As the coronavirus provides a very real concern to most of the world, one of the most common concerns among many Americans is how to face the immediate concern of boredom. The vast majority of us are practicing social distancing, and staying at home as much as possible. However, you can only binge Netflix for so long, before the yearning to do anything else really kicks in. Now is a great time to think of ways to make this time as productive as possible. Consider tackling some home projects to ease your boredom as we face this global pandemic. If you need supplies, most hardware stores are still open, and many offer online ordering to minimize your interactions. Here are some of my personal suggestions for staying busy around the home.
1.Tackle Deferred Maintenance
Before you start thinking about watching youtube videos on how to re-tile your master bath, it’s best to start with the regular routine maintenance you may have been neglecting. Do you remember the last time you changed your air filters? If not, now’s a great time to change them. How about that towel rack that came loose 6 months ago? Why not get out your screw driver and finally fix it? Look around your home, and identify all of the little projects that you know need to be addressed. Then, get to work on fixing them one by one.
While you are identifying the deferred maintenance items on your list, you may have noticed areas where you need to do some touch up paint. Hopefully, you have some extra paint on hand, and can touch up those spots easily. If you don’t, you may want to hold off on that project until after the coronavirus season. However, if you’ve had aspirations to paint an accent wall, or like me have considered an elaborate paint stenciling project, now’s a great time to pick up the roller and get to work. If you’re looking for inspiration, I ordered my wall stencil from a great US company, Cutting Edge Stencils, they have plenty of ideas for using their stencils on their website. Don’t limit yourself to just walls, you can also paint tiles, furniture, and patios.
With everything happening in the world, the idea of spring cleaning is now more important than ever. In addition to disinfecting hard surfaces, light switches, and door knobs consider some more extensive cleaning projects too. Why not think about cleaning out your junk drawer, organizing your closet, and re-claiming your garage? Why not Marie Kondo your entire home? You know you have the time.
I don’t know about you, but just seeing a bright colorful flower brightens my day. That’s why I planted some blue delphiniums in my front porch planters early this week. If you can’t make it to a store to purchase plants right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t work on your garden. You can pull weeds, move rocks around to create beds, and prepare the soil. You may also have some seeds on hand. I found a bunch in my junk drawer earlier this week. Now, I have a nice little cropping of sunflower, tomatoes and basil seedlings that have started growing in my windowsill. Now, more than ever you may recognize the benefits of growing your own produce.
As is the case with almost every aspect of our lives, there is a lot of uncertainty around how the coronavirus will affect the local housing market. Over the past few years, the Austin housing market has been increasingly competitive with the average home sales price rising year over year. Will Covid-19 slow sales or will buyers jump to take advantage of historically low interest rates?
The Impact of Covid-19 on Austin Home Buyers
The coronavirus has began to change our daily lives. Many are practicing social distancing, self-quarantining, and generally spending less time outside of the home. Going into someone else’s home is just one more opportunity to come in contact with germs, and surely there are quite a few buyers foregoing showings at the present moment. According to a survey performed by the National Association of REALTORs last week, only 16% of real estate agents said the coronavirus has affected buyer interest. However, I would have said the same thing last Monday when surveyed. It wasn’t until last Tuesday, that I heard from my first buyer client that they would be holding off on their home search until the Covid-19 scare blows over.
Will the Coronavirus Reduce the Number of Homes on the Market?
Sellers may also have fears about letting strangers into their homes. In Austin, we have had incredibly low inventory for far too long. There are simply not enough homes for sale to accommodate the ever growing buyer interest. Will sellers decide not to list their home due to fears of contamination? It’s quite probable, and this will only exacerbate the low inventory issue. Builders too are seeing the affects of the coronavirus. Nearly 1/3 of our raw building materials come from China, and this doesn’t even account for assembled goods such as appliances and fixtures. First hand, I’ve already witnessed supply chain issues, with new home buyer clients unable to get tile they had originally ordered since it was produced in China. If builders are delayed due to material delays, and sellers are reluctant to list, it won’t matter that interest rates are at historically low levels. Buyers won’t have any homes to buy.
