Things I look for in an inspector

I am not a licensed inspector.  I do, however, believe I have some qualifications on house in palm w key Small this topic:  13 years as a licensed Realtor, 386 closed transactions, 4 personal investment properties, a few too many foundation issues over the years, coaching & training new agents. 

So, a few things I look for in an inspector both for myself and in making recommendations to my buyers:

  • knows what he / she is talking about
  • is objective in his / her report
  • can communicate what he / she sees in a house without scaring the buyers
    reports are accurate
  • written reports provided same day or first thing the next morning
  • is available for buyer Q & A
  • recognizes that a roofing expert is more qualified on roofs and may contradict the inspector’s findings (same with AC, foundation, plumbing etc) … and does not let ego get in the way
  • also does WDI reports
  • is on time
  • is easy to schedule
  • prices are competitive

 

Julie Nelson is a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Austin, TX.  This and any of her blog postings should not be construed as legal or professional advice.  Contact your favorite professionals in person for actual advice.  Julie can be reached at www.thenelsonproject.com.  Searching for homes?  We think this is the coolest Austin home search tool available.
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March 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

Get Your Legal House in Order

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.  – Don Marquis 
(This article is a follow-up to our Shacking Up / Not Married & Owning Property in TX article.  We consider this a must-read topic for 2 non-married TX peeps buying or owning property together.)

 

It has been a month since the 11th annual legal seminar, Protecting Your Partner and Your Assets. Whether you attended or not, we are following up with the promised procrastination outreach. Hopefully the topic has generated valuable conversation with your partner and friends as to how you wish to handle your affairs.  We know, such a happy topic … death and divorce. Keep this goal in mind:  executed legal documents that protect you, your partner and your assets, in place prior to needing them.  The Nelson Project

First step is a conversation with your partner; second, an appointment with an attorney.

Per lawyers.com (http://research.lawyers.com/Texas/Estate-Planning-In-Texas.html), you can write a handwritten will – called “holographic” – take note:

  • It is entirely in your own handwriting
  • There are no typewritten additions
  • You express your intent to dispose of your property at your death, such as with the words “This is my last will and testament”

It is in your best interest to make your will bullet-proof, limiting the possibility that some estranged family member would contest the will (handwritten can be risky). A lawyer who does estate planning can explain the consequences of some of the most basic choices you must make, such as how your property and assets may or may not convey to your partner upon your death.

Remember, if you and your partner own property together and you do not have a will, you may compromise your partner’s ability to maintain the home, legally and/or financially.  For that reason, it makes sense to consult with a Texas estate planning lawyer and have him or her draft your will so that you don’t make costly mistakes or accidentally not accomplish what you intended.

We will be running another seminar on the topic this fall … stay tuned.

A note on the BUDDY SYSTEM … we recommend teaming up with 2 or 3 couples, discussing these issues and holding each other accountable for making an appointment with an attorney and getting your legal houses in order. Here is a blog article to help drive the conversation: https://smartrealestate.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/shackingup/

Here’s to a well-informed and legally-sound Austin LGBT community.

(ps … As a licensed realtor, I cannot give legal advice.  Please consult your attorney on these matters.)

February 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm Leave a comment

AUSTIN BUILD: first in a series of many . 1

So, I think we are going to build a house.

This is the first in a series of many posts to journal our process from idea conception to housewarming party. 

First, although this is February 2012, we have been talking about this off and on for years.  We always look at houses, always go on the AIA tour, always drive neighborhoods in and around Austin, fantasize all the possibilities.  We have gone back and forth, back and forth on this topic for years.  It’s a process, for sure.

You see, we love our Northwest Hills home on Steck Valley Park (46 wooded acres that no one has heard of yet boasts one rough trail from the end of Steck all the way to the red office building spire on 360).  We have been in this home since 2005 and it is so cool.  Updated, open, gorgeous Australian cypress floors, so private and a great party house.  We love this street, our neighbors, our yard, we have put close to  $20k in to the gardens and decks (many of both).  As I type this, I look out through and over the live oak canopy and barely glimpse the homes across the valley.  This home has served us well.  It will sell fast when we arrive at that stage.

We have a tendency to plow forward in life.  Kay plows more than I … I pull back on the reins.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Right now we are gathering information.

I intend to have our team in place before we make an offer on any property.  Architect, builder, finance.  I suspect this is the only time we’ll build and we intend to do it right, minimize the mistakes or missteps, spend wisely and end up with an amazingly cool property.

