Monday, November 9, 2009

$8000 Home Buyers Tax Credit Extended and Expanded

$8000 Home Buyers Tax Credit Extended and Expanded
In the past 11 months I have been working with a lot of First Time Home Buyers to purchase their home in the Austin area. They have had some pretty good incentives like the $8000 tax credit, historically low interest rates and in some areas inflated inventory. The credit was thought to be coming to an end as of December 1, 2009.

On November 6th, the president signed the Worker, Home ownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009. One of the major components of this act extended and expanded the $8000 Tax Credit for Home Buyers. Previously, home buyers that purchased a home between 1/1/2009-11/30/2009 would be eligible for a tax credit of up to $8000 if they met certain criteria. Under the new expanded guidelines, even more buyers are eligible for a credit.

The new Act breaks down in two major tax credits for home buyers with similar yet slightly different requirements.

$8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit

  • Purchaser is a First Time Home Buyer (or has not been on title for a principle residence for 3 years before the purchase.)
  • The tax credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price up to $8000
  • Buyer may purchase home up to $800,000 and get the credit.
  • Income levels have expanded to include single taxpayers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000.
  • The home must be "under contract" on or before April 30,2010 and must close between November 6, 2009 and on or before June 30,2010.
The Act also includes a new credit for repeat buyers of homes-

$6500 Repeat Home Buyer Tax Credit
  • Purchaser must have owned and lived in their previous home for five consecutive years out of the last eight years.
  • The tax credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price up to $6500
  • Buyer may purchase home up to $800,000 and get the credit.
    Income levels include single taxpayers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000.
    The home must be "under contract" on or before April 30,2010 and must close between November 6, 2009 and on or before June 30,2010.
This is great news for those home owners that are considering "moving up." In areas that have homes appealing to first time home buyers, this is an amazing opportunity for home owners to sell their home to a buyers that have a number of incentives (low interest rates, $8000 tax credit) and purchase another home to receive a $6500 tax credit for themselves.

If you are considering a move-up to take advantage of this tax credit, contact me today and ask for details about my "move up" special that will reduce your out of pocket expenses when selling your home.

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams that loves to help people save money when buying or selling their home in Austin, TX

Monday, September 14, 2009

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: The Key to successfully selling your home

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: The Key to successfully selling your home
In today's housing market, the first impression a home makes on a buyer is very important. There are a lot of homes available leaving buyers with the chance to be pickier than ever. When I work with home buyers in NW Austin, I get to see all of the different ways that homes are showcased.
I set up my buyers with email notifications so they are aware of all properties that are available within their criteria. When they see homes that they like, we go to see them in person.

Obviously the first contact, and the most important, is on the Internet so an essential step when selling your home is making sure that your home looks great on the computer. How can you do it?

  • Hire a REALTOR that will put your home on as many websites as possible? How many? You should be able to google your home address and have the first 3-4 pages come up with for sale info.
  • Professional photos and virtual tours make a huge difference. Showcase all of the positive features of your home.
  • Make sure that your listing in the MLS is FULL of information (it is all indexed by other websites and allows your home to come up when people search by feature)
  • Make sure the info in the MLS is true. A GREAT home that is advertised as having a two car garage will leave a bad taste in the buyers mouth if there is not a 2 car garage (even if everything else is perfect.)

OK so now we have buyers interested in our home. Is that it? No, the Internet can only get buyers interested in seeing your home. Then the point is to keep them interested. How?

-Try to put yourself in the shoes of a prospective buyer. Look at your home with a fresh perspective. What needs attention?

  • Curb Appeal: Landscaping, Walkways, Flowers
  • Inside: Paint, Floors, Staging, Lighting, Scent (neutral is best)
  • Overall: Cleanliness, Get rid of Clutter, Put away personal items.

The first impression is sometimes the only impression. Buyers that I work with tend to associate the home with the most memorable feature. Some are obviously better than others. If I were selling my house I would rather have it known as "the one with the big backyard" or "the one with the nice floors" instead of being known as "The funky paint" house or "the cat pee house". Homes with a positive first impression have a chance of being seen again and possibly being sold. Homes with a bad first impression stay on the market. Which sounds better to you?

If you are thinking of selling your home, contact me today for a no-obligation consultation which allows us to talk about all of the factors that go into successfully selling your home.

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in helping home sellers make a great first impression in NW Austin, TX

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

$8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit: When will it end?

$8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit: When will it end?

In 2009, we have seen many incentives to buy a home.

-Record Low Interest Rates
-In some areas, lower prices than we have seen in 5 years!
-Increased inventory so you have more to choose from
-Not least of all, the $8000 tax credit for first time home buyers.

Due to all of these happening at once, there has been a much larger group of first time home buyers than ever before. I know that I have been working with a lot of first time home buyers.

By now you probably have a good grasp on what the $8000 Tax Credit is all about. If you meet the criteria, you have probably even thought about how you would like to buy a home and take advantage of it. You can actually get a rebate for up to 10% of the purchase price on some homes. So Why not? FREE MONEY!

Well, now is the time to act. The credit only applies to homes that close and fund before December 1, 2009.

Will the $8000 tax credit be extended?
-There are rumors that the government is considering a similar plan once this plan expires. I tend to be a bit more on the skeptical side and I think that the only way to be sure to receive it is to work within the guidelines we have set in place right now. They will most likely not make any announcements about a future credit until this credit has expired. Act now! The weeks days and hours are ticking down on this deadline as you read this.

Well, OK, How can I buy a home before the deadline to be sure to get the $8000 tax credit?
There are a few things that you must do if you are trying to find the right home in a short amount of time. Here is exactly what must be done in this situation,

  • First, Enlist the help of a Professional.
  • Second, use technology to your advantage
  • Third, make sure you are working within a realistic time frame.
1. Enlist the help of a professional.
By professional, I mean a REALTOR. More specifically, A full time, really working for their CLIENT, hard negotiating, penny pinching (your pennies), motivated, working overtime, answer getting, YOU pleasing REALTOR. This is not the time to work with someone that is not entirely devoted to helping you make smart decisions and SAVE MONEY. I refuse to let my clients make bad (uninformed) decisions.

