Things changed for me…Same great service!

As some of you may know, I changed brokers to Keller Williams Realty.  My broker has changed, but the same great service that I strive to give to each of my clients is unchanged.

This change was done to facilitate a better opportunity to hopefully service my clients in a better way.  I hope that when you think of Real Estate, you think of Jake.  My contact information has changed a bit too.  Please note my signature.

Jake Stinson, REALTOR®
Keller Williams Realty


Want 50% off on your next home? Teachers, Police Officers, Firefighters and EMT’s, take note!

That sounds excellent doesn’t it?  Well it is reality for people who qualify for the Good Neighbor Next Door Program.

Who qualifies?

If you are a full time Teacher, Police Officer, Firefighter, or in EMS, you may qualify.  Click Here to see if you meet the individual requirements.

These homes are offered by HUD and also have to be in what is called a “revitalization area“.  Contact your local HUD real estate agent for more information.

There are certain requirements when it comes to making an offer on these homes and you also have to committ to living in the house for 36 months as your primary residence.

After 36 months, can you sell the property without penalty?  YES!  Can you say 50% or more return on your investment in 3 short years?  Obviously that is subject to the market.

Yes, you can buy a $100,000 house for only $50,000.  You can either pay cash or you have to qualify for a mortgage still.  What happens to the other 50%?  You have to sign a second mortgage note that is a “silent note”.  It will just sit there doing nothing until the 36 months have been met, and then HUD will release the note.  If you fail to live in the house for 36 months, they will foreclose on the second note and you will be required to pay the full amount.  There are allowances for active duty military.

HUD has a website where you can read up on all of this for yourself. Click here to visit that site. They also have an FAQ section which can be found HERE.

For more information about buying a home at 50% off or to see if you qualify for another special loan program, contact your local real estate professional. If you know someone who is in the Military, Fire, Police, EMS or Public School teacher and they are in the market to buy a home, send them my way, they may be missing out on a great deal if they go anywhere else!

Information brought to you by:

Jake Stinson, REALTOR®
Stanberry & Associates

Is your home secure? Does 911 work? 15 tips to prevent home burglary!

Did you ever dial 911 as a kid just to see if it worked?  I did.  I remember doing that and hanging up several times.  About 15 minutes later, there was a knock at my door.  My mom walked over to the door and opened it with caution because we were not expecting anyone.  There was a tall man standing at my door with a deep voice, black slacks, freshly ironed shirt and a shiny silver badge asking, “Is everyone okay?  We had several 911 calls from this residence and the person kept hanging up.”
My mom looked over her left shoulder and in a stern voice asked me, “Were you playing with the phones?”
I reluctantly said, “Yes, but I hung up right away when it started to ring.  I just wanted to see if it worked.”

After my mom told the officer that she would handle it (and she did), I started to think about the time it took for the officer to get to my house.

I am an adult now, married with kids.  I own things of value; things that are my own and do not belong to my parents. I own my home. 

If someone were to break into my home today, and I called 911, how long would it take for them to get there?  Do they have any weapons?  Are they just there to steal my things?  Is it someone coming to harm me?  What should I do?

I have an alarm system that I try to set everytime I leave the house and when I go to sleep. If someone were to open any window or door in my house, the alarm will sound. I have glass break alarms to alert me if someone breaks the glass to get it.  Is that enough?  Should we protect ourselves even further?

I know that if my alarm goes off, the alarm company makes a series of phone calls to people that I have specified such as myself, my wife, etc…  If we do not answer or if someone says that nobody should be in the house, the alarm company calls the local police department.  After we have wasted a few minutes, the dispatcher sends an officer to my house from who knows how far away. By this time, my valuables are most likely gone, and so are the robbers.  If I am home when this happens, I keep my home protected with weapons.  I am the carrier of a CHL (concealed hangun license) that I obtained locally. I live in Texas and we believe in utilizing your 2nd amendment rights.

My next step may be to get video monitoring of my house.  Will this stop a robber? No, most likely not.  The cameras may make someone think twice if they picked the right house, but still cannot stop them.  However, instead of showing up to your house, empty and rooted through with no idea who it was, a video will provide you that extra level of information to turn into the police.

15 tips to Prevent Home Burglary

Every 15 seconds, a home in the U.S. gets burglarized, but we have so many ways to reduce our chances of becoming a victim.

