Brewed in the Heart of Texas

CentralTexasBeer01

It’s an old friend, a new love, a daring adventure, a celebration of special events, a bonding moment, a refresher on a hot day or a hearty feast on a cold one. Beer is one of the most popularly accepted alcoholic beverages and is the third most fashionable drink after water and tea. They come in different types and can be categorized according to the color, ingredients and alcohol content. These altogether are known as beer styles, which continues to vary due to the weather and climate of their brewery location. This guide highlights the darlings of the local Central Texas beer world. An industry in a category of it’s own, reflecting the
style, culture, climate and eccentric personality of Central Texas.

Click here to download the guide.

Why You Shouldn’t Sell Off Market

As you know, this market is red hot. For most sellers, the question remains, “What separates a regular agent from one who stands out and what can a stand-out agent do to increase my odds for a higher price in a shorter amount of time?”

In our quest for differentiated value, we’ve studied the techniques of top producing agents around the country and have adopted the ones that we feel are most productive to our clients.

I see properties that are pending on sites all the time that never hit the market. There are obviously rare cases where this will be beneficial for the seller, such as not wanting a bunch of people in the house or for privacy reasons. But in this market, if you do not expose the property to the masses (by way of MLS), there is a good chance that the seller is leaving money on the table.

We go to great lengths to expose our listings to the public, long before a property is listed. We use Zillow and Trulia, Facebook and Google adwords (all run through professional advertising companies), and we also push the properties out through our vast network of top producing agents. The difference between us and other brokerages is that we rarely (unless instructed) allow the buyers or their agents to preview the property until its listed on MLS. We drive demand to the property and collect names and numbers of potential buyers and their agents so that, when the property is listed, we have the potential for several offers at once.

By not allowing pre-views of the property before it’s listed, we prevent the seller from feeling pressure to sell before the market has a chance to react to the listing. We firmly believe that the only way to affectively market a home is to provide a strong pre-MLS advertising package. We’ve yet to see one that provides as much coverage as the package that we employ.

I’d be happy to go over this with you.

Austin the Shining Star

Austin, the Shining Star of the National Stage

You’d have to live under a rock to not know that the housing market in Austin is hotter than ever. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the rest of the country is faring as well as we are. Yes, they are doing well, but with the latest unemployment numbers hitting 4.4% in Austin, we are the shining star in the real estate national stage.

So it brings us to the question that I get on an almost daily basis: If I sell my home, where am I going to go? That’s a great questions. I’ve been fortunate enough, these past couple of years, to be in a position where I work 60% to 70% listings compared to buyers. Many of my sellers, for one reason or another, are moving out of Austin. That’s’ great for them, in the sense that they don’t have to try to fight this market, but if you are selling a home in 78704 and trying to downsize, that’s where you get into the madness of multiple offers. It boils down to this: the cheaper the home (for the most part), the harder it is to acquire. Special consideration to where you are going to go needs to be made before you even list your home. If its downsizing, you need to be prepared for the possibility that you are going to have to fight for that home.

As an avid Dave Ramsey follower, I have, in past years, been extremely reluctant to advise my clients to buy BEFORE they sell their home. That’s not the case any more. With current market conditions, I now believe you would be in better situation by buying first. Obviously there are risks and we do our best to put a plan into place to mitigate those risks. But now more than ever are those risks tolerable.

If you are upsizing your home, things get better. The higher the price point, the smaller the pool of buyers. It’s still no cake walk, but we see less multiple offers the higher the price range a buyer is looking in.

If you are considering selling a home and want to talk about the plans we put into place to help you navigate these issues, feel free to call me for a consultation.

A Family’s Guide to 78704

When it comes to parks, the first thing people think of is Zilker Park because it’s, arguably, the best park in the city. Zilker’s massive playground includes activities for all ages as well as the Zilker Zephyr – a miniature train that runs daily from 10AM to 5PM. There are also 358 acres of parkland for activities such as kite flying, soccer and ball games. You can rent a canoe in various locations for about $12 per hour and you can buy bird seed for feeding the pigeons at the Zilker Zephyr.

Nestled within Zilker’s massive sprawl lies Barton Springs Pool, a natural springs pool fed by the Edwards Aquifer. There’s no better place to cool off during the hot summer months.

If you’re looking for a little shade, or maybe just to get away from the crowds of Zilker, Little Stacy Park (located on Alameda, just south of the river) might be for you. The park has a free wading pool, playgrounds, covered picnic shelters and restrooms. A great place for kids!

Splash pads? 78704′s got ‘em. There are two parks that include this very popular feature. Ricky Guerrero Park, (located on S. 6TH) and Butler Park (formerly Town Lake Park – Located on Barton Springs RD).

