Austin area real estate market

State of the Greater Austin Real Estate Market Update 2018

The greater Austin real estate market continued to show signs of strong growth at the end of 2018, and the consensus is that this will continue into the foreseeable future with some market normalization.

In the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), sales volume slightly increased year over year from 2,185 sales in November 2017 to 2,201 sales in November. Meanwhile, the median home price rose 2.2 percent year over year to $301,391.

New listings were on the rise for the five-county MSA, up 1.7 percent year over year to 2,380 listings in November. During the same period, active (on-market) listings increased 11.5 percent, and pending sales rose 2.5 percent, indicating larger inventory levels but also more buyers to absorb part of that increase. Monthly housing inventory increased to 2.7 months of inventory (6 months of inventory is considered a “balanced market,” meaning that neither buyers nor sellers have an advantage.

The number of days (on average) that a house spends on the market increased 3 days to 64. Over time, this figure has continued to slowly grow, indicating a rise in both inventory levels and the time it takes for a home to sell.

“Families and young professionals continue to move to the suburbs where there are more opportunities for home ownership at a more reasonable price point than in the city of Austin,” said Steve Crorey, president of the Austin Board of REALTORS®. “While home sales growth isn’t as rapid in the city, demand is still strong. Analysts predict Austin will be a market to watch in 2019.”

The moral of the story? Today is still a great time to buy and sell real estate in the greater Austin area. If you have any questions about how this information affects your real estate portfolio, please reach out to me anytime. I’m always happy to help.

Austin-Area Home Sales Set October Record

Despite a dip in September, the Austin-area housing market rebounded big time in October. In fact, according to the October 2018 Central Texas Housing Market report released by the Austin Board of REALTORS®, both home sales and sales dollar volume were the highest on record for any October. These record highs suggest a strong demand for single-family homes around the Austin-area and, while inventory did slightly increase around the area, there is still not enough supply to support the demand. What should you know as both a current and potential investment property owner? Here’s a look at the details:

Luxury houses in North America

  • Austin-Round Rock MSA
    • 2,347 home sales – a 4.3 percent increase from October 2017 AND the highest number of sales for any October
    • $900 million in sales dollar volume – an 8.8 percent increase year-over-year
    • $308,355 median home sales price – a 7.5 percent increase from October 2017
    • 2,871 new listings – a 3.7 percent increase year-over-year
    • 7,434 active listings – an 8.2 percent increase year-over-year
    • 2,444 pending sales – a 2.8 percent increase from October 2017
    • 2.9 months of inventory
  • City of Austin
    • 735 home sales – a 7.8 percent increase year-over-year
    • $343 million in sales dollar volume – an 11.9 percent increase from October 2017
    • $377,000 median home sales price – a 3.7 percent increase from October 2017
    • 878 new listings – a 5 percent increase year-over-year
    • 1,643 active listings – a 5.4 percent decrease year-over-year
    • 711 pending sales – a 2.2 percent decrease from October 2017
    • 2.1 months of inventory
  • Travis County
    • 1,176 home sales – a 6.2 percent increase year-over-year
    • $537 million in sales dollar volume – a 10.9 percent increase from October 2017
    • $358,540 median home sales price – a 5.5 percent increase year-over-year
    • 1,417 new listings – a 5.1 percent increase year-over-year
    • 3,374 active listings – a 1.2 percent increase from October 2017
    • 1,198 pending sales – a 3.3 percent increase year-over-year
    • 2.6 months of inventory
  • Williamson County
    • 780 home sales – a 0.5 percent decrease year-over-year
    • $242 million in sales dollar volume – a 3.3 percent increase since last October
    • $281,250 median home sales price – a 4.5 percent increase year-over-year
    • 963 new listings – a 2.6 percent decrease from October 2017
    • 2,595 active listings – a 12.2 percent increase year-over-year
    • 835 pending sales – a 2.1 percent increase from October 2017
    • 2.9 months of inventory

Do you have any questions about the local housing market? As a longtime REALTOR® and property manager in the Austin-area, the TALK Property Management Team is always here for you. Contact our team anytime!

