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 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? 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? 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.
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.
Sellers, 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.
What’s the big deal about popcorn ceilings? Most comments I hear are:
- “They’re dated.”
- “They are hard to paint over.”
- “They are dust catchers.”
- “They are just plain ugly.”
Are popcorn ceilings a deal breaker to you? Don’t let popcorn ceilings be a deal breaker in your next home search. Instead of breaking the bank to try to remove popcorn ceilings, or crossing it off your list, here are a few ways to lessen their visual appearance.
#1. Change the lighting. Usually, people who hate their popcorn ceilings have lighting that shines upward toward the ceiling. These are light fixtures that are flush mounted to the ceiling and cast a lot of shadows. A better option is to change your fixtures to directional fixtures that point down instead of out.
#2. Choose bulbs that cast a softer light or use table lamps or sconces that give a more dramatic effect to the eye.
#3. Paint. We’ve all seen stains and dirt on ceilings and popcorn ceilings do not hide it well. The only way to lessen the effect of popcorn ceilings is a fresh coat of white paint. (Of course, you will want to address why the stain was there in the first place too). Some people ask if it is ok to paint a different color other than white. My answer is no, however, I’m sure after you get over the initial shock painting a different color, it will be just fine.
#4. Stop looking at them! More often than not, you do not remember the ceilings of the last few homes you were in. Most people only remember dirty or stained ceilings, so if you take the right steps, your ceilings are a non-issue. Make an effort to point attention to furnishings and other exciting things in your home than your ceilings.
While retail designers already know what color your bathing suit will be next summer, designer forecasters have already determined how you will be decorating your home. Here is what the 2014 home trends will be for next year’s buyers and sellers.
The housing crisis, ongoing war, and lack of economic confidence affects our national mood and, therefore, translates into our style and trends. The 2014 Texas home trends are shifting. Our color tastes for the past few years have been every shade of neutral; safe, easy, and traditional. For big-ticket items, neutral seems like a good idea. However, now that the Texas real estate market has spiked again, pops of color are making their way back on the scene. Spice cabinet colors like cinnamon and mocha are trending along with eco-conscious colors like green and a wide range of gray; especially in Texas markets.
But ,what about our obsession with granite countertops? With a strong demand and falling prices of granite, I don’t see a change in countertop choices for some time. However, there are some really great alternatives such as marble, wood, concrete, and tile that have gained popularity moving into 2014.
And what about the good ‘ole, gotta have stainless steel appliances? I don’t know about you, but no matter what finish I get, it still shows finger prints. After 15 years of stainless appliances, manufacturers are moving on to new finishes. Check out the Whirlpool’s newest refrigerator addition. Yep, it’s just like the refrigerator you got rid of 5 years ago…white. And GE is now pushing their new line of metallic finishes.
My prediction for the upcoming 2014 Texas home trends is that despite the brighter more cheerful trends, buyers and sellers will still be privy to the good ole faithful of safe, easy, and neutral.
It is no myth that the consumer is the driving force in the real estate industry in Texas. Below are some interesting changes that have occurred and will continue to mold the future of the housing market.
- The average age of a repeat buyer in Texas is 42
- The average age of a 1st time buyer in Texas is 31
- 35% of buyers are first time home buyers.
- Texas sellers stay in their home an average of 9 years
- Homeowners want information about real estate updates and relevant news about their community
- A 2012 poll revealed that sales equal 96% of asking price. This does not include price reductions or seller contributions
- There are 1900 people moving to Texas a day
- 92% of Texas home sellers used a real estate agent to sell their home. Only 8% were For Sale By Owner
- The best day to put a home on the market is on Friday
- The best day to hold an open house is Tuesday
- 74% of consumers believe the economy has gotten better and 71% think the economy will continue to get better in the next year
Big: The population is the 2nd largest in the U.S. with over 25 million people
Young: 27% of the Texas population is under 18 and only 10% is older than 65
Diverse: Approximately 9.5 million or 38% of Texans are of Hispanic descent; 12% are African American; 6% are other (primarily of Asian descent.
Texas Dream REALTORS® understands our client’s housing needs and serves Austin, San Antonio, and surrounding areas. Our expertise encompass military relocation, property management, farm and ranch sales, residential, new home construction, and commercial real estate. For more information on the housing market and specific community information in Austin or San Antonio, please call a Texas Dream Realtors agent today!