As Austin continues to grow at a rapid rate, you’re likely to drive through a neighborhood and wonder when it developed from a bleak land to an area bursting with new businesses and high property values. House inventory is a challenge for those looking to purchase, so buying a fixer-upper is one way to buy into an up-and-coming neighborhood. Here are the signs the community is poising to turn the corner from frightful to fabulous.
Has a new high-end food market or organic restaurant popped up lately? It’s worth looking into a community if retailers are flocking to the nearby storefronts. As new businesses grow (especially supermarkets) the housing industry generally follows.
Take note of areas where municipalities are governing the appearance of buildings more closely. Strict building and appearance codes indicate the demand will be high for business owners and homeowners to maintain the appearance of their property, making the neighborhood more desirable.
You may hear phrases like, “The area is really growing,” or, “Now is a good time to get into that neighborhood,” which means the perception of an area is changing. A boom in new business, stronger public safety (less crime) or a new school can drive property values up.
History repeats itself
New construction homes have seen a surge lately, but more established neighborhoods always make a comeback. Neighborhoods with Tudors, Victorians, Spanish-style homes, or even Mid-Century Moderns see periods of emptiness, but those neighborhoods are now in very high demand. Communities with unique houses and mature landscaping lure homebuyers in to pay a premium, so if you find a neighborhood with an open property – add it to the must see list!
Check out the unemployment rate in the community. See where leaders are making an investment in jobs and which industries are moving into the area. Where there’s an increase in job opportunities, property value will follow.
Schools being built
If new schools are being built or current ones renovated, that’s a great sign of growth. When a school district needs new or better schools, there’s likely an expected population boom. Look in neighboring communities for home growth or a property value surge. If school leaders are planning for more students, you could be on the fringe of an up-and-coming neighborhood.
Short market time
What’s the average time a home stays on the market in your desired area? Get a brief history of the real estate trends in the area. If homes were once sitting for months but are now selling within weeks or even days, there’s a growth trend in the area. Consider the opportunity of buying into the area while housing prices are still reasonable.
There are a number of reasons to consider an up-and-coming neighborhood for your next home purchase. Jobs are plentiful, housing prices are reasonable and the city is pumping cash into the area’s infrastructure. Work with your real estate agent to find a developing neighborhood and benefit from future growth.
As the days get longer and the temperatures warm, there is no better place to gather for a backyard barbecue or relax with a glass of wine and thrilling novel than your backyard. For an out-of-this-world outdoor space that your friends and family will envy, consider redesigning your backyard with this year’s hottest design trends:
Creating an indoor-like living space outside is the most desirable trend of the year. You can accomplish this look by framing sitting areas with curtains, incorporating rugs and planting low-maintenance ornamental grasses to create a cohesive space. To transform your covered patio, add wood planks to the ceiling and sconces. These new additions will create a warm and relaxing atmosphere you won’t want to leave.
Innovative new fabrics
While Sunbrella has been the option of choice for years, it turns out it isn't the only option. Other great fabrics include polyester terrycloth (a towel appearance), indoor-outdoor wovens (from designer Peter Dunham) and performance velvet (from Holly Hunt). If you’re not interested in spending money on new furniture or cushions, simply spray Neverwet, a moisture-repelling barrier, on your surfaces.
True-blue (and green) hues
Dark azure blues and deep greens are the colors of the year - especially outside. Look for them to appear in cushions, umbrellas, tiles, pillows, rugs and more! Not only are these colors luxurious, but they also calming.
Concrete, cheap, durable and easy to maintain, is extremely popular right now - inside and out. Consider incorporating a concrete patio, table, bench, planter or fire pit into your outdoor space. Or for a really bold look, build a concrete fireplace.
Attach clay pots with steel cable ties to a wood pallet and hang it on the wall. Vertical gardens create a living piece of art and a great place to display herbs and flowers.
Lighting creates atmosphere - it’s as simple as that. To brighten up your outdoor space, add recess lighting to your covered patio, lanterns along the pathway and spotlights to your garden beds. A well-lit garden is safe and attractive.
