Capstone Blog

Interview With REILLY, REALTORS® Owner and Managing Broker, Michael Reilly

By: Capstone Team - 8/1/18


August 1 Capstone Blog We are excited to share our next interview series guest REILLY, REALTORS® Owner and Managing Broker Michael Reilly. Michael’s primary focus is on supporting his growing team of agents with outstanding marketing, technology and support services so they can better serve their clients.

Michael’s career started with a decade in high tech consulting, but his love of real estate led him to start an Austin based home building company in 2002 and earn his real estate license in 2003. In 2006, Michael, along with his wife, Shae, transitioned from building to running their own brokerage, which included launching www.AustinHomeListings.com. With a focus on ease of use, map searches and neighborhood profiles – a new concept at the time – the website quickly became one of Austin’s top home search destinations. The success of the website and Michael’s focus on customer service propelled him to become one of Austin’s top producing agents, averaging $15 million in sales annually until he shifted his focus to growing the brokerage in 2012.

About REILLY, REALTORS®, Michael says, “We are a team of top agents who succeed by demonstrating love for our city, community, work, clients, and each other. We take the high road and show respect to all parties in everything we do.”

Tell us a little about REILLY, REALTORS® and what your team of agents is like.
We’re a locally owned, independent brokerage with 140 agents and 500 hundred million in annual sales. We have a team of top agents who succeed by demonstrating love for our work, our city, our clients, our communities, and each other. We take the high road and show respect to all parties in everything we do.

We saw your vast experience in marketing. How do you think your company stands out in online home marketing from other real estate companies?
REILLY, REALTORS® has one of the top three real estate websites in Austin. We were one of the first brokerages in town to syndicate listings from the multiple listing service and create a website where clients could search available homes. Our website also features open house, coming soon and sold data, allowing clients to see what similar homes recently sold for.

What inspired your Love Austin program and is your team working on a community service initiative currently?
Austin may be one of the world's most prosperous cities, however there is still a great need among many of our fellow citizens. We owe our success to this amazing city and strive to give back to its residents as often as we can. Our team recently participated in a volunteer day with Habitat for Humanity and will be putting together another volunteer opportunity for our team in the fall! We have an entire committee dedicated to giving back, who help plan events. Typically, we’re doing monthly volunteer events, but we had to scale back for the busy summer months!

Which upcoming Austin neighborhood do you feel has the potential to rise in popularity in the next few years?
There are so many great new neighborhoods in development or opened in the last year.

When building a great team, like you have, what are the main qualities you look for in a person?
Naturally, we look for experienced, top producing agents to join our team. However, it’s also incredibly important to us that we have agents with a reputation for integrity, who treat others with respect and put their clients’ best interests first.

What inspired you to leave your career in high tech consulting and transition to real estate?
Plain and simple, my wife and I love homes and we love helping others find the perfect home. Personally, we’ve had 17 addresses since moving to Austin in 1997. Even while I was in “high tech” we were remodeling and flipping homes so it was a natural progression. Also, my father was a builder, so I grew up around real estate and always had an interest in it.

We know you absolutely love Austin, what’s your favorite Austin festival?
Austin City Limits is by far the best local festival. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the last few years, and have seen some of my favorites perform.


Interview With Thrive, FP's President Adrian Lufschanowski

By: Capstone Team - 7/18/18


July 18 Capstone Blog In this week’s blog we had the pleasure of interviewing Thrive, FP’s President Adrian Lufschanowski. Adrian Lufschanowski currently serves as President at Thrive, FP. Adrian’s career in raising capital started 12 years ago with a venture capital firm, Elevation Capital Partners. Adrian’s knowledge and expertise in financial markets and investments has added to his aptitude to identify sound startups and real estate ventures. For 10 years, Adrian studied the financial markets in depth to identify viable investments, perform risk/reward analysis, and preserve capital in his trading of equities and derivatives.

In 2007, Adrian was recruited to join First Capital Funding (Now Thrive, FP) as Director of Investor Relations and helped make First Capital Funding a top player in the state of Texas. In 2009, JP and Adrian had early identified the growing demand for multifamily housing in Texas and began acquiring a portfolio of 9,000 units with several strategic operating partners. Adrian obtained his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Texas, Austin. He then received his Masters of Human Services in Business Administration (MBA) and Social Psychology at St. Edward’s University. He is a licensed Realtor in Texas and a member of ABOR, TAR, and NAR.

