Steve and I have a few listings that have not had as much “traffic” as we would like, so the last few weeks I held open houses in a couple of our vacant staged listings just to get a feel for foot traffic in the neighborhoods and to hear what buyers are saying.
The first week, I held an open house at our Lost Creek listing at 1601 Bay Hill Drive. I placed several signs at the entrance to Lost Creek at Hwy 360, as well as numerous corners in Lost Creek, which brought in a lot of traffic.
The Lost Creek open house went better than I expected. There were 15 groups of people in 3 hours. It was really hopping! Normally a turnout of 5 to 8 people is considered “decent” on an open house, especially given the fact that sometimes the turnout can be zero. This was the first weekend of South by Southwest (SxSW Austin), so the atmosphere was lively and upbeat and people seemed to be enjoying being out and looking around. There were people from Denver and some from California that are planning to relocate to Austin. They all told me how “amazing” the prices are here in Austin. “Do you know how much a house like this would sell for in California?” Of course I’ve heard this before, and I know the listing I have in Lost Creek priced at $439k would be $1M+ in many parts of California.
The Lost Creek open house also drew several groups from Austin, many who are currently renting but out looking to see what’s available. Most of the attendees already have Austin agents they are working with. Of the four attendees who told me who their Austin Realtors were, I called all four agents to let them know their buyers seemed interested in the house and to invite them back for another look. I don’t know if this will produce a buyer, but I feel like I have to be doing everything I can to generate something.
My other open house was at our listing at 2512 Trailing Vine Way in Round Rock.
This is a gorgeous listing in the Lake Forest subdivision. This neighborhood has highly rated Round Rock schools, hike & bike trails and great access to shopping, major highways, etc. This day, 11 groups of people came by, all looking for a quiet home to get away from the hussle and bussle of the city. They thought Round Rock is the “best of both worlds”.
Round Rock offers a small town community but still near still near the “big city” for entertainment. There are a lot of homes in the neighborhood for sale, so the competition is pretty tough, but my general impression is that our listing at 2512 Trailing Vine is priced well and has the best floor plan in the area. Many folks were saying “You will have no problem selling this!” Of course, I haven’t seen an offer yet, so I still need a buyer!
Open Houses don’t sell the home, generally, though we have sold enough via open houses that I’m never surprised when a real buyer does come through. But mainly I did get a good gauge of the mood of Austin buyers, which seemed upbeat and optimistic, though most seem to lack urgency and be bidding their time.
Also, many asked “is this a foreclosure?”. No, they are not foreclosures. Austin doesn’t have a large number of foreclosures, but the out of town people seem to almost expect the homes to be in foreclosure. I found that somewhat strange. But there are in fact markets in California and Arizona where over half the listings are foreclosures, so I have to remember the perspective that a lot of the out of towners are bringing with them. Austin just isn’t that sort of rough market.
Steve won’t let me get too optimistic about our market in Austin, because of the high number of expired and withdrawn listings the market produces each month, and the general economic volatility nationwide. But judging from the number of people out looking at homes in Austin in Mid/Late March, and the fact that we have 7 pending deals on our board, I’m going to have to say I think things are actually looking pretty good right now, all things considered.