Castles, Cowboys, Chili, and our Market Update

April 24, 2009

Our Castle is a repost from Feb. 08 – people are always asking:

The Texas Hill Country is one of the most amazingly beautiful places that God has created.  Around every bend (and there are plenty of Falkenstein Castlethem) there are new and wonderful places to see and explore.  We’re lucky enough to have it all . . . well almost all, and then some.  For example, we have the largest chain of lakes in the State of Texas, all here for your boating and fishing pleasures.  We have mind blowing caverns that are rich with history, the cowboys and Indians type that both young and old kids enjoy.  Wildflowers, wildlife, great places to eat, and most of all, we have wonderful people.  And then . . . There Is (dramatic pause. . . )  The Castle!

Roll through the hills as you cruise down Park Road 4, and out of nowhere, BAM!!!  There’s an honest to goodness castle that pops up Burnet County Texas - Falkenstein Castleright before your eyes!  Seriously, it’s the maiden in the tower type of place.  It sits atop one of the highest hills in Burnet County and has a magnificent 360 degree view that spans the hills and lakes as far as you can see. Built in the late 1990’s, Falkenstein Castle is home to Terry and Kim Young.  The castle footprint encompasses roughly four acres and is the place they call home.  The Young’s rent the “Palace” area of the grounds out for weddings throughout the year.  In fact, Falkenstein Castle is now rates as the #3 best wedding castle in the United States, only behind Belcort Castle and the Biltmore Estate!  Take a moment and check out their website, read their story about how the castle came to be, see some amazing pictures. . . it’s an absolutely beautiful place.  Best of all, it’s right here in Burnet County, in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country!

It’s Chili and BBQ Cook-Off time in Marble Falls!!!
It’s one of the qualifying events for the Terlingua International Chili Championship, it’s the 38th annual Howdy Roo Chili Cook-Off in Marble Falls, and the 15th annual BBQ competition.  Held in Johnson Park on the 1st weekend in May, this event is a true weekender!  Golf tourney for the cooks, chili, BBQ, vendors, and all types of family fun.  Come and join us on May 2nd and 3rd on the banks of Lake Marble Falls for all the fun.  I promise you won’t be disappointed! 

Castles, Cowboys, Chili, only 1 thing left; this is the perfect time to find a place to call your own and make it your “castle”.  The market is going strong, there are plenty of new homes on the market over the past week.  Our sales are up dramatically and pending properties have shot up as well.  If you have any questions about real estate anywhere in the Texas Hill Country, please feel free to drop me an email, give me a call, or just leave a comment here.  I promise to get back to you quickly.  As always. . . Thanks for reading – Jem


Donuts for Dad – Lessons Learned (and Real Estate Update)

March 27, 2009

My daughters came to me earlier this week and asked me to grace them with my presence at Donuts for Dad at school on Thursday.  Of course it meant that I’d have to get out of bed a few minutes earlier and then brave the halls of Colt Elementary, but why not, it’s donut day with my little angels.  Truth be told, I’ve been to this function every year and know that I’m about to be suckered into buying books and promising to attend “Science Night”.  Not a problem!

The donuts were wonderful and the time I spent with the girls was even better.  I’m blessed to be able to take them to school every morning and pick them up in the afternoon.  Simply put:  Life IS Good!!!  I walked my girls to their classrooms and made my way back to the front door, saying my goodbyes along the way.  Stopping at the front desk, I noticed one little boy standing at the front door of the school, barely as tall as the push bar on the door, staring out the door.  He was obviously nervous. . . maybe down trodden would be a better term, but his desperation was overwhelming and could not be overlooked by anybody within 30 feet of him.  He held to the door, would occasionally turn and look around him, and then his eyes would return to the parking area outside.  “He’ll be here in a minute”. . . HUH???  What’d he say. . . “He’s always later”. . . I turned towards one of the teachers who was standing on the other side of the office counter, her eyes were full of tears. . . The AP mumbled “this isn’t the first time, somebody really needs to talk to his father”.    I approached the boy, not knowing what to say, maybe to just make that connection, maybe to ease my mind, maybe. . . who knows, but I did.  He turned his back to me and I heard him cry “he’s coming, he’ll be here in a minute, he’s just running late”.  I glanced back at the office staff, the teachers, and the AP.  The tardy bell rang. . . it was over.  Donuts for Dad was over.  He clutched the push bar, swinging his drooping head from side to side, mumbling now, much softer. . . incomprehensible.  Again, I turned to the staff and AP, they were blurry from the tears in my eyes. . . “Y’all get this boy a donut”. 

