The City of Austin has some great map tools for the public to use. One of them allows you to view flood plain, zoning and other geographic information on an interactive map.
If you’re thinking of buying a home and are curious about the zoning of the property, or whether the vacant lot next door is a prime target for a condo development, you can do a little investigation. The same goes for investors who want to know what they can build on a lot.
If you go to the City Of Austin Development Map Viewer, you will be presented with a map of Austin. You could read the instructions on how to use the map viewer, or use the shortcut below to find out zoning information.
What Zoning is that Austin property?
This gets you to the part of the map you want to see. You can use the Zoom tool on the left hand side to get a clearer picture of the lot boundaries which come in the default view.
After you identify the zoning, it appears in the middle of the screen at the bottom, in this case SF-3-NP, which is single family 3 with a neighborhood plan.
If you think that the public GIS viewer shows plenty of Austin development information, wait until you see the one that the City uses. If you have questions about zoning, you can drop by their offices at 505 Barton Springs Road between 9am and 1pm each weekday.
If you have four minutes to watch a video about the state of real estate in the US in January – this one from Keller Williams International could be just the ticket. My standard disclaimer applies – there is no such thing as a national real estate market. There is a national finance industry though, so Austin home buyers are benefiting from lower interest rates.
Gloss over the part where the presenters talk about a buyer’s market – it may or may not be true in your given area – for example there is less than two months inventory in the under $200,000 market in Northwest Austin right now which indicates a seller’s market there.
If you want to get a better idea of what’s happening in a particular market within the Austin area, I can send a market snapshot report, or give you an analysis on a particular home.
Spending the afternoon researching and visiting home listings in Central East Austin, I was horrified to see the same simple mistakes again and again. Blunders that are causing listings to sit on the market unsold. Here are the top five things to avoid if you want to sell your Austin home in this competitive market.
Using less than 12 photos of your home in the MLS. Guess what? Homebuyers look at photos and determine which homes they want to see based on the information they have. So if you have 12 photo slots in the MLS, take 12 photos and use them!
Given that I’m addicted to pie charts and statistics, I decided to compile the chart below. It shows that less than half of the active listings in Central East Austin have all of their photo slots used. Unless the photos look like the one above, then make sure your listing has 12 photos in use.
Lowering your list price by $1 if it hasn’t sold. I actually saw a home reduced from $299,999 to $299,998 today. Sure, buyers look at websites which notify them of new listings and price drops, and this will certainly make your home pop up on their radars. But really, one dollar? Dropping the list price by an inconsequential amount will just annoy people.
Relying on tired phrases like “Motivated seller – bring offer” when you haven’t priced your home correctly.
There are three ways of pricing homes – above market, below market and at market value. Market value is what someone will pay for your home. If you are pricing it above market value right now, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. With a harpoon. This is the time to price at market or below, especially if you are “motivated”. Buyers look at better priced homes first. It’s as simple as that.
Having inaccurate MLS information. The MLS is a large database system which allows people to search for homes by a number of criteria. If your home’s details are entered into the MLS incorrectly, it won’t appear in the appropriate search results. Think less of “garbage in, garbage out” and more “garbage in, no-one will find your home and come and see it”. I saw a tax rate of 27% in one listing today. My guess is that it should have read 2.7%. That’s a pretty considerable difference!
Not syndicating your listing. If more than 80% of homebuyers start their homesearch on the internet, doesn’t it make sense to have your home on as many pertinent websites as possible? Your agent should be able to tell you which network of sites your home will appear on, and it should be more than ten.
Make sure you are following the above advice if you want to increase the chance of selling your Austin home, so that you don’t end up frustrated with an expired listing – a home that hasn’t sold.
Garreth Wilcock is a real estate agent specializing in helping people sell Central and East Austin real estate. Call 512 694 8873 or contact him at his website if you want a free valuation of your Austin home.
Stone the crows! Homes that are overpriced take longer to sell. That’s the upshot of a study presented in the October issue of Tierra Grande – the Journal of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
The study examined home sales in Southeastern Virginia between 2004 and 2007, and concluded that every 10% the listing price exceeded the final sales price translated into an extra month on market.
Looking at the number of homes that aren’t selling in Central Austin or in East Austin in today’s market, it would be easy to say that if you price your home 10% above what it’s worth, it won’t sell at all!
On the right I pulled a recent chart of Hyde Park sales – this shows that the days on market (the time between a home being entered in the MLS and the time an offer is accepted) increases with “degree of overpricing”. This uses the A&M definition of overpricing – the difference between sold price and original asking price.
On the left, you can see East Austin home sales show the same thing – homes priced far above their ultimate selling price take longer to sell.
The study goes on to say, “Sellers intent on getting the highest possible price may be willing to wait longer, but asking prices sometimes decline as time on market increases, so the additional time may not provide a higher price.”
