In a Texas real estate transaction involving third party financing, ie. a loan, lender approval is required for the deal to close. That approval is broken down into two parts. The buyer must obtain approval for the loan based on their finances, credit, income etc. and the property must also be approved. Physical conditions within the home may cause the property to become ineligible for funding, or the home may not appraise at the value agreed upon in the contract. For the purpose of this post, I am focusing on the latter: what happens when a home doesn’t appraise.
If an appraisal comes in at a lower value than the agreed upon contract price, there are a few options for how the parties to the contract can handle this scenario. In order to illustrate these scenarios, let’s say that the Johnsons are selling their home to the Smiths. They have agreed to a purchase price of $360,000; however, the home only appraised for $340,000.
The first option is that the sellers and buyers can agree to drop the contract sales price to the appraised value. However, the Johnsons may not want to just drop the price to $340,000. After all, they accepted the Smiths offer in a multiple offer situation, and they turned down a $350,000 cash offer. So, let’s say the Johnsons do not agree to reduce the sales price to $340,000.
This brings us to scenario number two; the Johnsons propose that the Smiths bring $20,000 cash to the table in order to close the deal at the agreed upon $360,000 sales price. If the Smiths are capable of coming up with an additional $20,000 cash to put down on the property, this solution could work. However, the Smiths are not obligated to agree to this scenario even if they are financially capable of it.
Let’s say the Smiths only have an additional $10,000 they could put towards the home. The Smiths could propose that they put an additional $10,000 down, and that the sales price is reduced to $350,000. If the Johnsons approve, this scenario would also allow for the transaction to close.
If the Smiths and the Johnsons cannot come to an agreement, the deal will fall through and the earnest money will be returned to the Smiths. The third party financing addendum used in Texas real estate transactions is very clear on this. However, there is one other option for the Johnsons and Smiths in this situation. They could appeal the initial appraisal, or request a new appraisal. It would be prudent for the Johnsons to make sure that the Smiths would still pay the agreed upon contract price of $360,000 if a new appraisal deems the property to be worth that amount. Many buyers are inclined to not pay more than the appraisal amount, and in Texas, they are protected from doing so unless they want to bring the extra cash to the table.
If you have driven across Austin’s South Congress bridge recently you may wonder why there are hundreds of people gathered along the eastern side of the bridge. A little before sunset, spectators appear on the sidewalk along the bridge to watch North America’s largest urban bat colony.
The Mexican Free-Tailed Bats have a long history in Austin, but it wasn’t until the bridge was modified in 1980, that the bats centralized under the eaves of the South Congress Bridge. When the bridge was widened, expansion joints were added creating the perfect nooks for the bats to call home.
The bats emerge from under the South Congress bridge each night annually from March through November. In March, the bats migrate from Mexico to Austin. The colony that lives under the South Congress street bridge is entirely female when they migrate in March. They reside under the bridge and emerge nightly to feed on various insects. These females are all pregnant and they give birth to one pup each in early June. At this time, the bat colony doubles and researchers believe the population to be between 1.5- 2 million. Interestingly, this is approximately the same number of people who reside in Austin and the surrounding suburbs.
The bats continue to leave the bridge each night around dusk from June through November. In June and July, the mother is still nursing the pup. It is believed that they nurse the pup before and after they hunt. Interestingly, the bats hunt alone so watching them return from hunting is not nearly as entertaining as watching the max exodus that occurs around dusk. The pups do not stay with their mothers. The pups are centered together and each night the mother will return to find and feed her pup before retreating to the northern side of the bridge where the mothers reside.
Between Late July and October, the largest exodus of bats occurs. This is the time that pups are learning to fly and hunt for themselves. Hence, this is one of the best times to see Austin’s bat colony.
In early November, the cooler climate signals the Mexican Free-Tailed Bats that it is time to return to Mexico. Not all the bats leave at once, but they do leave in large groups. It is believed that the mothers will return to the South Congress bridge each year to have and raise their new pup.
