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Should Austin Realtors Limit Which Websites Display our Listings?

IDX Choices when entering a new Austin MLS Listing

When an Austin Realtor enters a listing into the Austin MLS system, we have to make some selections about where the listing will display online. (See screenshot to the left) Of course it will be an “MLS” listing, available to any other Realtor who is a member of the Austin MLS. But we also have to select which other third-party sites will display the listing.

Recently, in Austin and elsewhere, listing agents have become increasingly frustrated with how listing data is used and displayed, and in fact sold back to us. Some are starting to question whether the current “sharing” of listings to other sites, such as, is in fact beneficial.

The real estate industry was stupid and foolish over a decade ago when it resisted the placement of listings online in the first place. Instead of recognizing where the industry was headed and what consumers wanted, the industry and its “leaders” operated from an old 1980’s “MLS Book” mindset. This opened the door to lawsuits and eventually third party aggregators who saw the void and filled it.

Let’s look at the internet choices selected by Realtors when adding a listing to the Austin MLS, and what they mean.

IDX:  Allow listings to be displayed on IDX sites. When you visit a listing search page on a Realtor’s website, you are accessing an IDX site. Ours is at: and provides a way for consumers to “search the Austin MLS”. Buyer Agents use IDX search sites to capture leads. If you see a listing that interests you on an IDX site, the “Contact Us” form you fill out goes to the agent running the site, not the Listing Agent.

As of this writing, there are 63 Austin MLS listings flagged “No” for IDX of the total 6,643 homes listed for sale. That’s about 1%, or 1 out of every 100 homes for sale. The percentage of luxury homes is much higher. Of 398 Austin homes listed for $1M or more, 28 are flagged “No” for IDX, which is 7% of the total. So, if you’re searching online for a $1M+ home, you’re only seeing 93% of the MLS inventory.

Some of the luxury Brokers in Austin are not happy with IDX and have voiced complaints to the Austin Board of Realtors and sent around a petition letter demanding changes. Other Brokers in Austin, who like IDX, and whose buyer agents depend on it for connecting with new buyers, responded with a counter-petition. The drums have started beating.

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Posted by Steve
5 years ago

Austin Real Estate Market Update – Oct 2009 Stats

October saw a huge 31% increase in the number of sales in Austin over the same month last year. Remember though, Oct 2008 took a 28% dip from the year prior, so while this October did see a good increase in sales volume, due in part to the $8,000 tax credit program, we’re comparing a dreadful month one year prior to a turbo-charged market this year, thus the big swing. Nonetheless, brisk sales for October was not an unwelcome result.

Let’s take a quick look at the monthly home sales prices in Austin for the past 20 months.

Austin-Real Estate Sales Last 20 Months

You can see that May 08 and May 09 were both the peak sales prices in their respective years and that sales prices drop in the off seasons. This year is no different but our sales volume has picked up more than usual.

Let’s see in the graph below how October 09 compares in all the metrics to October 2008.

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Posted by Steve
8 years ago

Rental Moveout Walk-through in South Austin

Yesterday, September 1st, I walked through a rental property in South Austin that had been vacated the day before. I had my Flip Mino Video Camera with me so I decided to make a short video of the walk-through and share a few things about what I look for when walking a vacant rental property after a tenant move out.

The result is one of the worst videos I’ve ever seen. I have no idea what I’m doing, or how to make a good video. I move too fast, muddle my words, don’t hold the camera steady, etc. I look like a dork and sound stupid. My Inner Critic is telling me to forget it, don’t post it. It’s terrible. Learn some video editing first. But if I wait until I know what I’m doing, it will never happen.

I have the camera mainly for vacations and recording family stuff, but I’ve thought for a while now that it might be fun to start making some video blogs, so this is what I’m starting with, for better or worse.

Here goes …

If you wonder what it’s like being a landlord, you’ll find it interesting (if you just watched the video) that the tenant emailed me the same day, after not following the instructions provided for returning keys, and stated in the email, “I spent a lot of time cleaning the house. I hope it was up to your standards.”

This is why I don’t allow tenants to walk through properties with me, or meet them for move-out walk-throughs. There is too big of a disconnect between what I observe and what a tenant deems to be acceptable. For more on that, read my past article “Why I Never Do Move-out Walk-throughs with Departing Tenants

Back to video making and why I decided to go ahead with my first rough draft right out of the gate.
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Posted by Steve
8 years ago

Austin Real Estate Market Update – July 2009 Stats

It’s getting real hard to write about the Austin real estate market when month after month it just keeps doing what is expected, treading water overall, doing well under $200K, especially close in, and still soft in the $400K+ price ranges. That really sums it up, month after month. At the beginning of the year I predicted Austin would be down 3% to 5% overall this year, and we’re still on track for that.