It is a frightening thought that in the time it takes you to read through this — 10 minutes — 40 homes would have been burglarized. That is one home burglary every 15 seconds.

Some of these took place by strangers, others by friends or family, some could even be the guy that came to sell you magazines or profess the bible to you; all a set-up to scope out your house and leave a bathroom window open or unlocked.  Some of these could be experienced crooks, some could have just been patrolling the neighborhood and happened to see an open window with a warm apple pie cooling in the sill.

Whoever they are, we know from studies that it takes less than a minute for someone to break into your house and typically they spend just over 10 minutes inside your home, grabbing all they can before their get-away.  Some even pose as contractors or furniture movers and can clean an entire house out, right in front of the police.

This blog was prompted by my interest in new digital security, my desire to help others, and a friend of mine who was recently a victim of burglary.

If you get home and notice something isn’t right, do not go in to check it out.  The robbery could not yet be over and you may unwittingly scare a thief and you could end up hurt.  If you happen to already be inside and notice things missing or things don’t look or sound right, retreat! Go out to your car and call the police.  Keep yourself safe!

15 Home Burglary Tips
(from Elicka S.L. Peterson-Sparks, a criminologist and Associate Professor of Justice Studies at Appalachian State University)

  1. People are your best defense — be a visibly nosy neighbor. Let anyone walking the neighborhood or sitting in a parked car see you watching them.

    Make a note of car license plates and if anyone behaves suspiciously or stays in their car for a lengthy period, call the police.

  2. Tell close neighbors you trust if you plan to be away or expect any deliveries.

    If they’re in the know they’re more likely to notice something you didn’t mention and spot unexpected callers at your home (burglars often call at the front door of a house to check if anyone is there).

  3. And, if you are going away, use timers to switch lights on and off at random, cancel newspapers and put a hold on your mail deliveries — or, to guard your schedule, arrange for the trusted neighbor to collect them.

  4. Having a dog is a huge deterrent. Ironically, burglars are far more likely to avoid a house with a small dog than a big one — small dogs tend to be nervous and less easy to trick into calming down. They’re less trustful and bark louder and longer.

  5. Take a walk around your home, inside and out, to figure where the weakest link in your security might be — like leaving a window open in a secluded spot.

    High-risk places include the door from your garage into the house, back doors, side “breezeways” where a burglar would not be seen, and large shrubs close to the residence where thieves could hide.

  6. Take action to increase protection in these vulnerable places — like installing keyed window locks and deadbolts on doors and using toughened glass in windows and doors. Remove those shrubs.

    If you leave windows open on the second floor, make sure your extension ladder is locked away.

  7. Be wary about who you allow into your home and how much information you give about your belongings and schedule.

    This applies even with neighbors you don’t know or fully trust (“inside” jobs are not uncommon). And don’t leave valuables in view, inside or from outside the house.

  8. If you’re able, vary the times you leave and return home. If your household has several cars, vary who drives them, making it more difficult for an observer to know who is home and when.

  9. Make it tough for home burglary prowlers to know whether they’re under surveillance.

    Fake cameras can be good — but only if they could be taken for the real thing, not cheap plastic devices with flashing lights, which home burglars easily identify.

    Fake security stickers or signs don’t work either, but, if you have an alarm, real stickers and signs work.

  10. Control access to and around your property. Consider motion-activated lights, even on the street outside your home.

    Neighborhood Watch, Video Surveillance, No Parking,and No Outlet signs can be effective against home burglary too. This way, would-be thieves know you mean business.

  11. Motion-activated cameras are another powerful weapon — both as a home burglary deterrent and, linked to a computer (and, better yet, to a home network), to record images of your unwelcome visitors.

    These days, these devices are inexpensive. Network-linked cameras costing around $85 can even email images so you have an off-site backup (ours sends images automatically to a separate gmail account, so even if the camera is disabled, we still have the pictures online).

  12. An alarm system, preferably with a visible box outside the house, will not only deter crooks but sound an immediate alert of a home burglary.

    You might seriously consider a system that’s monitored 24/7 by a security company who will quickly notify law enforcement of an incident.

  13. Gates, both to your property and in gated communities, can also be a home burglary deterrent, (even if there is another way out). If you have a guarded, gated community, use “Resident” stickers.