Are you thinking about buying an investment property? We would be happy to help! Contact us today to get started and learn more about our property management services!

4 Tips to Prepare Your Rental Property for Cold Weather Pests

While the weather hasn’t cooled down much in Texas yet…make no mistake; winter is coming – well, Texas’ version. And, even though our winters don’t bring much snow at all (if any), there is still a chance for cold weather pest problems. How do you protect your investment from these unwelcome intruders? Here’s a look at a few tips to prepare your rental property:

cold weather pests

Seal possible entry points
Walk around the inside and outside of the home and look for any deteriorating structure or holes that a pest can fit through. Keep in mind; no hole is too small. Also, make sure your drains are covered with screens or metal gates to keep rats out of the sewer pipes.

Keep the exterior clear of debris and shrubbery
Clear any piles of debris around the house that may act as a hiding or access point for potential pest intruders. While you’re at it, also think about trimming any overhanging branches as these can act as a ladder/bridge for pests to access the home.

Pass along these tips to your tenants to ensure they don’t have any pest problems during their lease:

Store trash safely
While many know to store food safely inside your home, it is equally as important to store your trash safely, too. Trash all over the place can attract pests to your home. With that in mind, make sure to remind your tenants to keep their trash in a secure and sealed trash can. Don’t forget to eliminate any pools of water, as these can also attract pests.

Check for signs of pest activity 
Inspect both the inside and outside of the home for signs of pest activity by looking for rodent droppings of shed bed bug skins. Looking outside can ensure you catch the issue before the pests find their way inside.

Find a pest problem? Call a professional in Austin to help you remove any unwanted visitors. If you’re looking for a recommendation, give TALK Property Management a call. We have a list of trusted professionals we would be happy to share with you!

5 Tips for First-Time Landlords

Becoming a first-time landlord can be an overwhelming task. But, it can be a successful endeavor – especially if you learn and adapt along the way. To ensure you avoid common pitfalls and maintain a successful investment, take a look at these tips for first-time landlords:

first-time landlord

DO NOT Cut Corners on Documentation
Paperwork is essential to being a successful landlord. With that in mind, never cut corners! Make sure you have the following important forms: condition reports, state-specific leases, locally required disclosures (lead, radon, mold, occupancy limits), rental application, etc.  While you can keep these forms online, it is essential to have additional hard copies of every document.

Know the Local and Federal Fair Housing Laws
Not knowing the local and federal laws can be the costliest mistake of being a landlord. Before you start renting the property, ensure you research the Fair Housing Laws – both federal and local. These laws prohibit discrimination and vary by state and city.

Always Screen Your Renters
Screen every renter by a set of requirements – a rental application and a quick conversation about their income, employment and reason they are moving should do the trick. In the rental application, make sure you as for past/current landlord, work and personal references. Nothing is worse than waiting on late rent and having to go through the costly and time-consuming eviction process. A responsible tenant makes being a landlord all the more enjoyable.

Invest Now
Don’t wait to invest, do it now. Buying a rental property can be done in a variety of ways. Here’s a look at a couple of options:

  • House-Hack: Buy a property and live in part of the residence. You can accomplish this by purchasing a duplex, a home with a basement, a property with a garage apartment or by merely renting out extra rooms.
  • Sweat Equity: Purchase a property that needs some work and, by using your muscle power, add value that didn’t exist before.

Here’s the best tip of all!

Hire a Property Management Team
A property management company can help you locate an investment property and handle all the day-to-day operations!

Contact TALK Property Management for more information.

4 Signs the Investment Property You’re Buying Has Good Resale Value

While you intend to keep an investment for years to come, that isn’t always the case. There will come a time when you will sell the property you are just now buying. With that in mind, it is important to think resale value now. How can you tell if the investment you’re thinking about buying has good resale value? Here are some signs:

resale value

The Neighborhood
Location is always the number one seller. Make sure the property you are buying is located in a prime, but quiet neighborhood. What else should you look for? Signs of a great neighborhood include the following: top schools, nearby entertainment and dining options and more.

