Area Market Statistics
Previously posted by the Austin Board of Realtors®
Cedar Park, Leander, Lago Vista and Round Rock, TX
Previously posted by the Austin Board of Realtors®
If you purchased a home in Texas during 2012, you will want to file your Homestead Exemption Application after Jan. 1, 2013 and before April 30, 2013 to receive a discount on your county taxes. There are tons of scams out there offering to file your exemption for a small fee, THROW THOSE AWAY! Filing your exemption is free and super, easy.
Below are links to the forms you will need to file your exemption. If you don’t see your county, go to the county tax appraiser’s website and down load the form for FREE. As you review the form, take note of the new items required to accompany your exemption application. I’ve also detailed them further down this post.
The settlement statement you signed at closing will help you fill in most of the blanks. If you can’t find your closing paperwork or have trouble with any of the questions, feel free to contact me and I’ll see if I can help.
Effective September 1, 2011, House Bill 252 requires property owners applying for the residential homestead exemption submit new required documents indicating your county as your county of residence. In order to qualify for a residential homestead exemption, you must provide with the Homestead exemption application copies of:
1. The applicants vehicle registration receipt
2. The applicants Texas driver’s license or Texas ID Card
The address on your driver’s license or state ID card must match the physical address of the residence for which you are applying.
This address must also be the same address on your vehicle registration.
Those applicants who do not own a vehicle will be required to submit a notarized affidavit certifying that fact and provide a copy of a current utility bill. The address on the utility bill must be the same as the address on the application for the homestead exemption.
Best Wishes and Success in 2013,
Gina Nyland, REALTOR®, GRI, e-pro
Serving Home Buyers Since 2004
Leading Edge Society Member
Prudential’s Top 6% Nationally/Internationally
Mood of the Market
Mood of the Market
The vast majority of homebuyers like — even love — their agents; in the National Association of Realtors most recent survey of homebuyers and sellers, more than 96 percent of those who recently bought homes said they liked their agent, and 85 percent said they would work with that agent again.
But, as always, there are exceptions to this rule: buyer-agent combos that seem to be full of friction.
In those exceptional cases, a common complaint is that buyers feel their agent simply doesn’t understand or listen to them, as evidenced by the disconnect between their vision for their home and the homes the agent shows them. And no one likes to be misunderstood, especially when trying to get professional help making wise decisions about the financial, location and brick-and-mortar property characteristics that will shape many areas of one’s life for years to come.
Most often, in my experience, this is an issue of a disconnect between a buyer’s fantasy home and the reality of what their budget can buy on the market. The agent shows the buyer homes that the buyer sees as falling short of his location, size or stylistic standards, but in fact, the agent is showing the best homes that the buyer can actually afford. (This is otherwise known as having champagne wishes on a beer budget.)
Other times, though, there is an even deeper communication issue: The buyer hasn’t been clear, or the agent truly hasn’t heard him out. To avoid this issue and make sure your agent is picking up what you’re putting down, in terms of your preferences for your home, here are a few tools for vividly communicating your vision to your real estate agent:
1. Digitally. If you want to communicate your style and aesthetic preferences to your agent, consider creating a digital notebook on the Web application Springpad. Here’s the thing: You can start keeping this notebook as soon as you start thinking about buying a home — you don’t have to wait until you have an agent to do it.
And you can use photos you snap on your phone while you’re out in the world, images from homes you see on design and magazine websites and even MLS listing pics, and you can annotate them with lists of features you do and don’t like about the homes or the images, links to the MLS listings, even voice memos or videos you shot yourself. And you can do this all privately, for as long as you want before you kick-start your house hunt, then share the notebook with your agent when you do get one on board.
A word of caution: If you truly want to use a digital notebook to communicate your vision with your agent, then fill it with reality-based images. Don’t just stick every fantasy home you see on the “Real Housewives” or “Million Dollar Listing” in there — use a separate board for that. On this board, keep to homes with discrete features, looks, etc., that you hope to find in the home you eventually buy and own.
2. Show your agent listings/homes that you like. Do this: As you’re ramping up for your house hunt, start online, looking at listings that you love; if you’re not the type to save images digitally, print out the listing and keep a file folder collection of them. Better yet, run your numbers (down payment, etc.) in an online mortgage calculator to get a very rough idea of your price range, then get out into the world and start attending open houses that come up for homes that are similar to what you hope to buy. Collect the fliers of the homes you visit and like, to show to your agent, once they are engaged.
And this doesn’t have to stop when you actually initiate your house hunt, in earnest. Don’t just sit back and wait for your agent to send you listings you like — though your agent should and, most likely, will. Be proactive: When you see listings you like online, send those over to your agent. When you’re out in the world and happen to come across homes for sale that seem like what you’re looking for, use one of the mobile apps, like Trulia, that will detect your geographic location and serve you up the listings of the nearby homes for sale. Then send them to your agent. (Frankly, sending your agent images and listings of homes that are not even for sale can be helpful at resolving communication roadblocks.)
Passively waiting to be shown homes you like is simply not an efficient way to get house hunting satisfaction, nor is it necessary for 21st-century homebuyers, given the unprecedented access you have to home listing information online.
3. Let your agent show you what she thinks you are saying you want, irrespective of price. This can be especially helpful for people relocating to a new area, or first-time buyers who are still trying to wrap their heads around what kind of home they can get at various price points. If you are concerned that your agent is not listening to your wants and needs, but she insists that she is, ask her to show you at least one house that she thinks reflects your vision as she understands it, irrespective of the price at which that home is listed.
