Posted by garreth under Uncategorized
If you’re unsure how to pronounce Mueller Austin, things may have just become a little more complex now that Betty is in residence. She’s the Magnetic Cow from the Austin Cow Parade, and she is grazing on the plaza outside the developer’s information center – by the Browning Hangar and Lake Park. Maybe we should be saying “Moo-ller” now too.
The 2011 Cow Parade benefits the Dell Children’s Medical Center here in the neighborhood, and each of the 100 cows around Austin will be auctioned to raise funds at the end of October. The average price for a cow in the US has been almost $10,000.
The exciting thing about the Magnetic Cow is that she’s somewhat of a blank canvas – she is coated in a material that allows the public to bring their own magnetic art and attach it to her flanks. I bumped into Dee DesJardin while I was over there, and she explained that the artist (Jill Bedgood) had suggested magnets with small bases (due to the curvature of the cow) and thin ones (presumably to keep the weight of the objects from dragging them down to Betty’s udders.
I’m wondering what the creative types will come up with, and I’m excited to see how the artist’s blank canvas gets filled in the next few months. Maybe we can bring some white magnets to make her into a friesian, or put magnetic photos of ourselves all over her. I have some magnetic googley eyes that I’ll be taking over there. I think I’ll leave the Realtor fridge magnets at home though!
Garreth Wilcock helps people with Mueller Austin Homes for sale. 512 215 4785
Posted by garreth under Uncategorized
Normally, I post about new homes for sale hitting the market in Mueller Austin, such as the one I took a snap of below on Tom Miller Street. Today is a little different – I’m letting you know of a site coming soon – this site. While my blog here at garreth.featuredblog.com encompasses many things including the real estate market at the old airport, I decided to launch a separate site specifically focused on Mueller. The URL is HomesAtMueller.com, so update your bookmarks / rss readers and come along for the ride!
The home above is listed for sale by Watters International and is the Moore Hill floorplan – a popular single story Standard Pacific Home facing the greenway. It’s around 2075sqft per TCAD and the listing agent expects a price of $412,447. The last single story resale home sold in the first few days on the market and this one will probably be in high demand too – it hits the market later this week, so let me know if you want to be the first to check it out.
One popular aspect of the floorplan is the internal stone wall, which some of my buyers have said gives the place a very traditional feel – maybe like a castle. It’s on a good sized lot, and given the single floor has only a modest private yard – luckily it’s across the street from the necklace of green and running trails which rings the neighborhood.
Garreth Wilcock is considering whether to stop talking about himself in the third person in his new Mueller Austin Homes site which will be launching soon. 512 215 4785
Posted by garreth under Uncategorized
If you ever see ads saying “Find out what your home is worth” which look like this, then the chances are that the back end is powered by Top Producer Market Snapshot (TPMS). How do I know this? Because I have one – you can generate your own real time market snapshot for your home and neighborhood right now if you click on the image on the right.
The automatic data you get from these is much better than the data you get from Zillow or Trulia as it takes into account actual sales prices. Texas is a non-disclosure state, which means that sites like the TPMS have access to sold prices, where the others don’t. This means prices are more reliable (rather than a 15% margin of error in Zillow), but does it make sense in a mixed-income urban infill project like Mueller?
I decided to pretend I was a seller in one of the larger homes in Mueller on Camacho Street and generated myself a snapshot. The great news for me as a Realtor is that I got a text message saying that someone was interested in selling a $800,000 home in my neighborhood (from my own site), so if I was the frantic “spam them until they acquiesce” type, I could commence my email campaign telling my seller self that I was the best agent in town, that I knew the area, that he would be crazy not to list his home for sale with me and that I would offer free staging and a virtual tour with every listing.
The bad news is all for my seller self. First, not only have I opened myself up to the spamathon marketing methods of an agent out there, and told them where I live, but I’ve also got some pretty useless information. The Mueller neighborhood is diverse, and for the most part distinct from the immediately surrounding area. I don’t mean that in some snobby way, just in terms of observable price and demand characteristics, as I’ve been harping on about in this blog for the last four years. So when the snapshot mashes away and throws out data from a geographically close part of town – e.g. the Rowood listing that backs up to the Mueller greenbelt, I realize that it’s of no practical use.
Statistics are given which include vastly different price points, which are wildly useless in all but the most general of terms. This neighborhood is a different beast to the homogeneous suburban landscape. True, some people have said that the homes here are somewhat cookie cutter in appearance, but I guess they haven’t been to an actual suburb lately. The size and price range of the neighborhood certainly isn’t cut from the same dough. My imaginary Camacho home is worth five times more than some of the homes on the market right now, so seeing the sales data aggregated together really doesn’t do me any favors, or lend any insight. The two pending homes in the $700-800k range on Camacho aren’t shown. Surely these are the most comparable data and they’re omitted.
Even the snapshots I ran for other sellers in the middle of the Mueller market didn’t fare much better. For one thing, the immensely popular Mueller House Condominiums aren’t all in the MLS, so don’t make it onto the screen. Sure, I like the TPMS interface, and that I can quickly get sales price info on a given listing at a click of a button. So that is one saving grace. The statistical portion is a waste of time in my opinion though, and the fact that it doesn’t include all the data is misleading.
