Tag Archives: real estate

New Construction vs. A Resale: Pros and Cons

Hello again friends, followers, readers and such—

It’s been a while since my last blog post and I thought now would be as good of a time as any to discuss the pros and cons of buying a new home in the Austin market…as I have 6 clients under contract for new homes…crazy. Some close next month, some as far out as 2018.

First off, when I say “new” I am referring to a brand new build, no one has lived in prior. And when I say “resale” I am referring to homes that have had at least one owner {example: a resale home is like a used car}.

NEW CONSTRUCTION-The Pros and Cons:

Timing Pro: If you have no lease and time is not of the essence for you, then perhaps waiting for your home to finish up works out nicely. How long can a new home take? Totally depends on the builder and complexity of the home and when you entered in on a contract.

Some builders already have pre-chosen floorplans, finishes etc, which makes the build process slower and some builders let you pick everything from start to finish. Always add on time from the builder’s original date of completion, there are always delays to account for! Always!

Timing Con: Almost always does a new home take longer than the originally projected date at contract to completion. I have had some instances where past clients have slept on different Air Bnb’s, had to pay exorbitant month to month fees on their lease due to delayed construction. It is something to be aware of, and it is honestly something that is not in the buyer’s control (which can be even more frustrating). Rainfall and labor shortage are often the biggest reasons for delays in this market….or so we are told. For example, I have clients building a DR Horton Express home. In late January we were told the completion date would be late March, then next update was mid April and now it is May 17. Be prepared to be flexible when building a new home!

Brand New Feels Pro: Having something move in ready and clean and just how YOU want it certainly has its perks. You picked the backsplash and the layout and maybe even the lot. You don’t have to put up with someone’s lack of maintenance to the outside, old windows, an HVAC that’s about to break, etc.

Brand New Feels Con: If you are one of those people who like more charm and character, a new home may not be the one for you. Or perhaps if you prefer to be “closer in” and within budget–a resale just may be the way to go to get both of those check boxes, but you will sacrifice in this instance maybe your desired finishes or taste. Some funky flooring you would have never chosen or an odd master bedroom layout. But again no home is perfect! You want to aim for a home that has 85% of the things you desire.

Warranties-New Construction: New homes usually have a pretty decent warranty. They will vary among builder, however the most common for production builders is called a 1-2-10. Which means the first year they’ll come in and do touch up’s, cosmetic issues, address things that may have broken or chipped away etc. The 2yr part of the warranty covers systems-HVAC, dishwasher etc (and most the time you can register for an extended warranty on your new home appliances). And lastly the ten year covers structural–if anything happens to the foundation/exterior the first ten years it falls back on the builder to fix.

Warranties-Resale: Resale homes also offer a home warranty. In the contract the seller pays for a one year home warranty for the buyer. You can put anywhere from $0 to $450 (about average) in the contract and the buyer chooses the home warranty they’d like coverage from. Some feel that home warranties are a “rip off.” And I will admit, sometimes they don’t have the best situations: Let’s say the HVAC goes out–well, often times the home warranty company covers all of the HVAC with the exception of a few parts. It just so happens that the parts that aren’t covered by the home warranty are traditionally the most expensive and parts that go out the most. However! There are many times when my clients have purchased a home warranty and had dishwashers fixed, leaky faucets repaired, among other items and that’s nice to have that covered right after moving into a home.

CONTRACTS for New Construction: The main point I tell my clients when they buy a new home is that builders have all the rights in a new home contract (for the most part). If you read most builder’s contracts it basically states–we can take as long as we want to build your home. If we finish early, you have to close that month, if we close late, we aren’t paying your late fees your apartment changes and you are still under contract with us. There is usually no right to rescind in a new home contract and no option period or 48hr policy to get your money back once you have put in the deposit and signed. In most cases the contract states– in the 6mo you are under contract with a builder and you lost your job and could no longer get financing–the builder has the right to keep your deposit. Some builder contracts state if the property doesn’t appraise, the buyer must make up the difference. This is important and something you should know before signing on the dotted line, it can be risky. Now, do the builders want to take forever to build your home or keep your money if something were to happen to your family? I’d like to say no, but I have seen specific situations with my clients and they can go either way.

