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 WestAustin.com

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; laura@westaustin.com

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, laura@westaustin.com

A Few Home Design Trends for 2015

March 7, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Everything is moving toward contemporary design with primitive elements. Instead of one central theme, the theme is eclectic and mixes contemporary structural design with primitive elements and industrial touches. For example, if the kitchen counter is distressed wood, the bar stools are industrial. There is a lot of mixing of textures, stones, and hardware with mixed neutrals. Pops of color come from rugs or pillows, but the main design is in the primitive elements.industrial

In her blog, HGTV design star Abby Vasek says: “Positively Primitive: This is a style trend that Austin was early to adopt, and we plan to see more of it in 2015. It involves mixing primitive elements into your home with horns, hides, fur, taxidermy, petrified rock, crystals and other natural stones. Go shopping on Second Street or South Congress, and you’ll find geode crystals on book ends, box tops, lamp bases, made into chandeliers, encased in tables, printed on fabric—you name it.

And keep your eye out for the hottest new primitive material in town: petrified rock. You can count on seeing this material used in all kinds of new design applications. One use that we are already seeing in Austin stores is petrified rock tabletops anchored on polished chrome legs. This table is exemplary of the balancing act between primitive versus luxury that is happening in design, and these primitive elements offer us incredible visual contrast and comfort to our inevitable modern movement. “ Check out the rest of her 2015 Trends Blog.

Also, larger rugs are filling the space to make rooms appear larger. Instead of splurging on a large rug, use carpet tape to attach two rugs together. Also, stacking rugs is becoming a huge trend. Putting a larger neutral rug under all of the furniture with a smaller rug on top adding color or design and mixing materials. Rugs no longer have to be uniform and straight, but can overlap and create new defined space in a room.

paint colors 2015New paint colors of 2015 are white and grey neutrals; tan, beige, grey with pops of color from a deep red, teal and olive green. The color of the year based on the Pantone Color Institute, is the earthy wine red, known as Marsala. Although this is a bold color, think about using it for the front door and leave the neutrals for the interior rooms. Also, feel free to check out BenjaminMoore.com under the “Explore Color” tab where you can upload a photo of your room and try out different paint colors virtually.

Go luxe! Although, there is a push toward distressed wood and industrial elements, interior decorators aren’t afraid to pair it with newer elements like metallic and Lucite. Metal etching is being added to furniture and contrasting the old with the shiny new!

At West Austin Properties, we have a designer on our staff that can help our clients select colors, arrange furniture and make any needed repairs to get top dollar for their homes. For more information about this complimentary service, contact us. Small changes can mean $1000’s of dollars in equity.

Katy Freshour, REALTOR, West Austin Properties, 3312 River Road, Austin, Texas 78703, katyfreshour@gmail.com

5 Steps to Staging Your Home to Sell For Top Dollar

February 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

abbyThis past week I went to a continuing education class at Chicago Title where HGTV Design Star, Abby Vasek, spoke to a small group of Realtors on the ins and outs of staging a home before putting it on the market. WOW, was it eye opening! In two hours I learned how to get my listings ready for the market, design trends for 2015, cutting edge design tricks, local vendors to expedite the process and even a bit of coaching on how to elevate my business and myself.

Staging Basics:

