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.

Friday, January 16, 2009

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: Houses are more attractive when the seller is procative!

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: What helps a home to sell? Well for one, a proactive seller. There are many different types of home is all different areas with a variety of features but there is one type of home that always sells and that is a home that is ready to go on the market. Sometimes I work with sellers for 6 months or a year before they plan to place their home on the market. This includes consulting them on repairs that they can work on over time to have the home look great in time for showings. In my experience, a seller that spends a little time and money getting their home prepared to sell, gets offers quickly and get the maximum amount that their home is worth in the market. This becomes particularly important in a buyers market. When there are more homes on the market and less buyers, every showing is important. There are a few advantages that a proactive seller has when selling their house..

-Smart repairs and updates actually retain or add more value to a home than the cost associated.
Money saving repairs and updates are items that can be easily done to have a property appear a bit more appealing to a prospective buyer. This can include painting or replacing wallpaper, repairing, stretching or installing new carpet, and addressing landscaping or curb appeal issues. The other thing is that if you as a seller do not repair the items, you are essentially leaving it to the buyer to decide what they think the repair/update will cost. Often times carpet can be replaced for around $3000 but a buyer is more likely to want to take $10,000+ off of their offer if they are going to have to replace the carpet. The same can be said for paint. Painting your home is one of the cheapest updates you can do that will have a drastic difference in how your home shows.

-The property looks great for any and all showings.
By addressing items that may stand out to a buyer as a negative allows the buyer to have only positive responses to the home. The ideal situation for a showing is when a buyer arrives at the house and thinks it looks great from the curb and as they are walking through the property, they picture themselves living there. When there is bad carpet or dated wallpaper, the buyer tends to notice other "dated" parts of the home.

-The seller doesn't have to "chase the market".
By making changes like addressed above, the home is showing great and each buyer is face with a home that is appealing. Honestly, there are a lot of homes on the market that are unappealing. This makes your property stick a good way! Even if there are homes that are a similar size, age, and location to your home, buyers will want to look at your home and they are more likely to put an offer on your home. Buying a home is a very emotional decision. Getting your home ready and presentable is the best way to play toward a buyer's emotion. By looking better than the competition, you eliminate the competition!

These advantages along with having a strategic approach to sell a home makes a huge difference. The sellers that I have worked with in the past that were proactive can attest to that!

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams. Brian loves working with home owners to get the most money possible when selling their Northwest Austin Homes.

Friday, January 9, 2009


NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: First Time Home buyers occasionally ask me if it is a better time to rent a house or buy a house. Well, often times in the past the answer is to buy because home prices are steadily increasing each year making your purchase a solid investment. Does that still ring true today?

There are plenty of factors that could influence a potential buyers decision like this such as consistent monthly income, credit score, $ put away for a down payment, and how long they could see themselves living in the area. I am not going to go into all of those details but I thought it would be good to look at actual sales and lease data from the MLS and crunch the numbers to see what the difference between buying and renting would actually be.

To do this I searched in the MLS for homes that are available within certain parameters. I searched within areas that I live in and work with buyers and sellers quite a bit because I have seen a good amount of the homes around there.

My Search Criteria was:

-Hunters Chase Subdivision Houses or Milwood Subdivision Houses

- ~2000 square feet

-Homes with three or four bedrooms

I looked through the data and found that there are homes that are listed in that area in the $175,000 to $190,000 range and similar homes lease in that area for $1300-$1400. So...Which is a better deal?

Well, lets look at each scenario:

Scenario 1: A House for Lease in Northwest Austin:

Lets say the lease is going for $1350. For the first year you will pay $1350 per month as well as renters insurance (~25/month) 1st year total: $16,500.

After the first year, the landlord has the option to raise the lease amount if you choose to stay. For this example, lets say they raise the lease $50 to $1400. The total spent on your lease and renters insurance for the second year would be: $17,100.

So, the longer a person leases a home, the rent could go up $500/year.

Scenario 2: A House for Sale in Northwest Austin:

Lets say that you and your REALTOR are able to negotiate a purchase of a house for $180,000.

First, we need to calculate your PITI. Wait, what's that? That is a term that is an acronym for the breakdown of your monthly payment that consists of:

P- Principal, I- Interest, T- Taxes, I- Insurance

I am going to calculate an example based on 3% down which would be the minimum down payment for an FHA Loan, and an interest rate of 5% (which at this point, some would qualify for a bit lower than that.

The Principal and Interest would be $937.29, the taxes would be $365 per month and the insurance would be ~$75/month which comes to a grand total of: $1377.29 The total after one year would be: $16,527.48. The financing and interest rate is locked for each year after that so your payment wouldn't change the next year or any year after that. (Taxes could raise slightly as time goes on with property values)


The difference in the first year is less than $30. That is pretty amazing! In this case, it looks as though buying would be the smarter decision. Why?

-You would have a locked in interest rate and your monthly and yearly payments would remain consistent over time.

-A home owner has greater tax advantages than a renter to offset income when it is time for tax season.