2. Use Technology to your advantage.
The best way to stay informed about what homes are available that meet your criteria is to have them emailed to your inbox DAILY. It is as easy as checking your email. When you see homes you like, respond to the email with times that work to see it and figure out if it is your (1st) Dream Home. I set up searches for my clients based on their criteria and constantly adjust the parameters to make sure they are looking at any available homes that will work for them. Contact me today to set this up. Think you aren't ready? Want more privacy? You control the search when you use The BEST Way to search for homes in the Austin MLS.

3. Make sure you are working within a realistic time frame.
Lets work our way backward. You need to buy a home before December 1, 2009, right? That means you will most likely need to close before the Thanksgiving Holiday which means shooting for November 25, 2009 at the absolute latest for a closing date. Most financing will take 30-45 days from contract acceptance so you are able to close. That means that to take advantage of this, it is in your best interest to have a home under contract by mid-October at the latest.
I wouldn't wait until the last minute if I were you. Lenders and Title companies are going to be FLOODED during this time and the home ends up costing $8000 more if you can't close until Dec. 1st or after. There is basically a little more than a month to find the right home and negotiate. For some that may be plenty of time. But for those looking at Northwest Austin Homes, start looking now. These homes sell quickly and in some areas there is very little inventory.

Contact me today if you have any questions about how the tax credit works, how to get started and to start a systematic plan to find the right home in a limited amount of time.

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For more on the end of the tax credit, check out another article by a fellow REALTOR who is the King of Central East Austin Real Estate: Mueller and More
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Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams who is dedicated to helping First Time Home Buyers make the BEST decision of their life.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FEATURED PROPERTY: Beautiful home in Cedar Park, TX

FEATURED PROPERTY: Beautiful home in Cedar Park, TX

THIS HOUSE HAS A BRAND NEW ROOF! BUYERS!, Take advantage of the $8000 tax credit for first time home buyers when you purchase this beautiful home. The main level has PERGO and tile flooring throughout. The large kitchen has a huge pantry and utility room attached. The refrigerator and microwave can convey. The large (20x16) Master Suite has a huge walk in closet and space for a sitting area. This is a great home for a first time home buyer or a family!



Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams

How Accurate is Zillow when buying or selling a home in Northwest Austin?

How Accurate is Zillow when buying or selling a home in Northwest Austin?


If you are reading this then you know that people look to the Internet as a source of information for whatever it is they would like to learn more about. Hopefully that is why you are here. With Real Estate, a very large percentage of buyers and sellers head to the Internet and read articles, look at homes, etc. before they even speak to a professional.

There are major corporations that are aware of this and they market their sites as "valuation sites". When I hear something like this, I can't help but be skeptical. If a website knew the value of every home, it would make my job so easy. If I was going to list a home, I could just look on the master website and look up the value of the home. No mystery in pricing, no advertising, it is worth what it is worth so a buyer would most likely put in an offer the next day. Obviously, a website can't do that. But, it could get close, right? Let's find out...

Zillow assigns a "Zestimate" to homes in its database and plots them over a map. It also includes basic features of the homes. For example, 123 Anywhere St. Zestimate: $179,500. 3 bedroom / 2 bath 1875 square feet. Seems OK but, how do they determine the zestimate?

Zillow says, on their own website, "We compute this figure by taking zillions of data points".

Oh!, OK so zillions of data points must make the results pretty accurate, right?

Now lets look at Zillow's Accuracy Rates (Also from their own website)
By the looks of this, in Travis County, 99% of homes have been given a Zestimate and only 16% of homes are within 20% of the actual sales price. 20%??? On an average priced home, which in NW Austin is around $200,000, 20% is a range somewhere between $160,000 and $240,000. I am confident that I can get within 20% of the value of a home in NW Austin if you tell me the street it is on and how large it is. I am not being trying to be arrogant but, $80,000 is a huge range. On top of that the median error is 60%. This means that half of the homes have an error larger than 60%. 60%?!?!?!?!?! On $200,000 that is a range of $80,000-$320,000. Who couldn't figure the value between a range like that? Williamson County is slightly better that that but still very, very inaccurate.
So, how does this affect buyers?
When a buyer looks at the "Zestimate" of a homes they like in NW Austin it is generally about 10-15% low based on actual sales data from the MLS. Based on the Zestimate, the buyer will most likely want want to put in a super low offer because the list price will seem 10-15% higher than the estimate. Guess what? This is a waste of every ones time! NW Austin is a SELLERS MARKET! If it is priced right, the home will sell! They will not consider an offer that is 15% below the list price based on a Zillow Zestimate.
So, how does it affect sellers?
Unfortunately, people that would like to sell their homes, look at Zillow and freak out! There is no way they can move based on that price. That is because in most cases, there is a difference of $15,000-$20,000 between the Zestimate and what they can actually sell the home for in today's market. So they don't even talk to someone about it....and don't sell...and don't move into their dream home.
What should we do instead?
The easiest answer is to contact a professional. Make sure you are speaking with someone that really knows your area. A real professional REALTOR does a lot of research. There are a lot of homes that are being under priced in Northwest Austin because they are working with an agent that does not know the area.
I meet with sellers and give them a complimentary (FREE!) consultation to talk about their homes. That doesn't mean you NEED to sell... I just LOVE talking to people about their homes.
Click HERE to request a FREE Consultation.
I also meet with buyers to talk about neighborhoods that may work for them based on location to work and schools, area amenities, price ranges and styles. No pressure..just talking.
Click HERE to talk to me about the possibility of buying a home OR
Don't feel like talking yet?
Search for Homes in the Austin MLS

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in working with Buyers and Sellers who want to make smart decisions about their home in Northwest Austin.

