Austin Real Estate values for August 2009 are down about 5% from the same month last year. Average sales prices for the 1,657 houses that sold are down 5.12%. Median sold prices are down 4.80%. The number of houses sold is down 15% from August 2008, which is less of a decrease than we’ve seen for most of the past 12+ months. The sold to list price gap is 96%, which is the same as a year ago and the same as last month. The average list price was $257K and the average sold price $247K, so the average home is selling for about $10K below the final list price. Note that this measures the gap only between the last list price, not the original list price. Unfortunately I have to work harder to obtain the ration of sold to original list price so I don’t calculate it monthly, but my best guess is that it’s probably somewhere between 90% to 92%.
The Days on Market keep climbing, now at 73 days average and 43 days median on market. Even though that’s higher than last year, those are still fairl decent DOM numbers.
The Not Solds (Expired and Withdrawn listings) continue to be fairly high at 45%. This means that of all the listings that departed the MLS in August (no longer Active for Sale), 45% of the listings departed as failed sales efforts. This tells us what we already know, which is that many sellers are not desperate and they refuse to drop their list price below whatever mental threshhold they’ve established, regardless of what the market data says. This in turn is keeping our sold prices reasonably stable but also may be creating a shadow inventory of pent up future listings that will come online in the next 2 or 3 years once seller perceive a better selling environment.
Below is the chart comparing August with the month and year before. Further below is the usual collection of monthly charts and graphs.
|Austin Real Estate Sales Market Update August 2009|
|Homes only (condos, duplexes, etc. not included) compiled from Austin MLS data|
|Jul 2009||Aug 2009||Aug 2008||Yr % Change|
|Avg $ SQFT||$114.00||$112.36||$118.85||-5.47%|
|Not Sold %||39.75%||45.64%||45.34%||0.65%|
Next is the Year to data chart showing how our Austin real estate market is doing compared to the market at the same point in 2008.
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.
Read more …
Sylvia and I are excited to announce that, as of today, we have reverted back to the business structure under which we operated from 1993 through 2004 as Crossland Real Estate. Sylvia is Broker and Head Honcho and I just do what she tells me. We are no longer with the Southwest Market Center of Keller Williams Austin. We are once again an independent, home grown Austin real estate company.
It’s been a great 4 years at Keller Williams and, as I was telling agents at the office today, I don’t believe that Sylvia and I would be the caliber of Realtors we’ve become had we not done our 4 year stint at Keller Williams.
The Southwest Market Center in Austin is the original, first Keller Williams office started by Gary Keller in the 1980s. It is the #1 real estate office in the world, on many different metrics, including number of sales and number of agents. It’s considered the flagship office of Keller Williams – the mother ship – and is the frequent host of tours for other Keller Williams market center staff from around the country who want to come see how we do it here in Austin.
Sylvia and I have enjoyed being a part of this amazing company and this office, and we especially enjoyed the honor of serving on the ALC (Agent Leadership Council) for the past two years, which is the body of top producing agents that runs the Southwest Market Center. I feel like, even though we both had a lot of experience as Realtors before we joined Keller Williams in 2005, we never would have received the type of training and exposure to ideas that we experienced at Keller Williams had we remained Mom and Pop forever and not ventured out to see what it would be like in a different environment.
So why the move? Why switch?
We’re tired, man. Frankly, it’s hard work operating at the level we’ve been at for the past few years. Non-Realtors may not know the real estate terminology of “Production”, or “Closed Volume”, or “Gross Commission Sales” (GCI), but Sylvia and I had what I think will be our career peak year last year in 2008, during a slow market, with just under $10M in closed transactions. That’s not anywhere close to what some of the elite, high production agents achieve across the U.S., but it’s a lot of sales, roughly 4 closings a month. It takes a lot of effort and energy to do that. We’re tired and want to slow down.
Read more …
Two weekends ago I was running errands that took me from my home in Oak Hill in SW Austin, to my bank in South Austin, then to drop my daughter off at KidsActing in East Austin off East MLK. Then up to preview a house in North Austin, then up to Round Rock to see if the make-ready was complete on one of our new listings, then out to NW Austin near Spicewood Springs Rd and Hwy 183 to check on another house. After that I headed south, down Hwy 183 back to my office on Mopac to pick up mail, then to check on a lease listing near Zilker Park before I stopped for a late afternoon lunch at Green Mesquite on Barton Springs Rd.
I noted throughout the day of driving around that, for the most part, there is not anything aesthetically “special”, unique or visibly distinguishable about Austin. At least not along the main arteries I drove. In fact, much of Austin, viewed from the main travel arteries – especially the IH35 and 183 corridors – is, frankly, ugly.
Except for the drive through Zilker Park, and the generally large number of trees adorning Austin, I could have been driving around any city in the USA, if visual observation of commercial establishments and roadways were to be the only criteria.
So what makes Austin special? What makes Austin “Austin”? Increasingly, I believe, as “Austin” has grown to become the “Austin Metro Area”, it’s harder to differentiate the stuff we encounter on a daily basis from that which might be encountered on a daily basis in, say, Cleveland, Phoenix or Houston. The real Austin has become a sub-category of the greater Austin area.
