing.

Frameworks also offers home buyer education and counseling, which helps families understand the home-buying process and how they can attain home ownership. 75% of homebuyers say they find the process complicated, creating a need for more education classes and resources.

In addition, they also offer Financial Literacy Education programs to allow families and individuals to gain control of their resources, manage credit, and address debt issues.

You can call Frameworks at 512-385-1500 for more information. Frameworks offers their homebuyer education classes the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Saturdays of every month. Classes in English are held on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month from 8am-4pm. Spanish speakers can attend the 3rd Saturday for a class in Spanish from 8am-5pm. Classes are FREE!

Habla espanol? Usted asiste a la clase de educación en el tercer sábado de cada mes!

Business & Community Leaders of Texas (BCL of Texas)

Business & Community Lenders of Texas is a nonprofit economic development organization providing business lending, SBA and community development programs.

BCL offers:

-Financial Counseling & Education

-Pre-Purchase Homeownership Counseling

-Homebuyer Education Classes

-Foreclosure Prevention Counseling

-NeighborhoodLIFT for Greater Austin, which can provide down payment assistance funds.

If you have questions about any of the above services or would like more information on down payment assistance programs, please email John or give our office a call at (512) 524-8310. We'd be happy to help!

Episode 73: First-Time Home Buying with Vicki & Michael Chuck

In this episode, John Schutze is joined by Horizon Realty's Team Chuck, with Vicki and Michael Chuck. The duo will be hosting a first-time homebuying seminar near the end of October - listen in for more details and a timeline you should follow when considering purchasing a home in the next year.

Did you know?

If you have not owned a home within the last three years, you are considered a first time homebuyer, which is a great thing!

"If you have questions about buying your first home, we will be hosting a first-time homebuying seminar," Michael Chuck says. "The event will take place Wednesday, October 26th from 7-8pm at the Cedar Park Library located at 550 Discovery Blvd off 1431. If you are coming to the seminar, you’ll find out information about why you need a real estate professional in your corner, how to find the home that is perfect for you, and how much home you can afford. Plus, we'll have door prizes!"

"We’ll also talk about some great down payment assistance programs that are out there," John adds. "We’ve got some programs where you can make six figures and still get assistance! Rates are so amazing right now that it’s just the time to buy."

“Rents keep going higher and so are home prices, so the best time to buy is right now,” Vicki says. 

“I don’t think the prices are going to go down anytime soon,” John adds.

“The Austin area is phenomenal – I’m talking to a few agents in California, and the tech jobs are definitely moving here.”

If you have questions about purchasing a home for the first time or would like to start the process with a professional real estate agent, please contact Vicki or Michael Chuck at (512) 903-7102 or visit www.teamchuck.realtor

Great Timeline for Buying a Home:

12 Months Out

Check your credit score.  Get a copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com.

The three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) are each required to give you a free credit report once a year.

Determine how much you can afford.  Lenders look for a total debt load of no more than 43% of your gross monthly income (called the debt-to-income ratio).

Make a down payment plan.  Most conventional mortgages require a 20% down payment. FHA offers loans with only a 3.5% down payment.

9 Months Out

Prioritize what you most want in your new home.  What's most important in your new home? Proximity to work? A big backyard? An open floor plan? Being on a quiet street?

Research neighborhoods and start visiting open houses.  This is where you can use the services of your Realtor to efficiently find homes for you.

Budget for miscellaneous home buying expenses.  Start the good habit now of putting a little aside each month to fund maintenance, repairs, and home emergencies.

6 Months Out

Collect your loan paperwork.  Banks are very particular when it comes to mortgage loans, so it's important to speak with a lender to determine what they will need to provide a loan.

3 Months Out

Get pre-approved for your loan.  At this point, if you've been following this timeline, your credit score, paperwork, and down payment should be on track.

Start shopping for your new home.  One you're pre-approved, your Realtor will be able to target homes that meet your priorities in your price range.

2 Months Out

Make an offer on a home.  It usually takes at least four to six weeks to close on a home.

The Chuck Team in action on TALK 1370AM! 

The Chuck Team in action on TALK 1370AM! 

Episode 72, Part 2: The Double Up Mortgage

We all know it can be hard to afford a home in the expensive Austin market right now, so why not buy a home with a friend and save on rent? Listen in to hear more about the Double Up Mortgage and why you may want to give it a try.