These design trends will transform your outdoor living space into an entertainer’s dream just in time for summer!
Have questions? We are always available to help. Contact our team anytime.
The role of a real estate agent has drastically changed over the past decade. The dramatic advances in mobile technology, speed of information dissemination, and use of photos and videos has made it easier for agents to communicate with clients, but only if they’re keeping pace with the ever-evolving tech tools. Technology allows home buyers to view a property, schedule a booking, and make an offer – all online – so agents need to understand how to harness the best digital tools designed for real estate. Here is a list of our favorites.
· Social Media: Part of networking to gain new clients is meeting prospects where they are, and 85 percent of U.S. consumers use social media. Not only is it important, but social media is a free tool to market your real estate listings, or congratulate new buyers who used your services to land their dream home.
Make it work: Consistency is key. Post regularly and respond to followers when they ask questions.
· Videos: Facebook Live is a great tool for real estate promotions. Whether you’re hosting an open house or want to announce a new listing you’re putting on the market, users find live video five times more engaging than images. In addition to live opportunities, use video to promote listings and your services. Do a brief explainer of your custom marketing plan for each of your listings or showcase a few properties with a video tour.
Make it work: Keep your videos engaging. If you’re on Facebook Live, ask users questions, respond to their comments and include a link to your website so people can reference it later. Produce quality videos (no shaky, blurry images) because 90 percent of users say quality of video is most important.
· Blog: Getting people to your website should be a top priority. Once users are on your site, you have an opportunity to request their contact information, showcase your listings, or offer good real estate advice. An updated blog is a great way to attract users to your site. Even if they’re not currently looking to buy or sell, you can offer a free Comparative Market Analysis to help evaluate the value of their home.
Make it work: Be consistent and don’t always explicitly market yourself. Offering quality content will bring people back to your site again and again.
· Mobile Optimization: Nearly all millennial homebuyers – 99 percent – use the Internet during their home search. More than half of all homebuyers use a mobile device to search listings. Design your website to be optimized for mobile devices, so if your prospects are on a tablet or phone, your site is still easy to view and use.
Make it work: Look into local companies to help build a website designed with mobile optimization. Ask your friends and family to test the site and get feedback for future changes.
· Mobile App: Even if you have a website for your real estate content, a mobile app is an efficient way for clients and prospects to contact you. You can also use the app to streamline your business and easily send clients information and listings.
Make it work: As with your website design, if you’re unfamiliar with how to build out a mobile app, partner with a local agency and keep the design simple. Feature crisp, clear photos and easy-to-find contact information.
With an increase in access to data, homebuyers are savvier than ever. Real estate agents must learn how to use technology to their advantage and build personal relationships with clients, playing into the emotional aspects of buying and selling – the space technology cannot reach.
To increase homeowner safety, the City of Austin is now requiring nearly all homeowners to install carbon monoxide detectors – effective as of April 1, 2018. By installing CO detectors, the City of Austin hopes to prevent unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning - responsible for 2,244 deaths in the United States between 2010 and 2015. How do you know if you are required to install detectors in your home? If it meets any of the following specifications:
You have a gas or fuel-burning appliance in the home (i.e., gas stove, gas dryer, fireplace, gas-powered furnace, etc.)
Your home directly connects to a garage (i.e., there is a door leading to garage from kitchen or through a utility room)
Where within the home do you need to install the carbon monoxide detectors? According to the City of Austin, you need to install CO detectors in the following areas to comply with the new ordinance:
Outside the bedroom(s); if there is anything in your home that uses fuel or gas.
Inside the bedroom(s); if the room has or connects to a room that has fuel or gas.
According to the National Association of Fire Protection, you should take it a step further by installing CO alarms in a central location outside of each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the ultimate protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. By doing this, when one alarm sounds, they all will!