The Systems
Ensure the home’s systems are either new or in good standing at the time of purchase. While it is expected to have to fork out some money for repairs while owning the property, it is said that the sooner you have to make them the more expensive it is for you. That being said, ask an inspector to take a close look at the major home systems and give you a rundown of the future health of the home. Note that costly items to fix include the roof, water heater, HVAC system, windows, foundation, etc.

Great Schools
Whether you have kids or not, the school district matters – especially when it comes to the resale value. Do your research and ensure the property is located in one of the area’s top school districts. Great school districts in the Austin area include Leander ISD, Lake Travis ISD, Round Rock ISD, Eanes ISD, Liberty Hill ISD and more.

A Well-Designed Floor Plan
A floor plan that is well-designed doesn’t just mean open. While open is highly desirable, you should also look for a family-friendly plan that has at least three bedrooms (maybe even four) and multiple bathrooms.

Even with these signs, good resale value is never a sure thing. Keep that in mind, both now, when you are buying the property, and when it comes time to sell.

Do you have any questions about buying in Austin’s fast-moving real estate market? Give TALK Property Management a call. We are always available to help!

Proposed Highway 79 Widening Project in Round Rock

Proposed Plan to Widen Highway 79 in Round Rock

TxDOT officials recently invited public comment on an extensive plan to widen Highway 79 in Round Rock. Estimated to be complete by 2024, the project is designed to relieve congestion and will ultimately add several lanes of traffic to widen this crucial roadway. The plan includes new options for half-clover traffic patterns and innovative bridge infrastructure.

Proposed Highway 79 Widening Project in Round Rock

Ultimately, a third travel lane will be added to Highway 79 in each direction. Some parts of the road will have a total of eight lanes of traffic, excluding turn lanes. The project will stretch from Sam Bass Road in west Round Rock to beyond A.W. Grimes Boulevard in east Round Rock.

A new half-clover traffic pattern is proposed for the Mays Street intersection. Meanwhile, innovative four-lane bridges that would direct traffic over the intersections are slated for the A.W. Grimes and Mays Street intersections. Additional congestion improvements are also planned for the Sunrise Road and Georgetown Street intersections.

Although a total cost figure has not been provided, federal funds are expected to pay for part of the project, according to TxDOT.

At this time, environmental studies are in process and are expected to last through 2019. If the environmental clearance is given, TxDOT will begin right-of-way acquisitions in 2019, and the total build-out timeframe is estimated at two years.

Image courtesy Community Impact.

A Guide to Disputing Your Property Taxes

As a property owner, residential and investment alike, taxes are inevitable. On top of that, as Austin area home prices continue rising, it only seems likely that Central Texas homeowners will also see an increase in their property taxes. But, that doesn’t mean the value of your home determined for tax purposes is correct or you should be subject to pay exactly what the appraisal district says you owe. Lucky for you, there is a way to remedy potential mistakes: disputing your property taxes. Here’s a brief overview of the property tax dispute process:

Appraisal > Appraisal District Sends Notice of Home Value > File a “Notice of Protest” Form with Your County Tax Assessor’s Office > Informal Meeting > Hearing (if necessary) > Arbitration

home property tax concept illustration design

Now, let’s dive in deeper…

January 1st – The Appraisal
An appraiser determines the value of your home by looking at its condition and current market value – on this particular date.

Late April/Early May – The Appraisal District Sends Notice of Home Value
By late April or early May, the county appraisal district will send you a form telling you the value of your home for tax purposes. When you receive this form, look over it carefully to make sure there are no errors. In the event you find errors or the value appears way too high, you can begin the process to dispute. If you did not receive this notice, contact your respective County Tax Assessor’s office as they may have the incorrect mailing address on file. While this is not likely for your residential property, it may be the case for any investment properties.