"It's really almost no different than buying a home as a married couple," Loan Officer Andrew Thurston says.

"We review the credit, income, and assets the same as we would with any couple, and there's almost no negative with it," John Schutze says, though fellow loan officer Kristi Rendon reminded us that it is much more serious to be getting a mortgage with a friend than it is to just sign an apartment lease - though legal agreements could be drawn up to help, if necessary.

"However, people in the millennial age range don't usually consider buying a house with their friend - and it's a great kickstart to start earning equity so when they do leave that house, they can create a nest egg for their next home," Kristi says.

Loan programs such as Fannie Mae's Home Ready Program are also available, which allow you to count income from your roommate to qualify for the property - without them having to sign the mortgage. 


Low down payment: Up to 97% LTV financing for home purchases.

Flexible sources of funds: 

  • Can be used for the down payment and closing costs with no minimum contribution required from the borrower’s own funds (1-unit properties).
  • Income from non-borrower household members considered as a compensating factor in Desktop Underwriter® (DU®) to allow for a debt-toincome (DTI) ratio >45%, up to 50%.
  • Rental unit and boarder income.
  • Non-occupant borrowers, such as a parent.
  • Borrower is NOT required to be a first-time buyer. 
  • Gifts, grants, Community Seconds®, and cash-on-hand permitted as a source of funds for down payment and closing costs.

Affordable and cancellable monthly MI: Reduced MI coverage requirement above 90% LTV; cancellable MI per Servicing Guide policy.

Homeownership course: The online Framework® course prepares borrowers for sustainable homeownership; other education and advising options are available.

Nontraditional credit is allowed: Supports manufactured housing up to 95% and HomeStyle® Renovation (approved lenders) up to 95%

If you are now considering purchasing a home with a friend or significant other, please feel free to contact John, Andrew, or Kristi or call (512) 524-8310 to learn more about how we can help!

Episode 72, Part 1: Is It Cheaper To Rent or Own a Home in Austin?

The Schutze Team debates: Is it now cheaper to rent a home in Austin than buy? Listen in and let us know which side you're on!

With the pricey market in Austin right now, the Schutze Team is divided on whether it's cheaper to rent an apartment or buy a home. Our loan officer Andrew Thurston believes the long-term benefits of owning a home outweigh the upfront cost, but the rest of the team thinks that it's just flat-out much more expensive to purchase a home in the current market than to rent an apartment until home prices level out.

Andrew's reasons for why you should buy a home instead of rent:

  • Tax Benefits: Buying a home may help reduce your overall federal tax payment due to mortgage insurance being tax-deductible
  • Long-Term Appreciation/Build Equity: When you own a home, you are earning equity and a future nest egg that you can't earn by renting an apartment

"It's a sales tactic to tell people that you can buy a home for the same monthly payment that you pay for rent, and that's just not true in Austin right now," John says. 

What do you think? Is it worth it to buy a home in Austin right now? Weigh in in the comments, or give us a call at (512) 524-8310!

Fannie May's Home Ready Loan Program

We've got great news for buyers with lower and moderate incomes! Thanks to a new product from Fannie Mae, creditworthy borrowers with lower incomes can now access an affordable mortgage. 

Key Features: 

Low down payment: Up to 97% LTV financing for home purchases.

Flexible sources of funds: 

  • Can be used for the down payment and closing costs with no minimum contribution required from the borrower’s own funds (1-unit properties).
  • Income from non-borrower household members considered as a compensating factor in Desktop Underwriter® (DU®) to allow for a debt-toincome (DTI) ratio >45%, up to 50%.
  • Rental unit and boarder income.
  • Non-occupant borrowers, such as a parent.
  • Borrower is NOT required to be a first-time buyer. 
  • Gifts, grants, Community Seconds®, and cash-on-hand permitted as a source of funds for down payment and closing costs.

Affordable and cancellable monthly MI: Reduced MI coverage requirement above 90% LTV; cancellable MI per Servicing Guide policy.

Homeownership course: The online Framework® course prepares borrowers for sustainable homeownership; other education and advising options are available.

