Comment

One Resource Everyone Austin Buyer/Seller Needs

I want to make sure I put my absolute favorite resource into your hand. I send this to everyone, use it almost every week, and post an updated version every year.  This gives you all of the information you need to see how the various areas around Austin are appreciating with information broken up by area and using data tracked over several years. All of this information will help you make a better informed decision before purchasing your piece of Austin real estate.

You will notice that each of these areas can still be quite large, so if you'd like me to give you more specific data on an exact neighborhood that you're interested in, please let me know and I'll email you all the numbers and analysis relevant to that area. Also if you'd like to possess this PDF (with even more info than I've shown here), or have an questions, please let me know. Also, I should say hat's off to Austin Title for putting this great presentation of the data together!

 

Comment

Comment

Real Estate FAQ's, vol. 1

How long does it take to close on a house?

Prior to TRID changes (which came down from Dodd Frank legistlation) that happened a few months ago, we could close most loans in 30 days after an offer is accepted.  Now it typically takes 40-45 days to close.  Although I don't see it very often, I'm told that it is still actually possible to close in under 30 days if you have EVERYTHING your lender needs ready ahead of time, and never have any delays.  Cash offers of course can close almost immediately, usually in under a week if both parties agree.

How do realtors get paid?

Realtors are paid nothing unless a house closes. While rates are negotiable by law, the compensation that has become the industry standard is that the seller pays a 3% commission to the buyer brokerage, and a 3% commission to the seller brokerage. If you are a buyer, you are in luck because you will not have to pay anything! Your realtor doesn't get paid for showing houses, only if he or she helps you complete the task.

How much do I have to pay as a down payment?

This all depends upon what type of loan package you use. With FHA loans at least 3.5% is required, with conventional loans 5% is required, with USDA loans and VA loans you can put 0% down! Check with your lender as well about grant programs that can pay for ALL of your down payment. Taking these grants may increase your interest rate, but the down payment itself you is paid for, and you don't have to pay that money back.

How much will buyer closing costs be?

ROUGHLY, it will be about 4% for buyers. This includes your pre-paids like insurance, taxes, and insurance but does NOT include your downpayment (which will be different depending upon your loan package and what you can afford).

How much will seller closing costs be?

Again, ROUGHLY, it will be a little under 7% (assuming 3% commissions paid to the buyer and seller brokerages).  Every situation is going to be different, so ask your agent for a better estimate based on the actual house you want to buy. For the most accurate numbers, ask your lender for the actual closing costs.

Comment

The Truth About New Builds & Realtors

Comment

The Truth About New Builds & Realtors

"I don't need a realtor to go buy a new build home." -This is actually true. The salesman at the model home can take you through the whole process without ever seeing a realtor. To me though, the questions isn't whether or not it can be done or not, rather it's whether or not you might have missed out on something.

"They'll negotiate a better deal with me if I don't use a realtor." -False, most likely. Seller's never give you more than they have to, and who do you think they are more intimidated by: a realtor who does this stuff every week, or a novice who does this once every decade or two? I won't guarantee you that the outcome will be different if you have a realtor, but I will say you've got better odds with a realtor. I've seen first hand my clients eyebrows perk up in disbelief while seeing the new build sales agent offer something that they weren't previously offered when I wasn't with them. I've seen my clients get things they wouldn't have gotten without me.

"The price is higher if I use a realtor." -Totally false. First, the builders build in the realtor's commission into the price of the house. If you ask, agents like me may be able to rebate part of their commission to you so that you MAKE money by using a realtor. If you don't use a realtor, the realtor won't make anything from your purchase, and neither will you. That's just money that stays in the pockets of the builder. Who would you rather have that money, your family, and the family of your favorite realtor, or the million dollar salary executives of giant national corporations? Someone is going to get that money, and you get to choose. Also keep in mind that you'll never have to pay your real estate buyer agent anything, ever, whether it be a new build or resale, since the seller always pays realtor commissions.

