Austin Real Estate News

Oct. 23, 2017

Environmental groups join battle over CodeNext

codenext, austin, texas, real estate, zoning, coding, environmentTwo environmental groups are stepping into the growing political ruckus surrounding CodeNext to promote a code that would increase density along major road corridors and in the city center.

The recommendations come from the advocacy groups Environment Texas and Texas Public Interest Research Group, which will release a report Monday detailing environmental pitfalls of city sprawl and how CodeNext might help improve the environment by fitting more housing units into the core of the city.

“We can’t keep the status quo,” said Luke Metzger, the director of Environment Texas and one of the authors of the report. “The impacts on the environment are too great. We need to see this code rewrite as an opportunity to develop a new community that promotes walkable, bikable communities and avoids expansion out into the Hill Country and other areas around Austin.”

What is CodeNext?

CodeNext is the city’s attempt to rewrite the entire land-use code for the first time since the 1980s. Staffers and consultants hope to tackle many of Austin’s most vexing problems, including affordability, traffic and gentrification.

While neighborhood advocates, professional groups and urbanists have weighed in heavily on CodeNext, Monday’s report adds a new voice that had remained relatively quiet on the effort: environmentalists.

Environment Texas is a partner of the generally pro-CodeNext Austin coalition Evolve Austin, a common target of the anti-CodeNext group Community Not Commodity, which has ties to an ongoing effort to have CodeNext put on the ballot in March.

Creating denser residential development in the commercial centers of Austin has been a goal for CodeNext since the city completed the 2012 comprehensive Imagine Austin plan. Many in neighborhoods closer to downtown have since become opponents of CodeNext after draft zoning codes and maps have shown what they consider a broad upzoning for established neighborhoods in the city’s central core.

The report shows that units in denser developments such as duplexes and low-rise apartments use less energy than single-family homes and that those living in compact neighborhoods are less likely to drive, leading to reductions in air pollution.

This doesn’t mean all environmentalists are embracing CodeNext, however.

Bill Bunch, the executive director of the Save Our Springs Alliance, said Austin environmentalists are broadly in favor of denser development. He believes the tracts that best lend themselves to such development are undeveloped parcels on the outskirts of town. However, the market tends to encourage sprawling subdivisions of single-family homes in those areas, he said.

Bunch said encouraging density in established neighborhoods would force thousands out of their homes — an outcome he doesn’t want to see.

“The Evolve coalition, which includes Environment Texas, wants to scrape the central city neighborhoods and put density there while allowing sprawl to continue at the suburban fringe,” Bunch said. “In our view it is upside down.”

Philips Jankowski, American-Statesman Staff

Posted in News
Oct. 4, 2017

Where to Find Austin's Best Pumpkin Patches

With autumn officially here and Halloween quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to visit one of the many pumpkin patches popping up around town. Here are a few of our favorites:

Pumpkin Patch, Austin, Texas, Tarrytown, Pure Gold Realty

Anderson Mill Pumpkin Patch

11505 Anderson Mill Road

October 1 - October 31

Daily: 9am - 7pm

 

St. Richard’s Episcopal Church

1420 E Palm Valley Blvd., Round Rock

October 1 - October 31

Daily: 12pm - Dark

 

Tarrytown United Methodist Church

2601 Exposition Boulevard

October 1 - October 31

Monday - Friday: 2pm - 7:30pm

Saturday: 9am - 7:30pm

Sunday: 12pm - 7:30pm

 

Red Barn Garden Center

12881 Pond Springs Road

October 1 - October 31

Monday - Saturday: 9am - 5:30pm

Sunday: 10am - 5:00pm

Austin, Texas, Pumpkin Patches, Pure Gold Realty, Fall

 Austin Oaks Church

4220 Monterey Oaks Blvd.

October 8 - October 31

Monday - Friday: 9am - 4pm, 5:30pm - 9pm

Saturday: 9am - 4:30pm

Sunday: 12:15pm - 1:30pm 

 

United Christian Church

3500 W. Parmer Lane

October 13 - October 31

Daily: 11am - 7pm

 

St. John’s United Methodist Church

2140 Allandale Road

October 10 - October 31

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 10am - 7pm

Tuesday, Thursday: 2:30pm - 7pm

Sunday: 12pm - 7pm

 

Steiner Ranch Pumpkin Patch

3500 Steiner Ranch Boulevard

October 15th only

From 10am - 3pm

 

Barton Hill Farms

115 FM 969, Bastrop

October 1 - November 5

Daily: 10am - 6pm

Posted in News
Sept. 25, 2017

That dream home could cost more and take longer to build, due to Harvey

New Construction, Builder, Hurricane Harvey, Real EstateIf you’re planning to build a new home, be prepared to pay more and wait longer for it to be completed.

Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston and Beaumont with floodwaters, is expected to swamp home builders throughout the state as well, including in North Texas, where a lingering labor shortage and rising lumber prices already had new home prices creeping up.

Now, with months of reconstruction work just starting along the Gulf Coast, it may take even longer for new homes in the Metroplex to go up, experts say.

“There is a labor shortage all around and generally Harvey did not help,” said Scott Jacobsen, purchasing manager at Riverside Home Builders, which builds communities in Fort Worth and Dallas. While his company has contracts in place to keep prices fixed for supplies like lumber, Jacobsen said he wouldn’t be surprised to see overall material prices increase.

The effects on new construction

The time it takes to build a new home had already increased to between six and eight months from about four in past housing cycles, said Ted Wilson, principal with Residential Strategies, a Dallas research firm that tracks the housing industry.

The situation had improved slightly over the summer, but now “everybody is a little concerned that the hurricane is adding to a situation that was starting to improve,” Wilson said.

With thousands of flood-damages homes in need of repairs, some initially feared that laborers would flock to the Gulf Coast region for steady work. While that may be the case for construction workers from outside of Texas who were already looking to relocate for work, it’s unlikely that those building homes in North Texas will head south.

“The market is just as strong up there in your neck of the woods where labor rates are pretty good and work is steady,” said Jim Gaines, chief economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Currently, Fort Worth only has a two-month supply of housing, much narrower than the average of six months considered a balanced market. In Fort Worth, new homes are selling for a median price of $285,806, according to a report from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M.

Village Homes, which builds homes in Fort Worth, said it currently takes six to seven months to complete a home and doesn’t anticipate losing workers to hurricane recovery projects.

“We work with a loyal set of guys that hopefully see the value of repeat business over time and won’t go chasing short-term business down in Houston,” company president Michael Dike said.

What to expect…

Dike said it will probably take a few months for insurance adjusters to assess the damage from Hurricane Harvey before the bulk of reconstruction work is performed. So, he expects any materials shortages to emerge later this year.

“I’m concerned about spikes for sheetrock and other materials that are already tight,” Dike said.

The price of framing lumber has jumped almost 20 percent in the past year, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Builders started 31,049 homes in North Texas during the past 12 months.

But that number could have been higher if builders had a larger pool of construction workers and more available land.

“It is still a challenge to get a house built,” Wilson said. “Instead of 10 guys to frame your house, you get four.”

By Andrea Ahles, Star-Telegram.com

Posted in News
Sept. 7, 2017

This is the salary you need to buy a house in Austin right now

house, real estate, austin, texas, afford, expensive, housing, salary, pure gold realtyMortgage resource HSH.com has crunched the numbers to find the yearly salary needed to afford the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance payments on a median-priced home in Austin, and it's one of the highest in the nation.

The country's 50 most populous metropolitan areas were analyzed, and Texas makes a three-city showing on the 25 most expensive list.

Austin is No. 13 overall and the priciest in Texas, with residents having to bring in $69,952.75 a year in order to afford a $308,000 median-priced home. Nationally, workers have to earn $56,159.89 to afford a home that'll cost them $255,600.

How did HSH.com arrive at the numbers?

It used 2017 second-quarter data for median home prices from the National Association of Realtors, national mortgage rates derived from weekly surveys by Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (for 30-year fixed rate mortgages), and available property tax and homeowners insurance costs. It also used the standard 28 percent "front-end" debt ratios and a 20 percent down payment subtracted from the NAR’s median-home-price data to determine its figures.

A 10 percent jump in home prices between the first and second quarters of 2017 can also be felt nationwide, though Austin is actually faring a little better with its 8.5 percent increase.

Austin's current salary figure is $3,008.69 higher than what was required during the year's first quarter. If homebuyers in the Austin metro put 10 percent down instead of 20 percent, the required salary would increase from $69,952.75 to $80,004.77.