With the higher levels of home inventory in Austin this fall, it’s critical to make sure that your home is priced “in the market” if you want to sell.
This article from Steve Crossland shows the ratio of Austin original list prices to final sales prices is actually better for sellers in 2008 than 2007, but my advice to sellers is always the same: don’t pad your list price with negotiation room.
One danger not talked about in the article is overpricing in a falling market, and I’ll talk about that more in a coming blog.
I took a look at University Hills, Vintage Hills, Pecan Springs, Walnut Hills and Preswyck Hills home sales data for the last few years and found that homes are selling faster now than they did a year ago.
Surprised? Heard that homes aren’t selling and staying on the market longer? Seeing “for sale” signs going rusty in your neighbors yard? Well let’s look at what the statistics show.
The chart on the left shows that homes that sold in the third quarter of 2008 with an average of 17 days on the market. That’s 17 days from listing to negotiating a contract. Closing typically follows 30-45 days later.
But here’s the rub, inventory levels are higher. The number of unsold homes competing for the smaller number of buyers right now is higher than two years ago.
The chart on the right shows the “chance of selling” (all other things being equal). The number of homes that are listed and sell is shown in blue, versus those that expire or are withdrawn in orange and yellow.
In the third quarter of 2008, less homes in total sold, and more homes failed to sell than in the previous year.
Proportionally, less homes are actually selling, and the ones that aren’t selling are staying on the market longer. That’s why you see the same “for sale” signs week in, week out. The top chart shows that the homes that sell are selling quickly.
How do you sell your Central East Austin home quickly when other homes aren’t selling? The right marketing, the right preparations, and by pricing very precisely. Choose a Realtor ® who knows your market very well, and can assist you in beating out the competition.
Garreth Wilcock is a real estate agent who specializes in helping people find Central and East Austin real estate. Call 512 694 8873 or contact him at his website if you want a free valuation of your Austin home or to talk about improving your chances of selling.
With the relatively healthy Austin economy, is it easy to sell your East Austin home?
Yesterday, I looked at home sales data for Central Austin, and today I extend to East Austin homes.
A year is a long time in home sales, so this analysis just looks at general patterns. East Austin is a non-homogenious area too – I chose Austin MLS areas 3,5 and 9 – the area broadly between 183 and I35.
The median home price for homes sold this year in the area is around $191,000, so I looked at homes under and over $180k over the last 3 years.
The chart above shows that East Austin home sales under $180k have dropped significantly – a pattern broadly in line with the rest of Greater Austin. The “chance of selling” – number of MLS listings resulting in a sale compared to all listings has dropped from 77% in 2006 to 66% in 2008.
The lower chart shows that above $180k, the number of sales peaked in 2007, though the “chance of selling” has been on a steady decline from 64% in 2006 to 46% in 2008.
What does this mean – can I sell my East Austin home now or not?
You can certainly sell your home, but competition is fiercer. To get the most for your home sale, you need to follow the fundamental process that applies in any market:
- Do the right preparations and staging
- Set the right price based on today’s market
- Get maximum marketing exposure
- Choose a well thought out negotiation strategy
- Get a committed agent to work on your behalf
So yes, you can sell your East Austin home – you just have to work at it.
Garreth Wilcock is a real estate agent who specializes in helping people find Central and East Austin real estate. Call 512 694 8873 or contact him at his website if you want a free valuation of your Austin home or to talk about improving your chance of selling.
The Austin real estate market is weathering the national economic storm much better than most, but there are still questions as to its performance. Can you sell your home right now? Your “chance of selling” varies with your price range statistically, but more fundamentally on the preparations and activities you do to sell your home.
I compiled some annual sales statistics for Central Austin homes – the area bounded roughly by MoPac, 183, I35 and 71/290. I split my analysis into above $350,000 and below $350,000, and you can see the market statistics plotted below.
Homes under $350k saw falling sales in 2007 with a roughly constant amount of expired and withdrawn listings – ones that don’t sell. The proportion of unsold to sold homes went up between 2006 and 2007, and it looks on target to do the same this year, with much lower sales than 2006. This year, Central Austin homes under $350k have around a 64% chance of selling.
Homes over $350k saw a similar number of sales in 2006 and 2007, but with more people trying and failing in 2007. Sales volume in 2008 is down, with current listings having around a 49% chance of selling.
What do I mean by “chance of selling”?
The chance you have of selling is a loose term I use to reflect how many homes sell vs. how many are listed – on the market.
There are many ways to be in the list of homes that have sold – you have to outperform the competition on accurate pricing, superior condition and careful marketing.
Your home has to be differentiated from the competition – unique features or a unique location that make our home stand out in the crowd.
You can still sell your home, you just need to work at it, and take extra steps and get the best advice.