When you purchase a resale–the buyer has many rights to cancel the contract, but the term is on average a 30 day process. The buyer has a deposit to pay (earnest money), however if they should cancel the contract post inspection or for ANY reason within the option period–which can be anywhere from 5-10 days, that money is returned to the buyer. There are several “outs” for a buyer on a resale contract that pertain to documents getting to the buyer in a timely fashion, etc.

INSTANT EQUITY?-New Construction Pros: For many people who buy in a neighborhood early enough, where there is projected growth {lots of plans for more homes i.e phases 2 & 3, projected job growth nearby or a new school coming in, commercial space coming or already existing up the road etc.} the perk often times are prices usually only rise in a new home community in Austin. There are lots of incentives that come into play when you purchase early and at the right time. Incentives vary, but being the first home on the block, staying put for a few years, you will definitely see value and equity fairly quickly, especially in the Austin market. I have seen it with several clients in a little as two years. My clients purchased, the neighborhood built up, opened a second phase and my clients didn’t have to do any particular upgrades and still ended up profiting after fees when the sold their home. This does not ALWAYS happen, but buying early has its advantages.

“Top of the Market”-New Construction Cons: This isn’t as common, but at times when you are the last person to purchase a new home in a neighborhood that has been building for a while you may be paying more than the other homes sold, naturally with market demand. That is due to new homes starting competitive and low, and as demand picks up, pricing increases sometimes weekly and incentives are given and taken away depending on how many contracts a builder has, etc. Usually one of the last homes to sell in a community is the model, and those are more expensive because they are decked out with upgrades. Appraisal issues can arise in new home subdivisions as well For example–when you are one of the first large homes with upgrades being built, if not enough homes have sold before yours, an appraiser doesn’t have much to compare yours to, therefore the value comes in lower than what you are paying–despite future floorplans selling for higher. I have seen this happen several times with new construction–they typically occur with VA loans (who have more strict appraisers) as well as those who use a credit union or lender not familiar with the community, unfortunately.

PRICING PROS and CONS: In real estate there are always some sacrifices you have to make. Price, location and size/layout are typically the big three. Some see new home’s pricing as a great deal due to the space you get, the fact everything is brand new, yet typically sacrifice location if you are moving further out where Austin is expanding. For a brand new home in a popular Central Austin neighborhood, for example 78704’s Travis Heights or East Riverside next to Lady Bird Lake, you are getting a fantastic desired location or an area with projected growth, but some sacrifices may be size or price–but again, you are getting a brand new home, so typically the cost per square foot will be much higher than something built thirty years ago. My main advise to all my clients who are looking to buy is to first get pre-approved and know what you want to spend. Secondly, start looking online, visit open houses, then perhaps visit new home models. From there, you can make a decision of what you like the most.

Now, I got this question the other day, so I thought I would clarify a few myths/misconceptions:

1. In Tx an agent doesn’t help you buy new construction homes, right? No. Clearly, like I stated above, I have helped many people purchase brand new homes. The ones who usually are not licensed are the sales agents who work for a model home. Some do have a Tx real estate license, but most are trained by the builder to sell the homes they are building. Just note, in Tx if you don’t sign a buyer’s representation agreement with a real estate agent, then technically the Seller is represented.

2. If I don’t use an agent to help me buy new construction, can I save on the sales price since now there is no commission to be paid to an agent? No. A builder has already set in their budget their cost of building, marketing fees and cost of doing business. I have quite a few friends who work for builders and sell new homes, they told me–in a town like Austin with over 5k agents, the last thing a builder wants to do is gain the reputation for cutting Realtors out of deals. BUT the most important thing to note is that if you purchase a new home with the sales agents who works for the builder, you now have NO representation. No one to go to bat for you when things are delayed or you are trying to get your money back or something was installed incorrectly in your home.

Here are some great communities where you can find my clients have a contract with a new home builder:

East Shore by David Weekley

Woodland Park (Georgetown) By Century Builders

Pioneer Crossing by DR Horton

Edgewaters (Pflugerville) by KB Homes

South Shore Pointe by InTown Homes

Colorado Crossing by Lennar Homes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Austin Real Estate Market Stats April 2015 v 2016: Where did Austin Increase 33%?!

