Make a New Home List and Check it Twice

The holiday season is all about lists. We make them, check them twice, and then because it is 2020, we throw them away and start new ones. Austin made Santa proud this year by making Wallethub’s Best Cities for Christmas list. If we have learned anything this year, it is to be more adaptable. We all think we are flexible and able to bend, but that was challenged this year (and I don’t mean with yoga). Life truly can change at any moment. For introverts and fans of dystopian drama, like me, adapting to staying indoors away from the social scene has been relatively easy. I think I was more prepared for zombies, but I feel like we leaned a little closer to the Hunger Games.

New Home List

It seemed like overnight, new home wish lists changed too. Suddenly, a desk area that wasn’t really needed, became the most prized space one could have. Wi-Fi access, which was once a secondary concern, now moved up the list. The drive for minimalist simplicity now includes the desire for more personal space. Pandemics change floor plans as lifestyles change. At the end of the day, what is no longer a perfect fit for one buyer, will certainly be the right fit for another.

Moving to Austin

Like any list, what a buyer wants in a new home has priorities too. Add too many items and you are either custom building or not buying anything. In the beginning, I suggest my clients start with items like location, price, size range, and the number of bedrooms. From there, we look at the inventory and modify it. This is the year to be adaptable, and looking for a home Austin, Round Rock, Buda, Kyle, Pflugerville, West Lake Hills, or anywhere else in Central Texas is no exception.

Home Inventory in Austin

Less is more right now because the home inventory in Austin, or anywhere near Austin,  is so low. It is better to just add a few criteria and see how many homes meet them before adding more. Like any list, the fewer line items – the greater the chance of getting through it.  Read about how hot the Austin real estate market was for November here.

Happy New Year!

As we inch closer to 2021, with just a few days left, I wish you and your family a safe, healthy holiday and a brighter new year.

Austin has plenty of real estate news

Austin is a bustling hot spot these days. The influx of new buyers and businesses moving to Austin has cast a wider net for housing development. To the east, the new Tesla gigafactory has propelled new construction near the area. Whisper Valley, a unique eco-community, is starting to pre-sell Phase 2 called Whisper Highlands and includes five different builders to date. To the west, sales and residential construction in the Westlake and Lake Travis areas are strong. The farther reaching development is partially a byproduct of the pandemic as buyers seek less dense areas and more personal space. Continue reading

A Buyer’s Guide to Purchasing a Home While Sheltering in Place

People who want to stay safe and shelter in place, but also want to buy a home, may be a bit confused about what their next steps should be. That’s great news because there is so much you should be doing and can be doing – from home. I tell buyers all of the time that looking at homes in person, is really the only fun part of the home buying process. Some people might disagree, but really if you consider the steps – you will probably agree. Some people stress about spending money. Not everyone enjoys a new time-consuming task to fit into an already filled day. I have also yet to meet someone who enjoys filling out paperwork.

There is paperwork aplenty. Back in the day, we printed everything and I used to include myself as one of those tree killers. Nowadays, so much of what I do is online, there is no guilt anymore. My buyers can buy a home completely paperless if they choose, but the paperwork still exists, now as online forms, and there is plenty of it. There are many forms that are required to be filled out in order to buy a home. All of that can take place on-line. All of it takes time. All of it can be done from the comfort of your own couch. Continue reading

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

Put Your Smart Phone to Work When Moving

Schools are back in session and traffic is back to normal which can be helpful when trying to estimate how long it takes to get from point A to point B. If you are looking for a home in a new area, I always recommend using the navigation app on your smart phone.

Real Time Data

Type the proposed area of your new home to your work address, at the time you leave for work. Reverse the search again at the end of the day. Doing this a few times will help you start tracking drive times to and from the area you are considering moving to. Continue reading

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 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.