If your home was built to accommodate a wired system or major renovations have been completed, the carbon monoxide detectors must be wired into the house. If your home does not have either, battery-powered CO detectors will suffice. To make things easy, the city allows the installation of dual smoke/Co detectors. However, that isn’t the only option available. For more information on your options, visit the Austin Fire Department website. Here you can find information on three different detectors that are available and what you should look for when shopping for one.
The more protection, the better! In the event you have a carbon monoxide leak, you’ll be happy you had them installed!
Do you have any questions! Give us a call. We would be honored to help you!
The rise in Austin’s population is bringing new developments to the area. Here’s a look at what’s in the works:
Project Catalyst - East Riverside Drive
Jumping into the Austin development scene just six months ago, Project Catalyst is a massive mixed-use project at the intersection of East Riverside Drive and Pleasant Valley Road – basically next door to Oracle’s new Lakeshore campus. While the project has been in the works for some time, little information has been released…until now. In fact, there have been a series of rezoning applications associated with various Nimes-owned properties, currently occupied by the Ballpark Apartments, which are expected to be demolished to make room for this project – a piece of land roughly 97 acres in size. While not huge – about one-third the size of the Domain – Project Catalyst is outlined as a mixed-use development independent from the downtown Austin area. The development has been described as an “urban village” and “dense employment node” supported by Oracle. If rezoning of the properties happens, the project receives a bonus: the ability to build to a maximum height of 160 feet (10 floors, give or take). While this is not tall by any means, it is tall in East Riverside– therefore increasing the density in the area.
A still from the Project Catalyst promotional video. Photo courtesy of JLL Austin.
According to a traffic analysis document, Project Catalyst’s first phase may include the following:
600 hotel rooms
3,987,300 square feet of office space
436,250 square feet of retail space
60,000 square feet of medical/dental space
For a development of this size, these numbers seem high. While it’s possible this is just a vision for the best-case scenario, it is also possible this is what is actually being planned for the development. Only time will tell.
Rezoning and permitting, along with possible removal of the current 1,000 apartments could likely take at least three years. Once construction begins, the project is expected to be built in five phases with five-year breaks between each phase to allow for immersion – taking a total of three decades to complete.
Saint Elmo Public Market
Saint Elmo Public Market, located off South Congress Avenue in South Austin, is a place to shop, eat, meet and work. Once complete, the project will feature office buildings with ground level retail space highlighting vendors who wish to showcase their creative goods and services, 380 apartment units to open spring 2019, a hotel expected to open summer 2020, a marketplace with plans to open summer 2018, and extensive parking structures. The developers of the project want to create a space where you can work and play in your own backyard.
Photo courtesy of Saint Elmo Public Market website.
The Marketplace, where old world meets new world, with a true town square atmosphere, will offer a variety of vendors: cheese shops, fish markets, bakers, coffee bars, brewpubs, cafes, produce stores, butchers, florists and more. Located at the center of the development, the marketplace’s mission is to create a space to gather, dine, drink, relax and more. The public marketplace is set to be the first section of the development to open to the public – in summer of 2018.
Access to major highways such as 290, I-35 and Mopac Expressway, as well as being just 10 minutes from the airport and 9 minutes from downtown Austin, make this development an appealing option to residents and office tenants alike.
A 35-acre mixed-use community is in the works for Dripping Springs, off U.S. Highway 290. To be specific, contractors have started work at 1601 E. U.S. Highway 290 – around a mile west of the Deep Eddy Vodka distillery. The new project, has plans to host an 83-room hotel, stores, medical clinics, office space and commercial businesses, along with a 3.5-acre park with walking trails on site.
A rendering of the future Blue Blazes Ranch development.
The development is supported by the current population, around 15,000 residents, along with the addition of new subdivisions and housing developments:
Headwaters at Barton Creek - Master-planned community with 1,000 single-family homes
Preserve at Dripping Springs - Community with 72 homes
12 subdivisions on the horizon for Dripping Springs
With the addition of around 11,600 housing units, the population of Dripping Springs is expected to increase exponentially. This influx of residents signals a need for additional developments exactly like Blue Blazes Ranch.
