The Austin real estate market looks a lot different than it did just a few months ago. Where buyer’s once had to offer over asking price, free seller leasebacks, and stipulations to name their first born child after the seller just to purchase a home we are now seeing something very drastic. Sellers are, more times than not, getting one offer rather than twenty-six, offering monetary concessions to the buyer, and even accepting offers lower than their asking price. This does not imply the greater Austin real estate market is imploding; rather, the market is simply shifting.
This shift is predominantly due to two main factors - rising interest rates and increased supply. Earlier this year, mortgage rates were around 3.5%. Now, they are around 6%, and I wouldn’t expect them to go down in the near future. Let’s break that down a little. Imagine you are buying a $600,000 house with 20% down.
Interest Rate: 3.5%
Monthly Payment (before taxes and insurance): $2,155.41
Interest Rate: 6%
Monthly Payment (before taxes and insurance):$2,877.84
That 2.5% rise in interest rates, resulted in an increase of $722.43 to a buyer’s monthly payment. As you can see from this example, rising interest rates made home ownership become less affordable on an on-going basis, and less attainable since fewer people could qualify for loans based on a lower debt to income ratio (DTI). Consequently the Austin real estate market, and frankly the entire U.S. market lost buyers.
Simple economic theories tell us that if demand decreases, prices should too. However, many sellers were stuck in the mindset of earlier this year, expecting their home to sell fast and for top dollar. Unfortunately, it didn’t and they haven’t adjusted the price or made serious changes so it’s still sitting on the market. Now, Jack and Diane down the street have listed their house, and there’s a for sale sign in Jimmy’s yard too. This is happening at scale throughout the Austin metro. We are seeing way more available inventory in the market than we have seen in years.
Last month, we had 9,045 active homes for sale in the Austin-Round Rock MSA. In March of 2022, that figure was 1,731. I honestly had to go back and check my work after pulling these stats because it’s that much of a shocker! Inventory has been steadily rising right in line with ever growing interest rates. However, in the grand scheme of things the Austin home inventory isn’t that high. When a market has six months of supply that is generally referred to as a balanced market in real estate. Anything above six months is a buyer’s market and below is a seller’s market. In the Austin-Round Rock MSA we currently have 2.9 months of inventory.
While we may not technically be in a buyer’s market, it’s sure feeling like one. I’ve been negotiating crazy terms for my buyer clients, and I no longer have to rush to show a home the minute it hits the market out of fear it will be gone tomorrow. If you can stomach the short term pain of these interest rates or you can afford to pay cash for a home, it’s not a bad time to purchase real estate in Austin. Prices are dropping, and it’s a ripe time to get a good deal.
If you’re considering selling your airbnb investment property, there are quite a few things you should consider. Listing your Austin area vacation rental for sale is far more complex than listing your personal home for sale, and is entirely different than listing a long term rental for sale too. You’re going to need to think about your market seasonality, existing bookings, furnishings and much more. Here are five things to consider before selling your Austin area vacation rental investment property.
1. Timing the Sale
The most popular days for buyers to tour properties for sale and the most frequently occupied days for an airbnb both fall on the weekends! Naturally, this creates a bit of a predicament. If you want to sell your active short term rental you’ll want to ensure prospective buyers can actually get into the home to see it! As you can imagine, most airbnb guests would not welcome this inconvenience. Thus, you should likely block off your calendar for a few weeks following the date you list the vacation rental for sale. I can already hear your anxiety, “Block the calendar!”, she says, “We can’t do that, we will lose bookings and revenue!” Yes, you may. However, if your calendar is fully booked and you list your home for sale, you will sacrifice revenue on the sale.
See, the thing is, when your home just sits on the market, buyers start to worry. They don’t consider the fact that the only time for a prospective buyer to see your home was during turnover last Tuesday. All they see is that your home has been on the market for 20+ days, and that will cost you far more than a few lost bookings. The best thing to do when considering the timing of your airbnb sale is to compare the seasonality of the sales market with the seasonality for your short term rental. March is a great time to list your Austin property for sale, BUT this is SXSW season in the short-term game and obviously not the time to block off the calendar! Identify a month where sacrificing a few stays won’t kill you, and median sales prices are historically high.