Hello, hello!

It has been a while since I shared some market updates with you, so I was doing a little researching–and decided to share some interesting finds on the Austin market (for the month of April, 2016 in comparison to same time last year) as the market is really starting to stir up, school comes to an end & the busy Summer begins from home projects and vacations, to buying and selling.

Some areas have increased from last April as much as 33%, some down 5%, to find out more about which hoods, and where your next investment may need to be…read on.

“The market is hot!” Bet you haven’t heard that yet? (sarcasm).

As I am sure you have noticed: VALUES ARE UP! Taxes are up! Rents are up. Highrises are going up, and travel times are going up…and my clients who purchased only three years ago… Are movin’ on up.

jeffersons

All signs of a booming metro (according to Forbes, Jan 2016) show how much our housing market has increased–and this blog is more so about in what particular areas…

First–to understand what areas I will be referring to in the charts below-You must know the Austin MLS areas. You can choose a particular area to see the stats. I did not break them up by zip code, there are several zips in an MLS area.

Secondly, if you would like data specific to you, not listed in this blog-let me know- I can get it for you. All data comes from the Austin Board of Realtors, based on MLS data (which 99% of home sales are entered into).

Let’s look at Austin as a whole, first. All the Austin Board of Realtors area coverage (from Austin to Dripping Springs, Wimberly and Kyle to Georgetown, Taylor and Cedar Park for example):

 Greater Austin

Median

Average

 

Apr 2016

Apr 2015

% Change

Apr 2016

Apr 2015

% Change

List Price

$282,000 $269,900

+ 4.5%

$343,647 $336,725

+ 2.1%

Sold Price

$280,000 $265,000

+ 5.7%

$338,844 $330,111

+ 2.6%

Square Feet

1,958 1,957

+ 0.1%

2,132 2,141 -0.4%

LP/SF

$141 $133

+ 6.3%

$167 $160

+ 4.7%

SP/SF

$140 $131

+ 6.5%

$165 $157

+ 5.1%

SP/LP

99.7% 99.4%

+ 0.3%

99.0% 98.7%

+ 0.2%

DOM

12 11

+ 9.1%

45 44

+ 0.6%

Note above I bolded “as a whole.” Because when you are just looking at Austin in general, and not including the 5 MSAs surrounding Austin, the numbers are lower.

Now, let’s get down to the Austin core…yep DT (downtown).

skyline2

How were prices in April of this year compared to 2016? (Also note we have a few more high rises in the works to be built DT as well as more apartment complexes that are projected and just opened in the last year downtown.

                   Median Average
 DT AUSTIN Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change
List Price $397,500 $434,500 - 8.5% $509,920 $682,700 - 25.3%
Sold Price $387,500 $430,000 - 9.9% $497,007 $654,846 - 24.1%
Square Feet 831 1059 - 21.6% 960 1171 - 18.0%
LP/SF $506 $450 + 12.5% $523 $543 - 3.7%
SP/SF $489 $435 + 12.2% $510 $526 - 3.0%
SP/LP 97.9% 98.0% - 0.2% 97.5% 97.4% + 0.1%
DOM 23 21 + 9.8% 42 53 - 21.3%

Yes, you did see a decrease that I highlighted on percentage changed for our average sales prices, BUT not to be alarmed-as the stats are only comparing downtown to one month vs “the big picture.” Downtown still increased year to year and the other important thing to note is that the square footage listed in April was smaller than that of April 2015, therefore it skews the numbers to look as if there was a decrease–when there is really no area in Austin that has dipped in sales values. And while all signs point to the market steadily increasing–timing could be off in comparison. For example, more people put their expensive condos on the market April 2015 v 2016, but there may be an influx of listings coming the next few months.

longcenterDTview

CHECK OUT VOLUME IN APRIL ACCORDING TO HOUSING PRICES FOR GREATER AUSTIN:

Price Range Quantity DOM Price Range Quantity DOM
$149,999 or under 207 46 $500,000- $549,999 90 48
$150,000- $199,999 424 26 $550,000- $599,999 60 53
$200,000- $249,999 517 29 $600,000- $699,999 94 73
$250,000- $299,999 425 49 $700,000- $799,999 52 56
$300,000- $349,999 312 46 $800,000- $899,999 28 41
$350,000- $399,999 260 51 $900,000- $999,999 25 53
$400,000- $449,999 176 71 $1,000,000 or over 47 67
$450,000- $499,999 138 53 Total: 2,855 45
Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % change 2016 YTD 2015 YTD
Sold Listings 2,855 2,847 +0.3% 9,527 9,244 +3.1%
Volume $967,399,611 $939,825,174 +2.9% $3,141,290,016 $2,950,183,540 +6.5%

As I mentioned above, some of the decreases I am seeing in specific central Austin areas (downtown, clarksville, west lake etc.) more so have to do with scarcity of inventory and higher prices than lack of desirability. Some of these areas take very specific buyers; for example, the average sales price in charming Clarksville is $910k!

INVENTORY 1B Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % change 2016 YTD 2015 YTD
Sold Listings 24 28 -14.3% 69 94 -26.6%
Volume $11,928,174 $18,335,700 -34.9% $45,552,206 $58,488,050 -22.1%

Let’s talk about North Austin (aka: area 2n; aka 78758, 78753). With the growth of the Domain and many tech companies moving and expanding in North Austin, it is no wonder over one year’s time the average sales price has shot up 19.5%!

Area 2N April-16
Median Average
Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change
List Price $230,000 $199,900 + 15.1% $226,642 $187,470 + 20.9%
Sold Price $237,500 $206,390 + 15.1% $227,839 $190,629 + 19.5%
Square Feet 1425 1415 + 0.7% 1446 1363 + 6.1%
LP/SF $148 $131 + 12.7% $155 $135 + 14.8%
SP/SF $153 $138 + 10.8% $156 $137 + 13.8%
SP/LP 100.4% 100.7% - 0.3% 100.5% 101.3% - 0.8%
DOM 4 4 0.0% 33 10 + 229.2%

Click HERE to see the map breakout of areas. This is also the area I personally live in (what! what!) want to know more? Contact me!

domain growth

Let’s explore some more areas and evaluate home prices…read on…

When you head North east to the MLS area: NE (out toward Parmer and 290… near Samsung…and yes an old landfill) you have some new developments on the rise. If you are commuting to N. Austin, I think this can be a great buy for those who:

1. Solely want new construction (various builders and neighborhoods) at an affordable price and/or

2. As an investment–the area only has more acreage and room to grow with easy access to large companies, toll roads and highways and if staying E. not too bad of a commute into central Austin. Great for rental property or to live in, and hold.

Area NE
Median Average
Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change
List Price $225,000 $192,900 + 16.6% $239,439 $199,669 + 19.9%
Sold Price $226,021 $193,900 + 16.6% $237,895 $198,490 + 19.9%
Square Feet 1739 1928 - 9.8% 1876 1939 - 3.2%
LP/SF $134 $111 + 20.7% $131 $107 + 22.4%
SP/SF $134 $109 + 22.6% $130 $107 + 21.8%
SP/LP 100.0% 100.0% 0.0% 99.6% 99.7% - 0.1%
DOM 6 5 + 20.0% 16 19 - 13.8%

Which neighborhoods and builders am I referring to exactly in NE Austin? Check out the homes in this area above: HERE. There are a lot of new neighborhoods (and some only a few years old, still growing in this area). This area mainly comprises 78754 and 78753 and extends East to Manor. Some of the neighborhoods are Bellingham Meadows. Enclave of the Springs, Walnut Creek Enclave, Stirling Bridge, Parkside at Harris Branch, Pioneer Crossing, Pioneer Crossing West. In price points ranging from the affordable starter home, $205k, only a few years old to brand new homes you can pick finishes etc. around $350k. (here’s an old blog on purchasing new construction HERE).

And how is East Austin (area 3, aka 78723) fairing in home sales? Well, there is no doubt about it, the development of Mueller has increased housing not only in the diverse and eclectic, new community (that is still developing), but the surrounding neighborhoods such as Windsor Park, The Grove, University Hills, Cherrywood and St. John’s have all seen an increase in sales due to Mueller.

