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

3 Avenues of Lending Right Now (& it’s not all pretty)

We seriously encourage our buyers to use “correspondent lenders.” We HOPE the buyers buying our Austin listings use them because the alternative (going retail, big bank, for example) seriously increases the risk of running into delays and weak communication. We can back this up all day long with a simple review of any delay we’ve seen over the past 18 months.

Delays happen in real estate lending but when they do, you absolutely need good communication from the lender as to why, when and what next. One would think this would be easy, basic business, right?

Deborah Ginac, CapStar Lending in Austin, points out that there are three avenues of lending right now:

Retail: big banks as in Wells Fargo, etc.

Mortgage Broker: outsources underwriting to a big bank/investor.  They have zero control over the file once it leaves their care.  They have no relationship with underwriting and may or may not know the underwriter.  They cannot speed the process up or even anticipate what the underwriter will say.

Correspondent Lender: This lender has an in-house underwriter, knows the underwriter and controls the loan process from beginning to end.

Choose wisely.

Thanks to the talented Heather Hill, Closing Coordinator for The Nelson Project (Keller Williams in Austin, TX), for bringing this succinct outline to the table today and for her amazing ability to help buyers and sellers through the process, even when it’s not pretty.

 

January 14, 2011 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

Our 5 cents on popcorn removal

Owner:  Should I really remove the popcorn from my ceiling?  popcorn

Realtor:  Preferably.  Good friend:  definitely.

Ah, the popcorn question. It is very much a dated thing. HGTV has helped the buying public refine their tastes but no one likes the popcorn in Austin. Why did they use them in the first place?  It was cheaper than painting.  The problems?  Besides the dated factor, they get dirty (they collect dust, cannot be brush them off), serve no purpose (besides an easier job for the painters) and are very messy to remove (vacant is best).

In Austin, buyers walk into a house (most buyers, not all) and when they see the popcorn ceilings actually say “ugh.” Generally, the top 3 things you can do to update a house (besides removing orange and green and / or golden things) are wallpaper, kitchen basics & popcorn ceilings.

It’s not all that difficult to remove, but it’s very messy so best done in a vacant home before you move in.  I have done one room myself personally.  That was fun.  Now, from here on out, I’ll hire it out.  If you live in the home, you want to seriously tape off the room and seal any vents as dust is a big issue with this project. 

How to remove?  Simply put:  spray with water, scrape, repeat.

If the texture was applied before 1978, it may contain asbestos.  The only way to know is with a lab test through a certified asbestos testing agency.  I think you can get a kit at Home Depot. 

A more detailed how-to:  http://www.ehow.com/how_15096_remove-popcorn-texture.html 

If you’re selling your house, you’ll want to seriously consider the popcorn “ugh” factor.  Austin buyers are picky and we want to optimize their first impression of the home.  Everyone talks about curb appeal (very important) but there is the open-the-front-door appeal and popcorn ceilings will get an immediate mild groan … happens all the time.

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 all their Austin real estate needs.
… © Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Realty, 2008-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed 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.

 

December 8, 2010 at 2:08 am Leave a comment

Another Possible Scam … Deed Retrieval Services

You all have heard of the letters that go out each year offering homeowners a homestead exemption for the low price of $25 or $30. You also know that no one ever has to pay for a Homestead exemption…. it is free.

Well now there is a new letter called ‘Deed Retrieval Services’ and it is from the State Record Retrieval Board which, by the way is NOT a state agency.  This one offers to provide the homeowner with their ‘…… Deed and complete Property Profile’ for the cost of $87.

The letter says they are not affiliated with any governmental agency nor your county. It is only a solicitation. All of that is correct, however, there is no reason to pay for these items, so please let your clients, friends and neighbors know about it before they send money to this entity.

November 19, 2010 at 1:06 pm 2 comments

Quick Study Austin Market

grass sky Small I just ran 15 quickie pending / sold analysis around Austin comparing sold the last 60 days and current pending and found some interesting and optimistic data.

If you say that 30 homes sold in area 4 in the past 60 days, that tells us that 15 homes are selling per month recently. Then you see that there are currently 20 area 4 homes pending … that means, in theory, that 20 homes will close in the next 30 days. That would be a slight increase in activity.

When we see the pace pick up like this, it indicates that we are moving inventory through the system, lowering the number of homes on the market. This is a good thing. If the market is saturated, it softens prices; when the market has fewer homes available, it increases demand … basic economics and something we watch closely.

Of the 15 snapshots I ran, 14 were up, 1 was even. Meaning, they all are showing that homes sold for the next 30 days will outpace the rate at which they sold the past 60 days.

5 of them have almost doubled: areas 1B, 1A, downtown condos, 78704 condos and area 5 (east).

The next healthiest: Anderson High School, 78704 homes, area 10N.

A little further down the list but showing stability: areas 4, 2, Hays and Pflugerville over $200k.

This is not an indication of prices creeping up (that is another study), but it indicates stability.

 

October 28, 2010 at 7:43 pm 2 comments

Flight Patterns in Austin

If you are moving to Austin and purchasing real estate, you may want to know about our typical flight paths. 

The old airport (Mueller) was located right in the middle of town at IH35 and 51st Street so there were a number of neighborhoods negatively impacted by approaching flights.   There is a popular coffee house called Flight Path near (surprise!) 51st & IH35 that serves a robust latte.

The new Austin-Bergstrom Intl Airport – AIBA – (well, not so new anymore) is in the southeastern quadrant of Austin near 183 & Hwy 71.

The dominant flight pattern is approaching the airport from the north.  I live 25 minutes away from the airport in northwest Austin (Northwest Hills) and they fly direct over my house (but not low) from west to east, then when they cross IH35 they turn south and head toward the airport in southeast Austin.  The neighborhood most directly impacted by the flight path is directly north of the airport along the 183 corridor.  Flight paths can vary depending on weather patterns and wind conditions but the approach from the north is typical.

My father was a career USAF pilot so I actually like seeing the planes over my northwest Austin home. If the USAF is flying via San Antonio, they’ll zip their fighter jets high over Austin from south to north.  I used to watch for this any time W was up at the ranch in Crawford.

 

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 all their Austin real estate needs.

© Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Reatly, 2008-2010. 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.

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September 3, 2010 at 2:30 pm Leave a comment

Tell Me About Austin Property Taxes

Property taxes in Austin are generally about 2.2% of appraised value.  The rate is the more or less the same throughout Austin but there is some variance for school district, hospital district, some areas have  MUD or PUD (utility district) tax but those would generally be outlying areas.  We do not have a state income tax in Texas but make up for it in property taxes. 

You do get a homestead exemption on your primary residence which reduces the school tax valuation by something like $15k.  When you purchase a home you file for the homestead exemption the first January that you own the home (a good Realtor will remind you of this).

2009 rates look like this:

County City School District Community College Hosp Dist Total
0.4215% 0.4209% 1.202% 0.0946% 0.0674% 2.206%

 

More info:  http://www.austin-chamber.org/DoBusiness/TaxesAndIncentives/TxProperty.html

Appraisal district:  http://www.traviscad.org/

 

© Julie Nelson and The Nelson Project at Keller Williams Reatly, 2008-2010. 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.

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September 3, 2010 at 2:07 pm Leave a comment

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