How to Prepare Your Home for a Photo Shoot

March 27th, 2018

The vast majority of home buyers begin their search online, and your home’s internet photos offer a remote glimpse into your home. They often make the difference in a booked showing appointment, and that means it’s crucial to prepare your home so that it looks its best for the professional photo shoot.

It’s not difficult to prepare for your home’s photo shoot, but it is a multi-step process. Presentation is everything when it comes to getting homes SOLD. Follow these quick and easy steps to prepare the exterior of your home to be photographed. Remember, these images are the internet windows to your home! Put your home’s best foot forward.

Let’s take a look:

Have questions about preparing your home for sale? Reach out to me anytime. I’m always here to help: (512) 699-3425 or Michelle@CTXPG.com.

Austin Real Estate Market Update – February 2018 Home Sales Statistics

March 23rd, 2018

Even though February is typically a “slow” month for home sales, the Austin real estate market didn’t show any signs of slowing momentum, according to the latest report from Austin Board of REALTORS®. While the volume of home sales across the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) grew, pocket areas with the lowest inventory and highest market demand experienced double-digit percent price increase with declines in sales activity.

The median price for single-family homes jumped 3.6% percent from $289,000 to $300,000 year-over-year, while the days on the market crept up six days from 65 to 71 during the same period.

“Last month, economists predicted an upwards of 5 percent growth in median home prices within the Austin area, and we have far surpassed that,” Steve Crorey, 2018 president of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, said. “This is especially evident in local markets where housing demand is strongest, such as Austin and Cedar Park. Home price increases are sharpest in these markets while dwindling housing inventory in the lower price classes could be discouraging people from buying.”

If you have questions about what these figures for the Central Texas housing market mean for your home, please contact Michelle and the Central Texas Property Group at (512) 699-3425 or Michelle@CTXPG.com.

Eight Questions to Ask the REALTOR® You Hire

February 23rd, 2018

Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest financial decisions we make in a lifetime. Deciding on the real estate professional who will be your partner in that journey is crucial. Just as you comparison shop for other purchases, you’ll want to conduct at least one agent interview, possibly more. Today, I’ll share eight questions to ask the REALTOR® you hire.

Questions to Ask the REALTOR® You Hire

You’ll want to understand each agent’s experience, expertise, communication style, negotiating abilities, sales figures, and more to decide if that REALTOR® is a good fit for your needs. You’ll want a full-time real estate agent not only with a track record of success but also one who is committed to ongoing personal development to stay on top of technology and evolving market trends.

Below, I’ve put together eight questions to ask the REALTOR® you hire. These questions will shed light on an agent’s performance, style, and results.

1. What is the price range of homes you have sold?

Why ask this: You will learn if it is similar to your home and the REALTOR®’s familiarity with properties similar to yours.

2. How many homes do you sell in a month?

Why ask this: The level of activity is a viable indicator of success.

3. In what neighborhoods have your transactions occurred? How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood?

Why ask this: You’ll understand if you’re dealing with a specialist in your neighborhood.

4. What is the difference between the asking price and the final sale price of homes sold? The answer gives you an idea of the REALTOR®’s ability to realistically assess the value of your home.

5. What does your marketing plan for my home include?

Why ask this: Any real estate professional you hire should have a creative, methodical plan to market your home to prospective buyers and other real estate agents. At a minimum, their plan should include a review of your house, professional photography, a solid pricing strategy and high-quality marketing materials.

6. What do I need to do to my home to make it more “sellable”?

Why ask this: Asking this question will reveal if the agent is willing to tell you the truth about what you need to do to prepare your home for market.

7. How many clients are you currently serving? Do you have support staff?

Why ask this: This is reveals the agent’s workload, along with their ability to manage your transaction effectively. If the agent is busy, having a team in place to look after timelines and transactional details is important.

8. May I contact several of your most recent clients for recommendations?

Why ask this: High-quality real estate agents will gladly provide you with names and contact information of happy current and past clients. Before your interview, make sure to research the agent(s) online and note their Google, Facebook, or Zillow reviews.

These questions are designed to help you select the right real estate professional for your needs and style. Selecting the right REALTOR® makes all the difference in your real estate journey. Have questions? Feel free to reach out to me anytime. I’m always here to help.

Car Sharing in Austin, TX

February 20th, 2018

Famous for innovation, Austin, TX entrepreneurs, millennials, downtown dwellers, and many more have adopted car sharing services with gusto!

