Real Estate and Other News
WHAT IS HOT IN AUSTIN?
Austin’s Condo Market is Hot! According to Austin Towers, an independent resource for Austin’s downtown condo market, condo sales doubled last year according to recent MLS data. The average price last year was $ 294/square foot, down from $ 296 in 2009. More than 2,000 new downtown condos have been built in the last decade. The average price per condo downtown was $ 343,983, up from $ 330,344 from the previous year but down from $ 345,856 in 2008. Where are these condos? Below is a link to Austin Towers condo map together with a list of completed and pending/cancelled projects.
THINKING OF REMODELING?
In my neighborhood homeowners certainly do. Which project gives you the most bang for your buck? According to Remodeling Magazine one fairly easy change is to replace the garage door. Average cost – $ 1,291. According to the report more than 80 percent is recouped during a resale. Replacement of entry door with a steel door – 102.1 percent is recouped. Minor kitchen remodel – 92.8 percent recouped. Replacing wooden windows – 72.4 percent recouped. A big renovation like master suite addition – not worth so much – 52.7 percent recouped. Additional bathroom – 53 percent recouped. Home office remodel – 45.8 percent recouped. According to this report it is more profitable to concentrate on the exterior of a home than on the interior.
TIPS AND TRENDS TO HELP MAXIMIZE HOME BUYING AND SELLING
(from CRS Magazine March/April 2011 issue)
Installing a home security system can ease a lot of home- owner worries, and many systems now offer even greater peace of mind with smartphone-ready features. With your mobile device, you can stay connected to your home and monitor it whether you’re near or far.
ADT’s (www.adt.com) Pulse, an add-on to its standard security system, allows homeowners to arm or disarm the alarm system, control lights and thermostats and obtain real- time video of security cameras from anywhere they have an Internet connection. The system, which is available as an app for the Android and iPhone, also provides a list of secure or unsecured areas, alerting users which doors or windows have been opened.
The Total Connect system from Honeywell Security (mytotalconnect.com), which is available as a remote keypad or a free application for the BlackBerry, iPhone or iPod Touch, contains many of the same features as other systems, including the ability to check the status of your security system, control the lights and review video feeds. It also allows users to bypass alarm systems remotely for a specified entrance for unscheduled maintenance, and its support for multiple accounts lets you keep an eye on vacation homes or investment properties.
GotoCamera’s (www.gotocamera.com) system, which includes a residential webcam, allows users to access a mobile- friendly website for an instant feed of their home at any time. For an additional fee, users can set up mobile alerts that send an image or a 10-second video clip of disruptions in motion detection straight to their phone.
TIPS FOR GETTING READY FOR YOUR LENDER
1. Have your documentation ready. Be prepared to provide one or two years of W-2 tax forms and your last month’s pay stub. If you are bringing money to the table, you also need to bring a two month history or quarterly statements of your bank/retirement/investment accounts. The extent of the documentation will depend on your credit and on your funds.
2. The interest rate is not the only important issue to focus on. Your debt-to-income ratio, credit history, the length of time you plan to stay in the house, do you want a 30 year or 15 year rate, fixed or adjustable rate. Be sure you can explain your credit score if necessary; how much down payment and closing costs you can come to the table with, be ready to give answers about your job history. Explain if you had a medical or other emergency in case you are behind with paying bills.
BECOME AN EDUCATED AND INFORMED BUYER
Always get pre-approved and pre-qualified unless you are paying cash. We always will get a Good Faith Estimate from your lender! I find that it is most helpful if a Buyer has driven around the neighborhoods he/she wishes to buy in, has checked out the schools and perhaps police reports. Before I do my search for you, I will need to know what your criteria are, what is your wish list, what is unacceptable and what you can compromise about. Price and proximity to job will often help determine the area. The more specific you are, the better I can help you. If you are looking for an older home, close to downtown and you need double vanities, separate shower and walk-in closets, tell me. The more prepared you and I are, the more pleasant the experience will be.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HOME FOR TODAY’S (BUYER) MARKET.
Take a good look at the wear and tear conditions of your home – minor inconveniences you may have put up with may appear major to a prospective Buyer. How old is your roof? Average lifespan in our area estimated to be about 15 to 20 years. How old is your furnace? Average lifespan 20 to 25 years. How old is your water heater? Average life span 15 years. Is there any cosmetic water damage from old leaks? Are there any open permits (perhaps from previous owners) from improvements done without paying the proper permit fee? I recently had to spend many days (in addition to money) to take care of closing an open permit from 1982 from two owners prior to me. Are your hardwood floors scratched, or your carpets worn or do they smell? Have you had a home inspection done to find out what you may wish to repair before putting your home on the market? Have you priced your home competitively? Lowering the price after putting the home in MLS is not always such a good strategy in today’s market. Home Buyers have become very educated and have looked at dozens of homes on the internet before selecting the four to ten best within their price range. Before deciding on a price range for your home, you may want to look at a comparable home offered for sale. And this brings me to my last observation of today.
The Numbers Game
(from CRS Magazine March/April 2011)
Websites like Zillow.com claim to provide estimates of what your home is worth, and while this estimate might be somewhat accurate, the only way to get a true assessment of the value of your home is to have an appraisal done by a certified third-party professional. There are a few situations where an appraisal is mandated, such as when you’re buying and selling a home, refinancing or applying for a loan using real estate as security.
If you hire an appraiser before putting your home on the market, the appraiser’s report can help determine a selling price, and it can provide owners with information about problems that are devaluing the home’s worth and give insight about worthwhile fixes. Appraisals are usually conducted after an offer has been made or to determine the initial value of a home as part of the selling process. Keep in mind that to approve a loan, banks typically require an appraisal using their preferred appraisers to ensure the most accurate assessment, even if you’ve already had one done by another party.
The appraisal offers side-by-side comparisons of the home, along with three similar properties and an evaluation of the overall real estate market in the area. The appraisal will also note flaws in the property, such as a crumbling foundation, and offer specific dimensions pertaining to the home, such as the square footage and the size/number of rooms.
The appraiser will also research the area’s costs of labor and local building costs to determine how much it would cost to erect a similar property in the present economic climate. Things such as the home’s location and nearby amenities are taken into account to increase or decrease the value of the home – for instance, proximity to a school zone or within a neighborhood might be an increase, while being situated near a busy highway or isolated from the community could be a decrease. These factors, among others, will be used to estimate an approximate time frame for selling the home, which is also included in the appraisal.
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