May 31 – File a “Notice of Protest” Form with Your County Tax Assessor’s Office
The deadline to file a “Notice of Protest” form with your County Tax Assessor’s office is May 31. If this date falls on a weekend, you have until the next business day (the Monday after the weekend) to file. As this date is around a month after the notices were sent, you need to make the decision to protest in a short amount of time – so don’t waste any time! How do you file? There are several options here. One, use the form on the back of the “Notice of Appraised Value” form that you receive from the appraisal district. Two, file your protest online: HaysTravis or Williamson County. Once on your respective website, click on “Online Protests” and follow the directions. Pay special attention to the section where you check the box stating the reason for your protest. Why? The box you check affects the evidence you can present.

June 1 – Meet with the Appraiser: “The Informal Meeting”
After you’ve filed, the Central Appraisal District will send you a letter with two dates: an informal meeting with a member of the appraisal staff and a formal hearing date with the ARB. During the informal meeting, the staffer will review the numbers with you. Make sure to bring all the documentation you have compiled: information on comparable homes (you can find this information on the appraisal district’s website), perhaps an independent appraisal if you recently refinanced your house, or photos, repair estimates and other records showing damage that may reduce the value of your home. Once you and a staffer have talked things out, the district may offer to reduce your value by a certain amount. If you’re satisfied, you can accept it. If not, you can keep your date with the ARB.

The Formal Hearing
The formal hearing takes around 15 to 30 minutes. During that time, you are placed under oath and given a chance to present any evidence or witnesses supporting your case. The hearing concludes when you state the figure you believe your property is worth. The three-member panel will discuss the case and reach a recommended value. You’ll get a certified letter in the mail with the decision.

Do you have any questions regarding disputing your property taxes? Consider TALK Property Management a resource! We are available to help anytime.

Trust-Sign

Characteristics of a Great Property Manager

Property management is not for the feint of heart. Though anyone can attempt to take on the challenge, only a select few will succeed and even fewer will manage to do it really, really well. When thinking about choosing a property manager, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are the characteristics that make a great property manager stand out above the rest.

At TALK Property Management, We Believe a Great Property Manager is:

Trustworthy

Any property manager that isn’t concerned with working with you for the long term isn’t worth your time. The goal of a property manager should be to ensure your property is taken care of so well that you want to work with them again and again. Through their dedication to your investment, they will help ensure your property is not a worry for you, but something you can benefit from without having to think about it all the time. Let us take that stress off your hands!

Accountable

When it comes to your property, major work should never be done without your knowledge.  A property manager should notify an owner of anything that needs to be done with the home. There ought to be no surprises when it comes to your property. The same goes for any tenant issues that may arise during the course of the property management agreement. TALK Property Management will keep you up-to-date on any major events, repairs or tenant issues that occur during our management of your property.

Loyal

No matter how you find them, a property manager that is worth your time will get in touch with you. If you call, email or stop by their office they will make a point of getting back to you quickly with the answers you need. If you find yourself pursuing them, rather than the other way around, it is a sign of things to come. Make sure the person you choose is ready to show you they want to work with you!

Knowledgeable

There are a lot of ways to care for a property and make sure everything runs smoothly. From depositing rent checks to keeping up with repair bills and payments and beyond. This is necessary to keep everything in order and ensure a seamless transaction record. Not only are a property manager’s clients their priority, but the tenants of those clients are as well. With multiple properties and all those additional people to account for, a property manager worth working with will stay organized. This is the only way the are able to keep track of who needs what and when. As we always say, happy tenants mean long term renters.

Ultimately, a great property manager is there to make a property owner’s life easier. From tenants to billing, repairs and beyond, TALK Property Management’s goal is to ensure your investment is well cared for and occupied by quality tenants. We have your interests at heart. If you are ready to take the step toward property management, call us for a free consultation and let our team show you what we can do for you!

Energy-Saving-Tips-Summer

Austin Home Energy Saving Tips for the Texas Summer

Summer is here and with the heat index creeping past 100 degrees, it’s time to start getting serious about your energy bills and working to keep them down! Here are a few tips to keep you cool all summer long. It’s only going to get hotter y’all, so get ready!