Borne of both practicality and innovation, the car sharing concept is catching on here in Austin! Quite simply, car sharing allows you to use or “rent” cars on an as-needed basis. Perfect for high-density corridors like downtown, this valuable service is perfect for anyone looking to bypass the hassle of maintaining a vehicle, along with the daily driving and parking fiasco in our growing city.

How does car sharing work?

The companies most involved in Austin’s car sharing service are Zipcar and car2go. Let’s take a look at what each company offers its subscribers:

car2go

A low one-time membership fee grants access to any of the company’s expansive and distinctive fleet of blue and white smart cars. Subscribers can reserve in advance or jet off on a spontaneous getaway from several downtown Austin locations. Simply present the membership card to the card reader on the car’s windshield, do a quick check of the car, and you’re on your way! You’re only charged for the minutes you actually use the car. Once your trip is complete, simply park the car2go anywhere in the operating area. It’s that easy! If you’re interested in learning more about Austins’ car2go services, click here.

Zipcar

An accelerated consumer adoption process is behind Zipcar’s continued success. Representing the eighteenth major metropolitan market, Zipcar allows its subscribers to choose from a wide variety of vehicles that are available in the company fleet, including pickup trucks, SUVs, sedans, hatchbacks, and hybrids, to name a few. Gas and insurance are included, and you’re able to simply select and reserve your desired ride from Zipcar’s website or mobile app. The next step is to pick up the car in its designated parking spot, and then you’re free to embark on your trip. Once finished, return the car to the same parking lot and voila! Rentals are hourly or per diem, depending on your needs. If you’d like to learn more about Zipcar’s car sharing services, click here.

As the downtown lifestyle booms and Austin’s growth continues, on-demand car sharing is a convenient and affordable transportation solution for those living in high-density areas. Have questions? I’m always here for you. Give me a call or send me an email anytime.

Car Sharing Austin TX

Easy Ways to Declutter Your Kitchen

January 25th, 2018

Kitchen with Hanging Utensils

By Michelle Busby

Keeping a kitchen tidy and presentable is no simple task. However, when you are staging and showing your house, it is imperative to have a kitchen people can not only see themselves in but also admire. While the task may seem impossible with all of the small items scattered about the countertops, there are ways to minimize clutter and maximize organization. These tips will help you declutter your kitchen.

Messy Pantry
When there are cans and boxes everywhere, it can be overwhelming to want to cook anything. To minimize the stress of the disarray, look into various crates and boxes. By incorporating these boxes, you should reduce the mystery of your pantry and promote efficiency. As a bonus, add labels to these containers and group items by food groups or by meals. Now when you are asking your guest to grab a can of cream of mushroom soup from the pantry, they will be able to find it with ease!

Cabinet Conundrum
Running out of space to store everything? Rather than getting rid of valuable cookware, look into installing a hanging rack for your pots and pans. Not only will this free up plenty of space in your cupboards, but you will also look like a master chef with all of your pots and pans on display. If your cookware is all stainless steel, consider investing in a stainless steel hanging rack to complete the look.

Stealthy Sink
Rather than having the faux drawer underneath your sink, consider adding hinges and a tray within the sink area. With it, you can store your sponges, gloves and anything else you might often use. Not only will this reduce the clutter, but it will also make for a specific location to store these items.

Are you looking for additional ideas to organize your kitchen?
Contact me today, and I can show you how to properly stage and arrange your house, including your kitchen, to impress anyone who enters.

Homestead Exemption Help

January 20th, 2018

Save Money with Homestead Exemption

Managing a household can be a difficult task. There are risks and challenges that can become rather taxing, such as renovations and family affairs. What shouldn’t be taxing, however, is filing your homestead exemption. Here are some tips and steps to file your homestead here in Travis and Williamson County:

  1. Where do you live?
    The residence you primarily live in is your homestead. According to the state of Texas, if you have a homestead in Texas, you can file for a homestead exemption and pay lower taxes for this property. There are caveats, however. You must own the house that you are living in, meaning if you are primarily living in a rental or an apartment that you do not own, it cannot be exempted. You also must have a driver’s license with the corresponding address.

  2. How can you file?
    Depending on where you live in Texas, you can apply online or via mail. If you reside in Travis County, you can go to www.traviscad.org to apply online, or if you are from Williamson County, go to www.wcad.org and apply accordingly. You must own the property on or before January 1st of the tax year in question, and you have from January 1st until April 30th to file this form. You have a year to apply late. However, it is a more involved process and can result in delinquent taxes, so apply on time!

  3. Why does it matter?
    You already have plenty to be concerned about in your home. Why should you be worrying about this? This homestead exemption can save you a sizable amount of money, with which you can reinvest into various home improvement projects.

