Buying a Home amid COVID-19

I hope you and your families are in good health and good spirits as we collectively fight COVID-19. I have already connected with some of you and will continue to do so. Please reach out to me as well if you want to talk about real estate, are on the lookout for a supply you can’t find, looking for a new show to stream or are just bored and want someone different to talk to. Working from home can be very isolating, trust me I get it. I can certainly provide some tricks and tips to help you schedule your day a bit.

Austin Homes Sales are Strong

The Austin real estate market is strong, and that includes all of Central Texas. Yes, we have changed some business practices, but new homes are still coming on the market daily, houses are still being shown (with some precautions) and sold. Closings still happening virtually, with limited attendance and even taking place outside. Continue reading

What makes a home a condo?

Lately, my clients have taken me from Kyle to Dripping Springs to central and south Austin. I have been showing various types of condominium regimes and neighborhoods comprised of fee simple single family homes. Think you can tell a fee simple house from a condo? Think again. The perception is that you can tell a single-family house or duplex from a condo just by looking at it. Truth be told, there is nothing about the style of a house that dictates its classification. Continue reading

The Larger Austin Gets the Smaller it Becomes

Pay Austin a visit if you are planning to move back after living or having vacationed here in the past. Moving back to Austin requires a bit of a refresher course. Austin has changed greatly over the last decade and is continuing to evolve. The skyline alone has expanded quite a bit with skyscrapers now eclipsing one another annually. The landscape, population and job growth within the city have been taking turns outpacing one another for the last 10 years. Growth lends itself to convenience in some ways, adding greater variety in local eateries, retail stores and entertainment venues. The inconvenience comes with the reality that it is going to take you longer to get from point A to point B. Yes, Austin has been experiencing growing pains, and its residents along with it. Continue reading

Navigating Downtown Austin

Central Library

Last week I spent a bit of time downtown for work and play. For work, I showed some condos in the Posada Del Rey condominium community at 505 W 7th Street. If you haven’t heard of this community, that is partially due to its small size and has units available for lease more frequently than for purchase. While searching for parking, I circumnavigated the old Extended Stay Hotel, which will be the home of the new 6 X Guadalupe tower at 400 W 6th Street. This will be a mixed-use tower comprised of office spaces, 349 residences and ground floor retail. After driving around in a circle for a bit, realizing my parking karma wasn’t with me that day – I settled on a parking garage. Continue reading

Pool Time in Austin

Akoya AustinSwimming pools are an instant source for entertainment, relaxation and exercise. They provide a backyard retreat, a tranquil view and a luxury marker some buyers dream about having. For those Austin home buyers who want a pool, houses with them are much easier to sell. Forget the condition of the house– that oasis in the backyard, especially on a hot day kind of sells itself, doesn’t it?

Pools can often be a hindrance more than a help when selling. Not everyone wants a pool. In fact, I would say 70% of people don’t. Pools cost money and time to maintain. In addition, there are safety concerns for people with small children and pets. They can also take up a lot of yard space.

Swimming Pool Tips for both Buyers and Sellers:

Swimming Pool Owners and Future Sellers

•Maintain and update your pool. Nobody wants to buy a money pit (literally).
•If you can afford to switch to saline – it is a selling feature.
•If you own in a subdivision where most homes have a private pool…buyers will be comparing your ‘pool’ appeal.
•Make sure the pool area looks clean, maintained and inviting.

Buying a Home with a Pool

•A general inspector will not inspect a pool, but many pool companies do. Have a pool inspection – they can be costly to fix.
•If you want to know how much it costs to maintain a pool including chemicals, electric and water, the answer is: you don’t want a pool! They can be costly, and if you are already watching your budget — a pool is going to blow it.
•Remember, pools limit your potential number of buyers, so they can take longer to sell when the time comes.

Community Pools in Austin

Austin Texas has a variety of options for people who want to enjoy a pool, but don’t want to maintain one. Many planned single family home communities in Austin have pools that are included with HOA fees or may require a nominal additional fee. Condominium communities in Austin often have a private pool as well for residents. An automated home search can be customized to only include properties with pools and/or community pools.

