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Austin-area Home Demand is Strong, but Median Price Stalls Slightly – What This Means for Real Estate Investors

 

Strong first-quarter home sales in the greater Austin area continued into April, according to the most recent Central Texas Housing Report released by the Austin Board of REALTORS®. However, the Austin-Round Rock MSA’s first quarter home sales were tempered with a stalled median home price increase of just .2% during that period. This figure is significantly lower than in the same period in previous years.

“Between 2012 and 2015, we saw price increases as high as 9%,” said Kevin P. Scanlan, 2019 president of the Austin Board of REALTORS®. “These narrower margins are a strong indication that market prices are starting to stabilize.”

Home sales volume continues to rise in the greater Austin area, and it was up 14.9% to 3,035 sales. Surprisingly, new listings were down 1.8%, but active listings increased 1%, another opportunity for Austin-area real estate investors.

Pending home sales in the greater Austin area spiked to 14.3%, while months of inventory hovered at 2.4.

According to the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, a “balanced real estate market” is defined as six months worth of home inventory. With housing supply hovering at 2.4 months, the greater Austin area remains a “seller’s market,” meaning that it is generally more favorable to sellers/owners due to a reduced supply of homes.

However, with the median home price tapering, there appears to be some stabilization and a silver lining for investors who are considering investing in Austin-area residential real estate, especially while interest rates remain low.

Regardless of your situation, TALK Property Management is always here to help, even if you just have a question about the real estate investments in the Austin area. Or, if you’re considering selling your investment property or if you know someone who is, contact our TALK Property Management today. We are always here to help.

TALK Dona_Brown Talk Property Management Austin Texas_Avoid_These_DIY_MIstakes_that_Homeowners_Make_

DIY Fouls: 4 of the Worst DIY Mistakes Homeowners Can Make on Investment Properties

While it may seem like a good idea to save a buck and perform investment property repairs yourself, DIY repair projects don’t always pay off, and things can get ugly rather quickly. Stay away from these common DIY mistakes that homeowners make, and leave them to the licensed repair professionals.

#1 Drywall Repairs. An extra coat of paint is no biggie, but if your investment property’s walls are in need of drywall repairs from things like cracking around windows (generally speaking, if you can stick a coin in it, there’s a problem), settling around door frames, or holes in the wall, it’s tricky to get it right on your own. Enlist the help of a drywall professional who has the tools and experience to repair the issue correctly.

#2 HVAC Repairs. Your investment property’s heating and air conditioning systems are complex, and they’re often connected to gas and electrical lines. Making a small mistake can jeopardize the system and lead to costly repairs. Hire a licensed HVAC technician to correct any problems.

#3 Electrical Repairs. Installing a ceiling fan or a simple light fixture isn’t usually a big deal. However, when you start dealing with circuitry and breaker boxes in your investment property, the potential of seriously injuring yourself or starting a fire increases dramatically. Electricians are up-to-date on all the recent code requirements, and they have the advantage of working with electrical systems daily. It may seem like a good idea to go it alone, but don’t fall prey to this DIY mistake.

#4 Plumbing Repairs. Incorrectly repair a plumbing issue, and you’ll find yourself in a lot of hot water, no pun intended. While a leaky toilet in your investment property may appear easy to fix, the problem can escalate, or there may be more to the issue than meets the eye. Because water damage is serious and expensive to fix, start at the right place, right from the beginning: hire a licensed plumber.

While it may be exciting to put on your DIY cape when it comes to your investment property, resist the urge–at least on these four important items. Spending the extra money to have a licensed repair professional evaluate the issue prevents DIY mistakes from turning into costly DIY problems.

Have a real estate or investment property question? Reach out to me anytime.

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!