I have done this myself, and have seen it done, maybe a dozen or so times, and let me tell you: It is the single most powerful way to go from feeling misunderstood to understanding the truth of the market, instantly. Nine times out of 10, the agent will show you precisely what you want, but it’ll be much more expensive than the budget that you’ve given her. While there’s always a little emotional letdown involved when you realize that the issue is your pocketbook and not your agent, it’s also empowering. It positions you to either up your budget, if that’s possible, or to be thoughtful and conscious about the compromises you will need to make to stay within it.
4. Write out your vision of home. I’ve long encouraged buyers to do a writing exercise at the very beginning of their house hunts, something I like to call the Vision of Home exercise. More accurately, though, what I’m proposing is that you set aside an hour and actually write down your vision of the life you want to live, once you are warmly ensconced in your home. It should cover everything from:
Family: Who will live with you in the home, throughout the time you plan to own it — any parents or extended family members? Any kids that you think will move out?
Work: Where will you work? And how much or little do you want to work? How will you get there? What does your commute look like? What does your income trajectory look like for the time you expect to be in the home? Do you have — or plan to have — any side jobs or businesses? Do you ever work at home, or want to?
Activities: What does everyone who will live in the home need to be able to do there? Are there any hobbies, work or other activities that require space at home, inside or out? Do you spend your weekends walking to the corner yoga studio and brunching, or do you spend it hitting up Lowe’s to prep for your DIY-home improvement handiwork?
We all have seen how fast homes were selling in Austin TX and very little has since changed. The one change in homes for sale in Austin, the entire Central Texas Area for that matter, might simply be more questions, for example “What do I have to do to get my offer accepted? I keep making offers and never get one!”.
In this fast paced environment, making the winning offer means being prepared beyond belief. Writing the winning offer is more technical than in the recent past. Naturally, having a pre-approval letter is still the number one item on the list of things to have. There are many others too. I would recommend this list be fulfilled before you submit another offer on any home for sale in San Jose.
Realtor… A seasoned Austin Realtor is the one asset in the home buying process that you get to choose. Choose a Realtor that you feel comfortable with. Take the time to talk to more than one. Find one that you feel is listening to your needs and wants. Often, you may choose one that has been referred to you by a friend. After all, if your friend liked them, there is a strong probability that you will like them too.
Lender… A Mortgage Broker is more flexible than your bank. Every bank does mortgage loans, right? Yes, however, they only offer mortgage loans that they have available at a given time. Mortgage Brokers offer a nearly endless number of mortgage options for you to choose from. The big banks offer loans in cycles and while one bank may have a great mortgage option this month it may be unavailable next month. A mortgage broker will be your best source to secure the mortgage loan that fits your needs all the time. They are usually much more affordable in the long run too.
Multiple Pre-Approvals… Realtors are pushing their own lenders an awful lot lately. You can overcome this by obtaining multiple pre-approvals from a few major banking institutions. If a seller is requiring a Wells Fargo pre-approval, to test your credibility, be prepared in advance and get one.. This will also expedite your offer process and could secure the home before anyone else has a chance to produce the required pre-approval.
Proof of Funds… This can be in the form of a letter, however a copy of your bank statement is more suitable. Warning: Your account numbers should be redacted from any form you choose to use. If your money is in an account that requires several days to be made liquid, consider depositing those funds in your savings account where they are readily available. Speak to your financial adviser or accountant to be certain you are doing so in a fashion that does not introduce negative tax ramifications.
Deposit Check… This is a required item that is often handled poorly. I have seen some pretty bad examples and I want you to give this item some serious attention. The date of the check should be current and the memo should not refer to a previous property that you have made an offer for. The recipient should be the title company where escrow is being held and the amount should be correct and reflect the structure of the offer.
Offer Summary… Today, most homes for sale in Austin and other homes for sale around Travis and Williamson Counties receive multiple offers. This can cause confusion for an unprepared listing agent. Purchase offers are full of detail and some very slight differences could make or break your chance of getting yours in front of the seller. My suggestion is to have your Realtor create an ‘offer summary’ to help the listing agent understand your offer. This should also be used in the text of any offers submitted electronically. This summary is simply an outline of the offer structure. It must include offer price, timelines, deposit amount, type of loan, loan amount, down payment amount, length of contingency periods and any specific exclusions or inclusions that will upsell your offer.
Disclosures and Inspections… If the home for sale in Austin that you are considering has the seller disclosures or inspections available, review them prior to making your offer and sign them. This will put you another step ahead of other buyers. Every advantage has to be taken in this market.
Contingencies… This is where most successful buyers are finding the greatest potential to gain an advantage. The loan, appraisal and property condition are the important ones. If you can get a written guarantee of loan approval or the seller’s inspection reports are sufficient then you might remove these contingencies or make them very short term, for example 3-7 days.
Applying these fundamentals and executing them properly will not guarantee your success. They will however, put you ahead of more than half of the competition out there.
All of this information would be moot if I did not discuss appraisal gaps. Appraisal gaps have been a serious issue for the last few years. When multiple offers push the price above market value, the buyer who is using a mortgage loan will not receive a loan approval if the value does not match the offer price. A buyer who has additional cash resources to cover any appraisal gap will have an advantage.
I strongly recommend that you find a way to cover an appraisal gap prior to making a high offer. How do I do that, you ask? Choose a loan that allows you to keep some of your cash, discuss any rebate programs your Realtor or lender may offer or choose a home priced below your loan approval amount, saving you some cash.