Tips For Home Care In The New Year!

Tips For Home Care In The New Year! 

Welcome to 2019! A year most of us almost 40 somethings never really pictured happening. Alas, we are here so let’s make the most of this opportunity.  

Tips for looking for a new place to rent: 

If you are thinking about finding a new place to rent, here are some tips to get started. 

  • Identify your budget 
    • Have you had some good years and looking for an upgrade? Either way, 30% of your income is always a good metric in terms of affordability in housing. 
  • Identify the part of town 
    • As you already know, Austin has a bit of a traffic problem. Where someone lives is often dictated by where they work. Start your search with where you work and venture out from there.  
  • What type of housing do you want to live in? 
    • House with a yard? Condo with a pool? Duplex close to your favorite burger joint? Apartment with a gym? Everyone has different needs and wants. Figure out what is important to you. 
  • When do you want to make a move? 
    • If you are currently renting a place, it is time to pull out the lease and take a look. Determine when the lease ends and how much notice you need to give. Most leases nowadays require a 60-day notice. This gives us plenty of time to find a new place. 
    • If you own your home and no longer want the responsibility of homeownership, we need to put a plan together to sell your home. Likely, it will be 60 to 90 days from start to finish. 
  • Reach out to me 
    • I can help you through the entire process.  Give me a call, text or email and I will help you execute a plan.  

Tips for purchasing a new home: 

If you have been kicking around the idea of buying a new home this year, here is how you should prepare: 

  • How Much Can You Afford? 
    • This is best done by reaching out to a mortgage lender to determine a price range that is affordable for you.
  • What type of home are you looking to purchase? 
    • House, Condo, Duplex, etc. What best suits you and how you want to live? 
  • Where do you want to live? 
    • Don’t for get to take into account that our little traffic issue here in Austin often dictates where to start your search. It is easy to get stuck in a terrible commute if you don’t account for that early. 
  • Do you need access to good schools? 
  • What else is important to you or a must have criteria?   
  • Once you have thought about some of these questions, it is time to call, text, or email me.  

Tips For Home Maintenance To Start The Year 

  • When was the last time you changed your air filters? 
    • If you can’t remember, it is time to change them. If you can remember, it is also probably time to change them.  
  • It’s cold right now. Check your windows for leakage and make necessary improvements. 
    • Often it is as simple as caulking around the outside of the window. Amazon sells a cheap and awesome thermometer tool identify leakage. 
  • Do a lap around the house and make sure no dirt/soil has piled up above the foundation. A quick and easy way for termites to start eating away your home is through ground contact of your wood and bricks. The remedy is simple, just pull back all the dirt and re-route any chances for water to get above your foundation.  
  • Check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. 
    • These alarms are vital for your safety. If you haven’t changed them lately or ever, it may be time.  
  • Refrigerator lint 
    • When was the last time you looked under your refrigerator? Was it never? Grab your vacuum and put that brush attachment that has never been used. Pop off the bottom of your fridge and vacuum all the lint and debris. Remember those travel magnets you lost? Remove those. 
  • Leaf Clean Up 
    • By now, most trees that will drop their leaves or have already done so. Take some time to clean those up from around your house and gutters. You will thank yourself come Spring when everything is in bloom. 
  • Door knobs and locks 
    • Over time, your door knobs and locks will start to jiggle and move. Grab a Phillips head screwdriver and walk around the house tightening all the knobs and locks. This will prevent long term door wear and tear damage from loose knobs.  
  • Dust Clean Up 
    • By now, you have cleaned up your Christmas tree but have you vacuumed behind your TV stand? Take some time to move all of the furniture and sweep or vacuum under it. You will be surprised by how much collects back there.  
  • Water Heater Flush 
    • Central Texas has hard water. This often builds up in the water heater. Turn off the electricity and water to the water heater. Grab the hose and attached it to the bottom. Run the hose outside and put it into a bucket. Then open the drain valve and run into the bucket until the water becomes clear.  
  • Clean Faucet Screens 
    • Unscrew the screens on all your faucets and clean them out. You will often be surprised by how your water pressure returns.  

The Market Might Be Busy, But Your Home Still Has To Deliver.

You will hear everywhere that the Austin’s market is hot. It is a Seller’s market. My Dad’s Uncle’s Neighbor’s Yard Guy’s Brother sold his junk of a house in two days and got a quarter-million over asking.

Most of that might just be true. The Austin market is very busy. Cash is very much King and home can move quickly BUT.