Most of us that live in Small Town America do so because we believe we’re safer here, that things will always be the way they were when we were growing up.  Our neighbors are friends, not just “the guy who lives down the street”, our kids play together and go to church together, and our lives as individuals are intertwined with the community we live in.  We know each other, we watch out for each other, and we take care of each other.  On days like this, we cry together too. 

I left the school yesterday, proud of the fact that I had donuts with my daughters and that I’m involved in their day to day lives.  I’m proud to live in the Texas Hill Country, where the AP of the elementary school will take the time out of his morning, after the tardy bell has tolled, and take 1 small child down to the cafeteria and spend a few minutes with him, eating a donut, and letting him know that there are men in his life who care.  To be associated with people who don’t just stand there and talk about helping, they just do it.  We don’t just live in the same community, WE are the community and we live together as one.  Bad things happen, but that doesn’t mean that good things don’t come out of it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. . .  And the real estate market in Marble Falls and the surrounding Hill Country is good. . . but truth be told, I don’t feel like going into that right now. . .  Peace – Jem

Marble Falls – Bluebonnets, Bike Rides, and Real Estate

March 6, 2009

The word came out today that this years Bluebonnet Music and Fine Arts Festival will be headlined by Pure Prairie League on March 28th.  Marble Falls’ own John Martinez will open for them on Main Street.  The evening will wind up with a street dance with Cornell Hurd’s Big Ol’ Band closing things out.  The festival starts on March 27th and runs through the 29th.  Another one of our great family oriented gatherings that takes place annually here in Marble Falls.

It’s time to get the bikes out and start riding the hills again.  April 4th is the kickoff of my season.  The Pedal Power Wild Flower Ride is that day, leaving from LBJ State Park in Stonewall.  Several routes are available to ride, ranging from 12 to 63 miles.  The longer ride includes a lap around the Willow City Loop and is absolutely gorgeous this time of year.  ALL proceeds from this ride go the the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center, it’s a great cause!  I don’t know what the entry fee is, but it’s inexpensive and well worth every penny.  Register online at and click on “10th Annual Pedal Power Wildflower Ride”.

Staying loose is the key now, because the Hill Country Ride for Aids is the next ride on April 25th.  With rides from 10 to 100 miles (and a couple in between), this ride has gotten rave reviews from previous participants.  All the information you’d ever want can be found HERE.  If you’ve never taken your bike on one of these rides, do yourself a favor and give it a try.  Combine the thrill of completing one of these rides with the knowledge that you’re helping people in need, and the result is often times overwhelming.  And you sleep good that night too!

Real estate in the Highland Lakes area of Texas is still alive and well.  We’ve seen a slowdown over the past several months, BUT  the phone is ringing and properties are selling.  Prices have had some minor adjustments, but all in all it hasn’t been that unpleasant.  Our market normally cycles with the year (no pun intended), as much of the Texas Hill Country has become a prime vacation destination for people from throughout the country.  With interest rates down and property values holding steady, it’s a prime time to purchase the vacation or retirement property you’ve been looking for.  If you’d like to take a look at the properties that we have available, you can Search the Highland Lakes MLS LIVE here.  I’m always available for questions about the area or real estate, just give me a call at 830.385.3760 or Email Me.  Current mortgage rates are available if you just Click Here.