2. What Will Convey with Your Airbnb Sale
When listing your Austin area vacation rental you are selling real estate, but you are also selling a whole lot more! You’re selling all the furnishings, the business, and the property itself. Do you know what all is even in the house anymore? Do you have a detailed inventory list? Do you have personal items you don’t want to convey? You need to get a full grasp on all of these things before you list the vacation home for sale. What about your short term rental listing? Do you plan to transfer this to a new owner? Can you transfer this to a new owner? Will you give a new owner all of your previously earned reviews, maid connections, contractor relationships? These are all questions you will want to ask yourself.
3. Rental History and Performance
If you’re selling your vacation rental, you will most likely be advertising your property to savvy investors who will want to know what kind of ROI they can expect from your home. Thus, you have to know your numbers! Do you have a detailed profit and loss statement you can provide? If you don’t, can you make one? You need to make it as easy as possible for an investor to see the income potential in your property. Did you block the calendar for 2 months so Aunt Nancy could stay there last May? You’ll want to make note of that fact, and show what revenue you could have brought in if Aunt Nancy wasn’t such a freeloader. Did you not know about variable pricing until two months ago? Make note of that too. Show investors how with a few tweaks, your property could be a profit house!
4. Marketing Your STR Effectively
While in no way is simply listing your property on the MLS an effective marketing strategy for any real estate sale, it’s particularly ineffective when you are marketing the sale of an airbnb. Your STR should be listed on the MLS, but it also needs to be marketed to those most likely to buy it- investors searching for a vacation rental investment opportunity. There are plenty of platforms out there for just that! These should be utilized, and networking with other local Austin airbnb owners and managers is also a great way to get the word out about your airbnb for sale. Effective marketing for a vacation rental home includes advertising the property, the airbnb listing, the furnishings, and the revenue! When you get the word out about all of these features to the right people in the right way, your vacation rental will sell quickly!
5. Choosing the Right Person to Sell Your Vacation Rental
Given that selling a vacation rental property is drastically different from selling a regular home, you need an experienced real estate agent who understands the process for selling your Austin airbnb. A thorough, knowledgeable real estate agent in the STR space will ask you about many of the points above during your very first interaction. They will know where and how to market your vacation rental, and they will have the technical experience to make sure all the details are appropriately addressed contractually.
If you’re considering selling your vacation rental in the greater Austin area, the E-Rae Realty team has the skills and experience to assist you with your sale.
In case you missed it, all of the counties in the greater Austin area have now released appraised values for 2022, and they’re high- like super, super high. For many homeowners the appraised value is more than double last year’s appraised value. Williamson County estimates a 40% bump in value, Hays County jumped 44.5%, and Travis County saw a whopping 56% increase in value. One of my personal properties doubled in appraised value, and these rising appraised values have significant consequences for homeowners.
Let’s say your property was valued at $300,000 last year and your property tax rate is 2.21. Your property taxes would be $6,630 total or $552.50/month. If your appraised value climbs to $600,000 your property taxes are now $1,105/month. That means you will have to pay an additional $552.50/month! Now, if you have any exemptions on your property, this brutal scenario may not be so bad. If a home is a primary residence, you can have a homestead exemption that protects you in two ways. First, your appraised value can only be increased by 10%, and you will benefit from a $25,000 exemption on your property tax valuation for school district taxing entities, and other taxing units may also offer a separate exemption of up to 20% of the total value.
This year, a new law went into effect that allows homeowners to file their homestead exemption immediately upon closing on a new primary residence. However, the exemption will not kick in until the following year. Furthermore, the 10% annual cap on increasing your appraised value will not go into effect until you have owner-occupied the home for a full tax year. For example, let’s say you bought a new home yesterday. You can file for a homestead exemption right away. However, you will not benefit from the 10% cap until 2024, after you’ve owner occupied the home for a full tax year starting Jan 1, 2023.
Furthermore, in previous years, most counties would reduce your homes appraised value to the sales price of the home if you purchased the property in the past year. This was an easy protest where you would simply provide a copy of the settlement statement, and they would automatically reduce your appraised value to the sales price. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. They are doing a time adjustment for the appreciation that occurred from the closing date to the end of year, I heard this was around 1% per year, but I have not been able to confirm with a reputable source.
If you haven’t checked your mail in a while, go ahead and make yourself a stiff drink, before you take a look at your appraised value. You can find links to all the county appraisal district sites below.
