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Archive for December, 2008

PostHeaderIcon ‘Tis the end!

Of another year, that is. I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, and safe New Year’s celebration and a prosperous new year filled with joy.

Happy New Year from all of us at OffAssist!
See you in January!

PostHeaderIcon Toot! Toot!

Candy won’t toot her own horn, so I guess it’s up to me to do it.

If you’re a VA you are probably familiar with VANA, the Virtual Assistant Networking Association Forum. If not, and you’re serious about this business, you probably should be.

Well, last Wednesday they named Candy their Entrepreneur of the Year for 2008. Yea, it’s a pretty big deal. I hear it came with some nice swag, too 🙂

Check out the official word here and see all the nice things people had to say about Candy.

PostHeaderIcon Free Quickbooks! 12-22-08 Only!

Are you putting off switching to QuickBooks because you just don’t think you need it yet, and can’t justify the expense?

Well, you can stop stalling now. On Monday, December 22, 2008, Staples and Intuit are teaming up to help small business owners get a mostly free copy of QB 2009.

Mostly free because it involves discounts and rebates, and still paying sales tax, but still, it IS mostly free. The promotion is available in person or online at

Check it out here and remember it is ONE DAY only, 12/22/08!

PostHeaderIcon Do you take a pill every morning? — Helping me and Helping others – Technology at it’s best!

I wasn’t sure what to title this, so you got a mish-mash. Every morning, I have to take a pill. I can’t tell you how many times I forget it. I try to take it with food or milk, but sometimes I’m so busy wrangling the kids out the door or dealing with an early client request or just plain running around like a crazy person that I don’t grab anything to eat/drink… so I have this issue remembering it.

Ah, but see… Shawn, a guy I work with (he’s in MI or somewhere I think – yes, we are virtual) – at Linux Journal has the same problem. His solution is pretty genius actually. He set up a Twitter account and tweets to it once he’s taken his pill for the day. If people see he hasn’t tweeted (that’s twitter-speak for posted), then they will start to bug him about taking it.

Pretty cool, eh? Yeah, so, I can’t remember to take my pill, how the heck am I supposed to remember to remind HIM to take HIS pill, right? So, I decided to piggy back off of his idea…

I added itookmypill (that’s his twitter account) to my devices (I only have like 2 people that come to my phone – I use twhirl for the rest, otherwise the text messages make me crazy). What happens is this… when he takes his pill, it texts me that he did and THAT reminds me to take it. At the same time, if I don’t get a message (he usually takes it by 7:30 central), then it seems to trigger a reminder that “hey, I didn’t get a message from Shawn today” and I remind him.

How awesome is that, folks? Did you follow that? So, basically what happens is that his tweet reminds me. If I don’t see a tweet from him and remember my pill, I can remind him. Or if we both forget, typically someone else will see that he didn’t tweet and someone will remind him that reminds me.

I mean, really, you can’t beat that. THAT is how you make technology work for you, folks!

If you take a morning pill, try it out, you can join twitter and just have that one as someone you follow, add itookmypill to your device list… what a great way to help someone and help yourself at the same time!

Happy Holidays!

PostHeaderIcon Great Last Minute Gift Idea from a client of mine…

I just got this email from a client of mine. This is a great last minute gift idea – her stuff is really cute too. Happy holidays! ~Candy

Greetings Last-Minute Shoppers!

We’ve all been there before… you are out of unique gift ideas for a few final names on your holiday shopping list. You’re considering making fruitcake again, but last time you tried that there were casualties. Lucky for you we we have a better idea….


Our Collections

Designs from our ~Mist~ collection exude simple, dainty sophistication, while the ~Petal~ collection offers a slightly more decadent, sparkly look. The ~Branch~ collection is immersed in earth tone stones and copper and brass finished metals, to produce a more organic look. Finally, the~Plume~ collection offers an array of unique, ornate lariats and ribbon necklaces in casual to dressy styles, and in an array of colors.

Click here to visit our website.

