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.

Life Expectancy Around the House

October 31st, 2017

Now that you’re a homeowner, there is something you should know – if something breaks, YOU are now responsible for fixing it. On top of that, everything in the house has a different life expectancy! From the appliances to the windows to the mattress and everything in-between, here is the shelf life of every item in your home:

life expectancy

LIFE EXPECTANCY AROUND THE HOUSE

General:
Windows (with a plastic frame) – 20 to 30 years
Windows (wood) – lifetime
Doors (vinyl and screen) – 20 to 40 years
Paint (interior) – 7 to 10 years
Paint (exterior) – 5 to 7 years
Light bulbs (depends on type) – 42 to 83 days
Wood floors – 20 to 30 years
Carpet – 10 to 15 years
Air Conditioning – 15 to 20 years
Radiators – 5 to 30 years
Smoke detector – 10 years
Driveway (asphalt) – 20 to 30 years
Deck – 20 years
Patio – 20 to 50 years

Kitchen:
Countertop (wood) – 100 years
Microwave – 5 to 10 years
Oven (gas) – 15 to 23 years
Tumble dryer – 11 to 18 years
Dishwasher – 9 to 16 years
Fridge – 10 to 18 years
Washing machine – 8 to 16 years
Garbage disposal – 10 to 15 years
Freezer – 12 to 20 years

Living Room:
Television – 11 years
Sofa – 10 to 15 years

Bedroom:
Mattress – 8 to 15 years
Hairdryer – 8 to 14 years

Bathroom:
Showerhead – lifetime
Bathtub – 25 to 50 years
Toilet – 50 years
Flooring – 20 to 25 years
Grout – 5 years
Cabinets – 20 to 50 years
Sink – 15 to 20 years

Keep in mind; these are averages – how long each item will ACTUALLY last depends on the condition you bought them in and how you treat them.

Before buying a new home, consider asking the current owners when the major items were replaced. You and your bank account will thank you!

Do you have any questions about items in your home? Give me a call; I would be happy to provide guidance.

Don’t Miss Out – Austin Festive Fun Halloween Week + November 2017 Edition

October 27th, 2017

Don’t you just hate when there is an event that would’ve been exactly what you want to attend but you didn’t know it was happening? In a city as big as Austin, it can happen more than some of us would like to admit. To help you avoid disappointment, I’ve compiled a list of fun and Austin Festive Fun Fall events:

Austin Festive Fun Halloween Pumpkins

Austin Film Festival October 26th-November 2nd

Are you an avid film fanatic? If so, don’t miss out on this year’s Austin Film Festival! The purpose of this festival is to help people find their voice while still having fun.

Dia De Los Muertos Festival October 28th

The Mexic-Arte Museum’s Viva La Vida Fest is Austin’s largest Dia De Los Muertos celebration. Fun and educational, this is an event perfect for the whole family.

Ironman 70.3 Austin October 29th

Have you been wanting to cheer for someone in a triathlon but haven’t known when any were occurring? Now is your chance to root for strong men and women running, swimming and biking all around Austin.

Halloween October 31st

This is a holiday I doubt you have forgotten, but it feels wrong not to include in an Austin Festive fun edition of the blog.

Christmas at the Caswell House November 2nd- 8th + December 10th

Lunches, brunches and cookies with Santa are some of the many events occurring this year at the Caswell House.

26th Annual Austin Powwow November 4th

Come learn about the heritage of the American Indian at the 26th annual Austin Powwow. There will be live music and various demonstrations making for a fun and educational time.

Texas Book Festival November 4th and 5th

Meet the authors behind some of your favorite books and discover new authors in the process. The festival features numerous speeches and Q&A’s that are sure to provoke new thoughts.

Austin Celtic Festival November 4th and 5th

This year’s Celtic Festival offers Celtic everything – dancing, animals, traditions and more! It’s sure to be a blast and an experience you will never forget.

8th Annual Texas Monthly BBQ Fest – Weekend of ‘Cue November 5th

Do you want to try multiple BBQ places in one day? This meat palooza will also have live music entertainment setting it to be a hoot and half.

East Austin Studio Tour November 11th-12th + 18th-19th

Want to see inside the minds of today’s artists? Catch a glimpse of the creative process at this studio opening – FREE to the public.

Blue Genie Art Bazaar November 24th- December 24th

Does your family live outside of Austin? For some traditional “Keep Austin Weird” presents, head out to the Blue Genie Art Bazaar. It’s quirky and fun, and has a theater that plays Christmas movies on a loop if you need a break from all of the shopping. Definitely worth a visit!