I’ll share the interpersonal, the process, the Realtor perspective (see disclosure below), the do’s & don’ts, the mishaps, the joy, the stress.  We invite you along for the ride; invitations forthcoming for the housewarming.

Julie & Kay

 

Julie Nelson is a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Austin, TX.  This and any of her blog postings should not be construed as legal or professional advice.  Contact your favorite professionals in person for actual advice (duh).  Julie can be reached at www.thenelsonproject.com.  Searching for homes?  We think this is the coolest Austin home search tool available.

February 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm 3 comments

Ho Ho Homes: Holiday Advice for Austin Home Sellers

The basics for selling your home around the holidays:

  • The buyers who are out there are serious
  • The tire kickers are out shopping and putting up holiday decorations
  • There are fewer homes on the market so less competition
  • There are buyers who, for tax purposes or other business-related purposes, need to close on a property by December 31
  • Buyers have more time on their hands, days off

Some sellers TIPS for the holidays:

  • Yes, on moderate holiday decorations
  • No, on your 140-piece snow village collection
  • Do not put Santa on your roof
  • Consider not having a tree
  • If you do have a tree, make it small and/or remove some living room furniture so the room does not feel smaller because of the pine or plastic pine
  • Not all prospective buyers have the same religious observations
  • 37th Street is cool but not a recommended staging tactic

Don’t do this: http://youtu.be/HFjI7gT1FvI

Or this: http://youtu.be/CixdqgGwPr8

Or this:  clip_image004 clip_image002

Consider this … here is a great HGTV article on decorating and staging tips: http://www.hgtv.com/decorating-basics/realtors-top-10-tips-for-wowing-buyers/pictures/index.html

Keep in mind that some perfectly wonderful homes do not sell because the first impression is off. Buyers will make a gut decision on a house within the first 2 minutes of walking in We believe there are 5 first impressions and it is critical to nail them all as best possible:

  1. The first online impression, the online photos … lots of them and they need to be quality on day 1 in the MLS.
  2. When buyers first pull up to the curb
  3. When buyers first walk in the front door
  4. The kitchen
  5. The back yard

If you can wow buyers with any or all of these first impressions, with or without holiday decorations, you’ll be in good shape to take advantage of the November and December Austin homes market.

Happy holidays.

 

 

The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty in Austin strives to provide valuable real estate information and news through this blog and our other online resources.  Find more about The Nelson Project and search for Austin homes at www.TheNelsonProject.com.  If you like this blog, you may want to visit our totally useful Austin neighborhood portal.  We think you may also like www.tacomap.info (tacos first, real estate second).  If you really like what you see, tell your friends to call us with their Austin real estate needs.

 

November 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm Leave a comment

How Austin Property Taxes are Handled at Closing in November and December

 

If you are selling your home or purchasing a home and close in November or December, then this post is for you. The 2011 Travis County property taxes are now due and payable so they are handled differently at closing than earlier in the year. What does this mean for you?

The actual tax bills come out in October. That means when homes are closing January through mid-October, everyone is using an estimated property tax amount with an agreement to work out the difference if there is one. The estimated amount tends to be accurate but you never know the actual final amount until the bill shows up in October.Austin Property Taxes

So if you are closing in November or December, here is how your property taxes will be handled at closing: sellers will be charged for the entire tax bill at close (or provide a paid receipt). If the seller has an escrow account with their current mortgage, the amounts will be refunded after closing from the prior lender. It’s not a bad idea to check with your mortgage company to find out exactly what date they plan to pay your taxes … your title company will help with this coordination.

Your HUD-1 Settlement Statement will have a credit to the seller from the day of closing until 12-31-2011 from the buyer.

Buyers will have a new escrow account set up for 2012 (if you have a mortgage; we are currently seeing mortgage escrows set up with 2-3 month reserve). The HUD-1 Settlement Statement will have a debit from the buyers and a credit to the sellers for the remainder of the year.

So the seller pays the full bill at closing with the buyers crediting them for their portion of the year and the buyers set up their new tax escrow with their new mortgage company … all done at closing. If the sellers had / have an escrow account with their mortgage company (the one they are about to pay off at closing), then that mortgage company will mail the sellers the balance of their escrow account back to the sellers usually within 3-4 weeks; so yes, there is an overlap for the seller.

After December 31, tax prorations return to estimated amounts.

Questions? Happy to help or call your friendly Austin Realtor, lender or title company.

