Austin House Hunting Gets Boost from Daylight Savings

Austin House Hunting Gets Boost from Daylight Savings

If you’re currently searching for a home in Austin – not online but physically touring homes with an Austin Realtor – you know that one of your biggest limitations is available daylight time. That’s about to change over Spring Break as we move to daylight saving.

Starting in Early November each year, sunset happens before 6PM. That makes looking at homes on weekdays after work nearly impossible. Buyers don’t like looking at homes in the dark. Tonight, sunset will be around 6:30PM but, starting tomorrow, you’ll have an extra hour of daylight to view homes with sunset after 7:30PM. By mid April, sunset moves to around 8PM and by mid-summer you have until 8:30PM.

We all know the real estate market in Austin is better in the Spring and Summer. The accepted reason is that Spring/Summer is a more convenient time for making moves, especially for families with children in school. But I also think there are secondary factors.

One of the main secondary factors is the notion of “daylight shopping hours”. It’s just easier to buy a house when you have more daylight to work with. Also, I think buyers actually feel more like buying in warmer weather with longer days.

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Google Buzz – No Thanks. Leave my Gmail Inbox Alone

Google Buzz LogoI opened my Gmail account this morning to see a new Label called “Buzz” just under my Inbox label. Hmmm. I clicked it and read the “Welcome” letter, spent a few more minutes looking into it at the Google Buzz site, Read the Google Blog about Buzz, watched a video about it (see bottom of this post),  then I immediately removed it from my email interface by performing the following task:

Click: Settings -> Labels -> Hide (next to the Buzz Label). Now the “Buzz” label is not visible from my Gmail interface.

Sorry Google. My Gmail interface is a productivity tool. I have a lot of stuff to get done. I pay you an annual fee for the extra storage space I need. I don’t want a bunch of new crap inserted into my inbox which will no doubt slow me down, distract my thinking and reduce my productivity.

It is with great diligence that I put the Labels and Filtering options in Gmail to use in order to keep stuff out of my face that I don’t want or need to see immediately, or at all. I don’t need a new Google Buzz Box providing an endless stream of the social goings on and digital mussing of the people in my Gmail contact database, which is currently at 2700+ and growing daily. If I want to know what people are doing, and I have time to waste, I have other ways of accomplishing that, such as visiting Facebook or surfing blogs.

The advertised features of Google Buzz are:
No setup needed – Automatically follow the people you email and chat with the most in Gmail.
SC: Yeah, I noticed that, and turned it off immediately. No thanks.

Share publicly or privately – Publish your ideas to the world or just to your closest friends.
SC: I’m trying to catch up on email, not share my ideas with the world.

Inbox integration – Comments get sent right to your inbox so it’s easy to keep the conversation going.
SC: No! Leave my inbox alone. I work hard keeping it at “zero”.

See updates in real time – New posts and comments pop in as they happen. No refresh required.
SC: Oh Dear God No! Don’t you get it? I’m trying to work and get stuff done. Leave me alone.

Just the good stuff – Buzz recommends interesting posts and weeds out ones you’re likely to skip.
SC: No. Don’t recommend anything to me. Stop bothering me. Go away, I’m working.

Maybe this is a knee-jerk reaction and I’ll gradually become aware of ways that Google Buzz can be utilized while remaining segregated from the focus and attention I need to maintain when in my “Email Office”. I just don’t feel like I need more social networking stuff foisted upon me at this point in life. Enough already.

Email Efficiency – Not Letting Email Run Your Life
At present, I have a systematic and specific way that I deal with email. My routine is a result of reading about how others deal with high-volume email and adopting those various ideas and concepts. If you recognize some of these ideas, you’ll know they are not my inventions. I borrowed them all. If you constantly feel overwhelmed by email, and are guilty of letting things slip through the cracks because they fall off your radar, the following routine is what helps me stay on top of (or quickly dispense with) the 200-300 emails that come at me each day. Here’s what I do.

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Austin Real Estate Market Update – Nov 2009

Maybe I should start terming my Austin real estate market update blogs “Austin Real Estate Market, as Influenced by the Federal Government”. Indeed, the word “market” does need an asterisk next to it for the Sept-Nov time frame in Austin. Instead of taking its natural course, whatever that might have been, the lower end of the market was stimulated by government incentives for the Latter part of 2009 through November, and the sub-$200K buyers responded. Thus we see on the graph below the drastic drop in the average and median sold price for November 2009 as the final batch of first time home buyer tax credit sales closed.

Austin Real Estate sales graph Nov 2009

It’s not hard to see what the real estate market is doing, but it is hard to know for sure why it’s doing it, or, that is, to what extent the number of sales (way up) and the average/median values (down) are influenced by these the artificially low interest rates and the buyer incentives, both being caused by government intervention in the market. Some economist believe that once these stimulus measures peter out, as they will later this year, the national real estate market is in for another big drop in prices as foreclosures will snowball to the highest levels we’ve seen yet.