What a lot of people don’t realize is the shear number of parks in 78704. There are over 30! Even the parks connected to schools are available to for public use. Little Zilker Park, also known as the Zilker Neighborhood Park, adjoins the Zilker Elementary School. The neighborhood community has recently completed many improvements to the park and has a full five year plan for even more. Then there’s Big Stacey Park which is connected to Travis Heights Elementary. Big Stacy Park includes a well sized, free-admission, swimming pool complete with swimming lanes and a deep end suitable for diving. Big Stacy even connects to Little Stacy through the very walkable and family friendly Blunn Creek Greenbelt area.

There are more family friendly locations than just parks in 78704. Many restaurants in the area, not only make themselves kid friendly, but go out of their way to create welcoming family environment.

Freddie’s Place, in the Bouldin Creek area, features American comfort food – made from scratch – in a backyard atmosphere. There is music, washer pits and even a playground for the kids.

Phil’s Icehouse, the self-styled “Happiest burger joint in Texas”, is located on South Lamar. Phil’s has both indoor and outdoor seating, plenty of space for the entire family, and outside, you’ll find a wonderful playscape.

These are just a few of the family friendly spots in 78704.

Now Distributing to Bouldin and Travis Heights

Spyglass Realty has been working the West section of 78704 for several years now. We are excited about our expansion into the rest of 78704.

If you haven’t heard of us, we provide a series of services that most other agents don’t employ, such as complimentary staging and advanced pre-marketing. Our goal was to keep our focus to West of Lamar and South of Oltorf, mainly because there were already long-time brokerages that were focusing on Bouldin and Travis Heights. That has changed.

Throughout the years, we’ve seen some of these long-time agents retire or move out, leaving a small handful of “specialists” in Bouldin and Travis Heights.

Because the majority of our business is in 78704, and because we dominate the search terms in these areas, we get a a lot of calls from buyers and sellers in this area. It’s not like we were omitting Bouldin and Travis Heights, we just weren’t mailing to these areas yet. What we found was that a majority of the agents who were selling in this area were not even located in this area. And we also found working with buyers, that the listing agents who were prominent in Bouldin an Travis Heights who did live in this area, not only didn’t employ ALL of our techniques, but also lacked some of the common services that you would expect to see from just the basic, run-of-the-mill agent. We had an occasion where a long time “player” in Travis Heights wouldn’t return our call on a listing that had been on the market for 2 months!

We then saw a real space in these areas for a service-oriented company such as ours. And here we are. Now we are sending our quarterly newsletter into the areas of Bouldin and Travis Heights. If you aren’t familiar with us by now, keep an eye out. We have marketing techniques that aren’t employed by any other agent in the city (yet) and you will soon see our unique ads at a lot of uncommon locations.

Our goal, when listing a property, is to bring the attention to that property days and even weeks before it’s listed. We drive traffic to a property pre-MLS but we don’t sell the property (unless otherwise instructed) until the property hits MLS. This is how we get the highest and best price for our seller and we are able to negotiate the best terms for our sellers to combat issues like appraisal and canceling during the inspection.

For buyers, we are able to find properties pre-MLS through our network of other top producing agents (as a top 50 agent years-running, I do a lot of networking). And yes, if you are selling and looking to move elsewhere, we do work outside of 78704.

78704 is where we call home so this is where our advertising is focused.

How to Structure an Offer

How to Structure an Offer in a Competitive Multiple Offer Situation

Once you’ve sold a property (or before in some cases) you have the daunting task of trying to secure the next property that you will be moving to. Again, through national networking, we have devised a system of best practices for our buyers to structure an offer that gives them the best possible chance of securing that next property.

  • 1. You don’t have to give up your due diligence to write an aggressive offer. As a listing agent, I see multiple offers all the time with 10 days for inspection period. Our inspectors are on stand by and we can often get an inspection with 2 or 3 days of executing a contract. That gives us plenty of time to review the inspection report. A hefty option fee ($500 or more) can also go a long way to instill confidence.
  • 2. Write low days for financing contingency. This is a big one. I see agents putting 20 to 30 days for the buyer to obtain financing before the earnest money goes hard. We work with the number one volume producer of loans in Austin and he vets our buyers BEFORE he writes the pre-approval letter. If the buyers finances are solid, then they don’t need 20 days. The financing period can be over and if the property doesn’t appraise, the difference between contract price and appraisal price can still be negotiated. Also, because our lender does so much business in Austin, his pre-approval letter carries weight among top producing listing agents. Recently, we have put ZERO days for financing contingency on several of the offers we have written for multiple offers.
  • 3. Putting a contingency in the contract for a difference in appraisal price OR the removal of the appraisal contingency all-together. There are implications about this that you may want to seek legal advice for, but I have seen, on several occasions, offers that outline the difference the buyer would be willing to bring in between list price and appraisal price. It doesn’t make much sense to offer 10 to 30 thousand over list price if the property has no chance of appraising at that price. A listing agent and seller are going to want to have some confidence that the buyer will be able to make up all or some of the difference if the appraiser doesn’t bring the value in. Obviously the buyer has to have a strong grasp on what this would do to his finances or this isn’t an option.
  • These are just three of ten different techniques that we use when working with buyers to help them secure a property in a multiple offer situation and I would dare say that we are more successful than many of our colleagues that do not employ these maneuvers simply because the agents or the buyers don’t understand the implications of doing this. We do. Understanding these options for buyers also helps us to negotiate with buyers (when working with sellers) so that we can suggest the strongest possible terms to buyers agents and explain to them, why these techniques are not as big a risk as one would think.

