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Make It A Safe Holiday Season

In early September, I started the Austin Police Department’s Citizen’s Academy. My hopes were to learn a bit more about the folks that look after us every day and perhaps a bit more about my father; who spent his career in law enforcement. With only four classes left, I can honestly say we are so very lucky to live in Central Texas where we have such an amazing group of first responders.  Because the holiday season tends to bring an uptick in package theft and home burglaries, I want to offer a few tips shared by professionals through our weekly classes at APD.

    • Go meet your neighbors! Specifically those directly to your left, your right and directly across the street. As a Realtor, I’m often surprised just how many people have never met their neighbors.
    • Have your online orders delivered to a kiosk rather than you front door. Delivery package theft has been on the rise the last few years and opting for kiosk delivery is a safe way to ensure your gifts actually make it to your loved ones.
    • Install motion sensor flood lights. Most package thieves and burglars do not want attention and will shy away from anything that “shines a light” on their activities. Better yet, invest in flood-lights that double as cameras so you can share the images of those up to no good with your police department.
    • Install Austin 3-1-1 app on your phone and request a safety walk with a member of APD to learn how you can better secure your home!

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving and always remember to call me with any and all real estate questions and needs!

FOR BUYERS: FINDING THE BEST 

With so many to choose from, how do you know who is the right real estate agent for you? How do you even narrow it down? You can stop your search right here, I’m a REALTOR® and an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), and I would love to help you find your next home!  

The Second Most Important Homebuying Decision You’ll Make: Tips for Finding the Best Agent for You by Caroline Biggs. © 1994-2017 Apartment Therapy, LLC.

FOR BUYERS: ALL ABOUT THE INSPECTION

If you’re a first-time buyer, a home inspection might be a pretty vague concept. What is it? Do you really need it? I’m an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) and can help answer these questions, and any others you might have about inspections or the rest of the home buying process!  

The Top 5 Things Buyers Should Ask About Home Inspections by REBAC Staff. © 2016-2017 REBAC.net.

For Buyers: Our House Is A Very, Very, Very Fine House

FOR BUYERS: OUR HOUSE IS A VERY, VERY, VERY FINE HOUSE
Nowadays, it’s rare to see houses without some form of smart home technology. It’s popular for a reason. Be it reducing your electric bill, or sheer convenience, there’s something for everyone and for nearly every purpose. Here’s a list of top home technology trends for 2017. Do you have any of these in your home? Would you like to?

5 Top Trends for Smart Homes In 2017 by REBAC Staff. © 2016-2017 REBAC.net.

FAQ: When is the best time to sell my home?

One of the questions I receive the most is, “when is the best time to sell a home”.  There are many ways to dissect this, most notably is your own personal situation. But assuming one has no outside pressure and is simply trying to “market time” the sale, let’s see if we can shed a little light statistically.

It’s no secret that the home selling season follows the school year and the bulk of recorded sales in the MLS definitely show this. May through August consistently have the highest number of closings and that of course has been the case for at least the past five years.

(Click to enlarge: Monthly units sold from January 2012 – December 2016)

Maximize Negotiation Strength 

The ratio of closed price to list price follows a similar trend line with April through July showing the fewest seller concessions.

(Click to enlarge: monthly units sold & percentage of closed price to list price)

Maximize Price per Foot

However, when you look at price per squarefoot, a slightly different story emerges.  Sales closed in July and August contracted during months of high inventory, resulting in a lower price per foot.

(Click to enlarge: monthly units sold & sold price/sqft)

Maximize Potential for Both

Though the bulk of home sales happen in the summer months, March through May are clearly the best months to sell your home. Additionally, the fall months bring sellers greater opportunity than the popular summer months as illustrated in the graph below.

(Click to enlarge: sold price/sqft & percentage of closed price to list price)

It’s important to note that these graphs report on closing dates, not when the contracts were signed nor when the properties were listed. The average time on the market is roughly 51 days and the average escrow period is roughly 30. Therefore, if you are targeting an April closing date, you’re also targeting a March contract date and likely a February listing date.

Conclusion

If it’s me, I’m eyeballing mid February through the end of April to list my home or I’m waiting until late August through mid October as a list date. That should put me in a market with some of the best sales of the year and high seller negotiation strength, and yield one of the highest prices per foot for the year.

Market Quick Hits = Opportunity

Market Quick Hits

“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work” ― Thomas Edison

  • Units closed in April 2017 decreased 3.8% compared to April 2016. Year to date we’re up 1%.
  • The Austin MSA inventory is up 16.9%, 15.1% in Travis County and 14.6% in Austin City Limits.
  • Year to date condo sales are up 13%. Condos currently represent 10% of the total sales in the Austin MSA and 20% of the total sales in Austin city limits.
  • Current interest rates for a 30-year fixed are 4%; down 0.125% from the beginning of May.
  • Builder incentives and seller concessions are on the rise once again. Percentage of sold price to original list price dropped 0.7% compared to prior year.