How Will the Corona Virus Impact the Seasonality of the Austin Real Estate Market
We are just entering what is typically the spring selling season in the Austin area. Usually, this is when the largest percentage of sellers list their home, and the majority of buyers purchase. Home sale prices are usually the highest in the coming months as buyers compete with one another to move while school is out of session. However, it’s unknown how the coronavirus will affect the seasonality of the Austin market. Will it delay the spring selling season? Will it have no affect at all? Or, will it cause a mass recession leaving buyers unmotivated to make moves. After all, what good is an incredibly low interest rate if you are not sure you will have a job next month.
What Can We Learn From the Past?
In the past, Austin has been largely spared from housing market collapses. In 2009, the median sales price dropped from $192,000 in 2008 to $190,000. It increased to $195,000 in 2010 and stayed the same for 2011. Since then, the median sales price has been steadily increasing. We wrapped up 2019 with a median sales prices of $315,000 for the greater Austin area. While the median sales price changes from 2008-2011 were not too significant, the number of sales dropped significantly beginning in 2007. Between 2007 to 2008, the number of home sales in the greater Austin area dropped by about five thousand, and the number of home sales continued to slowly decline each year until 2011. In 2009, the Austin real estate market saw its lowest number of annual sales with only 18,632 sales occurring. In comparison, 35,437 homes sold in the greater Austin area last year.
It’s not unrealistic to think that the coronavirus may slow Austin area home sales yet again. Furthermore, if there is one area that may be more affected than others, I suspect it will be the luxury home market. After the housing market crash, we saw these types of homes suffer the most.
Overall, it’s still too early to say how the coronavirus will affect the Austin market. If you have questions about how it may affect your specific real estate goals, give me a call. I’m happy to share my opinions with you.
If you want to sell your home quickly and for a decent price you need to understand how today’s home buyers shop. When you truly understand home buyer shopping habits and market trends, you can take proper actions to ensure a speedy sale. You will want to consider how your home appears to buyers both online and in person, the timing of putting your home on the market, and proper pricing.
Presentation is Everything
Imagine you are swiping through tinder looking for an eligible candidate for a nice date. You see hundreds of images. Some of these are appealing, some of them are not, and then there are those people who have a photo that’s so blurry you can’t even tell what they look like or even worse, no picture at all. Those profiles are almost always going to get an immediate swipe left. You want to make sure prospective buyers swipe right on your listing!
First and foremost, your home needs to put on its best dress and get a killer selfie to show the public what she’s got. For a house, this means making sure the curb appeal is killer, adding flowers, power washing the driveway, and sprucing up the front door. You also don’t want to make your home like one of those profiles where the first pic is amazing and then you start swiping through a few more images and then inevitably swipe left. You need to make sure your killer presentation continues throughout the interior of the home. Ensure that any signs of wear and tear like a dog scratched door or worn carpet is rectified prior to listing your home for sale. Make sure all the clutter is eliminated, the beds are made, the furniture is an appealing configuration, and the house is clean.
Then, you are ready to call in the pros for a photo shoot that will have prospective home buyers knocking at your door in seconds. Proper presentation isn’t only physical. You also want to make sure you have some meat to your listing. A pretty profile with no details will still leave some people reluctant to swipe right. In addition to showing buyers the benefits of your home, you want to tell them what they can’t see. Explain how you have a brand new HVAC system, the home is minutes away from a beautiful park, and the schools are superb. The bottom line is that if your home doesn’t entice buyers online, most people will never even take it out on a date. Professional photos and a stellar description will get prospective buyers in your door.
Timing is Key
Even if your home looks amazing! You may not get as many people in the door if you don’t list at the best time. Every neighborhood will have it’s own peak seasons, market trends, and unique nuances that determine when the best time to list your home will be. It’s important to take these into consideration, and look at the historical sales data in order to determine when you should put your home on the market. You will want to time it well on a weekly level too. Listing your home on a Thursday has proven to lead to quicker and more profitable home sales across the nation.
Proper Pricing Solves All
Above all else, proper pricing solves all. Even if you ignore my other two tips for selling your home quickly, if you price your home properly it will sell. If a home is priced way lower than everything else for sale in the neighborhood and it down’t even have a single photo online, buyers will still make their way over to the home to take a look in person. On the other hand, a home with gorgeous photos, the best marketing you’ve ever seen, and a description that moves everyone who reads it will not get any showings if the price is too high. In order to sell your home quickly and for a decent profit, you need to incorporate all three of these items. Your real estate agent will pull relevant comps, comparable properties to yours that have sold recently, in order to help you determine the best asking price for your home. After comparing your home and it’s quality, size, and benefits to that of the recently sold homes in your area, the best asking price for your home will usually be quite clear.