  1. Declutter/Edit: If your home is anything like mine, you may have a bunch of stuff everywhere. Now just because it’s beautiful stuff or sentimental stuff, it’s still stuff, and it can be distracting to potential buyers. Anything from picture frames, memorabilia from travels, books, art, appliances, etc. can be extremely distracting. Anything personal, including family photos, makes it hard for the buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. Even appliances on the kitchen counter or toiletries in the bathroom, although very functional, can make countertops seem small and bring up concerns of not enough storage. Almost like a vacation rental, you want potential buyers to feel as though they could move right in and start visualizing where their things would go.
  2. Clean, Renew, Repair: Once you’ve edited your space, you need to put it through a deep clean. It is really important to hire a professional cleaner who will scrub cabinets, baseboards, crown molding, etc. and make your home shine! As much as our sellers want to save money to do this themselves, it can be really hard to see our own dirt! What may seem like a thorough cleaning to the homeowner may not cut it for a buyer. We have great resources and can help you hire someone who has done make-ready cleaning before. It is also important to fix anything that is broken, scratched or damaged.
  3. Lighten and Brighten:
    • Paint: It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do to the interior and exterior of a home. Hiring a professional to pick the latest and greatest paint colors can add serious appeal to your home. We recently put a home on the market that had a state house character so we repainted the entire house with high-end gorgeous paint colors similar to the ones in the White House. You cannot believe the transformation of the look and feel of the home with just the right paint! Most of the time we see too many paint colors in one house, and simply unifying the pain colors to two or three makes the home seem more fluid and transitional. Also, repainting the baseboards, windows, moldings and cabinets can make homes look brand new! We have a great paint crew who can do the work reasonably.
    • Windows: Taking down drapes that conceal the natural light can really brighten up a home. Replace drapery high and wide to make windows appear larger. Take the drapes all the way up to the base of the crown molding and only allow no more than 1 inch covering the side of the window. For a more dramatic look, take drapes further outside the window to make the window seem much wider. When buying drapes, look for back tapped drapery that unifies the folds in the drapery similar to a hotel.
    • Mirrors: Mirrors have the potential to really expand a room and give it more natural light. Place a mirror directly across from the window to reflect the natural light and open up the room. Also, placing them in the entry way or above the mantle can add drama to the space. Mirrors are a great affordable option to enhance your space.
    • Fixtures: Updating a fixture can change the entire dynamic of the home. If you want to make a downtown condo feel hip, add a fun industrial fixture. You can even use rustolium spray paint over old exterior fixtures to make them look new. Create a dining room space by adding a light fixture in an open room over where a dining table could go. Replace bulbs to make rooms brighter or add can lights in darker rooms or hallways.
    • Plants: A tall palm in the entry way or the corner of a room can make the ceilings seem higher and add life to a vacant home or empty room. Bringing nature indoors make buyers feel more relaxed in the space.
  4. Function and Potential: Show buyers the potential use of the room. If you have a small room that can be used as a bedroom, show the buyer by putting a large bed, two bedside tables and dresser to show them how much the room can fit. It doesn’t matter if you used it as a study; show them the potential of the room. Create a focal point in every room. When the buyer walks down the hall and looks into the room, is there something that catches their eye that will bring them into the room? A painting is a great focal point to add to a room, or using a structural design focal point such as a fireplace allows the buyer to move toward one object without their eyes darting all around the room. From that focal point, everything in the room should be placed accordingly, for example, furniture and rugs. Rugs define your space and can show the buyer how large a room is.
  5. Curb Appeal: This is the most important area to stage because it is the buyers’ first impression of the home. Make sure the front landscaping is well kept and trimmed. Add flowers to attract the buyers’ eye and add a pop of color. Paint the front door a bright, memorable color or replace with a brand new door. Add new hardware letters. The entryway sets the stage and the mood for the buyer before they enter the house.

Buyers buy based on emotion. Pricing, floor plan, location school district, etc. may get them out to come see the house and put it in the running, but once they are in the house, their emotions take over. Staging gets the buyer in the place where they become emotionally attached to the home and will do whatever it takes to get it. It creates the WOW factor when they walk in the door. They are able to imagine themselves in the home and are already mentally moving in.

Is your home vacant? Fill the space by adding music during your showings. Put a palm tree in the entryway. Add a candle or diffuser without a strong scent, for example, pine, mint or citrus. Rent furniture to give the buyer an idea of function and potential. Hire stagers who may have their own furniture to use while your home is on the market.

However, don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own! Every listing with West Austin Properties includes a complementary home staging consultation. Our stager is a designer certified in helping our sellers transform their home using items they already own and highlighting features of their home either structurally, or by rearranging furniture and adding a few props. Each consultation also includes a color consultation where our stager will go over wall color and additional action items to get the home ready for the market. By using a stager, we are able to maximize the value of the home and connect our sellers with reliable vendors who can make the process easy and affordable. Having our own preferred vendor list enables us to negotiate lower rates for our sellers.

Another benefit of using a stager is being able to market the home on certified stager websites. Stagedhomes.com, RESA.com, and HSR.com are a few of the websites where professionally staged homes are marketed. If you still need convincing on whether or not a stager is beneficial, these websites are also a great resource for before and after photos!

Posted by Katy Freshour, REALTOR, West Austin Properties, 3312 River Road, Austin, Texas 78703, katyfreshour@gmail.com

Austin Real Estate Market Report for February 2015

February 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Austin real estate market started 2015 with higher listing inventory, higher pending sales and higher home sales than this time last year. With 19.4% more of homes on the market this year than last year at this time, this is good news for many home buyers who’ve been competing with multiple offers and rising prices. If inventory continues to increase, this could mean more good news for buyers as prices may stabilize after the usual spring surge in home sales.


Pending home sales are also higher as the number of buyers in the market are absorbing the inventory. In fact, we had the highest number of January pending home sales in 7 years.  New appraisal rules that went into effect at the end of January may increase the time that it takes to get mortgage approvals. If that happens, homes may stay pending longer prior to closing and cause this pending home sales number to increase more than normal.

January home sales are also up over the same time last year, again the highest number in 7 years at just over 1400 sales out of a 4813 market inventory of single family homes. That means that there is 3.42 months of inventory available. Generally, 3-6 months of inventory is considered a seller’s market.  The lower the inventory, the more the seller has the advantage and we have appreciating prices.

To see all of the statistics in the Austin real estate market in January, take a look at the full report where we have the statistics outlined by price band and zip code.  We are also happy to give you a complete assessment of your home’s value in our market.

Posted by Laura Duggan, President, West Austin Properties, 3312 River Road, Austin, Texas, 78703, homes@westaustin.com




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