There are plenty of homes built in the late 60’s, updated and renovated, but like many areas of Austin–tons of new (and not so “affordable” developments can be found…like, HERE)!

Median Average
 AREA 3 Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change
List Price $375,000 $309,900 + 21.0% $371,796 $315,289 + 17.9%
Sold Price $372,500 $300,000 + 24.2% $370,279 $311,335 + 18.9%
Square Feet 1579 1508 + 4.7% 1593 1483 + 7.4%
LP/SF $244 $207 + 18.0% $238 $216 + 10.2%
SP/SF $244 $206 + 18.4% $238 $213 + 11.8%
SP/LP 100.0% 100.0% 0.0% 99.7% 98.6% + 1.1%
DOM 8 11 - 31.8% 41 43 - 4.0%

Perhaps two of the hottest Austin areas are South of the river and East of 35 (78741 and 78744).

One area in particular, {in my opinion that is undervalued and coming around–great rental investment opportunities} I have been telling many people who want to invest in is: 78744..or aka Area 11 on the map, check out what homes you can find HERE.

Median Average
Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change
List Price $199,900 $190,303 + 5.0% $211,912 $174,797 + 21.2%
Sold Price $203,110 $186,393 + 9.0% $211,246 $172,907 + 22.2%
Square Feet 1313 1466 - 10.4% 1590 1545 + 2.9%
LP/SF $144 $120 + 20.0% $139 $116 + 20.2%
SP/SF $149 $120 + 25.1% $139 $114 + 21.4%
SP/LP 100.0% 99.4% + 0.5% 99.8% 99.2% + 0.6%
DOM 8 17 - 51.5% 30 59 - 48.7%

You can find everything from grandma’s house to new construction in this area, above, that’s for sure.

 

However, if you are willing to spend a bit more—and you heard the news of Oracle relocating to East Austin on 27 acres, East of DT, overlooking Lady Bird lake… then this may be the area for you, (but the cat is out of the bag on this area–as it has increased already since last year 33.2%). Holy moly…one of the largest increases of all the Austin areas. With the boardwalk completion, easy access to airport, DT, ACC campus and more, it is no wonder people are choosing to invest in this area.

Median Average
 Area 9 Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change Apr 2016 Apr 2015 % Change
List Price $242,450 $224,500 + 8.0% $251,058 $193,749 + 29.6%
Sold Price $242,750 $217,000 + 11.9% $253,746 $190,471 + 33.2%
Square Feet 1122 1245 - 9.9% 1233 1239 - 0.4%
LP/SF $206 $159 + 29.8% $209 $153 + 36.2%
SP/SF $206 $143 + 44.2% $210 $150 + 39.9%
SP/LP 100.0% 97.6% + 2.5% 100.4% 97.9% + 2.6%
DOM 5 20 - 75.0% 9 37 - 75.2%

 oracle campus(Artist’s drawing of Oracle campus above)

When evaluating the sold prices from April 2015 to 2016, here’s a few popular areas and if you’d like more specific info like I have above-feel free to contact me and I will send it over (it is just too much to put into one blog).

  • Round Rock East and Round Rock West had about a +4% change for April 2015 v2016 (RRW was a little less than RRE with all the growth out East of Austin, w toll roads etc)
  • Pflugerville experienced a +5.8%, average sales price under $230k, so quite affordable!
  • NW Hills and Great Hills in Austin jumped +13.5% w/ avg sales price around $544k
  • The 78745 (or area S of Ben White, N of Slaughter-ish area) is steadily increasing, +4.8%
  • 78703 (aka Clarksville or a very desirable central Austin location near DT) actually decreased -5.1%, yet the average sales price in this area for a home in April 2016: $910k
  • The UT area (78705, or campus better yet) decreased in April as well, -3.4% w/ avg sales price around $290k
  • While DT showed to be down-24.1% in Apr 2016 v 2015, it also decreased in listings volume by 36%, what does $510/sq ft buy you? Check it out…HERE.
  • Cedar Park is still growing quite a bit, with an increase of +9.7% and avg sales price at $317k where you can get on avg 2300sq ft too!
  • Northern part of Cedar Park & Leander, due to all the growth in N. Austin are at an average sales price of $280k and up +11.7% from 2015 (examples of homes/area HERE)
  • Hays County experienced the largest annual gain in home sales in April 2016, with single-family home sales jumping 17.8% year-over-year to 338 home sales.
  • Williamson County was the only county in the Austin-Round Rock MSA to experience a decline in home sales in April 2016, with single-family home sales dropping 5.1 percent year-over-year to 816 home sales.