We’re still very clearly in a sellers’ market, but a dip in sales and interest rates plus increases in inventory and seller concessions clearly spells opportunity for home buyers in Central Texas. As interest rates are expected to rise throughout the next year, now very well could be the best time to discuss taking advantage of the market by purchasing your first home, moving-up, or purchasing income-producing property.

 

For Buyers: What’s It Worth

 

 

FOR BUYERS: WHAT’S IT WORTH?

Many people view homeownership as a primary goal, even when the initial benefits aren’t financial. I’m an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) and I’d love to discuss your homeownership goals!

Report: Homeownership Is More Than Just the Facts by Suzanne De Vita. © 2017 RISMedia.

Property Tax Protest, 2017

Taxes, Taxes & More Taxes

“The thing generally raised on city land is taxes.” -Charles Dudley Warner

2017 is the year we should all be protesting our property tax assessments. While 2016 was a record breaking year for home sales in the metro area, annual home sales growth slid from 5% to 1%  and price growth from 8% to 6%. Yet, it’s almost a certainty that your notice of appraised value shows increases of 10%+. That tells me it’s time to review your tax assessment carefully with your favorite Realtor.

You have probably received advertisements from companies offering to help you protest the value. While some of these services can be of value to those with little time, I’ve found the DIY approach to this process is just as easy as using a third party, without a 40% fee.

As always, I’m here to help. Grab your 2017 Notice Of Appraised Value and connect with me. Together, we’ll make sure you are armed with with the steps to take, things to consider and of course I’ll supply you with comparable properties that support your case.

You must file your protest by May 31st, so connect with me soon!

-scott

1Q17 Market Watch

How’s that real estate market, you ask?

1Q17 single family units sold were 0.5% higher compared to 1Q16.  This is a clear continuation of the market slowdown we noted previously, but make no mistake, we are still on pace to beat last year’s numbers. Even if it’s just by 0.5%What continues to raise my eyebrow is the interest rate increases over the last 9 months. Consider the graph above that shows the interest rate fluctuation for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage over the last 5 years. If you are considering a home  purchase, think about this:

A July 2016 homebuyer had an average interest rate of 3.41%, an average price of $353K, and a monthly principal and interest (PI) payment of $1,560. Today, the rate is 4.25% and the average price is $370K which means a PI payment of $1,820 per month. Did you catch that? A buyer who waited out the last 9 months is paying an extra $260 per month for the same house today. 

Today’s interest rate of 4.25% is actually a low for the week but most believe the trend upwards will continue.  If you are considering buying, we should build a plan now before the rates move even higher. 

I’m confident in the health of our local market, though the slowdown is real and frankly much needed. Still, there is plenty of opportunity for everyone out there. Whether for a move-up seller, first time buyer, or investor, there is opportunity throughout the Austin metro area. You simply need to look for it with your favorite Realtor at your side. That’s me! 

Freddie Mac, 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Average in the United States© [MORTGAGE30US], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MORTGAGE30US, April 12, 2017.
 

May 4th-7th: An Other-Worldly Weekend

What A Weekend! 

What do  Luke Skywalker, The Guardians Of The Galaxy, free comic books & the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower all have in common?  They are coming together the first weekend of May for what promises to be one of the most adventurous weekends of the year!

“May The Force be with you” on May 4th. Start your weekend early celebrating Star Wars Day at one of several local Star Wars themed events. Join Other Worlds Austin at 4th Tap Brewing for special screenings of award winning Star Wars Fan Films, a costume contest and a special taproom limited release of “The Fist Of The Empire”, an imperial stout representing dark side of The Force.

Look skyward the nights of May 5th & 6th as the Eta Aquarid Meteor shower peaks. Though visibility in the US isn’t optimal, Texans can still see upwards of 20 meteors per hour just before dawn.

May 6th, is Free Comic Day! What? Free Comic Book Day! Comic book and graphic novel stores across town will be participating in family friendly events in the 16th year of this annual celebration. While we will always be partial to our friends at Austin Book & Comics, this year we are all in with Austin Toy Museum and Hops & Heroes Comics for their first ever Free Comic Book Day Event.

Nerded out enough just yet? Did you forget that Guardians Of The Galaxy II comes out this weekend, too? It’s amazing when weekends like this shape up so nicely so grab your kids, your friends, or call me if you are shy and let’s nerd out this weekend together!