Austin Real Estate Market Sizzles

Recently Sold Home In Kyle

The summer home selling season is sizzling in Austin real estate news. Market activity set an all-time sales volume in May reaching $1.2 billion, according to the May 2017 Central Texas Housing Market Report released by the Austin Board of REALTORS®.  By the numbers, May 2017 single-family housing market statistics in the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area showed 3,170 Single-family homes sold, which was 9% more than May 2016.  The median price for single-family homes was $310,000, an 8% increase over May 2016.  The average time on the market was 43 days homes, which was one day less than May 2016.

Austin is Weird

The key to this market for a buyer is flexibility in terms of location and a solid understanding of budget. Austin is weird and the beauty of that is having a wide variety of home styles to choose from, in a unique mix of neighborhoods.

With low inventory, Buyers are searching for a home in a larger area then they once were.

The key to this Austin real estate market for sellers is also understanding that their home is also unique right now. In some neighborhoods, there may be only one house for sale in a particular price point. This creates a sellers’ market and an opportunity.  The Austin housing market has buyers searching within a larger map area these days because of the lack of inventory and will keep looking elsewhere if the home does not show well.

Sellers are representing the neighborhood.

Keeping the house clean and cool in the summer are two of the easiest ways to welcome a buyer, show pride of ownership, and now-a-days represent the neighborhood.

Interest Rates Impact Housing Market Trends

Austin Texas Home Sales February 2017

 Austin, TX … The water cooler topic these days is all about mortgage interest rates. Everyone is anticipating rates to go up, but it is not clear when that change will happen or even by how much. Interest rates factor into real estate because they help determine buying power. Lower interest rates increase buying power. Lenders look at the debt to income ratio when deciding to approve a buyer for a loan. Debt includes existing data like student loans and car payments, but the principle and interest on your proposed mortgage will also be a factor. The more you spend on interest the lower your principle payment on the house will need to be to meet the qualifying debt to income ratio.

People always ask me if selling next year means selling for more than this year. I can’t predict the future. When I list a house, and even when I represent a buyer, I look at trends in the market. Market trends vary about every 3 months based on how fast inventory is moving, what houses have sold for and what houses entering the market are being listed for. Austin housing prices are a reflection of both national and global economic factors that affect interest rates, the stock market, the bond market and employment rates to name a few. The volatility of market conditions makes it impossible to predict what your house will sell for a year from now. Sometimes I review sales over the past year, but it’s not to price a house – it’s to look at the trend.

Austin Texas Real Estate Markets are Local

Markets are local which can be scaled down to a particular subdivision or specific condo community. Markets can be defined as a school district, zip code, etc. Looking back in time longer than 3 months helps me see the trend of that particular market because – although the list price can’t be predicted a year from now, how hot a specific market is generally can. Price, on the other hand, is a moment in time.

Price is a Moment in Time

Interest rates go up and down constantly.  A consistent steady decline or rise in interest rates does ultimately affect home values. Time will tell what this year will bring in Austin. Sales seem to have flattened a bit, but Spring is in the air.  

Austin Home Buyer Style Guide

They say you are what you eat. What kind of home you purchase can say something about you as well. Austin is known for being weird. The eclectic mix of art, music and culture are as unique as the architecture, landscaping and aesthetic designs of Austinites who call this city home. There is quite a buffet of homes styles in Austin to choose from.

Homes for Sale in Austin offer a unique blend of vintage and modern designs. In Austin, you can turn a corner and be in a different neighborhood with a completely different vibe. I’ve had clients in the past who refer to master planned communities as ‘Disney Word’, because all of the homes conform to the same aesthetic tone. Other neighborhoods in Austin look like something out of storybook with bungalow style homes and lemonade porches.

Bungalow homes for traditional buyers in Austin

I have found, more often than not, that who you are, as a buyer, has a lot to do with what type of home you pick. Buyers who like antiques, nostalgia or tend to like structure in their lives, tend to like colonial and bungalow style homes. These buyers don’t care if the floors creek, have no finish and are original from the 1940’s. To them, the floors as real wood and they appreciate the history and authenticity they represent. These traditional buyers also like defined rooms. They like a formal dining room, separate from the kitchen and other rooms, because to them every room has a unique purpose and therefore should have a unique identity.

Dated homes ready for a remodel attract creative types in Austin.

Unlike traditional personalities, progressive buyers roll with the times. In my experience these buyers tend to be creative, artist types who don’t always look at a house for what it is… but rather what it could be. These buyers are deciding what walls they are knocking down and how to expand the kitchen. These are the dreamers who know very well they may never get to every project they envision, but see the potential and possibility.

Modern homes in Austin for buyers who think out of the box.

Modern buyers are similar to progressive type, but have a flare for drama. These buyers are drawn to open floor plans and like mid-century, contemporary and trend setting designs. They feel boxed in with too many walls. They like vaulted ceilings with a uniform tone between living areas. To some people, these homes look like office buildings, but to modern home buyers, they are dramatic and unique – a work of art in their own right.

The funny thing is that you typically don’t like what you grew up with. For example, I grew up in a mid-century modern single story home, but my brother, sister and I have always lived in 2-story traditional homes. I find this to be the case with more of my buyers than not. Maybe it’s the rebel in us or simply that we know deep down change is good.

Austin Real Estate Market Winter Homes for Sale

Zilker Park  Christmas Tree

‘Tis the season for shopping, baking, cleaning and sitting in Austin traffic. With all of the things to find time for during the holidays, selling or buying a home in Austin, or anywhere, is often taken off the to-do list. There are benefits to selling and buying during the holiday season which can make the prospect of doing so a little merrier.

