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Learning with the Best – Luxury Real Estate Convention

The challenge of the continually evolving real estate business is only one of the aspects that drives Susan Avant, an Austin Portfolio Real Estate agent. With a focus on remaining a million dollar producer and being able to provide the very best service for her clients, Susan regularly attends real estate retreats and seminars throughout the year. Having recently returned from Leaders in Luxury, an event hosted by The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, we sat down with her to get the latest scoop.

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Where did the luxury retreat take place?

This year, it was in Palos Verdes, California at the Terranea Resort. With breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and its relaxed atmosphere, it was the perfect spot to host a luxury event.

What did you enjoy the most about the retreat?

Definitely, the people. It’s always a good way to reconnect with other luxury agents, collaborate with industry leaders and meet new agents from around world.

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What was the main focus of this year’s event?

While there was not a specific theme, the focus was primarily on the shifting economy. We discussed what we can do for our buyers and sellers in order to continue giving them the service they expect while keeping them educated on the market changes that are being seen throughout the country. There were a variety of speakers though that covered topics ranging from marketing ideas to economics and out-of-the-box thinking.

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How will what you learned impact the way you do business now?

It is always beneficial to learn how other agents approach their business. The sharing of ideas, reports and stories to finding out what they have done that works well and what they have tried that was not as successful as they had anticipated is always a valuable tool. I want to keep my business fresh and on the cutting edge, and discover each year that there is always something new to incorporate into my business that will help me better serve my sellers and buyers.

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Why is it important to network with other luxury agents across the country? How valuable are those relationships?

With today’s transitional lifestyle, I frequently have clients needing real estate contacts in other cities here in Texas and even across the globe. Networking with these agents year after year makes it easier to refer my clients because I know they will be well cared for by a knowledgeable, professional agent whom I know personally. It also positions me to receive referrals from agents who know me well.

Were agents from other cities and states curious about the Austin market?

Most were curious about our growth and wondered if our market was slowing like most of the other markets. It was interesting to see the Institute for Luxury Marketing’s reports on the 50 luxury markets. Nearly all have become buyers markets! Austin was one of the few balanced markets, and there were very few markets still in the seller’s favor.

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Networking with other agents across the country and hearing about the market they’re in, what makes Austin stand out so much?

Austin (and Texas) has become a destination for many of the sellers in the other luxury markets due to the job growth here. Other agents are well aware their clients are moving here in record numbers. Many have been to Austin, or want to visit because of the weather, music scene, restaurants and wonderful PR surrounding our city.

Did you stick around to enjoy the sights or was your trip strictly business?

Once the retreat ended, I stayed to enjoy the sights and visit my family. I actually grew up in Palos Verdes so it was fun to be home and catch up with friends and family. It didn’t hurt that the weather was picture perfect either!

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Avant in Austin – A Holiday Guide to the City

The holidays are notorious for travel. Whether visiting friends and family on the other side of town or across the globe, being with loved ones is what this time is all about. So if you’re an Austinite who will be playing host or hostess this season, or you’re flying in to the Texas capital to see relatives, we’ve put together a guide to the city that includes more than hot spots in the live music scene. Here’s to a holiday spent enjoying all this vibrant city has to offer!

WHAT TO SEE

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Zilker Holiday Tree

As long as you can navigate the traffic, its always fun to experience the 155 foot tall tree decorated with over 3,000 lights. The annual event kicks off the season of festivities and is open for all ages to enjoy!

The Nutcracker at The Long Center

In its 56th year, the annual production of The Nutcracker never disappoints with the hundreds of talented dancers, beautiful sets and costumes, and score performed live by the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

A Christmas Carol at ZACH Theater

Known as Austin’s most rockin’ holiday tradition, the ZACH adaptation of the Dickens classic fuses the traditional Victorian story with a musical score spanning all genres and eras.

WHAT TO DO

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Walk Lady Bird Lake

Weather permitting, take a stroll along the 10 miles of trails surrounding the lake. Or experience it on bike, kayak (though it might be a little chilly), river cruise and more.