No. 18 Dallas and No. 22 Houston join Austin among the most expensive metros, with workers requiring $61,039.97 and $57,346.12, respectively, in order to net a home. A nearly 6 percent home-price increase in Houston is a little easier to swallow than Dallas' almost 8 percent.

Where are the most expensive metros?

California residents are surely feeling the pressure, with San Jose taking the title of most expensive and San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles helping to fill out the top five. In San Jose, the required salary is nearly five times the national — $221,363.63 — because a home usually costs around $1.18 million.

If you want to make your money stretch, San Antonio is a good choice. The Alamo City makes the list of the 25 least expensive metros, though its home prices are rising faster than any other city in Texas. You should expect to earn at least $53,829.14 to afford a $222,600 home.

But it's Pittsburgh that'll let you earn the least: $35,329.29. Though if you're looking to buy there, you may want to do it soon — right now the median home price is $145,000, but that's already up nearly 21 percent from the first quarter of 2017.

Lindsey Wilson, CultureMap.com

Posted in News
Aug. 28, 2017

Helping Out After Hurricane Harvey: Where, What & How To Donate

Hurricane Harvey, Houston, Texas, Flood Victims, Support, Charitable, Donations, Contributions, Pure Gold Realty, Houston, Austin, TexasHurricane Harvey made landfall over the weekend. The category 4 hurricane crashed into the Texas coast, devastating families and businesses. At least two people have been reported dead, and estimates place the total cost of property damage and lost business in the billions.

If that isn't bad enough, Harvey is now a Tropical Storm and is lingering off the coast, dumping water onto coastal Texas, including the Houston area. As the rain continues, many people are in danger due to flooding while others have lost homes and property. Houston is the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the country: over two million people call the city home, while the metropolitan area counts nearly 6.7 million as residents. By geography, the Houston metropolitan area covers 9,444 square miles, larger than the state of New Jersey.

Many of you want to know what you can do to help out. Some of the tax rules that apply to charitable donations - like checking to see that the organization has its paperwork in order - are good rules to follow even if you're not claiming a tax deduction. So with that in mind, here are a few tips to keep in mind when helping out during Harvey:

  • Cash is king. While you may want to send food and other items, the infrastructure may not support those donations. Many organizations have been clear that cash, or cash equivalent, is preferred (but keep reading). Keep receipts if you intend to claim those donations on your tax return.
  • Stay put. Yes, we all want to get in our cars and help but don't rush to help without checking first. There are already professionals and trained volunteers on the scene, and due to the potential for more flooding, relief officials have asked that folks stay off the roads where possible. If your services are needed and you do volunteer, remember that you can claim a tax deduction for your out-of-pocket expenses but not for your time.
  • Be smart. Be wary of personal solicitations on your doorstep or over the phone. Make sure that gifts made by checks or credit card gifts are secure. And don't send money by text or using apps like Venmo without first verifying the organization and the contact information. If you don't want to donate online or by text, most organizations have alternatives, like donation forms that you can mail together with a check (never send cash through the mail). Always keep excellent records of donations since the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that you do so for tax purposes - and having the information available is handy if you want to follow up with another donation.
  • Do your homework. Check out the credentials of a potential donee/charitable organization before you donate. Charity Navigator is useful for gathering information about existing charities and has a Hurricane Harvey specific section. Forbes has its own list of the largest charities in the US complete with details on revenues, corporate pay, fundraising efficiency, and more (just click on the individual charity's name for more info). Finally, you can always confirm charitable status through the IRS web site using the EO Select Check Tool. Remember that some organizations (like churches) may not be listed, so don't be afraid to ask organizations which don't appear on the list for more information.
  • Check with the organization first. While most organizations prefer cash, there are some soliciting in-kind donations (see below). Those wish lists may change as needs are assessed and storage for items may be limited. Check with the organization before you send or drop off anything. And if you're planning to claim a tax deduction for any in-kind goods, be sure to keep receipts showing what you paid for the items.
  • Use caution when donating to individuals. For tax purposes, you can only deduct contributions to qualified tax-exempt charitable organizations. Donations to individuals are never deductible for tax purposes even if the individuals are really deserving. But there's another, non-tax reason to use caution: money solicited for individuals could be part of a scam and even if it's not, the money might not be spent as advertised. Keep in mind that once you hand over the cash, you have no control over how it might be used.
  • Rely on oldies but goodies. There’s nothing wrong with new charitable organizations but there is something to be said for those that have been around for awhile - like the Red Cross. Brand new organizations may not have the facilities in place to offer the most effective relief - or they could be scams. Use caution before handing over your cash.
  • Pay attention to the rules. The rules for charitable giving apply even in extraordinary situations although sometimes those rules may be tweaked to allow for more generosity. Stay informed. Be sure to document your gifts and get receipts. And never hesitate to ask the charitable organization or your tax professional if you have questions.