"I can go shopping around all of the new build sales offices first, and then decide later if I want a realtor." -Sometimes true, sometimes false. If you sign in without submitting your realtor's name, you're in danger of not being able to bring your realtor in on the deal later. Some builders will exclude them if you don't tell them about your realtor from the outset. Some builders even require your realtor to be there on the first visit WITH you. In general, I've experienced D.R. Horton to be pretty accommodating and congenial to realtors, but I did notice this clause in my client's contract last week: "D.R. Horton requires that you must accompany your client to the model homes on his or her first visit and register your client in the Subdivision at the time. D.R. Horton cannot and will not honor a "drive-by" agency relationship or any purported relationship attempted to be created by you sending your client to the model homes (or the Subdivision) with instructions to tell D.R. Horton's Sales Representative that your client is working with or represented by you. Any attempt to effectuate any Agency relationship with D.R. Horton without your actual presence shall be null and void and of no effect whatsoever." There are other builders that will have similar clauses. Now if you've already messed up, don't worry too much. Just call to your favorite realtor, and don't sign a contract until you've talked to them. Regardless of what their fine print says, your power to walk away and not buy may cause the builder to look the other way about their realtor policy, and include them per your request. Like I said, the realtor's commission is already built into the price of the home from the outset, so they should be willing to pay it if it's necessary to sell the home.

"A realtor will just slow me down if I have to bring them along for my home shopping." -If that's true, I'd say you might not have the best realtor. A good realtor will be grateful for the chance to get to work with you, and will give you absolute first priority in their schedule. If they don't, get another one! :-)

"The sales agent will be able to answer all my questions, so I don't need a realtor." -Sure, the sales agent probably knows their own product better than your realtor, but your own realtor knows more about YOUR needs, and therefore knows how to ask really relevant questions. Also, because of experience, your own realtor also might have an idea of what weaknesses they might be hiding (or not proactively showing you) about their own product. Just remember than builders will ALWAYS only tell you about how their product is the best. Your (good) realtor has been through this dog and pony show a million times though, and knows better. I think many people find that their realtors bring really insightful questions and point out things that wouldn't have been revealed otherwise. 

If there are any questions I can answer for you, or help guide you through the new build process, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Comment

Your "All In" Austin Realtor

Comment

Your "All In" Austin Realtor

This post was written primarily to introduce myself to realtors in other cities, who have clients moving to Austin. If, however, you're a buyer or seller already in Austin and are looking for a realtor, then I hope this post can at least be useful in learning a little more about me.


What are you looking for in a realtor partner? I suppose everyone has different things on their checklist. I'll share mine, and then I'd love to hear you share yours. When I need a realtor in another city of course one of my primary concerns is to see if they know what they're doing. Many years of experience is great, but of even more importance to me is recent experience. Markets are changing all the time, and someone who had a pulse on the market ten years ago might not have a great pulse on the market at the moment. 

Aside experience and market knowledge, my second biggest concern is accessibility. If I can't get a call back from the realtor I reach out to, I begin to wonder if my referred client will have trouble as well. If I really want to help insure my referred client can successfully win a house, they will need to be able to get a hold of their realtor. I know not all markets are like Austin, but here the best priced houses are here today and gone tomorrow, many often having multiple offers in just one or two days on the market. Just incase that other city's market is similar to red-hot Austin, I want my client to have a really responsive realtor.

A third thing I'm often looking for is a realtor that is "all in." I know there are certainly lots of good part-time realtors out there, but I feel better about those who have all of their work time available to devote to real estate. Maybe my bias is unfounded, but if my referred client could only get showings on nights and weekends, or between other occupational appointments, things might be much more difficult.

If my checklist items are anything like what you're looking for, then let me tell you a little about myself. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, I'm applying for a job!  In about the past half year I've sold or put more than 34 houses under contract, sold property in more than a dozen zip codes, transacted new builds and resales, and have probably shown close to a thousand houses all over the greater Austin area. I've been in more competitive bid situations this past year that I can even count, seemingly almost every week. I feel like I have a pretty good beat on Austin's current market pulse. 

With seven realtors or brokers in the family, real estate has just become part of our family culture. I first got my license back in 2003, but although I have been involved in different businesses and entrepreneurship over the years, real estate client assistance has been my sole focus for some time now. I'm a FULL TIME realtor, and I'm "all in!" I'd love to be "all in" for your clients as well.