For questions about the Austin area, or if you’re interested in buying or selling, give our team a call. We are here to help!
The idea of saving money is so appealing to some home sellers that they’ll jump into an area where they likely have little experience, potentially putting themselves at risk for losing time, money, and a legal battle if the process goes awry. A good realtor is able to communicate their value to a potential client, helping the seller realize that listing a home as for sale by owner (FSBO) is not only time consuming, but can make them the target of scams and bring in a lower asking price than with a qualified realtor.
Piles Of Paperwork
For clients thinking selling a home is a quick listing with a few photos with good lighting, the 2015 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers introduces the idea of intimidating paperwork. The study shows that the number one challenge for FSBO users is understanding the paperwork necessary in selling property. A sales contract, property disclosures, occupancy agreements, and other land records are all required in the sale.
FSBO Properties Sell For Less
If saving money on realtor fees is the goal, FSBO users should take note of the drastically lower offers being made to home owners attempting to sell their own house. The NAR report mentioned above explains that in 2015, the median FSBO property sold for approximately 16% less than the median home listed with an agent.
The money lost is even greater if the FSBO seller sells the home to a friend or relative at 39% less than the median home sold through a realtor.
FSBO scams happen to buyers and sellers. For example, when a potential buyer hands over an earnest money check to a FSBO seller, there may not be a written contract in place, leaving the would-be buyer out a few thousand dollars if the seller changes his mind.
Common scams include fake paperwork, out-of-state buyer deposits (scammer sends too much in a bad check and then requests a refund), requesting personal information, or purchases made through a third-party fake attorney or fraudulent mortgage lender.
Even if the seller isn’t purposefully trying to deceive a buyer, a seemingly small mistake can hurt you in court. For example, when a homeowner lists “hardwood floors” in the home, but the buyer finds that the floors are just a wood veneer could lead to some serious consequences. That language could potentially cost the seller, as the difference in product would change the value of the home.
Inspections Are Tricky
Knowing what to expect during a home inspection is crucial to understanding what you do and do not have to change as the seller. A realtor is educated on the inspection process, frequently deals with buyer demands, and can inform the seller on changes that must be made compared to those that can be left for the buyer.
Lack Of Marketing
An experienced realtor has a detailed, specific marketing plan for each listing in their portfolio. A FSBO seller relies strongly on a sign and word of mouth. The NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reports that 42% of FSBO sellers depend on a yard sign, 32% relied on friends and family, and 15% used social media.
On Market Longer
Properties listed through FSBOs spend more time on the real estate market. Buyers know that the longer the house sits, the less a seller will likely accept to complete the sale. On average, 18% of FSBO listings were unable to sell within their chosen time period in 2015.
Partnering with a qualified, experienced realtor is the best way to sell your home in Austin, Texas. Remove the time, stress and paperwork from your shoulders and allow the team at Resident Realty Austin to market your home and bring in top dollar.
As Austin’s home prices keep increasing, so too do its property taxes. Did this year’s property assessment notice shock you? If so, you should consider challenging the decision. Here’s a brief overview of how the process to dispute your property tax assessment works:
Appraisal > Notices Sent > Protest Form > Informal Meeting > Hearing (if necessary) > Arbitration
Now, let's dive into the specifics:
January 1st The appraised value for the year is determined by the home’s condition and market value - on this particular date (based on current market conditions, etc.).
Late April/Early May The appraisal district sends you a form telling you the value of your home for tax purposes. Be sure to look at this form carefully to ensure there are no errors. If you find any errors (i.e., if your property was described incorrectly) or if the value appears WAY TOO HIGH, you now have the opportunity to protest the value. If you do not receive this notice, you should contact your respective county Tax Assessor's office as they may not have the correct mailing address on file.