Monday, August 24, 2009

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: Top 4 ways to NOT sell your home.

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: Top 4 ways to NOT sell your home.

There are a lot of opinions about what it takes to sell a home. I have the opportunity to work with not only home sellers in NW Austin but I also work with a lot of buyers. I always say that I learn much more about listing homes for sale when I am working with buyers and vice-versa. I get to learn their likes and dislikes and what attracts them to a property. I also work with other agents in trying to show their listings to these prospective buyers. Through these experiences I have learned ways to sell your home and the funny thing is, I have learned a lot more ways to NOT sell your home. Here are the Top 4 ways to NOT sell your home.

1. Go Ahead, Overprice Your Home!
As a home seller you are free to price your home as high as you would like....but, it will remain your home if you price it higher than the market will allow. The list price of a home is all about advertising. More often than not, there is a difference between the list price and the sales price. Most often the two are pretty close. Now, when I am talking about list price vs. sales price, I am referring to the LAST list price not the original list price.
Once you place your home on the market, it has the possibility of being exposed to lots of qualified (and unqualified) buyers. Some of them are the PERFECT BUYER FOR YOUR HOME. If your home is overpriced, it may be out of the perfect buyers range. By the time you lower your price, they have probably already found another home. As I am writing this there are almost 4000 homes available in the City of Austin alone. That means that buyers have a lot to choose from.
I have been to homes where my client LOVES EVERYTHING ABOUT THE HOUSE except the price! They weren't looking in an area that was too expensive or looking at homes out of their range. In one example, my clients loved house A. Based on the comps, house A was overpriced by nearly 10%. Knowing they did not want to overpay, we kept looking and we found house B. It was very similar to house A in size, location, age, and quality however House B was priced at market value. Long story short, they put in an offer on House B and have been living there happily for the past two months. Meanwhile, House A is STILL on the market AND this is in an area that homes do not last long on the market.

2. Do It Yourself-
Ok, I would like to preface this by saying not everyone needs a REALTOR. I have worked with buyers to purchase homes where the seller is representing themselves or they have a "limited representation" listing (read:no representation). They get their home listed in the MLS and put a sign in the yard and voila! SOLD! Right? Not always...
If it is priced very well (low) it has a chance. Past clients of mine bought a home in Brushy Creek for well under market value because the seller had a limited representation listing. The seller paid about $600 to list their home in the MLS. It ending up costing them close to $15000 of built in equity because the home was undervalued.
More often than not, the seller in this case will overprice the home because they are not looking at actual sales data. These homes have no chance of selling. Anybody can give a home away but it takes a professional to make sure that you get every penny that your home is worth.

3. Bad Advertising
Advertising can affect a home for sale in a negative way just as much as it can help in a positive way. What is the number one way people look at homes for sale? They see a sign in the yard? (not really.) Read a flier? (Nope.) Heard about it from a friend (Rarely). That's right, they look on the Internet. So, if you want to sell your home, it should be easily found on the Internet.
This takes multiple steps-
-Make sure it is listed on EVERY popular searching site (and sites you may have never heard of before)
-Pictures are sooo important (the MLS allows 25 now.) How many does your listing have? (This is not always the agents fault. The house has to have things worth showing off too.)
-Make sure you are working with an agent that knows how to properly fill out the forms for submission to the MLS. For instance, in the Agent Remarks and Internet Remarks you are allowed up to 500 characters. I think a seller should be using all 500 because it is searchable data and, along with pictures, helps to get people interested in the home when they are first looking at it on the Internet.

4. Make it really difficult to show the home to prospective buyers.
How?
Have a tenant living there- Tenant do not want the home to sell. Then they have to move.
Only Showings by Appointment - Horrible Idea. Buyers want to see the house now not next week. It is fair to ask for notice but the longer notice that you expect exponentially diminishes your chances of showings. 24hrs? no. 1 hr? maybe 30 min. or less? YES!
Have a code or key with your agent that doesn't return phone calls-I have tried to contact listing agents with a key to the property with no response, ever. Those homes will not sell. The key should be on site.

If all of the other steps are in place and the buyer can't get in to see the home, they will find another one.

Like I have said before, no one can force a home seller to do any of these things and you don't have to, UNLESS you actually want to SELL your home!

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in Helping Homeowners SELL THEIR HOME in Austin, TX

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Can You Use the $8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit as a Down Payment? Yes!

Can You Use the $8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit as a Down Payment? Yes!
In an announcement made yesterday, May 12th, HUD (the department of Housing and Urban Development) said that they plan to allow First Time Home Buyers to use the 2009 $8000 tax credit as a down payment. HUD plans on releasing the official details next week but the idea is basically that FHA approved lenders will be able to monetize the tax credit in the form of a small bridge loan to allow a first time home buyer to use the tax credit toward the down payment of their home.
This is the most recent development in this program for First Time Home Buyers. It is a unique time in the market that a home buyer can purchase a home with an FHA loan and actually pay zero down at closing! This combined with historically low interest rates provides for quite a few incentives for the right buyer. I will update as more details get released on this program.

To read more about the $8000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit read:
$8000 Federal Income Tax Credit: First Time Home Buyers can get an $8000 tax credit for buying a house this year. and
NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: $8000 Tax Credit- How to get a 10% rebate of your homes value.
Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in Assisting First Time Home Buyers to take advantage of incentives like we have never seen before in Austin, TX

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: Home Sales Update

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: Area NW Home Sales Update
Homes are selling in Northwest Austin.

Working with buyers and sellers in the area helps to give me first hand knowledge of what is going on. Some areas just do not have enough inventory for the demand of buyers. In the past few weeks I have worked with buyers that have missed out on a deal because of multiple offers, seen homes that are overpriced go "under contract" and negotiated contracts for multiple listings that I have. The newspaper paints a picture of a horrible housing market but anyone who is looking at the statistics and reality of what is going on in Northwest Austin would have to disagree. How do I know it is not just me and my experiences that make me think this? I look at the data from the MLS. Crazy, I know, but I like to make educated decisions and use resources that are available to me (and other Realtor's). As an example, I will be discussing what is going on in what is defined by the Austin Board of Realtors as Area NW.

