New Lending Rules Delay Real Estate Closings

October 15, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

As of October 3rd, there is a new Federal rule (the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule) that governs lenders who make mortgage loans to consumers. The old rule required lenders to give 3 loan disclosures to home buyers–the Good Faith Estimate (GFE), the Truth in Lending (TIL) and the Settlement Statement (HUD). The Feds thought these three were confusing to borrowers and have replaced them with two new disclosures. The new rule also requires all lenders to use the same loan application and disclosure form called a Loan Estimate form. The idea is that buyers can more easily compare lenders’ rates and fees. The second one is the Closing Disclosure, which replaces the Settlement Statement (HUD).  These new disclosures require new processes.

Title companies used to prepare these statements and deliver them to buyers and their agents prior to closing for their review, but now the lender is responsible for the compliance and delivery of these disclosures. The lender must provide the Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to closing, now called the loan consummation.  The timeline for this rule counts Saturdays as a business day, but not Sundays and Federal holidays.  No changes can be made to the Closing Disclosure during that three day period. If a change is required, the three day timeline starts over. This is the part where patience may play a big role as there will no doubt be unexpected delays when changes are made. Lenders may still ask title companies to prepare and send the Closing Disclosures to their clients and continue to perform the Loan Consummation. (closing)

Another change is that your real estate agent will have to get permission from their client in writing on a promulgated form for the lender or the title company to release any information to them. We will provide these forms to our clients when we prepare our representation agreements.

What do these changes mean for our clients? The entire process is going to take longer.  Financing and closing a home used to take 30-45 days. Now, we expect it to take 45-60 days from contract until to consummation to close a loan.  We can, however, recommend a number of excellent (and honest!) lenders who can provide the proper disclosures and get loans closed in the most timely manner possible. The learning curve will be steep for all parties, so working with a highly experienced lender will be important.

Posted by Laura Duggan and Katy Freshour, West Austin Properties, 3312 River Road, Austin, TX 78703, 512-750-2425 (Laura),, 512-826-4310 (Katy),

October Austin Real Estate Market Report

October 13, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Oct_2015_Market_ReportAs the days get shorter, Austin home sales are following normal Fall patterns with fewer sales and more days on market than other times of the year for most areas and price ranges. However, even though sales have declined for the past two months as they do this time of year, the market is still strong especially in the lower price points. The actual number of sales in September was highest of any September. August homes were on the market for the fewest days in Austin history pushing the number of pending home sales to the highest number of any September.  Pending_Sales_Oct_2015

Of the 4409 homes for sale valued at less than $500,000, almost half of them sold in September. This makes this price point an Extreme Seller’s Market with an average of only 2.1 months of inventory. Months of inventory increases as the price point increases. See Sales by Price Band in our full report.

The very upper end of the market is not performing nearly as well. Of the 941 homes for sale over $900,000, only 63 sold in September giving us an average of 15 months of inventory. That is if no other homes came onto the market in this price range, it would take 15 months to sell them all. We call anything over 12 months an Extreme Buyer’s Market. At that rate, there is downward pressure on home prices while sellers compete for the next sale.

For the past three years we have seen overall appreciation in the Austin market, but this trend is slowing. The price increase in 2013 was 8.9%, in 2014 it was 7.1% and so far this year it has been 4.6%. Low interest rates and a robust job market have fueled the demand and appreciation for the past 3 years.

What could change all of that? Real estate is, after all, cyclical. Lots of factors can lead to a dip in the market or at least further slowing of sales and appreciation. Some factors to watch are led by an increase in interest rates promised by the Federal Reserve Board for later this year. It wouldn’t surprise me if they started taking them up this month. A rise in rates usually impacts our stock market negatively and causes buyers in the upper end to be more cautious slowing sales in the segment. Falling oil prices could also be a factor especially here in Texas as jobs are lost in related industries. Look for job layoffs as a signal. Thankfully, we aren’t as oil dependent as we once were in our economy.

As always, we are happy to consult with you on the purchase or sale of a property here in the Austin area. We watch the market closely and are ready to serve you with all of your real estate needs.  To look at the market by price band and zip code, take a look at our full October Real Estate Market Report.

Posted by Laura Duggan, Broker, West Austin Properties, 3312 River Road, Austin, TX 78731. 512-750-2425 or

Featured Listing in Tarrytown: 2504 Keating Lane

October 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

This well-designed home at 2504 Keating Lane is so special we wanted to feature it this week on West Austin Marketplace.  Built by a small custom home builder with quality in mind in 2008, this Tarrytown home features gorgeous reclaimed antique heart of pine floors, walls of windows, and a generous open floor plan just shy of 4000 square feet. Only a few streets over from where my great grandparents built the first home on Indian Trail, this home is located where Keating, Janice and Townes Lane converge at a small grassy triangle. You’ll often see the neighborhood kids playing ball there or running from yard to yard.

If you’re looking for a classic style with a relaxing ambiance, this home is the one for you. French doors off the foyer lead to an impressive study, previously used as a home office but with all of the built in bookshelves it could easily be a library or reading room–and it has a full bath nearby. The chef’s kitchen though is the heart of the home with an expansive granite topped island, bar seating, and miles of counter space for food prep or cooking with friends. It even has a little wine fridge among the sleek stainless appliances. A spacious breakfast area incorporated into the kitchen lends itself well to a large table where the family can gather for meals or to do homework. 2504 Keating Ln-small-013-13-Keating-666x445-72dpi

Enjoy holiday entertaining and make some great family memories in the casual yet elegant formal dining room, an extension of the open living space. Lights around the tray ceiling and the modern chandelier can be adjusted to suite any mood or occasion.