In the past, you were able to fight your appraised value by providing relevant recent sales as comparables to illustrate your home's appraised value was not accurate. These days it’s unlikely you will find too many comps to support a reduced value. However, you can still protest your valuation, and illustrate any factors that reduce your homes desirability on the open market and thus the appraised value. Feel free to reach out for comps if you want to tackle this yourself or you can contact a company to do so on your behalf, 5 Stone and Texas Protax are a couple I’d recommend.
If you’re planning to purchase a home in the near future in the greater Austin area, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to a property’s tax rate. Tax rates vary significantly throughout the Austin metro area, and even if appraised values continue to rise, a lower tax rate will mitigate the burn.
In recent years, Austin has continuously ranked as one of the top places to invest in real estate. When assessing a market’s potential, analysts look at an area’s job growth, average days on market, historical rental rates, and median household income growth along with other factors.
Why invest in Austin?
Between May of 2020 and May of 2021, Austin experienced 8.45% year-over-year job growth. Tesla, Samsung and Apple all made the headlines in the last year with announcements for expansions/moves in the Austin market. Those companies alone may account for 20k+ new jobs in the Austin area, but there are tons of smaller companies moving to the area too; those small companies relocating to Austin in large numbers will have significant effects on the city’s population.
More high paying jobs lead to more well-qualified buyers, and when demand increases without a significant change in supply, housing prices rise. In February of 2022, the latest official stats available for the Austin- Round Rock MSA, median sales price was up 27% percent year-over-year. We haven’t had close to a balanced market in years. Our absorption rate (essentially how quickly the housing stock would dry up if no new listings came to market) was about two weeks in February, and I’m pretty sure it’s even less now. According to ApartmentLists.com, Austin rents are up 24.8% compared to last year; from 2018 to 2019, the median household income for the Austin-Round Rock MSA rose 5.4%. Austin literally checks all the boxes analysts look for when evaluating a market area.
How can you make the most money investing in Austin?
There are various strategies when it comes to investing in any real estate market. Ultimately, you need to decide if you are looking to see the green now or you are ok with delayed gratification. If you’re looking for a property that cash flows well, you may sacrifice long term appreciation potential. If a home has strong potential for significant appreciation you may not get short term cash flow. You also need to consider how much effort you’re willing to put into the property. There’s a lot more opportunity for strong cash flow if you’re willing to get your hands dirty. If you want turnkey, strong cash flow is unlikely.
If you want the holy grail of real estate investing, short term cash flow and long term appreciation, here are my tips to make the most green in the ATX real estate scene.
MAKE IT MULTI-FAMILY
There are 44 active multi-family properties for sale in the Austin MLS. One of these is in Whitney, TX north of Waco and a handful of others are similarly nowhere near where anyone considers Austin. This means it’s slim pickings if you want an existing multi-unit property. There are many “single-family” homes that have a second home on the lot that are listed in the MLS as single-family homes. Some of these options may have an entire auxiliary dwelling unit on the property. Others may have a guest house without a kitchen or a detached office. Is there a way to turn this structure into a habitable dwelling unit? Consider converting an existing property into a multi-unit property. Look for properties with detached garages that could be rehabbed to livable dwelling units. If it already has plumbing and electrical it will be even easier. Look at homes with large lots where you could build an accessory dwelling unit or park a tiny home on the lot. Lastly, look for homes where the floor plan naturally lends itself to a conversion which would result in two+ attached separate dwelling units. A game room on the side of the home with an attached bath and an exterior door could work or you may be able to separate two levels so that each floor is a separate unit. More units = more rental income.
CONSIDER A FURNISHED RENTAL
If you can utilize a property as a short term rental you will oftentimes be able to get the biggest bang for your buck in the Austin market. It will need to be furnished and managed, but cash flow will be significantly greater than that of a long term rental. While short term rental feasibility depends on various municipal regulations, anything longer than 30 days is usually not subject to such regulation. These “mid-term” rentals of furnished properties can be quite lucrative. They usually will not bring in as much as a true STR, but they will deliver more monthly rental revenue than a traditional long-term rental. With the growing population in the Austin area, more and more people are looking for these in-between options while they are searching for a new home or waiting for their builder to complete their residence. Furthermore, widespread “work from home” employment has opened the door for many to consider a more nomadic lifestyle, hopping around from one city to the next for a monthly stay.