Map of Area NW

In this article we will look at:

  1. What homes are available in Northwest Austin?
  2. How many homes are under contract?
  3. What homes have been selling in NW?
  4. Is this a buyers market or a sellers market?

What homes are available in Northwest Austin?

To start looking at this area, we first need to understand what homes are actually available to purchase in the area. For more about the types of homes in the area, read: What you get for the money or Hunters Chase and Milwood Homes. The table below shows a breakdown of price ranges of available homes. **These figures are all based on statistics of Single Family Houses and does not include condos or town homes.


As we can see in the chart, the majority of homes fall into the $150,000-$400,000 range. This does not tell us much information except what is currently available. These could be motivated OR unmotivated sellers, under priced OR overpriced homes. Currently, there are a total of 183 homes on the market. Next we need to look at what homes are under contract otherwise known as "pending" or "pending- taking backups".

How many homes are under contract?


There are currently 84 homes "under contract" in the area. That means that a deal is put together between the seller and a buyer and will most likely close in the next 30-45 days. This is an important factor to consider because this is what is happening in the area RIGHT NOW! By the time a sale goes through the information is at least 30 days old. 50% of the homes under contract are in the $150,000-$250,000 range. Now we need to look at what has SOLD in the past 6 months.

What homes have been selling in NW Austin?

By looking at what has SOLD in the last six months we can see what rate homes have been selling in the past. Out of 210 homes that have sold in the last 6 months (an average of 35 homes per month) over 50% are in the $150,000-$250,000 range.

Is NW Austin a buyers market? OR Is Northwest Austin a Sellers Market?
If you read the newspaper or watch TV, you are probably rolling your eyes at the screen and saying, "buyers market, duh!!" but how do we know?? More on that in a minute. First of all, a buyers market is when there is more than six months supply of homes within an area. A sellers market is when there is less than six months of inventory to sell to the demand of buyers. To calculate the # of months of supply, divide the # of homes available by the # of homes pending. This means that overall, Northwest Austin has just over two months of supply. That means that NORTHWEST AUSTIN IS A....... (drum roll please!)

SELLERS MARKET!

Lets look at price ranges to see if that rings true throughout.

$149,999 and less-3 active/9 pending=0.3 months=sellers market

$150,000-$199,999-36 active/24 pending=1.5 months=sellers market

$200,000-$249,999-36 active/18 pending= 2 months= sellers market

$250,000-$299,999-25 active/15 pending=1.5 months=sellers market

$300,000-$349,999-28 active/6 pending=~4.5 months=sellers market

$350,000-$399,999-21 active/6 pending=3.5 months=sellers market

$400,000-$449,999-12 active/5 pending=~2.5 months=sellers market

$450,000 and over-23 active/1 pending=23 months= buyers market!

This means that in all price ranges except 450k and above we are looking at a pretty significant sellers market. If you are looking at purchasing a home above $450k contact me today because there are some great deals!

Comparing these figures to the sold figures for the last 6 months also lets us know that there has been quite a bit of activity in the last 30 days. For example in the $200,000-$249,999 range 32 homes sold in the past six month (about 5-6 homes per month) BUT 18 homes are currently under contract that is 3X's the volume of activity.

Still wondering if now is a good time to sell? Contact me today for a FREE consultation about how you can sell your home for more $ today!

If you are looking at buying a home in the area make sure you are working with a professional so you can still get a great deal on the perfect home.

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in Assisting Buyers and Sellers look at the facts about home sales in Northwest Austin, TX


Data taken from the Multiple Listings Service of Austin Board of Realtors. Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: How does hail effect the purchase or sale of your Northwest Austin Home?

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: How does hail effect the purchase or sale of your Northwest Austin Home?
On March 25th, there was a thunderstorm which included some of the biggest hail seen in Northwest Austin in about 10 years according to some residents. Hail the size of golf balls or in some areas, baseballs rained down on homes and cars throughout the NW Austin area as well as parts of Cedar Park and Round Rock. The storm left debris all over roadways and sidewalks. The area that was hit hardest was Jollyville. Some people don't even know where Jollyville is but it includes the areas of Hunters Chase, Milwood, and Anderson Mill. Many homes were damaged by the hail. Some had severe hail damage to their roof and windows. Many cars were damaged to the point of the car being "totaled". I was fortunate enough to be driving west on 620 toward the storm and pulled under one of the metal roofs at Sonic just in time. How does this hail effect a home that is currently under contract or those that are thinking of buying or selling? If you have a home with previous hail damage, what can you do? Let me tell you.
Those that had a home under contract when the hail storm hit are covered in their Texas Association of Realtors 1-4 Family Residential Contract-Resale (TAR 1601).
In paragraph 14 it basically says that if any part of the property is damaged or destroyed by fire or other casualty between the effective date of the contract (when all parties agree and sign) and the closing of the property, the seller, at the sellers expense needs to restore the property to its previous condition as soon as reasonably possible. So, if a house is under contract and a big hail storm comes through the area, it is the sellers responsibility to repair it to the condition it was in when the parties agreed to the terms of the contract. If the seller fails to make the repairs, the buyer has a few choices of what they want to do.
  • A. The buyer can terminate the contract and the earnest money will be refunded to them.
  • B. The buyer can grant the seller an extension of the time of performance and closing.
  • C. The buyer can accept the property damaged and receive all insurance proceeds AND receive a credit from the seller at closing in the amount of their deductible.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future as well. I have had a case where I was working with a buyer to purchase their home in Southwest Austin and in the inspection, there was noted roof damage that was done possibly from a hail storm a few months before. The seller contacted their insurance company, had the roof inspected and agreed to replace the roof. In this case both parties paid one half of the deductible but, one half of a deductible for a brand new roof is a great deal! Buyers beware!!! If you are looking at homes in any of these areas , I hope you are working with a professional that has already told you about this unusual circumstance. Practically any home you buy in that area should have a new roof or at least a thorough inspection to prove there is no damage.
Sellers beware!!! Don't go spending those insurance checks on big screen T.V.'s or a BMW at a "hail sale" because buyers will have the roof inspected and if they are working with someone that is knowledgeable, they will expect the roof at this point more than ever to be in tip-top shape.
***If you have found this information useful and are thinking of buying or selling your home, contact me today so I can help you to save money by making smart decisions.