(For more tips on making your charitable donations count for tax purposes, check out this article).

If you want to help but aren't sure where to start, tax-exempt charities that have indicated they are accepting Harvey-specific donations include:

  • American Red Cross. To make a financial donation, visit the their website, call 1.800.RED CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation for those in need.
  • Catholic Charities of USA. To make a financial donation, visit CCUSA's disaster-specific website or text 71777 to make a donation.
  • Global Giving. To make a financial donation, visit their website or text HARVEY to 80100 to donate $10 to Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.
  • Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that will accept tax deductible donations. The fund is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity. To make a financial donation, visit the GHCF website.
  • Salvation Army. To make a financial donation, visit www.helpsalvationarmy.org, call 1.800.SAL ARMY, or text STORM to 51555.

(Please note that these are not endorsements of a specific charity. If you're not a fan of those organizations listed, there are many other charities which would welcome your support.)

Corporate donor sites and giving challenges include:

  • GoFundMe has created a landing page that aggregates the campaigns already created to help those affected by Harvey.
  • Starbucks has donated $250,000 to relief efforts.  Customers in any U.S. company-operated store who want to help can make a donation to the American Red Cross at the register. Additionally, Starbucks employees who make a personal contribution to the relief efforts can request matching funds through the company's Partner Match program (pro tip: ask your company if they have a donor match program). More details can be found here.
  • United Airlines will match the first $100,000 raised through its charitable campaign. United MileagePlus members who donate a minimum of $50 to any of United's charitable partners will receive up to 1,000 bonus miles (details, which download as a pdf, are here). Remember that for tax purposes, if you receive something of value in exchange for a donation, your charitable deduction must be reduced accordingly.

In addition to financial donations, what else can you do?

  • Austin Pets Alive is seeking families that can foster cats and large dogs. In addition to cash donations, the organization can also use in-kind donations like large plastic or metal bins with lids. Space for some items is limited so check with the organization first before you gather supplies. If you can help with fostering or in-kind donations, check out their website for details.
  • The SPCA of Texas has also put out a call for foster homes to help care for the animals already in shelters and those coming from the Gulf Coast. You can sign up at www.spca.org/foster. The organization is also accepting financial donations and in-kind donations, including cat litter, litter boxes, towels, blankets, large wire crates, toys, treats, pet beds, newspaper and gas gift cards.
  • Donations of blood are also needed. You can't claim a tax deduction for giving blood but it sure is a terrific way to help. Find your nearest donation center by entering your zip code here.
  • We know from past disasters that if you're able to write a handwritten note or two and send to those who are on the front lines of these disasters including police and fire departments, schools, and churches to offer your good wishes, it is typically appreciated.

Kelly Phillips Erb, Forbes.com

Posted in News
Aug. 25, 2017

Weather cancellations in Austin and Central Texas: Weekend of Aug. 25

Hurricane Harvey, Austin, Texas, Pure Gold RealtyHurricane Harvey, expected to make landfall on the Texas coast late Friday or early Saturday, is poised to become the strongest storm to hit the state in more than a decade. In Central Texas, significant rainfall is expected over the weekend, which could lead to closures and cancellations. 

The American-Statesman staff will update this list all weekend with anything that they hear about. Don’t see your cancellation or closure here? Email cancellations@statesman.com

All Weekend

  • Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels has adjusted their operating hours for the weekend, according to Twitter.
  • The Domain’s Northside Amplified concert series has been moved from this weekend to Saturday, Sept. 16, according to The Domain’s website. Following the rescheduled concert, all other events in the series will go on as previously scheduled. 
  • Ernie's on the Lake (formerly Carlos n Charlie's) on Lake Travis will be closing at 5 pm Friday and will not reopen until Monday afternoon. All live music has been cancelled for the weekend. Additional information and updates will be shared on social media.