GET CREATIVE WITH THE LAND
A popular strategy in Austin is to buy a property, create two homes on that lot and then sell the properties separately. This strategy is made possible by the accessory dwelling unit laws in the City of Austin, and the condo regime which allows an owner to legally separate the two homes by creating a two-unit condo. You can take an existing home, rehab it, and then build another unit behind it. Alternatively, you can take a vacant lot and build two units. You could then sell one unit and rent the other, or rent out both units. You can also look for homes on large lots. If the numbers don’t work now, perhaps you could subdivide the lot and retain the home on a smaller lot as a rental. Then, you could sell the lot in order to recoup some of your acquisition costs, and suddenly it’s a cash-flow positive property. Perhaps there’s a large vacant lot with a high price tag. Since its cost is somewhat prohibitive there are less buyers. Could you subdivide it into smaller parcels and deliver a product that buyers are eager to purchase? You could likely cover your costs and still retain a lot or two that you could just sit on and wait for them to appreciate.
If you’re looking to make the most green investing in the Austin real estate market, you need to think outside the box. Rarely will you find a turn-key cash flowing property in an area prime for exceptional appreciation. However, if you understand the regulations (or have a trusted professional by your side who does), and are willing to put in a little work, there are plenty of ways to get your pot of gold in the Austin real estate market. If you’re looking for a creative investment play in the Austin market, I’d be happy to guide you through the process. Contact me today.
Multiple offers are back in the Austin metro area. In fact, every home I have written an offer on so far this year has been in a multiple offer situation. So, how do you make your offer stand out to the seller? While price is oftentimes an important component when a seller is comparing multiple offers, it's not the only factor that affects which offer they ultimately choose. The strength of the offer, the terms that align best with the seller’s goals, and facts about you (the buyer) can also sway the seller’s decision. Aside from offering the seller a higher sales price, here are some ways you can put your best foot forward when competing in a multiple offer situation.
1. Find Out What Terms the Seller Wants
Is the home vacant? If so, the sellers probably value a quick close. If it’s occupied, they may want a lease back or a closing date that’s far enough in the future that they have time to find a new home. Is there a sentimental chandelier that they want excluded on the contract? Does their Aunt Cheryl work at Best Title, and they really want to close with her? There are all sorts of things that a seller may prefer, but you’ll never know what these items are unless you ask. Find out what the seller prefers and do your best to craft your offer to match.
2. Shorten Contingencies
Anytime where the buyer has a potential “out” in the contract is a contingency clause. By “out” I mean the buyer can back out of the contract, and get their earnest money back. There are a plethora of these in the Texas real estate contract, but some of the most common ones are: the option period, the number of days in the third party financing addendum, and the number of days to review the seller’s disclosure. If there are a lot of days in any one of these, i.e. 21 days to obtain full buyer pre-approval, it’s a risk for the seller. If they accept your offer, they could take it off the market for twenty days, and then you could inform them you weren’t unable to get financing approval and you would get your earnest money back. They’ll incur carrying costs and lose time on the market when qualified buyers could have been looking at their home. Minimize all of these contingencies in order to entice the seller to accept your offer.
3. Increase the Earnest Money or Option Money
Increasing the earnest money is one of my favorite strategies to make an offer more appealing to sellers. In our market, most sellers expect to see a minimum of 1% earnest money. Consider depositing twice that or, if you can afford it, ten times that. The earnest money is held in escrow and ultimately applied to the sales price if you go through with it. If for some reason you don’t go through with the purchase, you will get this money back so long as you comply with the contract terms. Increasing the option money is a bit riskier. If you back out of the contract, you won’t get this money back. However, if you are fairly confident in the condition of the home, and you aren’t concerned about potentially losing it, increase the option money too. This will show your serious, and willing to put your money where your mouth is. If you go through with the purchase the option money is still applied to the sales price.
4. Pay for Typical Seller Expenses
Traditionally, the owner's title policy was most often a seller expense in the Austin market. In recent years, this has not always been the case. In an effort to stand out amongst a pool of prospective buyers, more and more buyers are offering to pay for the owner’s title policy. Title policy rates are standard in the state and you should look up how much the policy will cost, before offering to pay for it. If the home is in an HOA, you can offer to pay for the resale certificate and HOA documents. If a survey is needed, offer to pay for this too.
5. Add a Letter?
While the practice of writing a love letter to the sellers is not new, it has become controversial in recent years. These letters often allude to some aspects of the buyers' lives that could potentially put the sellers in a position of violating fair housing laws. Any letter that reveals one of the seven protected classes in the Fair Housing Act (race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin) could come back to harm you rather than help you. BUT, if you can avoid revealing any of these items about yourself, a letter to the sellers could help. I’ve heard of two cases recently in which the sellers chose an offer that was not the highest because they valued the fact that the buyers were going to be living in the home.