Call or email our designer, Aharon Hill before December 22nd, and she will help you select gifts from our Winter Collections (view examples on our website), or can create pieces specially designed for your gift recipients!

Aharon Hill
Owner/Designer, Kaleo Designs

PostHeaderIcon Happy Birthday to the Mouse!

The link below is to an article about Logitech’s one-billionth mouse, but the part I found most interesting was the tidbits on the history of the computer mouse. Did you know the computer mouse is FORTY years old today?

Check it out!

PostHeaderIcon State of the Austin Market

Today’s post is brought to you by our guest blogger, Anne Haikola of Violet Crown Realty.


Dear OffAssist blog readers,

Everywhere I go someone inevitably asks me “How is the real estate market in Austin?”

This guest blog post is an opportunity for me to give everyone a proper, detailed answer, complete with supporting data and charts, so here goes…

The unfortunate truth is that media coverage of the real estate/mortgage mess, particularly in 2008, has really done a number on consumer confidence. Many people are taking a, “wait and see,” attitude towards real estate purchases.

Below is a chart of closings on a month by month basis for the past 5 years. You can see that this year is not as awful as the media makes it out to be; 2008 is tracking with 2004.

However, compared to recent years sales in the Austin market are definitely off for 2008.

Home inventories in Austin are up and I have provided you with a summary of what that looks like in our various MLS areas.
As a frame of reference, real estate industry standards say that the transition from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market take place when an area has a 6 month or greater available inventory. The Austin MLS area-wide inventory is just a little over 6 months – which means we are leaning toward a buyer’s market.
However, when you look at some of the more popular Austin areas, the months of inventory range from 2.62 to 17.2 months. Keep in mind that the data is skewed by neighborhoods with $ 1 Million plus homes, which always take a long time to sell.

The areas with more affordable housing – with average prices less than $200,000– tend to have smaller months of inventories. The inventory in some of the “pricier” areas is growing; as a result, average prices are sliding (buyer’s market).

Austin MLS Area Map

Consider Area 1B: This are contains some old, established neighborhoods like Tarrytown, Pemberton, Brykerwoods, and Clarksville. If you’ve always wanted to live in one of these neighborhoods, now is a good time to look, especially if you have good equity in your current home. With a 10 month inventory of homes, there will be better opportunities for price negotiation.

Of course you have to be in the market for at least an average home in the area – which is around the $575,000 price point. The theory with “laddering-up” is that you might take a hit when you sell in a down market, but if you upgrade you are likely to get more for your money.

On the other end of the spectrum, people with a home to sell in MLS areas N or 10S should be able to sell their home quickly and close to asking price. I say that assuming that a seller in these areas is planning to work with a qualified real estate professional (me!) to prepare and market the home to its best advantage. I am also asuming that the asking price is in line with average home prices for the area.

What else can I tell you about the Austin market? Well, actually, a lot. If you have questions about a particular part of town or property values, please just give me a call and I’ll be happy to discuss your specific questions or concerns. I am constantly looking at the market data and studying the inventory and can easily provide you with a more focused analysis.

In closing, I would like to say that other national real estate markets are fairing far worse than Austin. Some states and cities will probably sustain a much longer term depression in prices. As long as Austin remains affordable folks will continue to migrate this way.

There is a feeling among local real estate professionals that the bottom is probably behind us. We anticipate sales picking back up and a surge in the Spring, based on historical trends, from seasonal need and a pent up demand from those that want to wait and see, but really need to move.

Personally, I believe that this market presents one of the best opportunities to buy a home in the Austin area in quite some time. I think now if the time for investors to scope out rental properties and homeowners should feel privileged to have been able to enter the market at such a good time. Please do not sit to wait for prices to plummet and miss the already closing window we have for good deals in the market. Once Spring rolls around, those that are waiting may realize it is too late.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I hope you find the information in it helpful.

Anne Haikola

By the way, if you or someone you know needs a great realtor to represent them, feel free to contact me at