Friday

  • Scrimmage between Westlake and Cedar Park football teams has been moved from Friday, 7 p.m. at Gupton Stadium to Friday, 1:30 p.m., Gupton.
  • The Teacher Retirement System of Texas’ board meeting has moved from Friday, Aug. 25, to Friday, Sept. 1 at 9 a.m., according to a news release. 

Saturday

  • Austin Pride 2017 has been rescheduled. The parade will not take place on Sept. 16 and the festival will be held on Oct. 21. 
  • Odd Duck’s Sour Duck Preview Bake Sale has moved from Saturday, Aug. 26, to Saturday, Sept. 9, according to a news release.
  • Texas Farmers' Market at Lakeline will be closed.
  • Southwest Key's 2nd Annual Arts Kaleidoscope event scheduled for Saturday, August 26, 2017 has been canceled due to anticipated heavy rain and inclement weather from Hurricane Harvey. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope everyone stays safe this weekend.

Sunday

  • The Superhero Fun Run, which was supposed to be on Sunday, has moved to Sept. 17.
  • The F1 Belgian GP Watch Party at Circuit of the Americas has been canceled, according to Twitter and Facebook.
  • Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller on Sunday 10am-2pm is tentatively open. Please check social media for updates.

Source: Statesman.com

Posted in News
Aug. 22, 2017

East Austin restaurant institution nabs new owners with big plans

Ciscos, Mexican Restaurant, East, Austin, Texas, Commercial, Real Estate, TransactionCisco’s, the East Sixth Street mainstay famous for its migas and biscuits, will be selling booze and serving dinner under its new ownership team, which includes the grandson of the restaurant’s founder.

The new ownership team at Cisco’s comprises Matt Cisneros, grandson of founder and namesake Rudy “Cisco” Cisneros; Will Bridges, co-owner and operator of several other Austin institutions, including Lamberts Downtown Barbeque, Antone’s, and Deep Eddy Cabaret; Rick McMinn, a builder who has been involved in 90 restaurants and bars in Austin and is co-owner of the historic Hoffbrau Steakhouse; and Bryan Schneider, a local businessman and real estate investor.

A spokesman for the new ownership says a timetable for the introduction of liquor sales and dinner service at the Tex-Mex joint hasn’t been set. Currently, Cisco’s is open only for breakfast and lunch.

“It has been a lifelong dream of mine to not only keep Cisco’s going, but to one day be a part of the ownership,” Matt Cisneros says in a statement. “It is our hope that with this new team, we can preserve an iconic East Austin institution that my grandfather founded over 65 years ago and help maintain its place in East Austin’s culture.”

Cisneros adds: “We look forward to continuing to serve our East Austin neighbors and Austin residents, who together have been instrumental in keeping this local establishment alive for the better part of a century.”

The Numbers…

Cisco’s went on the market in the spring of 2016 for $3.5 million after owner Clovis Cisneros decided to retire. Six years earlier, Clovis Cisneros, son of the founder, had unsuccessfully sought to sell the property. The Eastern, a popular bar, is a tenant in the two-story, 6,600-square-foot building, which dates back to 1914.

“This legendary diner ranks with the Broken Spoke and Continental Club as one of Austin’s most iconic institutions, a standing which Preservation Austin acknowledged with a Preservation Merit Award for Stewardship in 2007,” according to the Preservation Austin website.

Since opening in 1943, Cisco’s has drawn patrons from all walks of life, including political figures like Lyndon B. Johnson, Bob Bullock, Bill Clements, and Jake “J.J.” Pickle. Clovis Cisneros took over the spot in 1995 following the death of his father. Cisco Cisneros, nicknamed the “Mayor of East Austin,” had put the restaurant on the market in 1994, but he found no takers.

By John Egan, CultureMap.com

Posted in News
July 31, 2017

Austin real estate exec shifts focus to preserving middle-class housing

austin, texas, real estate, housing, affordable, middle-class, subsidized, market, economyLooking to address the problem of Austin’s diminishing supply of middle-class housing, the head of the area’s lead real estate trade group is rounding up investors more interested in social good than eye-popping returns.

David Steinwedell plans to leave his position as executive director of Urban Land Institute-Austin in September so he can lead Affordable Central Texas, a private equity fund that will purchase and hold multi-unit properties in the middle-class price range, the market for which earns between 60 and 120 percent of Austin’s median income of $55,000.

As Austin grows, those types of developments are attractive to developers who buy, renovate and resell or price units at upper-class or luxury rates. That buying spree has created a shortage of housing for job classes such as teachers, civil servants, tradespeople and artists, who are increasingly having to look outside of Austin for housing options.