For July, the average sold price compared to July 2008 is down about 4%, a bit more than the 3% average we’ve been seeing each month, but not a surprise. Median sold price is down 1.5%. Average price per square foot is down 5% from a year ago. Days on market is up to 71 average and 44 median, which are not bad numbers, but still worse than a year ago, which was worse than the year before. See the chart below for the previous month and pevious year comparisons for July.

Austin Real Estate Sales Market Update July 2009
Homes only (condos, duplexes, etc. not included) compiled from Austin MLS data

Jun 2009 Jul 2009 Jul 2008 Yr % Change
# Sold 2031 1950 2017 -3.32%
Avg List $264,959 $259,167 $269,724 -3.91%
Med List $206,000 $199,900 $203,000 -1.53%
Avg Sold $254,059 $249,560 $260,832 -4.32%
Med Sold $200,000 $195,000 $198,000 -1.52%
Sold/List % 95.89% 96.29% 96.70% -0.42%
Avg SQFT 2221 2188 2166 1.02%
Med SQFT 2012 1985 1962 1.17%
Avg $ SQFT $114.39 $114.06 $120.42 -5.28%
Avg DOM 77 71 61 16.39%
Median DOM 48 44 39 12.82%
# Expired 392 476 537 -11.36%
# Withdrawn 679 825 881 -6.36%
Not Sold 1071 1301 1418 -8.25%
Not Sold % 34.53% 40.02% 41.28% -3.06%

The year-to-date chart is below. For the year Austin Average Sold price for houses is down 2.96%, median is down is dead even at 0% change, and average price per square foot is down about 5%. Our “not sold” are holding at 42%. See below for the details

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Posted by Steve
8 years ago

I am NOT Austin’s Coolest Dad Apparently

A mere two days after Father’s Day my 13 year old daughter informed me that, although I’m a really good Dad, I’m not the coolest. She was having a sleepover last night and, again, the issue of when “lights out” shall occur came up.

She begged me “please Daddy, don’t come in and make us go to sleep at midnight. That’s so embarrassing! Nobody else’s parents make us do that”. She wants to be allowed to stay up as long as they want, which on occasion I’m told has extended at other parent’s houses till 5AM when the last kid falls asleep.

“Really?’, I said incredulously. “They just let you stay up all night”. “Yes”, she said. “I don’t believe you”, I said. “I think the other parents just fall asleep and you stay up later than they want”.

Then she told me the tale of the “coolest” Dad ever. While sleeping over at another friends house, the girls were still up at 1AM playing cards and were hungry. Her friend’s Dad then drove to a Wendy’s at, 1AM, and returned with cheeseburgers and frys, which the girls consumed with delight sitting around the breakfast table.

“Wow”, I said. I needed a moment to digest that. I thought to myself “that’s rediculous ridiculous … and pretty cool”. How can I compete with that?
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Posted by Steve
8 years ago

Why I Never Do Move-out Walk-throughs with Departing Tenants

Home Rent Rates Still Falling

I recently had a tenant express frustration over the fact that I wouldn’t come meet him to conduct a final move-out walk-through at the rental property. I’ve been moving tenants in and out of Austin rental homes since 1990, and I’ve learned a few lessons in doing so. One is that there is no upside for a landlord in conducting a final walk-through with a tenant. Only bad outcomes can occur.

Namely, the tenant is going to want you to affirm or state that everything looks “ok” and that they’ll get all of their deposit back. Nowhere in Texas Property Code is this sort of “instant accounting” required. You’d be a fool to agree to say something like that, because a lot of possible damage is not discernible on a cursory walk-through.

Just a few examples off the top of my head are fleas that haven’t hatched yet, carpet stains that were scrubbed invisible that morning but will re-appear tomorrow, the dirty A/C filter your HVAC guy could find sucked up into air intake cavity (as I encountered last month), pet odors that are masked at walk-through but which return in a couple of days, the cat hair blanketing the refrigerator coil, and a long list of other possibilities.

Therefore, even if I wanted to, even if the place appeared to be in great condition with no visible problems, there is nothing I could or would say to a tenant with regard to whether the home “passes” inspection or not. The reason the tenant wants the walk-through – to receive assurances – simply can’t and won’t be provided.

And then, as I learned in the old days when I thought it made sense to do a move-out walk through, an argument ensues. So I just don’t go there anymore.

To better and more fully see my position, there are a few things one must understand.
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Posted by Steve
8 years ago