If you are interested in seeing the South Congress bridge colony for yourself, now is a great time of year to do it! You can park at the Austin American Statesman building and watch from the South Congress Bridge. Many people often gather on the hike and bike trail, just east of the bridge along Town Lake. One of the best ways to see the South Congress Bats is from the water of Town Lake also known as Lady Bird Lake. Companies like Capital Cruises host nightly sunset bat watching tours. Alternatively, you can rent a canoe, kayak or paddle board to view the bats in a more intimate environment.
If you are considering buying a home, it’s highly likely that you are looking at homes on Zillow. Zillow spends exorbitant amounts on advertising, and their platform is incredibly user-friendly. While Zillow may be great for casually browsing homes, it’s not the best platform when you are seriously contemplating what property to buy.
First it is important to know how Zillow works. The majority of listings appearing on Zillow are syndicated listings from the Boards of REALTORS for that specific area. There are a few other types of listings that appear on Zillow, and I will discuss those later. Real estate agents list homes using their local boards of REALTORS multiple listing service (MLS). Agents are responsible for entering all information about a given property into their MLS, and then are given an option if they would like to syndicate the listing to third party sites such as Zillow.
There are three key components to understand here. First, all information that is eventually appearing on Zillow about a particular home was most likely manually inputted or at least verified by an agent. This leaves room for human error. I have seen homes advertised as 3 bedrooms that really only have 2, homes where the square footage is completely wrong, and homes that are really located in one area of town being displayed on the map in an entirely different county. Second, not all listings that are on the MLS are on Zillow. Real estate brokerages choose what sites, if any, their agents are allowed to syndicate their listings to, and when imputing each listing, agents are given the choice if they want to syndicate that particular listing to third party sites. Third, syndication takes time. The most common example of this I see is a buyer who is interested in a home they saw on Zillow as an active listing. When they call me about the property I must tell them that the home is actually already under-contract and Zillow is simply behind.
Additionally, all of the information available on the MLS is not syndicated to Zillow. Only a portion of all of the data entered in the MLS is syndicated to Zillow. In the MLS, agents can view documents associated with the property such as important information about the condition of the home, information about improvements, or a property survey. Zillow also doesn’t tell you if the property is located in the flood zone, an important component to consider when looking at purchasing a new home.
While Zillow does show you some history in regards to the prior sales associated with the property, it doesn’t tell the full story. Not all listing activity is displayed, and it doesn’t necessarily show you when major improvements were made or how a property was actually listed 3 different times in the past year and has still not sold.
Another common occurrence I see is properties that are technically condos being listed as homes. In fact, I see this on the MLS as well. It has become increasingly popular to subdivide lots, and build two homes on one lot and then legally separate the two buildings with a condo regime. You also see stand-alone condo communities where the property is listed as a home. In both of these cases, the property does appear to be a single family residence but is technically a condo. It is important to know when you are looking at a condo because financing options, restrictions, and appreciation will differ from those associated with a true single family home.
The other types of listings you see on Zillow are For Sale By Owner, Make Me Move and Builder Listings. For Sale By Owner and Make Me Move listings are both owner curated listings. While the Make Me Move listings are less definitive (the owner is merely testing the waters to see if they can get a given amount for their home), both listing types tend to be vastly over-priced and may or may not be up to date or contain completely accurate information. With all three of these listing types it is common for them to become forgotten. Owners and builders alike appear to list homes on Zillow and then forget they were there. I have called owners who no longer have any intention of selling, and builders whose property sold months ago but they forgot to take the listing down.
Whether you are looking at homes on Zillow or straight from an agent’s portal to the MLS, you cannot be entirely sure all the data you are being show is 100% accurate. It’s important to have a trusted real estate agent representing you. They will notice when a figure doesn’t look quite right and will perform the necessary due-diligence on your behalf to make sure you are getting what you pay for. Furthermore, they will make sure you don’t waste your time looking at homes that are no longer even listed for sale or that don’t actually meet your criteria.
If you are looking for an all-star agent in the Austin area to make your home buying process as easy as possible, call me today at 512-779-7597 or visit my website to learn more about my buyer representation services.
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.