So what does all of this mean for Austin? Is Austin real estate in generally good enough shape to ride it out better than most markets? I think so. Let’s have a look at the November stats.

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Austin Real Estate Market Update – Sept 2009 Stats

Austin Real Estate sales values for September 2009 are even (up 0.04%) with the same month last year. The number of homes sold is actually up 0.61% from the same month a year ago, no doubt due to a surge in the lower priced homes caused by the $8,000 home buyer tax rebate. More on that in another article. Let’s take a look at the September chart.

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

Aug 2009 Sep 2009 Sep 2008 Yr % Change
# Sold 1706 1639 1629 0.61%
Avg List $255,966 $257,361 $255,585 0.69%
Med List $195,750 $194,900 $189,900 2.63%
Avg Sold $246,372 $246,185 $246,079 0.04%
Med Sold $190,000 $188,500 $185,000 1.89%
Sold/List % 96.25% 95.66% 96.28% -0.65%
Avg SQFT 2200 2144 2120 1.13%
Med SQFT 1973 1919 1909 0.52%
Avg $ SQFT $111.99 $114.83 $116.08 -1.08%
Avg DOM 72 67 66 1.52%
Median DOM 43 40 48 -16.67%
# Expired 492 529 819 -35.41%
# Withdrawn 897 794 910 -12.75%
Not Sold 1389 1323 1729 -23.48%
Not Sold % 44.88% 44.67% 51.49% -13.25%

Median sold prices are up almost 2%. The sold to list price gap is 95.66%, which is slightly less than the 96.28% a year ago. The “Not Solds” (expired and withdrawn) remain high at 45%, but are down significantly from Sept 2008 when more than half (51%) of all listings departing the Austin MLS were failed sales efforts.

Overall, nothing surprising or unexpected with the Austin market for September. Let’s take a look at the Year to Date stats for Austin.

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Austin Real Estate Market Update – June 2009 Stats


We’re at mid-year (June 2009 stats) for the Austin real estate market stats, and still the Austin real estate market is hanging tough. We continue to see stubborn bouncing up and down from month to month, as the graph to the left shows (click to enlarge), but the overall yearly trend is holding steady at around 3% below last year’s YTD.

Let’s look at the breakdown of the Austin single family home sales for June 2009:

• Number of homes sold is down 9% (was down 27% last month) from 2,178 June 2008 to 1,986 June 2009.  This is a small decline compared to what we’ve been seeing for the past year, in which most months decline by more than 20% over the year before.

• Average list prices in Austin were down 2% over the same month last year to $265,868.
• Average sold prices in Austin were down 2.9% over the same month last year to $254,924 from $262,512 last year.
• Median sold price was up slightly (0.11%) to $200,500. Last year in June it was $200,278.
• Average List to Sold price ratio is 95.88%, down slightly from 96.40% the same month last year. Note that this reports the sold price compared to the last list price, not the original list price.
• Avg sold price per square foot is down almost 7% to $115 compared to $123 a year ago in Mar.
• Avg days on market is up 16 days (26%) from 61 last year to 77 this June.
• Median days on market is up 14 days (33%) from 36 days last year to 48 June this year.
• Number of “Not Sold” (exp or withdrawn) is down 12% over the same month last year, to 34% of all removed listings compared to 36% for the same month last year.

The chart below shows the June stats for 2009/2008, plus last month’s stats.

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

May 2009 Jun 2009 June 2008 Yr % Change
# Sold 2060 1986 2178 -8.82%
Avg List $274,380 $265,868 $272,312 -2.37%
Med List $203,037 $207,000 $208,250 -0.60%
Avg Sold $265,878 $254,924 $262,512 -2.89%
Med Sold $199,788 $200,500 $200,278 0.11%
Sold/List % 96.90% 95.88% 96.40% -0.54%
Avg SQFT 2154 2224 2135 4.17%
Med SQFT 1945 2016 1955 3.12%
Avg $ SQFT $123.43 $114.62 $122.96 -6.78%
Avg DOM 61 77 61 26.23%
Median DOM 36 48 36 33.33%
# Expired 516 390 530 -26.42%
# Withdrawn 598 679 691 -1.74%
Not Sold 1114 1069 1221 -12.45%
Not Sold % 35.10% 34.99% 35.92% -2.59%

Below is the Year to data stats for the Austin sales market.

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Craigslist – I am thinking of firing you!

For about 4 years now I’ve been posting all of our listings in Austin Craigslist. It seems like once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I received a call or two, and even a bonafide lead from one of our Craigslist property listing ads. I honestly can’t remember the last time it’s happened though. Must be more than two years now.

Usually all I get is a) spam, b) scam attempts or c) emails from other Realtors wondering if they can advertise our listing on Craigslist as a buyer agent. All three of these have zero value to me.

My general comment to clients when talking about the things we do to market a home for sale or lease in Austin is “..we also place it in Craigslist, which doesn’t ever generate any calls, but it’s free so we put it there just in case”.

So, if we’ve received no results at all from placing listings in Craigslist, is “it’s free” a good enough reason to keep doing it?

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