Austin City vs Metro Home Prices 2013

Austin vs Austin metro home prices

When you read a news article about Austin real estate that reports average and median home prices, the values quoted are often those from total Austin MLS sales. Those sales figures are compiled from the entire Austin MLS service area, including suburbs, nearby cities as well as some far flung areas. The “Austin MLS” might more accurately be referred to as a “Central Texas MLS”.

Therefore, you might read in one of the “Best of” articles about Austin, that “The Average Sold price for single family homes in the Austin Metro area for 2013 is $314,300 and the Median Sold price is $235,000”.

Those values are represented in the green bars in the graph above. To those thinking of moving to Austin, a median price of $235K sounds pretty affordable. It means half of all houses in “Austin” sell for less than $235K. A buyer with good credit earning the Austin median family income of $65K annually, can qualify for a mortgage payment of $1,950 per month at 5%, or a $266K home. Austin seems like a sweet deal and a great place to live to an outsider reading about it.

Read more …

Posted by Steve
3 years ago

Do Austin Production Builders Differ in Quality?

Austin home

Buyers will sometimes ask “is Builder X a good builder?” My answer is that your builder’s brand name doesn’t matter enough to make it a decision point in your new home purchase decision.

In other words, if a hypothetical buyer is torn between two similar to-be-built home options in the same neighborhood, I will tell that buyer that the brand name of the builder should NOT be a deciding factor. There are more important things such as the lot itself, the floorplan and standard finish-out.

But I read some bad reviews about Builder X?
Ignore those. You cannot protect yourself from a bad builder experience by ruling any builders out, and you cannot increase your chances of a good builder experience by limiting which builders you consider. Researching builders is folly. The same builder can build two houses side by side, and those two different buyers may have completely different experiences. In fact, one project may go smooth, and the other has a lot of problems. Each build is its own standalone project with its own unique and different problems that will arise, because the lots, floorplans and buyers are all different. That’s normal and expected.

In Texas, as in most Sunbelt states, all the “production builders” use the essentially same pool of subcontractors. It’s not that different from the PC you buy (Dell vs HP), or even many appliances and cars. Drive through the neighborhoods and you’ll see trucks from Casa Mechanical and Chistianson Plumbing working in the same subdivisions on different builder’s home. Few builders have in-house framing crews anymore. All sub out the roofing. All trades get subcontracted out now. It’s these subcontractors that do the work, not the “builder”, which isn’t really a “builder” in the strict sense of the word, but a construction management and marketing company.

Read more …

Posted by Steve
3 years ago

Austin Real Estate Market 2014 to Remain on Fire

Sylvia and I usually attend an annual Austin Real Estate Economic Update to find out what the coming year holds. This year, I exclaimed to her, “Why bother?  It’s going to be full tilt boogie, just like 2013“. I mean, Austin is rumbling along with all cylinders firing. There is nothing I need to hear about 2014 that I don’t already know. We’re gonna be working our butts off and house prices are going to keep rising.

For many, this is good news. If you’re going to sell a home in Austin this Spring or Summer, you’ll be happy. If you’re buying a home in Austin, you better have an “A Game”, and you better be ready to bring it. And I mean bring it. You don’t buy a house in Austin anymore, you compete for one. Oddly, you’ll be happy too, when you finally win a multiple bid competition and pay too much for a house.

Many of our Realtor friends had record production years in 2013, as did Sylvia and I. Most are looking forward to another busy year in 2014. But I don’t like it. I don’t want to be this busy. And I think, to some degree, these manic real estate swings and rising values are ruining Austin, and the real estate profession. Everything has become hyper-instant. Everything is Urgent. Sylvia called on a new listing the morning of Jan 2nd which had already gone under contract with 7 offers New Years Day. This wasn’t even in a “hot” area. Why aren’t people sleeping in on New Year’s Day instead of out fighting over a house?

I know. It’s a weird thing to complain about, being busy, doing well, enjoying professional success. Shame on me. Read more …

Posted by Steve
3 years ago

How and Where to Pay Your Rent

Updated Jan 2015

This post is to make you aware of the different choices available for paying rent as a Crossland Real Estate Tenant.

PayLease
This free online service is now required, per all lease agreements with Crossland Real Estate. It’s simple and user-friendly. You can pay by eCheck (online Check) for free (we absorb the fees) or, in an emergency, use a Credit Card. There is a third party fee for using a credit card, depending on which type of card you use.

From your PayLease profile you can set up auto-pay or a monthly reminder email with a payment link. Paylease also has toll free support in case you ever have a problem. You can get to the payment site from this link or from the Tenant menu above. 

Regular mail – If you mail your rent, there will be a $5 processing/handling fee, per your lease agreement. We will accept and post the payment, but you will be assessed the fee. You can mail your monthly check or money order payable to “Crossland Real Estate” to our mailing address at 5307 W Highway 290, Bldg B, Ste 2, Austin TX 78735. If you set up through your bank’s billpay or other service, make sure to allow enough mailing time (5 days) for arrival on or before the 1st. We highly encourage you to instead use the free service we provide through Paylease.

