Austin Real Estate Market Update – October 2011 Stats

Real Estate Market Stats

Below are the Austin housing market stats for October 2011 and year to date.

Austin Sales Market Update – October 2011
Homes only (condos, duplexes, etc. not included) compiled from Austin MLS data

Sep 2011 Oct 2011 Oct 2010 Yr % Change
# Sold 1601 1346 1202 11.98%
Avg List $262,989 $267,793 $278,846 -3.96%
Med List $197,999 $199,900 $206,500 -3.20%
Avg Sold $252,815 $257,957 $264,112 -2.33%
Med Sold $192,000 $192,650 $199,925 -3.64%
Sold/List % 96.13% 96.33% 94.72% 1.70%
Avg SQFT 2226 2228 2276 -2.11%
Med SQFT 2044 1992 2058 -3.21%
Avg $ SQFT $113.57 $115.78 $116.04 -0.23%
Avg DOM 76 78 87 -10.34%
Median DOM 52 55 67 -17.91%
# Expired 478 434 704 -38.35%
# Withdrawn 800 703 976 -27.97%
Not Sold 1278 1137 1680 -32.32%
Not Sold % 44.39% 45.79% 58.29% -21.45%


As shown above, average and median sold prices are down 2.3% and 3.6% for Oct 2011 compared to Oct 2010. The number of homes sold increased and the number of failed sales efforts (Withdrawn or Expired) decreased. The sold to list price ratio increased a bit and the Days on Market improved.

Nothing really suprising or new here. The Austin real etstae market is still moving along somewhat, treading water for the most part. See the Year to Date and 44 month graphs below.

Read more

Sellers – You Don’t Have to Read Your Buyer’s Inspection Report

Home Inspection

As the seller of a home, do you have to read the buyer’s inspection report if the buyer presents it to you? No, you don’t. At least not for the

And if you are a seller represented by the Crossland Team, we advise that you don’t look at or read a buyer’s inspection report because we don’t want you getting stuck with someone else’s inspection report, produced by an inspector you don’t know and didn’t hire, and which you’ll then have to staple to the back of your Seller’s Disclosure notice if that buyer flakes out and terminates the deal. Then all your future prospective buyers will read that report, for better or worse, and it’s best to not let that happen.

Not all Realtors subscribe to this “I don’t want to see it” philosophy. We sometimes catch flak for this from buyer agents who want to leverage inspection report items to gain price reductions during inspection periods, and they sometimes become angry when we inform them that our seller doesn’t need to see or want to see buyer’s inspection report.

Why not just look at the report?

Section 7 of the commonly used TAR Seller’s Disclosure Notice asks sellers:

Within the last 4 years, have you (Seller) received any written inspection reports from persons who regularly provide inspections and who are either licensed inspectors or otherwise permitted by law to perform inspections? lf yes, attach copies and complete the following:

Most Seller’s Disclosures say “No” on Section 7. Once you receive your buyer’s inspection report, and if the deal craters, you have to change section 7 to “Yes” and attach the report you received, whether you agree with the findings or not, and no matter what mis-characterizations and false assumptions the report might contain. This opens a huge can of worms and can affect the answers you must provide in other parts of the Seller Disclosure.

Additionally, you are already under contract for an agreed price, as-is, and there is nothing in your Texas sales contract that requires you to make repairs (unless specifically written in the initial contract) or look at buyer’s inspection. Buyer has an Option Period, usually 7 to 10 days, to examine the property and conduct whatever other due diligence buyer deems appropriate. During this Option Period, the ball is entirely in the buyer’s court. If the buyer does not terminate prior to the end of the Option Period, the deal continues unchanged.

In almost every deal, however, buyers come back and seek a price adjustment based on conditions that were not factored into the agreed contract price. These range from small and reasonable adjustments to hysterical and ridiculous demands. It is the manner and style in which these adjustments are calculated, communicated and resolved that reveal huge differences in real estate agents and how we advise clients and conduct negotiations. Is there a “right” way and a “wrong” way to go about this? I believe there is.

Read more

How Long Does it Take To Add a New Listing to Austin MLS?

Austin MLS Home Listings

I just finished adding one of our new listings to the Austin MLS. Years ago, this took about 15 minutes. There was far less data included and only 8 photos with no comment space for photos, no pdf attachments, and far less space to type the general description of the property.Today, a nearly overwhelming amount of data, photos and attachments must be included with a properly entered MLS listing, and it takes a while to enter it all in.

How long do you suppose it takes today to enter a real estate sales listing into the Austin MLS, from start to finish, sitting down at the computer with photos, files and info all ready to go? This includes 25 photos to upload and type in comments for, several pdf attachments, 512 characters of description (both agent-only and another 512 for the public sites), and (I haven’t actually counted) what must be well over 100 fields and data-points, including driving instructions to find the property right down to trivial data such as whether the 2-car garage has one door or two and which compass direction the property faces.

The one I just completed took me about 70 minutes. I started at 7:42AM and completed it at 8:50. It’s best to do it late night or early morning to reduce interruptions. Sometimes it can take as much as 2 hours, or longer if interruptions occur, or sometimes we have to save as “incomplete” and finish later before posting live.

But it’s important to get it done, start to finish because not all of the listing feeds update properly. This means that if I add a half dozen photos to start with and decide to finish the rest later, the initial data feed that sends listings to the vast array of public facing websites will send out an incomplete set of photos.

Some photos will update later, but others will not, and those sites will retain only the initial set of pics. So, in the case of adding a new listing, first impressions are literally the only impression in many instances. So it’s important that your listing agent knows how to gather everything needed ahead of time, including all 25 of the best photos to be used, virtual tour links, and all of the data points needed so that every photo and every field on your listing is correct right out of the gate.

