Archive Monthly Archives: February 2008

The Problem with Over Price Listings (and their sellers)

Let’s say you’re a buyer, you’ve traveled to Austin to find a home, spent the weekend looking at homes with your Realtor and found a home you like. In fact, you’ve found your top three picks, but one stands out as your favorite. Problem is, it’s way over priced.

Do you make an offer anyway, well below the list price, hoping the seller and the listing agent will accept your rationale for the offer price? Well, it depends, but usually, yes, we will have our buyer make a run at the home if it’s their top pick.

Sometimes this results in success, but sometimes it results in wasted time and lost opportunity for better priced homes. If our buyer has roughly equal leanings toward two different homes, and they are substantially comparable, we would go first for the properly priced home because it offers the better odds for achieving an accepted offer.

Over priced listings are always a bit of a gamble. But if the buyer clearly has a preference for a top choice, regardless of it being priced too high, we take a run at it with an offer based on market value.

How do we do this and what might the result be? Read on.
Read more …

Posted by Steve
8 years ago

Advise for those thinking about Real Estate as a Career

I was reading an interview with web design guru Eric Meyer, and was struck by his answer to one of the questions and how much that answer rings true for real estate as well as technology fields.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to people starting out in the field, what would it be?

A: “Love it or leave it. Seriously, this is not a field where you can coast by on “it’ll do for now” or “eh, it’s a living”. There’s too much need to be creative and sharp, and there are too many nagging little problems to deal with on an ongoing basis, to be doing this for anything short of love.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Being a Realtor is everything Eric stated above, and more, though the question was about being a web programmer. But in real estate especially, if we don’t love what we do and have a true passion for helping others, it won’t work as a career.

Posted by Steve
8 years ago

More Reasons to Stay Away from Starter Home Areas

Buyers I’ve helped buy property in Austin have heard my real estate mantra – stay away from starter home areas. I don’t like starter home neighborhoods. I don’t own property in starter home areas and I never will. I advise buyers to be very, very careful if considering a home in such an area.

I like established neighborhoods where you see what you’re buying. You see the traffic flow, the neighborhood, the surrounding commercial development, etc. In newer, fast developing areas, it’s impossible to know for sure how the neighborhood will turn out, what the traffic will be like, whether the builder will complete the neighborhood as proposed, whether investors (and thus renters) will be allowed in at a greater percentage that is healthy, etc.

I came across this story which illustrates my point well. Here are some excepts.

At Windy Ridge, a recently built starter-home development seven miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, 81 of the community’s 132 small, vinyl-sided houses were in foreclosure as of late last year. Vandals have kicked in doors and stripped the copper wire from vacant houses; drug users and homeless people have furtively moved in. In December, after a stray bullet blasted through her son’s bedroom and into her own, Laurie Talbot, who’d moved to Windy Ridge from New York in 2005, told The Charlotte Observer, “I thought I’d bought a home in Pleasantville. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that stuff like this would happen.”

Read more …

Posted by Steve
8 years ago

Austin Real Estate Market Update – Jan 2008

The real estate market in Austin was very slow for January 2008. Number of homes sold was down 15% over the same month last year, yet we continue to see sold price appreciation for the homes that do sell. I’ve added a new metric to my chart below. I’ve decided to start tracking “Not Solds”. This is an important factor to be aware of.

Sometimes, when looking only at the average and median sold prices, and watching those climb, we forget that there is also a high number of failed sales efforts that never make it into the stats. Look at December 2007 in the chart below for example and note that we had 1533 homes marked as “Sold” in the Austin MLS, but we also had 1737 homes that fell out of the MLS as Expired or Withdrawn.

So, when pricing homes, we look at the sold comps but we also have to look at the number of competing homes and adjust the list price downwadr if we are facing a lot of competing homes. This goes back to something I’ve discussed before, which is the Two Market theory. You want to make sure your home is “in” the market, not just “on” the market.

On to the stats for January 2008.

• Average sold prices in Austin were up 6.61% over the same month last year.
• Median sold price was up 7.95% over the same month last year.
• Avg sold price per square foot is up 4% over Jan 2006
• Avg days on market is down 1 day from 70 in Jan 2007 to 69 Jan 2008
• Median days on market is up 2 days from 49 days in Jan 2007 to 51 days Jan 2008.
• Number of “Not Sold” (exp or withdrawn) is up 40% over the same month last year.

