Category Archives: Buying

Some Real Estate Fun Trivia

 Q: What 70-room East Coast mansion was built as a summer home and is known as a “Gilded Age cottage”?

A: Cornelius Vanderbilt’s “Breakers” Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, named for the waves crashing along the cliff that separates the property from the ocean.


Q: What trendy and highly unusual hotel must be totally rebuilt every year?

A: Sweden’s popular Ice Hotel, which has 60 double rooms, 25 suites and an interior temperature of 20 degrees, starts melting to the ground in May and is rebuilt every winter.


Q: What country of the world has the highest percentage of private housing?

A: Mongolia, where 100% of all properties are owner-occupied.


Q: Where would you go to visit the largest ancient castle in the world?

A :You would travel to Prague, Czech Republic, to see the Prague Castle, built in the 9th century, with a total surface area of 18 acres.


Q :What is the world’s most expensive Monopoly set?

A :San Francisco jeweler Sidney Mobell created an exclusive $2 million Monopoly set, with solid 23 carat gold houses, chimneys made of rubies and sapphires and dice with 42 full cut diamonds for spots 

Real Estate Market Trends In This Country

According to the 2014 Urban Land Institute report released at their annual planning conference in Chicago, we are about half way through the real estate recovery market. Or I think we are about 2/3 of the way there. It has been slow and painful, but there are some excellent markets out there that are thriving.

The report and conference highlighted a number of housing trends we can expect to see playing out over the next few years, based on surveys and interviews with real estate developers, investors, lenders, services and builders.

The Millennial generation are changing the market, and the real estate movers and shakers are increasingly interested in where this generation is headed. A number of the cities have seen increased economic activity in the real estate sector led by this generation, particularly Austin, Seattle, Portland and the Twin Cities in Minneapolis.

Investors, developers and builders are losing some interest in the so-called 24-hour gateway cities — San Francisco and New York City — and have developed more interest in cities like Dallas and Portland, where there are more housing deals to be had.

For example, in 2011 only New York City and Washington, D.C. had good prospects for real estate investors and developers, according to the ULI report, but now Austin, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Orange County, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle make that list — and D.C. actually dropped out.

There’s optimism among those surveyed by ULI that lending standards will loosen next year. That is straight up conjecture in my opinion. The interesting thing that is happening to fill the void is a concept called “shadow banking”. Shadow banking is similar to traditional bank lending, but it’s done outside banks and can therefore get around bank regulations. Borrowers going this route will find a hodge-podge of private funds, wealthy individuals, family offices, and refugees from other lending markets, according to the report.


Calling it home…

Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men in the world, still lives in the home he bought in 1958 for the purchase price of $31,500 in Omaha. Not everyone can be as lucky as Warren Buffett, but we can learn a lesson from him. He owns his home that no doubt has increased in value significantly in monetary terms, but it obviously also has a great deal of intrinsic value as well. That intrinsic value may not equate to a sale prices differentiation, but it appreciates in time just the same. There are different scales of profitability when it comes to home ownership. Emotions are never supposed to play a role in selecting your real estate investment, but it is your home, so remember that when you venture out and look for that place you want call home.

Austin’s Ever Changing Market

photo 2 (8)According to the September 2014 Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report released October 21, 2014 by the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR), Austin-area single-family home prices set a record for the month of September. Concurrently, the Austin-area single-family home sales rebounded from the previous two months of home sales declines, increasing 10% from September of last year.

The report further indicates that Austin-area homes continue to sell quickly with the average number of days single-family homes spent on the market at 44 days. This figure has remained consistent for two years and showed little change in the past four years. This along with continued gains in single-family home listings are having a positive effect on pending sales,

The report indicates that the volume of townhouses and condos purchased in Austin in September 2014 is down 4% from September 2013. However, in the same time period, the median price for condos was $205,500 indicating a 1% price increase in the same time period. These properties spent an average of 41 days on the market, two days fewer than last year and three days fewer than homes on the market. Leases in the Austin area are up 8% in September 2014 compared to last year.

The bottom line, people are still moving here in record numbers. This is the time to buy, sell or lease. Call me and let’s talk about this dynamic market. It is so incredibly dynamic. Inventory moves fast. I have to delete items out of carts on my MLS all the time because they are not there long. I have a lot of calls on properties that are already gone. Sometimes by the time they are marketed, they are already gone. This is definitely a seller’s market, but you have to buy to sell!