But, the house has to deliver. The exact floor plan of your home sold two weeks ago and they had three offers in two days but your house is sitting….Why?

Reason 1: Warm and Fuzzy – The house has to deliver a warm and fuzzy feeling as soon as a potential buyer walks in. If it does, the buyer will do anything in their power to get it. If it doesn’t, they will start to scrutinize it. When that happens, that buyer is gone. All of the sudden that hand print on the wall can’t be wiped off, and the whole house needs to be painted. Now that pink spot in the corner where the kool-aid man came busting in means the whole house needs brand new flooring.

Reason 2: Your builder options aren’t as important as you think. – As nice as a builder’s sales rep is, they are in the business to make money for the builder. The builder will have their base floor plan and a slew of options of which to upsell. That $10K bay window, the $5k front porch, or the $150 pocket lights just do not carry much weight when it comes to your homes valuation. In the end, you and your neighbors all bought the same floor plan and that is how it is going to be valuated against one another. While it will differentiate your same floor plan from your neighbors, there isn’t a valuation increase. When going into new construction, do not upgrade based on what you think will resell. Upgrade to your personal preference and don’t expect much return.

Reason 3: Accessibility – We all live busy lives and moving out before selling is often not an option but remember this. If a potential buyer has a hard time setting up access to a particular home or there are pieces of the property they can’t access then they cannot picture themselves living there. We all have pets and they are all wonderful in their own special way but if a potential buyer can’t stand on a back patio, close their eyes, and picture themselves there because the animals everywhere trying to rip their head off, that is a problem.

Reason 4: Price – Heard often, “Hey, we heard joe bubblegum from down the street sold his house for more than you are suggesting. Why can’t we list for that?” The reality is that you can but don’t expect to sell. This market is crazy hot but it is also very smart. We all have access to the same data and if you over-price because you heard the market is hot, don’t expect your house to sell quickly. In general, you are better offer listing for 95% of market price then 105%.

 

Happy Selling!

If You Were Selling Today, Would You Have the Home That Buyers Want?

By: Dona DeZube

Published: November 8, 2013

Knowing what appeals to today’s homebuyers, and considering those trends when you remodel, can pay off years from now when you sell your home.

Two new surveys about what homebuyers want have me feeling pretty smug about my own home choices. Maybe you’ll feel the same.

Privacy from neighbors remains at the top of the most-wanted list (important to 86% of buyers), according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS’® “2013 Community Preference Survey.” Privacy is no doubt the best feature of my mid-century ranch home, since I can only see one neighbor’s house and it’s a couple hundred feet down my driveway.

It may not be practical to move your neighbors farther away (although I’m sure many people wish they had that superpower), but you can increase your home’s privacy (and therefore its resale value) by planting a living privacy screen of trees and shrubs or by physically screening off your patio.

Related: Trees Contribute to Property Value, Energy Savings, and More

3 More Takeaways for the Next Time You Remodel

1. More and more generations are living together. Another NAR survey, the “2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers,” found 14% of buyers purchased a home suited to a multigenerational household due to children over the age of 18 moving back into the house, cost savings, and the health and caretaking of aging parents.

I did that back when my parents were still alive, and it worked out great for everyone. I didn’t have time to let my infant daughter nap on my shoulder all afternoon, but my mom did. She couldn’t drive to church meetings at night, but I could take her. And neither of us liked cleaning the gutters, but my husband didn’t mind that chore.

Even if you’d rather live in a cardboard box than with your mother, you might want to consider the multigenerational living trend when you’re remodeling. For instance, opting for a full bath when finishing the basement could offer more convenience for you now and boost your home’s resale value by making it more appealing to a multigenerational family.

2.  On average, homeowners live in their home for nine years. That’s up from six years in 2007. Since you’ll be in your home for a long time, it makes sense to remodel to suit your taste but also with long-lasting marketability in mind. After all, you don’t want to have to redo stuff. For instance, you can go for trend-defying kitchen features, like white overtones and Shaker-style cabinets, which work with a variety of styles.

I feel compelled to caution against going so far out of the norm for your neighborhood that it’ll turn off potential buyers even nine years from now. (It never hurts to get your REALTOR®’s opinion on your remodeling plans.)

Related: Home Upgrades with the Lowest ROI

3.  Homebuyers love energy efficiency. Heating and cooling costs were “somewhat” or “very important” to a whopping 85% of buyers. If your home could use an energy-efficiency upgrade, go with projects that have a solid return on investment, like sealing your air leaks and adding attic insulation. You’ll save money on your utility bills now and when you’re ready to sell, your home will appeal to buyers looking for efficiency.