The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty in Austin strives to provide valuable real estate information and news through this blog and our other online resources.  Find more about The Nelson Project and search for Austin homes at www.TheNelsonProject.com.  If you like this blog, you may want to visit our totally useful Austin neighborhood portal.  We think you may also like www.tacomap.info (tacos first, real estate second).  If you really like what you see, tell your friends to call us with their Austin real estate needs.
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November 12, 2011 at 8:35 pm Leave a comment

Nelson Project Announces New Partnership

Partnership enhances Austin real estate group’s position.

AUSTIN, TX,  February 16, 2011—The Nelson Project of Keller Williams Realty, a highly successful residential real estate team, announced today a strategic partnership with The Oldham Group of Keller Williams Realty, one of Austin’s premiere residential real estate teams.

The partnership follows a recent announcement of the promotion of Julie Nelson, owner of The Nelson Project, to the position of Career Development Coach at Keller Williams Southwest Market Center, the largest residential real estate office in the country. In the new position, Nelson will be responsible for increasing the skills and productivity of over 500 real estate agents who work from the Southwest Market Center. Nelson has been a technology leader and will bring that expertise to the program.  According to Nelson, “I see an enormous opportunity to enhance the lives and businesses of individual agents. It’s an honor to be in this position.”

Nelson recently signed a partnership agreement with Courtney Oldham, owner of The Oldham Group. The partnership signifies the formation of one of Austin’s largest real estate teams with an intense focus on exceptional, personalized service. “We are excited to announce this milestone,” said Courtney Oldham. “Each company had a proven record of success before the partnership; now we are positioned to provide an even greater level of professional service so our clients can make smart and informed real estate decisions.”

Nelson remarked, “This partnership is a wonderful opportunity for our friends and clients as they benefit from expertise of our combined knowledge and experience.”

About The Oldham Group

The Oldham Group is a team of dedicated real estate professionals that know Austin and have an extreme focus on the needs of their clients. The Oldham Group practices real estate with a systemized approach to ensure buyers find the perfect home in the most efficient manner possible. For sellers, the Oldham Group designs and implements customized marketing strategies to aggressively promote homes while maximizing exposure to potential buyers. In 2011, The Oldham Group partnered with and assumed day to day operational responsibilities for The Nelson Project.

About The Nelson Project

Led by Julie Nelson, The Nelson Project is a team of real estate professionals with Keller Williams Realty serving Austin, Texas buyers and sellers. They concentrate on client solutions, technology, and a smart analysis of the market.  The Nelson Project website recently ranked in the top 1% of 80,000 Keller Williams websites.   In 2011, Julie Nelson partnered with Courtney Oldham and The Oldham Group.  

February 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm 2 comments

Market Review & Housing Affordability

Wanted to give you some links that provide good information on the Austin real estate market, 2010 summary and what we’re seeing right now early into 2011.  These are some of the main data resources we use in tracking the market.

One thing that we watch with interest is what we call the Housing Affordability Index (HAI). Published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the HAI is the ability of the average family to afford the average home with only 20% down. It measures whether a typical family could qualify for a typical mortgage on a typical house. The index is up, meaning affordability is up mainly because of 2 of these 3 factors … pretty sure the typical family income is not up so it’s the seriously low mortgage rates and the downward effect of home prices creating the increased HAI. From 1990 – 2008, the index was around 115-140; it’s over 180 right now. When interest rates go up, the index will creep back down.

One of the best sources for Texas and Austin real estate stats is the Texas A&M Real Estate Center. Here is a link to the Austin data page: http://recenter.tamu.edu/data/hs/hs140.asp.

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The Austin Board of Realtors has an excellent report out, Implications & Expectations for Austin’s Market, that outlines the overall 2010 market results.

One of the main things we’re seeing in Austin is price softening but volume of sales creeping up. These are averages for Austin and your local neighborhood market may have different trends with many neighborhoods holding steady. Buyers will pick up this spring but so will the number of homes on the market.

Again, we’re always saying real estate is local and we are happy to run stats & strategy specific to your neighborhood.

 

The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty in Austin strives to provide valuable real estate information and news through this blog and our other online resources.  Find more about The Nelson Project and search for Austin homes at www.TheNelsonProject.com.  If you like this blog, you may want to visit our totally useful Austin neighborhood portal.  We think you may also like www.tacomap.info (tacos first, real estate second).  If you really like what you see, tell your friends to call us with their Austin real estate needs.
 
© Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty, 2009-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

February 12, 2011 at 5:15 pm Leave a comment

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