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.
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