By the way, to take back your energy bills, you need to do at least four things. One to two fixes won’t cut it, thanks to rising energy costs.

About two-thirds of survey respondents also thought energy-efficient appliances and energy-efficient lighting were important. Tuck away your manuals and energy-efficiency information when you buy new appliances and lighting. When you’re ready to sell (in nine years) you can pull those out and display them where buyers will see them.

Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/what-homebuyers-want-tips-for-remodeling/preview/#ixzz3KklvxowC

Successful Buyers in a Seller’s Market

Whether relocating from in town or from out of state, buyers are often surprised to find out just how strong and competitive the San Antonio housing market is. Maybe it’s because they have been watching too many HGTV real estate rehab shows that they think there are a ton of great listings out there, or maybe it’s because of the frequency with which national news outlets have reported on weaker real estate markets from around the country. Whatever the case may be, buying a great property in San Antonio isn’t as effortless a task as buyers seem to think.

Why is this the case? Well, in a word – inventory. According a San Antonio Board of Realtors’ February 2014 market report, we had just 4.1 months of inventory available in January of this year. That number probably doesn’t mean much to the average buyer, but to the real estate professional (realtors) that’s a pretty significant statistic given that anything under 6 months of inventory is considered a sellers’ market. The demand is strong, but the supply is not.

Another San Antonio trend helping to further the current seller’s market, is the disconnect between buyer and seller expectations. Generally speaking, San Antonio property owners tend to leave remodeling or updating their properties to the next guy. Their reasoning is ‘why should I risk putting more money into updating the place, when a buyer can remodel it to suite their own tastes.’ On the surface, that seems like a fairly reasonable idea. However, it’s not such great reasoning when you take into consideration the large number of buyers in San Antonio using FHA loans. Don’t get me wrong, FHA loans are great, they have enabled many people to buy homes who would have otherwise not been able to do so. However, if a buyer is using an FHA loan, 9 times out 10, it means they don’t have a lot of money for a down payment, and this means a large proportion of a property’s potential buyers cannot afford to buy a property and then remodel or update it afterwards.

So what’s a buyer to do? Well, as you prepare yourself to make offers on properties realize that the competition isn’t really between you and the seller, they have the upper hand at the moment. The competition is between you and other buyers. When inventory is low and the number of rehabbed or updated properties even lower, it’s not uncommon for the best looking properties to go under contract their first day on the market. So, buyers beware: if you want to compete with sellers, be prepared to lose; if you want to win, expect to move fast and be prepared to face your real competition – other buyers.

Commuting between San Antonio and Austin

Commuting between san antonio and austinCommuting between San Antonio and Austin is a common question from our clients. Can I live in Austin and work in San Antonio?  How long would it take me to get to work each day?  With the Texas Metro-plex exponentially growing each day, traffic and the I-35 corridor that connect San Antonio and Austin can prove to be daunting if you choose to commute from one city to the other.  Leaving SA takes at least 40minutes.  Once you get on I35 everything opens up  and is smooth all the way to downtown Austin, then it takes another 45 minutes  to get through downtown.  That is without calculating accidents, gas, and car maintenance.

If you are planning to spend a significant amount of time in either city, we recommend buying a home in New Braunfels, San Marcos, Kyle, or Buda.  These are charming cities that rest in between San Antonio and Austin.  They offer abundant amenities and are only a 30-45 minute commute to San Antonio and Austin.  These cities are known for their parks and recreation, live music, festivals, tubing down the clear rivers or sailing across the deep, blue lakes.  In addition, there is plenty of affordable housing, master-planned communities, and great schools.

Commuting between San Antonio and Austin would be a lot easier and less stressful if you lived in any of these great cities.  Texas Dream Realtors has agents that are experienced in all of these bordering cities, as well as, San Antonio and Austin.  Please contact us if you are considering moving to Central Texas and we would be delighted to provide you with more information.

Are we heading toward an era of small brokerages in San Antonio?

are we heading toward an era of small brokeragesAre we heading toward an era of small brokerages in San Antonio?  Just recently the 2014 Swanepoel TRENDS Report noted that there is a trend moving away from the small mom and pop real estate brokerages and more agents are working for the large real estate firms across the country.  However, the New York Times posted an article on “The Ascent of the Little Guys” stating that the credibility of the smaller firms are growing in popularity due to the attention to agent training, customer service, and low agent-to-manager ratios.