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in educating buyers and sellers to make smart decisions about their homes in Northwest Austin, TX

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

AUSTIN REAL ESTATE: Search for Foreclosures in Austin

AUSTIN REAL ESTATE: Search for Foreclosures in Austin

Would you or someone you like to purchase a home at a reduced price? Are you willing to do some repairs or updates on a home so you can buy a house below market value? Now it is a bit easier to find homes that may be a great value. On my AUSTIN AREA HOME SEARCH system, there is now a new feature that allows you to SEARCH FOR FORECLOSURES FOR SALE IN AUSTIN.



You can select all of your criteria just like a regular home search and select the "foreclosures" button next to the "active listings" button. This will find all of the available foreclosed homes that are listed for sale in the Austin MLS. The results will include any available photos and details of each house.

Every foreclosure is not necessarily a good deal. Banks that foreclose on properties are usually located out of the area work with local REALTORS and appraisers to try to assess the current market value of the home and to give advice on any repairs that can be made to help sell the home in about 60-90 days. Just like dealing with sellers of a home, some REALTORS will over price a home even when it is a foreclosure. The process is slightly more difficult and may take a bit longer so you want to be working with a professional to make sure you are getting a GREAT DEAL!

If you are able to find a great deal on a foreclosed house in the Austin area and you can take advantage of the $8000 FIRST TIME HOME BUYER TAX CREDIT, it is a decision that you will look back on as the greatest choice you have ever made. It is a unique time in AUSTIN REAL ESTATE that you are able to find a deal AND get money back from the government.

If you are interested in buying a foreclosure, go ahead and search on my site. If you have any questions about the process or if you would like to see any of these homes in person, please contact me today by email or call (512)638-5885.


Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in Assisting Buyers to find GREAT DEALS ON AUSTIN HOMES.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

North and Northwest Austin Homes: What you get for the Money- $300,000-$400,000.

North and Northwest Austin Homes: What you get for the Money- $300,000-$400,000.

In an earlier post, I discussed what you can get for your money in NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: Hunters Chase and Milwood Subdivisions.

Hunters Chase and Milwood are great areas to live and I am a resident there myself. It appeals to first time home buyers as well as couples or small families. As people move up in their career and/or their families grow, they start to think about moving up. This is where we would play the theme for The Jeffersons if this was on TV (Movin' on up...to the East side) Here in Austin, you don't have to move to the East side (unless you want to)***. Many people would like to move to a bigger home or a swankier area or both but still be close to work and the restaurants, shops and schools that their family is used to. Well, Northwest Austin is great for that. Less than five miles from areas that are great neighborhoods for first time home buyers and young families, there are great neighborhoods for move-up families. A move-up family is one or more people that own a home that they would like to sell and purchase a newer and/or bigger and/or fancier home.

Today I am going to focus on three general areas in Northwest Austin that are great for people looking to spend $300,000-$400,000 on a home. We will look briefly at what you can get in the areas of Great Hills, Canyon Creek and Balcones Village. There are other areas with a small concentration of homes in this price range like Balcones Woods and Jester but these are areas that have a good number of homes available in this price range.
Great Hills Austin Homes: This area is Southwest of the intersection of Hwy 183 and Loop 360. The homes are all around the Arboretum area. This area is all about location, location, location. Being close to the Arboretum means you are close to shops and restaurants and Great Hills is a golf course community with a lovely country club. Most of the homes in this area were built in the 80's and early 90's. For $300,000-$400,000 you can purchase a beautiful home with updates that is most likely 2000-2500 sq. ft. There are homes that are available that back to the golf course in this price range that may need some updates. This area is closer to Central Austin than Hunters Chase and Milwood so much of the difference in price is based on location and some of it is based on quality of construction and updates of the homes.
Canyon Creek Austin Homes: This area is South of R.R. 620 and West of Anderson Mill Dr. A majority of these homes were built from the late Nineties through 2005 or so. For the money here you can get a newer home than you would be able to in Great Hills and the home size is more likely to be around 3000- 3500 square feet with a larger yard. Homes are constructed well and this area has continues to appreciate in value because it is close to the lake and it is still easy to commute into Downtown or Northwest Austin area employers.

Balcones Village Austin Homes: This area is directly across Hwy 183 from Hunters Chase and Milwood. This area was mostly built out in the 70's and early 80's. A majority of what you can buy at this price point is going to be homes on about 1/3 acre lot that are about 2500-3000 square feet and some homes are on the Arnold Palmer designed Spicewood Golf Course. These homes are charming and were made with a solid construction.

Each of these areas have a unique character and make for a great place to move up to a larger home. It is basically a matter of preferences to where a buyer should choose a home. The most important thing is to feel good about the decisions you make when purchasing a home.

If you are thinking about selling your home and buying another to move up to, contact me today to ask about my "Move-up" special that will save you money!

***If you are interested in Moving on up to the East side, check out a great post by a fellow REALTOR Garreth Wilcock about what you can buy for $300,000-$400,000 in the Mueller Austin Development.

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in Assisting People that would like to save money on their Move Up of Homes in Austin, TX

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: $8000 Tax Credit- How to get a 10% rebate of your homes value.

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: $8000 Tax Credit- How to get a 10% rebate of your homes value.

This is a follow up to my last article $8000 Federal Income Tax Credit: First Time Home Buyers can get an $8000 tax credit for buying a house this year.