1. Thrive FP is an incredible company in Austin. Can you tell us about your role as President and the values that drive your company.
My role as one of the two partners that own Thrive is split with responsibilities with JP Newman. We both run the company and deal with the day to day duties in addition to Investor Relations. I am in charge of raising all the money from our 350+ high net worth investors. My sole focus on the investor side is to build long standing relationships with investors and teach them why we do what we do.

We have always believed the best way to create relationships is through transparency, education, and a desire to protect investor money. We built this company for investors – not for us – and we have always believed if you put the investors needs in front of ours good things will happen. We do not base any decisions on how much we make on any deal. It is all about the risk and return for the investors. JP and I made a promise over 12 years ago that if we close any deal for fees it is time to step away from the business. We have yet to do that and I feel very confident we will not do that in the future.

Thrive FP is unique in that the FP is for purpose, for profit. We are very conscious capital and we believe in taking care of our tenants as our customers. If we keep them happy and they stay longer in our apartments, our investors benefit more because of better cash flow. We do not like to execute a model where someone wins at someone else's expense. We build long standing communities at our apartments where tenants call home and make a difference. We do not believe in just fixing up a property and charging higher rents. We work with nonprofits to create after school programs, job training and shuttle service for our tenants. We have also provided backpacks, meals and even tax return help for our tenants at some of our properties. That is our FP, for purpose for profit. That is how we value a win win for everyone.

2. What do most people not think to look for when identifying viable investments in your field?
Most people look at returns without any worry about the risk you take as an investor to get that return. The larger the return, typically, the larger the risk which no one wants to look at. We always make sure that if we do take more risk the return should be larger. We call this risk adjusted return. The other big focus for us is we always pay attention to where we are in the “cycle” for real estate. Any commodity or investment typically moves in a six to eight year cycle and then there is a two year down part of the cycle before the start of the next cycle. The closer we get to the end of a cycle, the more risk there is in the market from all the appreciation that has taken place. We always believe missed money is better than lost money in that passing on deals that we believe are too risky or too expensive is better than getting into deals that lose money for investors and do not work.

3. Back in 2009 how did you recognize the growing demand for multifamily housing in Texas and how did that lead you to where you are today?
That was a unique time for sure. There were so many factors that created the great recession, which in return created one of the best buying opportunities we have seen since the 1980s. Because of the global financial crisis we saw all construction stop, people losing their homes and values drop all over the USA. This created the perfect storm because at this time people began to accept renting as a better option than buying for many reasons. So supply could not keep up with demand and Texas saw an incredible amount of population growth which created this perfect opportunity to buy multifamily apartments. Demand far out stripped supply and it took almost five years to catch up. Texas continues to be one of the top states in job creation and as a result people want to move here and enjoy great jobs and very reasonable way of life here. We believe Texas will continue to be one of the best states for the next 10 years in job growth, great business environment, reasonable cost of living and overall great weather.

4. As president, how do you ensure your company’s positive culture and consistently inspire your team?
We really believe if you do things for the right reason great things follow. We don’t want to tell people how good we are or how different we are – we want to show it. This is when people notice you. We don’t act one way at work and another at home. We strive to have the right balance and it should be the same in life not at work versus home. We build relationships with partners and investors so that they are truly friends and family which we never want to disappoint. If you do not want to disappoint family, you will work harder to ensure things are done exceptionally well the first time.

5. How does the Thrive FP team give back to Austin community?
By building and creating better communities for people to live in. People that need to live in apartments we want to cater to them and thank them for living in our apartments. In return we want their experience to be like no other. We want them to feel appreciated and love where they live. It’s decency that is what we try to create.

6. Can you explain how Thrive’s Circle of Giving works and what initiatives Thrive FP is currently working on?
We have been very profitable for ourselves and our investors over the years. It is very important and an honor to be able to give back and donate or make someone else’s life better. We have been matching our investor’s donation to First Community Village. We have built four homes already for a total close to $80,000 and counting! The community helps homeless people and it is a huge success.