If you live in the greater Austin area and would like help selling your home quickly, give me a call. I’ll have buyers swiping right in no time!
When a property is listed for sale in the MLS, the home can be listed under a variety of different statuses. Most commonly, you are looking at homes that are listed as active. However, sometimes you may see properties listed as active continent. An active contingent property is a property where the owners have accepted an offer on the property, but the buyers must sell another property before closing on the sale of the subject property.
In Texas, there is a promulgated contingency form that outlines the terms of this agreement. The Addendum For Sale of Other Property by Buyer form specifies when the buyers must close on the sale of their current home and what will happen if the sellers receive another offer on the home. This form stipulates that if the seller receives another offer on the property they must notify the buyers of said offer. The form also specifies a certain number of days in which the buyers must either waive their contingency or the contract will terminate automatically. If the buyer elects to waive the contingency, the buyer is stating that even if they don’t sell the current home, they will still purchase the subject property.
As a seller considering accepting an offer that is contingent, you should be sure to carefully read this contingency form. The date in which the buyers must sell their current home is important to review. If you are looking for a quick close, you want to make sure this date is not too far in the future. You will also want to ask questions to see how far along they are in the selling process. Do they have their current home on the market yet? If so, have your agent review the listing to make sure they are priced aggressively, and marketing appropriately. If the home is not even on the market yet, you will want to ask more questions to determine when they plan on listing the home for sale. You also want to make sure that the number of days required to respond when notice of another offer is received is not too long. In my opinion, three days is usually adequate. If the current buyers have too much time to respond, you may lose out on the second offer.
If you are a buyer submitting an active contingent offer, you should also consider how the seller will feel about the contingency. By providing proof that your current home is actively being marketed for sale and is priced correctly, you can ease the seller’s apprehensions about accepting an offer that is contingent.
One more interesting caveat in the active contingent scenario is that if you receive a second offer that is higher than the first, you can’t simply accept it. In fact, the only way you can accept the second offer is if the original buyers decide not to waive the contingency and the first contract automatically terminates. In this event, the earnest money that the contingent buyers submitted would be refunded back to them, and you could proceed to accept the second offer.
If you have any other questions about active contingent status in Texas or general real estate questions, I am always here to help. Feel free to give me a call or send me an email.
If you stumbled across this blog post, I’m guessing you may be curious when the best time to sell your Austin area home is. Generally speaking, homes in Austin tend to sell for more during the spring. However, this isn’t true for every neighborhood or every home. Regardless of what time of year you list your home, homes that hit the market on Thursdays tend to do better. This is why I always advocate for my seller clients to list their home on a Thursday. It may appear to be an arbitrary day; however, when you think about it, the rationale for listing on Thursday is quite strong.
Home buyers often shop for homes on the weekends. When you list on Thursday, your home is top of mind among buyers who then must coordinate with their agents to see your home. A 2018 study by real estate brokerage, Redfin, found that homes listed on Thursday sold for $3015 more on average than those listed on any other day of the week. Those homes also sold more quickly. The same study found that those listed on Thursday went under contract 6 days faster than those listed on Sunday, the worst day to list your home for sale.
So, there is certainly a strong case for listing your Austin home for sale on a Thursday, but which Thursday will yield you the most money on your home sale? The seasonality of the Austin Real Estate Market strongly correlates to the public school year. Most people want to move when the kids are out of school for the year. This is why you often see the highest sales prices in May or June. In 2019, the highest median sales price for Austin Area homes occurred in May. Based on the median sales price for the Austin area, you could argue that selling your home in May vs. February would result in an extra $60,000.
Now, you must be thinking, if you live in an area where there are families, you should list your home for sale on a Thursday in May. Not so fast, the highest median sales price usually occurs in May, but that does not mean that listing your home in May will result in the highest price paid for your home. If home sales in May are the most profitable, you must list earlier. It usually takes about 30 days to go from contract to the closing, and in May of 2019 the average days on market was 48. This means, if you want to sell your Austin home for the highest price, you need to list your home in March or April in order to sell for the most money,
What about the UT area condo you purchased as an investment property and now are thinking about selling? It may not follow these same trends. Every property is different, and determining the best time to sell your unique property is not black and white. If you’re curious about when the best time to sell your Austin Area property is, contact me today. I’d be happy to provide a thorough analysis of your unique market.