The luxurious owner’s suite on the main level features an elegant bath with soaking tub and jetted shower. Two separate vanities and two walk in closets provide ample space for residents to get ready for a busy day.

Outdoor entertaining is fun with a covered living area off the kitchen with a built-in grill and sink.  A big screen television shows the big game while steaks are on the grill. There is also a nice informal seating area great for nibbling on appetizers or serving burgers to the kids. Most of the lots in Tarrytown were traditionally cut small because they had smaller homes built on them. This home is situated on a lot and a half,  and while the lot is smaller than many homes located outside of Central Austin, there is ample room for kids to play and even a dog run on the side with access to the laundry room.   2504 Keating Ln-small-044-44-Keating-666x445-72dpi

A recently added party pavilion is perfect for backyard parties or doing outdoor art projects.  This space could also be converted to additional yard space at a buyer’s request.

Upstairs, there are three large bedrooms with two full baths that share a large game room with extensive built ins, mini fridge and sink. There is also a separate media room that can be used as a gym or theater.  There are endless possibilities for all of this space.

This home is perfectly located several blocks from Triangle Park and is convenient to Tarrytown and Casis shopping centers, the Howson Branch Library, the Post Office, Move Austin Fitness, Starbucks, Randalls Grocery and Casis Elementary School.

E-mail or call 512-826-4316 for more information or showing.

Posted by Katy Freshour, West Austin Properties, 3312 River Road, Austin, TX 78703. 512-826-4316

Low Inventory Still Causing Record Low Sales

April 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Austin housing market is experiencing a crisis of sorts as we ride into the Spring selling season, typically the most active time in our market. Record low inventory is wreaking havoc in our market as population growth and demand in Austin outpace the number of available properties.


Buyers are fighting for properties in almost all price segments with entry level buyers and those seeking a mortgage being the biggest losers in the fray. It is not only common, but the rule right now that there are multiple offers, sales over list price and days on the market limited to the number of days the listing agent is holding the property before submitting “final and best” offers to the seller.

It is indeed a great time to be a seller. And, its a really stressful time to be a buyer. If you are a seller in today’s market, chances are you are either moving to assisted living or out of the city. Why? Because sellers who are also moving up in price or downsizing are disappointed in the prices they would have to pay to move within the city. There are few quality choices for sellers who want to remain, and the competition for what is available is so stiff that few want to jump into market. And, most sellers right now either have a low mortgage payment and interest rate at or below 4% so they aren’t motivated to move.

What does that mean for Austin? Short term it means that prices will continue to increase as demand keeps fueling them upward. It also means that our entry level buyers are having to move farther and farther out into the suburbs. Prices have risen over 16% in the last year.

Forbes recently called Austin the #1 city for overall tech and job creation over the past decade. People are moving here because of our quality of life and business friendly tax situation. I just wonder how long we can sustain the character of the city that I’ve loved and enjoyed since childhood.

Yes, real estate is cyclical. I’ve seen it up and I’ve seen it down and every where in between since I began my real estate career in 1979. The cycles generally run in 10 year cycles. We began tracking the market statistics monthly in 2006 and saw the last downturn before most. Every month we publish a comprehensive real estate market report so we can follow the trends and predict the cycle for the next quarter.  Take a look at our April Market Report. You can find all of these market reports at

If you’re a buyer right now, be patient. The market will loosen. If you’re thinking of selling, now is the best time I’ve seen since 2006 to maximize your tax free equity. Remember that a married couple can take $500,000 equity out of their primary residence tax free.

Real estate will always be local and fluctuates by neighborhood. We are happy to give you a personal assessment of your home or help you find the best property.

Submitted by Laura Duggan, West Austin Properties, 3312 River Road, Austin, Texas 78703; 512-750-2425;

March Real Estate Market Report

March 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Spring is here in Central Texas, and the real estate market in Austin is already in full swing. Home sales in January and February exceeded those in the same time period for the last seven years. With still fewer than 5000 single family homes actively on the market, demand is still outpacing the supply.




March began with the highest number of pending home sales in history with 3,466 pending home sales. I had to take a double look at that figure just to make sure it was right. Both the inventory and days on market are at record lows. Of course it varies by neighborhood and price range, but the average days on market is 48. Increasing demand and low inventory continues to push prices upward. Take a look at the specifics for each price band and zip code in our March Market Report.

The strongest demand is still for homes under $600,000. All of the price bands under $600,000 are in an Extreme to Normal Seller’s Market.


In the luxury market, those homes priced at or above $1,000,000, a good number of sales are going unreported. We belong to several luxury agent networking groups that share properties that are being sold in the “silent” market or that will never appear in the MLS for a number of reasons. We have the opportunity to tour these homes privately and to showcase our listings with these luxury home groups.  The majority of the buyers purchasing these homes are paying cash for them, and we are still seeing multiple offers on these properties even though they are being offered publicly. Our excellent contacts in the real estate industry help us stay ahead of the curve by networking with these luxury agents. It continues to be a big win for our buyers and sellers.

Real estate is hyper local and all of us are Austin natives. If you have questions about the specific data in any neighborhood, we are happy to help you understand what is happening there.

Posted by Laura Duggan, President, West Austin Properties, 3312 River Road, Austin, Texas 78703, 512-750-2425,

Next Page »