While I didn’t touch much on affordability in this blog, it is still a large issue in our growing metro areas.

Housing affordability includes not only a home’s sale price, but the homeowner’s ability to continue to afford the home as property values rise from year to year. “The Austin Board of REALTORS® encourages homeowners to learn how their home is being appraised and all property tax exemptions they might qualify for. A Central Texas REALTOR® can help homeowners contest their assessment by identifying comparable properties and gathering the necessary background information to formulate an appeal.” -Aaron Farmer, ABOR President

Anyway, thank you for reading–I hope you found these charts helpful and if you have any questions about your specific area, market stats, neighborhood stats, school ratings, home values, etc, please do not hesitate to reach out! To read more about me and contact me click here.

Ashley Brinkman, ABR, GRI @ Realty Austin.

How to be a Great Home Owner

I recently purchased a home and one of the things I REALLY appreciated were the seller’s care they took in the home I purchased, but also their responsiveness to questions I had about the home during and post closing.

As an agent now for…I don’t know like 7 yrs-(I cannot keep track any more), there is a noticeable difference of when an owner has lived in (and cared for) a home and when it is a flip or rental or unmaintained. Nothing brings me greater joy as a buyer’s agent than when the sellers are open about information with the home–past bills, year they put in wood flooring, last time they had HVAC serviced etc. These are important things to keep track of! And nothing brings me greater joy as a Selling agent than the big file/paper trail the seller hands over to me when we sign a listing agreement either.

kitchen

If you are not OCD that’s ok! And I am not trying to encourage hoarding either (which seems to become a habit of never throwing anything away once we move into a place that has more space).

hoarder

I thought I would put together a few tips on being a great home owner-and increasing your resale potential in the future, below.

1. Document, document, document.

It isn’t a terrible idea to keep a piece of paper taped inside your HVAC closet of dates you last cleaned it, changed the air filter or had it serviced, make a note each time. Also, to keep track of doing these items, after you purchase a home-maybe add reminders to your calendar (air filter monthly and servicing between seasons).

closing docs

More of an electronic person? Have a folder on your computer (in dropbox or a cloud provider so you don’t lose it if your computer crashes) with all your home owner paperwork: closing documents, survey (that’s a $450 piece of paper), and then as you update your home, take care of things, etc, be sure to keep copies of receipts, invoices, bids etc in this folder for future reference. Painted a room and have leftover paint? Write the room and paint color on can and keep in special place in storage, not just for future owner of your own home-but it may come in handy for you too! Do you have a lawn guy who comes a few times a month or a recommended pool cleaner? It isn’t a bad idea to pass along their info or card to the future owners of your place as well.

2. A special place

Have a designated drawer or file cabinet of some sort for these documents, invoices etc. as well. I was real fortunate when I purchased my home to have a huge stack of manuals of every appliance, light fixture, etc that was updated in my home. As well as a few parts to things that may not have been used, but could be added (extra lock to sliding glass door, under cabinet lighting, etc). The special place shouldn’t be in the attic in a box however, should be an easily accessible place and if you are super into security, perhaps in a locked safe or cabinet of some sort.

file cabinet safe

Are you an owner of an investment property? The management company should keep track of all leases, service orders and maintenance calls, and you will want to make sure you get a copy as well! Save emails between your and your tenants.

3. Take care of it.

If I had to choose between spending $1000 on a trip somewhere or fixing an HVAC leak, it is a no brainer on what I WANT to do, but not necessarily what I NEED to do. If you are generally keeping an eye on things in your home, then hopefully it won’t get to a point of discovering a major issue costing an arm and a leg. Water your foundation with soaker hoses (another item you can add to calendar if it hasn’t been raining), add insulation in the attic when needed, replace or fix items as they break vs putting it off. Yes, much easier said than done.