7. As a University of Texas alumnus, what’s your favorite UT sport to watch or attend?
I bleed orange and like anything Longhorn BUT if I had to choose I love football season. I try to pick one or two road games a year to go watch and I go to just about every home game. I love basketball as well.


WE LOVE LEARNING AND GROWING

By: Capstone Team - 6/25/18


June 25 Capstone Blog Performance Feedback
We regularly provide candid, constructive performance feedback. At a minimum, your contributions and performance will be reviewed and discussed with you once per quarter.

Try New Things
We encourage all team members to try new things and bring fresh ideas to our attention. We would never claim to have all the answers. Please challenge us...and allow our company to grow and flourish.

Mistakes
When you try new things, you will make mistakes. They happen. But, it is critical that we learn from our mistakes and not repeat them.

Continuing Education
We offer monthly opportunities for education, training and personal growth. We encourage all team members to seek out additional educational opportunities. If you see something you like, go for it! We are happy to support you, and will consider tuition reimbursement for those seeking additional higher education.


Interview with Pearlstone Partners CEO and Principal Robert Lee

By: Capstone Team - 6/20/18


June 20 Capstone Blog In this week’s blog we had the pleasure of interviewing a great friend of Capstone Title, Pearlstone Partners CEO and Principal Robert Lee.

Robert Lee is an entrepreneur and CEO with a proven track record of successful real estate projects in the Central Austin area. With more than 35 years of commercial real estate experience, Robert has been responsible for over $500 million in transactions overseeing the development, construction, and sale of product types ranging from single-family, multi-family, condo, office, and light industrial. An active member of both the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce, Robert is heavily involved in civic and philanthropic causes that better his community. Recently, Robert’s business expanded to markets outside the Austin area and he looks forward to conquering future challenges as his business continues to grow.

We are grateful Robert took a moment to share the latest regarding Pearlstone Partners and some insight to their company!

1. Tell us about Pearlstone Partners and what projects you are currently working on.
Pearlstone Partners is a full-service real estate development firm that specializes in infill condominium projects in some of Austin's most desirable neighborhoods. We've been responsible for more than $300 million in locally developed real estate and manage every stage of the property development life cycle, from initial building concepts to sales and investments strategies for the final product.

Currently, we're in the construction phase for our EastGate condominium project in East Austin. EastGate embodies our philosophy of providing a quality product in a desirable area for a price that allows more people to enjoy living in Austin's established and burgeoning central neighborhoods. The convenience of the lock and leave lifestyle and attainable pricing make condominiums a great alternative to single-family homes for many Austinites.

EastGate will be completed by summer of 2019, but we also have several projects set up for delivery in 2020 that we're excited about. We have several mid-rise condominiums being developed in prime locations off of Webberville Road, Govalle, and 25th & Lamar and 48 East will be a high-rise residential tower constructed in the popular Rainey Street district. We're also currently in the process of filling our pipeline for 2021.

2. What commercial real estate trends are you currently seeing in Austin?
Right now the Austin real estate market is thriving, but affordability continues to be a concern. There is a population of interested home buyers that aren't being served by the market because of the high-cost of living in Austin and we are continually trying to find ways to provide a product that better serves them. Overall, there seems to be a decreasing interest in multi-family while office and commercial property interest remains high.

3. What role does community service play in your company?
I believe it's important to give back to the community that has helped to push us forward. Especially as an Asian owned company, giving back to the Asian community at large is very important. I have a family history of service. My grandfather was the secretary general of Taiwan and had a history of impacting his community at a national level and I want to make at least a minor impact in Austin where I've lived for the last 40-50 years. We try to listen to the community and participate in the programs and initiatives put forth by the city to try to better it.

4. If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to invest or purchase a commercial property in Austin, what would it be?
Find someone competent and educated for representation. A lot of people like to think they can go out and do things on their own, but you have to think about it like you're participating in legal proceedings. Not many people would want to represent themselves in a legal case, you'd want to get proper legal representation and an expert in their field to guide you through the process and fight for your best interests. It's the same with real estate - there is no substitute for an experienced team that are there to help you through the process and ultimately reach your financial goals.