Finally, I have a personality trait that can be helpful you. I have a natural sense of urgency about most things, which conveniently fits this fast paced market.  When something needs to get done, my philosophy is that there's no time like the present. Whats more, I have a stellar team to back me up, one that I probably don't talk about enough. I have an amazing assistant, who is also an experienced licensed realtor. I also have a transaction coordinator, as well as another buyer specialist agent to help out. In the next month or two, we may also be adding another one or two buyers specialists as well. Sure, there will be times where I can't be immediately available, but on my team there's almost always someone you can talk to.

Give me a call, text, or email today and feel free to give me your most difficult interview questions. I'd love to give your clients a great home buying experience here in Austin.

Comment

Your Real Estate Jedi

Comment

Your Real Estate Jedi

I must admit, with the advent of the new Star Wars this week, I feel a little bit like a kid again. :-) I don't think I'll be in costume, but I'll definitely be standing in line early on opening day.  Whether Star Wars is your thing or not, I'd still love to be your "Real Estate Jedi."  What does that mean?  It means you need someone who knows what they're doing, who knows the ebbs and flows of market forces.  Are you looking to buy?  I've written a bit for you here.  Are you thinking about selling?  Here's a link for you too.  Please let me know how I can help!

Comment

Texas Favors Buyers: Understanding The Option Period

Comment

Texas Favors Buyers: Understanding The Option Period

If you went to any type of investment market (say stocks, bonds, etc.) and asked if you could lock in the current price and take it off the market for 10 days before you decided for sure that you wanted to buy it, and in exchange for this option to buy you would give them $150, what do you think they would say?  My guess is something like: "You're crazy! Get out of here!" Texas, however, has a similar sort of arrangement for homebuyers, which, in my opinion, is ridiculously slanted in favor of buyers.

Everything is negotiable, but I usually try to push for 10-day option periods for my buyers.  Occasionally during competitive situations this gets pushed down to 7 days.  I usually push for about $150 as an option payment, but sometimes this can get pushed up to as much as $300, or a little more depending on the property price and competition.  Still, for this very nominal fee, if they accept your offer, you get this entire 7-10 day option period to drop out for ANY reason whatsoever.  If you drop out, all you'll lose is that small fee.  After I explain this, some people still think there's a catch.  There's not!  If you're in a bad mood, if you'd like to take a vacation, if you think the stars are not in the right alignment ... really, anything, is reason enough to drop out.  You don't even have to give a reason.  Since often the only thing at risk is about $150, if you really like a house there's usually not a lot of reason not to jump in.  You can worry about cold feet later after you win the bid.

Now the function of the option period is really to let you do your due diligence.  We will help you schedule inspections, which will tell you every dirty detail about a house and everything that might conceivably need repairs.  Because you have the ability to drop out of the contract, you also have a little bit of leverage, and therefore the option period is also a second chance to negotiate repairs or monetary allowances to do those repairs on your own.  After midnight on the last day of your option period though, the window closes and you're on the hook to complete the contract.  Until then though, you get to find out everything about the house, and rethink your whole game plan.  This feature of Texas real estate contract law makes it much easier to jump in if you like a property but are not 100% sure about everything yet.

When you go under contract, there is also an earnest money payment, which is usually negotiated to go toward closing costs, so it's a payment you basically get back in the end.  I can elaborate on this a little more in a future post.  Please let us know if there are any questions you might have, or any ways we can help you out with the whole home buying process.

Comment

Never Lose Another Bid!

Comment

Never Lose Another Bid!

I'm taking a little risk in writing this, giving away some trade secrets for free. My assumption though is that mostly only my own clients and friends are the ones reading this blog, and a limited amount of other realtors (the competition). :-)  Honestly, I don't know why all realtors don't know and use this trick (as basic as it is), but I have observed that many don't...request




So if you find yourself in a multiple offer situation (which is quite common in Austin), then how do you win?  I'm often asked, "how much do you think the other parties will be bidding?"  I don't have a crystal ball, and I honestly have no idea how much other people want the house or how deep their pockets are.  At lower price points, I typically don't see the bidding go more than 5% over listing price.  At higher price points it's often confined to 2-3%... but still, these are generalizations.  Any realtor that tells you they know what will happen is not being honest with you.