Over the last couple of days, I have been thinking a lot about this $8000 tax credit that is being offered to first time home buyers that purchase a house, condo, town home etc. in 2009. While it seems like a good deal for people that are planning to purchase a home anyway, I have been thinking about if it will actually stimulate those people who were not already looking to purchase a house. For most first time home buyers in Northwest Austin, they will be looking to spend between $175,000 and $225,000 which is basically the range of average sales prices in the area. As you get closer to Balcones Woods or Great Hills and closer to Downtown Austin, it is more difficult to purchase a home in this range but for the most part, that is the range. When someone purchases a home for $200,000 in 2009, if they are a first time home buyer and they fit into the other criteria, they will receive a tax credit of $8000 this is equal to 4% of the sales price. That is pretty good if you consider the money will not have to be repaid and it is basically given as cash, especially if you file the credit on your 2008 taxes. You would get the money back pretty quickly. If the purchase was made with an FHA loan (with 3% minimum down payment) you would actually receive more money with the rebate than you initially put down on the property in the first place. Pretty good deal.

Now lets look at a great deal. The legislation allows for a tax credit up to 10% of the purchase price up to $8000. This means that is you were to buy something for less than $80,000, you would actually receive $8000 or 10% of the purchase price. That is pretty amazing if you think about it. During times of decent appreciation it could take up to 2 years to gain this much equity in a home. Now is a unique time to actually get 10% of the purchase price of your home rebated back to you in a short amount of time. For some it makes sense to file with their 2009 taxes but either way 10% is substantial.
Are there available Northwest Austin Homes for less than $80,000? Lets check it out. Here are Homes under $80,000 in Northwest Austin.

Contact me today to speak more about how you can take advantage of this limited time opportunity.

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in helping First Time Home Buyers make great decisions to purchase Real Estate in Northwest Austin, TX

Monday, March 9, 2009

$8000 Federal Income Tax Credit: First Time Home Buyers can get an $8000 tax credit for buying a house this year.

$8000 Federal Income Tax Credit: First Time Home Buyers can get an $8000 tax credit for buying a house this year. Congress has recently enacted legislation that allows first time home buyers to receive a credit of up to $8000 on their income taxes. Unlike "credits" of the past, this will not need to be repaid. It is a dollar for dollar credit. This means that if you buy a home in 2009 and at the end of the year you owe $1000 in taxes, you will actually receive $7000 after filing for the $8000 tax credit. This new legislation definitely provides a fair deal of opportunity for prospective buyers. It also raises a lot of questions which I will address here. Who can get the $8000 tax credit? How is the amount of the credit determined? How do I file for the $8000 tax credit? Do I need to apply? What types of homes qualify for the $8000 tax credit? Can I claim the tax credit on my 2008 Federal Income Taxes or just 2009? Can the tax credit be used as a down payment? I don't have enough of a tax burden to have $8000 of tax burden credited. Can I still get the refund?

Who can get the $8000 tax credit?
The first qualification is that you are a first time home buyer. First time home buyer is a term that is defined by anyone who has not owned their primary residence for at least three years prior to the purchase. The tax credit amount is reduced for buyers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of more than $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. Taxpayers with MAGI of more than $95,000 (single) or $170,000 (married) are not eligible for this credit.

How is the amount of the credit determined?
The tax credit is an amount equal to 10% of the purchase price up to $8,000. Basically this means that properties purchased by eligible buyers for more than $80,000 receive the $8000 credit. Properties bought for less than $80,000 would receive 10% of the purchase price as a tax credit.

How do I file for the $8000 tax credit? Do I need to apply?
Filing for the $8000 tax credit is easy. The paperwork is done simply while filing your Federal income taxes. Home buyers should complete IRS Form 5405 to determine their tax credit amount, and then claim that amount on Line 69 of their 1040 income tax return.

What types of homes qualify for the $8000 tax credit?
Any home that will be used as a primary residence. This can include single family residences, condominiums, town homes, manufactured (mobile) homes and even a houseboat.

Can I claim the tax credit on my 2008 Federal Income Taxes?
Yes. The legislation allows the credit to be claimed on 2008 taxes that have not been filed even if the purchase is made in 2009. This means that you can choose which year it would be best to offset your income if the purchase is made in time for 2008 tax filing.

Can the tax credit be used as a down payment?
No...Yes...well, kinda. Home buyers will receive the credit after the home is purchased so it can not be used for the down payment. However, qualified buyers could purchase a home in 2009 and have someone gift the down payment to them, which is as low as 3% with FHA financing, file their taxes for 2008 with the credit included and return the money to the family member/friend when they receive their tax refund.

I don't have enough of a tax burden to have $8000 of tax burden credited. Can I still get the refund?
Yes. Even if you have a refund, the credit will be added to it. For example, if you were to receive $1500 refund on your 2009 Federal Income Taxes, you could receive $9500 with the $8000 First Time Home Buyer tax credit included.

If this applies to you, this is the perfect time for you to buy a home. There are great deals available and with an incentive like this, it should make the decision to buy a bit easier.

There is a follow up to this article: NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: $8000 Tax Credit- How to get a 10% rebate of your homes value.

Related Blog Posts:
Just Listed: Foreclosure - Incredible deal on great home in Buttercup Creek

Believe it or Not: NW Austin is a Sellers Market (There are deals for buyers too!)

Featured Property: Pflugerville Townhouse

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: Hunters Chase and Milwood Subdivisions- What can you get for the money?

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in helping First Time Home Buyers make great decisions to purchase Real Estate in Austin, TX

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

CEDAR PARK HOMES: Just Listed- Incredible deal on home in Buttercup Creek subdivision in Cedar Park, TX

CEDAR PARK HOMES: Just Listed- Incredible deal on home in Buttercup Creek subdivision in Cedar Park, TX
This is new listing that I have on a great home in Cedar Park. This is an incredible price in the highly sought after subdivision of Buttercup Creek in Cedar Park, TX. Exemplary schools and location are just two features that draw home buyers to this area consistently. Do not delay in seeing this home because at this price it will not last! Contact me today for a showing.