5. Where do you see Austin’s commercial development heading in the next five years?
Commercial development is going to increase and become more dense. As more people move here and space is limited, density will be the key to increasing housing availability and improving affordability.

6. What empowered you to develop some of Austin’s most impressive projects?
It all starts with one thing: seeing a need and filling that need. We saw a need for attainable housing in Austin, especially in the center of the city. We wanted to try to open that market up to more people.

7. What is your favorite summer activity in Austin?
Work, because real estate is like the temperature of Texas. When the temperature rises, so does the market.


WE LOVE SERVING OTHERS

By: Capstone Team - 6/18/18


June 18 Capstone Blog Service Company
We are a professional services company. We are here to serve our clients and each other. Lead with a servant’s heart and always ask first, “How can I help you?”

Community Involvement
We are passionate about supporting and giving back to our community. We regularly volunteer our time to worthwhile non-profit organizations in our community. We encourage you to bring suggestions on where the company can focus its giving and to personally be involved in the communities in which you live.


Why you should get involved with community service in Austin

By: Leslie Mullen Odom - 6/13/18


June 13 Capstone Blog Oh Austin! We love your rolling hills and beautiful lakes and all you have to offer but most importantly we love your heart. “Keep Austin Weird” is not just our slogan it’s our mantra that we Austinintes take to heart. We like to hold our city to a higher standard and because of this a rich culture of philanthropic giving has taken root.

Austin has more nonprofits per capita than any other city in Texas. We love to give and it shows. Take a look next time you’re at the dog park and I bet half of those dogs are rescues from Austin Pets Alive. Austin is celebrating its fifth year as the country’s largest no kill city.

With so many choices it may take a while to find your perfect fit but a world full of like minded and kind Austinites are waiting to show you the ropes. Here are a few favorite local charities that always need a helping hand.

Children’s Charities:
Dell Children’s Trust

Joining the Dell Children’s Trust gives you the opportunity of a lifetime! You’ll make new friends, learn the latest in pediatric healthcare and have the ability to really make a difference in our community. dellchildrens.net/support-dell-childrens/get-involved/support-groups/dell-childrens-trust/

Partnerships for Children
As a nonprofit in Central Texas, Partnerships for Children leads a collection of programs that offer resources, support and comfort for foster children and families in our community. Our accessibility to CPS, efficient practices and ability to connect with kids at all stages in their lives allows us to better serve those who need us most by providing real and impactful solutions. Learn how you can get involved here: partnershipsforchildren.org

Pop-Up Birthday
Provides personalized birthday celebrations to children in foster care, creating a moment of connection between the child and a loving adult. We believe that something as simple as a birthday party has the power to provide normalcy, joy and hope in a foster child’s life. Learn more about them here: popupbirthday.org

Animals:
Austin Pets Alive!

Austin Pets Alive! is a nonprofit organization dedicated to stopping the killing of Austin’s adoptable dogs and cats. Led by Emancipet founder, Dr. Ellen Jefferson, they want to see the end of the killing of homeless pets in Austin, Central Texas, and the entire country. APA! is leading the no-kill movement in Austin by energizing the public and maintaining comprehensive, innovative, life-saving programs designed to save the animals most likely to be euthanized in shelters. Check out this great organization: www.austinpetsalive.org

Homeless:
Mobile Loaves and Fishes

Mobile Loaves and Fishes provides food and clothing, cultivate community and promote dignity to our homeless brothers and sisters in need. Check out this great organization here: mlf.org

Community First! Village
Community First! Village is a 27-acre master planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless in Central Texas Learn more about them here: mlf.org/community-first


WE LOVE OUR TEAM MEMBERS AND CLIENTS

By: Capstone Team - 6/11/18


June 11 Capstone Blog Diversity
We embrace diversity and encourage anyone and everyone to interview to be a part of our team.

Respect
We treat all team members with dignity and respect. Treat your fellow team members as you would your closest family and friends. We do not participate in politics or gossip. We care enough about each other to have honest, respectful conversations.

Judgment
You are an adult. We are a professional services company. Use your best judgment in all situations, keeping in mind the best interest of our company and clients.