Overall I would say that the snapshots are useful in more consistent neighborhoods than Mueller Austin TX, and that the most useful part of the TPMS is that as a seller, I can click on other listings in the area and see what they sold for without any additional login.
Garreth Wilcock is a Mueller Austin TX Realtor with Austin housing market reports available at some of his websites. Just treat the statistical portion with a grain of salt. He doesn’t like spam, and can be contacted at 512 215 4785
Posted by garreth under Uncategorized
As a home seller in Austin, how much do you need to pay the buyer’s agent? If everything is negotiable, what is the best commission to offer to a buyer’s agent?
The concept of a buyer’s agent is prevalent in Texas real estate, and first time home sellers are often surprised to learn that it is the seller who pays for them. Real estate transaction costs are relatively high in the US, and when a seller looks back at their purchase they often remember that they paid substantial closing costs. When they come to sell their home they aren’t always expecting that a buyer’s agent gets paid typically around 3% of the sales price on top of what compensation the listing agent is asking.
I analyzed all house sales in the City of Austin in 2010 and found the following commissions offered on listings that sold:
- 94.6% offered 3% commission to the buyer’s agent
- 1.4% offered 2.5% commission
- 1.5% offered 5% commission – of these just under 70% were foreclosed homes
- The average was 3.05%
- 4% of sellers offered a bonus to the buyer’s agent above and beyond the commissions listed above
Just because 94.6% of sellers paid 3% doesn’t make it right, but it certainly helps to know what the competition is doing.
A quick look at buyer’s agents – which are described in the Texas Real Estate Commission’s Information About Brokerage Services form as:
“The broker becomes the buyer™s agent by entering into an agreement to represent the buyer, usually through a written buyer representation agreement. A buyer™s agent can assist the owner but does not represent the owner and must place the interests of the buyer first.“
So the buyer’s agent is paid for by the seller to negotiate on behalf of the buyer, which at first read sounds a little crazy. So why would any seller do that? Why wouldn’t they just ask their listing agent to represent the buyer and negotiate on behalf of the seller? Well, the same form which defines the responsibility of the buyer’s agent also points out that a single agent can’t really represent both parties in a transaction – a broker can, as long as the broker has a different agent assigned to each party. If you think about it, there’s no way a single agent could negotiate on behalf of both parties and get the highest price for the seller and the lowest price for the buyer at the same time (though this is how it works in England!). Actually fully-disclosed dual agency is still technically permissable in Texas, it is just frowned upon by many brokers due to liability implications, but that’s outside of the scope of this article.
Another thing that surprises sellers is just how many agents there are in the Greater Austin area – in a slower market like the one we’re in now, there are around 9,000 members of the Austin Board of Realtors, and more agents who aren’t participating in the MLS (the distinction is that the former are Realtors, and the latter are real estate agents). So if there were 20,062 MLS sales in 2010 (all single family property types) that means that the average agent represented less than 3 buyers in the year. What this amounts to, despite the top 10% of agents representing 90% of the buyers is that the odds are in most Austin markets, you’re unlikely to have the same agent bringing the buyer to the seller. (Of course it does happen with pocket listings and in supply starved neighborhoods like Mueller Austin, though even here, it’s not the norm)
Given that most typical transactions involve two agents – one for the buyer and one for the seller – it becomes apparent why many sellers do opt for a 3% commission to the buyer’s real estate agent. It keeps them competitive. In a perfect world, where agents really do live up to their fiduciary responsibility to put the interests of their buyer clients ahead of their own, then the amount offered wouldn’t impact the agents decision to show a particular home – not showing a 2% commission home and emphasizing the 5% commission foreclosure down the road.
Of course if you look at the written buyer’s representation agreements that an agent can use here in Austin, you see that they are worded so that the agent is due a certain commission which they first seek to get from the seller, and then from the buyer themselves. If this number is 3% and the seller is offering 5%, then the ethical agent has the job of discussing what to do with the extra 2%. If the seller is offering 2.5%, then the agent has to work out whether they are going to demand the extra 0.5% from the buyer or forgive it. Given that most buyers expect not to pay anything to their agent, this can be a challenge.
The flip side to the “3% makes a level playing field” argument is that the way people find their next home is changing. According to the National Association of Realtors 2010 survey of buyers and sellers, almost a third of purchased homes were found for the buyer by their agent (one more reason to incentivize the agents in an imperfect world with a higher commission). Every year this number goes down a little, and the number of people finding the home they actually buy through research on the internet (it’s hard to throw a rock on the internet without hitting three real estate sites these days) goes up. As time goes by and as the number of transactions increases, in a young, technically adept market like we have in Austin, I would expect the number of sellers offering less than 3% commission to increase.
There is one seller trying this approach out in Mueller right now, and time will tell how it works out for them.
Garreth Wilcock is an ethical real estate agent representing buyers and sellers in Austin Texas, though never both at the same time on the same transaction. 512 215 4785