Austin Winter Real Estate Market

The holiday season is also the start of colder weather. In other parts of the country snow can really impact winter home sales. Fortunately, for the Austin real estate market, snow days are few and far between. Home buyers in Austin can generally shop year round though it may be hard to find the time during the holidays.

Buying a Home, Selling a Home and Creating a Win-Win

The holiday season holds benefits for home buyers. Less buyers mean less competition. There are typically less multiple offers this time of year which can drive up prices along with stress levels. There is often more flexibility with a standard 30-day closing turnaround this time of year as well. Both buyers and sellers have a lot going on besides the thought of moving. In addition, banks and title companies are closed for the holidays which decreases the amount of business days. For some, a shorter closing timeline may be appealing and for others adding 10 days to the timeline to get past the holidays or doing a lease back so nobody has to move right away works nicely. The goal this time of year is to make it work and it usually can.

‘Tis the Season for Serious Buyers

Only the must-see homes on the hot list make the cut this time of year. There are fewer buyers this time of year and with little time, those coming out to see a house are serious shoppers. Sellers will get less traffic but those that come out want or need to buy — now.

Home Staging Made Simple

Decorations set the stage by making a house feel like a home. A seller’s biggest challenge, in any given month, is keeping the home constantly clean. We tend to clean more this time of year anyway for visiting friends and family, so why not take advantage of the opportunity to show it.

There are many sellers that will take their house off the market between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I always encourage my sellers to keep their houses on the market. Serious buyers will miss a home if it is not for actively for sale, which is exactly the type of buyer they want.

Austin New Home Building

UpgreadesAUSTIN, TX – New construction is happening all over Austin.  Having a home built is an attractive alternative to for many buyers. Building, however, comes with a price which is not what is advertised.  Understanding the real cost of a new home before walking into the sales office saves time to focus on details and a bit of frustration as well.

Austin New Home Search

The starting price can be a little misleading when it comes to building a new home. Buyers often think that houses can be purchased at the starting price.  In reality, every new home build has a starting and ending price.

Replacing the word ‘starting’ with ‘base’ clarifies the marketing message to buyers who want to have a home built. The total cost is built off the base price through the selection process for line items like lot premiums and upgrades.

Austin New Home Building Prices

The elevation and floor plan will initially set the base price. Both the floor plan and elevation will be available to be built on specific lots. The master plan for the community will limit and vary the elevations based on lot location. Limiting floor plans creates an architectural balance throughout the community. Lot sizes and set back requirements will also limit what floor plan can be built on any specific lot.

Once a floor plan is selected, a buyer will then select a lot based on those that will accommodate that particular style. Lot premiums are added to the price of the house and will vary greatly based on size, location and desirability. It is not unusual for lot premiums to cost anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000.

The Process of Building a New Home

If the buyer can get passed the cost of the lot premium and floor plan, upgrades are often a larger hurdle, but can be managed with some self control. Some buyers feel overwhelmed with the selection when they go the design center, while others feel like a kid in a candy store. Regardless of what end of the spectrum the buyer is on, everyone tends to feel a bit overwhelmed in the end. Upgrades can be pricey.

New Home Features and Upgrades

Frugal and savvy buyers will go with as many base levels as possible and only upgrade a few features they don’t want to replace or install later on. Tile would be a good example of something to upgrade. Nobody wants to replace tile down the road. Paint color is another popular upgrade. Standard choices are often white, white or white. Painting can be a big project not everyone will want to tackle later with a different color.

Buyers need to approach upgrades just like shopping for groceries. They should go with a budget and a list of a few items that may be worth upgrading. They should also go alone. There will be time to show friends and family everything later. Bringing friends to the design center can be like taking kids to the grocery store. Suddenly, the basket is full with a bunch of items that are nice to have, but not really necessary. The extra $100 spent at the grocery store, equates to about $10,000 at the design center.

There is nothing like a new home. Brand new appliances, fresh paint and new carpet under your feet are an experience, as a whole, you only get once – if at all. With a bit of a frugal mindset and understanding that the starting price is typically about 10-20% less than the final cost – you can do it.

Back to School Starts Austin Real Estate Fall Season

PoolMother Nature offers two options in Central Texas – either extreme heat or extreme rain. Heat indexes got as high as 108 degrees in Austin before breaking a record for rain totals in August. Working with extreme weather can be a daunting task for a home buyer. Only those with an immediate need or searching for a lakefront property were stepping out to buy a home in Austin.

Lakefront Properties in Austin

There is always a consistent desire to live close to Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake, but sales dropped along Lake Travis during the drought. Many homes that were once lakefront, were no longer as desirable without water present. Things have changed quite a bit. In fact, Lake Travis has reached full status for the second time this year.

Austin Lake Homes for Sale

The consistent water levels turned the lakefront property market around quite a bit this summer. Austin lake view homes for sale and lakefront properties in Austin, West Lake Hills and Lake Travis certainly saw saw an increase in sales activity.

Austin Goes Back to School

With summer vacations winding down and everyone back into school – commuting times need some adjustment. The market may soften just a bit more as everyone takes a bit of a breather as we settle into our fall schedules.

Central Texas Real Estate Market Statistics

Central Texas experienced a bit of a decline in July compared to July 2015. According to the July 2016 Central Texas Housing Report released by the Austin Board of REALTORS(R), 4,230 single-family homes were sold which was a 3.1% decline in July compared to July 2015.