So how do you ensure that you'll almost certainly win the bid?  Well, you can just WAY overbid and blow everybody else out of the water!  "Really Jeremy? THAT'S your advice?!"  Well, if you're using a lender to finance your offer, an appropriately written contract should specify that the deal is dependent upon your loan approval, which is also dependent upon your house appraising at full contract value.  Basically that means that the government has ensured that you NEVER have to pay a single penny over appraised value if you don't want to!  That means that as long as you are willing to pay the full appraised value (which is typically synonymous with "market value" because appraisers are the best at what they do), then you can bid basically any high number and then just wait for the appraisal to come in.  If you're not sure what others will bid, then just WAY over bid them, win the bid, and then wait for the appraisal to bring the price back down after everybody else has been defeated.


Q: But wait Jeremy, do the sellers HAVE TO agree to lower the price if the appraisal comes in low?


A: No, but they are not really left with any other good options at that point in the game. In the event of a low appraisal, you have the ability to drop out of the contract at that point, and if they let you walk away they'll have to put their back on the market.  If they try to promote their house to other buyers, they will run into the exact same problem all over again.  That appraisal will still be on file for the next guys to see, and those people won't want to pay over appraised value either.  Nobody wants to start out with negative equity from day one, and very few people want to bring extra cash beyond what their loan will finance.  So far, every single time I've had an appraisal come in low, we brought a price lowering ammendment to the seller and they've always agreed.  Most likely their own realtor will be telling them the exact same thing, that they have no good options at that point.


So is this a little confusing?  Here's a fictional scenario to show you how it plays out in the real world.  The Jones want to by 103 Brown St which is listed at $250,000.  Unfortunately this house was marketed well and 4 other people have also submitted offers.  Even though there's a bidding war, likely most of the other bids will not be more than $260,000.  I'd say it''s much more unlikely for the other bidders to bid more than $265,000.  To be safe, let's say I help the Jones bid $267,000 because they really want the house.  Lets also say that I've run the comps for them to help them know the house's real market value, and we've assessed it to be priced right in the ballpark of $250,000.  Let's then say that our $267,000 bid is accepted and we go under contract for the house.  Most likely the other parties will not want to place backup offers because that ties them up and in some ways keeps them from shopping for houses elsewhere.  Since we're under contract, the Jones' lender orders an appraisal, which will probably occur 2 weeks or more after the offer is accepted.  At that time, let's say that the appraisal value comes in at $252,000. What do we do next?  We then tell the sellers about the appraised value and write an ammendment to bring the price down to $252,000.  Unless they are just stubborn or unreasonable, the sellers will most likely come down to our requested price.  Do you see what has happened here though?  You will end up getting the house for $252,000 but if you had bid that originally you would almost certainly not have won.  It's a bit of gamesmanship here, but it works!  When I'm trying to get the best deal for my clients I'm willing to play a few games, and I think they end up appreciating it too.


Now what are the holes in this strategy?  Cash buyers!  Cash buyers don't have to even have an appraisal done.  Even if they did want to purchase one, there is no normal contract clause that gives them to right to drop out if the home doesn't appraise.  In this respect, cash buyers are taking a higher risk, and are willing to overspend when necessary.  Often it's just difficult to compete with them. Sellers will usually favor cash offers in multiple offer situations, and if the bidding gets really crazy the sellers will KNOW that their house will not appraise for such a high amount.  In that situation, even if the cash buyer is not the highest bid, the sellers will still chose them because they believe the cash buyer will ensure the highest amount of money in the end.  Cash buyers are more common for lower priced properties, and more prevalent in Austin proper.  The closer you get to down town and the lower the price, the greater the occurrence of these cash buyers.  This is just my observation.  The good news is that in the suburbs, and in higher priced areas, you will rarely see cash buyers in the bidding war.  Things have slowed down substantially since the summer time as well, so even in Austin proper the rate of cash buyers in offers seems to me to be decreasing.


Want one more way to float to the top of a bidding war?  Have you ever heard of love letters?  I'll talk about this more in a future blog post, but it's basically just a personal introduction of yourself, attempting to pluck as many heart strings as possible with the seller.  It's amazing how a love letter can determine who wins a tie, or who the seller choses to counter-offer (even if their original bid wasn't the highest).  Cute family pictures help as well. :-)  Feel free to ask me more questions about any of these things and I'd be glad to help.

Comment

Can This Market Really Be Fun?