Tour the Capitol

Congress Avenue is so pretty in the evenings so a tour of the Capitol would be perfect! What better way to welcome visitors to Austin than letting them orient themselves through exhibits, film and more.

Explore SoCo or S. Lamar

Shopping and walking is a-must! From the trendy and funky shops and food trailers of South Congress to the low-key lifestyle exemplified on South Lamar, you’ll love exploring the eateries, thrift shops, food trailers, dive bars and more.

WHERE TO DINE

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From Italian and Mexican to seafood and steak, Austin has something for everyone and every craving when it comes to cuisine.

Red Ash

Influenced by the culinary traditions of Northern and Southern Italy, this place is my absolute favorite! Reservations are a-must during the holidays.

Vespaio

Driven wholly by handmade and locally-sourced ingredients, Vespaio creates charcuterie, fresh pasta, breads, desserts and cheese in house, along with offering French and Italian wines from boutique, family owned and small production producers.

Siena

Nestled in the beautiful Hill Country northwest of downtown, this is a romantic destination for wine and upscale, seasonal Tuscan plates.

ATX Cocina

Experimenting with the boundaries of Mexican cuisine, ATX Cocina takes traditional dishes and elevates them with modern techniques and approaches.

The Driskill

A historic landmark of Texas hospitality, The Driskill houses a Grill, Bar, Cafe and Bakery. They all offer rich, flavorful culinary delights but the tea is especially good during the holidays!

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Caroline Restaurant

This all-day local spot serves homemade breakfast, lunch, dinner and to-go along with hand-selected coffee blends and housemate baked goodies and juice.

Guero’s Taco Bar

This taco bar is a vibrant part of South Austin with their hand-shaken margaritas, salsa bar, Mexican beer and interior Mexican food with a hint of Tex-Mex.

Blue Dahlia Bistro

This European-style restaurant strives to serve fresh food using local and organic ingredients whenever possible.

Eddie V’s

Enjoy a vast array of fresh seafood, like raw oysters and Pacific Ahi Tuna, made from the freshest ingredients.

Maudie’s Cafe

For 25 years, they’ve been serving up quintessential Tex-Mex with hand-prepared dishes and fresh-squeezed juices daily.

Magnolia Cafe

Though the menu offers many gems of the past, their recipes continue evolving to try new things such as herbed feta spread and more.

WHERE TO DRINK

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What’s better than a relaxing cocktail to celebrate the holidays? My go-to cocktail is a dry Sapphire martini, although an espresso martini is also high on the list. I usually opt for a good, full bodied cabernet though. Here are a few of my personal favorite spots to sip a spirited drink.

Peche

Austin’s first absinthe bar, this New Orleans-esque space offers French comfort food and craft cocktails, many of which have absinthe.

Live Oak Bar

Located at the Four Seasons, their inventive cocktails and Guadalajara-inspired menu combines with the best views in the city for a genuinely Austin experience.

WHERE TO SHOP

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Whether you’re shopping for a friend or loved one, the following stores should be able to help you cross most off your list. If it’s a hostess gift you’re searching for, a nice bottle of red or white wine is generally a good choice. When I don’t know their inclination, I will bring sparkling rose or champagne. For a non-alcoholic gift, you could get anything from candles and coasters to towels or an ornament since it’s the holidays.

The Domain

Situated in a beautiful park-like setting and town square atmosphere, this retail development offers 700,000 square feet of restaurants and upscale shops including Neiman-Marcus, Tiffany and Co., Louis Vuitton and more.

The Garden Room

You never know what exactly you’ll find but you know it will be chic. Each season, The Garden Room brings in new designers and trends that compliment the mainstays.

Breed & Company

From hardware and garden supplies to some of the finest tableware, kitchenware and seasonal decor, this small, locally-owned and operated hardware store is a member of the largest independently owned hardware cooperative in the industry, Ace Hardware.

Personally Yours – This boutique offers everything from wedding invitations, monogramming, stationery, wedding gifts, clothing, jewelry and more!s

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If you’re looking for something you won’t find anywhere else, look no further. From whimsical and fun to distinguished and fine, they offer a kaleidoscope of gift ideas that make for a unique and pleasurable shopping experience.

