Wow! It’s been a wild and crazy start to the year! I’ve been focusing (apart from normal business activities) a lot on trying to get all of my blog posts cleaned up and reformatted- starting with the oldest. After moving brokerages back in October, I also changed blogging platforms and moved all of my YouTube videos over to my personal YouTube account. Sounds easy, right? HAH! So, apologies for the scarcity in new blog posts as of late- but they’re coming!
In light of that, what better way to come back than with a 2016 year-end wrap-up! Unless you’ve been living under an enchanted rock, you know that 2016 was a nutty year in Austin real estate. You’re either feeling squeezed by rising rental rates or rising property taxes.
It’s a catch-22 really. I mean, we love Austin because it’s an amazing city to live in. Almost no one can deny that. However, because it’s such an amazing city, the number of people wanting/willing to relocate here is ever-increasing. For those of you feeling the financial squeeze of housing costs, I hate to tell you- but I think the pressure will continue for a while. The good news: I don’t think the acceleration of the intensity will be quite like it has been the past few years.
Check out the video below where I break down Austin’s most recent market numbers for the month of January. Additionally, I go over the stats for 2016 as a whole and attempt to take stock of where the heck we’re at with the housing market in this sweet town. (If the video doesn’t show up below, check it out HERE on my YouTube channel!)
The Austin Board of Realtors just released the newest round of stats for the month of August. Check out the video below where I break down (what I think are) the most important take-aways! Everyone knows this market is a bit nutty. But how nutty is it, you ask? Watch the video and judge for yourself!
I’m all about green technology. These days, there are so many upgrades you can make to your home that not only help the environment- but they can also save you a crapload of money! You can upgrade/add insulation in your attic as well as the walls; you can go solar; you can get energy-efficient appliances; you can do low impact landscaping with timed drip irrigation; you can even get energy-efficient roof shingles. But one of the best things you can do to your home is upgrade the windows.
All homebuyers I work with quickly learn that I’m a little OCD about three things: HVAC Safe-T switches, water heater drain pans, and- you guessed it- windows. So, how the heck are you supposed to assess the window situation in your current home…or the home you happen to be viewing at the moment?! Well, the super short article below was posted recently on the Texas Association of Realtors blog and I just had to share. Enjoy!
5 ways to tell if the house you’re touring will need new windows
08/26/2016 | Author: Fran J. Donegan, guest expert
New windows are an expensive investment, easily costing $300 to $1,000 per window, and most homebuyers don’t factor in window costs when searching for a new home. However, if you’re aware of what to look for when touring a home, you can spot windows that may need repair or replacement. Here are things to pay attention to:
1. Windows that are difficult to open and close. You might not be able to test every window in the house, but try some out. If you are unsure, you can ask permission.
2. Damage to window frames. Look for signs of water damage, rotted wood, or recently made repairs, both inside and outside.
3. Missing hardware. Most hardware can be replaced, including cranks for casement windows, but if the hardware is missing, it could be a sign that the window does not work properly.
4. Foggy double-pane windows. Condensation between the panes of glass means the seal has been broken and the energy efficiency of the window has been compromised.
5. Single-pane windows. This is a sign that the windows are fairly old and not very energy efficient. New double-pane windows are much more energy efficient.
Consider future maintenance when surveying the windows. Wood windows need to be scraped and painted every few years. If new windows are an option, there are number of low-maintenance models available, including vinyl, fiberglass, and composite, as well as wood windows where the wood is exposed inside but covered with vinyl or aluminum outside to protect it from the elements.
If you get to the stage of the buying process where you visit the property with a home inspector, point out any concerns you have.
While you may not have planned to spend money for window fixes as a new homeowner, you’ll benefit in the long run by having a more energy-efficient home.
Fran J. Donegan writes on home improvement for Home Depot. Fran is a longtime DIY author and has written several books, including Paint Your Home. To review a number of window installation options, you can visit homedepot.com.
If you are a home-seller in Austin, TX, you’ve still got the upper hand. As long as you are priced somewhere in the range of what’s reasonable, you should sell very quickly…and you’ll likely have several interested parties. Multiple offers have really become the norm.
In the video below, though, I talk a bit about an area that is growing significantly in popularity. With pretty good schools, easy access to I-35, MoPac, HWY 183, etc., and relatively affordable prices, Williamson County (Cedar Park, Round Rock, Leander, Georgetown, etc.) is experiencing somewhat of a boom.
When I first started in real estate (literally in my first licensing class), I heard several people say, “Never do business with friends or family.” I guess, at some basic level, that made sense to me at the time. I don’t know why- I just accepted it.
I hope that if/when one of these kids (my own children!) want to buy their first home, they’ll know who to call. haha
However, I sought out wise counsel from seasoned real estate agents who I deeply respected and who I knew had a solid ethical backbone. One agent, in particular, directly challenged that little bit of what he called “folk wisdom”. He said, “Screw that, dude! I say only work with friends and family!” This guy said that avoiding business deals with friends and family is only important if you (or the other party) are planning on acting without integrity. He encouraged me to be open to working with anybody who I genuinely believe I can help. After all, if I am honest, ethical, and trustworthy, why in the heck should I exclude those who are closest to me?!