Nontraditional credit is allowed: Supports manufactured housing up to 95% and HomeStyle® Renovation (approved lenders) up to 95%

If you're interested in learning more about the Home Ready program or would like to see if you're eligible, contact John here or by phone at (512) 524-8310. 

Episode 71: Reasons to Refinance ASAP

Does your current home interest rate have the number "3" in it?

If your interest rate is in the 4's or higher, listen to the podcast below or keep reading to find out why John Schutze & Andrew Thurston think you should consider refinancing now: 


A refinance is essentially getting a new mortgage to replace your original one - only with a better interest term and rate. A lower interest rate can save as little as $30 to hundreds of dollars off your monthly payments. Your original loan is paid off, allowing you to create a new loan. Refinancing can also allow for you to take cash out of your home for large purchases.

Heads up: Most mortgage companies require borrowers to maintain their mortgage for at least one year before refinancing. 


  • Lower monthly payments: If you plan on living in your home for the next several years, refinancing will be worth it when it comes to savings on your monthly payments. However, if you are planning on moving elsewhere in the next couple years, you may not break even with your refinance & closing costs. It's important to calculate your "break-even point," which helps you decide if a refi is the best option for you financially. 
  • Get rid of pesty PMI: If you bought your house and put less than 20% down, you are most likely required to pay private mortgage insurance. As the value of your home increases, borrowers may be able to drop their PMI with a refinanced loan (as long as it's not an FHA loan). Be sure to ask your lender if this is an option for you!
  • Cash out some of your home equity: As your home increases in value, the opportunity for putting it to cash also increases. You can use a cash-out refi to help purchase a new car or pay down credit card debt. Bonus: This option is also often tax-deductible!


Refinancing generally includes lender fees, title company fees, and the cost of a new appraisal.


  • Current interest rates: Right now, rates are lower than ever, so it's a great time to consider a refi! 
  • Jumbo loan: If your original mortgage was a jumbo loan, but the current balance of your loan is under $417,000, you may be able to get a "regular" refi with lower rates.
  • Credit score changes: If your credit score has improved since your initial mortgage, you may now qualify for a lower rate! 
  • Home Equity: The more equity you have in your home, the easier it is to get a refi. If you haven't been in your home too long, you may want to wait it out; but if you've earned quite a bit of equity, you're much more likely to qualify for a refi with great terms.

Episode 70, Part 2: What Makes The Boutique Real Estate Unique

Andrew Thurston of Supreme Lending & Noa Levy of Boutique Real Estate discuss her company and what separates them from the rest when it comes to Austin real estate.

What demographics does Boutique Real Estate represent?

"We started out as a downtown firm helping young professionals get condos, and then the young professionals got married and had kids and wanted to go to the suburbs, so that transition is happening all the time," Noa says. "One of our specialties is this transitional phase in your life - whether you're an empty-nester coming downtown or a young professional moving to the suburbs where you'd like your children to go to school, I do believe that is a cool aspect of real estate, because you come from the other side into the suburbs and there are some beautiful parts of Austin with lots of other things to offer."

"We're a young city - we have the University of Texas and other colleges, and it's also a great city to raise kids, a great city to retire in - so it's really interesting to be able to work with folks from different walks of life," Andrew says.

"Our office is set up as a living room, because we thought 'you're buying a house,' so you should feel comfortable and not like you're in a corporate setting," Noa says.

"We really strive to provide a unique experience - providing you with knowledge, with statistics, listening and communicating to your needs, because after all this is one of your biggest purchases in your life," Noa explains.

"If you're paying these high prices for properties downtown, you expect and need that service that a lot of the local shops in Austin can provide, and I think it's great that you came from a bigger shop and paved your own way for the folks who want to live downtown," Andrew says.

How did you come to form Boutique Real Estate?

"I got my Masters in International Relations and Communications, and when I came back to Austin, I couldn't really find a job and at this time East Austin was really starting to transition, so I would call agents and try to get information - and I had an idea about investing in some land in East Austin but I didn't have a client, so I enlisted my parents," Noa laughs. "So my parents bought a little property in East Austin, and then I just got into it! I had a great network here, and we started to find rentals and turn them into sales, and the rest is history."

Do you work with sellers, buyers, or both?