Thanks for reading. . . Jem

2009 1st Time Home Buyer Tax Credit and Marble Falls Update

February 20, 2009

 I thought we’d change it up a little bit this week and save the local info until the end.  I have received several questions over the past week about the 2009 first time home buyer’s tax credit.  That being the case, I thought I’d clarify a few things about how this credit is actually structured. 

The most asked questions I’ve had is “how is this different from the $7500 tax credit for 2008 first time home buyers”.  I wish the answer was as simple as just a dollar amount, but it’s not.  Last year’s tax credit of $7500 is good for homes bought only in 2008, effective the day title was transferred (the day you closed).  The $7500 credit must be repaid over the next 15 years at $500/year without interest.  It’s repaid as an add on to your taxes.  The 2009 $8000 tax credit is more of a gift, it is not required that it be paid back to the government.  The exception to this is if you sell the home in less than 3 years you must repay the entire amount.  Exceptions are made for death and divorce.

You must qualify in several ways.  First time home buyer is defined as a person who has not owned a perminant residence in the last 3 years.  It’s funny, because you can own a 2nd home, such as a lakehouse, and still qualify.  The income limits are under $75,000 for a single person and  $150,000 for a couple.  A “discounted credit” may be given to people who make more than these limits, but there are no absolutes where this is concerned.

Lastly, I don’t have all the answers, and I haven’t found a single source that does.  There is conflicting information posted all over the web about this one, but the information provided here seems to be universally accepted.  If you have any questions, please ask.

THE LADY ‘STANGS ARE BACK!!!   The run to State continues tonight as the Lady Mustangs travel to Fredericksburg to compete against Kerrville Tivy in the second round of the playoffs.  This is the match-up that many have been waiting for over the past couple of years.  Coach Gamble came to Marble Falls from Tivy and this is the first meeting since she left.  For those reading this that aren’t from here, this is a yearly trek for our girl’s basketball team and the entire community starts to buzz when playoff time comes around.  The team is loaded with talent this year and we’re all hoping and praying that they have a good showing.  We’re all proud of all they’ve accomplished, so good luck tonight.  I’ll do my best to post a final score when the game’s over.   So, Lindsay, Diana, Katy, and all the rest, play tough and finish strong!

There has been some more ground gained this week for the Lake of the Hills Regional Medical Center.  There has been an additional 22 acres purchased for the new hospital and everything is looking good!  The building site for the hospital is on the corner of 71 and Hwy 281.

Feel free to comment on anything you’ve read here.  If you have any questions about the Tax Credit, or real estate in the area, just give me a call or drop me an email.  Properties are moving and prices are good!   Jem


Early February in Marble Falls. . .

February 6, 2009

It’s the first weekend in February, and this is what’s going on in Marble Falls, Texas.  It looks like we may be in for some rain. . . not a big deal for some people, but we’ve been in a drought for some time now and get excited about little things like this.  They say it’s coming this weekend, but we’ll all wait and see.  There are clouds overhead, some are even gray, but there’s a whole lot of blue up there too.  We’ve heard it before, and it’s worth saying again. . . “Pray for RAIN”!!!  It’s also a bit warmer than it’s been lately and it looks to stay that way for the next week or so. - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Small town, big news. . . the Lowe’s on Hwy 281 is opening next week.  I’m told it’s on Wednesday, the 11th.  They’re having a grand opening from 4 – 8.  Plenty of events scheduled for young and old alike.  They’re even going to teach the elementary students how to build a time capsule. . . SWEET!

The phone has been ringing off the hook now for the last several weeks.  I’m a Realtor in this area and am happy to say that we haven’t been as affected by the “slow-down” as our big neighbors to the east (Austin), but we did have a brief stent where it was a big quiet.  I’ve written a couple of contracts this week and many of my properties have been shown several times.  All good signs that we’re alive and well out here.

I openly welcome any questions or comments about Marble Falls and the surrounding area. . . what’s going on, upcoming events, how’s the market, or anything else.  I’m also open to ideas to post here, so feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email.

Thanks for visiting and please come back. . . Jem Woods