 

May these events fill your fall calendar with good, old-fashioned Austin Festive FUN!

Do you have any questions about Austin’s real estate market?  Contact us and we can find you what you need.
To read more blog posts, click here.

Mortgage Process Do’s and Don’ts

September 29th, 2017

Juggling all aspects of the home-buying process can be overwhelming. While stressful, there are some things you can do, and some things you shouldn’t do, to alleviate some of the pressure of the process. These mortgage process do’s and don’ts should help ensure a stress-free approval of your home loan:

mortgage process do's and don'ts

Mortgage Process Do’s and Don’ts

Do

  • Inform your lender if any of the information you’ve provided has changed. Changes in information include address, job, salary – or any other pertinent information for the loan process.
  • Maintain records of all bank transactions, especially if you transfer large amount from one account to another during the loan process.
  • Obtain homeowners insurance with coverage equal to the mortgage amount or replacement value of your home.
  • Order a termite inspection of the property you intend to purchase.
  • Keep track of your credit score as any little change can impact your loan.
  • Communicate with your lender if you have any questions or concerns about your loan. 

Don’t

  • Make any significant purchases during the loan process as this can negatively impact your debt-to-income ratio.
  • Open or close any credit cards during the loan process as this too can negatively impact your debt-to-income ratio.
  • Pay off collections or charge-offs as this can cause your credit score to drop.
  • Quit or change jobs, if possible. Lenders are more favorable toward individuals who show a two-year work history and a new job can affect that.
  • Cosign for another borrower. Signing a loan for another borrower will show additional debt on your record and could affect both your credit and your debt-to-income ratio.
  • Change your current assets. Changes include rotating investments, open/closing accounts, making unexplained deposits and more.

Not only will these do’s and don’ts help you secure a mortgage, but they will also make your home-buying experience more enjoyable.

Do you have any questions about buying a home in the Austin area? I can help! Give me a call today!

Austin Fall Events & Festivals Guide

September 28th, 2017

Let’s be honest, fall is one of the best times of the year in Texas’ Capital City. As the weather begins to cool down, residents look for festive ways to enjoy the fall season out-and-about in the Austin area! Whether you’re new to the Live Music Capital of the World or you’re just looking for some new events to enjoy with your friends and family, below are some of the top Austin fall events and festivals:

Austin fall events

 

September

9/30

Texas Craft Brewers Festival

Fiesta Gardens

 

9/30

AustOberfest

Scholz Garten

 

October 

10/6 – 10/8 and 10/13 – 10/15

Austin City Limits Music Festival

Zilker Park

 

10/14

Oktoberfest

German Free School

 

10/20 – 10/22

FORMULA 1 United States Grand Prix

Circuit of the Americas

 

 

10/29

Ironman 70.3 Austin

Various Locations

 

TBD

Dia de los Muertos Festival

Fiesta Gardens

 

November

11/3 – 11/12

Wurstfest

New Braunfels, Texas

 

11/4 – 11/5

Texas Book Festival

Texas State Capitol Building

 

11/4 – 11/5

Austin Celtic Festival

Fiesta Gardens

 

11/5

Texas Monthly BBQ Festival

City Terrace at The Long Center

 

11/6 – 11/8

Fun Fun Fun Fest

Auditorium Shores

 

11/10 – 11/12

Sound on Sound Festival

Sherwood Forest

 

11/18

Chuy’s Christmas Parade

Congress Avenue

 

11/23

Turkey Trot

The Long Center

 

December

11/22 – 12/31

ZACH Theatre Presents: “A Christmas Carol”

ZACH Theatre

 

12/8 – 12/23

Ballet Austin’s “The Nutcracker”

Long Center for the Performing Arts

 

12/12

Austin Symphony Orchestra presents Handel’s “Messiah”

Hyde Park Baptist Church

 

TBD

51st Annual Trail of Lights

Zilker Park

 

12/31

Austin New Year

Auditorium Shores

 

January

1/1 – 1/8

Free Week

Various Locations around Austin

 

1/15

Martin Luther King March and Festival

Huston-Tillotson University

 

Click here for a printable PDF of the top Austin fall events and festivals.

Have questions about the Austin area? I would be honored to share my expertise of the Austin area with you – give me a call today!