File a “Notice of Protest” Form by May 31 May 31 is usually the deadline for filing a “Notice of Protest” of your appraised value. If this date falls on a weekend, you have until the next business day (the Monday after the weekend) to file. How can you file? You have a couple of options here. One, you can use the form on the back of the “Notice of Appraised Value” form that you receive from the appraisal district. Two, you can file your protest online: Hays or Travis County. Once on your respective website, click on “Online Protests” and follow the directions. When filling out the form, pay special attention to the section where you check the box stating the reason for your protest. Why? Your choice here will affect the kind of evidence you can present.
Meet with the Appraiser by June 1 Once you’ve filed your “Notice of Protest,” the Central Appraisal District will send you a letter with two dates: an informal meeting with an appraisal staffer and your formal hearing date with the ARB. During the informal meeting, the staffer will review the numbers with you. Make sure to bring all the documentation you have compiled: information on comparable homes (you can find this information on the appraisal district’s website), perhaps an independent appraisal if you recently refinanced your house, or photos, repair estimates and other records showing damage that may reduce the value of your home. Once you and a staffer have talked things out, the district may offer to reduce your value by a certain amount. If you’re satisfied, you can accept it. If not, you can keep your date with the ARB.
The Formal Hearing The formal hearing takes around 15 to 30 minutes. During that time, you are placed under oath and given a chance to present any evidence or witnesses supporting your case. The hearing concludes when you state the figure you believe your property is worth. The three-member panel will discuss the case and reach a recommended value. You’ll get a certified letter in the mail with the decision.
Do you have any questions regarding disputing your property taxes? We would be happy to provide guidance. Give our team a call anytime.
Winter can take a toll on your home. How do you know if your home withstood the harsh winter weather? By completing some regular maintenance projects. The only problem is…where should you start? Inspecting and repairing the following areas of your home will help ensure your investment stays in good shape for years to come:
Examine Roof Shingles Hire a professional to inspect the roof for any lost or damaged shingles. If they find any issues, consider starting a budget for replacement.
Probe the Wood Trim Take a screwdriver and probe the trim around windows, doors and decks. Repairs should be remedied now before the spring rains come.
Check the Gutters Are your gutters loose or leaky? If so, consider repairing immediately as improper drainage can lead to water damage. Also, check to ensure the downspouts drain away from the home's foundation.
Use Compacted Soil Fill low areas in your yard or near your foundation with compacted soil. This compacted soil can prevent rain damage to the foundation in the spring months.
Examine the Chimney If your home has a chimney, examine it for signs of exterior damage. Also, call a certified chimney sweep to clean and inspect the flue.
Inspect the Concrete Cracks and signs of movement in concrete slabs should be filled with concrete crack filler or silicone caulk.
Check Outdoor Faucets Inspect outdoor faucets for freeze damage by turning on the water and placing your thumb over the opening. A good rule of thumb: if you can stop the flow of water, your inside home pipes are likely damaged and need replacement.
Service the AC Unit In Texas, air conditioning is oh-so-important – especially in the middle of summer! Hire a qualified heating and cooling contractor to clean and service your unit. Regular maintenance will ensure your air conditioner has a healthy and long life.
Check Power Equipment Check your lawnmower and other power equipment to make sure they are in working condition for the summer.
Need help locating a maintenance professional? We can help. Give us a call today.
Half of the current home buyers searching the market today are under the age of 36. Homebuyers in the millennial age group (18 – 34) make up 42% of all home buyers. Understanding this new generation of buyers is crucial for real estate agents to make connections and be successful at pairing clients up with the right property.
Rent Longer, Buy Higher
Zillow released a study of 13,000 homeowners, buyers, and sellers. Statistics show that millennials tend to wait longer than previous generations before making an investment in a home, and Zillow’s research confirms that with two-thirds of millennial house hunters consider sticking with renting at some point during the home buying process.
While Baby Boomers settled for the American Dream in a starter home, today’s 30-somethings shell out $217,000 as a median home price. The generation after that will spend even more, the study suggests, with those from Generation X spending 11% more than millennials on a home. The key take-a-way: today’s homebuyers aren’t getting any more house for the money, with the median millennial home sizing out to roughly 1,800 square feet.