Do you have family that lives in Texas, but not in Williamson or Travis County? Look up their county’s appraisal district and have them apply accordingly. Do you need assistance filing your homestead exemption? Contact me today, and I can ease some of your stress!

New Year New Trends

December 22nd, 2017

2018 New Year New Trends

By Michelle Busby
The new year is almost here, and with the coming of a new year comes a list of new trends. Many designers have various predictions for 2018 hottest trends, and I have compiled a list for you to enjoy. Here are seven trends that will kiss 2017 goodbye to welcome in 2018 with style:

Lavender is predicted to be the in color of 2018. This is a shift from the “Millennial Pink” trend of 2017 into more of a purple hue. This delicate color will be all over the design magazines in the near future

Circle Patterns, accents with geometry have been a hot commodity, but the forecasted design of popular choice will be circle patterns. Designers from HGTV have speculated that circles will be likened to the triangle pattern craze of the past. The longevity of the circle’s trend has yet to be decided, but buy sparingly for too many circles can overwhelm your palette.

Brass Accents the time of sterling silver is fading, and the rise of Brass is here. The warm tones of a golden brass are welcoming and subtle, as opposed to the expected and somewhat tired sterling silver sheen. Regardless of the trends, install accents like sink handles and towel racks in a color you enjoy. Chasing trends doesn’t always equate to increasing value.

Green Another color that will be showing up in numerous design magazines will be green, specifically olive and chartreuse. These shades are softer and complement the Lavender highlight well. Being more earthy and natural colors, these shades will work nicely to liven up any room.

Woven Textures the baskets and woven textures style will continue being highlighted in 2018. The basket craze has been going strong and are not only aesthetically pleasing but also provides a functional use. If you are considering trends that will last longer, this might be a safer option.

Tile Time Subway tile has been a staple for renovations, but the time has changed for subway tile to evolve. The trend of tile is moving towards larger tile, both an aesthetic choice and ease of upkeep option. Less grout and bigger tiles make for easier cleaning and installation along with maintenance.

Velvet Fever Velvet is making a flash appearance in the trends forecast for 2018. It will be a big trend that will hit hard, and leave quickly. Consider steering away from this trend in acknowledgment that it won’t last long.

As mentioned briefly throughout this blog, trends are not always the way to go when decorating your house. The key is to stay true to your tastes and design everything in moderation. If you are interested in selling or buying a house, contact me today and we can find you the home that fits your tastes perfectly!

Should You Wait Until Spring to Sell?

December 13th, 2017

Should you wait until spring to sell?

By: Michelle Busby

Selling your house is a time consuming and elaborate process. There are so many factors that play into this life-altering experience, one of which is the season in which you list your property. Spring and summer are the supposed golden months for real estate, but could winter better suit you? Here are three things to consider when choosing a season to list in:

  1. Competition

    The spring is a great time to list your home. There are more hours of daylight after work, the flowers are blooming beautifully and numerous homes are hitting the market. That might be the exact reason to consider listing this winter. The more homes on the market, the more choices potential buyers have. What does this mean for you? You now have to find a way for your home to stand out from the other options! If you list during the winter, the competition is more scarce and gives you an opportunity to stand out from others. The winter is also notorious for more serious buyers, almost guaranteeing your home is on the market for fewer days.

  2. Remaining Projects

    Are there projects holding you back from listing your property? Consider the return on investment of those projects, as some renovations are more advantageous than others. Completely updating your kitchen may be a good reason to delay listing until the spring, while restaining the deck is a project that won’t affect the sale as much.

  3. My Schedule Wouldn’t Allow It

    From shopping to decorating, the holidays are a busy time of year! With a full calendar, it can be hard to find the time to stage and clean your home for a winter sale. With this in mind, make a list of all you need to do and tackle one task at a time. However, if it does feel overwhelming, it may be in your best interest to wait to list your property until the spring. List your property according to when it is ready to be sold, rather than what season would be the most advantageous.

Still uncertain when is the best time to list your property? I can help! Contact me today to have an agent that sticks by you every step of the way!

Should you sell your home on your own?

November 28th, 2017

As the real estate market continues to grow, the price you can ask for your house rises. This influx of money may sound promising, and you may make more money by not opting for an agent, but is that in your best interest? Here are five things to consider before you sell your home alone:

Pondering Home Seller - sell your home alone

 

 

  1. How much is my home worth?

    A common issue with putting your home on the market without an agent’s guidance is overpricing your house. If a property is improperly priced, to begin with, the entire selling journey becomes much more difficult. As an overpriced home typically remains stagnant, many buyers begin questioning why your home is still on the market. This causes doubt and anxiety for you, as the seller. But, all of this can be avoided with an agent. Consider hiring an appraiser or reaching out to a REALTOR® to perform a market analysis. By reaching out to the professionals, your home and its likelihood of being sold are in good hands!