While large real estate brokerages with thousands of agents still dominate the market, I can’t help but wonder whether the clout of the smaller firms is a question buyers and sellers should consider when choosing a real estate agent.  As consumers decide between a highly visible company with lots of agents and resources, they should also consider the idea of a smaller firm that caters to a niche market and to the client’s needs.  For example, downtown living, condo specialists, luxury lifestyles, etc.  In addition, smaller brokerages in San Antonio are more creative and nimble.  They can be more responsive and customer service oriented in a changing market.

“One of the main things that any small business — whether an independent bookstore, a corner toy store or a neighborhood hardware store — would have customers believe is that service is better and personal attention greater at a little firm. Whether that is true in real estate depends — because the company name may be ubiquitous, but the client’s relationship is usually with a single person.” –HILARY STOUT, New York Times

The owners of Texas Dream REALTORS do not hire any agent looking for a place to hang their license.  We have a small professional team that services our clients for sales, staging, photography, contract to close, listing management, marketing, quality control, make ready services, and technology.  We know that you are busy, work hard, fight traffic, and have a life.  Therefore, we come to you and proudly have a paperless company that makes our agents accessible and your transaction smooth and successful.

Buyers Are Liars. Fact or Fiction?

buyers are liars

Buyers are liars.  Fact or fiction?  In several sales professions, namely, car sales and real estate sales, you will hear sales people say that buyers are liars.  Normally, you would never hear me compare these two professions, but figuring out what a buyer really wants is something we have in common.

It is usually spoken by a resentful salesperson, as in, “Can you believe that guy? He told me he was going to show his wife, but, well, you know—once they walk out the door, they’re gone. Buyers are liars.”

Another scenario I hear about from more seasoned salespeople is that they have a pre-determined notion that the buyer is not telling them the truth.  “If the buyer says they want an open floor plan on a cul-de-sac, with a view, don’t believe it.  Buyers are liars.  One of those might be true, but the others they’ll compromise on.”

In my opinion, buyers mix their “must haves” with their “wish list” and it takes a true professional salesperson to determine what they can compromise on and what they cannot.  Many times buyers don’t know what they really want, they just saw it somewher and think they have to have it.

Salespeople hold a lot of power by virtue of expertise and this can be intimidating during the sales process.  Buyers need to feel like they are making an educated decision without being sold to.  Therefore, many buyers attempt to control the situation by limiting what they disclose to the salesperson.  They want to avoid getting screwed over, so they resort to what feels low-risk.

Buyers are liars.  However, usually it is the salesperson’s fault.  Taking the time to get to know the buyer’s lifestyle, personality, and how they make decisions is imperative to closing the sale.  Texas Dream REALTORS are trained to get to the point of mutual admission so that each party feels they are bringing something to the table in an effort to reach a common goal…homeownership.

What does a ‘Good Deal’ mean exactly?

What does a 'good deal' mean exactly

Often times I meet people who tell me they just want to get a good deal when buying or selling their home.  What does a ‘good deal’ mean exactly?  For a long time, I figured my clients just wanted to walk away with more money in their pockets.  However, after a recent trip to my hair salon, I realized that a good deal could mean different things to different people.

I told my hair stylist I wanted to remain blonde, but wanted to add golden and copper highlights for winter.  He said, “Okay.  What color is golden to you?”  I showed him a picture of a celebrity’s hair in a magazine that I thought would look nice and he said, “Honey, that’s not golden, that’s light brown with honey-colored highlights.”   I digress…

As I sat there with my head wrapped in foil, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times I was not clear on what was most important to my client’s needs when they said they wanted a good deal.

What does a good deal mean exactly?  Does it mean you want to buy a home for less money than it’s worth?  Does it mean you want more upgrades?  Does it mean you want more closing costs or a lower interest rate?  Or does it mean you want a colonial, not a ranch style house?  Would a good deal mean closing in two months versus two weeks because the kids will be on spring break?  I could go on and on.

Since my salon experience, I am determined to dissect and investigate what a good deal means to each of my clients.  If I were to ask you what a good deal means to you when buying or selling your home, could you answer me?  Is your idea of a good deal different from your spouses?  Because what is golden to me, could be light brown with honey-colored highlights to you.

What Makes Your Home Hard to Show

What makes your home hard to sellSellers, here are some tips on what makes your home hard to show.  If you want to sell your home quickly, avoid these What Makes Your Home Hard to Show no-n0’s:

No-no #1)  Restricted showing hours.  Generally, buyers have a window of when they can go house shopping.  If you have restricted hours or need a lot of advanced notice, your home may drop off the list.  If a buyer’s agent cannot get access to your home, they cannot sell it.