Public Pools and Swimming Holes in Austin

There are many public pools in Austin as well. There are 29 neighborhood pools and 6 municipal pools in total. The most well known pool is Barton Springs, located in Zilker Park. Centrally located in the neighborhood of Barton Hills, Barton Springs Pool is spring fed, just over 900 feet long and maintains a consistent temperature of 68 degrees year round. Hamilton Pool Preserve is a unique, historic swimming hole located just outside of Austin in Dripping Springs. The canyon, grotto and waterfall provide a picturesque and popular summer attraction within the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve.

Real Estate in the Rain

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My client’s foundation was poured just before May’s rain days began

I think Mother Nature got a bit confused last month.  April showers are supposed to bring May flowers – not the other way around.  May, after all, is prom season, graduation season, wedding season and to many, the start of home buying season.  For many, May is simply the busy season which often requires a lot of planning and with all of this rain – re-planning. Lake Travis is now almost 70% full, which is good news, but as we well know it came at a cost to many with so much rain in so little time.

Home Shopping in the Rain

Looking for a house to buy in the rain creates opportunity for some buyers and disadvantage for others.  My advice varies based on the mindset of my client, the property description and what the must-have feature is.

Safety First

If I know that even in the rain, my buyer will right an offer – I advise that to go see it.  I am talking about light rain days like we experienced in early May, not the Memorial weekend storms.  In addition, if you are not familiar with an area, it is best to wait for a sunny day.  The threat of flooding in some areas is common even with very little rain, so if you don’t know an area well – it’s best to stay home.

Austin Real Estate Rain or Shine

On a typical rainy day, if my buyer is all about the kitchen and the yard is simply a place to let the dog out – we should go look at houses.  If we looking at an Austin condo – we should go see it as well. There are not very many outside features in a condominium you cannot see from a window, especially if it is located in downtown Austin.  If my buyer needs to see the condition of the exterior of the house or needs to walk the yard prior to making a decision – we should not go look.  The Austin market does not cater to looky-loos.  With so little inventory – the market is not waiting for good weather either.

Austin Weather

The weather can be very different when driving from North Austin to South Austin or vice versa.  Austin weather can also change very quickly.  There are weather apps you can download to watch the local radar on your phone.  Whether you look at houses in rain or shine, it is best to look when you are a ready, willing and able buyer.  If you are not willing to write an offer in the rain then wait.  The sun will be out tomorrow and if it is meant to be – the house will be waiting for you.

Stay safe, stay dry and donate to those in need.

Buying the Perfect Home

house graphSo you think you’ve found the perfect home, but is it perfect for you? The path to actually buying it can prove otherwise if you haven’t done your homework. The Austin Real Estate market is very strong. Interest rates are low, the current unemployment rate is 5.1% (a six-year low) and companies are consistently moving in creating more opportunities.

Austin Texas Homes for Sale

There is a consistent supply of willing and able buyers in Austin that for the most part, still out number the amount of properties for sale. The demand as we have moved into the fall season has remained high for Austin housing. Finding the perfect house today without knowing if it is affordable, may only be setting yourself up for disappointment. After all, if you can’t afford it…the house is not so perfect anymore.

Housing Financial Criteria

Whether purchasing a first home or simply want to move to another, you need to do some homework and come up with a plan. Everyone has an idea of what they want to spend on a home, but many don’t know how that translates in terms of how much of a house they can actually afford. Your debt to income ratio is only part of the formula. The other consideration that lenders look at is your credit score. Many buyers I talk to have no idea what their credit score is. Credit scores run between 300 and 850. A credit score of 650 – 699 is generally considered moderate, while numbers between 700 and 850 are considered good to excellent. The combination of the debt to income ratio, credit score and available down payment will determine what loan programs are available, what the interest rate will be and ultimately how much you will qualify for.

Housing Lifestyle Criteria

A lender will explain what your options are and then we will talk about them. I always try and keep lifestyle in the mix to help you decide what you want to spend. You may need to be at the high end of what you can qualify for if living near Downtown Austin is important. Likewise, if you are planning to expand your family or will need to purchase a car and know your monthly expenses are going to increase as a result; you may want to spend less. Once you do your homework, you will find a home that fits your financial and lifestyle criteria. It will be the perfect home – that is perfect for you.

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