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Below 4%

Mortgage interest rates are below 4%. Texas sits at 3.86% today, which is up a bit from the previous week. Still, it is a good time to consider buying! This is a great time to make that move you have been considering, whether it is to a new area, or a smaller or larger home you have wanted.  September was a record month  for real estate sales in Austin making now a great time to make that move. Things are dynamic in this market and move fast, so you could easily be enjoying the holidays in your new home.

It can be very tricky to sell and buy at the same time, and not to mention stressful. Let me sweat the details and relieve some of that stress and make this move exciting and fun! Call me! The timing is right!

Paint My Door Red!

In Scotland, homeowners paint their door red when it is paid off. Well, my door is not quite red yet. Until then, leasing is a great option in the Austin area to determine where you want to live. The whole dynamic atmosphere makes it hard to know if you would really like living in a place until you actually live there. I love the Clarksville area myself, but it is not for everyone. It’s fun finding great spaces for people to lease then help them find that perfect morsel after living there for a while. That being said, there is hope on seeing some light on the horizon on lending and some loosening of more mortgage loans for those of us without pristine credit.

Mortgage lenders could get a lot more willing to extend loans to borrowers with less-than-pristine credit if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac give them more clarity on what circumstances will trigger demands that mortgage originators buy back loans that go bad, according to the Wall Street Journal reports this week. If their federal regulator goes along, Fannie and Freddie may also roll out new programs allowing them to guarantee some mortgages with down payments of as little as 3 percent. Fannie and Freddie, which require mortgage insurance for most loans with down payments of smaller than 20 percent, will currently buy mortgages in which borrowers have made down payments as small as 5 percent, according to the WSJ Reports.

If you are considering making a move, contact me, and I can help you find some places to call home!

October 2014 Austin Market Statistics

20141021_141438_HDR_resizedAccording to Austin Board of REALTORS Multiple Listing Services report (10/23/2014), the number of listings were down in September 2014 (3,472) from 3,589 in August which was down from 3,732 in July in the Austin area alone and not including the suburbs and bedroom communities. At the same time that the inventory is down, according to the September 2014 Multiple Listing Service (MLS), Austin-area single-family home prices set a record for the month of September.

Median price for Austin-area single-family homes increased eight percent year-over-year to $240,000 and average price rose seven percent year-over-year to $308,514 in September 2014. These are the highest figures recorded for both median and average price for the month of September. The average days on the market is 44 and has remained consistent.

I have read and heard the report that claims Austin area real estate is overvalued, then I look at the reality of the situation. According to the City of Austin, Bureau of Vital Statistics, there are 110 people moving to Austin every day. In my opinion, logically, I realize that no one is building any are more land here in Austin, so what you will continue to see is increasing values in the structures available, with particular increases projected from the core out, or inside out. I predict that investors will be handsomely rewarded. There is a giant medical school coming to town. There are more and more venues coming to this town every day. The place is a buzz all in the same old Austin I remember with little reminders of yesteryear Austin, like Donn’s Depot.

Leasing is also up 8% this September versus September last year in the Austin area. Leasing is big business, and the prices are quite expensive in the central areas of Austin. Regardless of whether you buy or lease, I recommend that you contact a professional (me of course) to help you make informed choices. The choices are overwhelming, but there are affordable places to live, and even in Central Austin. Having a confident and competent professional is essential to make sure that you find what you are looking for, and location is key.

Are there any Good Investments for under $200,000 in Central Austin?

I get asked a lot if there are any places central for purchase for $150,000 range and also in the $200,000 range. The answer is yes! They may not be big or the newest, but they are there. The East Side of Austin has made some great changes and is the newest arts district. It is chic and a great investment. Also, there are a few small condos in the Clarksville and Tarrytown area in the $200,000 range. For a chick downtown condo, $400,000 is the opening mark that I have seen, but you can span your search just a little out into the campus areas and get something in the $200’s.  Call, text or email me!

Could you qualify for a home?

You never know until you try. I hear all the time, “I do not think I could ever qualify under today’s credit standards.” Yes things changed for a while, but creditors have been allowed to loosen up a bit in some categories. The only way to know whether you qualify for that home of your dreams is to find out for sure! Call me and I will talk you through making a selection for finding the right person to work with for your specific conditions. And remember there is a difference between getting pre-qualified and pre-approved. I look forward to talking to you!