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in Listing homes and helping buyers find great deals on homes in Cedar Park and Northwest Austin, TX

Monday, March 2, 2009

NORTHWEST AUSTIN REAL ESTATE: Exploring the option period.

NORTHWEST AUSTIN REAL ESTATE: Exploring the Option Period. What is an option period? What needs to be done during the option period? Why is an option period important for a homebuyer? What rights do home sellers and home buyers have during the option period?
I work with a lot of of first time home buyers. I also tend to work with a lot of first time home sellers and what I like to call long time home buyers (people that have not purchased a home in a long time.) For most of these people a few questions come up about the option period. Here in Texas, you can negotiate an option period within a purchase contract to buy a home.

What is an option period?

In the Texas Association of Realtors form (TAR 1601) "One to Four Family Residential Contract", Paragraph #23 titled Termination Option basically states that for a negotiable amount of money, the buyer receives the unrestricted right to terminate the contract within the negotiated amount of time.
Generally, the option fee is equal to about ten percent of the earnest money which is generally one percent of the purchase price. Ex. ($200,000 house X 1% = $2000 earnest money X 10% = $200 option period fee.) This is negotiable so the fee could be as low as $1 and it could also be higher to give the seller some added assurance that the offer is solid. The time period is also negotiable but is generally about 7 to 10 days.
When the deal goes through to closing, the option fee is generally credited to the buyer but again, this is negotiable.

What needs to be done during the option period?

The main thing that should be done during an option period is for the buyer to order and pay for a property inspection by a Licensed Inspector. This generally costs about $400-$500. The inspector goes through the house for a few hours and inspects all systematic and structural conditions. The main things that are inspected are the HVAC (heating and air) systems, roofing, foundation, electrical and septic systems. The inspector also looks at windows, siding, appliances and a number of other features in the home. The inspector furnishes the buyer with a promulgated inspection report with their findings. The inspector may also advise the buyer to have certain items inspected by a specialist in the field. (HVAC, Septic, Foundation, Electrical. Basically the "major" issues listed above. Inspectors can only let you know if a system is possibly malfunctioning and an idea of what it may be. Then the buyer needs a specialist to look into it in more detail.The buyer can choose to terminate the contract based on the inspection, go through with the contract as is or negotiate the repair of items or an amount of money in lieu of repairs or treatments. This is not a time to renegotiate other terms of the contact. It is important for buyers and sellers to be comfortable with the deal the way it is put together in the executed contract without regard to the Option period. Buyers that come back to the sellers with a laundry list of repairs that "need" to be made are usually less successful than buyers who only ask for repair or allowance for "major" issues found in the inspection. How are you supposed to know the difference? Make sure you are working with a knowledgeable Realtor and an informative inspector. Many times, there are no major issues so a negotiation of additional terms is not necessary.


Why is an option period important for a home buyer?

When you are looking at a home, you are most likely looking at the aesthetic features of the home, trying to figure out if the home is right for you, wondering if your furniture will fit, asking questions about the neighborhood, etc. As an agent, I try to point out any red (or red tinged) flags that I may see in a home. The inspection brings those issues to the surface in detail. It also brings up all of the possible issues that you don't see in a typical home showing. For example, I don't generally crawl around in the attic to look at the ducts or take the electrical panel off. I would do it but I am not an inspector and it is always best to work with a specialist.
This is important because a major repair or issue may detour a buyer from the property they thought was perfect.


What rights do home sellers and home buyers have during the option period?


The buyer should be allowed reasonable access to the home for the inspection and resulting meetings with specialists and/or contracts to get bids to have repairs completed. With the option period, the buyer has an unrestricted right to terminate the contract during that time while the seller is bound to the contract as agreed. In case you are wondering, the right to terminate is actually unrestricted which means the buyer can back out for an endless number of reasons including but not limited to; cold feet, buyers (contract) remorse, job loss, financial changes, and anything else you can think of. The seller has the right to cash the check made out to them for the option fee and they also have the right to deny, fulfill or negotiate any request for repair or allowance of issues in the home.
This time period is generally a stressful time for all involved in the transaction but, if the buyer and buyers agent address the issues that they can in the original contract and then address any major issues that may come up in the inspection, the option period can be a little less stressful leading to a successful purchase and closing of the buyers dream home.

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in Assisting Buyers and Sellers to make educated decisions in Real Estate transactions in Northwest Austin, TX

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Northwest Austin Homes: Believe it or Not, North and Northwest Austin Real Estate is a SELLERS MARKET!

North and Northwest Austin Real Estate: North and Northwest Austin Real Estate is a Sellers Market!
I know it may be hard to believe but it is true. All of the national and so-called "local" news talks about Real Estate being a buyers market right now. Well, as they say, Real Estate is local, sometimes even hyper-local. North and Northwest Austin are actually in a sellers market. If you believe what they write in the local papers, you may think it is a horrible time to sell a house. Is this true? No. Does this mean that it is not a good time to buy a house if it is a sellers market? No. Are there deals on NW Austin homes for buyers? Definitely. Can you sell your home for more today than you would have in the past? Possibly. Let me explain a few things...