Or perhaps, after living here almost 25 years, I’m so accustomed to what makes Austin special that it’s not readily apparent to me anymore and I’d need to go live somewhere else for a while and come back to really appreciate it. Maybe I take it for granted, except for certain areas.
A few years ago I got lost in Houston and I pulled into an outdoor mall off a busy boulevard to look at a map. There, in that parking lot, I observed the exact same grouping of stores found on Brodie Lane in South Austin. As I scanned across the stores, there was Pet Smart, Barnes and Noble, CompUSA (now extinct), Old Navy, OfficeMax, World Market, a Chinese restaurant, etc. This could have been Anytown USA. So too can most such strip mall locations in Austin, from strictly an observational standpoint of what you actually see in front of you, where you shop, and what you do in the course of a normal day.
So what makes Austin “Austin”? In other words, what do we have going on that is rare, or hard to find elsewhere, both for residents and visitors? What tales would a visitor have to tell after a 3 day visit? Where would she have gone and what would she have experienced that would generate tales of wonder for friends back home? Certainly not staying a weekend with a friend in Round Rock, visiting the outlet malls and eating out at a Chilis, then catching a movie, right? That’s not an “Austin” visit.
Nor is a true Austin visit flying in, staying at the La Quinta near the airport, renting a car and driving to Circle C, Steiner Ranch, Avery Ranch, and other popular Austin subdivisions in the suburbs, grabbing meals at fastfood places, and dinner at Chilis. Subdivisions and 90% of the eateries in Austin can be found anywhere in the U.S. So buying a DR Horton in Austin in a Subdivision close to a Pet Smart, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Old Navy, OfficeMax, World Market, and a Chinese restaurant doesn’t mean you’ve arrived in Austin, or that you even “live” here, if we define “Austin living” as experiencing the uniqueness of Austin, not just having an Austin mailing address.
So what makes Austin “Austin“?
Well, I think there are some things we can talk about, though I also think a typical person can live here and never experience any of them if they don’t get out and do it on purpose.
My long time appliance repairman John at Austin Appliance informed me today that he’s only coming into Austin once a week now, and will eventually stop serving Austin altogether. He lives in Spicewood and mainly works Marble Falls now.
Darn it. My veteran vendor team people keep getting older and retiring on me. John’s also working now as a fishing guide on Lake LBJ. Sounds better than fixing dishwashers and refrigerators I must admit. I’ve use him since the early 1990s, and I hate to lose a trusted service call vendor.
So today I put my feelers out for a new appliance company or person. I’ve had many good recommendations already but the problem I keep running into is the pricing structure that seems to be more prevalent now than it was 10+ years ago. It seems most service companies nowadays want to bill a service charge just for showing up, usually $50 to $92, then, once there, they want to quote a price based on the “book rate” of the repair, and then do the job only after the price is approved.
That doesn’t cut it for me. I don’t use “book rate” vendors because book rate pricing is a poor value for my property management owners. It’s inefficient and expensive, two things I despise. Maybe for Joe or Jane Homeowner who only need a service call once every few years, it’s not such a bad deal. You know the cost before the work is started and exactly what will be done. But I can’t operate a property management business under that pricing scheme. Instead, I need my guy to show up, fix the problem, and bill me a fair rate for time plus materials. I’m not worried about getting ripped off because, after nearly 20 years of managing and fixing rentals, I know what it should cost to fix things.
Here’s why my way is better and why I don’t use book rate people.
Read more …
Well, 2008 is behind us and it seems like every Realtor in Austin except me and Sylvia are saying “good riddance”. For reasons I won’t fully go into in this blog post, Sylvia and I actually did better in 2008 than in 2007, by almost every measure. It was another record year for us, which I know isn’t fair to all those other Realtors who are suffering and dropping like flies, but we work hard. So, most agents are looking forward to 2009, expecting an upturn in Austin real estate sales activity by this summer.
Yesterday was the Austin Economic Housing Forecast, and here are some quotes from the panel members and todays article about the forecast in the Austin Statesman:
“The Austin-area housing market took a big hit last year, and more pain is in store for 2009”.
“Things are probably going to get a little bit tougher before they get better”.
“Austin-area builders started construction on slightly more than 8,000 houses last year, according to Metro-study, the lowest number since 1997”.
“home starts will plunge by another 25 percent this year to about 6,000. That would be down 63 percent from the peak in 2006”.
“Expectation is that we will continue to see a decline in pricing through 2009”.
“The 990 sales (in Nov 2008) were the lowest number for November since 1997”.
“The area will lose more jobs than it creates in 2009, much as it did in the tech-bust years of 2002 and 2003”.
Jeez, was there any positive news? Yes, a small bit.
“Austin’s housing market remains healthier than many across the country”.
“Austin’s economy also continues to outperform most areas of the country, but the number of jobs in Central Texas grew by 2.2 percent in 2008, about half the growth rate experienced in 2006 and 2007”.
So what does all of this mean? Well, it depends on who you are, whether you’re a buyer or seller, the price range of your home, location, whether you are moving up, down or out, your credit score, and a number of other factors. There is no one label that can properly describe the Austin real estate market as “good” or “bad” for all people, so let’s try to break it down and see which categories are the winners and which should be the waiters.
Read more …