The new generation of home buyers also shows greater diversity than all other homeowners.
66% are white
17% are Latino or Hispanic
10% are black
7% are Asian or Pacific Islander
There’s far less diversity among other (non-millennial) homeowners:
77% are white
9% are Latino or Hispanic
9% are black
5% are Asian or Pacific Islander
About one-fourth of 30-something home buyers seek out large, urban regions, with more than half looking for desirable shared amenities. With 54% of the generation’s house hunters looking for communal conveniences, realtors may trend toward condominium communities with luxury amenities.
Savvy Digital Presence
Realtors have to have a strong digital marketing reach to attract house hunting millennials, as 90% of the group will utilize an online source during the home buying process. Zillow reports 25% of the home buyers will use at least five different digital platforms to find the right home, and two-thirds will evaluate their finances with affordability tools to judge mortgage options.
If you want to keep a steady stream of millennial clients, as a realtor you better have a good reputation online. Millennials aren’t afraid to shop around for the realtor that best fits their needs – contacting at least two agents when buying a home and three when selling. The best way to gain a 30-something client is to ask previous clients for good reviews. Six out of every 10 millennial homebuyers read online reviews about a realtor before agreeing to work with them. If you need to talk to your millennial client, most prefer to speak on the phone.
30% of millennials prefer to talk to their agent on the phone
24% of millennials prefer to talk to their agent in person
18% of millennials prefer to talk to their agent via text
If all works out well for the sell or purchase of a property, you’re in luck – millennials are more likely than any other home buying group to stay in touch after the sell – recommending your services to friends and family members looking for a new home. With the cutting edge agent resources at Resident Realty, you’ll have all the tools you need to attract and retain this new market of millennial buyers.
Mortgage rates have been on a continuous climb in 2018, which may seem frightening at first, especially to those who are preparing to put their home on the market, but the rising rates are nothing to fear. Rates show an inflation of about 2.1% year-over-year, which is actually a bit higher than financial experts predicted. Despite the current mortgage rates, homes are selling quick - 40 days on average, almost two weeks faster than a year ago – and inventory is tight.
The majority of house hunters (33%) are taking longer than three months to sign a deal on a new home. Most buyers say the lengthy search is credited to higher home prices, but homes continue to sell, often times for more than the asking price. Zillow reports that nearly one in four homes sold for more than the asking price last year. Judging from the current housing inventory, those numbers will likely increase.
A survey from the National Association of Home Builders found that 27% of home buyers had their search extended because they were outbid for the home they wanted. So, sellers, fear not! The lack of housing inventory is actually a bigger concern for buyers than the current mortgage rates.
The National Association of Realtors reports that home prices rose in 92% of America’s measures markets at the end of 2017. Of those, 15% experienced double-digit pricing increases.
Millennials, the largest group of homebuyers, are hitting the housing market with force. After waiting longer than previous generations to make the commitment to one home, the twenty and thirty-somethings are now scavenging the market for a home they can afford.
One of the difference makers noted by millennial house hunters is the ability to see the house for sale in a number of ways by including virtual reality. Roughly 95% of house hunters use the Internet to search for a home, so the use of virtual reality fits in nicely for potential buyers. One area of the real estate market that could benefit from the use of virtual reality is new construction.
Home builders have the ability to display what a finished home will look like to buyers who are eagerly waiting to make a purchase. Another factor in the housing market that benefits builders is the lack of homes for sale. As more buyers begin their search, builders have the ability to reach a wider audience. Mortgage applications to purchase a new construction home spiked 18% in January compared to last year, reports the Mortgage Bankers Association.
This year, the NAHB is predicting a 5% increase in new home construction as compared to 2017. So, while mortgage rates may continue to climb, sellers’ worries should be at ease. With a market ready to buy and homes for sale hard to come by, the market is making a shift to favor sellers.
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