Personal Delivery – We do not have a 24/7 dropbox set up. Plase pay electronically, online, as described above. If for some reason you need to personally drop off a payment, call 512-327-3900 for instructions.

Thanks for being a Tenant customer of Crossland Real Estate. Feel free to Contact Us with any questions.

Posted by Steve
3 years ago

Austin Realtors: Time to Pull the Plug on Zillow and Trulia

No Austin MLS Syndication

As of this writing, there are 837 homes for sale in the Austin MLS for which the “Syndication” choice is set to “no” in the MLS settings. That’s 14% of current Austin single-family homes for sale, a sizable number, spanning all price ranges. I applaud those Broker/Agents for not drinking the syndication Kool-Aid.

This means, specifically, those 837 Austin MLS listings are not being fed by the listing agent through the MLS to a syndication aggregator called ListHub, which in turn is the main provider of listing feeds for most syndicators, including Zillow and Trulia, and 60+ others. I single out Zillow and Trulia only because those sites are the biggest and most well-known syndication websites. They are also the two most notoriously aggressive in their efforts and tactics to sell expensive advertising to the same Austin Realtors who freely gave away their work product (listings) to these media websites.

But what the 14% means in practical terms is that if you are a serious buyer dumb enough to only be looking for a home on a syndication website, you are only finding 86% of available Austin MLS listings. Wouldn’t you rather know about all available listings that match your search criteria?

Conversely, wouldn’t you rather NOT be shown incorrect listing data, specifically, homes you find on Zillow and Trulia and other sites that are not even for sale, or that already sold months or years ago but still appear on these websites? Or a home listed for $500K with an “estimated” value of $423K, but which had multiple offers over list price before the listing even made it onto the syndication website?

These websites might be interesting time wasters for tire kickers, curiosity seekers and nosey neighbors, but they are not trustworthy sources of current, accurate real estate listing information. Maybe they are an easy “first look” for casual listing surfers in the very early stages of “thinking about” buying a home, just to get a general idea of prices in a new city or area of town. But real estate listing syndication websites are not valuable tools for a serious buyer. Nor do they offer a relevant advertising venue for serious sellers or their listing agents. That’s because these sites are not designed to help you as a buyer, or to help sellers sell homes. They are designed to sell advertising to Realtors.

And the 14% Austin listing gap is growing as more Brokers and Agents come out of the fog and realize that these syndicators are not our friends. These websites do not, in any way, cause any home to sell faster or for a higher price. So the question is, why do so many Realtors mistakenly believe that these third-party media advertising websites are a good thing? And why do so many Realtors wrongly presume that sellers want listings shown on these websites?

History of Listing Syndication in Austin Read more …

Posted by Steve
3 years ago

Would Edward Snowden Work For Zillow?

Edward Snowden

As you have no doubt heard, computer analysis Edward Snowden was so appalled by what he deemed to be egregious privacy violations and spying on U.S. Citizens by his employers the CIA and NSA, that he leaked classified information to the press to prove it, then fled to Russia where he remains.

Would he have been happier working at Zillow? No. He would have been just as appalled.

Zillow does not respect your privacy. The lead system at Zillow, through which consumers inquire about listings, surreptitiously records and collects your private communication with Realtors who respond to your inquiry. This isn’t obvious to a typical consumer because of the way Zillow masks where your emails are really going. I’ll try to keep this technical explanation as simple as possible.

How Zillow Plays Games with Email Addresses and Names
When a consumer on Zillow fills out the “I’m interested …” form, the email that arrives is as follows:

From: Zillow <Zillow@email.zillow.com> (this is what Realtors see in the “from” section of the email client)

In the body of the email it says:

New Contact

John Doe (johndoe@johndoeemail.com) is contacting you about a property on Zillow:
I am interested in 123 Main St, Austin, TX 78745. Contacted via Zillow.com

The second line above is the default text in the inquiry box. Most consumers don’t type into this box or ask questions, they simply fill in their contact info and click send with the default blurb. A real serious inquiry. (sarcasm intended)

Next, when the Realtor clicks “Reply”, she sees the following in the “to:” section of the email client:

“johndoe@johndoeemail.com” <reply-fe591075766702787312-359747_HTML-535847118-64517-44712xx@email.zillow.com>

What Zillow does here is cleverly place the consumer’s email address in the “name” section of the send field. Many email clients (the software you use to send and receive email, like Outlook or Yahoo or Gmail) only show the name in this format, not the strange long email address you see after the “name”. Zillow knows this.

The average Realtor is a 57 year old woman. Not tech savvy. When she looks at where the email is going, and sees the email address (placed into the “name” field), she thinks the email address is the destination address of the email. But really, if you look at the long weird email address after the name/email, that is where the email will be delivered, to the Zillow email server. Read more …

Posted by Steve
4 years ago