Unlimited Paid Time Off
We advocate for a healthy work-life balance. Get your work done. And spend time away from work to re-charge. Take as much time as you deem necessary to create balance in your life, keeping in mind your commitment to the rest of the team.

Office Attire
Wear clothes. Please. What exactly you wear is up to you. But please do keep in mind we are a professional services company. Dress appropriately.

Insurance/Retirement
We provide health and dental insurance coverage for all team members. Spouse and dependent coverage is available at your cost. We offer an optional 401(k) retirement plan and match 15% of 100% of your yearly contributions, vesting immediately.

Profit Sharing
We share our success with all of our team members. When the company makes a profit, you make a profit.

Communication
Communication is vitally important in our business. It is critical that we communicate clearly and consistently both internally and externally. And use your manners. We are a polite, kind, caring company.


We LOVE being open and honest!

By: Capstone Team - 6/4/18


June 4 Capstone Blog Transparency
We are an open-book company. As much as we can legally share, we will. Just ask.

Open Door Policy
Leadership is always available for questions, concerns, suggestions. We encourage and periodically directly elicit thoughtful, constructive feedback.

Recruiting
We invite all of our team members to actively recruit other wonderful, high character, driven individuals to join our team. If we hire a new team member you have actively recruited, we will pay you a recruiting bonus.

Collaboration
We are a collaborative company. We encourage everyone to ask for help. Be prepared to work with, and be willing and available to help, your fellow team members.


Commercial Real Estate Trends in ATX

By: Richard Ethridge - 4/18/18


April 18 Capstone Blog

Economic Factors:
The commercial and industrial real estate market in the Austin area experienced record demand over the last few years. The boom has triggered massive development and the area remains one of the most competitive business markets in the country.

Austin, Texas continues to attract the attention of many demographics. Not only from other parts of Texas, but from all over the world people are moving to our beloved area. Austin is known for its cool, trendy vibe as well as being a tech savvy region. This diversity is a reason the area has remained largely insulated from the effects of the global financial crisis and why the economic forecast remains confident.

Many economists and investors continue to have Austin commercial properties atop their list due to the growth in the professional and business sectors. In-demand jobs and a highly skilled labor force boost the diversity of the Austin economy.

Office Space:
With all this HQ2 conversation heating up, it seems Amazon isn't the only company considering a move to Austin. A new study based on Bureau of Labor statistics and the Yardi matrix has determined that Austin is one of the top markets for commercial office real estate investors in 2018.

Austin continues to appeal to millennials and their quest for the “live, work, play” locations and the co-working stations creates a larger number of available subleases. Even though some of this availability is caused by relocating or downsizing, it is still a strong desire for the younger members of Austin’s population growth.

Retail:
The retail sector of Austin continued to grow in 2017 and there is no sign of that growth stopping in 2018. Restaurants, retail and major shopping centers continue to open at a fascinating rate. Of course, this is great for the consumer and Austin’s fun and trendy lifestyle.

Multi-family:
As the prices for a single-family home continues to rise and the population does as well, there is a strong demand for multi-family housing in Austin. The result is interesting to investors due to the positive employment outlook and favorable demographic trends. Accordingly, we should expect low vacancy rates to remain the norm.

Market Trends:
If we study the employment numbers, vacancy rates, lease rates, office construction pipeline and a 2.7 percent unemployment rate, Austin ranks among the top cities in the U.S. for job seekers. As a result, the city maintained a low 11-15 percent office vacancy rate throughout 2017.

Austin’s future construction in 2018 is forecasted at 1.8 million square feet, down slightly from the 2.5 million in 2017, it still represents a three percent increase in available inventory, making it a solid place to invest.

As we continue to see developers’ favorite bird, the construction crane, build downtown high-rises and suburban office parks, recent studies noted that smaller co-working spaces are rapidly expanding. This provides companies more flexibility for their employees, which in turn is impacting construction trends.

So, who is using all that space? The overwhelming majority of Austin office space is used by the technology sector, about 34 percent.

According to PWC’s 39th annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate Report, Austin ranked second in the country’s real estate markets, after Seattle. Austin and Dallas both made the Top 10. The report also predicts slower but more sustainable growth for the U.S. real estate market.