A Gift of Thanks

It’s so easy to get caught up in our busy schedules that we miss out on the things that really matter in life – our family and friends. That’s why it’s so important to take moments to pause and appreciate all the blessings we have in our lives.

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As John F. Kennedy said, “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” So that’s exactly what we at Avant Residential Group did last year and plan to continue doing for the years ahead.

It was around this time last year that Whittney and I started looking for a way to thank our clients for their wonderful support and business, as well as all the referrals they have sent us throughout the years. We agreed that hosting an event that would allow everyone to take something away that they could share with others around Thanksgiving would be the perfect fit!

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Having discovered Tootie’s pies years before, and knowing I wasn’t their only fan (they’ve won a host of awards and accolades), we decided that was our answer. Since the pies are frozen, we knew our clients would be able to transport them out of town for the holidays or save them for a special occasion if they wanted.

With our real estate office undergoing renovations, we contacted Heritage Title Company and ended up holding our event at their location.

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The pies were delicious (we’ve even had a couple of clients call in the past year asking for their contact information), but being able to see our clients and catch up with them in a casual setting was fantastic. What made it even better was when they brought their children! It was so fun to see how much they had grown and to hear what they were doing now. In all, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and hearing from them after they had shared their pies was an added bonus.

We are definitely looking forward to this year’s event at our Austin Portfolio office and hope to have even more people come by! Keep your eyes and ears open for more details to come.

6102 Diamond Head Drive | Listed at $975,000

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Nestled among numerous mature trees, this comfortable residence in Lost Creek offers the utmost privacy and tranquility. Upon entering, a spacious, tiled foyer greets you along with a generously sized formal dining room that would be ideal for family gatherings.

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As you move throughout the rest of the home, you quickly recognize a theme of bright rooms, ample natural light and large windows. The large family room, for example, features a high beamed ceiling, built-in entertainment center, multiple large windows and double doors that open onto the covered deck.

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Convenient when entertaining friends and family, the updated kitchen with a separate breakfast nook, walk-in pantry, ample storage and granite/marble counters is situated next to the living area. Children will enjoy the large breakfast bar, whether utilizing it for breakfast before school or homework in the evenings.

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The rest of the 3,141 square foot home includes four bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a game room with outdoor access and a three car garage with an extra parking spot for guests. Outside, the flat fenced yard backs to a greenbelt and offers plenty of space for everyone. Enjoy panoramic views from the upstairs deck and covered patio off the game room.

The Austin Lineup – UT Schedule and Where to Watch

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The football season has just kicked off and we don’t know about you but we at Avant Residential Group love cheering on our Longhorns. There’s nothing better than being front and center at the stadium to fully enjoy the excitement of the crowd and feel the adrenaline rush when we score a touchdown. It’s not always possible to attend games in person, so we’ve rounded up our favorite places around town where watching the game might prove to be just as exciting. Keep scrolling after the game day schedule to see three of our luxury listings that have a great space to hold game day parties.SA_UTFootball_BlogImages-2