Some of my favorite peeps, Leif and Autum
With that in mind, I recently had the ammmmazing opportunity to work with Leif, who is one of my dearest childhood friends (and his awesome wife, Autum…who is also a dear friend!). We had such a blast together and I am so glad that I was the one who was able to help them buy their first home! Leif and I actually played in a band together in high school and college (see us shredding below), travelled the country in a van playing gigs, and grew up about 200 yards from each other.
See Leif and Autum in the video below describing what it was like working with me…a friend…and also family…basically.
“Devastating termite damage is pretty typical, right?” (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Here are a few specific examples:
How long does it typically take for a seller to respond after an offer is submitted?
Sellers won’t typically contribute to a buyer’s closing costs, right?
Do the washer and dryer typically stay?
Do sellers typically repair any items in the inspection not up to code?
Will a buyer typically pay over asking price for a home like mine?
Homes in my neighborhood typically sell pretty quickly, right?
…I could go on and on…
Well, I’m here to tell you that there is no “typical” in real estate. Before getting into real estate, I was a middle school math and economics teacher for about eight years. In teaching, there were certainly many obstacles- many of them you couldn’t prepare for. However, most of my day was literally planned out by me or someone else. Our curriculum was planned a year in advance. I knew what lessons I’d be teaching each day; I knew when grades and report cards were due; and if any of my students misbehaved, there were plans of action. Especially with respect to the academic content- there were rules and theorems that had to be obeyed in order to succeed. I mean, none of my students ever asked, “Mr. Raven, if I were to divide 56 by 8, would I typically get an answer of 7?”
This was on the door of my classroom for a couple of years.
So, back to real estate! One of the things I love most about this (Realtor) job is that everything is different virtually all the time. Every property is different and comes with its different quirks. Every seller is different. Every buyer is different. Every listing agent is different. Every buyer’s agent is different. Every mortgage lender is different. Of course, the market can change on a dime. Lending laws change all the time. Even the real estate sales contract changes occasionally.
Let’s break this idea down with one simple scenario: I’m sitting in front of a home with my buyer clients and they love it. They say to me, “Barrett, we love it. But we really want to pay $20,000 less than what they are asking. But sellers in this market don’t typically consider offers below asking price, right?”
In this example, the outcome primarily depends on the seller’s motivation. (e.g. Are they just selling to see what the market will bear? Do they even care if they sell or not? Or did the husband just get a job in Chicago and they need to sell FAST!?) If the seller is highly motivated to get a sale done, they might be willing to give a little on price.
Is the home priced appropriately? The price of any given home on the market may or may not be based on reality. In my opinion, a good real estate agent should give you an accurate projection of the market price before you ever offer on a home. If it appears the market supports a price $45,000 less than where they are listed, there’s a decent chance a $20,000 price reduction may be successful. Or maybe there are obvious defects present in the home that the seller did not take into account when they listed.
Another important factor in this scenario is the method and strategy by which your agent presents the low offer. In the end, someone wants to sell their home and someone else wants to buy that home. This is a very cooperative process. There’s no reason to present a low offer in an insulting or condescending way. We are all on the same team here! As a buyer’s agent, I am still helping the seller get their home sold. Of course, I must do this while representing the buyer’s interests. I could write about this particular topic all day. But if my client’s interest is to buy the home for $20,000 below asking, I believe I am much more likely to achieve that for them if I treat the listing agent with kindness and bring data to the table demonstrating that my client’s offer is a reasonable one. (Someday, I will write a post just about this…but this one is getting too long.)
Of course, there are market factors at play. For example, if the average days on market in a particular neighborhood is 15 days and you are asking for a $20,000 price reduction on the third day, you’re probably not going to get it. But you never know!
Lastly, there is the financing component. Are you paying in all cash? If so you may be able to get a price reduction. If not, how much are you putting down?
There are even more pieces of the puzzle than this! So, to just say that you can’t typically get this or that is oversimplifying things pretty drastically. What a beautiful process we get to experience together!
2015 has finally come to a close…at least with respect to reported housing market stats! 2015 was a major record-breaking year for the Austin area. Check out the video below where I break down some of the numbers for the entire year!
One quick point that I didn’t really mention in the video:
It’s a little misleading to say that inventory in Austin is so low and just leave it at that. It can be a bit confusing for someone who isn’t intimately familiar with these numbers- especially when you hear that there was a record number of homes sold. If you’re like me, you think, “Wait, first you said tons of homes were sold and that there were record numbers of homes hitting the market…and then you said there’s hardly anything available. What the heck? Which one is it?!”
It might help to phrase it this way: There is very little housing inventory available in Austin relative to the number of people who are wanting to buy homes.