An impatient seller might ask, “what’s the big deal. Can’t we hurry up and get the listing in this weekend and add the better photos later?

Read more

Austin Real Estate and Automated Valuation Tools

inaccurate Austin real estate valuations

You’ve no doubt heard of Zillow, and know how inaccurate its Austin real estate valuations can be. That’s not completely the fault of Zillow because Texas is a non-disclosure state, meaning when you sell your house, it’s nobody’s business what you sold it for, or what the buyer paid.

This results in limited sold data being available in public records. Thusly, it’s more difficult for third party estimation tools such as Zillow, Trulia and Yahoo to produce an accurate home value estimate. In most states, all real estate sales data is public record and thus there is more data from which to draw conclusions about a particular home value. Not so in Texas. So, with the exception of lower valued homogeneous neighborhoods where value ranges fall within a fairly tight range of size, age and condition, estimates from Zillow (or Zestimates as they call them), can be all over the map, sometimes grossly inaccurate.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with a new valuation tool that mashes up public data with actual Austin MLS sold data. This is called Value Map and is provided by our Austin MLS to its members. I have mine it set up at because the default url is long and ugly.  It’s free, no signup required. And so far, I’m finding it to be surprisingly accurate, though of course not perfect. You can also sign up for alerts when a property similar to yours and within a two mile radius is sold. For some reason, though provided by our Austin MLS, you can type an address from anywhere in the U.S., not just Austin. Try it out, let me know what you think about the accuracy of the value for your property, even if you’re not in Austin.

Lending and appraisal companies seem to be trending toward automated valuation system. The Value Map product is used by banks and appraisers all over the country. It uses a proprietary algorithm to determine values. Often, when we sell a house, the bank trusts the value produced by this methodology and won’t even order a full appraisal, opting instead for a “drive by” appraisal, where an appraiser drives by to make sure the house is indeed there, but doesn’t go inside or perform the full appraisal. I think this is dumb.

On the other hand, though it might be inaccurate, the valuation tool won’t commit purposeful fraud, as many appraisers and lenders did during the most recent real estate boom. So it may be, from a bank/lender perspective, the benefit of fraud elimination outweighs the occasional over-appraising of a home. And probably, if the value is way off from the contract price, they’re going to order a full appraisal anyway.

But as a buyer or seller, will there ever come a day when you simply type in your address and it spits out the true market value of your home (what a buyer would pay)? No (except by coincidence), and here’s why.

Read more

Realtors Who Speak in Rehearsed Scripts Instead of Thinking

Sylvia wrote an offer for one of our buyers last week. When the listing agent called to confirm receiving the offer, he immediately started in with rehearsed script-speak. For those of you unaware of “scripts”, they are exactly what you might imagine. Prefab spoken lines to use in certain situations.

Many Realtors and Real Estate Coaches swear by scripts and practice them daily.  Sylvia and I are very familiar with the concept of scripts, we’ve had training in scripts, and we’ve attended workshops at real estate conventions about using scripts. But we don’t employ scripts in a formal way. This blog article will explain why.

I only heard Sylvia’s side of the conversation with the script-driven listing agent, but she filled me in after hanging up saying, “man, everything that guy says is a script”.

It started with: “Got your offer. So … (pause)… your buyer is offering exactly ___% below list price for a listing that has been on the market only ___ days”.

To which Sylvia responded off the top of her head with with: “Well, the offer is based on the market analysis I did, which I sent with the offer. The list price is irrelevant. I determined the market value based on recent sales of similar homes and advised the buyer as to a fair offer price, and that’s what you have. Plus, we’ve sold over half a dozen homes in that neighborhood and we know what those houses are worth”.

Then, as skilled practitioners of script-speak do, whatever you say is ignored. Instead of having a conversation about the comparable sales that were used to justify the offer, the next rehearsed line is uttered, no matter what your response was to the first.

“I’m going to need your buyer to come up to a price my seller can agree to so we can make this deal work and so you and I can both get paid our commissions”.

To that, Sylvia said: “{Agent Name}, I’m not doing this for a commission. I’m helping my buyer find the best value I can for a home that meets his needs. He likes your listing, but it’s over-priced. You have a good clean offer, based on a proper market analysis, and I think the seller should seriously consider accepting the offer as-is”.

I thought it ended shortly thereafter, with the seller and agent not willing to budge from the list price. I was amazed a few days later to be told that the buyer and seller were in fact now under contract for an amount less than the seller’s price and a bit higher than either Sylvia or I felt was justified for our buyer. But the buyer is the one who makes the decision to accept a seller’s counter-offer or not. We just provide the data, our opinion and our advice. So we entered into the inspection period.

Read more

Texas Cities Outperforming Others

This information is from the Real Estate Center at Texas A/M newsletter. Tells what we already know, but I think the stats are interesting. Texas metros, led by number one Austin–Round Rock, claimed four of the top five spots and nine of the top 16 in the 2009 Milken Institute/Greenstreet Real Estate Partners Best-Performing Cities Index. Also making the list were Killeen–Temple–Fort Hood (2), McAllen-Edinburg-Mission (4), Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown (5), San Antonio (11), Fort Worth–Arlington (12), Dallas-Plano-Irving (13), El Paso (14) and Corpus Christi (16). Austin–Round Rock was the first metro to ever be ranked number one twice on the index, the last time being in 2000. But it doesn’t stop there. Nine other Texas metros made the top 25 out of the 124 smallest metros that were studied. Those were Midland (1), Longview (2), Tyler (4), Odessa (5), College Station–Bryan (14), Texarkana (17), Waco (18), Laredo (20) and Abilene (21). … Read more