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WHERE TO WATCH PHOTO

Abel’s on the Lake |  3825 Lake Austin Blvd.  |  (512) 904 – 0570

Cover 3 |  1717 W 6th St.  |  (512) 982 – 1550

Crown & Anchor Pub  |  2911 San Jacinto Blvd.  |  (512) 322 – 9168

Culinary Dropout |  11721 Rock Rose Ste #100 |  (512) 777 – 3394

Doc’s   |  1106 W 38th St.  |  (512) 454 – 3627

Haymaker |  2310 Manor Rd.  |  (512) 243 – 6702

Lavaca Street Bar   |  405 Lavaca St.  |  (512) 469 – 0106

Little Woodrow’s  |  5425 Burnet Rd.  |  (512) 276 – 2390

The Park  |  11601 Domain Dr #200 |  (512) 478 – 7275

Parlor & Yard  |  601 W 6th St.  |  (512) 524 – 0466

Pinthouse Pizza |  4729 Burnet Rd.  |  (512) 436 – 9605

Posse East |  2900 Duval St.  |  (512) 477 – 2111

Red’s Porch  |  3508 S Lamar Blvd.  |  (512) 440 – 7337

Scholz Garten |  1607 San Jacinto Blvd.  |  (512) 474– 1958

Shoal Creek Saloon  |  909 N Lamar Blvd.  |  (512) 474– 0805

Star Bar |  600 W 6th St.  |  (512) 477 – 8550

The Tavern  |  922 W 12th St.  |  (512) 320 – 8377

For those who prefer to watch the game from the comfort of their own home, these listings offer the perfect spaces for family and friends to enjoy a UT Football Watch Party.

6102 Diamond Head | Listed at $975,000

There are plenty of options for hosting watch parties at this private home in Lost Creek. Choose to gather in the large family room off the kitchen with a breakfast bar to lay out a spread of refreshments and snacks, or head to the game room that offers access to the covered patio.

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3005 Meandering River Court | Listed at $1,700,000

Nestled in the small family-oriented community of West Rim Estates is this beautiful two story home. With generous interior spaces, there is plenty of room for family and guests. The spacious family room could easily accommodate a large TV and even bigger gathering. Since it sits adjacent to the kitchen, the snacks necessary for a watch party will never be too far out of reach.

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2702 Rockingham Dr | Listed at $890,000

This charming and quaint home located on a large corner lot in Barton Hills is2,668 square feet and features numerous upgrades and updates. A perfect place for enjoying a football game with friends and family, the bright and open living room with custom built-ins is spacious enough for a large sectional and TV, and is situated off the kitchen for refreshments and appetizers.

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Penthouse-Caliber Living!

Four Seasons Residences – 98 San Jacinto #1302

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Life at the Four Seasons Residences provides an impeccable balance of elegance and the utmost discretion and privacy, all while being in the middle of the dynamic culture, renowned cuisine, vibrant entertainment, hip bars and music venues, trendy art galleries, and striking outdoor settings that downtown Austin affords you.

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With amenities ranging from a rooftop pool, fitness center, housekeeping and unparalleled 24-hour concierge services to a la carte luxuries including babysitting, pet services and dry cleaning, living at the Four Seasons would be ideal for families, singles, couples and pet lovers.SA_FSR1302-3

Located inside the Four Seasons Residences, luxury condominium #1302 is a unique opportunity to have expansive space at a penthouse-caliber. Approximate 13-foot high ceilings and windows can be found throughout the 3,876 square foot condo that features 2 bedrooms and three full and one partial bathroom. You’ll find convenience and meticulous design details as you experience this showplace that is great for entertaining, yet comfortable and highly livable.

Below, we highlight specific areas of the home and how you will enjoy them while calling 98 San Jacinto Boulevard #1302 home!

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This versatile and adaptable floor plan boasts three separate spaces ideal for living rooms. We suggest reserving one as your spot to read and relax, another for family time, and the last for entertaining guests. A modern fireplace is situated across from a wall of windows in one sitting area, which adds even more ambiance to the space.

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Featuring a true in-law plan, this condo includes two full kitchens. High-end finishes and appliances can be found in both spaces included gas ranges, built-in ovens, and sub-zero refrigerators to name a few. Design details vary between the two spaces however. One kitchen includes dark wood cabinetry and black (granite/marble) countertops while the other has a lighter color palette with cherry colored wood cabinets and light colored (granite/marble) countertops. A breakfast bar and open concept to living rooms round out the kitchen highlights.

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Currently, this luxury condo features 2 bedrooms, but with the adaptable floor plan, there is flexibility to add an additional bedroom. You’ll have plenty of space to showcase and organize your wardrobe in the two walk-in closets. Lay your head to rest and rise in the morning with amazing views of downtown Austin from each bedroom. Each room can accommodates a king size bed with plenty of extra space for dressers, night stands, and sitting areas.