 

Home-Buying Myths Exposed

August 30th, 2017

As real estate questions circulate, misconceptions arise. How do you know what to believe? To ensure you have an accurate understanding of buying a home in the greater Austin area, here are some of the most common home-buying myths exposed:

Home-Buying Myths Exposed

You must make a down payment of 20 percent

While a 20 percent down payment is ideal so you can avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI), there are a variety of loan programs, like FHA and VA loans, to help you get into the home of your dreams for much less.  Always consult a mortgage lender about your options before assuming you have to make a certain down payment. Asking can only benefit you!

Since you have enough for the down payment, you’re all set

In most cases, the down payment is the only thing homebuyers save up for when they are searching for a home. On top of the down payment, you will have the following additional costs: homeowner’s insurance, closing costs, appraisal and inspection costs, monthly mortgage payments and utilities, property taxes, regular maintenance and repairs and more.

Saving for the down payment is a good start, but go past the amount needed for the down payment to ensure you can afford the additional expenses listed above.

A 30-year fixed mortgage is always the best option

A 30-year fixed mortgage may be the best choice if you plan to keep the home that long…However, if you only intend to keep the home for five to seven years, there may be other options (like an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM)) that are more appropriate. Remember, the longer the fixed rate, the higher your interest rate – meaning, you could be paying a higher rate for nothing. Before choosing a mortgage plan, think about how long you plan on living in the home – and, always consult your REALTOR® and lender for advice.

You must have a perfect credit score to qualify for a mortgage

While an excellent credit score – over 700 – may make it easier to get a mortgage with a lower interest rate, your credit score isn’t the only consideration that goes into determining if you qualify for a loan. On top of your credit score, a lender will look at your credit history, savings, debt and more. Find out your credit score on FICO’s loan savings calculator to see where you stand and how it will affect your loan interest rate.  However, take the information found online at face value. To determine how you REALLY stand, contact a lender in your area.

The seller’s asking price is non-negotiable

Much like buying a car, the offer you make on a home doesn’t have to be the full asking price. If you have good credit, pre-approval, and a down payment ready to go, sellers will likely negotiate with you rather than hold out for another buyer. Keep in mind, every market is different, as is every seller’s approach to pricing his or her home. Consult your REALTOR® on what to offer and trust their recommendation – their expertise and knowledge of the market will ensure your offer is positioned to be accepted.

If you don’t have kids, the school district doesn’t matter

The neighborhood and school district your home is located in matters. Even if you don’t have children, good schools are a sign of a good community. What does this mean for the resale value of your home? When the time comes to sell, your home will likely sell quicker and for a greater value than a comparable home in a rougher neighborhood. Keep in mind, location always matters!

Since I have the Internet, I don’t need a REALTOR®

If you think you don’t need an agent because you have the Internet, think again! When you align yourself with a real estate agent, you get a guide for every step of the home-buying process: searching for homes, inside information on properties and neighborhoods, a skilled negotiator and more. Your REALTOR® is there to guide you – trust their recommendations.

Don’t fall for these home-buying myths again!

Do you have any questions about buying a home in the greater Austin area? If so, give me a call anytime. I would be happy to provide guidance.

Home Showing Decorum

August 29th, 2017

While professional photos and home staging efforts are what draw potential buyers to your property, your job doesn’t stop there! As the home seller, there are other things you can do to ensure your home shows in its best light. What more can you do? Follow these home showing decorum practices to “wow” any potential buyer that visits your property.

home showing decorum

 

Leave the property

Leave your property during the home showing. Why? Simple: it’s polite and you being there may make the buyers feel uncomfortable. Allowing potential buyers to view the property without you there gives them the opportunity to visualize themselves in your home – which is a HUGE selling point. Plus, buyers envisioning themselves and their belongings in your home is the entire reason for a home showing!

Take your pet(s) with you

During a home showing, you should aim to create the ideal living environment. To create this perfect environment, take your pets with you during the home showing and do your best to wipe all trace of them from your home. The last thing you want is your dog barking and distracting buyers from getting a real feel for your home.

Provide driveway or curbside parking

Is there anything worse than having to drive around in circles looking for a parking spot? Of course, there is – but you don’t want buyers visiting YOUR property to do that! A lack of parking may give a potential buyer a bitter first impression of your home. To accommodate buyers and their real estate agent, clear your driveway or the curb right outside of your home.

Layout pertinent documents

Layout appropriate documents for easy access during the home showing. Doing so may lead to a faster sale of your home.

Practice patience

Be patient when waiting for feedback from buyers after a home showing. Potential buyers will likely want to process what they saw during the home showing before making an offer or providing feedback. Pestering your REALTOR® and their REALTOR® for feedback will only be considered an annoyance.