1. What do you mean buyers market or sellers market? Well, when it comes to purchasing anything, the price depends on the simple factors of supply and demand. If the supply is up and the demand is down for homes, prices will drop to entice the few buyers out there. On the other hand, if the demand is up and the supply of homes is down, like in NW Austin right now, prices will generally be higher because the market will allow a higher price to sell the more desired product, in this case Houses in Northwest Austin.
2. How do you define a buyers market or sellers market? The market is defined generally by looking at how many months of inventory are available within a specific market. In other words, if homes continue to sell at the same rate that they have for the past few months, how long would it take to diminish the supply of homes without adding new listings to the market. If there is less than six months of inventory it is considered a sellers market, If there is more than six months of inventory, it is considered a buyers market.
3. Lets look at info from the Austin Board of Realtors MLS to see what is going on with Northwest Austin Homes. I am looking at Homes that fall within the boundaries of areas NW and 1N. There are 660 total listings. That breaks down to 216 active listings, 85 pending listings and 358 listings sold in the last six months. This includes homes of all, conditions, sizes, ages and price ranges in North and Northwest Austin. Based on the last six months, we have about 3-4 months of inventory!!! What does that mean? It means that North and Northwest Austin are Sellers Markets!
4. Now lets look at homes that are in the "average sales price range for homes in North and Northwest Austin. I would say that is anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000. There are 377 total listings. That breaks down to 92 active listings, 54 pending listings and 231 listings sold in the last six months. Based on those numbers, in the average price range of homes in North and Northwest Austin, there is just over two months of inventory. That is definitely a sellers market!
5. This all means that as a seller you could possibly sell your home for more money today than you could have in the past. House values in North and Northwest Austin continue to go up and the demand is there to support it.

This all adds up to a very interesting time for buyers and sellers of Homes in North or NW Austin because if you listen to the news or even most REALTORS, they would encourage sellers to wait but, what would you wait for? Homes are selling. This doesn't mean that it is a bad time to buy. There are plenty of homes on the market that are being sold by homeowners that are scared, misinformed, or desperate to sell their home. That adds up to a deal. I definitely feel for people that are going through something in their life that make is necessary to sell, but it is not a time to panic. There are misinformed REALTORS giving their scared clients even scarier advice. There are serious deals available.

The people that I have been working with to list and sell their homes know what I am talking about. Last week I closed a deal on a house that I had listed in the Balcones Woods subdivision in North Austin. I do an immense amount of homework when I list a home. When we listed the home at $300,000 I got responses from REALTORS that "specialize in the area" that said it was overpriced and I would not be able to put a deal together anywhere close to that price. Well, long story short, they were wrong. We put together a deal in less than a week for a sales price that is very close to the asking price without paying any of the buyers closing costs and not allowing any money for repairs...one week! If my client was working with one of those REALTORS, it would have sold in a week but for quite a bit less. The seller couldn't be happier with the deal that was put together. I don't have a crystal ball but it is important to be educated on factual information and when you employ a professional to sell your home, make sure they know the facts!

If you are trying to decide if now is the right time to sell, lets look at the facts and get you more money for your home. Contact me today and we can talk about it.

If you are thinking about buying a home, now is a great time. Lets find a deal for you.

Posted by Brian W Martin. Brian is a REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in Assisting Buyers and Sellers get the facts and make educated decisions about Real Estate in North and Northwest Austin, TX

Thursday, February 19, 2009

PFLUGERVILLE HOMES: Featured Property

PFLUGERVILLE HOMES: Featured Property-
1245 Orchard Park Circle
This is a great townhome in Pflugerville. It is 1223 square feet and has been nicely remodeled. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a private garage that makes i tfeel like home. At this price it is a great deal!
Also, you can receive an $8000 tax credit after purchasing this home. Read more about $8000 Federal Income Tax Credit: First Time Home Buyers can get an $8000 tax credit for buying a house this year.
and
$8000 Tax Credit- How to get a 10% rebate of your homes value.

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams specializing in Assisting Buyers and Sellers of Residential Real Estate in Austin, TX

Monday, January 19, 2009

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: Market Outlook Area 1N and Area NW

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: It is important to look at how the market is doing. National media as well as local media reporting national news definitely makes an impression on buyers and sellers of real estate in Austin. You cant always believe what you read in the newspaper. I like to know what is actually going on with Northwest Austin Real Estate. I speak with people all the time that want to know what is going on with the market. I work with buyers and sellers to give them an outlook of the market that is very specific to their needs. This is just meant to be a general outlook of two areas in Northwest Austin and the statistics are taken from the Austin Board of Realtors MLS including all homes in the specific area with no regard to square footage, age, lot size, condition or price. The sales numbers only include the last 30 days. (12/19/08 - 01/19/09)
Area 1N
Average Sales Price
(12/20/08-01/19/09): $340,864
(12/20/07-01/19/08): $295,175
(12/20/06-01/19/07): $278,971

Median Sales Price
(12/20/08-01/19/09): $341,000
(12/20/07-01/19/08): $271,000
(12/20/06-01/19/07): $200,000

Average DOM (Days on Market)
(12/20/08-01/19/09): 77 days
(12/20/07-01/19/08): 77 days
(12/20/06-01/19/07): 77 days

Area NW

Average Sales Price
(12/20/08-01/19/09): $230,190
(12/20/07-01/19/08): $250,760
(12/20/06-01/19/07): $229,094

Median Sales Price
(12/20/08-01/19/09): $214,000
(12/20/07-01/19/08): $199,500
(12/20/06-01/19/07): $203,500

Average DOM (Days on Market)
(12/20/08-01/19/09): 84 days
(12/20/07-01/19/08): 82 days
(12/20/06-01/19/07): 80 days

What does this mean? Well, it basically means that Northwest Austin Homes have been going up in value while the media is trying to persuade home owners to think differently. Are there good deals on homes in Austin? Definitely. Most people react to news in a very emotional, fearful way. That results in lower prices. Lower prices along with historically low interest rates spells great buying opportunities. Does that mean that it is not a good time to sell? No....As you can see in the data above, home prices are continuing to go higher and they have been taking a similar amount of time to sell. In both areas there is about a 4 month inventory of homes.

If you would like to see how the facts could effect your specific situation, contact me and I will provide you with the raw data from the MLS with no obligation.

You can also check out Northwest Austin Homes priced between $150,000 and $300,000 here.

This post was written by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams. Brian works with his clients to help them make the right move when buying or selling their Northwest Austin Homes.


These statistics are based on information found in the Austin MLS. Information deemed Reliable but not Guaranteed.