No-no #2)  Combo lock boxes.  I hate combo lock boxes.  If a home has a combo lock box, it tells me several things.  One, the seller’s agent is not member of MLS or was too cheap to buy a real lock box.  Two, combo lock boxes are a royal pain in the you-know-what to get into.  And three, combo lock boxes get rusty and hard to get into over time.

No-no #3)  Smells.  Most buyers can get past messiness or some clutter.  No buyers can get past smells.  With cigarette and animal smells being the most obvious,  even good smells can be bad.  You could have the best floor plan in the neighborhood, but smells will make your home hard to show.  Get rid of the wall plug-ins and for goodness sake please no Febreze!

No-no #4)  Tell a story.  Why did you buy your home in the first place?  What is it about your home that you love so much?  Be sure to highlight those areas.  Buyers can’t see your awesome game room if there is laundry all over the pool table or can’t walk into the “walk-in closet”.

No-no#5)  Overall condition.  If your home needs many updates and a lot of TLC and has several large projects that are obviously waiting to be completed, there is a very good chance that your home will be hard to show, and ultimately sell.  Projects equal money and you could cost yourself more money off the sale price than the projects are worth.

Are you really a home buyer or are you just a contender?

 are you really a home buyer Are you really a home buyer or are you just a contender?  How do you know if you are a really a buyer or just a contender in today’s Austin market?  We get calls all the time of people wanting to see properties because they are “in the market to buy a home.”  My first response is usually, “How do you know you are a buyer?”

To be a true home buyer in the Austin market, you must meet the following criteria:

  1.  Stop looking for homes on bad websites.  Zillow, Trulia, and the 60+ alike are NOT ACURATE sources of information.  In fact, 14% of current Austin single family homes are not listed on these syndicated websites.  In addition, approximately 36% have outdated and/or incorrect information.  If you are a serious buyer, then you would not reduce your search to these tire-kicking websites.
  2. Get your finances in place.  I’m not talking about a pre-qualification letter.  I mean find a mortgage lender that will help you get comfortable with what your monthly payment is and prepare you to close on a home within 30 days from contract.  If you are a serious buyer, you would know exactly what your maximum price range is.
  3. Find a good Realtor®.  Most buyers don’t realize that there are real estate agents and there are Realtors®.  There is a difference.  Real estate agents are not members of their local and national associations, often do not have access to the Multiple Listing System, and most importantly, do not abide by the National Association of Realtors® Code of Ethics.  You are investing in one of the largest purchases in your lifetime.  A serious buyer invests in a Realtor® who is going to look after their best interests.
  4. Be prepared to make an offer on the first day of viewing homes.  The word on the street is correct.  Inventory of available homes in Austin have dropped right along with the weather. The homes your Realtor® is showing you are what are available within your criteria.  Currently, there is only 2.5 months of available homes for sale and homes stay on the market for an average of only 48 days.  A serious buyer is ready, willing, and able to take a home off the market.
  5. Increase your chances in a multiple offer situation.  Believe that other buyers want the same house you want.  This is not the time to low-ball.  This type of seller’s market changes the way you make offers on a home.  If you are a contender, you make an offer on a home and wait for the counter offer.  If you are a serious buyer, you compete for a home with your offer.  This includes whatever is left of short sales and foreclosures.

At Texas Dream REALTORS® we qualify our clients according to these criteria before beginning the buying process.  Why?  Because we are in the business to help our clients buy and sell their home.  We know what is involved in the buying process and set the right expectations up front.  This ensures that our clients get the home they want and the transaction goes as smoothly and our clients are happy.

“I recently purchased my home in Austin, TX through Kelea Piper at Texas Dream Realtors. I was a first time home buyer and very unsure of what to expect. I had the most amazing experience with Kelea and TDR! Everything about the process was smooth and seamless- from the beginning of the showing/selection experience to the full closing process. I always felt that Kelea had my best interests in mind and went above and beyond. Kelea is extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and professional every step of the way. I had a TON of questions since it was my first home and she made me feel very comfortable and fully educated. I highly recommend Kelea and Texas Dream Realtors to anyone looking for a top quality home buying experience. Whether it is your first home or your 5th, Kelea fully delivers on expectations plus rises above them consistently! Thank you for helping me find my dream home in Austin!”

Christina Onori, Austin Tx