2015 Year-end Austin, TX Market Stats Update!

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.

(If you video doesn’t show up below, check it out HERE on my YouTube channel!)








Barrett Raven
C:  512-970-2648
O:  512-910-7403
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Be a Better Buyer (Part One): 7 Steps to Take Before You Buy a Home

One of my favorite websites, Realtor.org, recently posted a series of articles about home-buying that I’m going to share here on my blog.  Because they are each filled with so much wisdom and awesomeness, I’m just going to post them one-at-a-time over the next month or so.  Seriously, if you are thinking at all about purchasing a home in the near-to-distant future, you should read all of this stuff- even if you’ve purchased a home before!  I’m calling this series “Be a Better Buyer”.   

Background image:  My wife, Kristen, and I after purchasing a home earlier this year.

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7 Steps to Take Before You Buy a Home  By:  G. M. Filisko

By doing your homework before you buy, you’ll feel more content about your new home. Read

Most potential homebuyers are a smidge daunted by the fact that they’re about to agree to a hefty mortgage that they’ll be paying for the next few decades. The best way to relieve that anxiety is to be confident you’re purchasing the best home at a price you can afford with the most favorable financing. These seven steps will help you make smart decisions about your biggest purchase.

1.  Decide how much home you can afford.
Generally, you can afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. Remember to consider costs every homeowner must cover: property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care if you plan to have children.

2.  Develop your home wish list.
Be honest about which features you must have and which you’d like to have. Handicap accessibility for an aging parent or special needs child is a must. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are in the bonus category. Come up with your top five must-haves and top five wants to help you focus your search and make a logical, rather than emotional, choice when home shopping.

3.  Select where you want to live.
Make a list of your top five community priorities, such as commute time, schools, and recreational facilities. Ask a REALTOR® to help you identify three to four target neighborhoods based on your priorities.

4.  Start saving.
Have you saved enough money to qualify for a mortgage and cover your downpayment? Ideally, you should have 20% of the purchase price set aside for a downpayment, but some lenders allow as little as 5% down. A small downpayment preserves your savings for emergencies. 

However, the lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for, and if you still qualify, the higher your monthly payment. Your downpayment size can also influence your interest rate and the type of loan you can get. 

Finally, if your downpayment is less than 20%, you’ll be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. Depending on the size of your loan, PMI can add hundreds to your monthly payment. Check with your state and local government for mortgage and downpayment assistance programs for first-time buyers.

5.  Ask about all the costs before you sign.
A downpayment is just one homebuying cost. A REALTOR® can tell you what other costs buyers commonly pay in your area — including home inspections, attorneys’ fees, and transfer fees of 2% to 7% of the home price.  (ed. We don’t have these “transfer fees” in Texas…yet!) Tally up the extras you’ll also want to buy after you move-in, such as window coverings and patio furniture for your new yard.

6.  Get your credit in order.
A credit report details your borrowing history, including any late payments and bad debts, and typically includes a credit score. Lenders lean heavily on your credit report and credit score in determining whether, how much, and at what interest rate to lend for a home. The minimum credit score you can have to qualify for a loan depends on many factors, including the size of your downpayment. Talk to a REALTOR® or lender about your particular circumstance. 

You’re entitled to free copies of your credit reports annually from the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Order and then pore over them to ensure the information is accurate, and try to correct any errors before you buy. If your credit score isn’t up to snuff, the easiest ways to improve it are to pay every bill on time and pay down high credit card debt.

7.  Get prequalified.
Meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter that says how much house you’re qualified to buy. Start gathering the paperwork your lender says it needs. Most want to see W-2 forms verifying your employment and income, copies of pay stubs, and two to four months of banking statements. 

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need your current profit and loss statement, a current balance sheet, and personal and business income tax returns for the previous two years. 