Buying a home in the Austin metro area right now is tricky, but it’s not impossible. Having a pro by your side who knows all the strategies is key to your success. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the greater Austin area, contact me today.
If you’re interested in purchasing a home to use as an airbnb, you may be thinking about how you will furnish the home. Should you have a king bed or a room full of bunk beds? Can I furnish it with things I already own? How important is it that I have cable TV? All of these are great questions, and the answers ultimately depend on the guests you are looking to attract. First things first, I recommend creating a vision board for your property. This board will define how you furnish and outfit the home. It will illustrate colors, style, and the general vibe for your airbnb.
You’ll want to begin by getting a clear picture of who your ideal guest is. What do they value? Where do they shop? How old are they? How do you want them to feel when they arrive? Then, think about the attributes of the home. If your home is built with a rustic ranch style does modern decor really make sense? Is the main selling point of this home it’s fabulous location on the lake? Then, you’ll want to make sure your furniture isn’t so big it blocks the water views and you may want to add a dedicated area for water toys and towels. Take all of the information you know about the property and consider your ideal guest preferences in order to design your board. You can compile all of your ideas in a binder, make a pinterest board or make a collage on a large piece of paper. Whatever medium you choose, add inspirational photos, define a color palette, and find a way to visually bring a cohesive plan together.
Furnishing your airbnb is different then furnishing your home. You want to think of furnishing a home like you would stage a home. Have you ever walked through a builder’s model home? There are no family photos and the space is clean and inviting. Less is more when it comes to furnishings, and while you should have decor items, you don’t want them to be personalized. Make sure you have art on the walls that is in line with your vision, and consider adding items that will enhance the guest experience such as a well-curated guide book on the coffee table or a selection of games on the shelf.
Furthermore, there will be considerable traffic through this home, and you want to keep this in mind when procuring furniture. You want items that are durable, easy to clean, and don’t show imperfections. You would think that white would be a huge no-no here, but white slipcovered furniture items are actually great because they can easily be bleached. A good rule of thumb here is that if it’s white and you can wash it, it’s a win. Leather couches and chairs are also relatively easy to maintain and clean, especially if you Scotchgard them first. A rug in a darker hue or one that’s heavily patterned will show stains less easily.
When you’re furnishing your short term rental (STR), you don’t have to buy everything new. In fact, mixing in some antique or second-hand items will likely elevate the look of your airbnb. However, you don’t want your furniture to look like you found it on the side of the road. The key here is to add character, and potentially save money by utilizing the right furnishings. A used mattress, probably not the best idea. One case of bed bugs and you're out of the airbnb biz. An antique sideboard you found on the side of the road, now that could work. However, if you're utilizing second-hand furnishings make sure they are a)clean and b)functional. No one wants to eat at a table that wobbles, but with a little elbow grease you can fix that wobble.
Speaking of tables, ideally, you want enough seats for the maximum number of guests your home allows in both the living and dining rooms. So if your home sleeps 10, you want a dining room table that seats 10. However, don’t cram a ton of chairs into the small dining space simply to accommodate this. Scale is equally important, and you don’t want a room to appear over-stuffed. Ditto with beds. Sure you could put four full size beds in that room, but would that result in a great experience for your guests? Probably not. Simply putting as many heads in beds as possible does not equate to max revenue. The easiest way to be able to accommodate extra guests is a pull out couch. Thus, you often see pull out couches in vacation rental homes. Alternatively, you could add a daybed or supply air mattresses if you determine that having these extra sleeping spots would be beneficial to your ideal guest.
When you are outfitting your kitchen, you want to make sure you have enough plates, cups, and silverware for all of your guests. In an ideal world, I recommend you take your max occupancy and multiply that times three when determining quantities for kitchen ware. For example, let’s say your max occupancy is 10. Purchase at least 30 cups, 30 plates, 30 bowls, etc. Take one set of each item and reserve these in your owner's closet. This way, when a bowl disappears you can simply replace it from your reserves without having to buy an entirely new set. Find kitchenware that matches your vision, but it doesn’t need to be expensive. You can find great deals on kitchen items at discount stores like Homegoods.