In my opinion, you should almost always get a home inspection. If you are buying a tear-down, you may not want to have the property inspection, but aside from that one instance where you may not want to get an inspection, you should always have your home inspected by a licensed professional. When you are building a new home or a buying a brand new home, it’s also a prudent choice to have it inspected by a third party inspector.
Often times builders will have their own inspections, and the city will require various inspections for major components such as plumbing and electrical too. However, you should also hire your own independent third party inspector. This individual will work for you! They are looking out for your best interest, and in addition to pointing out any areas of concern that may need to be rectified, they will also teach you how to maintain your home moving forward.
There are four main opportunities for an inspection on a new construction home. The first inspection is a pre-pour foundation inspection. During this inspection, an inspector will assess the engineering of the foundation. During this inspection, the depth of the footings, post-tension cables and other integral parts of the homes foundation will be assessed. In central Texas with the varying soil conditions, it’s a good idea to ensure your home’s foundation is properly built to last.
The second opportunity for an inspection on a new construction home is the pre-drywall inspection. As you may have guessed, this inspection occurs before the sheetrock is installed. This inspection allows the inspector to see all of the integral components of your home before they are hidden behind drywall. The home is fully framed and your plumbing, electrical and HVAC is usually all fully installed and visible. It’s common for inspectors to find minor oversights at this stage, and it’s easy for the builder to correct these issues at this stage. This inspection also allows you to see all of the framing of your home, and plan accordingly for things such as TV mounting and avoiding drilling a hole into your main water line.
The last opportunity for an inspection on your new home before you officially close occurs when the home is complete. This inspection usually occurs a week or so before the closing. During this inspection, all utilities should be on, and the inspector will be able to assess the functionality of appliances, outlets, sprinkler systems etc. This is also the time to look for minor cosmetic items such as opportunities for paint and drywall touch up.
One Year InspectioN
After you move into your home, theres one more opportunity for a home inspection. Most new construction homes come with a builder warranty. The builder warranty will cover various aspects of the home, and it will cover some systems for longer than others. Commonly you will see what is referred to as a 1 - 2 - 10 warranty. The “1” refers to the one year builder warranty on workmanship. The “2” usually means the 2 year warranty on electrical, plumbing and HVAC, and the “10” is in reference to the 10 year structural warranty. Thus, it’s a good idea to have a third party inspection performed shortly before the 1 year builder warranty expires. After living in your home for around 10-11 months you should schedule this inspection. Then you can provide a copy of the inspection report to your builder and have all of your maintenance items addressed prior to the lapse of that warranty.
Inspections provide peace of mind, and oftentimes save you money in the long run by eliminating the need for you to pay for costly repairs. You may not feel the need to utilize all four of these inspections; however, it is up to you to make that decision and I hope this article helps you understand the options available to you. If you have general questions about buying a new construction home in the greater Austin area, feel free to give me a call or send me an email.
What happens if you just bought a home, and you suddenly realize it's no longer a good fit for your lifestyle?
Imagine this. You purchase your dream home. It has a great open floor plan, large windows that look out over the oak tree filled lawn, and a closet big enough for his shoes too. Then, six months later you suddenly get pregnant, and realize there is no way you could raise a family in what you thought was your dream house.
Well, you essentially have two options in this case.
1. You sell your current home
2. You rent out your current home
There are other options, but in order to determine the best option you really need to talk a REALTOR. A real estate agent will be able to give you a realistic estimate of what you can sell your home for and what you could expect to get in monthly rent if you decide to lease the property. They will also factor in your unique lifestyle and financial situation to help you strategize the best course of actions.
In an ideal world, you will be able to sell your home for more than you paid for it. A real estate agent can provide you with comparable home sales, and a net sheet showing what you would make on the sale after expenses.
But, what happens if that number is negative? This is where you need to get creative. Maybe, you can lease your home for enough money each month to cover the mortgage and any additional costs such as repairs, HOA fees, etc. But, what happens if you can't?