-The money you put into a home is something that works more as an investment than renting. Renting a house is like paying for a service. There is absolutely no opportunity to get any money back that you have paid to a landlord for a lease. Whereas, a property's value can raise over time and when you sell your home, you could receive your money back and a sizable return on your investment as well.

There are a variety of situations and a person's financial snapshot could provide different results. If you are interested in the possibility of purchasing a property, contact me and I will help you weigh the pros and cons of renting vs. buying in your situation.

Posted by Brian W Martin. Brian is a Northwest Austin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams who enjoys working with First Time Home Buyers of Residential Real Estate. He is also a resident REALTOR in Hunters Chase Austin, TX

Thursday, January 8, 2009

NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOMES: Six Easy steps to selling your Home in 2009

SELL YOUR NORTHWEST AUSTIN HOME IN SIX EASY STEPS: With all of the national news about Real Estate and the economy, home owners in Austin are not feeling comfortable with the thought of puting their home on the market for sale. Well, in case you haven't heard: Northwest Austin Homes are selling! Not all of them, but the ones that have done a little preparation have a much better chance and they are selling. What kind of preparation needs to be done? Put a sign in the yard? Clean the kitchen? Yes, but I am talking about things that must be done before a potential home seller even gets to that point. The name of the game in today's market is competition. Sellers are competing with other homes in the area to attract the serious buyers that are out there looking at homes (even as you read this sentence). How can a seller make their home stand out in a buyers market? Here are six easy steps for the home owner thinking of selling their home.

1. Work with an experienced professional
2. The Price is Right
3. Stage it!
4. Be Pro-active
5. Be Patient
6. Be a leader amongst the competition

-Work with a REALTOR that is experienced in your area: I put this first because working with a professional makes the following five steps so much easier. These days all it takes to be a "Neighborhood Expert" is to go to ABOR and buy a sign rider for a few dollars. Does that count? No. I am refering to someone that has a vested interest in helping you to sell your home for all that it is worth in the least amount of time. Ok great.... How does a home owner pick the right person? Interview them... When I go to meet a home seller for the first time, I have already done my homework. I constantly go in as many of the homes in my market that I possibly can. When I am looking at comparable properties, I go inside the homes to see what they really look like. The internet is full of lies and the pictures in the MLS are hardly accurate. By seeing as many homes as I can while they are on the market, if they later sell and become a comp for a potential listing a few months later, I have experienced that home as well and can share my knowledge with the home owner.

-Price it right: On average, homes in NW Austin are selling for 97-98% of their list price. This, however, is the list price that the home was at when it SOLD. In today's market a seller can not price a home to have "room for negotiation." Price it where you would like to end up selling and be a shrewd negotiator. You don't have to accept any offer that is not good enough. It is easier to turn down offers than it is to wonder where the buyers are. I work with home sellers to keep them updated on market and area trends throughout the process so we dont spend any time being overpriced.

-Stage it: There are many different versions of staging. If you watch shows on HGTV or other cable networks, staging means bringing in leased furniture, wall art, and sculptures. That is not what I am talking about. Most issues having to do with staging are minor and can be addressed with the items that are already found in the home. Moving or removing furniture pieces allows a potential buyer better access to the real size of rooms. Taking down personal items and photos helps to give the home a more neutral feel, allowing the buyer to picture themselves living there.

-Be pro-active with repairs: This one goes along with staging. Buyers are now pickier than ever. They would like to see all of the homes in an area befor deciding which to put an offer on. Make your home stand out by not giving the buyer anything negative to say about it. The competition has plenty of negatives. If there is something that needs to be repaired, do it before puting your home on the market. I work with homeowners as much as six months to a year before listing their home. When I walk through the home, I make a list or suggested repairs and treatments that can be done to better appeal to a buyer. The sellers that have made those repairs before going on the market have reaped the benefits of a quicker sale for more money!

-Be patient: This one is important! The mindset of all parties involved is what can make or break a deal these days. A home seller must be patient. Homes are taking longer to sell because there are less qualified buyers out there. Showings are not as abundant as previous years which makes it that much more essential that the home be at its peak showing condition. This is much harder if you are living in the home while it is on the market. Selling your home is more like a marathon than a foot race. It takes preparation, determination, and the right mindset to get through it. I try to help my clients through the process by getting feedback from every agent that shows one of my listings and updating the sellers on any items that may need to be addressed.

-Stay ahead of the market: This is critical in a shifting market. If you are selling your home, you can stay ahead of the market by having your home looking right, priced right, available for showings and have a competent professional working to market the home on your behalf. Price and marketing work to get the buyer interested. Then pictures, virtual tours, pre-marketing such as a "coming soon" sign in the yard or postcards to area homes, and single property websites such as help to peak their interest. Finally, the home being staged and available when the buyer would like to see it seals the deal.

If you or someone you know is thinking about selling a home, contact me and I will gladly meet with you to work out a strategy to sell your home for all that it is worth in the least amount of time.

Posted by Brian W Martin REALTOR for The Pinnacle Group of Keller Williams who likes to think of creative ways to sell your house in Northwest Austin, TX