Open cabinets or cabinets with glass doors are great for STRs. It makes it easy for guests to find what they need. If you’re remodeling the home before it becomes an airbnb, you may want to consider replacing the cabinet doors with glass ones, or opting for low cost open shelves. Don’t overdo it with kitchen tools and appliances. If you have too many things in the kitchen, it will be harder for guests to find what they need. Think about what guests will really use. Just because you have a giant set of cookie cutters doesn’t mean they should go in your airbnb. At the same time, make sure they will have all the essentials. Guests will need a few different sized pots and pans, baking trays, mixing bowls, serving bowls, and a variety of knives, spatulas and serving utensils. If you have a grill, make sure there are grilling tools. Guests often are staying at an airbnb because they want to be able to cook. Make sure they have all of the essentials to do so, and make sure everything is as organized as possible so they can easily locate it when they need it. You MUST have a coffee maker in your STR, there are no exceptions. 64% of Americans drink coffee everyday so the odds are high that each booking you have will contain at least one coffee drinker. Personally, I recommend a decent drip coffee maker; however if your STR is smaller you may want to consider a Keurig. BUT if you get a Keurig, you really should provide pods too.
Bedrooms, and more specifically, beds are so important. Do yourself a favor and buy nice mattresses and ample pillows, at least two pillows per head. Quality linens are also a good purchase. Buy a minimum of two sets of linens per bed to allow for speedy turnovers. Have you ever noticed that hotels almost always have white sheets? That’s because they can be bleached. Do yourself a favor and purchase white sheets for your Airbnb. Duvet covers are great for bedding since they’re easier to wash than a full comforter. You can add color with decorative throw blankets and pillows. An airbnb bedroom doesn’t necessarily need a closet but it is helpful for guests to have someplace to store their clothes. You can do hanging racks, dressers, or even hooks on the back of the doors depending on your anticipated average rental length. Bedrooms should have at least one nightstand. A nice touch is to make it easy for guests to charge their devices. A nightstand with easy access to an outlet is wonderful. If there’s no outlet nearby, consider adding one or using an extension cord.
For the bathrooms, you will want to consider what type of products you plan to provide. Again, these should match your vision in terms of quality as well as product packaging. You need to provide hand towels, bath towels and washcloths, and you should have at least enough towels to match your maximum guest count. More is always better so you aren’t waiting for laundry to be done in order to check the next guest in, and remember white can be bleached. Don’t forget bath mats and shower curtains that match your vision. You’ll want to make sure you have at least one plunger in the home, a toilet bowl cleaner for every toilet, and a first-aid kit for the home. A blow dryer in each bath is also a nice touch.
Preparing your home to be an airbnb is about much more than furnishing it, you’ll need to consider how you will market it, how you will maintain it, and how you will price it. However, a good aesthetic goes a long way when attracting guests. Make a vision and stick to it! One of the best ways to ensure that your home performs the way you want it to is by staying there personally. As soon as you think you’re done, stay for a night or two or invite a friend to relax in your airbnb. You’ll quickly realize where you may have neglected an important item or failed to provide instructions on where to find or operate something.
If you’re looking to purchase a property to use as a vacation rental in the greater Austin area, I’d love to connect with you. My specialty is helping people locate and purchase homes that can be used as STRs in central Texas. Contact me today so we can find the perfect one for you
Now that 2021 has finally come to an end, we can finally assess the state of the Austin real estate market over the past year in its entirety. It felt wild, and now the stats show it truly was one for the records. Home prices appreciated far more in 2021 than ever before. We saw median sales prices rise more than $100K in almost every city in the metro area, and homes sold at record paces too.
In the City of Austin, the median sales price for single family homes rose to $605,000. That’s up more than 30% since last year. From 2015 to 2019 it was typical to see single digit percentage increases in this median sales price jump year over year. While we saw an annual median sales price of $605K for single family homes in the city limits, the median sales price was actually higher than this many months throughout the year. In 2021, we saw a return to our normal real estate sales cycle, with the highest median sales price occurring in June and July where the median sales price for single family homes peaked at $650,000. This is typical for our market, yet a stark comparison to 2020 when we strangely saw peak median sales prices in December.
These record breaking jumps in median sales prices were not isolated to the Austin city limits. In the entire Austin-Round Rock MSA which encompasses all of Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell and Hays counties we saw a 33.29% increase in the median sales price for single-family homes. In many cities, we saw the median sales price increase by even more. In Dripping Springs, the median sales price for single family homes in 2020 was $470k, last year it increased 47.87% to $695,000. In Cedar Park, home prices increased more than 43%. Even in areas with relatively high median sales prices, we saw significant increases in the median sales price. Homes in Westlake Hills appreciated more than 37%, bringing the median sales price for homes in this coveted neighborhood to $2,350,000.