Austin, Texas continues to be an active market. Vacancies increased slightly in late 2017 commercial real estate arena, but the long-term outlook for the industrial market is good. Healthy economic conditions, steady business expansion, and popularity make Austin a top market for investors. The city is in high demand for all kinds of commercial spaces: retail, warehouse, office and flex space.


Renting VS Buying & The Value in Each

By: Clari McGougan - 4/11/18


April 11 Capstone Blog The rent versus buy decision was pretty-straight forward until 2007 when the housing bubble that had been slightly growing came to a screeching halt. Many mortgages went under and a foreclosure crisis ensued. Meanwhile, the renters of the world were doing relatively well.

Today there is no clear answer whether to rent or buy. In certain cities and for certain individuals buying a home may make more sense, while for others renting a home may be the better choice. It all depends on one’s circumstances, job stability, love for the area and whether they want to spend the rest of their lives there. There are significant advantages to homeownership, one being the mortgage interest deduction, which is a tax benefit that allows you to deduct mortgage interest payment from your taxable income. The mortgage payment goes towards increasing the stake in one’s equity.

Rental payments in contrast have no such advantages. Rental payment goes entirely to your landlord, and tends to increase over time. The costs of renting can be much higher than buying. Rents can change drastically over a few years, and there’s the ever-looming threat of eviction if a rent increase is more than you can afford. As a homeowner many will not face spikes in their payment (adjustable-rate mortgages are one exception), however most will not have to worry about being tossed out on street if the payment becomes too expensive.

Then there’s the question of maintenance: leaky pipes, painting, cleaning gutters, roof & HVAC and all the costs of owning a home. This can be a personal preference. Many homeowners take pride in working on their homes and by the same token many renters complain of unresponsive landlords who refuse to deal with certain issues.

Answering the question should I rent or buy requires some serious soul-searching. In the end the rent versus buy decision comes down to one’s preferences and plans. If you know exactly how long you want to stay in your home and where you want to live, and you have money saved up, the decision could be as easy as calculating which option will cost you less. If your future is unclear, you may have more to consider.


Our team. Our values. Why love drives our company culture.

By: Capstone CEO/President Brad Compere - 4/4/18


April Capstone Blog “A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear.” – Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines

This quote is stamped on the front of the Capstone Compendium – our operational Bible if you will. When we first began contemplating starting a title company, my partners and I agreed on many things. The most important was people and more specifically loving people. Being successful in business and life boils down to one simple concept: love.

We love to spend time together. Once a month we have an off-site team building opportunity. We may have dinner, drinks, go out on the lake or bowling. Whatever we do, we’re doing it together as a team. Once a quarter we take our team building to the community with a group volunteer opportunity with a local non-profit organization.

Love is such an ephemeral word. It brings to mind the romantic love Shakespeare wrote about in his timeless tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. But the concept as we use it is much broader. Love is care, kindness, respect, humility, honesty, integrity, service and community. It is approaching every situation, every decision, every relationship with “How can I help? How can I be of service?”

At Capstone Title we believe that “we” is the key. The key to a successful organization starts internally by taking care of each other. My job as the CEO is to make sure our team feels loved and strengthened by the collective goal to be great and to make a difference in our community. We are good at what we do but are mediocre compared to how great we want to become. Because we are strong internally, our work product reflects that inner greatness and we are able to provide an incredible level of service to our clients.

Success to us means truly caring about people, asking about their families, helping them set and achieve both professional and personal goals and truly listening. It means being kind in every action, thinking that you have a person with cares, concerns, troubles on the other end of every phone call, every email and every interaction. It means treating everyone with respect and using your manners (as each of other mothers taught us). It means being humble…taking personal blame and sharing success with the group. It means telling the truth, owning up to mistakes, no matter how difficult that might be. It means always doing the right thing in any given situation, setting aside pride and ego. It means offering help to anyone and everyone….leading with a servant’s heart. It means giving back to your community, taking the time to help those less fortunate than we are and being grateful for the opportunity to make a difference.

The real estate industry can feel very sterile and transactional. Our amazing team strives daily to make sure that the human piece of each real estate deal is not lost. Put simply, we love.