    Renters could have a temporary sticker they must surrender at the end of their lease, while visitors collect a pass which they must return on leaving.

  14. Avoid creating temptation. Don’t leave things like lawn mowers and bikes unattended outside; lock them up.

    Inside, burglars are more likely to go for “middle of the road” valuables than expensive jewelry and appliances — because they’re easier to redeem for cash.

  15. Don’t hide a key. Home burglary crooks know all those “secret” places.

    Elicka recalls: “I interviewed a burglar who hit the same house every few years for 30 years.

    “Astonishingly, as he was showing us what he liked about it, he jumped out of the car to show us where they had hidden the key, over the door, for about 10 years!”

More Dangers:

Statistically, if you have been burglarized once, your are more likely to be burglarized again, so you need to take extra precautions.

And second, home burglaries can involve much more than the theft of your valuables.

If the crooks steal personal and confidential information, you could become a victim of another major scam –identity theft.

You can get your whole home video monitored for less than $1000.

I use an alarm company for 24/7 monitoring of my windows and doors and they don’t cost too much per month.

Want to get your CHL (concealed handgun license) in Texas?

Thank you,

Jake Stinson, REALTOR®
Stanberry & Associates


Your insurance company only gave you 6 months for a rental after the fire… What now?

September 4th 2011 a large fire struck the County of Bastrop and ruined numerous homes, countless acres of land and wildlife, and distrupted many families.  This event took place 6 months ago and it still seems like it was just yesterday that they had the roads shut down at 71 and Jackson and nobody could get into Tahitian.

Some were able to grab their belongings before being shut out and before the blaze ripped through.  Some were left to shelters and centers to go “shopping” again for toiletries and clothes.

The days following this event, spaces in front of Starbucks, HEB and next to Sears were filled with insurance tents, demolition RV’s, and Contractor trucks.  Crowds of people were at Bastrop Middle School without a clue and everyone was trying to answer the question, “What now?”.

6 months have passed and most insurance companies provided their clients with a rental home for 6 months.  These families are faced yet again with that same question, “What now?”.

Today in Bastrop County there are 82 homes available (3 bed/2 Bath Less than $200,000) for sale through the MLS, there are 7 rentals available between $850 and $2,500 and we still have so many families that are unsure how to answer that question of what now.

We as REALTORS® in Bastrop County want to stress the Rebuild Bastrop movement.  The pines may be burned but they will come back.  The parks are opening back up, homes are being rebuilt and the spirit of family and togetherness has rekindled it’s own fire.

If you need help with real estate in Bastrop and surrounding Counties, please call me.

Jake Stinson, REALTOR®
Stanberry & Associates

Green Home. More Than Just a Paint Color.

Have you always wondered what everyone meant about a “green home”?

Depending on who you were talking to, they may have actually wanted to paint their house green, but I can only imagine that this would not be the case.  Green colored houses aren’t exactly my thing, but I guess it could be for some. 

There are things you can do to your current home to make it a more “green” or environmentally friendly/efficient home.  These options in turn save you some green too!

Today I want to talk to you about rain water collection.  In recent years, many areas of the country, especially central Texas, have used rainwater collection for an affordable, efficient, renewable and sustainable source of potable and non-potable water.

There are many types of rainwater collection systems from a bucket underneath a downspout all they way to an expensive elaborate system of downspouts and gutter systems that meet at a collection point used for watering landscape, irrigating crops, or in the home use after being filtered.  No matter how you do you it, it is a viable way to collect one of life’s precious resources.  Since rainwater has no minerals, and does not have any chemicals that may be found in ground water, it is considered a safe alternative to other methods of water collection such as drilling for a well.

The idea is very simple.  Rainwater is collected, diverted, and stored for a later use.  There is a general rule for calculating collection.  For every inch of rainwater collected on a 1,000 square foot roof or any type of collection surface, the yield is about 550 gallons. These rain water collection systems can be a project for the DIY savvy person, or you can hire a contractor to have it professionally installed for you.  There are plenty of sources on the internet where you can learn to do these yourself or where you can find local contractors in your area to help you.