Keep that A/C Turned to a Higher Temperature to Save on Energy

Try whenever you can to keep from turning your air conditioner down low. That frigid air will feel very good come August, but it will cost you. Instead, keep your thermostat around 78 degrees when you’re in the house and above 80 degrees when you are away. Use fans to keep things cooler, only in occupied rooms.

Close Window Coverings to Insulate Against the Heat of the Sun

The sun makes for some awesome natural light during the day, but the money you may think you’re saving on your lights will come back to haunt you in your air conditioning bill. Your unit has to work twice as hard to keep your home at even a minimally cool level.

Cook Outdoors to Keep Your House from Getting Too Hot

Along with the dryer, ovens and stoves generate massive amounts of heat, especially if they are run with gas. Most of what you can cook in the oven can be cooked on a grill. With some good company and cool beverages, a cook-out can be a lot of fun.

Add Extra Shade to Windows to Stay Cool Indoors

There are a lot of options for window coverings. Draperies can be added to windows that already have blinds and shutters. Exterior shutters can be an extra layer against the sun as well. Exterior shades either for the deck, patio or windows are an ideal way to keep the sun at bay. You can even set them on a timer to be down when you need the extra protection and up when you don’t.

Summer is supposed to be fun, don’t let it become a strain or drain on your finances. Follow these tips to keep your home cooler and you’ll be smiling all the way to the bank. For another smart move that can help with your finances, contact us at TALK Property Management for the best property managers in Austin!

Austin Rental Market is Prime for Property Owners

Austin is a Prime Rental Market for Property Owners

Austin has been making headline after headline for the real estate boom that the area has been enjoying over the last year. What has been less widely reported are the increasing rental rates that are benefitting property owners all over the city and the country. If you already own property in Austin, now is a great time to consider renting as a residual income source or as a new investment business. Property is at a premium in Austin because of how hard it is to come by anything that stays on the market for any stretch of time.

According to rentjungle.com, Austin rental prices for a one-bedroom apartment have increased from approximately $757/month in July 2009 to $1,203/month as of February 2016. This change in rent reflects the changing landscape of Austin, particularly when it comes to real estate and rental property investment. It’s a good time to be a property owner with a quality or long-term renter in Austin.

The highest rent trend tends to be Downtown and Old West Austin, closely followed by the sought after Zilker and Bouldin neighborhoods. Hyde Park, North Loop and Rosedale come behind to round out the middle range with the University of Texas and Saint Edwards. The rental cost lets up as one moves further north to North Lamar and North Austin in general. The gap in rent spans from approximately $2,149 at the higher range to $873 at the lowest end of the Austin rental market.

These numbers will continue to increase  based on this article from Culturemap Austin. Projections show Austin rental prices jumping another fiver percent this year.  On top of the rent hike, more people are renting over buying homes because of the rising cost of housing in the Austin-metro area. And why wouldn’t all these folks want to move to Austin? With some of the best entertainment, top walkable neighborhoods and a growing job market, Austin is the place to be. Our strong economy is serving Austin well and will continue to attract more and more renters to the area.

With the ban of Type 2 short-term leases, more property owners are finding themselves in need of property management assistance, especially if they are at a distance from Austin. People who didn’t intend to spend a lot of time and energy on their rental properties are now in a tricky situation needing longer-term renters with quality rental history.  With the crazy real estate and rental market predictions for Austin, any property investor whether they have one door or sixty, ought to be making sure to look for a trustworthy and dedicated property management company like TALK Property Management.

TALK Property Management has years of experience in the Austin market and can help property owners navigate every step of the way through the rental process from finding tenants to ensuring their property is taken care of and their renters are following through with their responsibilities. Happy tenants make for long-term tenants. Long-term tenants make for happy property investors and when you’re happy, we’re happy. Give us a call today to learn how we can help you take advantage of the skyrocketing rental investment market in Austin.