"Both! We also have done project development - we've represented a couple of projects throughout Austin and a couple downtown towers, along with some smaller projects within South Austin - we do it all! We're a full-service firm, we represent buyers, tenants, short-term rentals, projects, and I do about 10% commercial real estate," Noa explains. "But we mostly do residential work."

If you're looking to buy, sell, or have questions about downtown real estate, visit their website at www.breaustin.com or call Noa at (512) 659-3898. 

“The most important thing, whether you’re buying or selling, is to have an advocate for you - and we can do it all!”
— Noa Levy
Noa Levy & Andrew Thurston

Noa Levy & Andrew Thurston

Episode 70, Part 1: Why You Should Consider Downtown Living

Andrew Thurston of Supreme Lending sits down with Noa Levy of Boutique Real Estate to discuss the often-overlooked perks of living in the heart of downtown Austin.

What's the type of mindset of people looking to move downtown?

"Most people are looking to downsize," Noa Levy says. "Or, they're empty-nesters or looking for a change in lifestyle. That's definitely something to consider, because up in the suburbs you have your larger square-foot home, and then you're coming downtown to a more communal setting living in a building with a lot of other people and reducing your square footage by a lot."

"You could still get a large residence downtown, though I imagine they're a bit more pricey than what you'd get in the suburbs," Andrew adds. 

"At the top end, there's the Austonian and these luxury buildings - the high end of those prices are getting into the $800-$1000 per square foot," Noa says. "So if you wanted that same amount of space as a suburban home, you'd end up having to pay up to around $3 million."

What are some perks of living downtown?

"If you think about it, you have this huge yard - you have Lake Austin, you have the trails, and downtown becomes your little playground and you can go anywhere you want and find a bar, a restaurant, a grocery store - pretty soon there will be a big library, and it's just a vibrant part of the city."

"A lot of folks work downtown too, so you could have that," Andrew says. "I go and visit the Northeast and New York City occasionally, and I think in Austin we are kind of coming to that point where we can live and play and work all in the same place."

"I'll use myself as a good example - I've been living downtown for 12 years, and I absolutely love it," Noa says. "I have two children, and we love the lifestyle - it's great to be able to walk out and go feed the ducks, bike the trail, go to the BMX park. We don't feel that we're missing out on the suburban lifestyle - instead, we're getting a totally different way of growing up for our children. Granted, it is in small quarters, but we think the trade-off is something very unique."

How is the population broken down into downtown areas?

"I don't think it's broken down into certain areas - but I think something to consider no matter your age group is to find out what type of lifestyle you want in the building you're considering," Noa explains. "There are buildings with a tons of ameninties, like a gym and pool and concierge; and there are some that are very small and private and maybe you don't need those amenities.

Location is something to consider, too - as downtown has been building, it has created separate areas. There's the market district near Whole Foods, Rainey Street, the entertainment district, and all those areas give off different vibes. 

What's the range of pricing for living downtown?

"There is a side of downtown that is very affordable - you can get a one or two-bedroom ranging from $300/square foot to $500/square foot, which is more of the norm. Some of those buildings on the lower end might be a little older - the $500-600 range will probably be in a newer building and be closer to some of these brand new ones like Seaholm and the Independent that are both coming up." 

"That's really interesting," Andrew says. "I visit a lot of open houses all over the city and I see a lot of houses even in the suburbs that are close to $300/square foot or more, so that's cool to know you can get a property as affordable downtown than living in the suburbs." 

"Another thing to consider with rentals: Some of these rental buildings have rents at $3,000 or $4,000 - that could be your mortgage!" Noa says. 

What about renting?

"Last year we had a lot more people renting - the occupancy rate was 96%, and they're not inexpensive rentals. Now with all these new buildings that have come online, I've seen a lot more homeowner occupants occupying those buildings, and a lot more rental buildings have come up," Noa explains.

"If you're looking to buy downtown, those are considerations like the occupancy rate, how many investors are there, and other details about condo communities that affect warrantability, meaning it may affect your loan." 

Noa Levy of Boutique Real Estate & Andrew Thurston of Supreme Lending

Noa Levy of Boutique Real Estate & Andrew Thurston of Supreme Lending

If you have questions for Noa Levy about residential or commercial real estate or anything downtown-related, feel free to contact her here or by calling her at (512) 659-3898. 

If you have any mortgage questions for Andrew, email him here or give him a call at (512) 590-4976.