Austin Sales Stats January 2008
Previous Month and Year Comparison
All MLS Areas - Houses Only

Dec 2007
Jan 2008
Yr % Change
# Sold
Avg List Price
Median List Price
Avg Sold Price
Med Sold Price
Avg Size SQFT
Median SQFT
Avg $ per SQFT
Avg Days on Mkt
Median Days on Mkt
# Expired
# Withdrawn
Total NOT Sold
Not Sold %

I don’t have YTD stats since obviously Jan is the only month so far. Anecdotally, we’ve seen a very strong pick-up in activity for February and have received offers for several of our listings that were previously just riding out the winter.
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Posted by Steve
8 years ago

How to Leave a Proper Voice Mail Message

realtor voice mailAs a Realtor, I leave and receive a lot of voice messages. Sometimes dozens a day or more if I’m showing a lot of occupied homes, or have a hot rental listing in Central Austin. The most I’ve ever had to return was seventy-something. One learns to get to the point when you have more calls to return than you have time to make them.

I’ve noticed that many people don’t leave very good voice messages. There is a lack of voice mail etiquette in the world today. Problems included garbled speech, fast speech, bad cell connection, no phone number, no information, no name, etc.

I actually delete a lot of voice messages without returning the call. Sorry, but after I listen for the 2nd or 3rd time and still can’t understand what you’re saying or a phone number, I move on to the next message.

As someone who has to weed through a lot of voice messages, here are Steve’s Tips on how to leave a good voice message.

1) State your name (first and last) and phone number in a slow clear voice at the very front of the message.
“Hi, this is Steve Crossland with Keller Williams…301-5811 …” (include area code if calling non-local).

This let’s the person write down these two most important things right away. How many times have you received a long, 60+ second rambling voice message and still the person hasn’t provided their phone number (and sometimes never do)? This is when I want to scream into the phone “ok! I know who you are and why you’re calling! Now shut up and tell me your blasted phone number!”

2) State the purpose of your call in a short, succinct manner.
“I’ll be showing you’re home at 123 Elm St. today sometime between 3PM and 5PM…”

Don’t say anything more than is necessary. For example, I don’t need to say “I have some buyers in from out of town, a nice young couple, and we’re going to be viewing homes in South Austin today, and your home is one of the homes I’ve selected to show, and my best estimate of when we might be coming is about 3PM or sometime after, maybe as late as 5PM, it depends on …blah blah blah”
ALL of the extra detail is unnecessary. Be succinct and to the point.
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Posted by Steve
8 years ago

Would you live next to a Strip Club?

Austin Strip Club Photo I was driving up S. Congress the other day, checking out the progress on the SoCo Lofts and wondered if the units on the north end, which overlook a strip club and its parking lot, will sell for as much as the others.

The photo you see here is of the north side of SoCo Lofts. In the foreground is Expose “Gentlemen’s” Club sign (building is out of view to the left of the photo).

The north side would normally be desirable as it faces downtown and won’t have direct sunlight beaming into those north facing windows. But what might it be like at 2AM each night when the parking lot come alive with the engine noise, headlights and chatter of boisterous patrons departing the strip club? This is a question that a buyer really needs to consider.

Frankly, if I were looking at a unit and my view was going to be the sign and parking lot of a strip club, I think I’d pass. I’d rather look at the roof of the post office and the freeway from the south side.

And what might the directions to your new place sound like? “Drive South on Congress, turn left at the strip club and right into the first driveway”.

Back in 1996 Sylvia and I pondered a similar question as we had purchase a home 1 block behind the notorious porn theater at S. Congress and Live Oak. “SoCo”, as it is called now, wasn’t cool and hip back then, and it didn’t have the cool nickname. It was seedy and raw, with all variety of characters. But even then, underneath the grit, there was something endearing and attractive about the S. Congress area. We ended up flipping that house but seriously considered moving in instead. Our directions would have been “turn right at the porn theater, then take the next left”.
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Posted by Steve
8 years ago