Listen to your REALTOR®

Listen to your REALTOR® and don’t take their suggestions personally; they are just giving you their professional opinion to help sell your home faster. Take their suggestions seriously; you hired them for a reason!

These home showing decorum practices may lead to a faster sale of your home – take them to heart when listing your home in the Austin area.

Do you have any questions about selling your home in the greater Austin area? I would be happy to help; give me a call anytime.

 

Resources:

https://www.bhgre.com/bhgrelife/5-etiquette-rules-every-seller-know/#4

http://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/home-seller-etiquette-rules/

 

 

Local Coffee Shops – Northwest Austin

July 31st, 2017

Did you know drinking a cup of coffee a day may extend your life? According to two studies by the Annals of Internal Medicine, it’s true! What were the key findings from these two studies? Let’s take a look!

Key Findings from Annals of Internal Medicine Coffee Studies:

  • Higher coffee intake lowered the risk of death in several different races (Blacks, Japanese Americans, Latinos and Whites).
  • More than three cups of coffee a day reduced participant’s risk of death – especially digestive circulatory diseases.
  • Drinking coffee reduced a participant’s risk of dying from seven of the ten leading causes of death in the U.S. (heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer and respiratory illness).

Where can you grab a cup of coffee in the Austin area? In an effort to support local businesses, here are Northwest Austin’s top local coffee shops:

local coffee shops

 

Cypress Creek Coffee Company

2100 Cypress Creek Road, Ste. 200, Cedar Park, TX 78613

Caffe Yolly

12129 N FM 620, Ste. 102, Austin, TX 78750

Red Horn Coffee House and Brewing Co.

13010 W Parmer Lane, Ste. 800, Cedar Park, TX 78613

Lamppost Coffee

1205 Round Rock Avenue, Round Rock, TX 78681

Coffee Shark Espresso and Pints

7300 Ranch Road 2222, Bldg 5 #111, Austin, TX 78730

Summer Moon Coffee Bar

11005 Burnet Road #112, Austin, TX 78758

Epoch Coffee – Village

2700 W Anderson Lane #409, Austin, TX 78757

Epoch Coffee – NorthLoop

221 W N Loop Blvd., Austin, TX 78751

Houndstooth Coffee

4200 North Lamar Boulevard, Ste. 120, Austin, TX 78756

 

I hope you enjoy exploring the Northwest Austin area’s top local coffee shops!

Do you have any real estate related questions? Consider me your resource; give me a call today.

7 Energy Saving Tips

July 28th, 2017

If it seems like your electric bill has increased this summer, that’s probably because has! The summer heat in Texas causes your air conditioner to work on overdrive – therefore increasing both your energy usage and your energy bill. How can you reduce your electric bill this summer? Below are some of my top seven energy saving tips:

energy saving tips

Cover Your Windows

Shut your blinds during the day and only open them at night or early in the morning. To keep your home even cooler, close your curtains during the day as well.

Use Your Ceiling Fan                                                                                 

A ceiling fan is an excellent source of ventilation and helps maintain circulation throughout the home. The breeze created by the ceiling fan can make a room feel up to eight degrees cooler.

Shut Off Heat Generating Appliances

It turns out; the majority of our everyday devices produce heat. At the very least, refrain from doing laundry and cooking anything in the oven or on the stove on extremely hot days.

Regulate the A/C

While going without air conditioning in Texas is nearly impossible, there are ways to control how much energy you are using.  Try moving the thermostat up a couple of degrees during the day – each degree you raise the thermostat saves seven to 10 percent on your cooling costs.

Smart Home Thermostat

A smart thermostat may be a great investment during the never-ending heat of a Texas summer. These thermostats allow you to decrease or increase the temperature in your home remotely – some will even learn your habits and know when you are home and when you are away. A smart thermostat can save you five to 15 percent on annual heating and cooling bills, according to Energy.gov.

Free Energy Inspection

Do you know where you use the most energy? If not, consider asking your power company to conduct a free energy inspection. These professionals will tell you exactly where you are using the most energy and make recommendations on how to decrease your bills.

Seal Air Leaks

You can save up to 20 percent on your heating and cooling bills by sealing any air leaks throughout your home. Ensuring your home is properly sealed also increases home comfort.

Even the smallest change can make a difference! What energy saving tips do you recommend? Send them my way – I would love to add them to my list!

Do you have any questions about the greater Austin area? I know this area extremely well and would be honored to any questions you may have.