This is when you have to put your thinking cap on and start really looking outside the box. I love problem-solving and a few creative solutions could get you pinning insta-worthy nurseries in no time.
If you can't sell your home for enough money as is, maybe you could make some improvements that would yield incredible returns. Invest a few grand in flooring and paint, and sell your home for $30k more! It's possible if you have an experienced professional by your side who can advise you on the best home improvement projects.
Maybe, you can't rent your home long-term for a profit, but have you considered renting it short term? Airbnbs can provide way more rental revenue than a long-term tenant. You will have to look carefully at your HOA guidelines and city laws to ensure this is a viable solution. Many HOA’s limit short term rentals to leases of 30 days or more. This would eliminate the airbnb solution, but you could still rent your home furnished. I once had a client who was a traveling nurse, she told me about how traveling nurses often need a furnished rental for a few months, and they pay inflated rates for these brief leases.
Furthermore, I know first hand how a monthly rental can bridge the gap between homes. When we moved into our home, we had to find a place to stay for two months before our home was ready. We paid a premium for this brevity, and many families find themselves in similar situations when they are moving.
No matter what your unique situation is, I’m positive there is a solution that will allow you to move forward! Contact me today, so that we can start working on the solution that will be the easiest for you and leave the most money in your pocket!
If you have been thinking about buying a home on Lake Austin, you have probably been debating the pros and cons of different Lake Austin neighborhoods. There are many different waterfront communities along the shores of Lake Austin, and they can have very different vibes. You have gated neighborhoods such as Bellagio Estates, and you have neighborhoods where it seems that anything goes such as Cuernevaca and Apache Shores. However, just because a home is in a Lake Austin community you like, does not mean that the property will be a home run for you. You need to consider the characteristics of the specific property in addition to the qualities of the Lake Austin neighborhood.
How Many feet of Lake Austin Waterfront
One of the most important things to consider when identifying a solid Lake Austin purchase is how much lake frontage does the home have? Frontage on Lake Austin is scarce, and price is largely based on this figure. You need to understand how much actual waterfront a specific property has in order to determine a fair asking price. Also, is the property on true Lake Austin waterfront or is the property on a canal. There's nothing wrong with being on a canal, but it is important to ensure the property is priced correctly based on the waterfront quality.
Topography of the lake austin property
All lake frontage is not created equal. Just because two parcels in the same neighborhood both have 100 feet of waterfront doesn't mean they are equal. You need to consider the topography of the land and determine how accessible is the waterfront. Certain areas like Rob Roy on the Lake have homes with easy, level waterfront and homes where you would need to scale a cliff in order to get down to the Lake. If you are afraid of heights, you may want to consider the topography of the parcel before you waste your time going to look at a home that requires a steep tram to access the water.
What's on the other side of the Lake
Lake Austin is narrow, and you can see the other side of the lake from your boat dock. You want to think about what is across the lake from you. Is the other bank attractive? Are you facing vacant natural land? If it appears that there are beautiful, unobstructed natural views from your dock, you want to do your due-diligence to see who owns the property. If the property is privately owned, your beautiful views could turn into a massive development down the line.
Finding a property on Lake Austin that is perfect for you requires a competent agent with a hustler mentality. Many of the properties on Lake Austin are not listed for sale on the MLS. You need someone who will network with other agents, identify off-market homes, and ultimately show you all of the Lake Austin options, not just those that are on the MLS.
If you are ready to enjoy the best lake living in Austin, contact me today.
A few months ago, I spoke with a couple who were referred to me by a previous client. They were interested in selling their new home and buying a new one. They mentioned that they were considering selling their home with Opendoor. I’m not going to lie, my first instinct was to tell them to run in the other direction.
iBuyers such as Opendoor are causing quite a stir in the real estate industry today, and they are directly competing with agents such as myself. They prey on eager home sellers who value convenience, offering a smooth and simple sale with a hefty price tag. They offer almost instantaneous cash offers and charge a higher fee to allow sellers the convenience of selling their home without having to do any work. You don’t need to de-clutter or clean or stage, and you don’t have to allow buyers to come see your home either. All you have to do is inform the iBuyer about your property’s condition, and then a representative comes to verify what you reported is accurate.