Plumber working on sink

Have you ever heard the term to “swallow the frog?” Your fixture in the bathroom works fine, but the handle is broken and you have been turning on the shower with a wrench for more than a year. Guess what, as soon as you get someone to fix it (if you can’t yourself) you are going to think: Man, why didn’t I just have this done month’s ago?! It’s the little things that are a pain in the butt, yes, but when everything works as they should in your home-you’re happier.

When  you take care of things now you also save a lot of time when it comes to putting your home on the market because then things are already done (and believe me there comes a hefty list of things to do to make your home sell faster-why add more little tedious projects to the list? “Take care of it” also goes without saying–this means your mortgage, taxes and HOA bills too. Don’t let bills slip away from you!

4. Befriend Thy Neighbor.

friends with neighbors

I know, I know–the crazy cat lady across the street is annoying or the guy that lives below you at your condo is creepy. You don’t have to hang out and cook dinner together, but being aware of what is going on in your neighborhood, with your neighbors, amongst your HOA is never a bad thing. Sure some chat it up way too often and are always spying on what is going on at your place, but when you have great neighbors, there is nothing better! Even if you hate people, make it a goal to introduce yourself to a neighbor or say hi from time to time.

crazy cat lady

Good neighbors: alert you and watch your things when you are on vacation or if there was something suspicious. Good neighbors give great recommendations on who fixed their roof. Good neighbors mow your lawn sometimes since your yard connects. Good neighbors let you borrow a cup of sugar (or these days a wifi password) or lend you a helping hand when doing yard or car work. Are YOU going to be that good neighbor?

 

Everyone’s a Critic!

If there was one thing I remember from all my advertising classes it was: The best form of Advertising is word of mouth advertising.

These days, with social media being as prevalent as it is, websites like Yelp!, City Search, and Angie’s List, help all of us rate a particular experience we had at a restaurant or salon, a particular product we swear by, and refer some of the people that have helped better our lives, hair, living situation, etc. The reviews that some leave for particular businesses, neighborhoods and areas also dictate future investments, neighborhoods that are transforming, and where certain types of people want to be in a particular city. A prime example of this in Austin, in my opinion is the East Side, as well as the Rainey Street District. First to go up in the area was a beautiful condo project (the Milago), followed by The Shore Condominiums, a high rise apartment building, the Mexican American Cultural Center was built right next to the highly desired Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trails, and recently more businesses have been blossoming around that area, one that I recenly wrote a review on. Most of the bars are just what Austin needs-renovated from an old house, fresh, and slightly different than the run of the mill bars we have grown accustomed to. But there can never be too many bars in this city, right?!

One thing I was surprised to read about when I searched the Real Estate services reviews on Yelp! is that there weren’t that many. Seems like someone would want to have as good of an experience with a Realtor and buying their first home, or finding an apartment they love as they would as having a fantastic dish at a new restaurant. So, with this being the New Year and all, my goal or "resolution" is to have a positive review or two written about me helping someone. I want to know that I did such a good job selling a home, helping someone buy a home, or finding my friend an apartment they love that they not only refer me to friends, but also go to the extent of writing a review online.

Now, go out there and write a review, it is ok to be a critic!

 

Texting Agents, Clients and for the 411

Maybe it is the fact I am Generation Y (well, I would like to say I am on the cusp), because I have tendencies and a like minded work ethic of a person in Generation X (but I think kids these days are getting lazier, no one will know how to send a piece of mail or communicate face to face in the future. And what is with "cyber-bullying"?), but I feel as though I am slightly more connected with Generation Y (Open to social networking, videos, member of Facebook since college, constantly texting my friends, younger family members) and now…I even have the last line of my voice mail state, "For a faster response or question, please send a text message, thank you."

TEXTING AGENTS….

Is it bad of me that some times calling my voice mail is more work than simply reading my text messages that are right in front of me on my phone screen? I certainly appreciate it when I can text message an agent to ask a simple question, for example, "What is the combo code for__?" or "Does this house have any applications/offers on it?"

I will say I do not randomly text an agent, it is more of a last resort. I called the office, called the cell, maybe I will shoot them a text message to just sum up my message and what I need? It is such a frustration when an agent doesn’t answer or doesn’t call you back (within a good amount of time), however it is understandable that you can’t always answer the phone as an agent. Going back to Joetta Fort’s blog about not answering your phone in front of other clients is a good excuse as to why an agent won’t answer the phone as well.