What does the plan entail?

Steinwedell told the Austin Monitor he and a small group of investors expect to announce closure on one or two properties with between 150 and 300 units each in the fourth quarter of this year and will use the attention from the purchase to begin recruiting investors to fund more acquisitions.

If the plan is successful and the fund delivers modest but reliable returns to investors looking to solve Austin’s middle-class housing crunch, he said Affordable Central Texas could grow to control more than 12,000 housing units over the next decade.

“It will provide a modest return but the more important thing is doing something that has a larger benefit to Austin,” Steinwedell said. “As opposed to investing in another mutual fund this gives you a benefit that helps nurses, teachers, musicians and bank tellers by preserving their housing options in the city near transit corridors. The buildings we’re looking at are those built in the ’80s or ’90s, that have been there a long time and you drive by but might not even notice until one day when they’re gone so the property can be redeveloped.”

Steinwedell said he became interested in the workforce housing issue in 2015 when the Urban Land Institute completed a study on the growing problem of working-class living options that prescribed many actions for the city of Austin to take but found the private development and real estate sectors had little incentive to target middle-class housing. He said the issue was severe enough to require large-scale attention since nonprofits geared toward cheaper affordable housing demographics didn’t have the resources to fully address middle-class housing on their own.

Who will be involved?

“This is an innovative and somewhat unique approach that takes some explaining when you take it to investors,” Steinwedell said. “The advantage is the risk is very low because demand is strong and the turnover will be low, so the quality and consistency of the revenue is similar to what you see on more typical core investments.”

Steinwedell said individual investors who are open to unorthodox opportunities will make up much of the early money in the fund. If it can deliver reliably, he said, he’ll then be able to present it to pension funds and other groups that can commit larger sums to fund bigger purchases.

Asked about the city’s role in addressing the problem, Steinwedell said he’d like to see middle-class projects fast-tracked for permit approval and given reduced fees to remove some of the burden developers face when building in Austin.

He said the evolution of CodeNEXT will play an important role in where middle-class residential units will be built in Austin over the next 20 years, and that a city land bank that reserves property for workforce housing and potentially reduces property taxes and other carrying costs would help as well.

“Housing is a like a multi-layer cake, and the city has to serve all of the layers,” he said. “To drive more construction of the missing middle, you need to fast-track those projects or eliminate fees and do other things to put them at the front of the line.”

Middle-class job opportunities

Mayor Steve Adler has made workforce affordability a priority since his election, pushing for more training and job opportunities for middle-class workers, with the hope that increasing those workers’ incomes will address one end of the cost-of-living problem. He said Steinwedell’s effort is needed, and he hopes the approach works so more investors become interested in preserving middle-class housing.

“It’s an interesting concept they’re trying to prove up and the effort is critical, because just providing subsidized housing that is affordable is not enough,” he said. “The question will be what scale can you do that at to meet the municipal challenge we face, and will it be sufficient to make a difference and preserve what is special about this city.”

By Chad Swiatecki, AustinMonitor.com

Posted in News
July 24, 2017

What does a real estate agent do all day anyway?

multitasking real estate agentWhat does a real estate agent do? Oh, where to start. Trying to explain to the public how real estate agents spend their time is akin to explaining what a doctor or lawyer does all day. There’s a lot more that goes into “treating patients” or “handling legal matters” and the same goes for “helping people buy, sell or rent property.”

From a consumer’s first thought about making a real estate move to actually taking the leap (whether that means right now, next month or three years from now), the agent is incubator, initiator, action-taker, coordinator, scheduler, personal concierge, resource person, problem-solver, mediator, miracle worker, red-tape cutter, transaction manager and chief make-it-happen officer of everything else that doesn’t fall into the prior categories.

They may delegate some of these roles, but nothing gets completed without their oversight and input into what needs to be done and how.

An agent has a workday like anyone else, but there are typically little to no boundaries to that agent’s day and week. Here’s how an agent’s workday often goes:

Responding 

There are no official days off in real estate. You might have spans without any scheduled appointments, but there are always inquiries, emails and texts to respond to.

Agents are “on” no matter where they are. In our in instant-response society, there really is no waiting until tomorrow.

If a consumer contacts them about a property, they respond. If other agents contact them to ask questions about their listing or want to show one of their properties, they get back to them.