Much to my surprise, about a week after I was cursing iBuyers in my head, I found myself advising my clients to accept the offer from Opendoor. I did not come to this conclusion quickly. I was turning down a potential commission. First, I reviewed the comparable homes in my client’s neighborhood. I looked at the recent sales, and I crunched the numbers. Then, I went and looked at the available homes currently listed for sale in their neighborhood. I noticed that there were homes that were sitting on the market, and had not sold yet – homes that frankly were in better shape than my client’s home, and they were asking for less money. After reviewing all of the data, I came to the conclusion that a fair asking price for my client’s home would be around $210,000. But, in order to get this, they would need to do a few things. The carpet was in rough shape and needed to be replaced. They needed to do some paint touch up; the back fence was in need of repair, and a deep clean and staging would be critical for my clients to get top dollar.
Assuming my clients were able to sell their home for $210,000, and I dropped the listing agent commission to 2%, my clients would be getting approximately $199,500 for their home. (I’m leaving out other costs such as the title commitment and loan payoff amounts for the simplicity of this post.) Additionally, they would have to put about $2,000 into repairs to get the home show ready – so they’re now at about $197,500. Opendoor offered my clients $216,600 cash with a $17,328 open door transaction fee. Selling to Opendoor would essentially yield $199,272 to my clients - almost two grand more than I projected they would make selling their home traditionally.
But, it wasn’t just the bottom line that accounted for my recommendation for my clients to sell to Opendoor. With Opendoor, they pretty much had a sure thing. There would be no question of if the right buyer would make an offer on their home, there would be no work preparing the home for sale, and there would be no unknown repair costs that came up after the inspection. There was no potential for a loan to fall through at the last minute, and there was no need to rearrange their lives to accommodate showings.
In the end, selling to Opendoor was absolutely the right choice for these clients. However, I did remain skeptical through the process, and made sure to advise my clients on potential pitfalls. With Opendoor, you are dealing with a lot of different people. You don’t have one main point of contact, and you don’t have anyone dedicated to representing your best interests. You need to pay attention to the contract, and understand the implications. There are deadlines, and fine print that if you don’t pay attention to may have significant repercussions.
Overall, it worked out great for my clients. They were selling this home to buy a new one, and having a “sure thing” deal on the sale side made facilitating the often challenging double closing much easier. Opendoor gave my clients what they refer to as a “late checkout” and what is commonly referred to in the industry as a lease back. This allowed my clients to stay in their home after the closing, and gave them extra time for the proceeds from the sale to be delivered to their bank account, and then used to purchase their new home. They also had a week with both homes so they could gradually move. They never had to clean up, or take the dogs out so that a buyer could see their home. They didn’t have to change their lives in any way.
In the end, they moved into a beautiful new home, and Opendoor is still trying to sell their old home. They fixed the fence, replaced the carpet, and currently have it listed for sale for $210,000. Will ibuyers change the real estate industry as we know it? It’s hard to say, but I can certainly tell you they are losing their shirt in this deal.
The temperature is not the only thing heating up in Austin this time of year; the central Texas real estate market is HOT, HOT, HOT! Last week, the Austin Board of REALTORS released the July 2019 home sales report; it revealed that the median sales price increased year over year for single family homes located within the city limits and those in the greater Austin area. Additionally, Austin area home sales set an all time high for any July on record with total sales topping out at 3,439 for the entire greater Austin area.
Within the greater Austin area, the median sales price for single family homes increased 3% from last year to $325,000. Simultaneously, the sales dollar volume increased 15.4% to $1,407,009,110.
Within the city limits, a shortage of supply is keeping the total number of homes sold lower. Last month, 943 homes sold in the city limits down just slightly from 952 homes sold in July of 2018. Additionally, those homes that are on the market are staying there for less time. The average days on market for homes in the city limits dropped to 29 days last month. Within the city limits, the median sales price increased 3% year over year to $410,000.
However, this figure is still lower than the median sales price for homes that sold within the city limits last month. In June, the median sales price of single family homes within the city of Austin was $420,000. This is not surprising, as historically you tend to see highest sales prices in the Austin area throughout the spring and early summer months.
All in all these stats show that the Austin market is still going strong. As long as there are homes to buy, people will keep buying them, and they are willing to pay a premium in order to do so!
Erika Rae Albert
Sharing my Austin real estate updates, home owner tips, & more.