There are some basic components of a rain water collection system-

  1. Harvesting Surface: the collection surface that water runs off of
  2. Gutters and Downspouts: channels water to storage tanks
  3. Leaf screens, first-flush diverters and roof washers: washes or rough filters debris before water is collected in a storage tank.
  4. Storage Tanks: or cisern (min. 5000 gal/person)
  5. Delivery System: Gravity fed or pumped to end use
  6. Treatment/Purification: for potable systems or to make water safe to drink


Costs vary according to the complexity of the system you choose. Five gallon buckets can be picked up just about anywhere for $5.00! However, if you are seriously considering a rain water collection system, then you will need to spend a little more. And depending on what you are going to use the end product for, you may spend a lot more. But, it may still be less expensive than drilling a 500 foot well and tapping into the many delicate aquifers in central Texas.

  • Tank: $3500 (5,000 gal) and up
  • Roof Washer: $400-$700 (clear debris from collection surface)
  • Gutters and Downspouts: $500-$1500 (depends on size of collection surface)
  • Treatment, filtration, and purification: Varies greatly but roughly $2000
  • Maintenance: Count on replacing UV bulbs, carbon filters and sediment filters regularly. These costs can run as little as $150.00 annually if you shop wisely.

Real Estate and Rain Water

When considering purchasing a home that has a rain water collection system as the only source of water for the home, make sure that your lender will carry the financing on the home. Unfortunately, there are many lenders that will consider rain water systems to be a non-constant source of potable water and deny financing. There are many small local banks and financing institutions that will do the job, but you will need to do your research first!

No matter how you look at it, rainwater collection is a great alternative compared to more conventional systems. Water is fast becoming a precious dwindling resource, and our first defense is to conserve what we have, but when it falls out of the sky, and you can catch it for free, why not do a little “Singing in the Rain?”

Information provided to you by:


Wildfire leftovers – heartaches and ashes

Wildfire leftovers – heartaches and ashes.
Our community had a disaster stroke, and got hit hard.  Many of those suffering damage have already found solutions, albeit in some cases, temporary.  Some have purchased homes already; others are still waiting for insurance settlements or FEMA payments.  In the Realtor community, we have learned much more about insurance, settlement options, how FEMA works, why building on a damaged slab is a bad idea, the scarcity of rental properties, and how quickly demand pushes prices up.  We have learned how to vet builders, that is, to check out their credentials, and learned something about cleaning up lots and how lot prices are lowered in a widely damaged area.
We have also had the benefit of psychology counselors who identify the common stress related problems with which those suffering devastating losses must cope.  They say that the best advice is to “take a deep breath, and wait a while before making major decisions.”  The problem with making hasty decisions is that they are pressed by the current circumstances, when a more deliberate and thought out decision would serve the individual or family much better in the longer term.  
In that regard, many will rebuild in the community, and many more will rebuild on the lot where their home was destroyed. Building a new home will require several months of a temporary solution which, again, need to be well thought out.  For example, don’t sign a one year lease if your home will be finished in six months.
It is near certainty that there will be well over a thousand new homes built or rebuilt in the Bastrop community during the next couple of years.  Among the large number built, there will be some horror stories of poor construction, broken contracts, lower quality fixtures than you think you paid for, corners cut, and failure to follow-up with the post closing problems needing correction, a need that is common among the very best home builders. Those choosing to build should use good judgment and advice in choosing a builder.  Most in the Bastrop area are reliable, honest home builders, and those who are members of the Greater Austin Home Builders Association are also easy to vet and discern their credentials.  With the great demand for builders in the community, there will also be some coming from outside the area and even the state to contract to build.  To protect the dollars you invest, it is important to learn what you don’t know and what problems are commonly encountered in the process.  Most important is to know that the builder is not your agent; he represents himself.  That doesn’t mean that he is not honest nor that pride in his work and protecting his reputation are unimportant to him.  What it does mean is that the kind of builder who has demonstrated these values are of utmost, long term importance to you in building your new home. It also means that if you need good advice and someone to represent you in choosing a builder and be by your side through the entire process, working with a Realtor is a good solution.  And when contracting for a home, if a fee is paid to your agent, it is paid by the builder and is not an out of pocket expense for you.  Involving a third party professional to insure that your interests are given the importance and care that gives you comfort may well be the best decision you can make.

Jake Stinson, REALTOR®
Stanberry & Associates, Inc.