If they receive an offer, they work on it regardless of the day, place and time. There is no stop-and-start in this business.

Despite what people might say, it is nearly impossible to shut off the communication, ever. The workplace is anywhere an agent is and that doesn’t mean agents have to go to an office for the day to start — work happens at home, in the car, during vacations and on the go.

The job often begins early in the morning or the night before managing emails and follow-up communications — phone calls and texts about any number of things from showing feedback on listings, following-up on in-progress transactions and creating to-do lists for assistants and staff.

Reviewing MLS activity

Agents review MLS activity for any pertinent listings and updates on properties of interest to their buyers and sellers (competitive listings, price changes, under contracts, back on the markets, off the markets or solds, etc.) and notify their clients of relevant information.

Keeping up a database

Agents must continually update their contact databases with new customer information, updates to existing customer contact information, birthdays and new-home anniversaries, and more.

what does a real estate agent do all day

Scheduling showings

Agents put together property itineraries for clients who are planning a house hunting trip, which could involve numerous showings in a short period of time.

Scheduling these tours requires a delicate dance that takes into consideration geography and logistics against the backdrop of unknown time constraints that sellers may impose. (“Can you come at 2 p.m. instead of 10 a.m.?” or “Today’s not good, but how about Friday?”)

These impromptu changes in plans wouldn’t be a problem if agents didn’t have anything else to do, buyers had the luxury of time and they were local — but rarely are agents working with that kind of flexibility.

And Murphy’s Law says the property that’s causing the scheduling difficulties will be the one at the top of buyers’ wish list. Agents have to find a way to make it happen.

Making contact

Agents reach out to establish initial contact, discuss real estate needs and provide advice on the market to customers who have just been referred to them.

They conduct in-depth research on possible options for buyers and dive into market comparables to get an idea of what sellers’ homes can realistically sell for.

Setting and attending appointments

Then there are the appointments — meeting buyers and sellers for initial discussions, previewing and touring properties, meeting inspectors, appraisers and a plethora of specialists, contractors, stagers, photographers and repair professionals.

While out on these meetings, business carries on and the emails, calls and texts flood in.

Oftentimes agents will be juggling these meetings with the sellers from six months ago who call and want to meet immediately — or the inactive buyer couple who suddenly found the perfect home that they need to see right this minute.

Negotiating offers and managing the sale

Negotiating offers may go on for days or weeks. Once an offer gets worked out and a property goes under contract, that is just the beginning. There’s no jumping up and down, high-fiving and laughing all the way to the bank. Quite the contrary, this is where it can all go wrong.

At this point, agents have to make sure that everyone involved in this process does their job. From whatever side of the transaction they represent — buyer or seller — agents need to make sure everyone is fulfilling their obligations of the transaction in a timely manner.

If a lender is involved, active and frequent communication is a must to ensure the loan process is on track.

Agents check in with the title company or attorney’s office to make sure the file is being handled and all details and nuances are being attended to. They also address anything unexpected that may arise — a closing that needs to be a mail-away to the seller, or a situation in which a power of attorney needs to be present because one of the buyers will not be.

There are an endless number of tasks that agents must ensure get done from contract to close, from reminding clients about utility transfers to ensuring the seller has everything moved out on the day the buyer legally takes possession.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving and crisis management happens at every turn. This entails educating clients about the realities of what they are trying to accomplish; running down information about a community, association or property; or troubleshooting umpteen potential issues that could derail a property search, transaction or closing.

Unlike many jobs, no two days are the same. One week could be plagued by multiple snags (a buyer’s financing falls apart, home inspection issues, etc.), and on another day, it may all come together in an eerily smooth manner. But never fear; in this business, the other shoe is always about to drop.

Speaking of the other shoe dropping, there is no guarantee that the time spent and the hours put in will result in a paycheck.

Agents can’t bill for the time and effort they’ve expended giving advice and information, showing properties, attending showings, creating and hosting broker and consumer open house events and more.

The buyer may never buy; the seller may never sell, and the agent’s paycheck is affected by other people’s circumstances and decisions.

The enthused buyer could have job transfer fall through. An unexpected medical situation could put a house hunt on hold for someone else. Or a couple of sellers could suddenly decide they love their house more than they did before.

The agent — if he or she is lucky in these cases — will get a “thank you.”