Comment

Can This Market Really Be Fun?

This was written six months ago, and sat as a draft post for too long unfortunately. The good news is that since this time the market has gotten a lot better for buyers, so it's not as stressful experience as it used to be.  You might only have to miss one or two houses before finally winning now. :-)  Anyway, even a slower Austin market is still MUCH faster paced than most cities in America, so much of what I've written still applies, although to a lesser degree perhaps than a couple of months ago.

__________________________

I've been thinking a lot lately about my tagline, "I want it to be fun!"  Lately I've been wondering though, "is this really possible? Should I change my tagline to 'I want to make this less unpleasant." :-)

I've been working with more buyers than sellers lately it seems, and this competitive, fast-paced Austin market is just brutal to buyers sometimes, and unfortunately the lower the price point the harder it gets.  Since almost every worthy house turns out being in a bidding war, it can be quite stressful and taxing on my clients.  I get to know and really genuinely like these great people I'm working with.  I really want them to WIN over other the other bidders.  I want them to find a HOME, and they deserve it!  "Surely my clients are more worthy, higher-quality people than the other bidders, and deserve this house right?"  In fact though, I imagine a lot of other realtors probably feel this way as well, and losing is never fun either.  Regardless, any buyer in this market should be prepared to lose a few bids before they are finally able to win one, and this process can be a more than a little stressful.  Not only does the competition make it stressful for buyers, but so does the speed of the market.  Two homes became available in my neighborhood a few weeks ago, and they were gone in under 24 hours.  Many that I show to my customers only last for 3-4 days and go under contract after seeing multiple offers well over asking, and sometimes there are even cash offers presented.  The competition that buyers experience and the speed at which they have to make a decision really can seem like a cruel process. 

Sellers have it a lot better I think, but their process is not without major stresses on their lives as well.  They have to go through all the process and paperwork to get ready, and begin emotionally parting with the home they have years of deep bonds with.  They have to face the facts of market valuations, which do not always match the sentimental valuation in their minds.  Then they have to rearrange their furniture, decorate, paint, make their house spotless, hide their valuables, upend their schedules to vacate their homes, and make it available to complete strangers.  Then if they've priced their homes incorrectly, they'll have to extend this process for weeks and weeks, and likely eventually lower their price if it drags on to long.  Although it is hard, sellers get to end their unpleasantries sooner than buyers in some way.

Small3.jpg

So what can I possibly do to help?  Can I honestly "make i fun?"  I'd like to at least try!  One thing I can do is be your guide, laying everything out for you so you don't have the stress of not knowing what to do.  The second thing I can do is try to do a lot of things FOR you, giving you a real concierge experience, and allowing you to "smell the roses" more along they way than you could have otherwise.  That's really what I mean when I say "I want to make it fun!"  Buying a home should be exciting and fun.  It's one of the biggest experiences of your life, and I want to help fill it with joy. 

Beyond what I can do, there are some things that buyers or sellers can do as well to help make the experience better: 1) They can mentally prepare themselves for battle, and not be surprised when it comes.  Competition and bidding wars are just part of the process, and everyone can't win all the time.  2) They can start preparing early so their ducks are all in row when it's time to shop seriously.  Get pre-approved for your loan early, and don't back yourself into tight deadlines.  Start sooner than you think you should, and give yourself breathing room.  3) Know as much as you can about what you want before you start shopping.  Your realtor is there to assist you, but it's unlikely he can help you find that right home if you can't articulate it yourself.  As a famous agent once said to his clients "help me help you!"  4) Pick a realtor that is pleasant to be around, and you feel like you can trust.  You're going to be spending a lot of time together! :-) 

All this being said, for now, I think I'm still going to stick with my present tagline: "I want it to be fun!"  It's not as much an expression of what it always is, so much as it is an expression of the goal.  It never hurts to be reminded that it should be fun, and actually can be fun.  I'll do my best to equip you with the best tools to be competitive in the fight, and strive to give you a real concierge experience so that you can stop and smell a lot of the roses along the way.  Please let me know if I can help.