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With two master bedrooms comes two ensuite bathrooms. Walk-in showers and your very own sauna will help you relax after a long day, week, or fun-filled weekend enjoying the downtown amenities. A large soaking tub is featured in one of the bathrooms allowing you to step away from any worries you may have while taking some time for yourself. In addition to the spa bathrooms, three incredible patios let you step out for fresh air while taking in different views of Austin. They each provide their own take on the city and are spacious for plenty of outdoor seating.

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A breakfast bar and two dedicated dining spaces round out the accommodations within this luxury condominium. Your walk-in wine room will not only help keep a party going, but it’s also a feature of this home that guests will remember and talk about!

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The staff is always available to assist owners with a variety of needs including travel reservations, restaurant reservations, valet parking, package delivery and pick up, or luggage pick up. Always discreet and mindful of the owners, the service at the Four Seasons Residences is unparalleled. We’ve curated a list of downtown Austin attractions that we highly recommend you enjoy while calling the Four Seasons Residences home.

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Ready Now Homes With Room for Renovations

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The hustle and bustle of the school year is in full swing, and the holidays are just around the corner. If the busy summer months got in your way of buying a new home, the great news is there are plenty of homes that are move-in-ready here in Austin.

2702 Rockingham and 3005 Meandering River Court are two examples of homes that will check all of the boxes now, and later down the road, when you have more time and possibly more of a renovation budget, you could personalize these properties. We’ve highlighted both of these homes below so you can visualize yourself living there now and see the potential they each have for customization.

2702 Rockingham Drive

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This quaint home is nestled on a large corner lot in Barton Hills, a small residential community situated among the hills of south Austin. The 2,668 square foot home features numerous upgrades and updates and is the perfect place for a family in special neighborhood.

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Upon entry, you’ll immediately start to see the charm and character of this home. While the bright and open floor plan features a neutral color palette so the new homeowners can put their own touch and flair on the property, you cannot help but appreciate the delightful tile floors, white brick fireplace and custom built-ins and bookcases.

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The kitchen featuring a granite breakfast bar is spacious with laminate counters, stainless steel appliances and glass front cabinets to add a touch of personality. Imagine your mornings spent gathered around the table in the breakfast area that offers access to the beautifully landscaped backyard.

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The large sunroom off of the kitchen allows ample sunlight and could also be used as a second living space. Throughout the rest of the home are four bedrooms and three bathrooms, each with their own look and feel. The fourth bedroom opens to the patio and yard, which would make for a fantastic master suite with a little updating, or even a lively game room.

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Soak up the sun rays or enjoy a cool evening dining al fresco in the beautifully landscaped backyard with an expansive patio. Near the back of the yard is another sitting area with a bench that would be perfect for enjoying s’mores and roasting marshmallows over a fire pit. There is even plenty of grassy areas for children or pets to play.

3005 Meandering River Court

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Nestled in gated West Rim Estates, a small family oriented community, is this beautiful two story residence. With four bedrooms, four full bathrooms and two half baths, this home has plenty of space for a family and guests. Generous interior spaces and an abundance of natural light combined with the fabulous outdoor living make this house a home.

Upon entering through double doors, you are greeted by gleaming hardwood floors, high ceilings and a bright, open entry. Its stylish interior allows for a variety of design aesthetics, ranging from modern to traditional.

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Outside, the covered patio overlooks the large, private yard with wrought iron fence, abundance of foliage, gorgeous pool and a spa. The patio features multiple ceiling fans to combat the stifling temperatures while also affording plenty of space to kick back or dine al fresco in the shade.

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Truly the gem of the property, the pool offers enough space for relaxing and sunbathing, or taking a few laps for exercise purposes. When the heat becomes too much, dip, dive or belly flop into the cool and refreshing waters of the uniquely-shaped pool.

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Once cooled off, move to the spa for some warm water therapy or retreat to one of the many lounging and tanning areas. With the generous mature trees scattered throughout the yard, it is even easy to find areas in the shade to lay out.

But the backyard isn’t just pool and spa. Nestled on nearly half an acre, there is plenty of room for children and pets to run and play.