 

  1. Am I agent savvy?

    When you hire a real estate agent to help you sell your home, you are privy to their expertise, resources, and network of contacts in the area. The benefits they bring to the table cost you a percentage of the commission as in a typical sale you pay the buyer and seller’s agent six percent of the purchase price (split equally between the two). However, if you choose to list your home as “For Sale by Owner,” you must rely on Buyer’s agents to show your property. To ensure they show your property, give them an incentive. A three percent commission on the sale, while expected, is usually incentive enough. Also, look into local laws and code of ethics to ensure you are doing what you should and to avoid overpaying.

 

  1. Can I handle sales and marketing tasks?

    There is a lot that goes into selling a house. First, you have to make sure it is market ready and staged to sell. While you can hire a professional to stage your property, it likely costs more than hiring an agent to find someone to handle the staging. On top of that, selling your home also entails the following: making the place appealing, planting a “for sale” sign in your yard, capturing high-quality photos, listing your home on multiple real estate websites or classifieds, etc. Hiring a real estate agent prevents you from having to deal with all of these things! An agent also provides you with another benefit – MLS, the main platform where agents find and show homes to buyers. You want your home listed on this website to ensure it is sold quickly and for top-dollar value. If you do decide you want to forego an agent, there are brokers that charge a flat rate fee to upload your listing. This is advisable, regardless the cost.

 

  1. Will it hurt to sell my home alone?

    More than likely you have fond memories of your home and probably enjoy all its little quirks. But, not everyone will see what you see. As you are now the seller’s agent, you are likely to hear everything potential buyers have to say about your home – the good and the bad. The buyers are going to point out as much as they can to bring down the price, and it won’t feel great to hear all of the faults of your property. If you have no emotional attachment to the land you are selling, the criticism might not be as much of an issue. Take this into account if you are considering selling your property yourself.

 

  1. Can I screen?

    A house is an expensive venture and needs to be properly financed. Without an agent, you need to screen every potential buyer and evaluate their financial situation to ensure they can handle a purchase of this magnitude. It is a good idea to ask for a current mortgage approval letter to ensure they have talked to a lender and are approved to purchase your home. Make sure they are pre-approved for the asking price; otherwise you might be stuck with already cutting a deal.

Does any of this sound daunting or overwhelming? Instead of trying to avoid the cost of hiring agents, look into hiring the right agent for you. Call me today for more information!

Make a Change to Your Home

November 3rd, 2017

With the holidays upon us, the desire for change is quickly approaching. Before you know it, New Year’s day will arrive and with it numerous resolutions of change and understanding. What if there was something you could change now within a free weekend? These tips to help you redecorate your bedroom will give you a sense of change and accomplishment that you can smile upon as the New Year rolls around.

Bedroom Change

Buy New Bedding

A simple step to introduce change to your bedroom is by buying a new bedspread and sheets. Considering you are supposed to be in bed for eight hours a day, it would not hurt to get a nice new comforter that fits your design preference and physical needs.

Hang on Handle

Do you have older drawers in your bedroom? A relatively quick and easy way to update them is by adding new handles or knobs. Adding new decorative hardware can add a fresh look, while also tying a room together – if you do wait to pick them out after other suggestions.

Dressy Dresser

The dresser does not have to solely be a functional piece of furniture. Consider adding accent pieces or hanging things nearby. If you have a lot of items on top, consider a fun piece of decor that functions as storage. Changing up the arrangement of items might even be enough to give you a healthy dose of change.

Carefree Corner

Reading in bed is a great way to wind down after a tiresome day at the office. However, it typically causes you to fall asleep. If this is the goal of reading in bed, continue doing what you do; but if it isn’t, consider investing in a comfy chair and lamp to create your very own reading nook. If you don’t think you have the time to read in a specific corner, consider setting the chair near a window and enjoying your morning coffee there. This change of routine might be exactly what you’re searching for.

Move It Around

While it may seem obvious, the act of the layout of your room may be enough of a change. If you discover you don’t like it, simply move it back to the original location. It’s the least risky option with the highest chance of reward.

Thinking you might be interested in a bigger change, like moving? Give me a call, and we can set up a meeting.