Comment

Comment

How To Choose A Realtor

I'll tell you something maybe others won't.  Post-transaction surveys show that the vast majority of people were satisfied with their realtors, and would use them again.  Knowing that, I hope you can stress a little less about your realtor selection process.  For starters, all realtors have background checks done every year to make sure our lives are not involved in anything nefarious.  In fact, the whole Texas Real Estate Commission that regulates us and watches over us is explicitly created and designed to protect you the consumer, not realtors.  Not only are we realtors watched over, but being a realtor itself requires hundreds of class hours about law, contracts, market trends, etc, as well as yearly continuing education classes just to keep our license.  On top of that, many brokerages require much more of their own in house training to make sure realtors are on top of their game.  So with all that in mind, does it really matter which realtor I choose?

Most people end up choosing realtors based upon two things: professionalism and likability.  Professionalism entails many of the things mentioned above, but in the end the most important thing it comes down to is "knowing the market."  If a realtor knows his or her particular market, then the customer will usually be satisfied.  As for myself, I strive to be learning what I can every day to be able to better serve you, but I also am big on preparation.  I like to study ahead a lot, so that when I have a meeting scheduled with you, I come in like someone who has already done their homework.  As realtors, even with lots of general Austin knowledge under our belts, it's impossible to know EVERYTHING about EVERY neighborhood.  It's just too big of a city.  Preparation and research are a couple of my own personal keys to professionalism.

And then there's likability... What can you say--some people you like, and some you don't right?  Learn as much as you can from a realtor's website, references, reviews, etc, but in the end just go with your gut and relax.  Take a realtor for a test drive!  Call them up and ask them to show you a house or help with a real estate task, and see what you think.  If you're not impressed, move on to the next realtor.  We have to EARN your loyalty, and we know how competitive real estate is.  If you don't call us back, we'll get over it. : )  That being said, I'd still REALLY like to be your realtor. : )

One complaint I've recently heard multiple times when someone wasn't satisfied with their realtors was "they didn't listen to me."  I want to strive to listen to you first and foremost, to understand your needs.  It's not about me, or the house I think is great.  There's a lot already written out there about professionalism and likability (you can read something about this on almost any realtor's bio), but in the end there are two main things I want to stress about my service to you:  1) I want to LISTEN, and 2) I want to be prepared and knowledgable... and if I don't know something, I'll be honest about it, and then go find you the answer!

Comment

Babies & Real Estate Doulas

Comment

Babies & Real Estate Doulas

If you're one of my clients, you might have noticed that I was a little out of pocket, or not quite as fast on responses earlier this month. That's because we just added another member to our family, little Adeline Marie Smith! We're blessed to have a healthy baby, and a healthy mama.

A few months before I had a friend recommend doulas to us. He said "it's the best $500 I've ever spent! They make the whole process much easier and less stressful because they know what to do every step of the way." We decided to go for it, and indeed she did make things seem a lot different than the first time. She made my wife feel a lot better about the whole process, and freed me up for a lot for other things as well. Watching her made me start thinking about the similarities in occupations as well. Realtors are a lot like doula's, who have seen the whole process transpire countless times, and know what to expect at every step of the way. They have a very broad expertise that can make all of the other tasks just flow together more seamlessly. They can also give you a lot of great advice along the way too as you navigate the input of lots of different professionals at each juncture.

As you go through a lot of the trials and challenges of selling your house, I would love to be your "real estate doula" and help make the whole experience much more pleasant for you. I know what's supposed to happen when, and can be here for you to bring those stress levels down. Please let me know if I can help!

Comment

Austin Allergies

Comment

Austin Allergies

So maybe you're relatively new to Austin and you've heard we have some allergy problems here. There's a lot that could be said, but in a nutshell, you can remember this: If you're miserable late December through mid-February you're probably allergic to mountain cedar. If you're miserable late March to late April, then you're probably allergic to oak. Certainly there are other allergens in the air that will give us intermittent torment through the rest of the year, but I've seen these two give the most trouble to those around me. No matter who you are though, even if you haven't seen a doctor you can still likely use the below chart to deduct what you're allergic to based on the time of year you're having trouble.

If you're not sure what you're allergic to, you can go to the doctor and get tested.  They'll prick your arm with a dozen or so different allergens and depending upon the radius of how it swells they'll tell you how you match one of the above main allergens as well as dust, dogs, an cats. If you're open to being called for research studies, you can get a free allergy test at Sirius Clinical Research.  After being diagnosed, doctors may be able to give you weekly shots, as well as a few other more cutting edge treatments that have recently become more prevalent.