Garreth Wilcock is a real estate agent who specializes in helping people find Central and East Austin real estate. Call 512 694 8873 or contact him at his website if you want a free valuation of your Austin home.
Should you price your Austin home at $399,999 or $400,000? What about $399,900? I did some research on the MLS and found some interesting results.
Evidence abounds that people perceive a price below a major increment to be disproportionately lower than a price at that increment. $2.99 is a more prefered pricepoint than $3.00, and the same is often thought to be true for home price sales.
The chart on the left shows that Realtors ® in Austin tend to price within $1,000 below $x00,000 far more often than they do at $x00,000.
I was on an Austin Realtor ® property tour yesterday discussing pricing points. Here is the crux of the opposing views on $399,xxx vs $400,000:
- Anything under $400,000 looks like a better deal than $400,000 itself.
- $399,999 makes it obvious that you’re trying to make people think it’s just under $400,000 and leaves a bad impression.
- $399,000 is only 0.25% less than $400,000 but seems far less and is a more attractive price point than $399,999 or $400,000.
- People search by price point and homes that hit $400,000 will be picked up in $300,000-$400,000 MLS searches and $400,000-$450,000 searches, whereas $399,xxx homes will be missed by the second search.
Not satisfied with opinions and general ideals that appeal to “common sense” I returned home and did some research.
One rightmost digit analysis from the Journal of Consumer Research says that one effect of $399,xxx is that people tend to underestimate the number by stopping reading after the first and most significant digits. Another article talks about cultural superstitions and number choice.
Then I found some intriguing data about homes priced on the $x00,000 increments – on the average, they appear to sell quicker in Austin! The chart on the right shows the results: homes at the increment price have lower days on market than those in yellow.
I checked the list price to sales price ratios and they appear similar for both classes of data, so all in all, I’d probably go for the $x00,000 price tag if I had a choice. A few dollars more and in less time!
Garreth Wilcock is a real estate consultant. He helps buyers find Central and East Austin real estate. Call 512 694 8873 if you want a free valuation of your Austin home. You can search the Austin MLS at his website.
The Austin Metropolitan real estate market shows a minimal risk of house price depreciation in the next two years according to a risk report by PMI. This is not the picture in many of the other metropolitan areas in the US. This once again shows that despite the national economy impacting real estate, real estate market data must additionally be analyzed locally to get the full picture.
I found the report in an article called Risk of Home Price Declines Intensifies in Q2. The article cites the Economic and Real Estate Trends report from PMI, a quarterly report analyzing data from the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight/Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Despite the title, Austin is one of the 15 areas that has a minimal risk – less than 1% chance – of experiencing real estate price depreciation in the next two years. In our case, all that has happened is that the rate of appreciation has slowed. The report addendum shows the rate of appreciation has dropped from 10.66% to 4.98% from second quarter of 2007 to second quarter of 2008.
I compiled some MLS data for Central and East Austin single family home sales, and compared what I saw with the report. This includes houses, townhomes, condos and lofts.
Median list price for single family homes is at at a plateau and appears to be holding stable up to the third quarter of 2008.
Sold price per square foot in Central Austin has declined slightly in the last year. Given that list prices are stable, I looked deeper into sales price over list price ratios. This year to date the amount paid for the homes vs. the list price has dropped just over 1%.
Garreth Wilcock is a real estate consultant. He specializes in Central and East Austin Real Estate. Call 512 694 8873 or contact him at his website if you want a free valuation of your Austin home. You can search the Austin MLS at his website.
East Austin Real Estate: University Hills and Vintage Hills have been targets for home renovators and flippers in Austin, Texas for the last few years. Here’s my monthly round up of University Hills Neighborhood data.
The Neighborhood of University Hills is bounded by highways 290, 183 on the North and East, and by Northeast Drive and Little Walnut Creek on the South. As the name suggests, the area is set on undulating hills, and given its location, it is a short hop away from the University of Texas. Given it’s ease of access to I35, 290, 183 and the new Mueller Redevelopment, it is convenient to much of what Austin has to offer.
The subdivisions of Vintage Hills and University Hills were started in the 1960s and 1970s, and many of the original owners still live there. The neighborhood email list was set up by Robert Crumley just over a year ago, and is thriving as more tech-savvy residents move in.
I took a look at the last year’s University Hills MLS sales data for single family homes, and gleaned the following charts:
The market over the last 365 days (to September 23, 2008) shows a healthy time on market. Around two thirds of homes that sold got an accepted offer in under three months.
In addition, the average sales price achieved was close to the list price as you can see from the charts above. The market is evolving all the time, as amenities are added to Mueller Austin, but the last year has looked pretty good in University Hills.
Garreth Wilcock is a real estate consultant. He specializes in Central and East Austin Real Estate. Call 512 694 8873 if you want a free valuation of your home or contact him here. You can search the Austin MLS at his website.