November Newsletter | How I've Made Joy a Priority

November was a whirlwind of a month between traveling to North Carolina for the Inspiration Lab, working with lovely people like you, and Thanksgiving with family. Here are some high points from the month:

Real Estate Questions for Real

I started doing "Real Estate Questions for Real" videos about a year ago as an outlet for my desire to educate, share what I know, and empower people to make good real estate decisions. I didn't know it at the time, but teaching would become a huge theme for me in 2019. And I've learned this year that following your enthusiasm wherever it leads is an easy way to have more joy in your life. So rather than fighting my natural tendencies to learn, synthesize, ponder and educate, I've leaned into them and taken on coaching, training, management and speaking roles. More on that below, but first, a useful real estate tip for you.

More specific questions? Email me at

The Inspiration Lab 

 In mid-November, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Inspiration Lab conference in Wilmington, NC to an incredible group of women. The topic of my talk was "Stress Less, Vacation More: How To Be Epically Efficient."


I have some workaholic tendencies which, early in my career, left me stressed, anxious and glued to my phone. At some point in 2016, I looked up and realized no one was coming to save me. This was my life, and if I wanted to enjoy it, I was going to have to rewrite the rules.

So I started making vacations a priority. Chris and I lived in Mexico for a full month, an experiment to see if I, and my business, would survive that kind of absence. I started taking a day off, Friday, which I still do today. I built systems to replace myself so that clients wouldn't be waiting on me for answers. I made these changes out of necessity, but the results surprised me. I closed more transactions with fewer hours and happier clients. And I was happier. I found joy in my work and life again.

When I spoke in North Carolina, I told my story, laid out the principles I used to fix my problem, and offered some actionable tips for women in the audience to start making a shift themselves, starting that day. I loved looking out into the audience and seeing these women laser-focused, their faces alight with possibilities. And the conversations I had after my talk, and emails over the coming days almost brought me to tears. Women I didn't know came to me and said that my story then was their story now and that they were grateful to hear that there was a solution. That they were ready to start making changes.

There's something really magical about walking onto a stage and walking off 20 minutes later, having connected with an audience on that kind of level. I think I'm hooked.

Women Who Rock: Sarah Simon

Speaking of joy, and being less of a workaholic, I've fallen in love with watercolor in the last year. I just bought Sarah Simon's new book. Her work on Instagram, which you can find @themintgardener is beautiful and soothing. And I'd watched it for months wondering how in the world she does it. So when

she announced she was putting out a book, I bought it immediately. You can find it here:

I've been working my way through it, mixing gorgeous floral colors, painting tiny leaves for hours, and just generally having a grand ole time.

I love watercolor for several reasons. First, my brain completely turns off. That little voice in my head (I hope you have one too, or I'll sound crazy) that constantly chatters about to-do lists and whether or not my butt is too big and why did I say that embarrassing thing 5 years ago... you know, that annoying roommate we all have in our heads? (Again, fingers crossed that y'all aren't about to commit me to an institution.) That voice goes completely silent. And I'm able to completely drop into the present month.

Second, you can't control wimage.jpegatercolor. As a control freak, you might think this would bother me. But in fact, I love it. Watercolor refuses to be subdued. It's going to do what it's going to do, and I can only make suggestions to it. It never turns out as I expect, but it's always beautiful anyway. And if I fight it, over-manage it, or try to control it, then I have a bad time and the end result is less beautiful. So the key is to let go and accept that the paint and the paper have other plans, and they're better than mine anyway. Which to me is a metaphor for life and makes me feel very zen.

Third, I'm not that good at it, and I make no money doing it. There is zero room for my competitive nature or any profit motive, which means that I can actually just enjoy it for its own sake.

Thanks, Sarah, for putting out gorgeous art and encouraging women to find and pursue creative outlets. Your book rocks and I know I'll return to it again and again.

Just Listed, Off MLS!

We currently have two listings that are off MLS, which means you won't see them anywhere else. Email me for more details.

7211 Oak Shores 


The first is 7211 Oak Shores in 78730, off City Park Road. This home sits on a gorgeous 1.3 acres with great outdoor entertaining space and a pool. The home is priced attractively for the neighborhood where newer homes are selling for $1M and more. This home is ideal for a buyer who wants to get into this area at a good price and do some moderate cosmetic renovations to make a home their own. The home is in good shape structurally, and ready for a buyer to come and update the interior to their taste. It is a two-story, 3,947 SF home with the master down and extensive outdoor living space. We're looking for a buyer before the end of the year (so, now!) as there are some benefits for the seller to closing before 2020. Email me for more info at

Home in Del Valle

Our other listing off MLS is in Del Valle and will be priced in the mid $200s. If you're interested in a newer home southeast of town at a great price point, email me. We'll be hitting the market with it officially in the spring of 2020. 


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2102 Alta Vista: Apparently November is the month of the off-market sale for us. Morgan successfully put a deal together off-market for a friend of hers who wanted to sell a duplex in Travis Heights. The seller called Morgan to ask her advice about potentially selling his duplex and when she met with him, she realized the property was ideal for Urban ATX to redevelop. So she called Chris, he and Leonard saw the property, and the rest is history. If you've ever wondered how "off-market" sales happen, there's no secret. Just conversations and connections.

2729 Dulce Ln: We also closed this month with long-time clients Aimee and Joe! We've been working with Aimee and Joe for months to find the right condo for them. I think we started touring at the beginning of 2019. They were introduced to me by my client, Mitch, who was introduced to me by my clients Rob and Andrea, who were introduced to me by Kathleen, who I met at an open house like 5 years ago. I love that about this business.

Anyway, Aimee and Joe were the pictures of patience as we waited and waited for the right unit to pop up for them. They knew they wanted to be in the Denizen, and when a new unit finally came up, they hopped on it and did what they needed to do to win in a competitive multiple offer situation. Congrats, you guys! Look out for their client success story in a few weeks.

Tuscarora: Shout out to Bobbi Jo Diehl in Dallas who closed another transaction with my friend EJ. After trying several agents in Dallas who didn't work out, EJ and I finally connected with Bobbi Jo, and she's now my go-to woman in Dallas. EJ was introduced to me by my friend and fellow Villanova alum, Chris Major. And I met Bobbi Jo through the 30 Under 30 network.

Seriously. The more I think about this, I think I never want to pay for SEO or Zillow or Facebook marketing again. All my business comes from people I know introducing me to other great people! And hanging out with cool people brings me WAY more joy than setting up a Facebook ad. So thank you to all of you for the introductions that keep our business thriving. 


So I'll wrap this up with a few reflections on how I've found more joy in my life.

1. Listening to your intuition and following your enthusiasm is a good idea. It's usually leading you somewhere fun, where things feel easier.

2. Take days off! There is no substitute for self care.

3. Find a creative outlet you love for its own sake, and resist any urges to monetize it or otherwise strip it of it's joy.

4. Working with pleasant, interesting, generous people rocks. Treasure them when you find them.

 Cheers to more joy in 2020. 

Posted by Isabel Affinito on


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