Some people report being groggy though every week on the day they get their shots, so in some ways they still have to play at a bit of a handicap even though they are being treated. I know other people (myself included) who have chose to live in a certain area of the city specifically for the reason of escaping the proximity of what they're allergic to. Although it might not be feasible for everybody, this strategy DOES actually work to a great degree. To demonstrate this point, look at this map (straight from google) and ask yourself what is the first thing you notice?

It's obvious that there is a topographic and vegetation fault line so to speak, right?  West Austin in general is the beginning of "Hill Country" and covered in Cedar (with some oak here and there as well).  The east side is flatter terrain and has far less trees, thus it is therefore easier on people like me who fight serious battles December-February. I have family and real estate clients that frequently bring me into West Austin during that season, and YES, there is a difference in the air and way I feel! I would not be able to live in West Austin day in day out without some medicinal assistance.

If you happen to like history as well, you might be interested to know that this area wasn't always like this. When the settlers first came over to this area is was mostly just grassy hills, perfect for grazing cattle. It's our fault (well, our ancestors that is) that these Cedars have taken over, and you can read more about it at this link: https://youtu.be/bO_oY_buLBk

Photos courtesy of flickr.com/23959586@N00/ , google maps, and Sirius Clinical Research.

Comment

Renting Vs Owning

Comment

Renting Vs Owning

Stop flushing money down the toilet every month! Here's the case for owning rather than renting:

1. You'll save in taxes and just the total money spent each year.  See the image below to show you how you can spend $1598 less each year simply by owning a $250,000 home.

New research also suggests that the situation is even better than mentioned above, and the market has recently changed so that in the most of the country house payments are actually cheaper than rent payments BEFORE tax benefits are taken into account!

2. Every month that you make payments, you accumulate equity. In the early years of your mortgage you don't make much progress in paying down the principle of your loan since most of your payment goes toward paying interest, nevertheless you still get SOMETHING. With rentals, however, you get NOTHING toward equity. Something is always better than nothing, and after several years your equity begins to become quite significant.

3. You're likely to have significant appreciation gains in a place like Austin. This is where there real money is in real estate! The average price increase in Austin last year was 14%. If we use the $250,000 house mentioned above and you earned the average appreciation, that would be $35,000 that you wouldn't have had if you'd been renting! Sure, not every area will see that much, but some places will even experience more. History is not always an indicator of future performance, but there are a lot of reasons to suggest that this may continue for awhile. To read more on the subject, check out my past post, Playing The Appreciation Game. Granted, like the stock market, home appreciation isn't a gain you realize until you sell, BUT it is something that is often considered as part of your net worth and other money can be borrowed against this worth as well. Also, real estate is far more liquid than many people realize. In a hot market like Austin, if you ever need to cash out, it probably won't take long with the right realtor.

4. The final reason is not monetary at all. Homeowners feel better about where they live and life in general. They have something they can call "mine", they take pride in improving it, they realize a deeper feeling of home, they feel settled, they put down roots, they don't have to worry about landlords, they can make changes when they want to... I could go on and on.  "Housing analysts also note the lifestyle and social benefits to home ownership, with studies showing that home ownership tends to lead to better education achievement by children and an increase in community involvement." (Source: NAR Research)

Wondering what type of house you can afford? Wondering what your payments would be? Wondering what area would be the best to own a home? Wondering how to get the best price on a home? Wondering how to get a loan? Have a thousand other questions buzzing through your mind? Contact me, Jeremy Smith. I'd be glad to help!

Comment

How I Help You Get Your Home Sold

Comment

How I Help You Get Your Home Sold

Five Reasons A Property Sells

  • Price
  • Location
  • Terms
  • Property Condition & Amenities
  • The Agent & Company You Select

YOU control four of these! Below is how I help...