    Call me to find out more about these aggressive techniques.

Spyglass 78704 Mural

In April of this year, our company partnered with Austin Civil Engineering to enhance the side of our building, located at 2708 S Lamar. Our goal was to come up with a mural that would capture the spirit of 78704 and I think this does it. Hats off to the artist Wiley Ross. You can see more of his work on his website, wileyross.com.

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Spyglass Realty 1st Quarter Newsletter

As we end the first quarter of the year, national speculation shows that sales are down in some areas of the country. This could be due to the onslaught of winter storms during the first quarter of the year, experts say. This has caused the fed to re-consider their tapering of QE3, also know as quantitative easement.

Sales are expected to grow through the summer as new developments come online. Outside of Austin, most of the new development neighborhoods are being erected in Leander, Cedar Park, Georgetown and many parts of Hays county.

At this time, the February numbers, which were just released, show median home prices up 10% over one year before, standing at $225,000 in January. The average home price was up as well, 11% to $288,650.

Area 7, which encompasses Barton Hills and Zilker, shows the median home price up a huge 16.8% year over year, landing at $550,000. The “average price” is down (presumably because the data is showing less properties and the homes that sold were down). Both the average and the median price per square foot show a decrease in price. The data also shows that in February 2013 of last year there were 8 properties. A very small sampling of data shows there were 20 in the same time span of 2014. So are values down in area 7? There is also the “pocket listing” problem. Many agents are electing to try to sell properties off market for various reasons. This is fine, but if it is not put into MLS, then your neighbors will not realize the gain, through appraisal, when they list the home.

For example, if the comparable properties only sold for $640,000 and you believe that someone will buy your home for $700,000, you can list your home for $700,000 and find a ready, willing and able buyer who will pay the asking price, but if this buyer is getting a loan, and the appraisal comes out at $640,000, the bank will only lend to that amount. Meaning that the only way to circumvent this is to get a cash buyer or to negotiate the financing contingency out of the contract. We’ve done this a few times on the latter, but only if there are several offers, and the winning buyer is able to bring in cash over and above the down payment. Ideally, Austin real estate agents should put pocket listings into MLS after they close in order for subsequent sales to appreciate properly.

As the summer season approaches, be prepared to see multiple offers throughout on reasonably priced properties. Also be prepared to see interest rates rise as we enter the fourth quarter of the year and the Feds QE3 tappers.

Coming Soon in 78704 – The Bridges at the Park – 210 Lee Barton Dr # 513, Austin, TX 78704

Very slick and modern design, located just south of the Lamar bridge and at top of 78704, near Butler Park and Auditorium Shores.  This complex truly offers the best of what 78704 and downtown have to offer.  Residents here can cross into downtown through the Lamar pedestrian bridge.  It’s also a short walk to many local restaurants on Lamar and Barton Springs Road.

This unit is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath facing West.  Its on the 5th floor and features high end, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors and granite countertops.  Please send an email to sales@spyglassrealty.com to be notified of the first showing opportunity.   $515,786 for 1369 sq ft.

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Economic Outlook: Texas and Austin 2014

2014 Economic Outlook Header

The population boom in Texas and Austin is obviously the key driving factor for this economy. Projections are that by 2060 there will be 80% more Texans in our great state and by 2070 the state’s population will double.

In the short term, predictions forecast: Austin will have a population of 2,317,732 by 2020, 3,077,732 by 2030, will gain 30,000 new jobs in 2014, and the unemployment rate will drop somewhere between 4.5 and 4.8%

A huge impact on Austin’s future economy will be the new medical school. Millions of square feet are being built right now all for the biotech and medical industries.

About 4,500 new apartments are sprouting up in the urban core. Last year 5,000 new units were added. In the region (which includes outlying areas of San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, etc), there are 17,000 new units being built.

Are we overbuilding? In the short term, yes, but in the long term, no. As these downtown and urban core (78704 included) units are completed, there will be competition amongst them as they all come online at the same time. Since we expect 30,000 new jobs, however, that should only be a temporary problem.

The resale market is expected to sell more units in 2014 and that this number will be between 10,000 and 11,000 units (there were about 9,500 in 2013).

A lot of the growth that we will see, in terms of new homes, will be in the outlying areas. It’s estimated that Leander alone has between 12,000 and 17,000 lots that will begin to hit the market this year.

How did 78704 fare?

This zip code has had some of the biggest gains in appreciation of any in Austin.