Throughout the five county metro area we simultaneously saw the amount of time it takes for a home to sell to go down, way down. In 2020, the average days on market for a single home was 40, in 2021, that figure dropped to 16. If you were looking for a home in 2021, you may be shocked by that number since it felt like the day a home hit the market it was already gone.
So, what does all of this mean for 2022? Let me pull out my Magic 8 Ball. Will home prices decrease in 2022? Don’t count on it. Will home prices increase in 2022 as much as they did in 2021? My sources say no. Will we see home prices peak in the late spring/early summer as we usually do? Most likely.
Do you have more questions about the Austin real estate market that a standard Magic 8 Ball can’t answer? Contact me for detailed intel on what’s happening in the ATX market.
The other day, I heard a commercial on the radio that I found particularly unnerving. The spokesperson said that now is a great time to sell your home. He talked about how the record high prices we’ve been seeing in the Austin area may not be here forever, and that the uncertainty of a continued upward trajectory is reason enough to list your home for sale now. Everything that he said isn’t completely wrong, but what really bothered me was that I was listening to this recommendation in early December. One thing I know for sure is that the holiday season is historically the worst time to sell your Austin area home.
Just think about it, does it really make sense to sell your home in December? You’re worried about what to buy your Aunt Jan, what to wear to the office holiday party and how the hell you’re going to be able to handle four whole days with the in-laws. Most people aren’t thinking about buying a new home in the midst of all this craziness. Like most markets, a housing market with less buyers results in lower prices.
In order to fully understand this phenomenon you need to know a little about the real estate sale timeline and how it is statistically reported. First of all, we use the term days on market (DOM) to discuss the amount of time between the day a home is first listed for sale on the MLS and the day the home goes under contract. After a home goes under contract, there’s usually about 30 days before that home officially sells. That’s because lenders usually need about a month to get the funding squared away. Now, that number could be less if you are dealing with a cash sale or more if the buyer and seller agree to a farther out closing date, but 30 days is a good estimate. Now, when we are looking at the median sales price for a given month, we must look back the total amount of time ( days on market + 30 days) in order to determine the best or worst month to list your home for sale.
If you look at the median sales price per month for homes in the City of Austin over the past ten years, the January median sales price is almost always the lowest monthly median sales price for the year. In 2015, we saw the lowest median sales price in February, and the February median sales price was the 11th lowest in every other year. Now, if we look at the ADOM during January, we see it was about 30 days for January sales from 2017- 2020. Thus, homes that first hit the market in late November or December sold for the lowest amount.
If you think you absolutely have to list your home for sale in December, you may be wondering how much money you would be missing out on by not waiting to list your property. Assuming it still takes 60 days from the day you list to the day the home actually sells, you could be missing out on 20-65k. In January of this year, the median sales price for single family homes in the City of Austin was $471,000. Fast forward two months, and that figure went up to $536,000. You may want to really think about your carrying costs, and if there’s a better way for you to accomplish your goals that allows for postponing your home sale just a little.
The bottom line is that December has historically been the worst time to list your home for sale. Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio, and feel free to contact me anytime with your real estate questions.
Are you looking for some fun and festive holiday activities to enjoy this year? We've got you covered! From ice skating to light shows, our list has something for everyone to enjoy. Happy Holidays!
Trail of Lights: If there’s one event that makes you think of Christmas in the ATX, it’s the Trail of Lights. This year it’s drive through only due to covid restrictions, but you can still experience the glory of over two million lights from the comfort of your car. Drive through the glowing tunnels and sing along to classic holiday hits. Don’t miss out on the 57th annual Trail of Lights, it’s an amazing family event that will leave everyone in awe. PS. the Zilker Tree is open for pedestrians, so you can still spin to your heart's content!
Rooftop Rink at Whole Foods: Bundle up and hit the ice on top of the world! This is perfect for a family outing, girls night out, or even a sweethearts date night out on the town. This event takes place on the rooftop of the WholeFoods flagship store. Beverages and treats are also available to make the experience that much more great!