Some Of The Ways I Help Sell Your Home:

  • Listen to what YOU want and communicate on a weekly basis (or whenever you need).
  • Help you determine the market value of your home based on all available, comparative market data.
  • Develop a list of features and amenities for your home.
  • Make suggestions to "stage" your home for showing.
  • Follow up with sales people who show your home.
  • Keep you informed about legal requirements commonly associated with residential real estate, including agency options.
  • Review the marketing of your home with you, suggesting changes if needed.
  • Provide information on leasing, resale and new home builders.
  • Advertise in the Austin American-Statesman, local newspapers, as well as websites too numerous to name.
  • Promote your home through direct mail.
  • My brokerage holds more open houses than any other real estate company in the Austin area.
  • Network with clients through "Leading Real Estate Companies of the World", the 1200 member international referral network.
  • Network with clients through our Corporate Relocation Division that serves company transferees from companies such as Dell, AMD, Samsung, Applied Materials, Freescale, State Farm, Lowes, HEB, and more.
  • Promote your home through our residential sales team and our affiliated companies.
  • We have sales offices open seven days a week to provide information on inquiries about your home.
  • Provide you information about home warranty plans.
  • Cooperate with other brokers by marketing your home through the Multiple Listing Service.
  • Develop a list of financing options for potential buyers of your home.
  • Offer free prequalifying to buyers of your home.
  • Provide you with a basic explanation of each offer received on your home.
  • Estimate your closing costs and net proceeds on each offer.
  • Explain and guide you through any contract or lender required repairs.
  • Help you in selecting a closing company.
  • Review your closing documents and costs.

Comment

A Video Introduction

Comment

A Video Introduction

Hi, I'm Jeremy Smith and I'd like to be your realtor! I know you wouldn't want to hire someone to be part of such an important event in your life without checking them out first. This video below is a short personal introduction, but for more about me please look over my website and feel free to contact me any time with any questions or ways I can help.

Comment

Playing The Appreciation Game

Comment

Playing The Appreciation Game

This past year the average price for an Austin home increased 14%, which is nothing to sneeze at if you're an investor. Check out this article for more detailed information: http://www.abor.com/news_media/press_releases/2015/p1_15.cfm

Even my own home has increased by close to 40% since we bought a little over 3 years ago! I know this is not true for every house in every neighborhood, but in general Austin is a VERY hot market and has certainly been a prime target for investing over the past few years. But is it a bubble? Can it last? No one has a crystal ball, but Austin has a lot going for it that would suggest it's still in good shape. Forbes has rated it as one of the most recession proof cities, and the population growth in Texas alone looks to be a factor that will prop up it's prices for a long time to come. In fact, Texas in general is supposed to double by 2050, and this can only be good for property values if you're a homeowner (http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/blog/morning_call/2015/03/texas-to-see-explosive-growth-population-to-double.html).

Beyond Texas numbers, Austin growth in general is booming.  Our population is growing by almost 60,000 per year, which is like adding an extra Pflugerville! (http://atxne.ws/1FLiQBI)  In my opinion, Austin is one of the best places to buy and hold property, and it will continue to be so for at least several years to come.

Comment

Humans Need Not Apply

Comment

Humans Need Not Apply

This is not really real estate related, but it relates to ALL of us, and how our jobs may become inexistent eventually.  It's really a fascinating video if you get time to watch.  It's not sci-fi, but ONLY based on technology and trends that ALREADY exist.  I've found it so interesting that I've watched it half a dozen times already myself.  Enjoy:

Here's another article that basically augments the point of the video a little bit as well: Robots Replacing Human Factory Workers At Faster Pace

Comment

Sales Data For 2015

Comment

Sales Data For 2015

austin2015salesdata

Wondering how the market is doing this year compared to last year? Here's some current numbers:

Units Sold:  1,618 up just under 1% from 2014

Average Sales Price:  $307,359 up 14.41% from this time in 2014

Average Days on the Market:  68.20 days, down 2.25 days from 2014

Median Sales Price:  $237,750 up 12.52% from 2014

Comment

Current loan rate estimates

Comment

Current loan rate estimates

Looking to buy or refinance this year?  Wondering what estimated loan rates are right now, here are the numbers as of 1/30/15:

Conventional 3.75%
USDA 3.625%
VA 3.75%
FHA 3.625%

Rates are estimated and quoted as APY. They are subject to change based on market performance, credit score, loan amount, debt ratio, and property type and use.

MINIMUM DOWN PAYMENT REQUIRED:
Conventional 3%
USDA 0%
VA 0%
FHA 3.5%


Comment