 

TEXTING CLIENTS…

I know it may not be establishing the best repor, but I find texting my clients from time to time is a nice gesture. Some times I will text a client if they are waiting to hear news from me and I know they are at work, I will write "Hey just letting you know I haven’t heard anything yet, but they said they will get back to me today"

I will also text my client to see how things are going after the move, "How is the painting coming along?" "Did you get a chance to check out (fill in the blank with a place I talked about near their home)?"

Don’t get me wrong, I use email. I send thank you cards, I will call, but it seems like text message is the non-intrusive, but faster provoking response method of communication.

 

TEXTING FOR INFORMATION

Since people want information faster than ever (they don’t wait to get home and call or email you about a house), they immediately start looking up the property on their phone as they drive down the street…(half the time they probably don’t even catch the house number)!

You can set up information to be distributed by text message with your listings. "For more info. on this home text _" on a rider sign in the front yard. Chances are (depending on the clients, I suppose) the text numbers will get more action than your cell phone. Depending on how you look at it, this can be a good thing or a bad thing. If you can track who texts the number, and get their info. this can work to your benefit. The text message to the interested buyer can tell the price, square footage, schools, and then the agent’s number to set up a showing. If a buyer made it past the first few criteria, then you are already one step closer to qualifying the buyers and possibly building a repor, and adding them to your client list!

My Text Messaging Tips:

Proofread what you send (phones some times guess words and this can cause confusion)!

Don’t ONLY use text message (your clients may get too used to it, then you won’t have a good idea of how to read them)

Keep the messages short and sweet. (Anything that requires a lot of detail, pick up the phone).

Bad news is not for text message (again, pick up the phone)

No late night texts (as a night owl agent, I do a lot of my "computer" work from my bed at night, this is not a good time to remember something and send a text message. Plus if my clients are like me, their phone might not be on silent at night). And with that being said, no early morning texts either

Keep it friendly ;)

Non-Traditional forms of Advertising to Help Market A Home

A few years ago…yes a few, when I was in college I stood up with four students and professed to our client, Yahoo! that they needed to quit using traditional methods of advertising and start using more viral and videos to get the consumers they want (in this case it was Tweens and Teens to start using Yahoo!). This still holds true (and probably always will) today.

Generation Y. Things have changed. And now, here I am a few years later, using the same methods that we told our clients to use, not only market to Generation Y (by the way happens to be those between 18-32 who want gratification right now and are the main buyers in this market and for the next few years), but also to 87% of the buyers who start online with their real estate search. Ma,n has the internet changed things. And if you are going online for your search, then what better way to maximize your listing’s exposure, than to have a video of it online. Not only will a video get your listing on the first page of Google, but the people that call off the video have already seen the house-they must be interested!

Recently, I listed a home in Round Rock for some friends, and finally yesterday, on the sunny pretty Austin day it was, I made a few videos of the neighborhood, the elementary schools, the shopping just down the road from it, etc. What better way to show potential buyers all about the neighborhood, without having to get into the car?! Especially in the busy world we live in, most people search online a long time before deciding to check out a few places. Can your Realtor market your home without using the following words: flyers, MLS, and sign?

Here are my videos on my listing in Stone Oak subdivision, just off 1431. The home for sale is 3145 Blue Ridge Dr. Round Rock, Tx 78681.

 

And some other videos of the neighborhood, and newly built elementary school (in the process).

 

I have to admit, I HATE the way I sound on video, espcially with how bad my sinuses have been as Spring has blossomed all over Austin-pollen and cedar included. However, people enjoy watching videos. They may not have the best quality, I may not be the best narrator and sometimes cars or people get in the way of what I am trying to film, but the point being-at least you get to see all this from your computer at home, or work. At least someone can see the neighborhood, the shops they will shop, the restuarants they will eat in, the home they may live in all from the click of a button.

 

 

 This neighborhood is at a great price point for first time buyers. Especially those looking to start a family soon. Round Rock is one of the fastest growing areas in the nation, and the Austin metro area is one of the strongest in our Nation right now.