Santa’s Ranch: Looking for a little road trip to experience some holiday cheer? Head down to New Braunfels and check out Santa’s Ranch. Here you can sip and snack on some homemade holiday treats while you drive through the gorgeous roads and experience a Christmas sight like no other. This light exhibit stretches over a mile long! Don’t forget to grab some beautiful souvenirs to take home before you leave.
Ballet Austin’s: The Nutcracker: We all know the tale of The Nutcracker and the beautiful melody of “the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies” and this year, you can experience all of the magic LIVE at Ballet Austin! You absolutely have to see these sets and costumes in person. You are sure to be in for a breathtaking performance.
North Pole Flyer: Have you ever wished you could hop aboard the Polar Express? Well, this rail may not be headed to the North Pole, but you can let your imagination wander as you enjoy this 2 hour ride with snacks, holiday drinks, and visits from special guests like Santa and Mrs. Claus. There will be Christmas carols as well as story time and lots of laughs. If you’re looking for an exciting holiday event for a little one in your life, this is it.
Ice Skating at Dreamland: Sip on some hot cocoa and enjoy the holiday fun with all of your loved ones while ice skating at Dreamland. There is also mini-golf and pickle ball if you aren’t the best ice skater, but who cares? Get up and make a fool of yourself and let your inner child come out to play.
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar: From December 17th-19th, you can experience live music, local art, shopping from local businesses, and a bar! Honestly, What more could you ask for? This is a guaranteed great holiday experience for the entire family, or a date night out.
Mozart’s Light Show: The annual light show at Mozart’s coffee roasters is an event not to be missed. Where else can watch a legendary Christmas light display reflecting off Lake Austin? Mozart’s Light Show also has a wide variety of snacks and beverages available to enjoy while you view the spectacle. This year, they’re offering a hybrid format where you can either reserve a table for a small fee or get a complimentary ticket for the standing section. Unfortunately, tables for the show dates before x-mas are sold out, but there are tables available between Christmas and New Years. Additionally, there are plenty of tickets left for the standing section.
It’s always a good idea to get a home inspection before you purchase a home. While home inspections are not all encompassing, they will illuminate areas of concern within a property. An inspector will carefully assess all major components of a home, and highlight areas in need of repair in a detailed report. Truth be told, at first glance, almost all inspection reports appear scary. An inspector points out every defect, area of potential concern, and potential pitiful with a given home. Many of these deficiencies are not something to be worried about, but a few items may haunt you forever if you decide to move forward with the purchase.
Here in central Texas, it is not uncommon to see homes with foundation issues. I still remember a home I showed many years ago in East Austin that I nicknamed “The Topsy-Turvy” house. Walking through it made me feel like I was in one of those carnival attractions with disorienting mirrors everywhere. Foundation settling is normal, but when a home has significantly differential elevations in can be a major issue. Foundation repairs are expensive, oftentimes requiring a low five figure to repair. But, that’s not the only thing. When you repair the foundation, you will likely have to fix everything above it too. Tiled floors crack, drywall will need to be replaced, cabinets and molding may shift. You get the idea. A foundation issue is something that could haunt you for years.
Roofs generally last a few decades. Obviously that depends on the type of roof and how well it is maintained, but something that is supposed to last for that long comes with a high ticket price. If a roof is in substantial disrepair, it can be a major source of concern. There may be water damage in the interior of the home, and with water damage comes potential for a slew of other concerns. Pests, mold, and termites all are more likely when they have a life source. A roof replacement is something you may be able to negotiate being covered by the seller’s home owner’s insurance policy, but even if you are able to negotiate a new roof make sure the faulty room didn’t already cause other issues.
Antiquated Electrical Systems
Old wiring in a home can be a true horror if not properly corrected. Homes built prior to the 1940s have what’s known as knob and tube wiring. Knob and tube wiring only has a hot wire and a neutral wire. There is no neutral wire, and connections were not made in junction boxes. These are all potential fire risks. Aluminum wiring was widely used throughout the 60s and 70s and is common in many Austin homes. It poses its own fire risk with aluminum to other metal connections creating electrical resistance making the wiring hotter when in use. With hourly rates for most electricians starting in the hundreds, you can see how repairing these issues can quickly add up to a major drain on your pocketbook.
Ultimately, even the scariest of items identified during an inspection may not be reason to walk-away from a home purchase. However, it’s important you understand these risks and comprehend the likely financial costs to fix the defects. A home with numerous problems can still be a good investment if you can purchase it for the right price.
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