Marketing

Then there is the marketing and business development agents pour into their brand, knowledge and expertise. That website, newsletter, postcard, video or other marketing pieces (social media posts, custom property ads) didn’t appear out of thin air.

Agents devote thought and resources to each marketing piece with an eye toward implementation, execution and tracking results at every turn.

In short, real estate is a profession full of follow-up, follow-up, follow-up; multi-tasking; prioritizing, re-prioritizing; juggling; figuring out how to be in three places at once; evaluating, advising and coaching; hand-holding; researching and problem-solving; and responding.

Despite what reality television portrays, agents don’t simply ride around in expensive cars or have their private driver take them to unlock a door. They don’t show up in designer clothes at some swanky place to negotiate a deal over trendy cocktails.

It might appear glamorous and easy, but showing a customer properties or putting a home on the market happens sometime in the middle of a very involved process.

Marketing, branding and creating top-of-mind presence usually comes first, and those are the things that motivate customers to choose an agent.

Agents are the catalyst for the entire process of buying, selling or renting a property; and, from that perspective, they help keep the economy moving in every sense of the word.

By Cara Ameer, Inman.com

Posted in News
July 12, 2017

Austin Home To Most Expensive ZIP Codes In Texas To Rent An Apartment

Austin, Real Estate, Downtown, Most Expensive, Condos, Rent, Zip Codes, Texas

It’s true what they say: The rents are too damn high. Three of the top five most expensive ZIP codes in which to rent an apartment are in Austin, according to a new study. Researchers at RENTCafé have compiled a list of the top 50 most expensive ZIP codes in the state to rent an apartment, with Austin figuring prominently on the list. Three of the most expensive areas are in Austin, with the other two in Dallas, according to the findings. 

The most expensive ZIP code on the list is 78701 in the city’s central business district. Renting an apartment in trendy downtown will set you back nearly $2,500 a month, according to researchers—more than twice the $1,063 national average. And that’s even after a 3 percent dip in average rental cost from last year, researchers found.

The downtown sector’s average $2,475 rent for ZIP code 78701 may be the priciest in all of Texas, but adjacent ZIP code 78703 isn’t far behind with the state’s second most-expensive average rent costs at $2,393. The region covers Central Austin neighborhoods, including Clarksville and Tarrytown, forming an enclave of affluence with 78701, researchers noted. 

In fourth place, Austin’s 78705 ZIP code covering University Campus and parts of Hancock, has an average rent of $2,102. That’s a 5 percent year-over-year price gain, while inventory remained unchanged at 5,524 units, researchers found. Bounded by the University of Texas at Austin on two sides, 78705 is home to such swanky developments as University Towers, with amenities that include a rooftop pool and sun lounge, media room and walk-in closets, researchers noted. 

Dallas round up the top five list…

Dallas rounded up the top five list with the 75201 ZIP code, where renters shell out an average $1,907 monthly. All told, Austin had nine ZIP codes in the top 50, according to the research.

Some good news from researchers: The state’s biggest cities are still considered to be affordable - especially when compared to other thriving urban hubs around the country - with average rent in Texas at $1,063, well below the national average.

The top 12 most-expensive ZIP codes in Texas are:

  • 78701, Austin, $2,475
  • 78703, Austin, $2,393
  • 75225, Dallas, $2,188
  • 78705, Austin, $2,102
  • 75201, Dallas, $1,907
  • 77006, Houston, $1,889
  • 75205, Dallas, $1,884
  • 77005, Houston, $1,859
  • 77002, Houston, $1,800
  • 77004, Houston, $1,794
  • 77019, Houston, $1,772
  • 78702, Austin, $1,711

Other Austin ZIP codes on the most-expensive list were: 78704 in the 27th position, with average rent at $1,513; 78732 with $1,486 average rents, 78746 at $1,477 and 78751 at $1,461 in the 31st through 33rd slots, respectively; 78735 in the 36th position, with average rental cost at $1,444; and at 38th, 78738, $1,416; To see the full report, click here

As part of its methodology, data compilation, analysis, and mapping done by RENTCafé utilized rent and construction data provided by Yardi Matrix. ZIP codes with less than 200 rental units and less than 3 properties were excluded from the calculations, as were single-family homes and town homes. The average rents were derived by combining all property types, including studio, -one, and -two bedroom apartments. Average rent prices are as of March 2017.

By Tony Cantu, Patch.com

Posted in News