Consider your financing options. The longer the loan, the smaller your monthly payment. Fixed-rate mortgages offer payment certainty; an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) offers a lower monthly payment. However, an adjustable-rate mortgage may adjust dramatically. Be sure to calculate your affordability at both the lowest and highest possible ARM rate.


Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.
Copyright 2015 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

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Barrett Raven
C:  512-970-2648
O:  512-910-7403

(August’s) July 2015 Market Stats Update! Pt. 2: Affordability

In last week’s post, I broke down some of the newest Austin housing market stats.  I mentioned at the end of the post/video that I was going to write a post devoted to affordability in Austin.  Check out the video below where I interview (briefly) Chris Scott of The Paperless Agent/GoodLife Realty on the topic.


(SPOILER ALERT!)  Prices are higher than ever in Austin.  That’s a fact.  On one hand, there’s really nothing we can do about it.  It’s simple supply and demand:  There is very little housing inventory available to buy yet tons of people are moving here.  That’s going to drive prices up.  Everyday, a single-family home in Austin is becoming more rare relative to the people that are here.

On the other hand, in my option, there are some things that can be done to improve the affordability problem we are facing:

  • Ease the building permitting process:  As discussed in the video below, we simply need more housing in Austin.  Check out the video for some elaboration. 
  • Ease the property tax burden:  (Not addressed in the video) As you can see in the picture above, if one were to purchase a home in Austin for $300,000 with 20% down (to avoid mortgage insurance), your total house payment would be about $2,082/month.  
    • First, I want to point out that you would need to bring $70,828 to closing to be able to afford some decent in Austin anywhere close to downtown.  I don’t know many people with that kind of money lying around.
    • Secondly, you would be paying about $750 monthly in property taxes (36% of your total payment).  That’s insane to me.  That’s $9,000 every year paid to the government for property that you own.  What do you think about this?  Of course, there are areas of our country where property taxes are much higher.  Still, I don’t think that makes it right.  I have had many close friends who have had to move out to the suburbs (or even out the region completely) because of the property tax burden.  I have spoken with countless families- specifically in east Austin- who’s relatives have been in the area for generations.  They want to stay and raise their families here but cannot live affordably because of the magnitude of property taxes.  
Of course, many will say that lowering property taxes is a bit of a catch-22.  I would agree.  Many of the things that attract people to our great city (and we current Austinites get to enjoy) are paid for by property taxes.  For example, public parks, schools, pools, roads, libraries, public safety, etc.  We love having access to this stuff!  Would they disappear if we lowered property taxes drastically?  I don’t think so.


Let me know what you think!

(If the video doesn’t show up below, check it out here on my YouTube channel!)

  



Barrett Raven
C:  512-970-2648
O:  512-910-7403

"I’m with the government and I’m here to give you free money."…said no one ever.

In this installment of “Barrett’s Corner”, I- with the help of an awesome Mortgage Broker- answer the question “What is an FHA loan?”  

If you have ever bought a home and didn’t pay all cash then chances are you have spoken with a mortgage lender a time or two.  One things you will learn quickly is that there are dozens of options out there to choose from for financing your home purchase.  In the mortgage industry, they call these options “loan products”.  For example, you can go 30 yr, 15 yr, 10 yr, 5 % down, 20% down w/no PMI, 3% down w/PMI wrapped into the interest rate, jumbo, wrap, 7/1 ARM, 3/1 ARM, conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, and more!  It’s like going to Cabo Bob’s, choosing your ingredients,  and building a huge mortgage burrito.   So many options!

Most home loans that are given are conventional.  However, ever-increasing in popularity are what some call “government loans”.  Those are FHA, VA, Rural, and others.  Talking with people all the time about real estate, I have learned that many are under the impression that these are loans funded by the U.S. Government.  Nope!

Photo courtesy of WikiCommons

In this short video, Gena Caudle (GoodLife Mortgage) breaks down what is probably the most popular of these government loans- the FHA loan.  Enjoy!

(If the video doesn’t show up below, click here to see it on my YouTube Channel!)